Writing Resources You NEED to Know About

Many aspiring authors spend hours and hours, alone behind their computers tap, tap, tapping away. Then those hours turn into months, and of course, the months slip into years.

This is admirable. If I’m confident of anything, it’s that to be an author you have to be willing to spend hours of your life equivalent to entire years out of your life slaving away writing. I’m just for sure that you need to read at least just as much.

One thing that gets unfortunately overlooked by many is that you also have to be willing to leave your books and your computer behind sometimes. To engage others.

Not that you can’t be an introvert. Thousands of widely regarded successful authors were introverts. That’s is because in some way or another they were able to overcome, albeit sometimes only briefly, their restrictions and step outside of their comfort zones.

That’s because while writing can take many forms; journaling, hobbies writing, personal letter writing. Authorship is a profession, and that means that it falls within a business structure. No matter how sincerely you believe that Jack Kerouac went from nothing to a fantastic book within two weeks of boozing (which FYI, in reality, he didn’t). If you want to move books from shelves, you will need to approach the task earnestly. With a humble attitude that is open to working with others.

The business of writing, designing, editing, publishing, marketing, and selling your books requires a multitude of strangers. Regardless of whether you have a small budget, or you’re JK Rowling.

In fact, the small your budget, the approach is better suited to involving a large number of people each with small, potentially volunteer style task. For instance, having friends complete a narrative edit before giving it to a professional editor, to reduce the amount of paid time the editor has to spend on the manuscript.

For your first book, I highly suggest having a strong group of people who can offer various products, services, and insights to help you stay focused, motivated, and up-to-speed on the ever-changing self-publishing landscape.

Being a successful author requires a lot more than just writing a great book. You have to get into the weeds, be willing to change out of your writer’s cap and into a variety of other hats depending on where you are in the process.

You may not have the skills or willingness to tackle everything with your own two hands, and that’s why it’s so important to develop your own file of go-to resources along the way.

Here are 30 more resources to tap into along the way!

While this list is mostly self-publishing focused, if you’re going the traditional publishing route, you should still have a rigorous shift through them to make sure you are familiar with what is out there.

Useful Blogs and Sites

1. The Write Life

This workhorse blog is a one-stop-shop offering all you need to figure out how to work with clients, navigate the changing landscape of publishing, learn the ins and outs of social media, grow a following for your blog and find a community that will support you along the way. You’ll always find something useful for your book business here. Try not to get lost in the rabbit hole though. There is so much helpful information here I try to time my visits to make sure I’m not eating into my writing time!

2. Kindlepreneur

If you want to dig deep into the goulash of marketing your books, Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur is your man. His strategies are groundbreaking. Every successful author has to wear many hats, and Dave shares his years of marketing experience and success to show you how to promote the heck out of your books.

3. The Book Designer

Joel Friedlander, the creator of The Book Designer, says “Writers change the world one reader at a time. But you can’t change the world with a book that’s still on your hard drive or in a box under your bed.” This embodies the Community Writer mentality. Joel gives you everything you need to get your book out of the box with a variety of self-publishing guides, advice, templates, and toolkits. With his experience in book design and advertising, Joel has the creds to help you produce and sell a great-looking book.

4. The Creative Penn

The Creative Penn is run by Joanna Penn, who has been wildly successful with fiction and nonfiction. In her blog and podcast, she covers every aspect of what it takes to start and run a successful author business. She also has a grab bag of books on various self-publishing topics if you can’t get enough on her blog.

5. Jane Friedman’s website

Jane has more than 20 years of experience in the book and magazine publishing industry, with expertise in digital media and the future of authorship. Her site is full of actionable content and detailed strategies for the aspiring author from someone who’s been there and done that many times over.

Podcasts Worth Your Time

6. Podcast – Neuralle (Uncommon)

Please forgive the shameless self-promotion here, but aside from the fact that I will be most likely appearing on this podcast at some point, Neuralle is a fantastic self-development podcast and in my humble opinion a must for any aspiring author or entrepreneur.

