Weekly Writer’s Roundup Volume IV

For your reading pleasure this weekend, here are several articles about writing, publishing and promoting I’ve read this week and found useful, thought-provoking, and otherwise helpful. Enjoy!



5 New Ways for Writers to Keep a Journal — Kendra Levin

As a senior editor at Penguin and a life coach for creatives, I meet a lot of writers. Most who cross my path either keep a journal or feel guilty about not keeping one.

It’s okay not to keep a journal. Like cilantro or Gwyneth Paltrow, writing in a journal simply isn’t for everyone—and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But if you’re one of those writers who’s been meaning to start a journal for years but doesn’t get inspired by the idea of stream-of-consciousness-ing your thoughts each day, you may not have found the right format for you.

Here are five ways to keep a journal that are especially suited to writers:

Source: 5 New Ways for Writers to Keep a Journal | Writers Digest

This article came across my monitor thanks to the facebook wall of a dear friend who loves butterflies and loves to write. When I read it, I thought “what a great idea, to capture some of my thoughts and feelings about my work on a daily or weekly basis.” Then I realized I’m “journaling” in my keeping it real series, but am missing out on some of the information I could be capturing by means of my weekly progress reports to myself and anyone else who reads along. As well as a quantitative summary of my work, Keeping it Real could be about some of the qualitative aspects of writing. Inherently, the qualitative stuff is more interesting than a dry recital of how many chapters written or edited, and how many blogs subscribed to each week. I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do with the information from this article, but it will definitely shape some changes in the coming weeks.


8 tips to enhance your writing — Christina Fakhry

Not everyone is born with a unique gift for language and its peculiarities, yet everyone can enhance their writing skills through practice. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you out!

Source: 8 tips to enhance your writing | Global Young Voices

This is a simple checklist I found on a blog created by millennials for millennials. The blog is sponsored by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Office of International Education and is meant to help high profile millennials around the world tell their stories about occurrences in their countries and discuss events and opinions with others. The suggestions in this article are geared toward making one’s writing more impactful, and it’s an excellent checklist to consider when editing as well as when writing a first draft. Eventually, these tips should become second nature.


Draft2Digital vs Smashwords review – One Clear Winner – Derek Haines

For self-publishing distribution, Draft2Digital wins on almost every count.

I have been a (very) long time user of Smashwords, but I have to say from the outset that I am now moving all of my ebooks over to Draft2Digital for distribution to ebook retailers other than Amazon Kindle.

Why? Read on.

Smashwords created a fantastic service over the years for self-publishers. Without Smashwords, there would be no competition in self-published ebooks today, and Amazon would own the market.

However, using Smashwords today feels slow, sluggish and cumbersome. Sure, there have been changes and improvements to distribution, but Smashwords’ metagrinder and autovetter have not changed in years. The process of uploading an ebook and having it approved is slow, tedious and cumbersome.

Enter Draft2Digital and ebook publishing becomes a totally different experience. Fast, simple, easy and highly automated. There are so many features that I love about Draft2Digital that I’ll have to do this in list form.

Source: Draft2Digital vs Smashwords review – One Clear Winner | Just Publishing Advice

This blog shows up at least once in every WWR I’ve written so far, which is a tribute to the author’s twitter promotion expertise as well as to his highly informative content. Information about digital publishing has a fairly short shelf life from what I’ve seen, but these are two eBook publishers I’ll want to compare carefully in a few months, and the comparisons made here will help me focus on what has changed, and also give me some great tips on what to look for in other independent publishers.

Most Profitable Price Point for Books — Melanie Rockett

About a month ago I found an article by Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) on Huffington Post.

Coker was publishing the results of a study he did about book sales. I always test my book pricing, but because of Coker’s results, I ran one more set of tests and am thrilled by the results.

According to Coker’s research $3.99 is the most profitable price point!

“One surprising finding is that, on average, $3.99 books sold more units than $2.99 books, and more units than any other price except FREE. “

In my tests I increased the price of half my books to $3.99 (from $3.27) and found that sales remained steady … which means I am making MORE money without losing ANY sales volume. Very Cool.

Source: Most Profitable Price Point for Books | Melanie Rockett

The advice I’m taking to heart here is not just the $3.99 price point, but also the suggestion to play around with pricing. The murky reasons why $3.99 is currently the magic price point are subject to change without notice.


5 Easy Steps to Overnight Success — Gabriela Pereira

Most creative fields have a certain mythos surrounding the notion of “overnight success.” Every niche has its own legends, those unlikely success stories about how people got their big breaks. Charlize Theron was discovered by an agent while arguing with a manager at a bank. Billy Joel started out playing in a piano bar. JK Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book in a coffeeshop. There’s something very Cinderella about these overnight success stories where artistic geniuses “come out of nowhere.” One minute you’re a starving artist struggling to make ends meet. The next minute *poof* you’re the belle of the ball.

