Combating Writer’s Overwhelm

combating writer's overwhelm, ariel author va

Chances are, you’ve thought the phrase: I’m just not cut out for writing. 

Or some variation of it, because all of us suffer from anxiety, dread and imposter syndrome. It is an unfortunate part of the process. We’re extremely creative people and it’s hard to think about putting our own thoughts and designs into the world to be viewed and judged.

It can also seem like a daunting task when everything happening around you feels opposed to what you’re trying to accomplish. From happenings in the world, to your day job and even to your home life.

Writers everywhere suffer from this malady. They find themselves staring at the cursed, blinking cursor with fingers hovering over the keyboard. Finally, 20 minutes have passed and still, a blank document screen stares back. So they give in. They’ll try again tomorrow.

Then “I’ll try again tomorrow” turns into a week. A month. A year, perhaps.

Good news, is that as mentioned, writers suffer this all the time. Bad news, is that writers can quickly let it become an excuse. And here’s the truth – published authors never let it be an excuse, and neither should you.

Dan Brown, author of Inferno and The Da Vinci Code, uses gravity boots. Hanging upside down helps him gain a new perspective, and oxygenates the brain. Dan Brown, and other authors recognize that writer’s block is evidence that you need to change how you approach your writing and projects.

IT’S OKAY TO NOT CREATE

Sometimes, we all need a break. A mental recalibration (Mass Effect fans, you know what I’m talking about), and that’s totally normal. It can feel like getting words down on the page is like pulling teeth. That sucks, hard. But in times of stress, no matter the source – you don’t need to push yourself. You shouldn’t feel like you need to push yourself, either. Taking a break for a little while is actually way more beneficial than struggling to put out work. The more you force yourself, the less you like it.

Instead of writing, try something relaxing. Treat yo-self! Take yourself out for a quiet dinner and get that really tempting dish you’ve been looking at, and a drink. Visit a museum, or go for a hike. Have a spa day (even one at home)! Put on a face mask, do your nails and binge your favorite Netflix show.

IT’S OKAY TO DO OTHER CREATIVE THINGS

It is totally okay to not do anything creative. It really is. But if you still feel the need for a creative outlet there are other options than your tried and true wordcraft.

If you’re feeling burnt out, try something new. One of my favorite things to do is to color. I like pulling out my pretty colored pencils, choosing a cool picture in my coloring book and just losing myself in coloring everything in.

I also from time to time, like to cook fancy things. I’ll find a cool recipe, and experiment with something new. Try picking up a hobby like knitting, baking, glass blowing or anything else that catches your eye. There’s something invigorating about being creative in a way you aren’t normally.

MAYBE IT’S NOT BURN OUT

Another aspect to really consider if you’re feeling discouraged is that it’s not actually burnout, but time to try doing things differently. Maybe you’re a pantser who has never managed to finish your first draft. If that’s the case, it might be beneficial to start plotting your book even if it’s just a skeleton framework. I was a pantser for many, many years and never actually finished anything. Then I learned the magic that is outlines, and I’m consistently creating for my book because I have a map of where I need to get and how to get there.

Maybe you’re a plotter – it might be time to try some free writing. Don’t worry so much about your outline. Focus on the words and let them carry you where they will. It might turn out to be nothing you can put in your book this time, but it might be useful for another book. It might also only serve to get you out of a rigid mindset, allowing you to dive back in with a renewed vigor.

Whatever the case might be, don’t be hard on yourself. Writing is hard work! People that are not in the writing industry struggle to understand – but making yourself sit down day after day to create whole worlds, events and people out of thin air requires a mental acuity most do not possess. Make sure to take care of yourself to avoid feeling burnt out! And don’t give up – just realize writing is a real profession and it comes with all the implications, pros and cons as any other career. 

Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.LILI ST. CROW

WHAT IS WRITER’S BLOCK?

A psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler first used this term in academia during the 1940s. Studies were made of the phenomena, and a popular theory before it was proven untrue and dismissed, as that writers were “draining themselves dry of inspiration.”

