5 Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block

5 Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block

It happens to the best of us. One day you sit down at your computer, determined to finish that next chapter, complete a project for a client, or meet a deadline for an article, when — bam! — your mind suddenly turns to mush, your creativity evaporates, and your usually seamless connection between head, heart and typing fingers takes a hiatus.

What to do when your blank computer screen stares ominously in your face while panic sets in over looming deadlines, paychecks and bills?

Here are five of my favorite ways to overcome the equality opportunity malady known as Writer’s Block:

 

1. Exercise – My favorite way to burn calories, tone muscle and release stress? Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away The Pounds DVD. See my review here. Not only will Leslie get your adrenaline pumping along with your heart (the most important muscle in the body), she’ll keep you moving with her genuine, effervescent personality, warm demeanor and radiant smile. Since she motivates others through sincere encouragement, not military-style intimidation, if you’re the kind of person who’s inspired to push your physical limits by working out with a serious-yet-nurturing coach, Leslie’s your go-to gal. My more recent favorite is Walk It Off in 30 Days, which has enabled me to reach my fitness goals. If you’re looking for something gentler, check out You Can Do Yoga.

2. Get Out In Nature – Whether you prefer the tranquil site of water, the majestic beauty of mountains, the vibrant colors of a flower garden or the breathtaking site of a towering evergreen, spending time in nature will soothe the soul and clear the creative channels. Spending at least a few minutes a day outdoors will also reconnect you to the world around you, which is especially important since writing tends to be a solitary — and sometimes lonely — activity.

 

3. Keep A Journal – A great habit to get into for many reasons, keeping a daily journal where you make note of the things you’re grateful to be, do, and have will keep your mind and spirit focused on the positive. It’s also a perfect place to “write out” all other distractions — such as the items on your To Do List, and document your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. Describe your vision for your life in vivid detail in the areas of health, wealth, relationships, travel, and personal growth. Read it aloud. Feel it coming to fruition and act as if you already have it. Doing so will inspire you to complete the tasks at hand in an easy and relaxed manner, understanding that what you do in every given moment creates the life you desire.

 

4. Pray   If you believe in God, take the time to pray each day for guidance. During Lent, I use the daily meditations from The Word Among Us. I’ve also found inspiration in the Daily Word and other types of devotional books and magazines. Even if you spend only ten minutes or so before getting out of bed in the morning and retiring at night to close your eyes, give thanks, and ask for help in fulfilling your projects to the best of your ability, it will go a long way toward keeping the flow of creativity moving.

5. Phone A Friend/Relative – Sometimes when I’m really stuck and nothing else seems to work, I get up from my desk, pick up the phone, and called a loved one. Whether it’s my mother or a good friend, I reach out to someone I know for a fact supports me unconditionally and will be willing to lend an ear. In many cases, I don’t even mention the problems I’m having with completing a particular chapter or article; I just call to hear the person’s voice, find out how their day is going, and remind myself that I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many caring people. A word of caution: put a time limit on this lovely distraction so you don’t end up spending too much time away from your project. Talk with them just enough to recharge your creative batteries, then get back to work.

How do you overcome writer’s block? Share your ideas in the comments.

Contact me if you’re seeking a copywriter, ghostwriter, or help with independent publishing.

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Understanding the Indie Publishing Process

Understanding the Indie Publishing Process

Over the past decade, I’ve learned some valuable lessons from every project and client, which enabled me to improve my communication and processes.

One of the most important lessons learned?

Give every client an outline of the indie publishing process that includes clear directives, deadlines, and responsibilities. With indie publishing, the author and the publisher must work in collaboration, each holding up their end of the agreement in order to achieve the desired publication date of a high-quality book.

