The Practice of Creativity

One of my writing joys in 2020 was producing a monthly column on creativity for the Chatham County Line. It’s always been a strong publication and great community resource, but under the recent leadership of Randy Voller and Lesley Landis it has flourished. The layout and design is fantastic.

In the summer, I began a three part series about how publishing and writing will change during this decade. The last installment of the series spotlights diversity and is now available. Documenting the ugly things about publishing and its lack of diversity was painful. For a while I had writer’s block (which is atypical for me) because I had to relive and remember the ways I’ve been affected by the cumulative effects of multiple ‘isms’ in publishing’s history. In the end, I found a way to strike a balance between talking about the structural obstacles and point to the tentative positive direction of change. That felt like a win as it gives the average reader a way to understand the issues without overwhelming them. And, I took some of the most charged parts of my experience out to explore in a future long-form essay, so that’s a win, too. Writing always leads to more writing!

You can read it (and parts 1 & 2) on the updated website. I look forward to writing more columns this year. And, if you’ve got a topic you’d like to see me explore, please let me know!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Writing and Publishing in the 2020s-Part 3

Coming of age in the 1970s and 1980s, I never read a commercial novel that featured a character that was anything like me: African American, female, wickedly smart, urban, and geeky. The children’s and young adult market was dominated by white heroes, white heroines and white authors. If I came across an African American character, they were typically described by the color of their skin (in contrast to white characters who were never described by skin tone) and simplistically rendered. They functioned as a sidekick, devoid of cultural experiences that connected them to the rich kaleidoscope of African American life. It wasn’t until college (!) that I discovered commercial (and literary) novels that reflected some of my life experiences back to me. This was a result of two factors. One was the success of small independent presses begun by second wave feminists that published new work by a diversity of women writers. The second was that by the mid-1980s traditional publishing briefly opened up to a few African American female writers, including Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor.

Read the rest here

Happy New Year!

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. But I do like to have a set of guiding intentions for the year which are different than resolutions or even goals. Intentions feel less rigid than resolutions. This year to support my intentions, I am trying something new—Chris Brogan’s 3 Word Process. Chris Brogan is a consultant and bestselling writer and he has been sharing his 3 Word Process for over a decade. I had never heard of his process though it is quite popular.

You decide on three words and they guide “your choices and actions day to day”. They represent one’s commitments for the year and as Brogan says act as “lighthouses”. From his practice over the years choosing three words is better and more powerful than four words or two words.

I like the simplicity of narrowing one’s focus to encompass three meaningful words. Also, I believe 2021 will be a transitional year (especially the first half) due to the pandemic. Last year, my well-groomed goals quickly flew out the window as was true for many. Adaptability and flexibility were key lessons for me in 2020, so there’s no reason now to get locked into rigid goal-setting given so many variables out of my control.

My words for 2021 are Systems, Replenish and Solo

Systems: I want to undertake systems level change and integration with my technology (i.e. multiple computers, phones, etc.), but also between my career, writing life and coaching business. I’m looking for efficiency and ease.

Replenish: Despite the pandemic, 2020 was the most successful year I ever had as a creative writer and coach across all metrics (e.g. publications, relationship-building, craft up leveling, revenue generated, and fun had). It was also an incredibly successful year in my academic career. I, however, burned the candle at both ends and have been doing so for a long time. I need fill the creative well.

Solo: I love collaborations and am good at them, but 2021 will be the year for discernment. Some of my academic collaborations are naturally coming to an end because our projects are nearing completion. Others, I will need to consciously change or end. As a writer and coach, I will use this word to remind me to weigh the pros and cons of a potential collaboration.

If you are looking for a guiding rubric in 2021 besides the standard New Year’s resolutions, you may enjoy the 3 Word Process. Find out more here. And, if you decide to use his process, please share your 3 words—we can hold each other accountable!

Photo credit

Happy holidays everyone! I hope you are safe and well!

I wanted to share some EXCELLENT news!

I recently discovered that my novelette “Doll Seed” published last year (in FIYAH: Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction) has won the Carl Brandon Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society.

It carries with it a $1,000 cash prize.

