Wednesday, February 27, 2013

STOP Editing as You Go

I edit my writing before I let anyone else see it. The problem develops when I edit too soon.  

Editing as I write kills my enthusiasm and stops my momentum. I gently remind myself to get all my thoughts down first — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don’t stop to rework or rewrite until after I take a break.

When I feel the urge to edit as I’m writing, I remind myself to STOP!

For me this means:

S – Set an intention to write for a specific period of time, maybe 15 minutes. I can keep writing when my timer goes off if I’m in the flow.

T – Tell myself that mistakes are good. Keep going! I can fix them in the next draft. I sometimes find that a “mistake” has led me in a new direction.  

O – Open my mind and let my emotions come through. Feelings and stories are more compelling than facts and figures. Emotions matter in any genre. I can fill in the details or statistics in the next draft.

P – Play with others. Collaborations can be a powerful way to expand on a subject through a variety of perspectives and writing styles.

If premature editing is a challenge for you, I propose an experiment.

My friend, Christian, is experimenting with a 25-day writing project where he writes one page a day. Each day continues the story from the day before, but he isn’t editing any of his writing until the end of the 25 days. No outlines. No preconceived concept of where his story will go. It’s an experiment.

Or your experiment can be writing morning pages—something Julia Cameron recommends in The Artist’s Way. Morning pages are three pages, written first thing in the morning in longhand. They can be about anything—or about nothing in particular. This writing exercise can prime the pump to get your creative juices flowing for the day.
Maybe it’s an experiment of tapping into your intuitive brain by writing a question with your right hand and writing the answer with your left. (Vice versa if your dominant hand is your left.)

Experiment with a collaborative writing project where you pick a central theme and all your collaborators write a certain number of words on topics around that theme. Several of my books have been created this way. My new book that launched in January, The 28-Day Thought Diet, has 25 co-authors.  

Be willing to STOP, experiment, and THEN edit. Let your mind go and your ink flow! 


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. Her books, including The 28-Day Thought Diet, are available on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reader Engagement

If you're like most authors, you might not have considered how to engage those who read your book. Of course, you might have considered how readers will perceive your book and how much they will enjoy your book. However, you probably aren't thinking about how readers will actually be engaged with the content of your book ... and more importantly, not just with your book, but with you, the author.

There are many ways to engage your readers before, during, and after they read your book. One of the first ways to engage your readers is with an amazing book cover. Beyond the way your book looks, however, you should consider how you can engage your readers throughout the experience of reading your book. That could happen a number of ways, particularly if your book is based on your personal or business platform. Some of those engagement tactics include:

  • Mentioning your consulting or coaching services
  • Referring to a product you offer that can help readers with certain issues you mention in the book
  • Listing websites, social media sites, blogs, and other resources that readers can access to engage and connect with you further
There are other ways, but the point is to engage with your readers throughout their experience with your book so when they're finished with the book it is not the end of their interaction or their engagement with you and the content you have presented in the book. You might also consider providing downloadable worksheets that are available in PDF format, or additional tips, questions, or resources that readers can access from your website or from your blog.

Always remember the three areas that I encourage authors to consider when writing their book: What do you want readers to think, feel, or do when they're finished reading your book? That is the core of reader engagement.

In what ways do you currently--or plan to--encourage your readers to further engage with you through your book?


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, February 13, 2013

5 Strategies to Transform Procrastination into Productivity

I recently published my first book, Splash Into Calm. In the process of writing I realized how easy it is to put off what I had to accomplish. I could have easily thwarted my progress if I had not taken measures to ensure I stayed on task. I was lucky to be writing about the very techniques that help with procrastination, so I had a full toolbox of useful ideas.

Procrastination is problematic for many aspiring authors and many people struggle with it for years. I often share the concept of “one day at a time,” but when challenged, even that needs simplification. In essence, you should focus on accomplishing your project one minute or one simple task at a time, otherwise you risk sabotaging what you want to achieve. In many circles the acronym KISS is used —Keep It Simple, Sweetie. (I know many use the word Stupid, but I get no inspiration from that.).

This quote from Julia Cameron brings us to another layer of procrastination:We must work with what we have rather than languish in complaints over what we have not.

