Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Finish Line

The kitchen has become my best friend and my enemy. I’ve been baking desserts for the next Easy Weekly Meals cookbook Moms on the Go. And I’ve found that making something for your personal use is a bit different than doing something for a published book.

When you’re on your own, you may not care if your cookies get a little burned on the edges, if the chocolate cake doesn’t rise as high as you’d like, or the granola bars just will not stick together. As long as it tastes good, right?

But when you photograph something for a cookbook, you want it to look great. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is terrific if you have a beautiful picture. If the subject matter looks like last week’s garbage, that’s not so good.

Part of the problem is being creative. Changing flavors, adding ingredients, substituting something healthier. When I experiment with a recipe, I’m just mixing ingredients together. It’s fun to see how butter and sugar get creamy, how adding eggs makes a batter silky, how the flour makes it thicker. I love the textures of fruit and nuts, the soft slide of butter on my hands when I grease a cookie sheet, the molten goodness of melted chocolate. I see the end result in my head when these ingredients come together – chocolate chip cookies, buttery pound cake, cheesecake with caramel swirls. I can see the colors and textures, smell the chocolate and vanilla and melted butter, taste the cream or the crunch or the sweet.

But sometimes I put in too much flour or not enough sugar. Sometimes I fail. Irritation sprawls on my right shoulder and hisses in my ear while I’m baking. “You don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t put that in. It won’t work.” Confidence sits on the left and calmly whispers, “You’re fine. Go ahead.” Sadly, Irritation wins a lot. And did I mention their friends Frustration, Disappointment and Defeat?

Baking and writing share important elements – they’re both a journey with an intended result. My goal in baking is a tasty, beautiful end product. Writing is the same. Making thoughts into ideas, shaping words into description, giving life to vision. You want to end up with a good story; characters people care about; a goal or purpose that matters.

Give your ideas wings. Let them take flight and grow and transform. Give them freedom to journey on a road less traveled. Rein them in when they get too chaotic. Imbue them with spirit and independence. And add caution and patience for balance.

You may have some interludes with Irritation and Frustration. When you throw in too many adverbs or get lost in exposition, they may pounce on you with glee. Your internal critic can be awfully loud sometimes. But believe in Confidence and go ahead. Chart your journey and see what obstacles lie ahead. The greater the conflict, the more interesting the story. Your first draft may be horrible, like my banana egg rolls. Great idea, but they would not work out. So you tweak, you fine tune, you edit and you rewrite. You fail a little and you try again. And you keep trying until it turns out the way you want.

The 2012 Olympics ended last month and the U.S. won more medals than any other country. Go USA! Each of those athletes trained for years to compete against the best. They all visualized what they wanted to accomplish. See that end result in your mind and the battle is half won. Just keep moving toward the finish line, one word at a time.


Nanette Littlestone is a freelance editor, writing coach, and author who has worked with both fiction and nonfiction for 20 years. She specializes in helping authors to use their passion to achieve their own unique voice and message. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Your Book As A Business

Before heading off to a conference last week, I had the opportunity to teach a session at The BizLynks Center. My session, "How to Tie Your Book to Your Success," is one that I've taught several times. I enjoy sharing with aspiring authors how to leverage their book through repurposing the content, gaining visibility, upselling their expertise and viewing their book as a business; yes, a business. (If you don't believe me, read this!) 

You see, your book isn't simply a stack of bound paper with a pretty cover; it's a resource to help grow your business or brand and to leverage your platform. Whether your platform is your business, your personal image or a cause that you're passionate about, your book should be designed to leverage that. 

Producing a book, I told the audience, isn't free; it costs money. Most often, new authors consider the dollar cost of book production as an expense rather than an investment. The distinction, as I see it, is that an investment suggests an anticipated return while an expense may not. And so it should be with your book project. When you invest in producing a quality book, you should expect a return on that investment in the form of more clients/supporters/advocates, increased media coverage, greater visibility for your products/services/activities, more funds raised for your cause, greater awareness of who you are and what you stand for, and so much more. There are innumerable areas to measure with regard to the return on your investment when it comes to your book project. So what are you measuring?

During the session, I showed the audience an example of how the investment in their book could result in not only book sales, but major exposure, product development and other opportunities that could amount to much more than mere book sales alone. It's a fascinating reality to examine, and I love to see the look on people's faces when they realize that what they're embarking on as an author really is bigger than the book! 

