Writing Streak

How to Start a Writing Streak (Even If You Have No Time)

I'm a full-time librarian with a family and a writing career. The best way I've found to get words on the page is incredibly powerful. It's also a bit like trying to build a fire with your bare hands. Many writers try starting a writing streak after hearing about the benefits—and it works about as well as most New Year resolutions. I'm going to share the simple techniques that I use to start a streak and build it into a powerful force in your writing career.

A Writing Streak is a Habit

Resistance kills habits as quickly as wet leaves might extinguish your attempts to build a fire. If you're going to start a writing streak, you need to identify what resistance you currently face. Why don't you have a writing streak going already?

A writing streak is nothing more than a daily habit of writing. We all have daily habits. Your habits might not look like my habits. We may share some habits, and not others. For the longest time, I didn't floss daily. When I decided to floss, I made it easy. My floss is out each day for me at my computer (not the bathroom), and I put a daily reminder on my to do list. I see it whenever I'm going to turn off the computer. Even though it wouldn't be hard to get up and walk the short distance to the bathroom, having it at hand means I floss every day now.

A writing streak follows the same rules. You have to uncover what resistance you face that prevents you from writing.

If you look at your productivity killers, you'll probably identify time that you could shift to writing. It won't happen, however, unless you make it simple and easy to overcome resistance.

Suppose you've got a habit of picking up your phone first thing in the morning. You flip through your feeds, check on news, email, etc. It isn't much time, right?

Except it adds up. All of those little moments of time accumulate. There's nothing wrong with it, and I'm not suggesting you have to cut everything else out of your life in order to write. You don't.

Just decide that writing is important. 

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Now is the Best Time

The best time to write is now. Yes, literally right now. I'm happy you're reading this post, but you could use this time to write a bit on your current story. It doesn't matter when you write. The best time to write is the moment when you actually get words written. The barrier isn't the writing itself—it is getting over the resistance to get started.

If your writing is important, find ways to make it clear to yourself that it is important. Just as I did with the floss, make it easy to get started writing. 

  • Startup right. Set your computer to launch your current story when you start up. Make your story the first thing you see, before anything else.
  • Turn off your keyboard/turn off the power. This might sound odd, but if you write on a different machine than your writing machine (I use a laptop for writing fiction), unplug your non-writing computer. Or, if you have a wireless keyboard, turn it off. Make it harder to log on and spend time doing other things before you write.
  • Turn off your phone. This wouldn't have been something to worry about when I was growing up. Today, if you find yourself checking your phone often, turn it off until you get your writing done.
  • Set up in advance. Whatever you use to write, set it up in advance. Make it as easy as possible to pick up your writing and get some words down.

Put Your Writing First

If your writing is important, put it first. Not before family or your non-writing career. Make it more important than the scraps of time that get away from you each day. The easiest way to do this is by making your writing literally the first thing you do each day. Get up, rub the sleep out of your eyes, take a drink of water, and start writing. If you set things up in advance and turned off distractions, you should have minimal resistance to starting.

You don't have to write for an hour. It could be five minutes. Get down some words. Then take a break and go about your regular morning routine. You might find that you're less inclined to do other things once you've already started. You'll shower and come back to your writing. Maybe eat breakfast while jotting down some notes or a few lines. If you're fortunate enough to have good public transit for your commute, you might find that you use that time to get more words written. At about 20 WPM, you can get a page/250 words written in fifteen minutes. Even if it's just five minutes here and there, surely you can get that done during the day.

Defining a Writing Streak

How much weight does a streak carry after three days? A little, but it's still light-weight. How about after 30 days? That's got quite a bit more power behind it. If you've gone a month writing every day, it's much harder to miss a day. Imagine the power after 180 days! It keeps growing. 

Your streak should be something concrete and easy to track. Word counts work well. You don't have to set an insanely high word count to have an effective streak. Start with something like 250 words. It's easy to check. Write it down. Make it visible. Keep track. It can be as simple as writing your daily word count on your calendar (print or electronic). It could be a spreadsheet. A tweet. Whatever works for you.

If you're not interested in word counts, pick something else that's consistent. Pages work well too. As do stories. Every day is easiest, but you could do a weekly count instead. If you're going to track a weekly streak, I'd recommend something like a story each week. 