Further studies proved that writer’s block was often a symptom of depression, anxiety and authors who felt generally dissatisfied with their current situation. These things, as well as environmental issues such as a pandemic, times of crisis and other factors create mental blocks. When these arise, you have to fight for your creativity.

CAUSES OF WRITER’S BLOCK

  • Exhaustion: Sometimes, you’re just tired. You’re burnt out and you need to give your brain a break. Take a nap if you’re physically tired, and go do something else if you’re mentally weary. 
  • Perfectionism: You might be stuck because you feel like your writing has to be perfect, even on the first draft. Allow me to introduce you to the idea of the zero draft. Type out all your words and don’t worry about going back to anything. The zero draft is for the crap.
  • Imposter Syndrome: This one hits a lot of people, not just writers. Whether you feel like an imposter because you haven’t published anything, or you’re feeling it despite publishing – you just don’t feel good enough. Nothing could be further from the truth.

QUICK TIPS TO OVERCOME THE OVERWHELM

  1. Listen to music. I personally like music with lyrics, but many swear by ambiance or non-lyric. Natural sounds, or slow, soothing music lowers blood pressure, heart rate as well as stress hormones.
  2. Exercise: it lowers stress hormones and it improves your sleep. Walk for 15 minutes, start a yoga routine, or go for a bike ride.
  3. Color! Or do something else creative that isn’t writing to reset your brain.
  4. Skip the introduction. Write the action and go back to the start later on. 
  5. Pomodoro Technique. Decide what you want to write, and then set a timer for 25 minutes. Write until the timer goes off, then take a five minute break. Repeat.
  6. Create a writing routine. Hack your brain into writing mode by setting a routine that forces your brain to connect a place, a time, or set up that means “it’s writing time!”
  7. Shut off the distractions. Sometimes, I just need to turn off the wifi, set the phone in another room and focus.
  8. Aromatherapy: certain herbs and scents can help reduce stress. Try lavender, rose or chamomile candles or essential oils.

Sometimes, being afraid of writing is harder for us to deal with, than actually just sitting down and writing. Other times, the words come easily. Experiment. Find what works for you, to overcome the overwhelm and use it. If you want to make a career out of writing, then part of your job is to do the writing and get it done. Even when it feels like you can’t make it.

Warren Ellis says it best: “Writer’s block? I’ve heard of this. This is when a writer cannot write, yes? Then that person isn’t a writer anymore. I’m sorry, but the job is getting up in the fucking morning and writing for a living.”

Creatives like us have no problem with getting caught up in negative thought cycles. All it takes is one errant thought and we’re suckered into a mindset trap that isn’t healthy for us in the slightest.

If it were as easy as one positive thought getting us back on track, life would certainly be a lot easier wouldn’t it?

That being said, when you catch yourself swirling down into negative thoughts, learning to stop yourself and reverse that thought into something positive can go a long way to helping.

Mine is always… “I’m not writing enough.” Reversing that would look like… “I AM writing enough, and my pace is just fine.”

What negative thought do you fall into, and how can you reverse it to something positive?

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I absolutely fell in love with this book. Dreamy, magickal, seductively sinister and upliftingly tragic.

The blurb: “France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.”

My review: This book blew me away, entirely. I can’t stop talking about it and I can’t stop thinking about it. This is the first book in… ever, that after reading it through the library, I specifically went and purchased a physical copy for myself to own.

Admittedly, it did have a slow start, but it was a gradual beginning balanced by the lovely flowing prose that made this entire novel feel luminous. I felt Addie’s plight in my soul, understood her desire to and willingness to let herself drown in Henry and even the willingness to drown herself in Luc. 

This is the nail art it inspired:

The story wanders between past and present and this is polarizing among readers, but I found it indicative of Addie’s mental state. Past bleeding into the present, with no real hold on the future, because while she is a person who no one remembers, she’s cursed to remember everything. 

The plot doesn’t pick up until somewhere in the middle of the book, but the beginning was moody and atmospheric and in my own personal opinion, I felt as if those qualities and the stunning writing more than made up for it, especially when one considers it in the light of Addie herself as a character. She has spent all of those centuries being a wayward wanderer chasing sentiments and shadows, desperate to make her own mark on a world that won’t accept it – and then finally, she meets the one who can help her do that. Then, finally, her story truly begins, because no story can exist if the mark cannot be made.

