A Writer's Bucket and Mop List

"The key is not spending time,
but in investing in it."
                               Stephen R. Covey

What is the first thing you want to do in the morning when you get up? If you’re like me, you want to write. But there are so many other things to do, even for retired folks like me! Often, writing—composing—doesn’t happen until nighttime when the dishes are done and the house is quiet.

Throughout the day while wishing I could be writing, I dream. My dream goes something like this (in order of preference):

 I could write right now if only I had:

  • an on-call massage therapist
  • a nanny (when I still had kids at home)
  • a maid
  • a cook
  • a secretary
  • a research assistant
  • a dedicated media specialist
  • an errand runner
  • a personal trainer
  • a gardener
  • a dog walker

Then when nighttime comes, I realize I am all those things. I do something from most if not all the items on my list every day. 

Make Your Life Your Inspiration

A humorist writer friend of mine once told me about challenges her husband faced at his job. About what was going on with each of her three sons. About her own life and lack of time to get anything done.

But she told me she wouldn't trade her life for the world. If it weren't for the angst in her family, she wouldn't have anything to write about.

I've never forgotten my friend’s insight. It's a lesson I cherish every day. If I had too much time to write, my need wouldn't be as urgent. I may not be as motivated. I may not have those few hours of pure bliss to look forward to each day.

Once I tried doing nothing but write all day, every day. I soon found that my life became so narrow, the energy I had once stored up for writing projects had withered away. I ran out of ideas. My page became as blank as my life.

Balance. That is the answer. Find a proper balance and that will solve everything. Good luck with that. Balance turned out to be as fleeting as my sapped energy. I discovered lopsided is good. My solution: create space to write. Take time out each week to work on writing projects. Though even this plan sometimes seems impossible, if we stick to a schedule, no matter how small it may be at times, eventually we will finish our projects and go after publishing our work.

Gains and Losses

Since recently “putting to bed” a few book projects, I realize I am teetering on the brink of marketing them and jumping into my next writing project(s) with both feet. Here is the short version of what has happened to my life as I endeavor to reach my future writing goals.


  • The many friends and acquaintances I've made that will surely remain a part of my future.
  • The sharpening of my skills.
  • Learning new things every day.
  • Being motivated enough to stay up late and still get up early.
  • The fun of sharing my hopes and dreams with others.
  • The feeling of accomplishment at completing such a challenging task as writing a book.
  • Keeping other interests alive to strive for less lopsidedness and more balance.
  • How much I've grown from reading and learning about different people and subjects.
  • Emotionally I feel I've grown, too, for it seems that understanding our own emotions and others' emotions is part of writing.
  • Being an entertainer.
  • The sheer fun of having an audience.
  • Enjoying the feeling of joy inside at all that writing has given me.


  • No more time for sewing or photoscrapbooking.
  • Little time for socializing; having to say no to invitations to join clubs, play bridge, or loll around the pool.
  • Free time to simply curl up with a good book or watch TV, or do nothing.
  • Everything I do has to have a purpose in order to squeak out time to write.

Live a Life of Gratitude

The list of gains is long, losses is short. Like my humorist friend, I wouldn't trade this life for anything. Let us be grateful for the lives we've been given, which have brought us so willingly to the page and all we’ve gained from it, over and over again. 

Photo: By Linda Wilson

For more about time management visit: https://www.actitime.com/time-management-guide/time-management-covey-matrix

Secret in the Mist, Book 2
of the Abi Wunder Mystery series
will be available soon.

Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has two daughters who inspired her stories when they were younger. Linda is the editor of the New Mexico Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators newsletter, and has written posts for the Writers on the Move blog since 2013. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Find out more by visiting Linda’s website at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Book & Baby: The Complete Guide to Managing Chaos & Becoming a Wildly Successful Writer-Parent - A Review

by Suzanne Lieurance

Most professional writers have a list of their favorite books about writing.

Here’s a new book that’s going at the top of my list.

It’s called Book & Baby: The Complete Guide to Managing Chaos & Becoming a Wildly Successful Writer-Parent by Milda M. DeVoe.

