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On Blogging and Publishing Your Book: Authors Talk Shop

Last week, five published NaNoWriMo authors shared their insight about getting started with your own 50,000-word novel. One week (and…

Image by Monda (CC BY 2.0)

Last week, five published NaNoWriMo authors shared their insight about getting started with your own 50,000-word novel. One week (and 5,000 cups of coffee) into NaNo, we invited our panel of veteran storytellers to share some concrete advice about finding an audience for your project.

No matter where your word count stands currently, or even if you’re just cheering from the sidelines, join us for another round of tips, cheers, and inspiration.

Let’s meet, once again, our enterprising panelists:

You’ve typed your way through November and met your word count goal; what’s next?

Harry: I celebrate December by leaving my novel alone. I offer up my book to a circle of readers to find out what they think of the novel.

Kristi: NaNo gives you the raw material. When it’s over, get serious and really get to work.

What can writers do to get a NaNo novel published?

Jennifer: Put your novel aside for a few weeks, so you can breathe a bit, feed the kids, and get some perspective.

Keris: Re–read it!

Kristi: Work with a critique group for further polish.

Jennifer: Edit the heck out of it.  Really.  No first draft is perfect.

Harry: Do a loose outline considering the feedback received, and start rewriting.

John: Get your grammar and style tight.

Harry: Flesh out scenes, and cut material that you don’t need.

Kristi: Get it critiqued a third time, and consider hiring an editor.

Keris: Follow the standard guidelines for querying agents and publishers.

John: Never give up. It can be heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, but wait to publish well, if you can.

Do you have any advice on self-publishing versus traditional publishing houses?

Jennifer: I’m a self-publisher, and I would certainly recommend that route if you think you have the time and commitment to pursue it.

John: There’s a big quotient of luck involved concerning traditional, advance-paying publishing. Of course, there’s been a massive run with self-published works.

It’s a great distribution outlet; if you go that route, get your book edited the best you can, and get a professional cover. It makes a difference.

Kristi: The first time I did NaNo back in 2004, there were nowhere near the options we have today. Self-publishing was still frowned upon, and there weren’t many small houses about.

Now, there really isn’t a reason for anyone participating in NaNo to not bother with following through.

Harry: I write fantasy and science-fiction, so I need to have around 90,000 words to sell a book to a major publisher. However, there are a number of opportunities with small indie press publishers to have a 50,000-word fantasy novel published.

Don’t let rejections discourage you.  I think the best therapy for stress caused by waiting for publication is to write another novel.

Kristi’s list of blog features for writers:

  1. The Publicize feature. It’s cut my marketing time in half.
  2. The Contact Form template. People who want to find me love this feature.
  3. The Follow Blog Widget, which is easier for most people than signing up for an RSS feed.
  4. The Facebook Like Box and Twitter Timeline Widget, because I know people who have visited my site have started following me elsewhere.
  5. The Image Widgets, because I can link them to other sites and projects I’m working on with big, eye-catching art.
  6. The Sharing Buttons on all the posts.

Can blogging contribute to the NaNoWriMo experience?

Keris: I know people may think there’s enough writing during NaNo without adding blogging too, but it does help to focus your mind.

Plus, at the end of the month, when you’ve got — to your surprise — a finished novel, you’ll also have a record of how you did it.

Harry: I believe that blogging about the process definitely helps. Lots of writers blog about the month, relaying their experiences or posting what they’ve written.

Not only does posting give friends a chance to encourage you, but in a way, knowing that you need to blog keeps you motivated.

Jennifer: I love blogging about my NaNoWriMo experience because it helps me connect with other writers going through the same agonies and triumphs.

Community support is a huge feature of the program, so whether you’re chatting with fellow enthusiasts on the NaNo forums, or taking the challenge home to your own blog, the opportunities for inspiration and commiseration are priceless.

John: Sometimes writing about what you’re writing gives you just that much more responsibility. People are following your progress. They want an end to the story of you writing your story.

I need to re-write several times before my stuff is print-worthy, and I’m not about to share first drafts. But I do talk about the roadmaps, speed bumps, and glorious straightaways that happen.

Kristi: Tell your readers this is your challenge, and they can follow your progress. Share the lessons you learn about your writing — and yourself — through your NaNo journey.

Are there any particular blogging features you’ve found helpful when it comes to promoting your work?

Jennifer: Having an internet presence as an author is absolutely essential. Learning a bit of search engine optimization (SEO) is easy with tags and categories, and it’s incredibly valuable when it comes to getting your name out there.

