3 Things You Should NOT Do with Your NaNoWriMo Novel

The end of November is fast approaching, and with it comes the end of NaNoWriMo. The blog posts I’ve read this month have been filled with frenzied accounts of growing word counts and even some samples of WIPs, and for anyone who isn’t participating, November can make you feel like the kid who nobody wants on their team.3 Things You Should NOT Do with Your NaNoWriMo Novel

I’m an outsider.

No, I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year. But I’ve been right there in spirit, and I hope my comments on some of your blogs have been helpful. (That Week 2 slump is a killer, isn’t it?)

But the end is in sight, and those of you who will “win” NaNo are already intoxicated by the sweet smell of success.

Those who won’t make it have nonetheless learned some valuable lessons about writing, yourself, and your approach to writing—so truly, there is no such thing as NOT winning NaNoWriMo because whether you make that 50,000 word count or not, you’re a better writer now than you were a month ago.

By the way, I agree with Chuck Wendig’s comments about the language of NaNoWriMo, specifically “winning” and “losing.”

This isn’t a game of Monopoly, after all. It’s not a race in which one competes.

It’s writing a book. If you finish your book on December 1st, or January 3rd or May 15th, you still won. Because HOLY SHIT YOU FINISHED A NOVEL.

The goal is to write a book whether it takes you one month or one year—failing to complete 50,000 words in a month that contains Thanksgiving and the ramp up to Christmas should never be regarded as a loser move.”

3 Things You Should NOT Do with Your #NaNoWriMo Novel Click To Tweet

So whether you’ve already finished your first draft or you expect to do so sometime in 2015, here are three things you shouldn’t do when you cross the finish line:

1.   Don’t throw anything away.

Is your 50,000 word first draft ready for publication? Of course not—but neither should it be deleted from your hard drive. Yes, there are allegedly writers who do that, but please do NOT become one of them.

Even if you’re a writer who believes the act of putting your butt in a seat for 30 days and churning out the bones of a novel is enough of a reward without having to ever read what you wrote, please believe that you’ve written some gems.

Okay, maybe you’ll delete some—or most—of those 50,000 words, but save them in a separate folder. In a month or two you may reread a well-turned phrase you’d forgotten about and will have a brainstorm for an entirely new scene . . . or character . . . or novel!

2.    Don’t begin editing your manuscript.

You’ve spent plus or minus thirty days with this manuscript—and if you outlined in October, that number goes up. Believe me, now is NOT the time to begin editing. You’re too close to your story, and let’s face it—you’ve had an exhausting, emotional month.

Do a happy dance, pat yourself on the back, announce to the world (or at least your Facebook friends) that YOU DID IT, and then put your manuscript away for a while.

For how long? Opinions vary on this one, but long enough that when you open it up again, the story feels new and fresh in that “I can’t believe I wrote this” way. That might be a month or a year, but it shouldn’t be tomorrow. Give yourself some time away to gain a little perspective, and you’ll have more clarity once you being to edit and revise.

Taking a very rough first draft and molding it into a saleable novel will require some ruthless revising and self editing, so give yourself enough time away to gain perspective. As Chuck Wendig writes, “Repeat the mantra: Writing is when I make the words. Editing is when I make them not shitty.”

Award-winning indie author Jade Kerrion knows firsthand how valuable those revisions can be:

NaNo novels are rarely much good at the end of November (but then again, what first drafts are?) However, given enough editing, they can grow into gems. My 2010 NaNo novel became Perfection Unleashed and went on to win six awards. My 2011 NaNo novel, Earth-Sim, picked up 1st place in Young Adult Fiction at the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards, and my 2012 novel, When the Silence Ends, took 2nd place in Young Adult Fiction, 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards.”

Impressive, huh? And notice the awards were won long after she finished NaNoWriMo each year.

3.    Don’t stop writing.

If you’re like most NaNoWriMo authors, you’re pretty excited about ending November with 50,000 words—maybe you have the first draft of a novel, maybe only a third of a longer manuscript, but nevertheless, you’ve written a bodacious number of words in thirty days, and you’ve accomplished something pretty spectacular.

