Following Through with a Plan

Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

 

Good morning! Yes, I’m back. It’s been a crazy couple of months. Between writing and tax season, I’ve been so busy. But I’m getting back on track and ready to get this blog back up and running. So, here’s to the rest of the year!

How many times have you made a plan and then didn’t go through with it? Maybe you set a book release and you couldn’t finish the book in time. It’s always good to make sure you write down your plan and try to keep to it. This keeps you from procrastinating. But what happens when everything is against you such as time, life, and all the things in between? Here’s a couple of tips for making things happen when you need them to…

I’ve been trying to finish my latest WIP and somehow I let my busy schedule take over. This is the first time in a long time that I didn’t meet my deadline. And yes, I procrastinated to the point that the book went to the back burner. As a writer, that hurts. 

Let’s talk planning. When you have a book idea, excitement bubbles up and you’re pumped. But there’s more to it than just the idea. You’ve got to focus on the idea and make sure that it can be fleshed out into a book. This step needs a plan. 

Look at it like framing a house. Without the frame, you wouldn’t have the house. A book plan is the same thing. Here are the steps to getting that book into the hands of your readers…

  1. The Idea – Yes, this is the exciting stage where you get the spark. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the moment you’re sitting there and all of a sudden you have the best idea for a new book or series. But not every book idea comes to life. I’ve got so many ideas written down that didn’t meet the muster. 
  2. The Outline – Ok, I know some of you are more of a seat of the pants writer, but let me tell you, an outline can be the make or break for some ideas. When I have an idea, I sit down and figure out how it can go. Even if it’s just a simple, beat by beat outline, it helps you to know if you can make it work. 
  3. Flesh it out – Now that you have the idea and the simple outline, you can go back and give it some flesh. Fill it out and see if you have enough to make it a book. This is the point of no return or return to the pile of idea. Here is where you make sure that the idea can go the full gauntlet or get chopped off before it’s even finished.
  4. Scheduling – Here’s where you need to be honest with yourself. If you think your idea can go 25,000 words, don’t schedule a release in 25 days. Maybe you can get it written in 15 days, but there’s so much more that goes into it than writing it. Make sure that you schedule every step of the writing process. I had to learn this the hard way. Here’s a couple of items to think about when scheduling: A. Cover design B. First Draft C. Revisions D. Read Through E. Editing F. Prerelease Marketing G. Final Draft, and this is just a few steps.
  5. Writing – Now, here is the fun part. You finally get to put words on the page. The first draft isn’t perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Get the bones on paper, then go back and fill it in. 
  6. First Draft Read Through – This stage is fun. The bones of your book are there. You’ve finished the first part of the process which to me, can be the hardest part. This is the stage where you’ll know it the idea will actually make it. If the outline didn’t catch it, the first draft will.
  7. Edit, Edit, Edit – Now, read it out loud as you edit. This is important before it goes to your editor. My editor has asked me before if I even read it before I sent it to her. LOL! 
  8. Cover Design – This process for me comes first, but a lot of writers don’t design theirs until this stage. Sometimes the cover comes to me with the idea. Make sure the cover represents your work. Don’t do something to deceive your readers. And simple still works… 
  9. Marketing – Plan your marketing early in the process. Set a budget and schedule some prerelease ads. You don’t have to spend a bundle to get results. Just make sure to stagger your ads. Don’t overwhelm yourself. 
  10. Release Day – Make this a party. Setup a blog post. Send out Tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest, TikTok blurbs, and any other social media you use. Make it fun and relaxed. 

I know this was a little crazy, but putting a book out to readers needs a plan. And my way may not work for everyone, but it does for me. Hope it helps in some way.

 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 

Word Counts, Outlines and Covers…

small_3905010862

Good Friday morning! It’s been a busy week and it will only get busier. Tax season is in full swing and my calendar is getting full, but that’s a good thing. I included a nice, warm picture for all of you caught in the polar vortex and to those of us that just want to walk down that dock and plunge into the water, washing the everyday stress away. AHHHH… As as writer I can imagine it…

I’m often asked how I keep up with my word counts during tax season. To be honest, it can be really hard, but I manage somehow. As you know, I do an outline for each book. With each line of the outline, I try to do a certain amount of words, according to the final length of the book that I have in mind. The outline keeps me focused while my mind is scattered with thoughts of tax returns, numbers and deadlines, both book and tax.

Of course and I’ve said this often, writing is how I stay sane when it’s busy. Writing takes the stress out of my mind and takes me to another place, sometimes another time. When I’m finishing my work day, thoughts of putting words into a manuscript fill me and make the stress start slipping away.

Right now I have a rather high word count daily, but it’s supposed to be less. I originally had figured into my daily writing for tax season, only 2000 words a day. If I do more then good for me, if I do less, well, that has to be carried over to the weekend writing sprint. With my brain going over so much paperwork during the day, sometimes I just have to do something creative, other than with words. That’s when I start

With my brain going over so much paperwork during the day, sometimes I just have to do something creative, other than with words. That’s when I start working on covers for upcoming releases and preorder releases. Here lately, I’ve been struggling with the cover for a historical romance that’s coming out at the end of April. But it will come to me soon, just right now, it’s giving me the hiccups 😉

How’s your week been? Have you kept up with your word count? (I’ll catch up on mine over the weekend, I hope!)

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Just a little note… Seaside Beginnings came out Wednesday and it’s been a great success. I’ve received some of the sweetest messages about it. I’m so excited and awestruck at the response for this book about an over forty woman starting over.

Thursday Morning Shout Out…

Good Thursday morning everyone. I know I’ve been a little lax in my posts, but I’ve been on a deadline with Her Wish For Christmas. It had to be downloaded by midnight Monday and I met that deadline with six hours left over. That book took a lot out of me because of the emotionally charged content. When I typed the last words and finished the edits I was tickled pink with the results. My editor finished the final read and when she was done, the smile that spread across her face was priceless.

