November 2019 Writers' Forum


Self-Publishing Report Analysis 2019

30 Book Awards You Should Know About

All the publishing news and writing craft help you need! The Writers' Forum


Bowker Self-Publishing Report Analysis – 5 Surprising Findings for 2019

Bowker (the company that sells ISBNs) has analyzed publishing statistics from 2013-18 in their latest report. Key points include; Amazon publishes 92% of independently published books (no surprise); self-publishing activity overall decreased by 25% in 2018 over 2017 stats; and, more importantly, previously reported numbers from Bowker underwent significant corrections, so it pays to read through this report to see how previous statistics were amended. Read the analysis with a link to the full report HERE.

30 Book Awards You Should Know About (Trad & Self-Pub!)

This article from the BookBub Partners blog provides a curated list of 30 different book awards for a combination of indie or traditionally published titles. Many of these are familiar names, but there are some that are not so familiar, so I thought it would be helpful to share. I’ve previously discussed book awards and whether entering contests is worth it in my blog post “Are Writing Contests Worth the Fees?”. 

Are You Stuck in Your Writing Process. Great ways to jumpstart your writing and more on the Writers' ForumPRE-PUBLICATION

Are You Stuck?

While I hope you are not, many of us at one point or another become stuck in our writing process. “Writing Truthinessby Judith Briles for the Book Designer blog is an honest acknowledgement of getting stuck while providing key ways to become unstuck. Very helpful! 

Writing During the Holidays: Staying on Track

Tracey Kathryn’s guest post on my blog gives smart tips on staying track during the busy holiday season (however these tips would work well any busy time of the year.) 

For the Beginning Writer and Beyond

Colin Dunbar presents a pair of articles with succinct lists and tips for “How to Start Writing a Bookand “How to Write a Book.” I find each of these equally helpful even now that I have been writing for many years.

Why Writers Should Trust Their Intuition

C.S. Lakin gives us encouragement to trust our gut when we’re deciding whether a scene is working or not working. She says, “When you write a scene, you should be able to sense if something is wrong or missing, not quite hitting the mark. And if you nailed the scene just right, you should be able to feel that as well.” Read her advice for fine tuning this skill HERE.

What Microtension Is and Why Writers Must Master It

C.S. Lakin (again) hits it just right with this article addressing microtension, which is the barely noticeably tension that exists in a story on a line-by-line basis versus the big tension/plot points of the story. She goes on to explain this can be achieved when there are conflicting feelings, changes in emotion, elements of surprise, or when scenes “feel contradictory, seem puzzling.” If you’re struggling at all with momentum, I think this article would be beneficial.

Parentheses and Italics in Fiction Writing

Louise Harnby explains “How to Use Round Brackets (Parentheses) in Fiction Writing.” Excellent reminder on rules and reasons to use and not to use them. Additionally, I appreciated the discussion on the most effective use of italics in fiction from the Christian Editing blog. “Dear Editor: When Can I Use Italics in Fiction?” spoke directly to me as I’m pondering my teen protagonist’s inner thought being presented in this manner. I thought other authors might be equally intrigued by these guidelines.

Naming Your Characters and other writing help on the Writers' ForumGreat Character Name Generator Sites [2019] + Character Naming Tips

Dave Chesson’s articles on the Kindlepreneur site are always helpful, but I particularly appreciated his update on name generators for 2019, plus a discussion about why choosing the right name for your characters is so important. Frankly, I think naming your characters is one of the best parts of fiction writing. So much so, that author Kristin Oakley and I had an entire discussion about this with tips for you in “Naming Your Characters.”  

How to Collaborate Across Genres

Russell Phillips and Andrew Knighton give us advice on co-authoring in this article on writing collaboration. Is co-authoring in your future? If so, this is a must read. I hope to make my first leap into co-authorship a reality in 2019. 

Writing the Query Letter: Dos & Don’ts

Heather Webb (an international and award-winning author of 6 historical novels) breaks down the mystery of writing a good query letter for the Writer Unboxed website. We cover query letters here from time to time, but this article stood out from the crowded field of advice on this topic. Plus, anyone willing to use the word obsequiousness in a blog post, deserves a huge shout out. 

