The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 136
Making 2017 Count
What are your goals as a writer? It’s just something to think about as this New Year unfolds. I find it helpful if I’m always focused on a particular goal. I can’t handle ten goals at a time, but I can sure zero in on one or two. Again, it’s just something to think about.
And here’s more to think about . . .
From Ann: “That was a long way round to asking you a question: Do you write in your head? I mean, make up your stories as you walk around the countryside, without writing anything down, taking instant inspiration from your surroundings. Can you hold those ideas until you get home to write them down? The reason I ask is that if I stop to write down an idea, sometimes it interferes with the creative process. My mind's too fast for my fingers and I can't bear to stop the flow. (I have to say that doesn't happen all the time! If I don't write things down most of the time, my brain can't remember all the details; poor old fogey!)”
Actually, Ann, that’s exactly how it happens for me. I always have a pad of paper and pen with me, but those are for writing down particular scenes I might see, or an interesting person I come across, or a line of conversation I hear. My ideas come to me while I’m going about the daily business of living, and so far, despite my advanced age, I’ve been able to retain those stories until I get home to write them down.
My creativity happens when I least expect it and when I’m making no effort at all. I’ll be gardening and a scene will come to me, or the next chapter of my current book will just write itself while I’m taking out the trash. I can’t explain it any better than that. My mind seems to always be in creative mode.
From Jo: “I'd like to know more about your marketing strategy.”
So would I, Jo! LOL
My marketing strategy is to reach as many people as possible with little money. I have no marketing budget simply because I have no money, so I’m into guerrilla marketing big time. Social media is free, so of course I use that. I have a website which I use. I try to follow other blogs and get my name out there by doing so. I do readings, book signings, and get my books out on the market in person. I want to teach some classes, and speak to schools, but that is on the back burner. I also want to do some podcasts but again, time has been my enemy so far in doing that.
I’m like the majority of writers, Jo: I have to continually try and find ways to market myself without spending money, and it isn’t easy. I’ve seen gains but it is slow-going at best.
And my best marketing tool, I believe, is my writing. If I do an excellent job or producing a product, then word-of-mouth will be my best marketing tool.
Self-publishing Questions Galore
From Linda: “Your pick, but here's the question(s):
“My head is spinning. As you know I have always wanted to publish a cookbook, but theorized that doing so is not possible without being “known.” And how does one do that, you ask? Well, become a columnist and get your name out there. Sounds easy enough, and so that is exactly what I started to work on in 2017.
“Now, out of the blue, a friend has said to me (paraphrasing here) – ‘You have over 200 recipes. Publish that book now; get it done by end of February and then plan on selling at the farmers market.’So, I down-shifted and started to look into self-publishing, hence the spinning noggin. Who to choose as a publisher? The top ones I have seen are (1) CreateSpace with no upfront cost to distribute print copies via Amazon; (2) IngramSpark with a fee to distribute print copies outside of Amazon; (3) Amazon KDP with no fees for ebook distribution, and (4) Draft2Digital (also no fee) for distribution outside of Amazon. Which format? I will assume that most readers will want digital rather than print copy. BUT color and illustrations (which I feel are needed/expected for cookbooks) don’t translate well to digital format. What format to use to upload? Do you use PDF or can publishers convert a Word document? And don’t even ask what I’ve read about designing your own e-book cover. How does a simple little city gal like me sort this all out? I'll assume you've been down this path.”
I’m laughing, of course, because I’m the fool who told you to publish your cookbook. Sorry about that.
I use CreateSpace. I’m comfortable using it and I find it very easy to use. I’m not endorsing it over other self-publishing sites because I haven’t used the others, but I do recommend CreateSpace based on personal experience. If you use CreateSpace, you will have the option of hard cover, eBook, or both. I always do both. No reason in the world why I wouldn’t, since it doesn’t cost me a penny to do so.
Now, cookbooks are a special kind of animal, and you do have an issue regarding color pictures. If you add color to the interior of your book, your price per copy skyrockets. I’m not all that certain it’s necessary to do so with a cookbook, but I’m no expert in that genre. Just be forewarned that if you download color photographs you are going to pay for it in the end.
I write all my books on a Word Doc and then CreateSpace converts that to a PDF, or you can simply write it as a PDF and download directly. It makes no difference which you choose. The formatting is very easy and I would suggest you pick up a copy of the book “Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Bookseller,” written by Chris McMullen. You can find it at the library if you don’t want to purchase it, but he does a great job of taking you step-by-step through the whole process……
Including the process of creating your own eBook cover, which I don’t do. I simply choose not to tackle that headache and instead turn it over to my buddy, and fellow HubPages writer, Mike Friedman. For a pretty reasonable price Mike will design a cover for you.
And that’s all there is to it! LOL Maybe someone will have an opinion regarding color pictures in a cookbook. I just don’t feel qualified to answer that one, Linda.
Different Sites for Different Writing
From Brian: “How do you choose whether to post a new article to HubPages or to Niume? Short ones to Niume? Certain topics to one and certain other topics to the other?”
Well, Brian,. I think you’re just asking how I do this, because I can’t think of any answer that fits everyone.
I only post two articles each week at HP…my Mailbag series and whatever short story I’m working on at the time. Niume I’ve kind of reserved for Urban Farming articles lately. My Urban Farming articles have not done well at HP so I’m trying them at NIUME, and they are doing better over there.
Other than that, it’s really just a crap shoot, so to speak. If I had time I would do new creative work at “The Creative Exiles,” a great site for creative writers, but so far I haven’t found the time.
A SHOUT OUT
Hey, if I don’t support friends what good am I, right? If you are looking for a quality cover for your book/eBook, I strongly suggest you get in touch with Mike Friedman of Mockingbird Books. Mike does all of my covers and he has never failed me. He is patient and is painstaking in his work…and he’s a good man!
THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK
Remember, if you have a question for the Mailbag, include it in the comment section below, or shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll include it in the next Mailbag.
As always, you are appreciated!
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc0
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”