The Carl Brandon Society is composed of fans and writers of speculative fiction and their mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.

I’m thrilled, honored and a little breathless!

My story is about dolls, magic, and civil rights. It even imagines what happened to those black and white dolls that were used in psychology experiments leading up to the famous Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case.

Persistence and belief in one’s ideas is everything—I worked on and submitted this story for YEARS before it found a fantastic home!

My thanks goes to Marjorie Hudson who gave me great editorial advice on the story, many moons ago, and Val Nieman who was an early and enthusiastic reader.

Congrats to Akwaeke Emezi for winning the Parallax Award for their YA novel Pet (Random House) & all the amazing writers on the Honors Lists!

More about the Carl Brandon Society and the awards here.

“Doll Seed” appeared last summer in FIYAH. I’d love for people to support this wonderful magazine, so if interested, you can purchase the issue here.

 

 

 

Hi folks,

I’ve got a GREAT opportunity for you. Two spaces just opened up for my last RESET, RENEW, RECLAIM virtual writing retreat being held TOMORROW, Saturday, Dec 12, 11-3. And, I want to make it available to you for $39 (originally $69)! My purpose is to support and uplift writers and I’d love for you to experience this retreat at a SWEET price.

Saturday’s topic is Author Mindset/Creating Juicy Goals for 2021. We’ll spend our time reflecting on our writing in 2020 (the ups and downs), how to set up sustainable and favorable conditions for our writing life in 2021. We will align our goals to writing systems and prepare for what might throw us off track.

We’ll dream together about to how to create a writing ‘eco-system’ that is sustainable and fun for you in 2021! This has been one of my most productive writing years (despite the pandemic) and I’m going to share all my writing hacks with YOU.

If you haven’t been writing and miss being in a community of writers, this retreat is for you.

During the retreat there will be writing time, mindfulness exercises for focus, cool writing exercises and group coaching. We’ll have the option for a short lunch break and/or additional writing time.

Now is the perfect time to plan for what you want your writing life to LOOK and FEEL like for 2021. The last weeks of Dec and first weeks of Jan are often the worst time to do this kind of work—we’re usually tired from the holidays.

2021 is guaranteed to bring new challenges and opportunities to our writing lives, so let’s prepare!

I hope you join me tomorrow!

I can accept payment:
-via PayPal: bergermichele2005@yahoo.com
Questions? email me: mtb@creativetickle.com

***this piece was originally published in the October issue of the Chatham County Line for my monthly column. It is the second installment of a multi-part series of columns on writing and publishing in the 2020s. Here I write about discoverability, “whale” readers and the rise of audio as publishing changes that affect both readers and writers.

Think about the last time you read a book. How did you find out about it? Twenty years ago, you might have seen a book review in the pages of a magazine or newspaper. This is less likely to be true now. More likely is that you stumbled upon an author reading their work on YouTube, heard about a book on a podcast or you’re already subscribed to a favorite author’s newsletter and receive their updates. You could be a Goodreads aficionado and seen a recommendation there about a book, or maybe you’re a member of a book club. You might also have typed phrases into Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, or Google and searched for the kind of book you were looking for, finding thousands or even hundreds of thousands of results.

And, of course there is still the wonderful word of mouth recommendation by a friend that shares, “I just read the most amazing book! You have to read it, you’ll love it!”

In the last column I talked about how major shifts in publishing, during the last decade, has created new opportunities and challenges for writers. How people find and read books has also changed, dramatically affecting writers.

Discoverability

If you hang around a group of writers long enough, you’re bound to hear them discuss their use of social media and strategies to both find and engage readers. And, it often isn’t a happy conversation. In an ever growing ocean of content, writers, especially emerging ones, have to work much harder to be discovered by readers.

read the rest of the column here.

*this piece was originally published in the September issue of the Chatham County Line for my monthly column. I’m writing what I think will be a three part series about writing and publishing in this new decade.

***

What makes a successful writer today? That’s a tough question and it depends on who you ask and what metric you use. As a Gen-Xer, when I was growing up, writers held a mysterious allure. On TV and in print culture, popular and literary writers were celebrated, everyone from Steven King and Jackie Collins to Toni Morrison. To me, writers were the most glamorous and intriguing people on the planet and I wanted to be like them.