"Deja vu. Deja su. Deja vecu. Already seen. Already known. Already lived."

This was my first book from V.E.Schwab and it did not disappoint. 5/5

What did you think of Addie LaRue?


Get Your Copy: https://read.macmillan.com/torforge/the-invisible-life-of-addie-larue/

Visit V.E. Schwab’s Website: https://www.veschwab.com


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Author Chat with Sasha Summers

Sasha Summers, romance author, had me join her recently to discuss author assistants, as well as reveal her stunning new covers!

THE RED CARPET ROMANCE SERIES

I had a fabulous time on this project!

Here are the original covers:


Now, the updated and improved covers!

We did discuss in the chat a little bit about the project, so if you’d like a more in depth talk, be sure to watch the video.

But when Sasha first came to me, she wanted covers that screamed Hollywood and a more sophisticated red carpet feel.

She had the couples, and I took those and added a background featuring bright lights and paparazzi. From there, we made sure that “A Red Carpet Romance” was included so that it would be known right off the bat they belonged to the same series. We chose red to echo the idea of a red carpet, and finally, she had asked for a glow on the letters. After some thought, I added the glow lights along the tops of the Hollywood letters, to bring forward the idea of flashing photography, the grand Hollywood sign, and the glaring lights around an actress’ vanity table as they get ready for their next scene.


If you’d like to see more from her, be sure to check out her website and her socials!


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5 Reasons Why You Should Hire An Author Assistant Immediately

Do you ever sit down to handle your authorpreneur tasks and immediately regret even thinking about it? ⁠

Maybe you’ve thought…⁠

“I’ll just throw up a post for Instagram telling people to buy my book and I’ll be good.”⁠
“I’ll do my newsletter next week.”⁠
“They won’t notice if I don’t do a blog this month.”⁠
“I can’t think of anything to say.”⁠
“I don’t know how to make this learning guide for the classroom.”⁠
“I don’t have time to reach out to all the Booktubers to ask them to review my book.”⁠
“I don’t know how….”⁠
“I don’t have time…”⁠
“I don’t want to….”⁠


And the list goes on.⁠

A lot of authors don’t fully understand the reality of what being an author means in the long run. You have to write your books, market those books, all the while balancing your home life. Things start to slip, you begin to worry and procrastinate, and then the results you’ve been working so hard for aren’t what you were hoping for.

Everyone’s work load is different, but one thing in common is that it is hard to market your books while you’re writing and doing everything else.

And if you’ve come to that realization, here’s another one for you: having an author assistant can mean the difference between burning out and being successful.

What is An Author Assistant?

An author assistant also known as an author virtual assistant, or an author personal assistant, is someone who aids a writer in a variety of tasks. This can be small tasks that need to be done regularly, or even large projects. They can also fill in knowledge gaps when it comes to project. A writer may not know the best social media practices, but an author assistant does and can ensure your posts are impactful. Many author assistants handle administrative tasks as well, such as scheduling your events, handling your email inbox, newsletters and so on so that your deadlines are met and you’re able to focus on your creative process.

What Can An Author Assistant Do For You?

  • Creating newsletter copy, scheduling and ensuring it has been sent out, as well as building your subscriber list.
  • Website maintenance such as adding in new books, detailing events, updating copy and more.
  • Blog writing to make sure you always have fresh content that is relatable to your author brand and genre.
  • Social media, whether this is content writing, sourcing articles and things to post, scheduling social media, designing images, and running contents and giveaways.
  • Graphic design, which can range from social media graphics, website graphics, bookmarks, postcards or even book cover design.
  • Answering emails, scheduling events, and many other administrative tasks.
  • Travel and food accommodations for writing events. An author assistant can make sure you have a hotel to stay at, that your table is set up and any important details like dietary restrictions and more is taken care of for book signings, conferences and other events.
  • Research for your book, proofreading and beta reading.
  • Book and launch preparation.
  • Outreach for reviews, blog tours and more.

