Writers' Forum - July 2021






PTSD and Platform: Is Vella in Vain?

Author Emily Shore writes an insightful article about her route to publishing on the Kindle Vella serialization platform amid personal struggles that could have derailed her progress! She details what these first days have been like along with the process and Facebook groups where authors have banded together to learn about Vella successes and struggles from each other. Great info if you’re considering Vella!

Author Margaret Mizushima Asks, “What Do You Do to Fill the Creative Well?”

Fellow Blackbird Writer Margaret Mizushima is an award-wining author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Her most recent blog post talks about how we can fill our creative well and focuses on the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and, more specifically, on the two tools that are employed in the text: Morning Pages and the Artist Date. Learn more in her post on the Blackbird Authors Website

Advice for Beginning Writers

Amy Wilson at the Good Story Company helps any beginning writer with a stellar list to get you moving with your writing and weather the ups and downs of the publishing world. I feel her best advice is to find other writers and develop a community of writers you know. Read her full advice: https://www.goodstorycompany.com/blog/advice-for-beginning-writers


Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn offers countless (mostly free) resources to aid in your publishing journey. She has a wonderfully informative blog and podcast and her how-to publish books are fabulous. Her website offers up-to-date and trusted information for authors about the publishing industry. Check it out here: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/


Hello Creatives, I'm an award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author as J.F.Penn, as well as writing non-fiction for authors. I've written 30+ books and sold over 600,000 books in 162 countries and 6 languages. I'm an independent (indie) author publishing through my small press, Curl Up Press.

I'm also an international professional speaker and award-winning creative entrepreneur.  In 2018, I was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World. My show, The Creative Penn Podcast, has been downloaded over 5.6 million times in 220 countries. I'm based in Bath, England although I lived in Australia and New Zealand for 11 years. I'm a travel junkie and am often away on book research trips to interesting places, which I share on my Books and Travel site.


Beyond the Phone Book or Computer Name Generators: Selecting Character Names

T.K. Sheffield’s recent post takes us on adventures to some unusual places to find character names. I love this approach and getting away from your computer on a field trip (with a purpose) meshes well with the Artist Date idea that helps fill up your creative well in Margaret Mizushima’s article.

25 Books that Writers of Fiction Should Consider Reading

The Authors Publish website curated this excellent list of books for writers/authors. You’ll recognize some of your favorites on this list – like Stephen King’s “On Writing” and Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” but there may be some new ones you need to check out. Here’s the full list.












Finding Critique Partners

We’ve talked about the importance of critique partners in past forums, but I’m happy to share this topic again in “Finding Critique Partners” by Gigi Collins. I have found the best place to find like-minded critique partners that have the same level of commitment to their writing work would be at writing conferences or through professional writing associations. I found my critique group through the Society of Children’s Book Writers’ and Illustrators.

Editing Options for Novels

Daniel Parsons writing for the Self-Publishing Formula blog provides a good review of the types of editing and what they cover! Do you need a copyeditor or a developmental editor? Or a proofreader? See what each type of editing covers and when they are typically done during the process of preparing your manuscript for submission or publication.

Traditional or Indie Publishing: Which is Better for You?

Again, Daniel Parsons gives an excellent overview of what you need to consider if you’re deciding between traditional or indie publishing. If you’re looking for a more complete discussion on this topic, you may wish to take my course. The Independent Publishing Blueprint provides a comprehensive discussion of the pros & cons of independent, hybrid, and traditional publishing, along with a step-by-step approach or blueprint that will allow you to successfully publish your book independently. 

Not Your Typical Book Launch

Kathryn Haueisen suggests some unique options (locations) for book launch event(s) based on partnerships that make sense based on your book’s topic. Libraries and bookstores are obvious choices, but what about your local coffee shop where you wrote most of your book? Or a hair salon or antique store? Fun to think outside the box! One of the authors I work with recently held her book launch party on a boat. Read the full article here. 

How to Create a Book Trailer with Book Brush

This episode of Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula’s podcast covers the use of Book Brush for book trailer creation. I will give my own review of Book Brush in the coming weeks as I’ve just received a free trial. Hope this helps folks who have Book Brush and are trying to create a reasonably priced book trailer. (I used iMovie for the creation of mine, and I’m guessing Book Brush might be easier?)




Are Fictional Characters Protected Under Copyright Law

This was the first time that I’ve seen character copyright addressed. This is a very well-presented discussion from Kathryn Goldman for the Jane Friedman blog. It just never occurred to me that there was a separate consideration for your characters vs the work in which they appear. Read the fascinating information about Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan copyright and others that appear in the public domain now—like Sherlock Holmes.

Copyright & Book Piracy

Recently, Dave Chesson spent some time taking on those pirating his books. In his article “What to Do if Someone Steals Your Book,” you’ll be taught how to take action against pirates. This is the most comprehensive list I’ve found to walk authors through this process. (And, surprisingly, depending on where you book is seemingly pirated, the advice may be to ‘do nothing.’) Additionally, Chesson has a “Guide to Writing a Book Copyright Page” that indie authors may find quite helpful.

Ack! I Found a Typo in My Book! Now What?

Book designer Andrea Schmidt helps us through this upsetting (but nearly inevitable) discovery on the Build Book Buzz website. First, she gives excellent editing/typo-avoiding advice but then walks through the ‘fix.’ Best take away here: be kind to yourself, we all make mistakes.

Read her full advice here: https://buildbookbuzz.com/a-typo-in-my-book/


Book Marketing Integrity: Where Do You Stand?

Sandra Beckwith breaks down the offers that authors receive to gain the oft-sought-after “seen on [INSERT MAJOR MEDIA OUTLET NAME]” line for their book(s). These are often paid advertising schemes disguised to give the impression that a book was included or recognized in news programming or written articles. Not cool! Worth a read: https://buildbookbuzz.com/book-marketing-and-integrity/

The Rise of Social Commerce

Barb Drozdowich of Bakerview Consulting gives us an easy-to-follow tutorial on how social media commerce works. (I love these visuals.) We all know that more and more social media is becoming a sales platform. Some of this is driven by direct ads you might place – like on Facebook or Instagram, but there’s more to it than that. Important knowledge for authors to have and understand.

Authors on Social Media: Choosing Platforms & Avoiding Burnout

I rarely meet an author who says, “I love social media!” Most of us tolerate it or accept it as necessary portion of our author/publishing marketing. But we often like one platform more than another. Diana Urban (for the BookBub Partners blog) explores how authors can wisely choose the platforms they engage on in order to avoid burnout. She talks about identifying your goals for social media as well as where your readership hangs out. Pay attention to this article’s notes on the rise of TikTok. Will this be a good fit for you? Your brand? Bookmark this article – it’s that important!

10 Facebook Statistics Every Business Owner & Marketer Should Know in 2021

The previous article gives great stats on all the social media platforms, but this infographic presented by Barb Drozdowich focuses on Facebook. If this is where you’re hanging out or where you readers hang out, it pays to catch up on these Facebook user stats.

Happy Writing (editing, marketing, and more!) - Valerie  


Thank you for this very helpful collection of articles. I'm now following you on Twitter and will definitely be visiting your blog again.

Thanks, Leanne!! Glad you found it helpful! There's so much information out there to wade through each month. - Valerie

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