So why quit now? You’ve proven to yourself that you can make the time to write every day, so wrap your mind around that new reality and keep writing.

Should you continue with the same manuscript? Begin a brand-new story? It doesn’t even matter, because you are a writer, and writers gotta write. I love the way author Abbie Plouff put it:

For me, this has been an invaluable month dedicated to writing and storytelling that put me back on the right track. It has shown me that yes, even when life is hectic and crazy, I can still carve out time to work on my writing. The habit of writing—finding time to work every single day, thinking about my novel when I have downtime, and other planning exercises has been invaluable.”

Writer Kathera has a different point of view:

50 K word goal accomplished but the story is not finished yet so I can’t stop now. I’m in the middle of a chase, and I want to find out how it ends. Theoretically I know the outcome, as I am following the outline, but something unexpected may happen, who knows?”

And Chuck Wendig offers:

It helps to look at your NaNoWriMo novel as the zero draft — it has a beginning, it has an ending, it has a whole lot of something in the middle. The puzzle pieces are all on the table and, at the very least, you’ve got an image starting to come together (“is that a dolphin riding side-saddle on a mechanical warhorse through a hail of lasers?”). But the zero draft isn’t done cooking. A proper first draft awaits. A first draft that will see more meat slapped onto those exposed bones, taking your word count into more realistic territory.”

In my book, every writer who even attempts NaNoWriMo should be congratulated. And although I know it will be a few months before those drafts are polished enough to make their way to an editor, I’m already looking forward to the day when that happens. For an editor, the thrill is in peeking under the hood, so to speak, and helping to polish a novel that was only an idea in your head a mere month ago. I can’t wait!

Happy Writing,

Candace

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

For more great writing and publishing information, check out  Change It Up Editing and Writing Services on Facebook, where I share interesting articles and links about writing and publishing.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Your Marketing and Publicity Plan: Step 4 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

nonfiction book proposal marketing publicity planIf you’re writing a nonfiction book proposal (and you’re following this series), you already understand the importance of your author bio and how to identify your target audience. Now it’s time to articulate your plans for selling your book by including the marketing and publicity plan that will grab the attention of an agent or editor.

Remember, you’re selling two things in your book proposal: your manuscript and yourself as the author-expert. A strong proposal weaves those separate pieces together in creative and compelling ways, and the Marketing/Publicity section of your proposal is where you bring together the best of those with some creative ideas of your own for making your book a success. And whether you ultimately publish traditionally or decide to self-publish, you just can’t expect publishers or booksellers to bring the readers to you.

As author K. S. Brooks writes,

Book sellers do not want to take up space on their shelves if you’re not going to push your book. They want to know what you have planned to getword out about your book. . . . If they don’t think you’re going to make an effort to sell the books they put on their shelves—well, you can kiss that opportunity goodbye.”

So how do you wow agents and editors with your marketing and publicity section? Continue reading “Your Marketing and Publicity Plan: Step 4 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”

The Writer and the Platform: Guest post by Chris Mentzer

Writer platformOn the heels of my post about the importance of a strong author bio in your book proposal, author Chris Mentzer offered to further discuss that elusive author platform we hear so much about. (Chris’s book Nexus of the Worlds will be published by Tiger Dynasty Publishing in December, so he’s lived this firsthand.) Chris and I connected through social media, and we are both proponents of building those personal relationships  every author needs to create a strong platform. I know you’ll enjoy reading his thoughts, and don’t forget to visit Chris’s blog at Tales from the Fifth Tower when you’re finished here. Take it away, Chris:

*****

One of the hot topics of discussion in the world of writing concerns the writer’s platform. Some ask, “Should I have one, even though I don’t have a book?” or “I’m fiction author, so is it necessary for me to have one?” Let’s look at both these questions and some related ones.

What Is a Platform?

In simple terms, and speaking from a material standpoint, a platform is a series of planks connected together to make a raised surface for an individual to stand on. In politics, a platform is a candidate’s basis for being elected; each plank is a promise that he makes to be elected. In writing, the platform is your place in cyberspace for people to find you and know who you are among other writers. Each plank is an outlet where you can be noticed and heard.