Past guests have included Venture Capitalists, Entrepreneurs, Chefs, Restaurant Owners, Body Builders, Strength Coaches, Activists, Winemakers, Filmmakers and many, many more.

7. Tim Ferris Podcast

This show is the first publishing-related podcast that I followed, and it’s still an all-time favourite. It’s hosted by Tim Ferris an American best-selling author, entrepreneur, self-proclaimed “human guinea pig”, and public speaker.

8. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Every green writer should bookmark this podcast. With helpful and insightful tips on grammar and storytelling, Mignon Fogarty’s podcast is sure to help you improve your narrative and technical writing skills.

9. The Writer Files

Hosted by Kelton Reid, The Writer Files is a long-running podcast that delves deep into habits and habitats of famed writers. Reid interviews writers from a broad spectrum, giving each listener a chance to see into the mind of an accomplished wordsmith within their genre or interest.

Forums

10. Neil Gaiman Board

Neil Gaiman’s Official Message Board. Enough said.

11. Goodreads Groups

Goodreads is the mega-site (with over 20 million members) for authors and readers. They have more specific groups than you can count, and if you can’t find an answer or inspiration here, then it doesn’t exist. You might feel a bit overwhelmed, but here’s a smart article on using Goodreads to support your author business.

12. Scribophile

There are tons of writing forums out there to choose from, so I suggest you have a play with a few of them. This one works a bit differently which is why I like it though. Scribophile provides detailed and helpful critiques from a member exchange. The analyses you’ll get are so much more than just a pat on the back – you’ll get actionable ways to improve your writing.

Writing Tools

13. Scrivener

Scrivener is a powerful writing tool for authors that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring your documents. Get a free 30-day trial and watch some brief YouTube tutorials to get acquainted with the system quickly.

14. Grammarly

This proofreading application is an improved version of your standard spellchecking program. Just copy and paste blocks of text into Grammarly, and it will check your writing for common mistakes. The reason it’s better than most spellcheckers is that it provides useful feedback that will improve the overall quality of your book. You will learn a lot very quickly by taking heed of the side bar suggestions and explanations.

15. Hemingway Editor

Excellent writing is quite often straightforward writing, and Hemingway was the master at that. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, your narrative should get to the point with simple language. With the Hemingway software, you will learn how to simplify your writing.

Book Publishing and Freelance Help

16. Archangel Ink

Archangel Ink is a one-stop solution for getting your book ready to publish. Archangel offers a range of services to help you with cover design, editing, formatting, audiobook production and much more. I feel that if you haven’t published before you learn a lot by manually going through the process of completing your manuscript via Scrivner, finding editors/cover creators via say Reedsy/Freelancer and then uploading it to KDP/Createspace. However it can be frustrating, so I completely understand throwing down some cash and handing of some or all of this to someone else. I’m currently considering using Archangel Ink to produce and audiobook for me.

17. 99 Designs

This is a service where you post a design project, like your book cover, and dozens of freelancers submit mock-up examples. You then select finalists based on the submissions and choose the winner to work with you to create a finalised version. 99Designs can be pricey, but it’s a great option if you want a professional cover design for your book.

18. Grammarly

I won’t rant on this too much as already do that frequently enough if you don’t have the free version of this you need to get it now. What some of you might not know, is that via the paid version they have an option to connect you with a professional proof reader. I haven’t used this before but considering the calibre of everything else they do I think it’s worth investigating.

19. Freelancer

One the most significant websites for hiring freelance talent. If you want to find the largest pool of people, then this is a great place to look. The app makes chatting with prospective freelancers seamless so you can manage your project and selection of the perfect candidate on the go.

