Month: April 2020
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How are you? Climbing the walls? Languishing in the depths of a cosy couch with a book or Netflix? Writing your book with gusto? Feeling guilty because you have not written anything? Not. One. Single. Word?
Here’s the thing. We are at this moment turned upside down and inside out. It is the perfect time to complete projects that have been screaming at us and yet it’s all so hard – physically, financially and mentally challenging.
I live and breathe writing and publishing. I know all the excuses for not working on projects because I’ve heard them all and used them all myself. And every day this month I’ve been going live on Facebook to challenge these excuses and offer strategies to overcome them. Saying and doing are two different things, just as creativity and productivity are two unique creatures. Writing anything is two-fold.
First comes the fun, creative part
There is the initial seed of an idea, then playing around with that idea. Brainstorming, planning, thinking, talking, procrastinating, more playing, thinking, jotting down thoughts, throwing away ideas. We might do this for months before we feel like this is a serious project that should be put into some kind of digestible form.
Second comes the work, the productive part
At some stage, all that brainstorming and thinking needs to be lassoed into something. You may not exactly know how to do that but once you work it out, you really just need to sit your butt down and do the work. This can be boring, hard work and often we procrastinate and come up with all those excuses for why we shouldn’t or can’t do it.
Wherever you are in your own project right now, don’t beat yourself up about suddenly having all this time on your hands but not managing to produce the work you said you would. If you at least ‘turn up’ to your project often (more than once a week) and play with it, you are giving it energy that will keep it moving forward. Even better that you turn up daily for just ten minutes, give it some juice and make it feel loved. In this way, just like any relationship, you make it feel appreciated and it won’t leave you.
In the meantime, don’t underestimate the many things we can do to feed our own soul like cooking, gardening, walking, reading, watching Netflix to remind ourselves that we are human and need downtime when things are off-kilter. These things feed our creative core, which will help when we are at that creative stage of a project. And surprisingly, if you are turning up for your project often, it will be in your head more often and more ideas will flow to you while you’re relaxing on the couch or digging the soil.
Are you confused? Don’t I harp on about sitting down and writing that damned book? Well, yes, I do that a lot. But I also know that if you really want to write that book you will because it will keep calling you and we need to put the brakes on this ‘overnight’ thinking where we are in a hurry to do everything and suddenly we don’t know where our life went. It’s all a blur. We really do need to stop and smell the roses from time to time and be a little kinder to ourselves.
Blaise, the book chick.
April 15, 2020
Publishing a book is fun, easy and rewarding if you do it well. With a bit of homework and planning it should go smoothly. If not, it can be a disaster and cost you months of hard work and thousands of dollars. I’ve seen it happen often. Here are a few hints for a smoother project:
Rushing the content
It’s exciting to write and publish a book and you might be really keen to see it in print. But if you are investing in this book and want it to be successful once in print, take the time to ensure that the content meets the desired intention. Make sure the structure is sound, that images (if you have them) are engaging and good quality and you have obtained all permissions if you need them.
Not paying a professional editor to edit the manuscript
The most common statement we get is, ‘My sister is a schoolteacher [insert similar field] and she’s edited my book.’ Your sister may be good with words, but she isn’t a professional book editor. Editing isn’t just about good spelling and knowing where a coma goes. There are other elements to consider such as structure, style, consistency, voice, copyright and meaning. You cannot self-edit either because you are too familiar with the content and will miss too many errors. If there is only one aspect of your book project that you can afford to pay for, get it edited please! There’s nothing worse than thinking your content is good, then having it typeset and the proof-reader finds oodles of errors that need to be fixed, costing you hours of time or money through your typesetter.
Having no plan for the project
If you’ve never self-published before, do some homework or get a company like ours to project manage it for you. Publishing a book is not rocket science but it takes planning to make it run smoothly. Don’t suddenly decide that you want a book out by Christmas when it’s already October if you want to take advantage of Christmas sales. Not having a plan to roll out will just mean that you get stressed and overwhelmed, which will lead to costly mistakes.
