Distractions are often the downfall of many writers. Do not let them be your Achilles’ heel. Developing a consistent writing habit is not necessarily easy. Following the tips below can help you keep yourself on track and become a more productive writer.
Start with an Easy Goal
There is no shame in starting off with an easy goal. Small goals help you reach larger ones. If the ultimate goal is to complete a particular piece of writing, such as a novel, then any amount of writing you do moves you closer to that goal.
To begin, set a simple goal that you know you can easily achieve or even surpass. For instance, you can set a daily writing goal of 100 words or one paragraph. That is an easy writing goal that only requires a few minutes of time during the day to reach it.
Large goals can become overwhelming. Sometimes you don’t know where to begin. When the goal is small and you know you can easily achieve it, you will be more likely to actually complete it.
Check Your Progress
Distractions and setbacks will occur. Other things will get in the way of your writing time. Those things might even make it difficult to reach the smallest, easiest goals. What you can do about it? Check your progress, and reassess where you are after three weeks. Have you been keeping up with those easy goals?
If you’ve been exceeding the easy goals, then it is a good time to make those goals a little more challenging. If distractions are getting in the way instead, then make adjustments. Try writing at a different time of day or in an alternate space away from the usual distractions. Most importantly, do not stop writing. Make writing a regular part of your life.
Aim for Two to Three Months
Setting manageable writing goals and sticking to them for two to three months is a great way to develop a strong writing habit. Sometimes writers want to plan further ahead, though. For instance, they might envision themselves completing a novel over the next 12 months and map out a writing schedule for the entire year. In reality, planning out a full year is difficult. Anything can happen to derail your writing plans.
Focusing on a shorter time period of just a few months can actually help you get more writing done. Maybe you have a goal of completing one chapter of your novel within two or three months. You have set a fairly easy daily writing goal for yourself, and by sticking to it you will reach your overall goal completing that chapter. After writing consistently for two to three months, you will have developed a writing habit.
The funny thing about writers is that, as much as they love writing, they don’t always get a lot of writing done. By setting easy goals early on, reassessing those goals after checking your progress, and sticking to it for two to three months, you can get into a consistent writing habit.
As a writer, you enjoy crafting stories and most likely would be writing whether anyone ever read them or not. To have readers enjoy your story, though, that is the icing on the cake. Follow the tips below to keep readers interested in your story all the way through to the end.
Mix Things Up
A great way to keep readers tuned in to your story is to keep the pace moving. Do this by mixing up sentence length. When there is a long sentence packed with information, follow it up with a short one. Including both short and long sentences in the mix balances your story and gives it rhythm. This keeps readers moving forward through the story. On the other hand, if all your sentences are similar in length, readers are likely to get bored and stop reading.
Suspense is another excellent way to maintain reader interest in your story. You can build suspence by dropping hints about potential problems. Perhaps the characters in your story are keeping secrets. Maybe they are worried about something. By hinting at the possibility of a character hiding something, but not necessarily telling readers what it is, you create intrigue and suspense. Now readers want to know if there really is a secret and what it might be. They will keep reading to find out.
Much the same as dropping hints about hidden fears, secrets, or indecisiveness, cliff hangers also create suspense that keeps readers reading. Ending a scene or a chapter with a cliff hanger is a sure fire way to get readers to turn the page. If one of your characters is snooping through her boss’s office, have someone turn the office door knob right at the end of the scene leaving readers to wonder if the boss is about to catch your nosey character in the act.
To keep the pace moving throughout your story, refrain from explaining everything. For instance, avoid bogging readers down with a lot of backstory. When readers are stuck wading through extensive backstory and explanations, they are taken out of the main story. They begin to lose track of what was happening with the main characters. Things slow down too much when the author continuously tells readers what is happening. Instead, keep things moving by having the characters show readers what they are experiencing.
One of the main goals authors have for the stories they write is for people to read and enjoy those stories. Readers enjoy stories that peek their curiosity, as well as keep moving forward. By using varying sentence lengths, hinting at secrets, adding cliff hangers, and showing the action rather than explaining it, your story will maintain your readers’ interest all the way through to the end.
The publishing industry is evolving rapidly. Every available option has its advantages and disadvantages. Informed authors will make better decisions.
Top Traditional Publishers
The leading publishers work best for writers who want an advance, a royalty income, and distribution through bookstores and other sales venues without the hassle of the publication process. A few publishers are inviting un-agented submissions during specified periods. However, agents are usually necessary and not easily obtained.
