Behind the scenes

Navigating the world of writing as a profession can be quite daunting. So, to spare you from spending as much time as I’ve done researching where to find what, here’s what I use to turn a page in my everyday life.

Inspiration and learning:

Lessons from the screenplay on Youtube: Michael is brilliant and he’ll also recommend books related to the theme of the video. For Christmas, I got the all-access pass to Masterclass, and if you can afford it I recommend you get that too. Take as many classes as you can within the year with Aaron Sorkin, Margareth Atwood, Dan Brown and more depending on your genre.

Social media:

I hate spending time on social media, but I love when someone tags me in a picture with my book. One thing you should ask yourself is; Is it worth the time I’m putting in? Create a strategy, if that doesn’t get people to follow you or buy your book, then change it, and change it again and again until you either find your thing or decide it’s not worth the time. Don’t spend time on social media without a strategy. And make sure to ask this question, and solve it in your strategy; What will a stranger be able to do from this post? Be inspired? Copy something you’re showing? Be entertained? You have to contribute something; if not, people don’t care.

I try to spend only one day a week on social media where I plan the week, prepare the posts, then focus on my writing for the rest of the week. To do this I use Planoly, but Later works as well and is what most marketers use. Both are free for one account users and offers excellent tips and tricks.

The writer’s community is huge on social media, and there are so many places you can go to find help, friends, collaborations and more. Here are a few places I turn to on Facebook: 20booksto50k where you find everything you need to know to self-publish your books, Writers’ group and Writers helping Writers, where you find author’s to ask for help if you’re stuck, Beta readers and critique partners, where you can ask for Beta readers or read other’s work to help them out. My beta reader group for those wanting to influence my books and get information about the progress; Alexandra Winter’s Amazing Beta readers.

Writing:

For my first book, I used Word, and the problem with Word is that your document might become too big as you write and slow down or crash. So, now I use Scrivener. To check my spelling and grammar, I use Grammarly, before sending my work to Beta readers or my editor. For some, it’s enough to use the free version, but I enjoy the feedback from the premium version. A tip, if you can’t afford the premium version is to finish your manuscript, then buy premium for one month only and do all your spellchecking and grammar within that month. Saves you time, and forces you to finish within that month 😉

Outline:

I outline my books before I write, but I never stick to my outline. The story usually twists and turns a bit, but without a clear outline, I’d be lost and probably never finish. So, here are a few videos for inspiration if you don’t know where to begin. How to outline your book 1 and How to outline your book 2 from Viven Reis, Outline your screenplay Part 1, and Outline your screenplay Part 2 from The Art of Story. Also, KM Weiland has a great article on outlining as well as a tonne of other great tips.

Outlining my characters usually starts with their occupation. A character working as a fashion blogger will give you a very different image in your mind than a character working as a coal miner. Then I find an image that I feel matches the character I have in mind and go from there. I add to the character as I go on outlining the story with qualities needed to elevate the plot, the main character and usually write down a character interview once I finish my first draft. KM Weiland has a book on character arcs as well as great articles on the subject here.

Editing:

After I finish my first draft, I take a week off to clear my mind before editing. Then I dive in and read the whole thing from start to finish, correcting every discrepancy in the characters, plot, time, etc. Then, I dissect every scene to make sure they all drive the story forward and give the reader the best experience I can. This video from Lessons from the screenplay goes through it brilliantly. As a final step, I add subtext in the surroundings, weather and make sure to include words that will make the reader hear, smell, and feel along with the characters. In short, I go through every sentence word for word. If you’re struggling to describe your world One Stop For Writers will help you with an emotion thesaurus.

Reading my draft

As a writer, you go blind from rereading your own words over and over. You basically know them by heart eventually. Wouldn’t it be great if someone else could read it out to you?

Someone can. I love this site, because I just upload my manuscript and it reads it to me. Sure, the voice is a bit robotic but it’s a great tool.

Publishing:

I use Scrivener to format my manuscript before I upload to Amazon KDP, but if you want it smoother and can spend $199 for e-books, or $250 for e-books and paperbacks Vellum is great. I don’t use it myself but know many authors that rave about it.

Cover design:

A cover can make or break your book. It’s your first selling point and can cost $5 or $5000 depending on the designer. I use a designer named Germancreative through fiverr, and I’m happy with her. Be warned though, you have to know what you want to get a good design, and don’t be afraid to ask for new designs until you’re happy with it. She only charges about $50 for a cover, so she works fast and you’ll need a few weeks of back and forth to get it right. Also, be sure to ask for the rights to the photo before publishing it, people have been scammed by other designers.

I’m currently looking for a designer to work with, so if you’re interested in a collaboration, please contact me. I am willing to pay a lot more than I do today if I find the right match.

Title your book:

This is your second selling point. Don’t forget about the importance of a catching title because you have two chances of seeling your book: The cover, and the title. Make it lure the reader in to want to know more. I love this video from Viven Reis about how to title your book; I’m sure you will too.

Comment below:

If you have questions, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll update with more information 🙂

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