You need to make it as simple as possible for potential readers to find you, buy your work, and tell you how much they like it.

John: I cross-posts my posts to other places, like Twitter and Facebook, which is amazing. It saves a lot of time, and has brought my site and works to a lot more people.

Also, a big feature is people following your blog. There’s a whole community out there, which is remarkable. I’ve only just begun tapping into it, but there’s another world.

Harry: When I started my site, I really liked how WordPress.com allowed me to redirect to my own domain name, and I love the themes because they let me have a great-looking website with minimal effort on my part.

I enjoy having the ability to update my site from anywhere with multiple mobile devices.

Finally, for myself, I love checking the traffic on my site and viewing the history. I’m not sure if that really helps, but I find it motivational (and fun).

Any final words for the remaining weeks of this writing marathon?

John: Looking back on it, NaNoWriMo has afforded me a safe place to fail.

I don’t have to necessarily produce something I’m going to aim to publish, although that did happen with Nerves. Several of my books have just been for me. It’s a great and safe place for me.

Kristi: I wouldn’t be as prolific today if I hadn’t been through the fires of NaNo. I learned how to write amidst distraction, turn off my inner editor, and better appreciate my own productivity.

Keris: Perhaps Stephen King bashed a novel out in a week and it was perfect. But I doubt it. First you need to let them rest a bit. After a month of frenetic writing, you’ll be glad for the rest yourself.

Thank you for sharing your veterans’ wisdom with us!

Are you in the midst of a month-long blogging event? Check out our Blog Event Survival Guide for all the resources you might need.

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24 Comments

    1. I recently wrote a novel and I am so willing to publish it. Anyway, all the while what I did was, I wrote it when I didn’t had my mind occupied with things other than my story. You can’t write a story unless you start being every character of the story. You are certainly not obligated to complete your story before Dec. If you can’t give writing your novel some time then it’s best to write it when you get free. What matters is how your story is and not how long you took to write it!

  1. I have three self-published books but can’t seem to figure out how to get the WORLD to know they exist! How do people do this? lol I’m too broke to afford an agent or anything…gyah.

    1. I stopped trying to market my one self-published how to tax book after I got taken by Google Ads. They were too expensive and I could never find my site with their search. I need to get it on Amazon asap. Have not tried the “small ad” route that used to be popular in local papers.

    2. You made me think of a problem that I soon will have to take care of because I am planning to publish a book soon. Anyway, what I have in my mind is that at the moment I am not a popular writer. I am not a brand and so, no one will buy a book because I wrote it but because of the publication house that shall publish my book. So, I’ll recommend you to get it published by someone who is into publishing first else you’ll need high capital to advertise.

  2. I keep wondering whether or not to give this a go, I have a book bubbling away inside of me waiting to come out.

  3. Spiritual Rebel – don’t wait on the side-line and ponder any longer, go for it today, butt in chair and write solid on that bubbly book in your head. You mightn’t finish but you will learn a lot from the NaNoWriMo framework, especially about discipline and deadlines and getting a better sense of what you are really capable of. My first time too, with a different genre, and my keyboard is unexpectedly smoking. Something I don’t totally agree with in a digital and self publishing age is having a protracted fallow period before publishing. It can be valuable, I agree at the end of a novel to have a reflective period, but if you are confident in your story, have structured your writing well as you went along and have experience in decent and quick self-editing, you could well be good to go immediately and publish. It may not be perfect first time but is out there to readers, who may be intrigued how you have done in this month and easily forgive the odd error. It is very simple anyway later on, if you feel you should, to revise your edition and upload. Digital publishing allows writers and readers to engage in new shared experiences, nothing is ever perfect or finished, and a journey of creative evolution of your content has its merits too.

  4. Great article. It’s so tough to write through without editing, but it’s also great to have a burgeoning raw draft – I just can’t even being to think about facing it at the end of November!

  5. So excited!! I’m participating and I’m hoping I can finish this year since, last year I reached my word count goal, but now the end of the novel…

  6. Interesting topic! Finding an audience is key to marketing yet at the same time, being true to your voice is paramount and then, finding a publisher that believes in that voice, for me is the key to success. I guess what I mean to say is that I believe the accomplishment is in the process and completion of a work that you believe in, that comes from your soul, and anything outside of that is just icing on the cake :).

  7. Hi, is anybody reading this? I wanted to start blogging because I have always wanted to write – it’s a family failing! I thought this would be a good place to start, but don’t really know how exactly…

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