Set a goal that won't take you long to meet. You can always do more. If you're at the end of the day and haven't met your streak yet, you want to be able to take the few minutes it will take. I like to have some benchmark, like 250 words (a page), as a minimum count.

What's Your Writing Streak?

Share your writing streak in the comments below. I started a new writing streak yesterday, minimum 250 words/day of new fiction. Blog posts, emails, etc., don't count for my streak.

If you're interested in creating a word count tracking spreadsheet, check out the next post on setting up ​a simple spreadsheet.

Science Fiction Markets

4 Science Fiction Markets for Your Fiction

I love reading short stories. I don't ever have enough time to read all of the short stories that I'd like to read (or novels). Although I'm always happy to read an anthology or collection, I love reading science fiction magazines. I continue to submit my stories to these markets as well, and look forward to appearing in the pages of these magazines.

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A Selection of Science Fiction Markets

With so many science fiction publications, online and in print, there are many options to publish your stories. This isn't an exhaustive listing of markets, just my picks of markets where I'd like to see my stories published.

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Asimov's Science Fiction

Asimov's Science Fiction has topped my list of target markets for many years.

Each issue typically features many of my favorite authors, e.g., Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Allen M. Steele, and others.

Asimov's publishes a range of science fiction stories up to 20,000 words long. They don't usually publish stories shorter than 1,000 words. Many award-winning and year's best stories have come from its pages.

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Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Right along with Asimov's, Analog has long been a favorite magazine. I'd love to have stories appear in Analog.

Analog publishes science fiction where the science or technology is integral to the story's plot.

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Clarkesworld Magazine

Another favorite of mine, Clarkesworld Magazine publishes both science fiction and fantasy magazine by a range of terrific authors. 

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction<img class=”tve_image wp-image-965″ alt=”Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” width=”250″ height=”376″ title=”Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” data-id=”965″ src=”//ryanmwilliams.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/cov1803lg-250.jpg” style=”width: 100%;”>

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

I started submitting to MF&SF back when I first started writing stories when the magazine was under the editorship of Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

MF & SF publishes fantasy and science fiction

Writing Depression

Writing Through Depression

Writing and depression both factor into my life. For the longest time, I didn't know that I suffered from depression and anxiety. It showed in many ways, the worst that I presented a positive face in public but my family saw the downside of keeping up that smiling depression. Fortunately, a couple years ago a major depressive episode actually helped me realize I needed assistance, that doing so wasn't a sign of weakness.

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Recognizing Depression

At the time when I struggled with depressive thoughts, if asked I wouldn't have been able to recognize that I was depressed. What reason did I have to be depressed? I had a loving family, a great job, things I was interested in—I couldn't be depressed. I didn't know exactly what it meant to be depressed, other than associating it with suicide, sadness, and problems more serious than mine.

Not everyone experiences depression in the same way. Some might not even realize that they are depressed, especially if they seem like they're managing their day-to-day life. Smiling Depression, Psychology Today

Sadly, there's a stigma associated with depression, and mental health issues. We don't talk about it—which makes it very difficult for someone to recognize it and get help. There are things you can do to manage depression, however it manifests. A major barrier to getting help, and a reason for the stigma around depression and mental health is that we term it mental health instead of just health. No one is blamed if their eyesight requires glasses. When it comes to the brain, however, we tend to ignore the organic root of the issue and can become critical because someone takes antidepressants to help with their condition. Each person is different. That one needs medication and another doesn't is unimportant. What matters is that they get the help they need.

If you think there's any possibility that you suffer from depression and anxiety—get help.

Writing and Depression

We've faced a number of life rolls in this new year. Money stress due to unexpected expenses, and lately, one of our dogs hasn't been well. He's a big dog, 7 years old, and suddenly has had a number of medical issues leading to vet visits. My doctor had also declined to refill my medication pending a check up.

Yesterday my depression hit me upside the head. One of those I just want to crawl under the covers and stay there sort of days. I didn't. Instead, I used techniques that have helped me keep going and writing despite being depressed.

  • Meditation. I meditate each day using Headspace. I find a regular practice helps.
  • Journal. I also keep a (brief) journal. It's a few comments each day, notes on emotions, sleep, and a gratitude statement.
  • Routine. I went to work despite everything. I worried about our dog, anticipating the vet calling, and did my best to focus on my routines.
  • Create. I tackled creative tasks I could manage and wrote the new description for a novel as well as some other notes.
  • Kindness. Finally, I treated myself with kindness. I recognized my depression. I identified it, noted it, and was gentle with myself.