This book might seem like an unlikely choice for me since my children are long grown and I now have a rather quiet household with just my husband and me.

But it offers tips and advice that any writer—at whatever stage of their life—can benefit from.

For example, all writers face periods in their lives when they don’t have long stretches of time for writing.

This book helps any writer see how they can write in short periods of time, or even make time out of no time.

The book also gives suggestions and advice on how to manage your money, sleep, and energy so you can be present for your children and still write your book. It also covers:

° Finding an Agent
° Book Tours
° Accountability
° Social Media for Writers with Kids
° Writing with an Empty Nest
° How to Apply for Grants
° And more

Milda M. DeVoe created this book as a guide for anyone who wants to be a successful writer and parent. She is the founder of Pen Parentis, a collective that brings well-known authors—who also happen to be parents—together to discuss writing, parenting, and advice on combining the two.

Throughout the book, you’ll find excerpts from the Pen Parentis’ salons that answer questions on how to be a writer-parent at every stage of parenthood. It’s like an informative peek into the lives of these writers with insights that any parent can instantly relate to. For example, one writer says, “Becoming a parent refined me as a writer. Sure, it took away my time to create, but now I create with verve and purpose.”

The quote I related to the most, however, was this one: “My kids give me my best material.”

I think this is true for most any writer-parent.

Learn more about Pen Parentis at https://www.penparentis.org.

And get the book at amazon.com.

For more writing tips, be sure to visit writebythesea.com and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge. Once you're a subscriber, you'll also have access to a Private Resource Library for Writers.

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 40 published books, a freelance writer, and a writing coach.

How to Get a Wealth of Social Media Content

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Where do you get your content for your social media? Is it all your own material or does it come from others?

People in publishing are looking for writers with excellent content. I’ve been on twitter since 2008 and tweeted over 58,000 times. My following has grown from zero (no followers) to over 190,000. How in the world do I determine what to have on my social media feeds and why do I never run out of new content?

Haphazard and rare use of social media never works. To develop a following, you need to be putting out good and consistent content. I use a free tool Hootsuite to schedule my tweets throughout the day. Each communication is focused on my audience and readers (who are writers or people interested in publishing). Your target audience will be different but you must have a specific target.

Collect content and images. I subscribe to a number of blogs and newsletters who are in my target market I read these blogs and learn from them. Also I use these articles as content for my social media. As I find each one, I take a few minutes each day and add them to my Hootsuite releases for the days ahead. I keep the title of the article and attach the image from the article (since images get more social media attention).

When it comes to my tweets, I’ve developed my own structure for my daily game plan for my posts. Yours will be different but take the time to develop a structure. With this structure in place, your search for content is focused and deliberate. For example, I begin each day with a quotation and an image (often of the person quoted). Many people love these quotes so they are shared and retweeted. 

At the beginning and the end of the day,  I will point to my own resources such as blog posts (over 1500 posts in my blog) or free teleseminars or other personal resources. I keep a small plain text file with these posts and recycle them on a regular basis. In the middle of the day, I have new content from the articles and blogs and newsletters that I regularly read. I do not automatically take every post from these newsletters. With each one, I’m focused on my audience and asking,” Is this material a good fit for my reader?” If the answer is no, then I do not include it.

From my experience, there is an abundance of resources to add to your social media feeds. It’s part of the reason I tweet at least 12 times a day. It continues to draw new readers and older readers.

The consistency and quality will draw people to your work. Yes this is platform building 101 but necessary for every author. If you need more information about platform building, then get my free Ebook on the topic.

As you have a wealth of social media content, the consistent effort is important and will pay off for you. You don't have to be on every social media channel. Pick one or two and major on that particular channel.


Follow these tips to have a wealth of social media content. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (
follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

Marketing Is Engaging With Readers, Be Findable


Promotion and Marketing is about the reader; it’s engagement. We aim to draw readers’ attention to our books and articles. How do we reach each other? It starts with a commitment to be findable. Writers must have a web presence. We must be searchable.

Further, when found, we must deliver consistent content.

Readers have little time for complicated searches, so stay findable with content value. Make good use of Keywords in your post and book titles. Be bookmarked, making it easy for readers to keep coming back.