A writer platform is your place in cyberspace for people to find you and know who you are...… Click To Tweet

The Planks of the Writer’s Platform

I read articles that say a writer’s blog or website is the platform, as that is the hub of his or her activity. In theory, I agree with this. However, looking at the definition of platform, the blog is only one part of the entire structure. It may be the main section, but it is not the whole platform. When you add your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media outlets, those the additional planks strengthen the entire platform. Author interviews, books blurbs, author bios, and book trailers are additional planks.

But I Don’t Have a Published Book

There are a lot of writers out there who claim they don’t need a platform since they don’t have a book to sell. I can understand this, but in the busy world of cyberspace, even with a book you may not be heard; it might take months—even years—to develop a fan base for you and your books.

Let’s look at this through the lens of a historical landmark event. Everyone is familiar with the moon landing in 1969. We are introduced to the astronauts, we follow them to the rocket, we cheer the liftoff, and then we rejoice as it lands and the astronauts walk on the surface. The significance of this (besides the event itself) is that we know a great deal about it before long before the rocket leaves the launch pad. In a speech on May 25, 1961, President Kennedy promised we would put a man on the moon before the decade was over. That was eight years before it happened.

Now, let’s suppose that you, the author, are an astronaut, and your book is the moon landing. NASA is your publisher (traditional or self-publishing). Your platform then is the announcement to the country that you are heading to the moon writing a book. The news travels around from one person to the next, interviews are posted in papers and on television, and this leads up to your departure into space book being released. If you release the book first and then develop a platform, it’s the same as landing on the moon first and then telling everyone about it. Imagine the disappointed astronaut on the moon’s surface jumping up and down and waving his arms at the people on earth—and nobody is paying attention.

Selling Yourself

Your platform sells you and your brand and allows people to get to know you and your style of writing, and from there you build a fan base of followers. That way, when the book is released, you already have the attention of a number of people who will buy your book and/or tell others about it, and you hope they will get on board and buy as well.

How do you sell yourself? That’s where the blog comes into play. Talk about yourself, the genre you write, the books you have read, and other basic things about who you are and what makes you tick. Have someone interview you asking these questions. There are bloggers out there who specialize in helping people get discovered even before a book is available. On Twitter, follow fellow authors of the same genre and pick their brains. Find out how they got to where they are right now. They may soon follow you, and from there you can develop a following of your own.

But I’m a Fiction Writer Continue reading “The Writer and the Platform: Guest post by Chris Mentzer”

Your Author Bio: Step 2 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

author bio for book proposalYou have a fantastic idea for a nonfiction book (or perhaps you’ve already written one), and because you want to publish traditionally, your next step is to write a proposal to sell agents and/or editors on your idea.

When I was an acquisitions editor for a traditional publisher, I read hundreds of nonfiction book proposals. Like every other publishing professional does, I read those proposals in a certain order—but not necessarily in the order the author presented the material. (Find a list of the other sections of a nonfiction book proposal here.) When I write a book proposal, I begin with the author’s bio because this is the section I think of as the hub of the wheel; all the other sections are spokes on that hub.

In fact, there is no “right” way to order the sections of your proposal, so I’m going to present the remainder of this ten-part series the way I actually read and write book proposals.

First up: Your Author Bio Continue reading “Your Author Bio: Step 2 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”

Are You a Social Media Addict?

social media addiction
Social networking back in the day, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

Today I welcome author and blogger Tam Francis, who muses about the addictive nature of social media for platform building.  Tam’s experience is one many of us have shared (still share?), and this humorous look at her “problem” made me laugh. Take it away, Tam:

*****

When Candace invited me to guest blog, I was grateful and thrilled. I have been blogging for years but mostly about subjects that reflect the content of my novel, The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress: vintage clothing, swing dancing, cocktails, vintage sewing, and WWII memorabilia. In keeping with the themes of Candace’s blog, I wanted to share my writerly (really love this new-for-me word) experience. Lately, I’ve been on a crash course to catch up to the social media standard for writers.