Finding and Using Competing Book Titles in Your Book Marketing

Book marketing expert Penny Sansevieri presents a methodical approach to finding comparable book titles. While this article talks about looking at YOUR book’s ‘also boughts’ at the bottom of your Amazon product page, I think that searching for competing book titles is best done prior to publication, allowing to complete a more astute marketing plan that targets your ideal reader properly. 

Where to Find a Book's Word Count

This question comes up from time to time, because it is difficult to find word counts for specific titles. Often, we can see quantity of pages in a book’s information but word counts will vary a lot based on page and font size. Renaissance Learning has a handy tool gives you word counts for books. You’ll want to bookmark this. 


Formatting Your Book in Three PartsLearn how to format your book and other author tips on the Writers' Forum

Tracy Atkins and the Book Designer ROCK for this three-part series on book design. Anyone who has ever indie published knows that if you’re talking this yourself it is a major undertaking and sucks up plenty of author time. I suggest that even if you’re not at the formatting stage, you read Part One—you may be making errors in how you format your manuscript that will be a pain to undo if you’re already sure you’re going to indie publish. While this series is focused on the Book Designer templates as far as I can tell this will also work in the Word free templates provided by KDP Print. Check out Part One (insert chapters and chapter headings into templates), Part Two (drop caps, section breaks, headers/footers), and Part Three (table of contents, page numbers, contiguous chapter formatting, and more.)

Cover Reveal Checklist: How to Run One & What to Update After

Are you in the final stages of your book launch and ready to reveal your cover? The BookBub Blog has tips on the ways you can gain maximum exposure for your cover reveal and build a buzz for your upcoming release. (This works for trad and indie pub books.)

Publishing Your Ebook is Changing on Smashwords

I know a number of authors who use Smashwords for their ebook distribution and here’s a good overview of how Smashwords works. I actually couldn’t find “the change” that was being referenced as indicated by the title. Maybe the author meant their change over to Smashwords as a distribution platform. If you’re considering Smashwords, this article is worth a read. (However, I prefer Draft2Digital for my ebook distribution beyond Kindle.) 

How to Self-Publish an Audiobook and more author advice on the writers' forumHow to Self-Publish an Audiobook

Nathan Bransford is an excellent source of clear, easy-to-understand information on the book industry. This article on publishing your audiobook is no exception. I’m nearly finished with the process of publishing my first audiobook on the ACX platform, but this article brings up a few other routes that look promising beyond the ACX platform.

8 Things I’ve Learnt Self-Publishing 8 Books

Kristina Adams gives eight things that are important to know about indie publishing your book. Ideally, if you’re on the fence with pursuing traditional publishing versus indie publishing, read this article NOW because one of her items addresses the continued bias against indie publishing.

Publishing Lingo Explained

The Editing Podcast has a fun (and succinct 15 minute) exploration of publishing lingo that will help those at the beginning of their publishing journey. Plus, this is a fun listen as these two authors have lovely accents. 


Authors! Refresh, Rehab, Repair, and Renovate: How to Rejuvenate Your Backlist

Ruth Harris helps us tend to our backlist (for authors who have had a number of titles out for a few years.) These are smart tips on rejuvenating your covers, your book blurbs, your biography, links etc… that were included in your book originally. She also gets into the nitty gritty of making sure our category listings are correct along with recommending some cool tools to help us accomplish all of this. We all need a little maintenance sometime! 

How I Hit a Bestseller List with a Traditionally Published Book

Christina McDonald gives us the play-by-play on how her book hit the USA Today Bestseller List. While these tasks were partially handled by her publisher, these can all be done by the indie author, too. (Well – a BookBub deal is hard to come by but you can try.) Pay particular attention to number three where she details the stacked promotions. The promo websites she lists are great places to note for your next book promotion. Read all the steps HERE

32 Book Marketing Ideas

Nathan Bransford gives 32 really super ideas online and offline for getting the word out about your new release. You probably won’t do all of these—or at least not all at once—but this gives you a good starting point for thinking about what you WILL do. Many of these are multi-step processes and take a bit of lead time.