Tips for search-ability:
1.    Optimize your use of Metadata, Keywords, & Descriptions for Search Engines
    a.    Metadata is information about your book, the title, sub-title, sales description, categories & author bio.
    b.    Keywords refer to a word or phrase that is associated with your book or your blog post. To develop a list of keywords, write a list of all the words and phrases that you consider associated with your post or book. Be as specific as possible. Your reader will appreciate this as they search the internet. (For social media, we can use hashtags # for more group visibility.)
    c.    Develop your keyword or phrase list by searching Amazon with your keyword ideas and note the results. This will help you target your best keywords.
    d.    Use your keywords in titles, too
    e.    Once you have selected your keywords, incorporate them into your Metadata information.

Tips to stay connected with your readership:
1.    Develop and maintain an author’s website
2.    Include a Blog on your website, post often—at least every 2 weeks
    a.    For additional traffic, would guest posting work for you? Maybe you could trade guest posts with a writing friend. Your byline will appear with a short bio and a link to your website/blog when you guest write for another’s blog.
    b.    Things to consider: Do the themes of the blogs enhance each other? Would your readership find value in both your blog and the guest’s? Don’t send your reader away: rather build-up both sites.
    c.    Start by noting the blogs you follow.
3.    Get involved with Social Media platforms that suit you and your themes and link back to your website URL each time you post
4.    Create a newsletter, send it to your email list and post a link on your social media pages
5.    Expand your book’s availability by including an audiobook
6.    Consider creating a Podcast series, start with the theme most meaningful to you
7.    Consider Books2Read https://books2read.com/  and Universal Book Links https://books2read.com/guide/ubl/  as a vehicle for readers to find your books. Universal Book Link (UBL) is a single URL that you can use to promote your books/eBooks.

Marketing is Engagement with Your Readers
Deliver Content

Book List:
* How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn https://www.thecreativepenn.com/

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/   
Visit her caregiver’s website: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/
    Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer    https://www.facebook.com/deborahlynwriter/

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Untapped Source of Illustrators for Children's Picture Books

 Did you know artists on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) also will create custom art? This site is a highly untapped source of art for publishing needs. It is a matter of contacting artists and communicating with them. Every artist on TpT has at least one free clip art download sample. It is free to join. Art may be viewed before contacting an artist for more information. It must be noted that
clip artists all have different terms of use, like artists everywhere. Although education-based, anyone may access the site. I met the artists who illustrated my self-published books on the platform.

Never heard of TpT? 

It is a site for educators Pre-K through college to post and sell courses, lessons, clip art, and professional development videos. The site has thousands of free downloads, including clip art. Just like the author community, the teachers and clip artists have communities there, on Facebook, and other platforms. They support each other and get to know each other. Usually, this is supportive and good collaboration.

Just like with authors and other people I met online, some members became fast friends. It is odd when I have a feeling about who would be a friend rather immediately. Maybe that has happened to you, as well. You just connect.

Indie writers usually know about sites like Fiverr.com and Etsy, both of which also have artists. Some authors purchase a character in several poses by an artist on such sites and then develop their scenes and ideas. Some people have covers or even book formatting done for them. Countless sites offer covers and book formatting services. I tend to take classes on UDEMY to learn how to self-publish myself to develop my picture books and novels. I have Scrivener but tend to use Word as I have more freedom to create books to my exact specifications and add interior design.

Two artists I have worked with over the years do not have English as their first language, although they post lessons and art on TpT, which uses the English language. How to communicate? That is the question! I do not speak much Spanish or Afrikaans, as these artist-authors do.

For picture books, I tried making dummy book files, but the amount of space left for illustrations made the books difficult to read. Hmmm. Then I had an inspiration to create tables. One column was for the page text. One was for a written idea of what the picture would show. Another column was dedicated to some sort of image I could find that I already had for them or online that I knew would be redrawn as the artist’s original work. If I could find nothing to help suggest what I meant, then the cell was left blank. My thoughts had to be almost print-ready as changing my mind could become expensive. Tables were not only helpful to the artists but also for me as I planned the stories. This approach worked best with Pieter Els (https://surferkidsclipartsa.co.za/), artist, author, and website designer who lives in South Africa. He also helps maintain my website.