Do you feel like your real life is an interruption to your writer life? #writerslife Click To Tweet

Do you ever feel like your “real life” (dinner, friends, dishes, laundry, soccer games, even television) is an interruption to your “writer life”?

So much of the writer life is in our heads. Even as we physically read these words, we are in our heads. Cyberspace isn’t a real place, though real people are at the end of the tangled tapestry; they are in their heads at their computers.

When I began building my writer platform, I couldn’t wait to check my inbox to see who followed me today or if anyone commented on my comments.

I was an addict, and social media was my drug. Continue reading “Are You a Social Media Addict?”

Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!

I received official notification from WordPress that my blog is now a year old:

Wordpress

Thank you to friends, followers, and everyone in this wonderful writing community for your friendship and support. I love working with writers, and my goal for my blog posts is to provide useful content that will help you whether you write for publication or “just because.” In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’m listing links to some of my most popular articles and guest posts from the last 12 months, and I hope I’ve grouped these in a way that makes searching topics a bit easier for you. Feel free to add a comment on any of them—your comments are always welcome.

Self-Editing

Struggling with Revisions? Try Playing with Paper Dolls

Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part I: Macro Issues Continue reading “Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!”

Should Fiction Writers Bother with Blogs and Websites?

I’ve been evaluating fiction manuscripts lately.should writers blog

Most are by authors who are yet to be published, and some are by authors who have published nonfiction and want to break into fiction. The genres vary, but one of the common statements I hear from all these authors is,

“I’ll start blogging and get a website when my book is published.” 

If you’re reading this, chances are pretty good that you are already a blogger, so forgive me if I’m preaching to the choir. But based on several recent posts I’ve read in the blogosphere, fiction writers are beginning to ask themselves (and others) if blogging and other types of social media are really worth the time they take. Will a blog really help an author sell more books? Will a website really make an author look more professional—and does that even matter? Isn’t success really about writing a good book? Continue reading “Should Fiction Writers Bother with Blogs and Websites?”

Vacation: Embracing the Pause That Refreshes

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

Summer brings trips to the beach, family get-togethers, fun in the sun . . . and guilt for writers who don’t write the way they “should.”

How many recent blog posts have you read that begin with a version of “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while,” or “I’m struggling with writer’s block on my WIP”? It happens to everyone at some point, but the summer sun seems to put a spotlight on those guilty feelings. (My apologies to my friends in the southern hemisphere for being either six months too early or six months too late with this post!)

I’ve read some excellent posts recently about accepting and overcoming the guilt we’ve all felt at one time or another. Here are a few excerpts from my favorite blogs:

Dave Pagan (According to Dave): “I’ve struggled with [guilt] for so long I’ve very nearly giving up writing altogether. And it’s been relentless, beating me down until I barely have the motivation to lift my fingers to the keyboard.”

Victoria Grefer (Creative Writing with the Crimson League): “Writer’s guilt is knowing you write well, but feeling that you’re selfish, idealistic, and irresponsible for writing when you could be doing something more profitable and practical with your time.”

Cat Lumb (The Struggle to Be a Writer That Writes): “I think my lethargy has come from focusing too much on one goal; to finish my novel. I haven’t written any other form of fiction in a long while.”

Alex Kennedy (Fiction Writing for Teens and Adults): “I guess all I am saying is “Am I wasting my time doing this?” Should I be keeping my work for my dream job as a creative writer or the hope for a literary agent to scope me out and sell my work to a TV network? Is that what I want? Probably… But as a human, I don’t really know what I want.”

Kimberly Harding (Soulhealingart.com): “There is a part of me that wants to dig into this hesitancy. I want to question- am I tired? do I feel too off-center to create? Am I bored? What is going on?And my inner artist, ever the observer, simply says, “You think too much. I just want to take a break.”

Wise words all. But I think I know the perfect antidote to writer’s block:

A Summer Mini-Vacation

I know the perfect antidote to writer’s block: a Summer Mini-Vacation. #writersblock #writers… Click To Tweet

I don’t mean the two weeks you spend with your in-laws while you stress about all the work that will be awaiting your return to your day job as well as the word count you can almost see flying out the window.

