Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 5

In Article 4 for Self-publishing from Scratch, I wrote about building a website, why you should and what it might contain. If you missed it, it’s here. All posts are organised under the drop-down menu above: Self-publishing / Self-publishing from Scratch.

What do I focus on now?

Diana, now that you’ve shared the news that you’re writing a book with family and friends, and those you’re connected with on Facebook, including Aunt Pearl, who shared it to her 3,539 friends, and you’ve created your first website to have a home for your book, it’s time to increase your knowledge.

To be honest, every day should provide a window of opportunity to increase knowledge. It might be only five minutes, but personally, I dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes a day to expand my horizons. It’s not always about writing but more often than not, it is something I can use in my writing to enrich my stories.

Where do I Start?

Remember that book you bought a few years ago on how to improve your writing? Dig it out of the box in the closet and read it. That small stack of magazines you tucked away—you know, the writing magazine you subscribed to three years ago but never read when it arrived at your door—is also a great place to start. Sit in a quiet place and read the articles.

While you could binge read, don’t. Your brain can absorb only so much information at once. Read a few, think about those the rest of the day and reread the ones you thought held the most interesting advice. When you find nuggets of information compressed in a sentence, write it down and post it near where you write.

Fact: Within 48 hours of learning something, we’ve already forgotten 80% of it if we don’t review it or put it into practice.

Warning: Don’t take someone’s advice as the only way. Articles and books provide the perspective of that writer. Their way may not work for you, but it is a good idea to see how they do it and extract what works for you and use it.

Mixing Things Up

You don’t have to stick to just one source or one medium. Read magazines and books, both ones you’ve bought and ones borrowed from the library. Read articles posted to online magazines and blogs. The resources online are endless, meaning you’ll die a ripe old age before you read them all.

Don’t forget about YouTube, and don’t be distracted when you go there. I’ve come across many channels that talk about writing and how to do it better. To get you started, fantasy author Brandon Sanderson has a series of videos that are well worth the time. While you may not be a fantasy writer, most of the material applies to all genres.

I listed the series of lectures with links in this post: Brandon Sanderson: Fantasy Writing Lectures.

A list of sites to get started

  • Writing World: One of the best sites on the web. Have a question about writing, the answer is here. I’ve been reading it off and on for more than 10 years.
  • Writers Helping Writers: A wonderful place that provides the tools to be a better writer.
  • The Creative Penn: In fact, you’ll not only learn how to write better here, but to publish that book you’re working on. Joanna Penn is a powerhouse, and she’s been sharing what she’s been doing for several years.

There are many more sites to explore, but these will keep you busy for the next few months. After all, you’re priority is finishing that novel. Expanding your knowledge about writing is second. Knowledge is extremely important, but too many writers get lost in it and forget they’re writing a novel. Don’t do that. Finish the novel.

I did. A few weeks ago.

Oh, you did? Well then, how many words is it?

I aimed for 100,000, but it turned out to be 110,733 words.

Good because when you self-edit, you’ll trim about 5,000 words you don’t need. Does it feel like a complete story?

Yes. I didn’t expect the ending, but I like it. Now, what do I do? Read it over and correct my mistakes?

No, tuck it away for three months and get started on the next novel.

Three months?

Yes, it needs to ripen. That means you need to emotionally disconnect from it and forget what you’ve written, so when you read it again, you’ll see it with new eyes.

Why do I  have to write another book? Can’t I just write posts for my blog and learn more about writing?

No. You can’t sharpened your writing skills by just reading about how to write. You must write at least 100 words a day, preferably more. Now limit yourself to 10 minutes a day on all social media platforms and get writing. And remember…

be kind to your future self.

4 thoughts on “Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 5

  1. Great article! Love the resources and the approachable writing that shares how we can approach those writing skills ourselves.


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