Untapped Source of Illustrators for Children's Picture Books

The other artist I have worked with is Professora Oxana Cerra (http://oxanadesign.blogspot.com/, who lives in Columbia, South America. I listed the characters I wanted for a math story who were all measuring spoons who could fly, and she drew them for me. Then, I would need another image or so, and I paid per image. She created clip art in color for picture books and black and white for worksheets to accompany the texts. She designs BlogSpot blogs, also.

Untapped Source of Illustrators for Children's Picture Books

All of this kind of work is highly individual. Professora Oxana does not require extra licenses as many artists do, so I buy her other clip art to complete the pages.

Gabriel is Oxana's son and he drew images for me to use with children in a kindergarten class when I made them little personalized easy readers. He drew many images in this coloring book, just published. Pieter Els made the cover. 

Chloe and the no good very sad deplorable pandemic coloring book

One consideration for work like this is time zones. Pieter Els is about six hours ahead of Minnesota, so I sometimes get up early to work with him. Oxana Cerra is in about the same time zone, so that works out well. Then, if a project would be extensive, there could be tax implications as well. One of my virtual assistants for my blog lives in Northern Ireland (and we have visited her there). I look up online whether or not taxes are imposed or if there are limits to how much work may be done per year. Every country is different. Both of these people have children following in their footsteps and are also artists. There are dozens of other artists who may be found on TpT.

I have fun creating books and do not expect to be a big seller in this area. Mostly, it is fun to use my publications with my students and grandchildren. It is satisfying to complete projects, self-publish, and give out copies to people I know. Perhaps you have bigger goals, and this approach isn’t for you. I wish all authors good luck and much success!

Author and Owner of The Wise Owl Factory

Carolyn Wilhelm is the curriculum writer and sole owner of The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has a BS in Elementary Education, an MS in Gifted Education, and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12. As a retired teacher of 28 years, she now makes mostly free educational resources for teachers and parents. Her course about Self-Publishing from the Very, Very Beginning is available on UDEMY. Her children’s books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel sites. 

Cleaning Out Email is Like Cleaning the Fridge

It recently occurred to me that cleaning out my unwieldy email inbox is like cleaning out the refrigerator. I manage to get hundreds of emails a week, and having taken a year-long online class added dozens of more messages for each lesson. It becomes necessary to do a more thorough cleaning beyond deleting a few now and then.

Cleaning Out Email is Like Cleaning the Fridge
Use "search" to find emails with the same name, such as news or donate. Then check all or those that need to be moved to trash. 

The door is first. When I clean out the fridge, first the outdated bottles in the door are discarded. They are all lined up nicely and waiting for their turn to be used up, but having missed the opportunity they are in line for the chopping block, so to speak. I take that approach with sale and coupon emails that ended some time ago and delete those first. There went the sales ending in February, March, April, and May — tossed much like I would toss expired mayonnaise. My nicely organized email folder labeled “coupons to use” had a few more even older messages —- select the group, and delete. Oh, well, sales, I missed you.

The bottom refrigerator drawer has things I rarely look at, so those are probably old. The drawer decisions are somehow easier than shelf decisions. How long has that been there? I look at the end (bottom) of my email list to delete the oldest, except for the ones that were saved from previous cleanings because I might read them someday. Delete, delete, delete. Wait, not that, I really might read it now.

The shelves! You know how those smaller food containers make their way to the back of the refrigerator shelves? If they have been there a long time, who even wants to look and possibly have to smell? Those are like my email folders. Why is it what I  am most likely to delete is nicely saved in folders? Because I don’t look in the folders as that would require clicking twice. That would take so much effort, you see. I like to work quickly when I clean the fridge, too. I hate to admit it but sometimes those little containers that should be reused make their way to the trash.