Depression is hard. None of this makes it easy. All this does is make it possible to deal. These are a few of the things I do to handle days like yesterday and still manage to write. Writing itself helps.

I'm doing better today, not 100%, but better. If you have techniques that help you write through depression, please share in the comments below.

Inside of a coffee shop with drinks, laptop and customers

How to Write Anywhere You Get the Chance

Writers and coffee shops go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Especially when the coffee shop sells delicious dark chocolate peanut butter cups. You'll also find writers working in libraries. And at work. If you're a busy creative with a full-time job, finding those moments when you can work on your writing is key to productivity. The tools have changed over the years, but the one thing I have done is write anywhere I get the chance to write.

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Forget Perfect—Write Anywhere

Last night while I watched an older episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon mentioned the Yerkes-Dodson law. It came up again today in a post on surviving readathons at BookRiot. As tempting as it might seem to try and create the perfect writing space, that's also very limiting. If you need the perfect space to write, you will only write in that space.

I've worked since I was old enough to get a job. As a kid working my first job, I strapped notebooks to the back of my bike and took them to work with me (I'm sure there must be a reason I didn't use a backpack). I learned to write anywhere along with learning to write. Doing so has enabled me to finish multiple novels each year even while working several jobs and going to college.

Instead of perfect, figure out the tools or process that you can use to unlock time to write. I'm going to suggest several options that I've tried over the years.

Write Faster T-Shirt

Write Anywhere With Pen and Paper

I started this way—and I still use it for some things that I write. Who doesn't love a new notebook and excellent pens? When I started out I used ledger-sized lined notebooks because they were cheap and the extra length made it possible to write more per page.

Today, I've used Moleskines, Field Notebooks, and others. I use Frixion pens or Fisher space pens, though I have a bag of other pens and pencils for drawings and sketches. I frequently combine drawing and writing in my notebooks. Most of my writing falls into notes about ideas rather than finished work.

Pros: Quick, easy, works anywhere, doesn't need batteries, WiFi, perfect lighting or much space.

Cons: For most work, it needs to be converted into a digital format. Whether that's retyping a story, or scanning a sketch, it takes extra work and time.

Write Anywhere With A Phone or Tablet

After notebooks, I moved up to Palm OS PDAs with addon keyboards. Initially, these had tiny monochrome screens, but even in the limited platform they had great word processing software. Over the years since, I've gone through several variations including phones and iPads. The options now have only gotten better and even include using Scrivener these days.

Pros: Quick, pretty easy, works anywhere, easily syncs content to cloud and desktop for additional work.

Cons: Electricity! Though batteries last longer now, travel anywhere and see how many people are looking for spots to plug in and charge their devices. Lighting can also prove problematic for some devices.

Write Anywhere With a Laptop

From simple and inexpensive Chromebooks to MacBooks, laptops are the goto device for many writers. A laptop can replace a desktop. I choose to use inexpensive devices for mobile work. I use a Chromebook for online work. When it comes to writing new fiction, I'm currently using my Scrivener laptop. It's a low-power, low-cost laptop that I use just for Scrivener. I back up files on my USB drive to transfer them to my desktop. I find having a dedicated writing device helps with the creative process. Sitting down with it, I'm in the frame of mind to write. It doesn't matter where I am because my writing environment goes with me. I even use it when I'm home.

Pros: Greater choice of software and options. Easy to sync with other devices. Potentially larger screens and keyboard options. Able to replace desktop, if desired.

Cons: Cost varies from inexpensive to very expensive. May not start as fast as some devices if you have to wait for it to boot up. Heavier.

What about you? What techniques do you use to write anywhere? Share in the comments!

Sell Direct

Why Sell Direct to Readers?

I'm setting up my site so that I can sell direct to readers. I still plan to offer my books through the major retailers. Selling direct offers many advantages for both authors and readers. I'd planned to do this years ago, but at the time it was a much more difficult thing to set up. Today, many tools exist to make direct sells easier than ever. This post isn't about the details of setting it up so much as why consider it at all?