Doing things on the cheap
At a guess, about 30 per cent of our projects are fixups. By this I mean that the client has tried to do their project on the cheap or used a cheap ‘self-publisher’ who has made a mess of it. We then need to try to make sense of it and sort it out. This can sometimes cost more than if we had started from scratch. Many times, I’ve bumped into someone who published their book elsewhere (cheaper) when I had quoted for them and they said they wished they’d gone with us. After 500 books, we should know what we’re doing!
Starting the promotion late
As soon as you know the title of your book, get a mock-up of the cover using a professional book designer. Start promotion straight away. If you’ve created a publishing plan, you should know a launch date for your book. Ideally, you can set your book up on your website with a sales button. You can start pre-selling it which will also help you determine how many to get printed when it’s ready. The more hype you can create in the lead up to the launch, the better and you can start getting a return on your investment immediately. The other advantage to these early sales is that it makes it real for you and you will keep momentum going through the publishing project.
These are the most common mistakes I see people make. If the publishing doesn’t go well, the author may feel like a failure and think of publishing as a total sham, waste of time and costly, which is a shame because it should be a positive and powerful undertaking. Check out some of our authors here.
Blaise the book chick
April 1, 2020
This is not exactly the kind of editorial that I expected to write in 2020, or any time for that matter, but life has a way of throwing unexpected things at us. We have choices. We can react, throw our arms up in despair and moan about the harshness of life, be mean to each other and worry about how our life is not ‘normal’ or we can respond by taking a step back, assessing the situation, be grateful for what we do have but also looking for the opportunities that lie within the situation.
We can learn from the humble bee. They work together for a common goal (and they work hard) and they respond to situations rather than react. They are pretty awesome creatures and our own survival is tied closely to theirs. Here’s a great article about them if you want to massage your brain further.
I went a little off tangent there, I know, but my point is to get you thinking about the big picture. Suddenly the WHOLE world is in the same situation and yet we’re worried about having enough toilet paper (as an aside, did you know that only about 30 per cent of the world uses it?).
I don’t want to be all preachy with you but I’m excited about the possibilities that lay before us in this uncertain time. Have you noticed that in this time of uncertainty that people are turning to the Arts? Kids are out on pavements drawing chalk masterpieces, people are sharing live music online, jigsaws are being dusted off, people are writing and reading books. We’re consuming art. Can you feel me smile?
We now have no more excuses for not making art. We have glorious time (except for hospital staff and we praise their work through this, let’s make art for them to enjoy). We are stuck at home with the weather heading into winter, and our imaginations to get us through it. We have food, shelter, there are no guns raging in the streets. NO MORE EXCUSES.
So, let’s do this. Here at Busybird Publishing, we want to work with you to make art. Let’s be like bees, work together and work hard. To kick this off, I will be doing a live 10-minute video every single day of April on our Facebook page. I’m going to talk about our excuses and how to turn them around. Who knows, you might have a book written by the end of the month, or at least be a long way into a project.
Here’s a list of the excuses I hear all the time (many I’ve used myself) that I will be tackling each day:
- I don’t know what to write about
- Who am I to write a book?
- I don’t have writing skills
- I don’t have time
- I have so many ideas
- I get stuck
- I can’t spell
- People will judge me
- I have nothing to say
- I’d rather watch Big Brother
- I was crap at English at high school
- It’s a waste of time
- My partner doesn’t approve
- I have too much dark stuff to write about
- I have a partner, six kids, two dogs and a cat
- What if o one reads it?
- It’s too overwhelming
- I can’t order my thoughts
- I need inspiration
- No one understands me
- I don’t want to get sued
- I don’t know how to make it compelling
- I don’t know how to write about people
- It all comes out as waffle
- I’m no expert
- No one knows who I am, why bother?
- I don’t want anyone to steal my ideas
- I’m a one finger typist
- I have writer’s block
- I don’t know if my book is any good.
Love in the time of coronavirus
Blaise, the book chick