Now for the produce drawers that are the most frequently used. Bits of lettuce and other unwanted stuff needs to be removed, just like newsletters to which I am subscribed. Why do I have all these newsletters? Maybe it was a subscription in exchange for a free PDF, to get 10% off my first order, or perhaps it was from one of my rare contest entries. Another fairly easy decision, In the search box, I type in the name of the newsletters I never read, select all, delete. That reminds me of my good intention to use the kale or Swiss chard I bought but somehow didn’t seem to have a recipe. What was I going to do with the Swiss chard?

About now I need to empty the trash. For the fridge, I might have to take out the trash twice. Well, hubby does anyway. So back on my computer I go to trash, empty trash, and look at that . . . 524 mails are being deleted. Please wait. Oh, I remember past messages I have sent, find sent, and delete all those too. About 150 more are gone, gone, gone. Well, at least it isn’t as bad as the time I had 10,000 emails to go through because I wasn’t checking my all mail. (Be sure to check all mail from time to time.) 

There still messages sitting there. It occurs to me my refrigerator has a much better spam filter than my computer as I get no insurance or annuity offers when I look inside. I don’t need McAfee or Norton protection for the fridge. So now I block the creepy emails from Nigerian princes and foreign banks. No, we might not finish a leftover I didn’t even realize was in the fridge, but at least it isn’t trying to sell me anything. How do those strange foods get in there, anyway? If I don’t even remember it or perhaps want to remember it, out it goes, out, out, out.

If have discovered a food that is still good and I remember some recipes I wanted to make and still can as it is within the freshness dates. I surprise myself as I have a plan for dinner! I thought I had to go to the store. This reminds me of messages I might actually want to read: the fun ones, the new ones, the ones from friends, the ones I really want to read, the ones from the writing group! Do I apply the KonMari decluttering goddess cleaning method? If I print it and hold it in my hand and it gives me joy do I keep the message?

What will I learn from my email cleaning? Unsubscribe, do not sign up, delete immediately if I am going to do so eventually. Do not let it stack up, focus on the email I want to read, and maybe clean out Gmail more often. About once a week like a refrigerator? And try not to delete emails so fast the good ones somehow disappear which does happen despite my best intentions. Does Gmail have a mind of its own?

Some people have a different approach. Gmail will delete messages in the trash after 30 days. But unwanted messages do have to be moved to trash. 

OK, that was ONE of my several email accounts . . .  next! At least I have only one refrigerator.

You know what would make cleaning more fun? A maid. Are there any maid services that also handle email?

Thanks for reading, Carolyn Wilhelm, Wise Owl Factory

Carolyn Wilhelm is the curriculum writer and sole owner of The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has a BS in Elementary Education, an MS in Gifted Education, and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12. As a retired teacher of 28 years, she now makes mostly free educational resources for teachers and parents. Her course about Self-Publishing from the Very, Very Beginning is available on UDEMY. Her children’s books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel sites.









5 Things that Stop Authors from Blogging ... And the Easy Fixes

Are you an author? Well, why aren't you blogging? 

Before I debunk the top-tier excuses for a lack of blog presence, let me cover the reasons why blogging is essential for authors.

Blogging is a great way to: 

1. Develop your Platform. Whether you hope to be published traditionally or self-publish, you need to develop your platform. A publisher will look at your online presence, along with the material for your book, while evaluating your potential.  And if you publish yourself, you need that web presence. 

2. Set Yourself Up as an Expert. You are an author. You know things. This is true for non-fiction and fiction, no matter what genre. Show that you know of what you speak via your blog.

3. Share the Work of Others. You can interview other authors, share news and articles from your peers. This is another way to add value ... and keep your readers coming back for more.

4. Communicate with Your Audience. When you have exciting news and upcoming events, a blog is one of the best ways to share the deets with your readers. Yes, you can and should post on social media. Just direct people back to your blog, as it;s the hub for everything that's going on in your author-life.

5. Develop Your Voice and/or Content. Test out material. Blog a book. Share ideas. Use your blog to tease upcoming content, while seeing what resonates with your audience. 

Now that you have all these great reasons to blog, I have to ask the question: So why not blog?

Here are some common excuses ... along with easy fixes.

1. No Time. If someone tells me they have no time to blog, I simply say, "Schedule the time. "  You can blog weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, twice a week. The solution to the time problem is to look at your schedule, see what is feasible, and do that. 