The publisher controls all major decisions, including editorial. Unless the author is famous, marketing is not extensive. The book may go out of print if it does not sell well in a few months. E-book rights should be negotiated.
Large Independent Traditional Publishers
These publishers are more willing to publish novice authors, may offer an advance, and often require no agent. The large independent publishers may provide a better financial return and allow author input during production. They handle marketing and distribution, books are typically available for longer than three months, and they may negotiate e-book rights with authors.
The downside is that they will own the book rights and only provide basic marketing. They may also be genre-specific or have branch companies (imprints). Such publishers may use print-on-demand digital printing, as well as offset.
Small Publishing Companies
The small publishers/micro presses accept novice authors, do not require an agent, may offer a small advance, and allow author input during production. Authors may negotiate e-book rights. Often authors obtain a better financial return from these companies. Books are ready in a year and remain available for a long time.
The publishers use digital printing, accept few manuscripts each year, and may be very specialized. They only provide basic marketing, and because they are so small, advances are uncommon. They may not provide expert editing and formatting services or distribution. Authors should check out other books produced by the company to verify quality.
Publishing Service Companies
These done-for-you publishing companies will accept most manuscripts, own the rights, and charge authors a fee for production. Authors can select additional services, which may include distribution channels. Production services may be more expensive than assisted publishing services offered by freelancers. Authors may publish elsewhere with a different ISBN.
The author has control and ownership of the product. The author hires professionals and arranges for marketing and distribution.
Digital Book Publishing
E-book publishing is low-cost, and providers offer some type of distribution. Marketing is the author’s responsibility. E-publishing is worth it for books in a digital-friendly genre. Authors may need to hire professionals for formatting, design, and other services. Authors must know who owns the e-book rights.
Authors are fortunate to have several book publishing options. If you are ready to publish your book, your choice will depend on the book’s genre, your resources, and willingness to handle production. To avoid regret, be realistic.
Writing a book is one thing; getting it published is another. Authors have so many book publishing options available today, they can easily make a choice that they will regret afterwards. Before deciding how to publish the book, an author must understand what each option offers.
Digital technology and the internet are changing the landscape. Separation between publishing, distribution, and sales activities is blurring. Amazon.com launched the transformation by being a book retailer that branched out into printing, traditional publishing, and self-publishing services.
Traditional Publishing Option
If you want to try the traditional publishing route, you usually have to go through a literary agent. However, some publishers are now accepting un-agented submissions at specified periods during the year. Traditional publishers invest in editorial, copyediting, design, printing, marketing and sales. Authors generally get an advance from the publisher.
The biggest disadvantage of the traditional route is that getting an agent is not easy, and there is no assurance a publisher will purchase the manuscript. If you are an author who thinks traditional publishers will not be interested in your book, you can use a subsidy publisher, self-publish directly, or use an assisted self-publishing or done-for-you publishing service.
A subsidy publisher requires authors to pay for publication costs and distributes books under its imprint. An author is paid royalties, but ownership passes to the subsidy publisher.
Self-publishing involves paying for design, editing, and printing and being responsible for sales and marketing. There are fewer limitations or restrictions as the writer controls editing, length, layout, and design of the book. Writers can revise as they please. Authors can upload work on Amazon for free, but they will need to make potential readers aware of it.
Assisted Self-Publishing Service
Assisted self-publishing means the writer has the support of a team of experienced professionals with a book coach and a virtual author’s assistant being key members of the team. Visit AuthorsAssistants.com to explore this option.
Done-for-You Publishing Service
This option provides a combination of services. An e-book can be sold on the author’s website, through ClickBank, or through Kindle after setting up a KDP account. Authors can also sell via iBooks or Kobo. However, using iBooks, KDP or Kobo requires obtaining an ISBN number for the book.
For a paperback book at reasonable cost and an Amazon.com listing, CreateSpace, an Amazon subsidiary, is the way to go. Lulu.com also offers good value. Be aware that bookstores will not stock books from CreateSpace. For bookstore distribution, Lightning Source and Ingram Spark offer optimal value.
Publishing involves pitfalls the writer must research. The easiest options also have limitations. The writer must make the cost benefit decision. However, keep in mind that an e-book can later be picked up by a major publisher if it generates enough interest.