20. Reedsy

Reedsy offers a boutique experience in editing and cover design. Most freelancers here have worked in the publishing industry, so they have a thorough understanding of what will work for your books. But you should also expect to pay more for the freelancers you find here. If you’re going the self-publishing route within fiction, a professional editor is a must, an absolute necessity, seriously. Reedsy is a great way to find one, with almost every budget available. If you can’t afford the lower tier, I suggest saving your pennies or going the traditional publishing route, where a publisher will provide you a professional editor to work with.

Getting Feedback

21. Survey Monkey

Is an easy to use survey builder; ask multiple choice questions and get demographic information about your audiences, like age, sex, or occupation. You can use it for your current email list, or post a survey with a lead magnet somewhere your target audience will see it (forums, pay-per-click ad etc.)

22. PickFu

PickFu allows authors to get instant feedback on your book before you publish using audience polls. This is a more advanced option for those who already have income streams, again I don’t suggest paying for a resource unless you’ve used a free version and had equitable success with it.

Email Marketing

23. AWeber

With a drag and drop email builder, unlimited image storage and an easy to use interface, AWeber is a great option to manage your email marketing communication.

24. MailChimp

MailChimp offers 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers – free. That’s what MailChimp can do for you. A great email marketing resource if you’re just getting started. MailChimp is easy to set up, easy to manage and offers an easy to scale pricing plan as your list grows. As the Wix email option ‘Shoutout’ has a capped number of emails you can send but an exportable email list. You can use MailChimp to send additional emails if you are pushing the boundaries of the free Wix option.

25. Constant Contact

You can’t call yourself constant contact and then not be available to your customers. And that’s just what makes this email automation company shine. They offer round the clock support 7 days a week. They also offer 60-day FREE trial.

26. SpyFU

Search for any domain and see every place they’ve shown up on Google: every keyword they’ve bought on AdWords, every organic rank, and every ad variation in the last 11 years. This combined with Wix’s seamless SEO makes key words unbelievably easy. You don’t need to have some ten years long.

Learn how to connect with these domains, too. Find online and traditional leads methods — social media, email, phone, and address — you can’t find anywhere else. So you can look at other authors within your niche and find out exactly where readers are going to find them.

Staying Organized

27. Google Keep

Keep is an excellent organisation tool. It stores every idea, research plan and content structure. Which can quickly be dumped into Scrivner later.

28. Evernote

Another option this is with a few more features is Evernote, you can save snippets of content you find online and go back to all of it in a searchable, taggable easy to find notebooks on Evernote. It also connects to my Google Home via IFTTT which frustratingly Google Keep doesn’t seem to, so I can handsfree keep notes easily.

29. Google Drive

Accessible from anywhere with internet, Google Drive is a great collaborative tool for teams to use when you’re working with content, files, or images in tandem. Google Sheets and Google Docs makes group work seamless, and all work can easily be shared with hyperlinks.

30. Tomato Timer

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy preferred by many authors. It’s not always easy to keep track of the non-writing tasks related to your book projects. With Brain Focus Productivity Timer, an excel sheet (or just pen and paper) and Scrivner’s session tracking you can keep motivated with tangible evidence of how hard you’re working. Not only time associated with the project. Team Viz is another excellent paid alternative to this method, and you can’t forget the simple Tomato Timer (tomato-timer.com)

31. Slack

It’s like super chat. Instant communication. Instant file transfer. Indexed and Searchable. It is fantastic for collaboration if you have a specific project you are working on. Again, use wisely, if you are co-authoring for example. Not if you’re just working with a freelancer for a short time, instead use the platform’s chat for content protection!

Innovative Mindset in Society Is America Losing the Edge in Innovation?

Is America losing the edge in innovation? How can this be? Where did we go wrong? What happened? Could it be that we’ve changed our education system and society in a way that gives less incentive to innovators? That would be a travesty since our entire national identity is in part founded on the ‘can do attitude’. Let’s discuss this briefly and you tell me if you see it too.