Only have an hour a week to blog. Write short posts (300 words). Have a little more time, batch your content (write a few posts ahead of time), so you can take a week off when you need to. Stop overthinking. Don't spend hours on a short post. Commit the time. And start blogging.

2. No Energy. This one is a little more challenging, but also has a simple solution: blog on subjects you are passionate about. When you work on things that excite you, you'll find the energy. Besides, the more you love what you blog about, the more it will ooze out of you and engage your readers.  

3. Too Expensive. There are plenty of low and no-cost blogging platforms. You can use Medium or LinkedIn Publisher for free. Yet that is blogging on a social media, and it's best to give your content its own platform. While Blogger and WordPress have free blog options, they will put .blogger.com and .wordpress.com after your blog title, I believe it's worth the investment to upgrade to a more professional-looking custom URL. 

4. Not Enough/Too Many Ideas. Before you start your blog, take time for a little D*E*B Method introspection. Determine the Mission for your blog. What do you hope your blog accomplishes? What is your expertise? And how do they fit together in creating a mission for your blog? 

Next, Explore your Options. What can you write about? What types of posts, length, etc. Once you start brainstorming the ideas will keep flowing. As long as your ideas align with your mission, your blog will keep going in the right direction.

5. Who Cares What I Have to Say? You are an author. Your audience should care. Give your unique spin on your genre, topic, experience, etc. Engage your readers and they will keep coming back.

The bottom line is this... you need to blog. You owe it to yourself and your readers. So create the best home you can for your author blog!

* * *

So, what is your blog link? Why are - or aren't - you blogging? Please share your advice in the comments.

Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, as well as founder of the D*E*B METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChatLive on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Book Review || On Being A Writer


Book Review || On Being A Writer by Ann Kroeker & Charity Singleton Craig,
reviewed by Deborah Lyn Stanley

From time to time, we search for a particular writing coach who says the things that inspire us to keep moving forward. It’s not just teaching it’s something more, which resonates and calls us onward. I found Ann Kroeker online a couple of years ago and joined her mailing list. She became the writing coach I had been looking for. One of her posts included a note about “On Being a Writer” she and Charity Singleton Craig co-authored. They are an impressive team, and I highly recommend the book.

“On Being a Writer” is 12 chapters with 164 pages of powerful inspiration for the writer’s life. Its intent is to equip writers for a sustainable life of productivity and publication. And, along the way to help us understand ourselves better, learn to set limits and find rest.

Each chapter topic presents a habit of the writing life. The chapters start with a story, opportunities to consider, a journal prompt, a writing prompt, a bonus and a few questions for personal reflection or for group discussion.

I did as suggested; I used the book as my personal writing coach, encouraging me to make tangible progress in practical ways. It’s a powerful and helpful book that I am set to re-read.

I recommend this book. It is refreshing with insights to embrace for the journey.

Thank you Ann & Charity!


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/   
Visit her caregiver’s website: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer    https://www.facebook.com/deborahlynwriter/?modal=admin_todo_tour




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On Time Magazine, Women Authors and Equality


Trust Time Magazine for Ruining my Day!
Women’s Collectible Books Selling for Pennies on the Dollar from Men’s

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the
multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers

As crappy as Time magazine sometimes makes me feel, I admit I love them for it. I have been subscribing for decades without a single year missed and admit they may have spoiled me by fostering expectations of journalistic excellence.

Still, one of their stories made me wonder. Could this piece published on April 1 be an April’s Fool joke? I am hoping so, but I’m gullible (read that trusting!) enough of their quality to believe an impossible truth.

It seems “American Writer A. N. Devers was at a rare-book fair when she noticed an old Joan Didion title selling for $25.” She also “noticed a Cormac McCarthy novel was selling for $600.” Ahem. McCarthy is a contemporary writer just like Didion. Both are recognizable names by large segments of the population. (Just in case you didn’t notice, McCarthy is a guy and, well, Didion is not!)