Although luck and connections always played a role in who got published, until the late 1990s, there were some standardized and taken for granted ways that one became a successful writer. Being discovered in a “slush pile” by an assistant editor was one way. For literary oriented writers, pursuing an MFA was a respected route. Being published in high visibility magazines and having an agent contact you was another. New York was the hub of publishing life. A relatively small number of agents, editors and publishers were gatekeepers and decided what readers wanted. Authors wrote books, went to lunches with their agents and occasionally wrote back to their fans.

This kind of writing culture and ecosystem was imprinted on me and shaped what being a successful writer meant. That eco-system has fundamentally changed. And, consequently I’ve had to revise my notion of success.

With the introduction of the Kindle, in 2007, a shift in publishing and writing was well under way. Publishing, writing and reading would be changed forever. Consolidation in publishing had accelerated, and due to changes in advertising revenue, many magazines and newspapers disappeared (which meant the disappearance of book review columns).

The paths to publishing now (especially for commercial fiction) are multiple, non-linear and fragmented. Writers publish their work and find readers and audiences on a variety of platforms including Medium, Wattpad, Amazon, Instagram, etc. Traditional publishing is no longer the only model. There are writers that will never become household names that happily self-publish or ‘indie publish’ and make six figures a year (some make seven figures). They do this without an MFA, an agent or attending writing conferences and networking with traditional publishing professionals. Many have a direct relationship with their readers and could care less about the New York publishing world. The success stories of well-known indie writers include E.L. James author of Fifty Shades of Grey (originally written as fan fiction) which has sold over 125 million copies and Andy Weir who serialized a novel (on his blog for science enthusiasts) that would become The Martian. Both writers were discovered because of loyal followings on digital platforms.

To publish has become a democratizing practice. Did you know that there are 1 million books in the U.S. alone published every year? As one publisher told me, it’s not about one’s ability to get published anymore, it’s about being found and read. The challenge of discoverability for authors has skyrocketed in the last decade.

So what does success for writers mean given these changes? Does it mean having 10,000 followers on Instagram who love your poetry? Does it mean a publisher sending you on book tour (almost a thing of the past and usually reserved for very famous authors)? Does it mean serializing your book on YouTube? Does it mean writing a novel that is critically acclaimed and read by a few devoted fans?

Some writers who have been wedded to a traditional publishing model of success have criticized the new eco-system. Indie authors have also disparaged traditional publishing. This is folly.

Moving forward, due to technology, changes in publishing and how readers find books, writers will need to embrace a hybrid version of traditional and indie publishing. Writers must become more marketing savvy and view it as part of their creative work. Traditional publishers expect you to know (or be willing to learn) about websites, SEO and marketing. The indie publishing arena is also maturing and it also no longer possible to publish an inferior product and expect it to sell.

The successful and fulfilled writers I model myself after are crafting a hybrid path. They look at a new writing project and ask, would this be better suited for a traditional publisher or do I already have an audience for this work that wants it right now? Many traditionally published authors self-publish their novellas, short stories and other material to their audiences via Patreon and Amazon.

I like the hybrid model. I have been traditionally published through newspapers, magazines and small presses. And, I have truly valued working with a team of editors and publishing professionals that were committed to honing my work. And, I can’t imagine not continuing to take craft classes and meeting folks at a conference (in the future). However, indie publishing offers room for quick experimentation, innovation and enables the flexing of a different set of skills beyond craft. I no longer believe there is only one path to success that holds all the answers. I also know in the end, both indie and traditionally published authors have one thing in common when it comes to success. They keep writing.

***

BTW: Your invitation still stands, click here to get your free guide: ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19’.

When I was asked by Nicole Givens Kurtz to contribute to her anthology about vampires and their slayers across the African diaspora, I was both thrilled and terrified. Thrilled in that I would get to pen a new story and be in a collection with many established and well-known writers in speculative fiction. Terrified in that I hadn’t ever written a story about vampires nor was I steeped in vampire lore. But, when you get a great writing opportunity, you always say yes!



SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire launches on Tuesday. SLAY includes twenty-nine stories, plus original illustrations. It’s a big book!

Here’s an overview: Few creatures in contemporary horror are as compelling as the vampire, who manages to captivate us in a simultaneous state of fear and desire. Drawing from a variety of cultural and mythological backgrounds, SLAY dares to imagine a world of horror and wonder where Black protagonists take center stage — as vampires, as hunters, as heroes. From immortal African deities to resistance fighters; matriarchal vampire broods to monster hunting fathers; coming of age stories to end of life stories, SLAY is a groundbreaking Afrocentric vampire anthology celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the African Diaspora.

SLAY has already received positive reviews from early reviewers!

I loved working on my story and digging into urban fantasy, a new genre for me. I knew that I wanted the story to center on contemporary vampires. My story “Blood Saviors” features a conflict between Fae, humans and vampires–and a virus to boot (I couldn’t help myself). It’s the first story I ever wrote where I began with a theme. I wanted that theme to resonate and I wanted the reader to feel the weight of the moral choices that confront the main character, Shonda. The story explores the question: What would someone be willing to do to save their own kind? Would they be willing to sacrifice another race to save their own?

This collection is important in a couple of different ways: SLAY will be a touchstone for readers of color who love horror and are aficionados of vampire stories but never really saw themselves reflected in mainstream narratives. It offers white readers something unique in the vampire subgenre because the anthology isn’t centered in white and/or male characters. It’s important for the genre in that until now no one has attempted to retell the vampire mythology through and about the experiences of people across the African diaspora.

Pre-order link for SLAY is here

Below is a sampler of AWESOMENESS about SLAY that includes my participation on Alicia McCalla’s Diverse Sci-Fi & Fantasy podcast. We had an outstanding time talking about my story, vampires and subverting conventional tropes in speculative fiction. 

Milton Davis one of the contributors (and small press publisher in his own right) has been hosting many of SLAY’s authors on his blog for short interviews where we ‘SLAY 11 Questions’. They are fabulous. I have enjoyed reading more about the other contributors. You can check out my interview here and learn why I name Shori from Octavia Butler’s Fledgling as one of my favorite vampires.

Check out contributor John Linwood Grant’s excellent posts on ‘Black Vampire’ week on his Grey Dog Tales blog. He covers African vampires, movies with Black vampires and more.

I’d appreciate any signal boosting that you can do for this collection. Thanks in advance.

And, if you are a writer struggling with your productivity and motivation, you might like my ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19’. Click here to receive it.

Hi Writers,

Over the past several months, I’ve heard from so many writers that their old ways of doing things just aren’t working.

Many of us aren’t writing and if we are writing, we’re not having a lot of joy doing it. Many of us are finding it hard to get ourselves to the page and to stay focused when we arrive. We’re often afraid, discouraged, and tired. Very tired. Our inner critics have been very loud during the past few months.

We haven’t danced with, wrangled with or been charmed by our muse(s) in quite a while.

I HEAR you and I’ve designed something for you that you will LOVE.

It’s time to RESET. I’ve found that if I don’t reset every 5-6 weeks regarding my mindset, exercise routine, and writing habits, I hit a wall.

A reset is in order. And FALL is a perfect time for one.

I’ve designed a NEW online monthly writing retreat series: Reset, Refresh and Reclaim

I call these themed retreats reset, refresh and reclaim for a reason—we need these qualities now more than ever to deal with the changing pace of life!

These well-paced structured retreats are designed to inspire you and connect you to other writers. You’ll get some serious writing done and have FUN while doing it!

Give me the next four months and I will take you from creatively blocked to creatively sparked!

My reset approach has kept me productive, writing and getting published throughout the last six months.

Space for these online retreats is limited. I’m offering this to YOU at these rates, before I advertise broadly, because you are part of my community as an engaged reader of this blog.

Want to see how excited I am to tell you about these retreats and what we will do in them? Here’s a brief video:

If you don’t want to watch the video, it’s fine. All the details are below.

Here’s what people have said recently about my expertise as a coach and writing facilitator:

“Michele’s calm voice and emphasis on mindfulness practices has been a boon to my writing.” Amy T.