I challenge you to take the time to consider your investment as an author. How can you leverage your book beyond sales alone to help build your platform? If you need help figuring it out, contact me for a laser coaching session and let's get clear on your goals and your expected return on investment. After all, your book is a business; build it!


Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Your Perspective Matters

We are overloaded with information. A simple key word or phrase on Google can yield thousands to millions of results. So, why should you write a book and contribute to information overload?
Its your perspective on the information that matters. Combining your experience, your knowledge and your feelings with data gathered provides a fresh point of view. No one else has the exact combination you do. And what you choose to focus on your wounds and your wows are different than others writing on the same topic.
I host a weekly radio show called Art as Worship. Recently my guest was sculpture artist Martin Dawe. As we sat in the recording studio, we discussed sculpture classes where 20 students all view the same model while creating their sculpture, yet each artists finished work looks completely different. His comment was, In this room were in now, there are literally tens of thousands of things to notice. But you notice fifteen or twenty things that you care about. That's going to be different for everyone. So being creative is really a very personal process.
What makes your book or article interesting from multiple authors writing on the same topic is what you choose to focus on combined with your point of view your humor, your excitement, your emotion and your inspiration gets infused into your writing.
Depending on the type of book youre writing, you may need a certain amount of data. Gather information until your creative ideas start to flow, then start writing. Your perspective shows your readers why this particular data matters.
Writing about a topic helps you clarify your point of view, so you may need to write to determine or distill your personal perspective first. Then write from this clarified perspective for your readers.
Over the last few years, as I planned – and this year as I launched – the Art as Worship radio show, I noticed an increase in books that address creativity and/or spirituality. I dont feel discouraged by the number of books available on these topics. Instead, Im energized by the growing interest from readers who could potentially buy my book when its published. As I interview artists, I notice themes and ahas that will be focal points for writing my Art as Worship book.
The coolest part of my research through the radio show is that Im making more time for my own art, which impacts my work as a graphic designer and consultant and expands my experience as an author and a radio host. My perspective creates a conversation with others and thats when things really get interesting!

Vanessa Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to support book authors who are self publishing.
Twitter @vanessalowry

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Journaling as a Framework for Your Book

Journaling has been in existence since ancient times. Perhaps the ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese scribes didn’t call it journaling, but that’s what they were doing. They were recording the thoughts, emotions, and events of the time and reporting on how those things affected individuals and the group as a whole. Those talented "journalers" wrote what has become the history of their civilizations. They told of the episodes of their daily lives. Sometimes, they even jotted down the ramblings of a prophet or two who foretold the future of their societies.

Fast forward to the present, and here you are, pen in hand, journal at your fingertips, mind completely blank. You live life every day, so why would you need to write down the experiences you have, the thoughts you think, the emotions you feel? It’s all up to you. People journal for a variety of reasons.

Journaling is more than just writing down words. It is a way to express yourself, to connect with your thoughts, to discover your desires, to dream. And for those who have the courage to take it one step further, it is a framework for your book. You have a story that needs to be told, and you should be the one to tell it. Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a writer, but that doesn’t mean your story should be kept on the shelf of your mind, never to be shared with the world. Your memoir, autobiography, or how-to book is a gift to the world.

You know things that others need to know. You’ve experienced things, learned lessons, developed wisdom, and enhanced your knowledge. You’ve gained expertise and implemented ideas. There are millions of people who want and need to know what you know. Use your journal to find your voice, develop your story, and practice the skill of writing.

My first advice to you is to journal with a purpose. Decide what you want to accomplish with your journal and what it will represent to you. Here are some objectives for starting a journal and keeping it going as you evolve, grow, and discover yourself:
  • Self-examine, self-reflect, self-project, self-discover
  • Identify your strengths
  • Address your past and your present and how they impact your future
  • Examine your fears, joys, and dreams
  • Discover your expertise
  • Heal from hurts, abuse, shame, guilt, missed opportunities, mistakes, and embarrassments
  • Reveal your loves, desires, and what brings you joy
  • Release negative thoughts and feelings
  • List your accomplishments
  • Affirm yourself
  • Get in touch with your feelings
  • Realize your daily thoughts
  • Describe and create your future
  • Create a framework for your memoir, autobiography, or how-to book

Let your journaling flow, but always journal with a purpose ... and most of all, journal with the goal of producing the book of your life that you’ll be proud of.

When was the last time you journaled as an adult?

Excerpted from the book, Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, by Anita Rochelle.

Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".