Of course, this idea of overnight success is an illusion, a myth. No one is going to pluck us from obscurity and shove us into the limelight. The onus is on us to make that success happen. What is more, when we buy into this notion of “overnight success,” we fail to do the necessary work that helps us reach our goals. If you’re looking to make a lasting impact with your writing, follow these steps, put in the work, and in a few months (or years, or decades) you’ll have “overnight success.”

Source: 5 Easy Steps to Overnight Success | DIY MFA

Pereira’s first step hits to the heart this week. During the last few weeks, there have been occurrences in the Indie writing world that have highlighted unfair demands for unpaid creative work. In contrast, she suggests that volunteer opportunities give newer writers a chance to develop a portfolio and make useful contacts that can lead to paid writing gigs. This article discusses different writing venues and objectives than I’m focusing on, but the promotion tips I unearthed are fairly easy to internalize, and I’m giving some of them a try. “Hello, I’m M.C. Frye, creator of the Weekly Writer’s Roundup.”

10 Tips For Marketing Your Self Published Ebook – Derek Haines

While self-publishing has given authors and writers all the tools necessary to publish a quality ebook or paperback, there is one element that remains a stumbling block. Getting a book to sell. Marketing your self-published book is tough, hard work, competitive and cut throat. If that’s not enough, it can also be very expensive.

Of course, we all hear about the ‘outliers’ that have got lucky such as Amanda Hocking and E L James, but these are rarities. However in saying that, they didn’t achieve success without a lot of hard work, and hard marketing, either.

Self-published authors have no choice but to face up to the onerous task of promoting themselves. However, traditional publishers are now cutting back on their book marketing budgets, so more and more of their authors are having to use social media to ‘flog’ their wares. It’s becoming a level playing field.

So what can you do to give your book a chance? Here are a few ideas that might help in marketing your self-published book.

Source: 10 Tips For Marketing Your Self Published Ebook| Derek Haines

Derek Haines breaks down the components and steps he’s used to create a platform for his work. Platform in this context means audience – readers, and the means by which he reaches them. All of these tips are great and I’m either already doing some of his suggestions or have plans to do so when the time is right. But, for my genre (science fiction) and setting (the San Francisco Bay Area) I have opportunities to connect directly and in person with potential readers, opportunities that aren’t as well established in some genres and for some settings. I have a friend who also writes Science Fiction and a mystery series set in Florida. Science Fiction and comic conventions in Florida give him opportunities to speak in panel discussions, set up booths to sell his books and pass out free cookies, and meet fans and potential fans in person. It sometimes sounds like a grueling weekend schedule, but he enjoys it.

A Little of This, a Little of That

Seriously? — Rosalie Stanton
(some profanity)

So, a few days ago, an author shared an alarming message she received from someone who claimed to be a reader and a fan. This person praised the author’s work, but said she had to return each of the books (ranging from $0.99 and $2.99) because they were too expensive. Furthermore, she would very much appreciate it if the author could make her books free from this point on.

When the author shared this message, the person lost her shit and followed up by stating that no one should have to pay for the stories that are in the author’s head.

There are several problems with this, and many people have commented. I remain floored on several counts, but all come back to the following:

Source: Seriously | Rosalie Stanton

There have been a number of blog articles written about this event during the last week. The story broke in a Facebook writers group I belong to because the involved author is also a member. Of the articles I’ve read, I think this one hits some salient points. Many writers pay their bills by selling books. They have expenses related to publishing and promotion on top of the actual time they spend writing, publishing and promoting. Even if they were willing to write for free, expecting them to pay for the honor of having their book available to read is way beyond reasonable expectation.

I don’t know where this expectation that professional writers should make their work available for free comes from, but it’s possible that the plethora of sites where writers do make their work available for free, e.g., wattpad, etc., may contribute to the expectation. Writers also sometimes make their first works in a series available free when releasing sequels, in order to increase the demand for the later works. It’s easy for me to pick up a dozen or more free books a week if I wish simply by watching my twitter feed for such offers. I think writers may actually be hurting future sales by habituating potential readers to free offers. Why buy a book today when you can shop the genre or even the specific author for stories and novels they’re giving away?


As always, if you run across an article you think would be of interest in this series (or if you have written one!), I’d love to hear about it. Contact me via comment here or via social media.

Until next week, happy writing, and happy reading!

photo credits:

Maquina d’escriure via photopin (license)

Quo Vadis ME Journal via photopin (license)

Blue butterfly via photopin (license)

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