I am not pretending this is a scientific comparison, study, treatise, dissertation, or anything else that shouts “intelligent” or “trusted resource.” I don’t need to do that to let you know I was immediately disgusted. Honestly, I was ticked with Time, too. The headline read, “A bookstore that’s turning a page for women in literature.” Good news indeed, but it seemed a tad too mild under the circumstances.  

Of course, I was glad to hear that the experience inspired Devers to open her own bookstore. It’s called the Second Shelf and is “tucked away in a quiet courtyard off the busy streets of London’s Soho.” Another slight? It sounds tired. It sounds lonesome. It sounds anything but high-powered. And the supposition is, women (and the owners) should be satisfied with that. I mean, it isn’t as highly trafficked as any retailer or feminist might like, but it carries women’s work—almost exclusively. I’m trying not to be “hysterical” here. Devers is “trying to correct a historical imbalance that has allowed women’s literary achievements to be eclipsed.” Devers says that, like other artistic and news media, this history of literature is similar—that the men who lead most any industry “focus on themselves.”

What Devers says is true. But it doesn’t make it right. And it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t rant a bit—or a lot! Am I the only one who cares? Am I the only one who thinks on new bookstore dedicated to women’s work isn’t enough. Time reports that titles by women published in 2018 are priced 45% lower than books by men.  

To take this one step further, I am a constant consumer of a certain kind of media that should be the most likely to do more on this topic, but I haven’t heard a peep from NBC, National Geographic, Smithsonian…sigh!

That is in spite of the fact the Women’s History Month made March a time to project the idea that greater attention should be paid to women in literature (and other arenas) with the likes of reading lists focused on women, etc.  

Well, yeah!

The lessons here? Never get lax about equality. Discrimination won't just go away on its own. Maybe even, "Keep taking baby steps. They'll eventually add up."  

PS: It is amazing that Time published obituaries on the opposite page from this article on a women’s bookstore. W.S. Merwine, a renowned poet, was featured, and Birch Bayh, a politician I remember from long ago were eulogized on that page (no women!). Time did mention that Bayh called for gender equality even back then. See, that’s one of the reasons that I keep forgiving Time. It’s not much, but it’s a gesture. And…like everyone else, I have been trained to be grateful for even the gentlest nod . . .


Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor including awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. The newest in the series, How to Get Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically, was launched as part of a promotional program to more than 20,000 new readers. All are available in print or as e-book. Learn more at https://howtodoitfrugally.com .

Self-Publishing a Children’s Book - 4 Realities

I self-published a children’s picture book back in 2008 when self-publishing wasn’t like it is today. And, as a newbie to self-publishing, I made a couple of mistakes. The first of which was that I didn’t hire an illustrator – I did the illustrations and cover for the book myself. 

I can hear all the gasps. It's okay though, I did correct this super-major error about four years later. 

But I didn’t self-publish to become rich or famous as some new authors aspire to. My book was created from a lullaby I wrote when my first child wouldn’t sleep. I’d walk the hallway every night with my daughter in my arms and sing the lullaby … and pray for her to go to sleep. 

 It became a family lullaby and my children thought it’d be a great idea to make it into a bedtime story. At the time, I thought self-publishing was the way to go. 

Back then, I used Booksurge which became CreateSpace which is now Amazon, and I was very pleased with the support and results. 

Then a few years ago, I self-published a nonfiction book on writing for children: Fiction Writing for Children. Although I knew a lot more than I did when I self-published my first book, but I still made a few of mistakes: 

1. I hired someone from Fiverr.com to format and upload my book to Kindle and Createspace. And, I hit the ‘publish’ button without previewing the book first. The margins were off. 

 2. I wasn't crazy about the title I created, but used it anyway. 

 3. I wasn't crazy about the book cover, but used it anyway. I used someone on Fiverr for that also. 

 4. I didn’t give it to Beta readers or an editor before publishing. 

But, again, my purpose for the book wasn’t to make money. It was to provide answers to questions I keep getting about writing for children. It ended up being over 170 pages of all information – no illustrations – no fluff. 

This year, I took the time to revise, update, and add more content to the original book and titled it How to Write a Fiction Children's Book. I also made sure to avoid the same mistakes.

So, let’s go back to the title question: Is self-publishing a young children’s book the way to go? 

