This week we talk about the writing program no one is talking about – Microsoft Word. I’m not sure it’s actually a conspiracy (wink, wink) but we thought we’d break the silence and get the word out there. (In actual fact, we think it’s probably because Word is so ingrained into everything we do these days, that everyone assumes that there’s no point talking about it.) However, we’re pretty sure, like us, many of you are still using Word in some part of your writing process, so we decided to go through some of the tools and tips that we know about on Word, to help you upskill yourself in this wonderful, wacky Word program. From track changes to hidden characters, soft returns to right mouse clicks, we go over everything you might need! 🙂
This week we talked about ways to speed up the production of your books, from getting your head in the right space from the get-go, to planning, scheduling and lastly ways to make sure you plain-old write faster.
It’s a great episode because it yet again demonstrates how we’re all different and things that will work for one, won’t necessarily work for another. But what we are able to do is offer a whole bunch of ideas and suggestions for practical ways that you can amp up your writing schedule. You don’t have to try them all, but it will give you something to think about as you write your next book. 🙂
How to write faster by getting all your ducks in a row, and your mind in the game!
The familiarity of an environment when you are first starting out in your writing career can often help you be more creative. Over time, you can modify this, and write anywhere, but to start with this can help get those creative juices flowing.
If you write with music, then play the same playlist. Get those headphones on, or speakers turned up, and sit for a few minutes and listen to it. After a period of doing this, your mind will instinctively think, right, I know this music, it’s writing time!
Whatever trigger you need to switch on, then find it, and use it repeatedly.
If you’re not a plotter, then you’ll start your writing not knowing the direction you are heading. The familiarity of music and or environment will help with this and get you started with your writing session.
Make sure when you sit down to write that’s what you are going to do. You don’t want to start and then open FB, or check your emails. Writing time is for writing.
Sometimes, it’s good to start with a sentence you’ve written at the end of the last writing session. This will help you with direction, and where to start.
We think acknowledging that you are a writer will help with the mindset too. If you don’t call yourself a writer, then no one else will! The first step to being successful in this game is accepting what you are and want to be.
Meditation is also an excellent writer’s tool. Clearing your head can help get rid of other thoughts, and free you up for writing.
A proviso on what’s written above is be mindful of setting yourself up for failure too. You need to be able to write in different places, and if you need to have your candles, and a knee blanket, that’s not always easy on an airplane or in a hotel room.
FYI, there is no substitute for passion! If you are not passionate about your writing, then no amount of props, will help. Same goes for discipline too!
Sometimes you can get a bit stale sitting in your office all day every day. Maybe you will need to get out of the house and go to a café, or park, and write.
Don’t stifle your creativity by being hard on yourself. High expectations will in some cases stop you from getting those words down. Be happy with 100 words written, if that is all you can write that day. The point here is that you’ve written, and that’s important. Don’t set yourself up to fail.
Sometimes writing with other writers, can be motivating. Watching their creativity can also be inspiring.
Accept that writing is hard work! Fun, yes! Rewarding, definitely, but also hard work!
Using dictation can help with productivity, but it is not easy to learn. Again it’s about consistency.
This week we go through the book page on Amazon, deciphering some of the sections, explaining how each works and how the information gleaned can help you in your Indie career. From explaining the also boughts, to understanding the Amazon algorithms and how they affect you, and looking at the author rankings and understanding what they mean to you, we go through everything we know (and some stuff we realise we didn’t know) and pass it on to you… 🙂
First tip – Make sure you have read through everything on your Amazon page and that you understand it. By doing so you will be able to use it to your advantage.
Books that other people have bought that are similar to your book.
You may not see also boughts on your page until you have achieved approx. 50 sales.
You want this to be a clean area that only represents your platform and shows books that are like yours.
They should look and sound similar.
Chris Fox may be able to explain better why also boughts are so important.
Read up on this on KDP – they have lists and guidelines. Ignore them at your peril!
By filling out your details and ensuring that they are loaded properly on your book listing page you will have made a great start to making Amazon work for you.
There is a formula (which we may never understand) to figure out who likes your books or would be likely to.
After you release your book, don’t just get all your friends and family to buy your book – this will mess up your algorithms more than anything else.
You want people focused on your genre to buy your book.
Make it as easy as possible for Amazon to personalize and therefore market your work appropriately.
Amazon A9= Amazon Algorithms
Categories, and also boughts affect algorithms.
