Connecting with Readers for Motivation and Inspiration

Connecting with Readers for Motivation and Inspiration

I received the nicest email a few days ago, and it really made my day. The writer was working on a non-fiction book and began struggling with the writing as she was wrapping up. She said she was unable to write for weeks at a time. My emails inspired her to push through. She actually ended up finishing the manuscript two weeks before her deadline!

I was so excited to hear that I made a difference! But often, we don’t know what impact we have on others’ lives because they watch and respond quietly. They listen and apply. They learn and grow. They observe and are inspired. We don’t always have the pleasure of hearing about the effect that our own work has on others’ work.

Sometimes as authors, we have to push through this void of non-response and know that people are really watching, listening, and being inspired. It can be tough, especially in the writing stage of our manuscripts, to think of what impact we will have or even hope that we touch one other person and help them out.

If you find yourself wondering if it’s worth it to even write your book, just remember that you are impacting people, even if they don’t tell you. Every word you write is important. Continue reading

Interview with Graphic Designer Karen Captline: Designing Book Covers

Interview with Graphic Designer Karen Captline Designing Book Covers

Writers typically know what to do for the inside of the book, but when we self-publish, what to do for the outside of the book can sometimes be a mystery . . . no matter the genre. So I asked Pittsburgh-area graphic designer Karen Captline some of the big questions authors may have about designing a book cover and working with a designer.

To convey to readers what the book is about, Karen said that any designer will follow the basic rules of graphic design. The field focuses on “conveying a message by using the correct fonts, words, and colors in a compelling way. Designers have a goal of creating a lot of curiosity about the book.” They want readers to want to buy this book and read it, so the visual appeal has to be there. Continue reading

How to Effectively Spend Your Non-Writing Time


How to Effectively Spend Your Non-Writing TimeEspecially if you are a new writer, wrapping your head around doing anything other than writing your book can be a little strange. There are things that you need to do to market and sell you book, though. Plus, if you want to keep writing your book (or subsequent books!), it’s always helpful to generate new ideas!

So here are some suggestions for both sides of the coin: marketing what you have and continuing writing. Remember that every minute you spend on something other than writing should be worth your time! Continue reading

How to Hold a Book-Related Event

How to Hold a Book-Related Event

Sometimes when you write a book, you find yourself standing there—holding your beloved masterpiece in your hands—saying “Now what?”

If you want to reach an audience, to inspire or educate, then you can hold an event where you discuss your book. I just held a book-writing workshop this weekend (not related to my books), so here are some of the things I did to plan and get ready for the event. Continue reading

When You Just Want to Get Your Story Out There

I was talking about the publishing process with a client recently, and we were pinpointing his goals. When I started out talking, I went straight to that “the-sky’s-the-limit” mentality and mentioned some different ways that he can use his book to reach the audience he wants to reach.

I stopped myself partway through this conversation, apologized, and asked him what he really wants to do with his book. Maybe he didn’t want to do speaking gigs and meet with groups of people to help them out.

He took a deep breath. (I think I had overwhelmed him a bit.) He wants to help people who have been through the same difficult situation he’s been through because he didn’t find many books to help him out at the time. Then he said, “Honestly, I’m not looking to write the next great American novel. I just want to get my story out there to help people. After that, I’m not sure. I just want others in this situation to feel like they aren’t alone. Other people have been through it, too.”

I’m sure that plenty of people want to do the same thing. You just want to help others because you felt alone, scared, or like you were the only person going through what you did.

And that’s beautiful. Continue reading

Believable Character Dialogue

Believable Character Dialogue

It’s a short one this week! I’ve been super busy with magazine articles. Not a bad thing!

Have you ever watched a TV show where the characters are involved in something serious, and they suddenly start talking about relationship problems? For example, maybe they are investigating a crime, trying to figure out who killed the millionaire business man, and one suddenly says, “So how are things working out with Tom?”

The other character then responds. They carry on a conversation about it. Then they find a crushed cigarette butt—the business man doesn’t smoke—and turn their thoughts back to the scene of the crime.

As a writer, this drives me nuts! It’s completely unbelievable! It would never happen in real life. No one takes care of serious business and discusses relationships in the middle of it. No one stops in the middle of running from the bad guys to express their romantic feelings and kiss the other person passionately. No one . . . you get my point. Continue reading

One Simple Trick for Writing a Stellar Book Synopsis

One Simple Trick for Writing a Stellar Book Synopsis

You know what’s fun? Once you have a beautiful polished manuscript, you get to write an enticing 2–3 paragraph synopsis of the book that doesn’t give away too much plot but makes people want to buy your book. (This is for the back cover.)

And suddenly, reorganizing your pantry is really exciting and important right now . . .

Basically, you have three options once you put down the can of green beans: you can pay someone to write it for you, you can cry in a corner, or you can tie yourself to your desk chair and write it yourself.

Option three tends to be the least painful physically, emotionally, and economically, so let’s look at my favorite trick for writing a great back cover blurb. Continue reading

How I’m Finally Owning Being an Author

How I’m Finally Owning Being an Author

Crazy as it may seem, I feel awkward telling people that I’m an author.

I’m self-published, like that makes my books “not real.” I don’t have a ton of sales, like that makes my books “bad.” I don’t know how much money you can make with books because I’ve only been at it a short time. And I’m not 100% on the marketing because, well, that isn’t my specialty. I’m learning.

Until recently, I have felt like a horrible fraud. I have been embarrassed to tell other authors that I self-published six books. As it turns out, though, tons of other very legit authors are self-published. Much like online dating, it’s not just the leftovers and freaks. It’s people who want to take control of that part of their lives. Continue reading

What to Leave up to the Reader’s Imagination

What to Leave up to the Reader’s Imagination

Navigating the delicate balance between under- and over-describing can be challenging.

As writers, we know that our readers are intelligent and have amazing imaginations, just like us, but at the same time, we need to give enough information to trigger that imagination. Too little means that your reader may not feel connected to your vision and your story. Too much means that your reader could wander away from the book, bored because the story is dragging.

Here are some places to be mindful so you can achieve the balance of description in your work. Continue reading

Should You Use a Pen Name as an Author?

Should You Use a Pen Name as a Writer?Long, long ago, right after I finished my master’s work, I couldn’t find a job, so I worked at the Waldenbooks at the mall. Most of the people I worked with had done the same thing: finished an English degree, couldn’t find a job, worked in a bookstore.

At that point, I had written one book and started on another, and I was shopping it to various agents. One of the guys at the store said that he was a published author already. We started talking about it, but he seemed reluctant. Weird, right? Continue reading