 Well, based on an information-packed article at Jane Friedman’s site, you should think twice and even three times before deciding to jump in. 

Why Self-Publishing a Children’s Book May Not Be Right For You

 It seems everyone is self-publishing today. And, there’s nothing wrong with that if your expectations are in check. 

Here are a 4 reality-check reasons you may want to stop and think before self-publishing: 

1. The stigma. 

While it’s better than before, there is still some stigma attached to self-published books. The reason for this is there are NO gatekeepers for self-publishing. If you have an idea, write it down, get a book cover, and get it formatted for publishing, you have a book.

- Don’t know how to write? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother with editing or proofing? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother with a professional cover? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother to hire a good illustrator? Doesn't matter.

Self-publishing does open the arena to everyone and makes the playing field more even, but it also allows for a lot of less than professional and less than quality books. This is why there’s still a stigma attached to self-published books.

2. You’ve got to do it right.

As mentioned in #1, anyone can self-publish a book.

But YOU don’t want to be anyone; you want to do it right and that takes work especially if you’re publishing a book for young children.

- Do you know that the story must be told from one point-of-view?    
- Do you know that there should be only one protagonist?
- Do you know the proper format and punctuation for dialogue?
- Do you know about present tense and past tense?
- Do you know about showing vs. telling?
- More and more and more.

If you don’t want to learn how to write for children, then you definitely shouldn’t be self-publishing a children’s book. Or, you should hire a children’s ghostwriter to do it for you.

In the article at Jane Friedman's site, Brent Hartinger noted that “the Gold Rush is definitely over. There is now an absolute deluge of content, and the market has become extremely competitive. Your idea needs to be really, really marketable, or your book needs to be really, really good, and preferably both.” 

3. It can be very expensive.

Illustrations - If you’re self-publishing a children’s picture book (or even a chapter book with illustrations), you’ll need to hire an illustrator. If you want a good one, s/he won’t come cheap.

One of my clients hired someone for over $12,000 USD a book. This included is the interior illustrations, design, text layout, front cover, and back cover. And, this client did a six-book series.

Another client hired a subsidiary self-publishing company of a major publishing house. He paid $10,000 for illustrations and to have it designed and formatted for published. AND, at least half the illustrations stunk! He had the service do them over and over.

Granted most authors can’t afford these kind of fees, but if you want someone who WON’T make your book look like a total amateur job, then you’re looking at spending around $100 to $200 per interior illustration.

And, you’ll need around 12-14 interior illustrations. The front cover is usually more money unless you use one of the interior illustrations for the cover. And, then there’s the backcover design.

Publishing service – Once you have your story complete, with illustrations and text layout, you’ll need a service to format it and upload it to distributors like BookBaby, 1106 Designs, Smashwords, etc. This is an additional fee.

Some of these companies can be worth their cost, but be super-careful. Most of them will try to sell you everything and anything: editing, rewriting, illustrations, design, layout, formatting, distribution, and marketing.

Keep in mind they make their money from you and only you.

4. You’re one author in an ocean teeming with authors.

The market is swamped. If you’re looking to reach lots of people, become famous, or make a boat load of money, don’t hold your breath.

Most self-published children’s authors don’t recoup their publishing investment.

While there are exceptions to the rule, they are far and few between.

5. You’re not willing to actively market your book.

Okay, even if you know how to write and have the money to hire a pretty good illustrator, if you don’t actively market your book, you most probably won’t sell any.

Before you even get to the publishing decision, create a marketing plan and include an author website in those plans.

With thousands and thousands of books vying for a reader’s attention, you’ll need all the help you can get.

One note here: Most self-publishing services offer marketing as part of a package deal or separately. Don’t waste your money. These companies don’t bother with effective, ongoing marketing.

I’ve seen the results of marketing from these services numerous times. Again, don’t waste your money.

Ask around. Do research. Ask exactly what you'll get for your money. Make sure you're working with a professional company. 

The original title to this article was: Is Self-Publishing a Children’s Book the Way to Go? 4 Realities

Karen Cioffi
is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can connect with Karen at:
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Pinterest  http://pinterest.com/KarenCioffi/


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