Whatever the person appearing there has chosen as their keywords area match for your work.
Just give these a quick look as they are self-explanatory
ASIN is the number Amazon will give you as a standard identifying number.
Amazon Best seller ranks
Shows how your book is doing currently – where it is ranking against every other book in the Amazon store.
There is a lot you will have no control over like –
who is publishing at the same time
where in the world people are awake or asleep (affecting buying)
Where your books is ranking in the categories you or amazon have chosen
Tell us about a lower price
If you have a book free on another platform you should ask Amazon to price match as they don’t like to put up free books.
It can also help if you have deals on other platforms that Amazon is not following to mention that to them.
Reviews that say this will no doubt carry more weight than an unpurchased review.
You will receive notification of new works by any author you follow.
Your own list is more important, but there is no harm in pointing readers in this direction.
Don’t forget to link all books in a series
Email via Author Central or KDP that this book is part of series.
Be a good author and abide by Amazon’s rules and you will be okay.
This week we run through all the self publishing author courses that we’ve done between us over the last few years and talk about the ones that we liked and would recommend that you could try if you’re looking for a way to upskill your knowledge. As a group, some of the SPA Girls are more into courses than others, so whether you’re a super keen course person, or a more reluctant starter, this episode will give the information that you need to know whether the courses are for you. NOTE: we don’t get any money/affiliate income from any of these courses, so we’re just talking about our personal experience with no desire to sell you anything… 🙂
MOOC Massively open online courses.
In this age, we have so many courses available to us. So much knowledge is out there at your fingertips. The comfort of online courses allows you to take the course in your own home, in your pajamas should you wish it. Plus, there is the rewind option! This helps you learn at your own pace.
Firstly, no what you want out of a course, and secondly, no course is a magic wand, and be wary of someone telling you that their course is the only way to go! Often it’s not, and you’ll pay a lot of money to find that out!
Remember, self-publishing is an ever-changing landscape, and things will become outdated, so take courses with evergreen content, or know that what you learn may change over time.
Do your due diligence. Make a wish list, and don’t just dive in, but be certain sure the courses you take are exactly what you need and want.
Udemy is great for online learning. The SPA Girls have taken many:
How to stop stalling and write your book.
How make paperbacks with createspace
Helping writers to write and keep writing
Write a Novel Outline from scratch (novel writing success)
National writer’s organizations are a great place for courses.
Romance writers of America and Romance Writers of Australia also have some great craft and writers links.
These are three writers who we hugely respect who offer great advice and online learning. They also have great writing communities to be part of that are very supportive.
Be aware of scammers! If a course sounds too good to be true it often is!
https://selfpublishingformula.com/courses/ – Mark Dawson
https://www.thecreativepenn.com/courses/ – Joanna Penn
http://marieforce.com/workshops/ – Marie Force
https://www.rwa.org – Romance Writers of America
https://romanceaustralia.com/ – Romance Writers of Australia
https://www.youtube.com/user/IAmJustJunco/videos – J.A. Huss
http://www.chrisfoxwrites.com/ – Chris Fox https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu6RYg6_-pTQxLVq3Fv6lYg – You Tube Chris Fox
https://www.creativelive.com/ – The Creativelive.com
http://www.blog.yourfirst10kreaders.com/ Chris Fox
https://www.lynda.com/ – Lynda.com
http://learnscrivenerfast.com/ – Joseph Michael
Australian author and writing tutor, Rachel Bailey, joins us this week to discuss the Black Moment: that point in your story when all hope is lost, when crisis peaks, when things seem bleakest and we start to think the characters won’t be able to find their HEA. We discuss the different types of Black Moment, how to identify which one works best for your story and how to make this crucial element of Story both powerful and believable.
Join us for this fantastic tutorial and take your writing to the next level!
About Rachel: Rachel Bailey developed a serious book addiction at a young age (via Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck) and has never recovered. Just how she likes it. She went on to gain degrees in psychology and social work, but is now living her dream—writing both category romance and romantic comedy. Her books have hit the USA Today bestseller list, are published in over twenty-six countries, and have been translated into more than sixteen languages. She lives on a piece of paradise on Australia’s east coast with her hero and their dog pack. You can find Rachel at www.rachelbailey.com.
Rachel will be teaching an upcoming online class (available to all writers, not just RWAustralia members) at: Romance Writers of Australia.