“I’ve written more with Michele in two hours during her Write-INs than I have during the last four months.” Francesca P.

“Michele encourages one to do their deepest work in a supportive environment.” Mark J.

“I thoroughly enjoyed September’s writing retreat! You have a wonderful teaching style, and as someone who struggles with ADHD, you kept me fully engaged the entire time.” Rachelle H.

ONLINE WRITING RETREATS

Reset, Refresh and Reclaim

If you’ve found yourself isolated, alone, and struggling with your writing, imagine how much different writing might feel if you had some dedicated and structured time, plus awesome community and coaching support.

Here’s a way to write THROUGH the fear, sludge and anxiety!

You can sign up for ONE retreat or ALL of them. 

They all will include writing time (come with work or start something new), a brief writing craft discussion, fun writing exercises and games, mindfulness exercises for focus, and group coaching. We’ll have the option for a short lunch break and/or additional writing time.

Each retreat is curated to the needs and interests of the group. Once you register, I’ll send a brief survey to find out more about you. A few days prior to the workshop, you will receive additional information and any suggested readings or exercises.

Fall Retreat Dates:

*Saturday, Sept 26-The Harvest of 2020 

Saturday, Oct 24-Characters

Saturday, Nov 21-Beginnings, Middles and Endings

Saturday, Dec 12–Author Mindset/Goals for 2021

(11am-2pm EST via ZOOM)

(Dec’s retreat will go 11-3, BONUS hour!) 

(*tentative topics; each workshop is tailored to registered participants)

That’s 16+ hours of writing, community and support for you over the next 4 months!

Want to feel GREAT at the end of the year knowing that you MADE time for and NOURISHED your writing life? I know you do!

Ready to sign up? Ready to Reset?

Each online writing retreat is $69.00

Sign up for the remaining 3 for $197(discounted!)

I can accept payment in a few ways:

-via PayPal:
(The link above takes you to my Creative Tickle business link. In the comment box for PayPal, let me know which month(s) you are registering for.)

-I’m also on Zelle as Michele Berger (State Employees’ Credit Union)

Questions? Email me at mtb@creativetickle.com

Look forward to seeing you soon!

***

BTW: Your invitation still stands, click here to get your free guide: ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19’.

Do you aspire to be a career author? Unsure of how to take your writing and marketing to the next level? Would you like to gain insider tips and techniques from some of the biggest names in publishing about how to build and sustain the author life? Want to make meaningful connections with authors nationally? Want a great event to look forward to?

Mark your calendars as I have something just for you!

I would love for you to join me at the Career Author Summit 2021. I’m thrilled to be a presenter at this major author event hosted by J. Thorn and Zack Bohannon, authors (Three Story Method and 9 Things Career Authors Don’t Do) and podcasters (The Career Author Podcast). It’s an *immersive 2 day event, Sept 18-19 2021 in Nashville, TN. The conference is capped at 120 people.

https://thecareerauthor.com/summit2021/

[*Don’t want to attend live? You have the option for a virtual ticket– the virtual ticket gets you real-time viewing (and replay) from home. The in-person ticket also gets the replay. One-time payment or installment plan option. Scholarships available, too! See website for additional details.]

It’s going to be phenomenal! This amazing line-up of speakers includes: Jeff Goins (author of Real Artists Don’t Starve and The Art of Work), Rachael Herron (thriller writer, podcaster and memoirist, author of  Fast Draft Your Memoir), Becca Syme (creator of the Write Better-Faster course and author of Dear Writer, You’re Doing It Wrong), Mark Lefebvre (author and Director of Business Development at Draft2Digital) and Stephanie Bond (author of over 96 novels traditionally and indie published, over 7 million copies in worldwide distribution).

https://thecareerauthor.com/summit2021/

My Experience with the 2020 Career Author Summit

In May I attended the Career Author Summit hosted by J. Thorn and Zack Bohannon and Jim Kukral. It was supposed to be in Nashville (and I sure was looking forward to checking out the BBQ and music scene), but they like so many other event organizers wisely decided to make it a virtual event.