This is at the heart of what keeps you stuck. You cannot be great at everything. Unfortunately, people often use their weaknesses as excuses to quit, rather than cultivate their strong points. For example, when I began to write my book, I knew that grammar was not my strong suit. My children and husband have a sophisticated command of the English language that I lack. I almost quit before I began, until my wise advisor reminded me that there are trained professionals who can fill in where I lack skill. What I do possess is knowledge and experience of the practices and philosophies contained in my book. I also have my own style of effectively communicating concepts that stay true to my voice and those I want to reach. As I continued to forge forward, I dove in deeper and honed the skills that were already inherent within.

There are always options available. You can get help or hire someone to do the parts that either you do not want to do or are incapable of accomplishing, so the only thing that holds you back is fear.

The main ally to procrastination is fear and it shows up in many forms: We fear that we will never finish. We fear reality. We fear that we never measure up. We even fear success. Each of these fears can be destructive to your progress in completing your book.

There are a few things that I found helpful in overcoming procrastination while completing my book. I believe these strategies will work for anything you want to accomplish:
      Guidance: Find someone who can help you—you cannot do everything on our own.
      Structure: Due dates and a step-by-step process (there can be some flexibility here) are vital.
      Positive people: Surround yourself with those who are supportive.
      Accountability: Find someone who can help you create a timeline, and then report your progress.
      Keep it simple: Easy, step-by-step, bite size pieces will work most effectively.
      Know your strengths: Focus on what feels natural for you and then decide if you need accountability or someone else to help with the rest.
      Praise: Each step of the way, give yourself a pat on the back (or your shoulder if you can’t reach your back) for beginning. Reward yourself in some small way.

One final note—after completing this article I felt relieved and happy and am now free to indulge in a well-deserved pedicure. Goodbye procrastination, hello relaxation!


Consultant, speaker, author and teacher, Ellen is the President of Custom Calm and the author of Splash Into Calm.  Ellen has extensive training in the area of transforming stress and pain into productive, life enhancing solutions. She teaches and consults at the Cancer Support Community, Weinstein Adult Day Program, and businesses.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Messaging Your Book

In previous blog posts, and in many of my presentations, I explain to authors that the theme of your book is your answer to the question: “So, what’s your book about?” When your theme is well developed – condensed down to a sentence or two – then you’re ready to work on the messaging of your book. 

The message is the main point of your book; the lesson or the takeaway for your readers. The message communicates vital information about the content and the benefits contained in your book. This message will be used during your marketing campaign to help develop a solid brand and image for you and your book. So how do you message your book? 

Develop your book’s message by considering who your target readers are and what they need that your book offers. In my soon-to-be-released book, How to Market Your Book for Free: The Essential Guide for Authors, Publishers, and Publicists, my co-author, Nicole Antoinette and I describe a simple method to develop a precise, effective message that will help sell your book.

Using the STAR method, you can develop a message that covers the following areas:

Situation: Describe the situation you were in or what inspired you to write your book. 

Task: What goal were you working toward when you decided to write your book? Describe the tasks involved in that situation. 

Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail. What specific steps did you take? 

Results: Describe the outcome, what you received from writing the book, and what readers will get from the book.

Here’s an example of the STAR method of message development:

Situation: I speak to many audiences about what it takes to produce a quality book and how to leverage their book for success. What many authors don’t consider when beginning a book project is how they will turn their investment or expenses into revenue through effective marketing. 

Task: Although many authors do not budget for a comprehensive marketing campaign, I want to see every author succeed and reach their goals, so I sought to share several free or low-cost strategies to market a book. 

Action: Through a partnership with an incredible author advocate, we researched 101 free marketing strategies and aggregated them into our new book, How to Market Your Book for Free. 

Result: With this valuable resource, I can now share a wealth of information with authors to help them reach their book marketing and sales goals.

You can approach this message development process at any stage of your book production, but it’s best to consider it before writing and to keep your message in mind throughout the process of creating your manuscript. During the entire time you’re writing, you should be constantly thinking about your readers. What do they want? What problem(s) do they have? What solution do they seek? What keeps them up at night that you can help with? Why should they choose your book? 

Be bold and give this STAR method of message development a try. You’ll find that you end up with a succinct message that effectively communicates the benefits of your book and what readers can expect to get from it. All of that can equal more sales.

Look for the launch of How to Market Your Book for Free, coming to soon.


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".