Six Steps to Indie Publishing

  1. Select a Publishing Package– Whatever your goal, I offer a package that meets your needs.
  2. Choose Your Publication Date – I require approval on the FINAL edits a minimum of two months prior.
  3. Commit to Your Project – My collaborative editing process requires a time commitment from both of us.
  4. Approve Final Edits – After a few rounds of editing, you, the author, must approve the final edits before the manuscript moves into formatting. Please read the post formatting versus editing for more.
  5. Approve Formatting – Once you approve the final edits, your manuscript moves into the formatting stage. What is formatting? It pertains the interior style of the book including fonts, headers, chapter templates, and justification. When your manuscript makes it to the formatting part of the process, you can no longer add or remove paragraphs, rewrite sentences, delete content or add new content. When is the time to do that? At any point within Step 4. By the time you approve final edits, you’ve reviewed your document repeatedly. Take as long as you need before signing off because we will not make any further editing changes after it moves into formatting.
  6. Approve Proof Copy – Before your book goes live online, you must approve either a digital version or a paperback proof. If you’re a new author, I recommend the latter.

As your independent publishing consultant, I am just as vested as you in the outcome. Producing good books with original, compelling covers and stylish, readable formatting is my top priority. Making you look good is my goal. That’s why every package I offer includes professional editing and formatting.

Kindle/eBook Formatting

kindle-381242_1280This is such a vital topic, I’m placing under its own heading. I cannot stress this enough, but different formatting rules apply to Kindle/eBooks. We cannot use the same PDF we uploaded for the paperback version for the Kindle version. It simply does not work.

Therefore, once you approve your edits, your manuscript moves into formatting first for paperback, then for Kindle. We release the paperback first, with the teaser that the Kindle version is coming soon (usually within two weeks). Kindle formatting may take longer, depending upon the number of photos, charts, headers, special fonts, and other characteristics of the paperback.

Congratulations, Your Book Published on Your Desired Date – Now What?

You move into the fun marketing phase. If your particular package includes online interviews, social media set-up and training, and a book signing kit I’ll set those up for you. But no matter which package you select, I encourage you to have fun engaging with your audience in cyberspace and in person.

Publication Date

To reiterate the above, the time to make changes to your book is while it is in the editing phase. When you approve final edits, the manuscript goes into the capable hands of a professional formatter whose job is to focus on the appearance of the content, not the content itself. Once you approve the formatting, we hit the “approve” button on the date that matches your desired publication date.

Why?

The date we click the approve button is the publication date. It cannot be changed. If you want your pub date to be March 14, 2017, we must approve it anytime after midnight on that date. From that point, it will go live on Amazon within 24 hours.

Post-Publication Rules

Once your book is for sale on Amazon (and everywhere books are sold online), it’s time to market and promote. It is not the time to pull the book down to make yet another editorial adjustment.

Can it be done? Yes. Do I advise it? Absolutely not. Refer back to Step 4.

Sure, a year or two after your book is out, you may want to update it. I did that myself with Water Signs — years after it was published, because I wanted to make improvements to the cover design and dialogue.

Ready to tell your story? Contact me for your complimentary 30-minute consultation.

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How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

As a seasoned ghostwriter, I’m happy to answer the question often posed in Google searches.

But before we delve into costs, let’s begin by defining ghostwriting:

  • What is it exactly?
  • How does it work?
  • What qualities should you look for in a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriting is a service where you entrust your concept for a fictional story or the facts of your own life and experiences (in the case of a nonfiction memoir, self-help book, etc.) to a professional ghostwriter. The ghostwriter then gathers information from you, outlines the book accordingly, and writes it in your voice.

That’s a basic starting point. Depending on the scope of the project, it can take anywhere from four months to several years to produce a high quality product. In my experience as a ghostwriter of fiction and nonfiction books, nonfiction is faster and easier to complete.

Why?

Once I have the information from my client, it’s a matter of deciding what’s important to include (based on the purpose of the book and other factors), arranging the content in a logical manner, then writing it on their behalf. Whenever I consult with a potential new client on their ghostwriting project, I describe in detail how the process works:

  1. Investigation – we set up a weekly recorded call where I act as an investigative reporter and ask questions. Why recorded? To make it easier to capture information I’ll need later on and the client’s manner of speaking; in essence, their voice. This ensures that when I sit down to write, I’ll be writing as the client — not as me. Depending upon the scope of the story, the investigative part of the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
  2. Collaboration – from there, I collaborate with the client to offer suggestions in terms of content and ensure they’re comfortable including certain things. For example, one of my clients experienced a rape by a family member as a teenager. In the beginning, she was adamant about not identifying him, which I honored and understood. But as the process moved along, she decided to call him out. Either way, including the rape as a turning point in her life was necessary. Particularly when dealing with sensitive topics, the client is always in control. My job as the ghostwriter (and editor) is to make professional suggestions based on knowledge and experience.
  3. Organization – once I have all the information, I listen to playback of all recordings to determine a logical sequence to the book. Flow and pacing are just as important as content. Even if you have an incredible story to share, if not properly organized, you’ll quickly lose your readers. In the case of fiction, once I have the real-life events, I then figure out characters, plot, and sequencing. Fiction demands a different kind of creativity. Once I know the actual story, I then spend time creating characters and mapping out a plot. I explain to my clients that the fictional version of their story will not mirror real life because it’s not a memoir. Aside from changing locations (dictated by the client), creative license may involve consolidating multiple real-life people into one character, amending the timeline of events for pacing purposes, and creating purely fictional situations to enhance the intrigue.
  4. Writing – as I said, ghostwriting demands the ability to write in someone else’s voice, which means getting into someone else’s head. The only way to accomplish this feat is by conducting the regular recorded interviews I described in the first bullet. Most importantly though, a ghostwriter must have a genuine interest in other people. Without it, it’s impossible to do the job well. Paradoxically, good writing is a product of pouring your heart and soul into your creation, yet in the case of a ghostwriter, it’s not really your work, so you must maintain a certain detachment while you treat the process as if the end result is your accomplishment. This is especially true if your name will not appear anywhere on the cover.
  5. Editing – after I’ve completed the manuscript, I review it with my client for content before I send it to a professional editor (I work with several talented people). As with the writing portion of the project, my client has the right to accept or decline any changes for as long as the book is in the editing phase. However, once my client approves the edits and their manuscript moves into the formatting phase, there are no further editorial changes. (More on formatting vs. editing in another post).

Now that you know how ghostwriting works, hopefully you understand its value. Your ghostwriter will spend countless hours fulfilling your dream of becoming a published author and/or of adding more published books to your list of accomplishments. It demands time, talent, skill, discernment…and even a bit of amateur psychology for a good ghostwriter to produce a product their client can be proud of.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

Let’s get down to dollars and cents and answer the question of how much it costs to hire a ghostwriter. If we’re talking about a full-length book, which is what I’ve outlined in this post, I defer to Laura Sherman, Ghostwriter and Author:

  • Cheap writers can be found who will write a 100 to 200 page book for as little as $2,000. If this is your budget (and you’re a gambler by nature), your best bet is to find a student new to the industry. Please be careful that he or she is actually writing your book and not plagiarizing another writer’s work.
  • Professional writers will usually charge between $12,000 and $90,000 to write a 100 to 300 page book. This price varies depending on the writer’s level of expertise and the amount of work required for the project.
  • High-end celebrity writers are usually hired by actors, politicians, musicians and other famous personalities who will sell books just by virtue of their name. The writers for these celebrities are well-established authors with a lot of experience. They can charge $150,000 to $750,000 for a book. Sometimes more.

The old adage, You Get What You Pay For, applies here. As a professional writer who has ghostwritten several books including Steps to SalvationReflections on the Ring: An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Tale of How She Saved Her Marriage and Family, and To Guard My Every Neighbor: Inside the Fire, I fall into the second category.

Please note that the minimum cost for a professional writer’s services is $12,000 — and that is for a book between 100-300 pages.  Depending on the length and type of book, my ghostwriting services begin at $3,000 for a 100 page book. I’m happy to discuss your project over the phone to gather the information I need to prepare a written proposal.

If you would like to set up your no-obligation consultation to discuss your project, contact me here.

 

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How to Write a Quality Book Review

How to Write a Quality Book Review

Since authors spend a great deal of time and effort on their books, writing a review is one of the best ways to show your appreciation and offer constructive feedback to help them improve their craft. For potential readers, a thoughtful review can mean the difference between purchasing a book or clicking onto the next title in their search for a good read.

But what comprises a quality book review?