I made the decision to attend the CAS in 2019 to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I typically know and hang out with traditionally published writers. And, I typically attend craft focused writing workshops. The CAS’s focus is more on indie and hybrid publishing and the business side of being a career author.

The conference was outstanding in content with presentations on topics that included ‘Making (More) Money as a Writer’,  ‘Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasting and Voice Technologies’, ‘Finding a Mentor/Being a Good Mentee’, ‘The Myths and Legends of Amazon Ads’ to ‘The Future of Publishing’ with key representatives from Google Play, Draft2Digital, Kobo, Reedsy and Vellum.

The roster of speakers was fantastic and included Joanna Penn, (author and creator of The Creative Penn podcast), Lindsay Buroker (fantasy author and co-host of Six Figure Authors podcast) and Tim Grahl (book coach and author, Your First 1,000 Copies).

Every panel challenged my assumptions about what I thought I knew about the business of writing and gave me much to consider about how publishing may change during this decade for writers, publishers and readers.

Several presentations also focused on the importance of creating and managing a growth mindset.

And, the organizers did a great job helping writers connect with each other during the week with smaller genre specific networking opportunities (love those Zoom breakout rooms). They also set up a Slack channel prior to the conference which enabled the attendees to connect before, during and after the conference which was a great resource.

This summit was rocket fuel for my career. In the past 100 days I’ve been able to implement several  of the strategies offered by the speakers. I feel much more confident about meeting my short and long term goals as a career author. The connections I’ve made with other attendees (and speakers) at the CAS have already yielded incredible opportunities and collaborations that would simply not have happened on my own.

Our Pivot as Writers

One of the many comments that struck with me was from Jim Kukral’s introductory remarks when he said, “Adversity doesn’t stick to a schedule.” And, “This is the time to pivot as writers.” And, “It’s going to be OK.”

The adversity we are facing is going to change readers’ habits, publishing schedules and lots more. We are facing challenges and opportunities. Some of what we were doing or pursuing may no longer work.

Pivoting, as writers, in 2020 and 2021 is going to look differently for each of us.

I don’t know what this will look like for you.

It might mean:

-recommitting to your work

-upgrading aspects of your writing profile (i.e. website, social media profiles)

-keeping track and finishing more of your work (I finally have downloaded an incredible tool by the writer Jamie Raintree, that is a spreadsheet where you can track ten projects, set writing and revision goals and it records and updates everything. Tracking my progress visually is highly motivating for me.)

https://jamieraintree.com/writing-revision-tracker/

-investigating ways to increase productivity using new tools (i.e. Scrivener, dictation software)

-seek out what’s working right now for authors

-investigate producing audio content from your creative works (if you are traditionally published and still have audio rights or if you are indie published). The rise of audio is going to be a continuing and important trend for authors. Think about mature audio-eco-system that we are experiencing: smart technology in cars, smart devices, homes, etc. As Joanna Penn said during her talk, “If someone searches for your work and their preference is to listen to audiobooks, can they find you?”

-exploring how to get your content (if you are indie or hybrid published) sold on multiple platforms, instead of relying on Amazon

-exploring translation and foreign rights for your short stories and novels

What might pivoting in your writing life look like?

Something was nudging me to make some changes when I signed up for the conference. Before pivoting was optional. Now I know pivoting is not a choice, but a necessity. I’m fully committed to upping my writing game.

I hope you decide to invest in your writing career in 2021 and join us at the Career Author Summit!

The Career Author Summit – 2021

For the past several years, I’ve been curious about self-publishing and have wanted to pursue a more hybrid approach to my author career. I’ve listened to podcasts, read books and have worked to become better educated about the opportunities and challenges of self-publishing. There’s still a lot to learn and I’m working up the courage to have something self-published by the end of the year. Maybe you are thinking along the same lines and wondering how to develop a plan that doesn’t result in overwhelm. I’ve got you covered. I’m delighted to welcome Desiree Villena who is providing today’s guest post. Desiree is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. Over 2,500 books have been produced via Reedsy since 2015.

5 Tips to Transition from Traditional

Publishing to Self-Publishing

These days, the world of publishing has more choices than ever before. For perhaps the first time ever, authors are truly free to pick the publishing path that is both best suited to their personality and most effective at bringing their particular story to the right audience.