Why Would an Author Want an Assistant?

An author assistant is an investment that is not only wise, but extremely beneficial. Many assistants will happily take on tasks that you want to have taken off your plate, no matter what they might be. So you as a writer are saving time and effort for the things that matter to you, namely, writing. In fact, having an author assistant will help you not only save money in the end, but allow you to make more money because you can focus on writing and publishing rather than all the small, stressful details. And to that, offloading some of your tasks helps relieve quite a bit of stress.

How Can an Author Assistant Save an Author Money?

An author assistant helps save money in a key way: by doing the tasks that take you away from writing. A current client I work with, I do 20 hours a week. In a month, that’s 80 hours the author can spend time writing, editing and focusing on that instead of the other necessary tasks that come with being an author. In the end, more writing time means more books, which means more money.

Is an Author Assistant Expensive?

In reality, author assistants can be fairly inexpensive. Starting assistants generally begin around $20 -$25 an hour, and go up from there with experience. Some author assistants who are just beginning their career may even be lower than that, because they’re still learning their own craft. The trade off being you may need to spend a bit of time with them starting off to get them on their way. Other author assistants offer packages with specific tasks they offer that will offer particular discounts for being bundled.

Where Can Authors Find an Assistant?

  • Facebook groups: a lot of assistants will post in writing groups seeking clients. There are also groups specifically for author assistants where writers can post looking for one.
  • Google: often, simply googling “author assistant” can pull up several options.
  • Hashtags: on Twitter and Instagram, you can look through the #authorassistant #authorva #personalassistant and others.
  • Asking: ask a fellow writer for their recommendations. They may have worked with an author assistant, or know someone has worked with one and can recommend someone.

Taking the time to weigh the benefits for a little extra help might be just the thing you need to make your author career a reality.


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6 Free Book Marketing Ideas

Book marketing isn’t easy, is it?

Book marketing detracts from your writing time, and it seems complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. 

Rather than letting your marketing overwhelm you, learn to market smarter, not harder.

One of the best things you can do, is pick a day where you dedicate that to your marketing. This helps cut down on wasted time on other days when you should be writing, and allows you to compile the things you need to get done to the one day. You can effectively move from task to task and wipe out your to-do list rather than stopping and starting as you remember things while you’re trying to write.

There’s an old saying that goes: “to make money, you have to spend money.”

While that saying is true, there are free ways that authors can market their books to help get the ball rolling. Check them out below.

FREE WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOKS

– SOCIAL MEDIA. Ensure that you are signed up and that your bios are optimized. That your cover photos reflect your author brand and books. Also be sure that your profile photos and names are the same across the board so that people can find you wherever they are looking.

– NEWSLETTER. Create a lead magnet that interests your ideal readers and promote that. Give this freebie away to those that sign up for your emails. Once you have them signed up, you can send them a series of welcome emails – from there, you can sell.

– LINKS. Include your links everywhere. Have it set up on your social medias. Include it in your email signature on your regular emails. Have them on your business card. And keep it consistent, so that people always know where to go.

– TOP LISTS. Set up Google alerts for certain kinds of awards and lists. A lot of the time, these are done by submission, so you can submit your book to them. This will help you gain acclaim that you can promote, and also be promoted by the people that set these lists up.

– GIVEAWAYS. Running a contest or giveaway is a great way of attracting people to your social media, your email or website. It is a bit of a double edged sword, however. If you decide to do this, be aware that there will likely be a drop in followers or email subscribers after the contest ends. There is always someone that signs up just for the chance to win something, then nopes out when they didn’t win.

– PRESS RELEASES. This is something that I don’t see authors doing enough of. Write a press release and then send it in to your local papers! It’s free to do so, and it gives you the opportunity to be recognized locally. It’s also a good idea to send it out to magazines and newspapers that are relevant to your topic.

These free ways of marketing your book are ways that can springboard your marketing effort. You will need to run ads through social media, Google and Amazon, but having the above things in place is incredibly beneficial.

Take advantage of every opportunity that you have to promote your book, especially in ways that aren’t sleazy and salesy. 

What free book marketing idea do you have? Let me know in the comments below!