Nope. I mean a honest-to-goodness getaway.

I speak from experience because my sweetie surprised me for my birthday and whisked me away for a four-day mini-vacation to Bimini, The Bahamas.

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

As people who are younger than I am like to say, “SQUEEEEE!!!”

I even took my laptop with me so I could stay connected through social media, post photos for my family and friends, and get a little work done on my “down time.” But a terrible thing happened: the resort’s wifi was slow when it worked, which wasn’t very often.

I was unplugged. And it was WONDERFUL.

We had an incredible few days of swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, eating, sleeping, relaxing . . . vacationing! Four days of basically no work.

Did I feel guilty?

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

I did the first day. Not by the fourth, though. 🙂

And when I returned, I was amazed at how invigorated I was to get to work, how the words just seemed to flow, and how energized I felt.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who needed a vacation. Brooke Warner of Warner Coaching wrote on her Facebook page, “Okay, back from vacation. Wow, how amazing to totally unplug. Note to self: do that more often!!”

Sara Weston (How to Be Happy Now) wrote, “The mind is so much more quiet and unconcerned with the goings-on of the world when released from the tyranny of the Internet :–).”

And your vacation doesn’t even have to be “away” as long as you are. Polysyllabic Profundities wrote, “I am in a very zen state right now.  I’ve just come back from having a Hot Stone Massage and the tension that used to ride shotgun on my shoulders has dissipated to nothingness. . . . I have a writing deadline looming, but I cannot conjure the idioms that are required to complete the task.  And the most glorious thing is – at this precise moment I don’t care.”

So my words of advice to all you writer’s-block-suffering bloggers reading this post is to get away from the “shoulds” of writing, even if only for just a few days or even a few hours. You’ll be amazed how rejuvenating a little break can be!

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

Related articles:

http://thesmellofgunsmoke.com/2013/08/14/the-science-behind-writers-block/

http://nowwriterightnow.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/falling/

If you enjoyed reading this and want to improve your ability to self-edit and revise your work, please subscribe by entering your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page at Change It Up Editing and Writing Services, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.

How to Find Great Writing and Publishing Content

I’m a stalker.

I begin every work day with a cup of coffee and my computer, and I spend the next hour or two stalking other writers for great content to share with my Facebook followers.Find Great Writing and Publishing Content

We all have busy lives, and I understand the many reasons writers might not have the time or a desire to spend hours searching for writing tips. That’s why my Facebook page is filled with articles that offer valuable writing and publishing information.

No one person has time to find and read all the amazing content that is posted every single day, and I’m no exception. But I find some real gems that I want to share, and if you haven’t already done so, I invite you to check out Change It Up Editing on Facebook for easy access to information that I believe writers will find helpful, interesting, and sometimes, just plain hilarious.

Please like Change It Up Editing's Facebook page for publishing industry news. #pubtip #writetip Click To Tweet

Here are just a few of the recent links I’ve posted there:

101 Quick Actions You Can Take Today to Build the Writer Platform of Your Dreams

How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book? Three Budget Breakdowns

Dialogue Tags

Platform vs. Portfolio

Ten Things You Can Do with Short Stories

If you’re looking for a one-stop place to find writing tips, publishing industry news, and the latest happenings in the publishing world, please “like” Change It Up Editing’s Facebook page and comment often, because the content YOU need is the content I’ll post there. Looking for anything in particular? Be sure to let me know and I’ll try to find it for you!

Happy Writing,

Candace

If you enjoyed reading this article, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I Am So Honored!

Cindy PasqueleneImagine my surprise this morning when I found my name mentioned in a new blog post!

Cindy Pasquelene, who writes at The Writer Backblogger, was one of the winners of last week’s drawing for free editing. Cindy sent the first 1,500 words of her NaNoWriMo novel for my feedback, and . . .

See what Cindy had to say about the experience at The Writer Backblogger.

I spend some time every morning searching Twitter, blogs, and the Internet for interesting things to post on my Facebook page. If you aren’t already a fan, I hope you’ll check it out here.