But if you’re used to having your books traditionally published, venturing into the world of self-publishing can seem rather daunting. So today we’re going to cover 5 things you can do to help make the transition seamless — and even fun.

Create your own publishing schedule

As a traditionally published author, you’re used to having deadlines assigned to you. Depending on how well the project is going, this can feel like either a blessing and a curse. When you do strike out on your own, it can be tempting to think this means your days of racing to meet strict deadlines are over. But whatever you do: resist that impulse.

There’s a reason publishing houses operate on carefully mapped out timetables, and it’s not just the volume of books they’re producing. By creating a production schedule, you’ll be able to budget your time, money, and resources, as well as lay the groundwork for a successful launch plan.

Now, when you’re new to self-publishing, it may take you a while to figure out a realistic release timetable for you and your books. That’s okay. Be willing to learn from your experiences and adjust accordingly. It’s much easier to fix a plan that’s already there, than to wander aimlessly and hope for the best.

Build yourself a team

Publishing houses understand that each aspect of building a book requires different skills and talents. Book cover designers do not necessarily know how to create beautiful interiors, and they certainly can’t copy edit to find all yourweasel words and grammatical mistakes!

Although it’s called “self” publishing, do yourself a favor: don’t try to DIY this. Not only will it add way more stress and take time away from what you should really be focusing on (writing), but it’s not good for your books either.

Instead, you’ll want to make yourself the head of your own tiny publishing empire. Being able to choose your own editors, cover designers, and marketing specialists means that you’ll always be working with people you believe in and trust to bring your book to life the right way.

Set a clear vision for yourself

That said, this is still your book and your career as an author. Successful self-publishers know what they want from their career, and every business decision they make reflects the goals, priorities, and guidelines they set out for themselves.

To start, ask yourself what you’re really looking for by turning to self-publishing. “Success” is not an answer — what does that look like for you? What kind of author do you want to be, what kind of books do you want to write? Do you want to publish because you’re trying to bring specific stories into the world? How often do you need to publish to meet your goals?

Make sure to be honest as you’re talking to yourself about this. There really is no “wrong” answer, unless of course you’re looking to publish purely as a get-rich-quick method. Spoiler: that doesn’t work. Self-publishing can be financially successful in the long run, but it takes time, patience, and smart business tactics. It’s important to find value and fulfillment in the process before you turn a profit  — otherwise, you won’t stick with it long enough to find success.

Do your research

Remember how much time you spent learning how to get a literary agent? Guess what: you’re going to need to invest a similar amount into learning how to self-publish.

This doesn’t need to be disheartening, however. Your experience as a traditionally published author will give you a leg up: you’ll already know how to work well with an editor and on a deadline, as well as being familiar with the nerves that come with book launches and marketing tours.

But yeah, it’s a different process, and you’re going to need to learn the details of how it works. Luckily, there’s a whole wealth of publishing courses and blogs out there where you can find the answer to just about any self-publishing question that crosses your mind. And as a bonus tip, make friends within the self-publishing community. Believe me, no struggle you encounter will be unique, and there are more than enough sympathetic ears out there willing to give you advice and encouragement.

Let go of your fear of failure

Rejection is a constant in the traditional publishing world. By the time your first book is out you’ve been rejected by agents and publishers so often that you’re probably pretty numb to it. And it’s not like you’ll ever get a feedback form from agents that explain to you why they turned down your book. Even successful, professional authors can’t get away from it: just because your first book sold, doesn’t mean the next one will, and one failed launch can be the difference between getting signed again or not.

But in the self-publishing world, there is no such thing as a complete failure. Even if you do everything wrong and your first book only sells one copy to your mom, you can pick yourself back up, brush yourself off, and try again. You can switch genres, try different pen names, or just re-release a title with a new cover and a stronger marketing push. Remember, a book that doesn’t sell well at first can find success even years after its release. Your career is truly in your own hands, and the only way to “fail” is to stop trying.

With that in mind, it’s time for you to get out there and start making your dreams a reality. Good luck!

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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