I’m Promoting My Book – Where’s My Sales’ Spike?

This article from Indies Unlimited tells it like it is. “Writing a book is a sprint; promoting it is the marathon.” Unfortunately, “book sales are not a nice, neat equation” where if you do this plus that, you’ll get x number of sales. You need to have the fortitude to keep trying different things and stacking different promotions. This article gives you plenty of advice on how to promote as well. 

17 Fantastic Ways to Sell More Books for the Holidays

While it is too late for at least two of the items on this list (unless you already have a holiday-themed book published), there are 15 other tips that you can make part of your promotional plan for the coming month! Thanks to author Diana Urban for this helpful promotional list.

Promote Your Book with Local Collaborations

Often, we spend all of our time searching for online book marketing opportunities, when many great possibilities exist right where we live. Sandra Beckwith details where to look in your local community for the best book sales’ opportunities.

Indie Authors and the Case of Events

Joy E. Rancatore acknowledges the pitfalls of book events for authors, mainly that you sometimes don’t sell a lot of books. However, she knows you will likely attend some of these and it pays to be prepared by following her tips for before, during, and after a book event. If these type of book sales’ events have gotten you a bit down, check out the next article on speaking engagements.

6 Tips for Securing Speaking Engagements

Karen A. Chase’s guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog tells us why presentations are a better bet for pushing book sales and how to go about creating your own unique presentation brand that will help you gain the attention of conference organizers. (I love giving presentations to authors and other groups. In the picture on the below, I am presenting a session with Silvia Acevedo at an SCBWI Fall Conference.)

6 Tips for Securing Speaking Engagements as an Author and more writing help on the Writers' Forum

How to Optimize Your Website for Newsletter Sign-Ups

If you’re at all confused on how to get the proper email sign-up forms embedded on your website, this article is for you. Nate Hoffelder gives instructions on how to get this annoying chore out of the way without a lot of fuss. Read his helpful article HERE.


How to create a Facebook Author Page (And Tips for Using it Wisely)

Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur gives an excellent tutorial on setting up your author Facebook page as well as key tips on engaging with those who like your page. If you’re looking for this kind of assistance across all online platforms, you might want to consider my course “Building Your Online Author Image.” From now until December 31 it is $80 off.

Building Your Online Author Image Course - Sale Price until the end of the 2019


About the course: The first impression people form about you will often come from digital sources like your website, social media accounts, book sales’ websites, blog and more. In this course you’ll learn how to create an engaging, professional, and consistent online image across multiple platforms through: * 14 videos * 2.5 hours of instruction * 5 downloadable resource handouts 

The course remains available forever, so you can start and stop as needed and return to any lesson at any time. Learn more HERE


It’s Time to Do a Facebook Setting Checkup

Judith Briles of the Book Designer writes this helpful Facebook checkup list just in time to start the new year with all the right settings. I followed these instructions and fixed a few things. I’m guessing that you may be in the same boat. Read the tips HERE

How and Why to Build a Twitter Following

Emma Lombard writes this smart three-step approach on how to build a Twitter following on Jane Friedman’s blog. It includes links to her blog series Twitter Tips for Newbies as well. Smart advice if you plan to hang out on Twitter.

Top 5 Twitter Tips to Powerfully Market Your Books

Rachel Thompson of BadRedhead Media (don’t you just love that name?) gives us five tips for using Twitter effectively for book marketing. I immediately followed one of her tips and pinned a post to the top of my tweets. There’s lots of awesome info here to make Twitter work well for you. 

Happy Writing, Valerie  


Great curation as always, Val. Thanks for all the helpful articles. One of the highlights of my "work" reading every month.

Thanks, Chris! Glad to know that this is helpful to you. There's just so much information out there that it is hard to manage it sometimes! - Val

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