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How To Conquer NaNoWriMo in Preptober

As it grows closer to the end of the year, most people begin to think of the holidays.

We have Halloween (my personal favorite), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. But we writers know that not only do we have the holidays, we have Preptober and NaNoWriMo.

I want to make sure you make the most of your Preptober so you can conquer NaNoWriMo 2020.

National Novel Writing Month 2020 or NaNoWriMo 2020, is a yearly competition in which writers all over the world attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript in a single month. Whether you’re an old hat at NaNoWriMo, or a newbie, this competition shouldn’t be taken lightly.

So How Can You Conquer NaNoWriMo 2020?

That’s what the month of October is for, fondly noted by the writing community as Preptober. It’s the perfect time to get prepped and ready, book, mental and life-wise, for NaNoWriMo. In this month’s blog, I’ll be taking you through the steps you can use to conquer NaNoWriMo 2020.

Step One: Getting Organized

Just like you plan for a trip or event, you should be organized for NaNoWriMo 2020 as well. Writing Bytes is breaking it down for you.

What Are Your NaNoWriMo Goals?

Most people strive for the 50k mark, but some go over or under that depending on what they feel comfortable with. Do you have any other goals though? Do you want to rework a draft of a novel? Try your hand at writing a new genre? Whatever the case might be, make sure your prep reflects that.

Make Your Checklist

Now that you know your goals, what steps do you need to take to reach them? Maybe you need to reread your draft to familiarize yourself with it again before you work on it in November. Or maybe you need to research the genre you want to try writing. Plan out your key scenes. Make your character cast. Tick everything off by the end of Preptober so that come NaNoWriMo 2020, you can get right down to writing.

Make It Official

Announce to the world you’re participating in NaNoWriMo 2020 by making your account on nanowrimo.org and fill it out. Get all your details straight so that on November 01, you have one less thing to worry about. I also suggest setting aside a dedicated notebook as well. You’ll be making notes, brainstorming and more, so a place to put it all is helpful.

Step Two: Get Your Frickin’ Novel Ready

Make it easier on yourself come NaNoWriMo 2020 and get the big picture details of your book plotted and handled. This when, when November begins all you need to do is write.

Outline Or Nah?

Whether you’re a panster or a plotter, now’s the time to be thinking about your book. There’s no right or wrong way. Whether you nail down the fine details with meticulously planned scenes, list out your beats or just get your concept ready, you’ll thank yourself later.

Decide How You’ll Write Your Novel

This one is pretty simple, but also pretty crucial. You need to decide how you’re story is going to be written. Cement what point of view you’ll be writing in, what tense and your genre. Ensuring you have all of this figured out means you’ll waste less time trying to figure it out later when you should be writing.

Make Your Cast of Characters

Use Preptober to figure out your characters. Determine their appearances, their personalities, quirks and everything else. Knowing ahead of time what they’re like will help you decide who needs to be in certain scenes, who might do well to block the MC when it’s needed, or who could give the MC a push. It also keeps you from getting stuck while you’re writing to hurry up and figure out an eye color, and ensures that you end up with a fully fleshed out character instead of a 2D model.

Have A Little Fun

Go ahead and play on Pinterest and Youtube. Create your character boards, aesthetics, and your playlists. These things are great for inspiration and can help jog your brain. If you’re like me, having music that suits the novel playing in the background while I write is totally key to getting words out on the page. When I’m struggling, I like to go to their Pinterest boards and review the collection I have for them to help me find their headspace.

Step Three: Preptober Yourself

Most importantly, you need to get yourself ready. Mentally and physically. Getting things ready for yourself is going to make NaNoWriMo 2020 a much smoother process and you can easily get it done during Preptober.

Set Up Your Space

Create a space for yourself. This is where you’ll go to write. Set up your notebook and laptop, pens and pencils, candles and anything else you need to write, in this area. Get it set up the way you want and make sure it’s organized. Doing so will help prevent procrastination by rearranging, and you’ll be in ready shape to write. You can also use this time to set up a reward system and post it in your space so that you can see it while you’re working. Whether you let yourself have a glass of wine, some candy, a trip to the bookstore (safely!) or something else, having your reward set up where you can see is a good reminder.