Sell Direct For Options

One of the big reasons for me to sell direct is to have options to improve service to my readers. I started reading e-books long before the launch of Kindle and all along I've been frustrated by the lack of options available as both a reader and an author. Selling direct gives me opportunities, such as:

  • Free e-books with print purchase. I'm amazed that publishers don't offer this now. Amazon implemented their Kindle matchbook, and you can offer a free e-book with a print purchase, but it isn't promoted well on the site. And often it isn't a free e-book. I'll roll this out as I get print editions released so that anyone buying print copies will get a free e-book as well.
  • Coupons, Sales, and other Discounts. Some of the platforms allow authors to run promotions and offer coupons or other discounts—on their terms. With my own platform, I can decide what sort of offers I want to make available without having to go exclusive with a platform. I can experiment and try different things within my own environment.
  • Unique Offers. I can create unique offers when I sell direct, such as special bundles, book and swag combinations, signed copies, and anything else that I can imagine (e.g., one idea, personally signed e-books that are customized for the purchaser).
  • Patrons. I support creators at Patreon, but I can set up the same sort of thing through my own site and save the fees associated with the service. I'm not limited by their platform. I can customize my site to work for my readers.

Sell Direct for Connections

In addition to improving service for readers, I also want to sell direct in order to connect directly with readers. I'm grateful for anyone choosing to read my work, whatever store they use. When you purchase through Amazon, Apple, or Kobo, there's no direction connection. You're their customer. I appreciate it either way, but I'd like to build a direct relationship with readers. As a librarian, I've spent countless hours talking to readers. I want to make those connections outside of the library as well.

Obviously, these aren't mutually exclusive. Anyone choosing to go through a retailer is still perfectly welcome to contact me, sign up for my email list, or go through me for some purchases and not others. 

Sell Direct for a More Secure Future

I posted before about Amazon having all of your eggs. In the USA, Amazon controls much of the market for books. The idea of opening a storefront may seem odd. Except that people do it all the time. A great many entrepreneurs sell direct through their site—and don't sell on Amazon at all. I plan to sell products on Amazon that make sense, but as I mentioned above, there are more options with my own store. Short stories, for example.

On Amazon, an author only receives 35% royalty for a short story priced under $2.99. Likewise, if you want to offer a bundle at a price higher than $9.99. Between those two prices authors receive 70% royalty. Through my own store, I can offer a short story at .99¢ and it doesn't impact what I receive from the sale. Using Woocommerce and BookFunnel, I can sell a story for .99¢ and get ~65% from the sale after transaction costs. That's much better than 35%! 

I don't plan for direct sales to account for all of my income. I plan to make my novels widely available. I also plan to offer exclusive content through my site and deals for readers that aren't available elsewhere. By diversifying, I make my future more secure and proof against changes in retailer policy.

A Quick Rundown of Resources

I'm not going to go into great detail here, but I wanted to share the resources that I am using to sell direct. Or will be using once everything is up!

  • ConvertKit. I picked ConvertKit for my email list after listening to Nathan Barry talk about his reasons for creating the service. It's great.
  • WordPress. I use WordPress to create my site. I've been a WordPress user since the early days and continue to learn more all the time.
  • Thrive Themes. My brother turned me onto Thrive Themes. They're great and the themes and plugins offer so much functionality. I really appreciate their tutorials!
  • Woocommerce. I'm using the very popular Woocommerce for my shop. It offers great functionality and extensibility as well as integrations with my other tools.
  • BookFunnel. A great service that makes it easy to deliver e-books to readers and provides support and apps for readers.
  • LearnDash. I plan to use LearnDash for future courses offered on my site.

Those are the major services that I'm using at the moment. I'll post in more detail about all of them in the future. In the meantime, if you have other tools to recommend, please share in the comments!

Novel Openings

How to Craft Effective Novel Openings (Even in the Middle of Your Book)

Well-written novel openings draw readers right into the story—and the really good ones convince readers to put aside whatever else they are doing!

Way back in 1993 we were packing up to move. I'd taken on the task of boxing up books (a much bigger task now). This involved sitting on the floor as I packed books into cardboard boxes. In the middle of this, I came across Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King. I hadn't had a chance to read it yet, so I decided to take a peek. I opened the book and I began to read.

What did you ask, Andy Bisette? Do I “understand these rights as you've explained em to me”?