Are we losing our ability to think creatively and innovatively solve problems? I believe so. We also seem to be losing self-reliance, no need to solve problems – all the problems have already been solved. No need to think, just look up the answer on Google. Suddenly, there is no accountability or integrity – passing off copied ideas and plagiarism for innovation.

Look, I am not Luddite, and I don’t live in a cave, I know there is innovation out there – it’s just that I see an ocean of imitation and very few pearls of innovation in comparison. Everyone is busy liking, friending and forwarding – searching online for the daily highlighted viral original concepts rather than coming up with new ideas themselves. Maybe that instant gratification of a dopamine blast is as good as that “Ah-Ha Moment” when you solve a problem or when the light-bulb of innovation dings that bell inside your brain?

There seems to be a deep desire among members of our society to be creative and innovative, just as companies know there is a distinct advantage to the having a robust Research and Development Department and maintaining an innovative edge in their sector. Perhaps that’s why everyone and their brother claims to be an Innovation Expert Consultant. It’s rather hilarious how many of these ‘innovation coaches’ promise to teach us how to innovate, yet, I dare to ask; how many of them have original thoughts themselves. Is this yet another case of; ‘those who can’t teach’.

As an innovator myself, I find it amazing what is passed off as creative or innovative in this day and age. I guess we all have free speech in America and one is free to call themselves an innovator if they wish without any proof or examples of creativity of innovative attributes – but that doesn’t make it so. There is no honor in continuing this façade, we are only hurting ourselves and we cannot fix the problem until we address the reality and the problem here. Do you see it too? What should we do? Please consider all this and think on it.

How Do True Leaders Get It DONE?

The best of intentions, superior skills and well – developed aptitude, and/ or, even the most positive, can – do, attitude, alone, or even, in combination, does not, automatically, create/ cause/ develop, the best leadership, and/ or successful leaders! In the final analysis, we can only measure the ultimate success and impact, of a potential leader, by, whether or not, someone, achieves what is needed and necessary, and does, everything possible, to get it DONE! With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, what this means, why it’s so very important, and necessary, using the mnemonic approach.

1. Delve deeply; discover; develop; deliver: The first thing, any leader should/ must do, is take the time, to objectively, thoroughly, impartially, delve deeply, in order to discover, what is needed by the organization, how constituents perceive the group, as well as their needs, requirements, etc, and proceed, forward, in order to develop the best course of action. This should create an ability to thoroughly, strategically plan, and create a well – considered, relevant, sustainable, action plan! However, unless, one maintains the strength, consistency, and focus, to deliver on a combination of his promises, rhetoric, etc, in a way, which prioritizes, the best, most relevant, sustainable plan!

2. Options; opportunities; organized, opinions: Leaders never let their egos, personal opinions, personal/ political agenda, and/ or self – interest, get in the way of quality service! This means fully considering the options, and being ready, willing, able, and prepared to recognize opportunities, which might present themselves, or creating their own opportunity, and doing so, in an organized, quality manner!

3. Needs; nerve; nuances: Since every organization has some unique characteristics, heritage/ history, mission/ vision, and/ or nature of their constituency, the best leader must be capable of adapting, and proceeding, in a way, which takes advantage of, and serves these nuances! This, often, means, a real leader must have the nerve, to overcome, and expand the limitations of his personal, comfort zone, and place the needs of the group, and stakeholders, ahead of his own, self – interest, and/ or agenda.

4. Empathy; emphasis; endurance; excellence: Great leaders must be disciplined, enough, to listen, more than they speak, and consistently, proceed, with the utmost degree of genuine empathy! This must direct their emphasis, and focus! It’s important to recognize, quality results, often, don’t proceed, properly/ effectively, with no challenges, and, thus, true leaders need the endurance to go on, and do what’s right, regardless of the challenges, involved! There must be an absolute commitment to personal excellence, all the time!