Clean Your House, Prep Your Meals

There’s the age old meme of writers who procrastinate by cleaning and cooking. Stop this in its tracks by making sure your house is clean beforehand. Do the same with cooking. Prep your meals ahead of time so that you spend less time at the stove or microwave and more time at your laptop typing away.

Inform Friends & Family

This is perhaps one of the most important steps when it comes to setting yourself up for success. Tell your friends and family and explain. Let them understand ahead of time that you might be distant for the month because you’re focusing on writing. Explain that you’ll be happy to go do things with them again after NaNoWriMo. This will (hopefully!) help remind your children to be quieter or to leave you alone when you’re writing. Your spouse to help take care of things just a little more, and your friends to be supportive.

NaNoWriMo 2020 while not to be taken lightly, isn’t something to be scared of either. Taking steps to ensure your success to help you conquer it is all that’s needed. Do you have any tips for conquering NaNoWriMo 2020? Let me know in the comments!


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How to Keep Your Blog Readers, Reading

You’re told that you need to have a blog.

Why?

1. Blogging creates content. Content that can then be used to promote your business or book.

2. It bolsters your website and adds value that will ensure you are ranked higher in searches.

3. Having a blog gives you a way of directing traffic to your website, at which point you can make your sale.

But what makes someone read your blog?

>> Break your paragraphs into small blocks of words. The bigger a paragraph is, the less likely someone will take the time to read it. Words can get lost in large blocks.

>> Be organized! There’s nothing wrong with spilling your words out in the post, but be sure to go back through after and create your subtopics as needed. This helps people skim to sections they want to read, rather than leaving right away.

>> Offer a tantalizing headline. Copyblogger’s article, How to Write Magnetic Headlines says: “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”

>> Images! Blogs that feature several images or videos rank better overall. Be sure to include descriptions with important keywords to help your ranking.

So Why Blog?

Journalists are taught to start with the most pertinent information at the top of the article, rather than burying it at the bottom. This is important because a study of over 2 billion website visits revealed that 55% spend less than 15 seconds engaging with an article.

That being said, blogging is still one of the most effective ways of driving organic traffic to your website.

Blogs are one of those content pieces that can generate more content as well. You can create infographics based on information you’ve included, base videos or social media graphics off of it and more that can then be distributed further to your various platforms. They are also an incredible way of spreading your call to action.

The next time you choose to blog, remember these important aspects:

       >> Include a top image, and more relevant images throughout the post.

       >> Include an engaging headline.

       >> Include content that is valuable and relevant to your audience.

       >> Keep your paragraphs small

       >> Break up your content into subtopics for easier skimming

       >> Create more from your blog to extend visibility and engagement.

Remembering these will help you create a blog or article that anyone will want to read.


Interested in having help with your blogs? Contact us at writingxbytes@gmail.com.


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Market Research for Authors

Market research is the process by which you learn about your audience.

Why is this important?

Because you need to cater your content to your audience. Your postings should not be for you, but for the people following you because you want them to engage and continue to follow you. 

This is also how you gain new followers – with the promise of your content. These are the people that you are marketing towards, and you need to be aware of their patterns in order to successfully sell them your book.

How do you do market research?

There are a lot of ways that you can do this, and it’s important that you strategize across all of your social medias because each platform has a different type of audience. You need to be aware of the differences and how to cater to them.

  • Poll stickers on IG stories.
  • Question stickers on IG Stories.
  • Ask in your posts.
  • Twitter Polls.
  • Facebook Polls.
  • Surveys & Feedback forms.
  • Feedback in your newsletters.
  • Your insights.

Your insights are an important place to begin because this will tell you how to be strategic about your posts.

The important things to look for:

– What times are your followers active?

– What day do they engage more?

– What age is your demographic?

– What sex is your demographic?

– What post got the most engagement/reach?

These analytics can tell you a LOT. You can choose the time that your followers are most active to post for the day. The day they are most active can be the best day to post a promotional piece.

The age and sex of your demographic will help you better cater content to their taste.