I didn't stop reading until I finished the book. This isn't as long as some of his books, but still. Instead of packing books into boxes so we could get moved—and we really wanted to get out of that place—I sat there and read the whole book! Effective openings have that kind of power. It isn't just the first page of the book either. Great novel openings show up at scene and chapter breaks too. They reel you in past all good sense.

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Traits of Killer Novel Openings

Novel openings that pull in readers succeed by engaging the reader in different ways.

  • Voice or language. The opening might use language, or a character voice that captures the reader's interest. In that first line of Dolores Claiborne her voice stands out. As the opening moves into the next paragraph it continues in her voice as well as bringing in sensory details.
  • Sensory details. Engaging the reader's senses is a powerful way to drop someone into the novel, especially when you engage all five senses.

She woke in the dark. Through the slats on the window shades, the first murky hint of dawn slipped, slanting shadowy bars over the bed. It was like waking in a cell. – Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

Novel Openings example

The J.D. Robb opening engages senses right in the first line and it also conveys the character's opinions of what she senses with words like ‘murky,' ‘shadowy bars,' and comparing it to waking in a cell. The opening is also effective at creating interest.

  • Create Interest. Effective novel openings also generate interest. They raise questions in the reader's mind about the character, the setting, and the situation.

The body lay naked and facedown, a deathly gray, spatters of blood staining the snow around it. It was minus fifteen degrees Celsius and a storm had passed just hours before. The snow stretched smooth in the wan sunrise, only a few tracks leading into a nearby ice-block building. A tavern. Or what passed for a tavern in this town. — Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

This opening raises questions right away about the body in the snow and the dispassionate character observing the body, noting details. Opinion comes into the sensory details as well, about the tavern. The next paragraph answers some of the questions and raises even more.

Openings Throughout Your Novel

We might just focus on openings when they occur at the beginning of the novel, but that would be a mistake. Each time there is a scene or chapter break, there is an opportunity to create another opening to draw the reader onward and deeper.

When Hodges returns to his chair with his small bundle of mail, the fight-show host is saying goodbye and promising his TV Land audience that tomorrow there will be midgets. Whether of the physical or mental variety he does not specify.— Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

The previous chapter ended with the note that even though Hodges doesn't get anything interesting in the mail, he's going to get it anyway. This opening grounds the reader right back in that moment. We've cut ahead, but only so far as Hodges getting back to his chair with the mail. It's still that moment even with the small jump in time. As the chapter moves into the next paragraph King provides sensory details, voice, and creates interest. The tension remains even though Hodges is looking at his mail.

Practicing Openings

A musician practices. Maybe trying to get fingering right at the start or practicing a new chord. Later, the musician practices songs and more advanced techniques. If they are also a songwriter or composer, they may try creating their own work too, but they continue to practice. Every performance, each recording, is more practice.

Writers do the same thing whether we realize it or not. Practicing mindfulness around our writing, realizing that we do practice, and deciding what we want to practice can help us grow and develop as writers. There are a couple techniques that you can try to improve your practice and improve your novel openings.

Deliberate Practice

Decide what you want to practice with each project. If you want to improve openings, note your intention to do so before you start. Leave that intent in the back of your mind and focus on writing. When you cycle back around, take a look at your openings whether at the beginning or at other points in the project. Have you included a strong voice or language? Sensory details that include the character's voice and opinion? Does the opening create interest?

You can also practice writing better openings by studying how other writers have written their openings.

Writer T-Shirt

Playing Other Writer's Openings

Just as a musician can practice by playing songs written by other musicians, writers can practice by typing other writer's work. To be perfectly clear, I'm not suggesting that you copy another writer's work and pass it off as your own! I'm talking about practice.

Sit down with a book you've enjoyed. Open whatever program you use to write (or notebook, or recorder) and type in the openings from the book. Go 2-3 paragraphs into each opening and then skip on ahead to the next scene break or the next chapter break.

Artificial intelligences, neural networks, learn by taking in data. “More input!” as Number 5 would say.

Our brains work the same way. Practice in this sense, physically typing in the work into your familiar instrument, teaches the techniques used. Don't bother saving the document when you're done. There's no need. Think of it just like a musician that decides to try playing a favorite song, or more specifically, certain parts of a song in order to learn something. By typing in the novel openings, you're teaching your neural network techniques.