First, let’s talk about what constitutes a bad book review. No, I’m not referring to legitimate criticism of characters, plot, pacing, writing, or any other vital aspect of a compelling story. I’m talking about generic reviews like, “I loved the book!” or “Wow, this is excellent!” or “This book is a must-read!” that omit any substantive descriptions as to why the reviewer is offering such effusive praise.

Conversely, the same principle applies to pithy one-or-two sentence reviews like, “Awful book!” “I can’t believe anyone would write this drivel!” or “Don’t waste your time reading.”

Either way, the reviewer does the author and his or her potential readers a disservice by omitting specifics. Whether you love or hate a book (or fall somewhere in-between), here are some guidelines on how to write an effective, useful review for both authors and readers.

  1. Demonstrate You Have Actually Read the Book– sounds counter-intuitive, but I’m not advocating that reviewers should give away spoilers. However, it is possible to mention a few specifics about what you liked about the main character, themes, narration, dialogue, etc. What did you like or dislike about the protagonist or supporting characters? Why did the plot draw you in? Was the book thought-provoking? Edgy? Enlightening? Why?  Even if you select just one aspect and explain why it had an impact on you (either positively or negatively), it will demonstrate your knowledge of the book.
  2. Offer a Balanced Perspective– as I mentioned, a great deal of time and energy goes into the production of a book. Whether you rate it 5-stars or 3-stars (more on that further down the post), point out specifically what the author does well and the areas in which he or she could improve. Is the dialogue stilted but the prose captivating? Say so. Is the pacing too slow? Too fast? Explain why and give an example. Is a character well defined or one-dimensional? Offer a specific example that supports your opinion.
  3. Limit Your Review to One-to-Three Paragraphs– for maximum impact, keep it pithy. Select a few qualities about the book that stood out to you, whether it involves a secondary character, a particular scene, or the overarching themes. Again, you don’t want to give away spoilers; you want to focus on your most indelible impressions of the book. No one wants to read a lengthy, rambling review, and from a copywriting/marketing perspective, such reviews do more harm that good. The objective is to provide constructive criticism/praise to better inform the author and prospective readers.
  4. Give the Author at Least 3 Stars– here I am taking my cue from my friend and author Daniella Bova, who states at her blog DaniellaBova.com, “Authors put their heart and soul into their writing, so I will never give any book less than 3 stars. I just won’t review it at all.” Words to live by. If you really hate a book for whatever reason (poorly written, plot holes, undeveloped characters, etc.), it’s best to heed our mothers’ advice while growing up, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” In such a case, I recommend contacting the author directly and privately (if they’ve made their email public or have a public FB page where you can message them) and sharing your thoughts. By doing so, you’ll be helping them improve while saving them the embarrassment of a 1-or 2-star public review. Do unto others, as you’d have done to you, after all.

A while back I received positive feedback on a book review I posted for the book Soul Mates & Angels. The person who read it complimented me for following the guidelines I’ve outlined above, instead of posting a generic opinion. She even used it in a promotional email she sent out on behalf of the author, Betty RaeI’m posting it here as an example:

This beautiful story drew me in from the moment I began reading. Written in the first person, its tone is at once hopeful, joyful, inquisitive, and thoughtful. Blessed with a supernatural ability to communicate with angels, the main character Anita Lyn Riley struggles to reconcile the mundane aspects of her life — from high school bullies to adolescent crushes — with the knowledge that evil exists everywhere, not just in some far away places.

On a personal level, she knows what it feels like to be misunderstood and feared for being different. When we first meet Anita, she is adapting to her new public high school, having upset the religious sensibilities of the priests and nuns at her former Catholic institution with her tales of reincarnation and otherworldly visions. As the book unfolds, her journey becomes progressively more difficult as circumstances force her to take courageous stands for justice, spurred on by righteous anger.

Filled with endearing characters and thought-provoking insights, Soul Mates & Angels celebrates the unbreakable bond that exists between all humans as children of God, the power of good to overcome evil, and the unseen realm where angels and loved ones are always there to help us.

Happy reading…and writing (book reviews)!

Do you need help with self-publishing, editing, ghostwriting or copywriting?

Contact me here.

Read the reviews of my book, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, here, where you can also preview and purchase it in paperback or Kindle.

 

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