And by knowing which post for the most engagement, you can use that to style future posts.

In short, market research will better enable you to understand your audience, cater content to them and attract new followers.


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No One Told You Being an Author Was a Business

Here is a big secret: being an author means being a business.

You’re going to wear a lot of hats during your writing career and this is especially true for indie and self published writers. But it’s almost important for traditionally published authors too. Publishing companies rarely handle the marketing for you, although they do sometimes give you a pretty good push! And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to keep your writing a hobby – if you want more out of it, you have to do more.

LEARNING THE ROPES

If you want to make writing your career, you need to treat it like one. Which means sitting down and putting in the work instead of procrastinating and making excuses. Dedicate time (and this can literally be as little as an hour a day or less!) to working on the business aspect of your writing. Use the hour to write an author blog that you can then promote, formulate your monthly newsletter, create your social media posts for the week or read your analytics and make a plan on how to reach more people. You show up to your job every day and get the work done, so put in the same effort for your author business.

Invest in your author business. Take classes to learn about monetizing your writing, read a book – there are so many great ones out there! – or do a consultation with an author marketer. Up level your writing skills too. Don’t be afraid to take a seminar, a writing workshop or something else that will help you become a better author.

I can’t stress this enough either. Learn marketing. Gone are the days of simply posting something your social media and reaching a wide audience. Chances are, most of your followers aren’t going to see that post so you need to have at least a basic understanding of how to reach the people you want to.

OUTSOURCING THE WORK

Having someone who knows what they’re doing, do the work for you is an absolutely okay option. There are times that delegating the tasks to professionals is more agreeable to your writing career, especially if you have deadlines to make or you simply don’t have the required skills.

Finding the professional that’s right for you is key. There are personal author assistants who specialize in certain areas which can be incredibly beneficial if you need certain things taken care of. You might also choose a general personal author’s assistant who can take care of social media, emails, newsletters and more. The key is to do your research and talk to these people. They want to help you as much as you want the help and they’ll be happy to answer questions.

Building a career and making money as an author requires investing in your writing business, whether through time or money.

You’ve got options when it comes to this. You can learn the necessary things yourself, or you can outsource. Either one is totally viable. Take the time to determine what’s best for you and your author business.


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Using Stock Photos as An Author

If you’re an author or small business who has ever used an image from Google, read on.

Recently, I was scrolling through Instagram and happened upon an author’s feed where the most recent post was one that was pretty nice.

And then I looked closer and realized something terrible.

They had taken a stock image that hadn’t been paid for, and tried to cover up the watermark.

I could see part of the name of the website it had been taken from, as well as the cross hatch of white lines that denoted that it needed to be paid for, before using. My heart just about dropped right into my stomach when I realized.

Authors, small business owners, even regular people – this is a HUGE NO-NO.

We have a culture whereby people use images all of the time when posting, without crediting it to the proper person. But even those few that do credit it to the proper person, can still be hit with fines.

Legally speaking, you are not allowed to use an image unless you have a license, or strict permission by the owner of the image. If you use the image, say from Google or Pinterest, and the rightful owner of it discovers the use, they can choose to fine you for thousands of dollars.

It’s expensive.

So what can you use?

Subscription based sites. These are sites that you pay a monthly fee, or pay per image, for the rights to use that image. Some of these websites even grant you ownership. Make sure to read the fine print too – there are specific licenses that grant you different rights, such as being able to alter them, or not being allowed to print with them.

1. Adobe Stock

2. EyeEm

3. Shutterstock

4. PixiStock

Free stock photo sites. These sites allow you to use their images commercially for free. There are still certain ways you can and cannot use them, so be certain to read the fine print here too, so that you own’t get in trouble.

1. Unsplash

2. Pexels

3. StockSnap.io

4. Gratisography

Whether you pay for an image, or choose one that is free from the sites above, you can rest easy knowing that you are legally allowed to use them. This goes for your social media, your newsletters, even your book covers.

Don’t be like that person on Instagram, who used a stock photo and tried to cover it up. While that image might look good now, it won’t be looking so hot when you have to pay thousands of dollars in retribution for using it without permission.


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