Making a Practice Habit

This blog focuses on having a writing and publishing business while working full-time at another career. With everything else going on, how do you find time to practice? As with anything, focus helps.

If you're using RescueTime, you can set goals and alerts. You can integrate with Zapier to connect it to other tools that you use. Your practice session doesn't need to be long. Take a 10-minute break at work to practice openings. Pick some times and set a reminder, add it to your calendar, or just have the book on hand for the unexpected break.

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C. Auguste Dupin expects simple things out of his day. A sunny spot beside the fountain to nap. His tuna delivered at precisely the right time by librarian Penny Copper. He didn’t expect someone to stuff bodies in the book returns and disrupt his entire day!The only thing left to do? Apply his considerable intellect to the task of identifying the killer while guiding Penny to the answer.

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RescueTime Productivity Killers

3 Productivity Killers Many Writers Face

I struggle with being productive, as I'm sure you do as well. I think most writers run into issues around productivity. I don't know about you, but I'm easily distractible. It could be anything from a TV show, to my son wanting to play, to a game, or a book that I want to read. Or even just checking email or social media. I even have the RescueTime app installed on my computer to help me with this issue. I've identified three common productivity mistakes I make—and I think that most writers probably deal with these as well.

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My Biggest Productivity Killers

What is your biggest productivity killer? What sucks away the time you might have to lead a productive career?

Minecraft.

It isn't always Minecraft. This month Minecraft has taken up a surprising amount of time. It's easy to spend time on one task after another in the game. Before you know it, time has gone flying by.

Minecraft Productivity Mistake

I'm not suggesting that you should give up entertainment, whether that is games, sports, television, movies, or social media. I think we all need to to relax and have fun. I have fun writing, but sometimes it's nice to just relax and explore some chasm or build up a village.

Productivity Mistakes Graphed

Analyzing Productivity Killers

I use RescueTime to track my time spent on my desktop and phone. I haven't set it up on my writing laptop because I use that offline. RescueTime reports on categories, websites, and applications that I use. It ranks activities from very productive to very distracting, and assigns a productivity to score to the results.

With a big list of books to get out, I appreciate seeing where I'm spending my time on the computer. What about time spent offline?

The app does have options to manually input offline time. I don't tend to use that feature. I want to track how I'm spending time on the computer because that's when I have a choice. Do I play a game, or work on a cover for the next book on my list? Do I create a new tee shirt design, or watch shows on Netflix?

Write Faster T-Shirt

The Top 3 Productivity Killers

Enter your text here…

Book Relaunch Image

24 Books To Go | Relaunching My List

Book relaunches take planning. I have 24 books to relaunch in my backlist, plus new books that I'm writing. To help me keep everything organized I use Trello. I'm going to show you my simple Trello board and talk about how I'm using it to help stay focused on on track for this project.

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Book Relaunch Trello Board

For my book relaunch project, I'm using Trello. I've recently simplified my board as I refined my project. You're welcome to take a look at my Book Relaunch Board.

Book Relaunch Trello Board<img class=”tve_image wp-image-795 jetpack-lazy-image–handled” alt=”Book Relaunch Trello Board” width=”1920″ height=”1050″ title=”book-relaunch-trello” data-id=”795″ src=”//ryanmwilliams.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/book-relaunch-trello.jpg” data-lazy-loaded=”1″>&amp;lt;img class=”tve_image wp-image-795″ alt=”Book Relaunch Trello Board” width=”1920″ height=”1050″ title=”book-relaunch-trello” data-id=”795″ src=”//ryanmwilliams.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/book-relaunch-trello.jpg”&amp;gt;

The board currently has four lists.

  • Information and Titles. This section contains information about the project, the titles, and cards for upcoming titles. I'm in the process of updating the cards with new custom fields.
  • Up Next. This list shows projects I plan to work on next. I may have done a few things with the book, but I haven't focused on it yet.
  • Works in Progress. In this list, I have the titles I'm currently working on. You can see two above.
  • Published. The final list contains titles published. None yet in this new project.

I may add additional lists in the future, such as a marketing list to track which projects I'm focusing on for my marketing efforts. I need to get some titles done first.