Her Wish for Christmas ad

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here. Of course with my other job as an Accountant, I had end of month, end of quarter and end of tax year. Also had Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat at Church. SO I’ve been a busy little bee lately, but if you’ve read many of my posts you know this is how I like it. The busier the better I always say.

Now that the Christmas book is in Amazon’s hands, I can focus on Ridge. It’s the first book in the new series that’s about a family owned ranch and it’s five children. Each one of them has their own special issues and personalities. Since I’m a cowboy romance writer at heart, this one is exciting. What can I say, I love cowboys and getting to write about them is fun. All I’m planning to say is I can’t wait for you to meet Ridge, the oldest brother. He’s my favorite sibling so far, but once I get into the other’s I’m sure I’ll fall in love with them too. Keep watching for updates on The Five Oaks Ranch series.

Ridge Advertisement

The article that I wrote for Southern Writer’s Magazine is out in their Nov/Dec issue. I’m really happy with the results and can’t wait to see the results. If you don’t already subscribe to this magazine, then I suggest you run, don’t walk over to their website and subscribe. It’s a must have for writers. Here’s a little snippet of the article.

Stephanie Hurt - SW teaser 2014.

Hope all is well with everyone and here’s a little shout out for my publishing service which is having a Christmas sale. We’re offering 10% off all services offered through our company. Find out more at our new website: horseshoe-publishing.com.

christmas sale

As always great writing and May God Bless You…

3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self Publishing

As you know I’m a self published author. When I decided to publish my manuscripts I studied the market. I’m an Accountant and I have a strong analytical background so that pushed me to make a study into this. I looked into both the traditional market and the self publishing market. One thing I realized was that more and more traditionally published authors are going to the self publishing market. But let me tell you this, in order to do it right you’ve got to keep up the traditional publishing standards strictly enforced.

Here are 3 of the ways Authors can improve Self Publishing:

1: Editing: This is a very important part of publishing and this is where several self published authors fail at. It’s also part of why some people will not pick up a self published book because they’ve been burned before. You’ve got to read your manuscript and read it again. Also you need to either get Beta Readers or someone that will be critical and unbiased to read your work. When you read your manuscript pull yourself away. Read it as though you’re a reader and are you inspired to read it again. If it falls flat, then how can you expect anyone else to get into. Have you corrected all the spelling errors, grammatical errors, and just plain out story line disasters?

2: Covers: I can’t stress this enough. Covers can sell even a badly written book. This is the first thing that a reader sees. This is the first line of selling rank. If you don’t spend money on anything else, please spend a little on this. There are so many talented cover designers out there. I’ve been so fortunate to have a awesome cover designer. I’ve seen some really cool covers and then some really horrible attempts. Your cover needs to tell something about what’s inside. It need to pull the reader in. I’ve purchased so many books just from the cover.

3: Book Blurbs: I stress about this with all my books. This is the hardest part of writing to me, no kidding. Make sure you don’t give away too much in the blurb. Too many authors tell the story on the back of the book. This is not good. Be very descriptive and use complimentary words that will draw in the reader. I’ve done a study on this with my very own books. I put out a blurb on a couple of my books that I was somewhat happy with, but I noticed a lag in sales. Then I sat down and poured over the blurbs changing some of the key words and adding some small elements. This helped the sales dramatically. Try it and see if your sales go up.

It’s hard to be an author, period! When I say I’m an author, people come back with yeah, I could write a book. Well, yeah, anyone can write a book, but can they write a book that will go anywhere? Do they have the drive to publish that book and do all the marketing? Being an author is not as easy as it looks and being self published is brutal at times.

But let me tell you the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. The first time a fan comes up to you at the grocery store and says, “Oh my goodness you’re that author.” The first time this happened to me I was so embarassed and excited at the same time. When you get emails from fans excited about your work it makes you smile all day. I’ve gained so many new friends from all over the world that some days I’m just amazed. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. 

Have I thought about traditionally publishing? Yes. I sent Ghost Lover to a traditional publisher and never heard a word. Then I decided to self publish it and it was all uphill from there. It was my introduction into the publishing world and the response to that book has been really great. I’ve had a couple of big publishers call me about coming on board with them, but they couldn’t offer my anything different from what I do now, so not now. I do have a work in progress at the moment that it’s been in my heart to send to a publisher that I contribute to as a blogger. We’ll see how that goes. 

So, my advice to you is to go for it, but be prepared to do it right. This is your name you’re putting out there, so make it shine. If you need any help with it, I’m in partnership with my editor/cover designer in a publishing service, Horseshoe Publishing. We’ll help you iron out those wrinkles and make your work shine like a new penny.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Vibrant Colors

On Wednesday my son does not have to be at school until 9:05 and that’s wonderful. We can sleep in a little longer. As I drove home I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I love my hometown. It’s so beautiful any time of the year, but at Fall time it really shows out. The trees almost glowed in oranges, yellows, reds and some a little touch of brown. Simply breathtaking.

It’s the same with book covers. If you don’t step out and go beyond the box on your cover, then you just as well to box it up and close the shop. When shopping for a book in this world of millions of books to choose from, you’ve got to stand out. Don’t go so flashy that you get gawdy, but a splash of vibrant color will catch the eye.

As the bright orange or yellow tree will catch your eye among the green tree tops, so will the splash of color on your cover. To me the cover and the blurb are very important. Make sure you put extra care in both of these areas. One of my books was lagging in sales and I changed the blurb a little. Amazingly enough the book started to take off. Crazy but true.

Check out the link at the top of this post to the publishing service I started with my assistant. We go beyond the box with covers and help you make your book stand out in the crowd.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…