How to Light Up Your Backyard Basketball Court

Passionate about basketball! Why not install a basketball court in your backyard? The good news is that it is one of the simplest backyard courts that can be installed. And, after installing it, you can enjoy endless hours of basketball fun in the comfort of your home. To avoid interruptions to your game, why not install backyard basketball court lighting so that you can play as and when you feel like!

However, while lighting a backyard basketball court, certain factors need to be borne in mind:

Building codes

There are specific building codes such as height restrictions, proximity to the border, foot candle limitations, etc. The building code may set a limit on the height of the light pole.

Light Spillage

This is when light spills to areas such as your neighbor’s premises and causes a disturbance to them. Light spillage can be controlled by limiting the foot candles of your light.

Cost

This is also an important factor to be considered while the installation of lights for the court. The various expenses involved are the cost of the fixture, installation cost, maintenance expenses, and operating costs. It is vital to choose the lighting from a reliable supplier so that you can reduce your operating and maintenance expenses.

Let me explain how to plan the lighting:

• Sport lighting standards are measured in “foot candles” which implies the illumination per square foot. A backyard basketball court is 30’*35′ in dimensions. For this size of the court, the lighting required is 10-19 foot candles.
• The lighting requirements for an outdoor court are different from that of an indoor court.
• The lighting required is also dependent on the audience watching. Obviously, a backyard court will have a limited audience. So you can install a lower intensity of light.
• The lighting required by the basketball court also depends on the size of the court.
• Lighting should also be sufficient for the sidelines as well.

After this, we come to the choice of lights.

Options for lighting used for a backyard basketball court:

Luminaires: They are made of cast aluminum and use the lighting technology Pulse Start Metal Halide(PSMH) which ensures a long life and low energy consumption.

LED lighting: LED lighting has become more prevalent now. This type of lighting has a high initial cost but proves economical in the long run. This is because of low power consumption and long life.

With all the information, what are you waiting for? Install a backyard basketball court to enjoy endless hours of fun!

Sportscapers is a leading company based in Houston that provides equipment and installation of backyard sports courts. To know more visit here

The 4 Components to Building an Author Platform

What is an author platform?

An author platform focuses on who you are as the author, and how many people you influence. It is what you represent. It is what comes to mind when people hear your name.

There are four components to building a platform as an author.

Authors should think of themselves in the same way as celebrities do. Becoming famous does not happen overnight. In fact, you don’t become famous without having a following.

And you can’t have a following without first having a presence. People have to come to know you as an author. They must encounter your brand in order to get to you.
Many new authors tend to believe that the only thing they need to focus on is writing the book; when that is so far from the truth. As an author, yes, you must write books; but, you also have to think about how you are going to get in front of the people who matter the most to your career: your readers.

What are the four components to building your platform as an author?

1. Presence. How will people find you if they don’t even know that you exist in the first place? You must spend time doing the things that will get you in front of the people who will be reading and promoting both you and your work. Having a presence opens doors for opportunities you may have never imagined in your life. Social media has made it easy to build your presence online.

2. Relationships. This has to do with the people who can help further your reach and exposure as an author. It is the bloggers, the radio show hosts, the newspapers, magazines, and other forms of media. What connections are you building with the people that can help you get in front of the people who will one day become your fans and supporters? The relationships you build determine how big you can play in the world.

3. Tribe. You have to become the person your reader wants and needs to meet. The person your reader wants to connect with. Take time to get to know your readers. Authors become their readers BFIMH (Best Friend In My Head). But you can’t become that, if they don’t know you, and you don’t know them. Once your readers have to come to know you, and love you, they will become a member of your tribe. They will be your biggest supporters, and will help spread the news of your works, appearances, and more. Tribe members don’t ask to be compensated; they support you because they love you.

4. Brand. What do you stand for in the eyes of your readers? Are you a hot male romance author? Do you write Christian erotica? Whatever it is that makes you unique, is a part of your brand.

Focus on building your platform as an author. It will determine the success or failure of your career. Though it may take time, effort, energy, and even finances, having a solid foundation is well worth the sacrifice.