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C. Auguste Dupin expects simple things out of his day. A sunny spot beside the fountain to nap. His tuna delivered at precisely the right time by librarian Penny Copper. He didn’t expect someone to stuff bodies in the book returns and disrupt his entire day!The only thing left to do? Apply his considerable intellect to the task of identifying the killer while guiding Penny to the answer.

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Information and Titles

This section contains information or planning cards, as well as cards for each book on the title list. I'm flexible on due dates. As a full-time librarian, my time is split. It's hard to set firm due dates for the projects because the needs are also different. Right now, I'm working on updating my scheduling plan.

When I first started, I pictured finishing every format of each title before releasing the book. I've changed my mind. Instead I plan to focus on releasing the ebook editions first. Then I will add paperbacks on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), followed by IngramSpark for paperback, hardcover, and large print hardcovers. Eventually, I'll also do audiobook editions. 

Along the way, I plan to finish new titles and get those out as well. At that point I'll have books in progress at different stages.

Up Next

This list features projects that I'm starting to work on, but haven't focused on yet. I might be reading over a book, playing with some cover art concepts, or taking notes about what I want to do with the book. It doesn't have my focus, but it shows me what is coming up so that I'm thinking about it. The books on the information and titles list aren't in any particular order. In this list, the books are in the current order I plan to approach them. Of course I can change that order with a simple drag and drop. It's one of the things that makes the Trello board so nice. It's very easy to reorganize cards, add notes, files, or other elements to the card. I aim to only have three titles on this list at a time.

I use the Custom Fields power-up to add the status, format, and series to the cards. This feature recently lost functionality as they work on a new version. It no longer offers the ability to have custom fields only show on the back of the card, and you can't rename the custom fields button any longer. Hopefully that functionality will be restored soon.

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Works in Progress

I track my book relaunch details on the cards in this section. I attach cover art, create checklists to track progress on edits and other steps. I use labels for the type of project and genre. Ideally I'd keep this list focused on one book, but as the image shows right now, I sometimes have multiple projects in progress. In this case the one on top is the current project that is taking most of my attention.

Published

The published list keeps a reverse chronological list of titles published. Each card is format-specific, so titles will appear on the list (and board) each time with multiple formats. In the future, I plan to pull from this list over to a marketing list when I'm working on marketing a particular book.

My Book Launch Board

There you go! That's my book launch board. It's pretty simple. Feel free to take a look, and let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Science Fiction Cover Design

How to Design an Out of This World Science Fiction Cover

I need a new science fiction cover for my book Dark Matters. The last cover didn't work—my artwork probably had something to do with that, along with other factors. I'm working on new editions of my books (including brand new titles never released), and this time I want to create covers that invite readers to pick up the books. There are certain key elements that I want to look at before finalizing my new covers.

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Doing My Science Fiction Cover Research

Much like I did with researching cozy mystery covers, I researched science fiction covers on current best selling titles. I followed essentially the same process, just looking at science fiction on Amazon instead to get a sense of what works today.

The straight best sellers lists contain a mix of different genres of science fiction and fantasy. It's worth taking a look to get an overall sense. After that, I took a look at the specific subgenres that I might want to target for my book.

What is Dark Matters?

It features Brock Marsden, a detective who uses Galactic technology to combine alien DNA with his own in order to gain new abilities that help him solve crimes. He's a member of the Moreau Society, a group of people who share their experiments with individual genetic modification. Brock investigates the murder of a young woman, leading him into darker corners of Olindan society.

Other worlds, advanced technology, a multitude of aliens, and an engaging cast of characters, Dark Matters might fit the Genetic Engineering category,Hard Science Fiction, or Adventure.

Science Fiction Covers

Elements of Successful Science Fiction Covers

Certain common elements stand out while looking over the lists.

  1. Covers are colorful.
  2. Covers tend to have large, decorative fonts, particularly for titles.
  3. Fonts have a ‘science fiction' feel and may also have various effects e.g. glowing, multi-colored, transparency, etc.
  4. Covers use Illustrations more than photos, many don't focus on people, using landscapes or more symbolic images. People are often small, silhouetted, or otherwise deemphasized.
  5. Spaceships are not required.

Putting Together a Science Fiction Cover

Taking my notes and ideas about the novel, I've selected artwork and put together a new cover which I think is much more effective than my previous attempts.

The design is simple and clean, and clearly conveys a science fiction feel. It works well with the book. It'll be interesting to see how this new cover works with readers.

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