Distraction and Procrastination – What I’m doing right now…

Goooood evening everyone! As the title states, we’ll be talking about distractions and procrastination tonight, mainly how to avoid it, when writing. This one is going to be a little short, because unfortunately I did not use any of my methods today, and procrastinated writing this post.

Do you ever catch yourself writing two paragraphs in about twenty minutes because you stop to re-read the entire chunk every time you complete a sentence? Or maybe you’re trying to edit and end up alt-tabbing over to Facebook / Twitter / Insta / Reddit/r/funny? Maybe you know you need to write a particular blog post (cough cough), and you held off until the end of the day because there were so many other very important things you needed wanted occupied yourself with that day?
We can all be victims of our brain’s inability to stay on task, but below are a few of the things I do to avoid getting distracted, or procrastinating on writing.

Distractions:

  1. Go to your writing place.
    Much like you have a specific place to cook, eat, shower, poop, etc, you should have a place that is for writing. I know that can be really difficult when you live in an apartment/with your parents/have many roommates, or just not a lot of space in your home, but there are solutions for that too. If you can’t physically go to your writing place, have a sit and meditate for a moment, 3-5 minutes should do. I know it might sound ridiculous, but it works. Sit, close your eyes, put headphones in if it’s loud around you, and just clear your mind. Attempt not to think about anything at all. Then, keeping the headphones in, look down into your laptop or sheet of lined notebook paper, and tell yourself, “This is my world now.” Anytime you feel the need to look elsewhere, or think about something other than the task at hand, meditate for another moment until you’re clear again.
  2. Block websites / turn off your phone / write in offline mode.
    If the social media distraction is real for you, get away from it. Turn your phone off and move it far away from you, write in offline mode or block websites. I would say set a timer, but then you might be inclined to check that timer every few minutes to see how much longer you have to go before getting your fix. Instead, I would say set a milestone, “I have to write 10 paragraphs, then I can check my [insert thing you need to check here]”.
  3. Headphones all day ere’day.
    I do not currently have a writing space, as my husband will sort of follow me around after 30 minutes of not knowing where I’m at. So, I’ve given up trying to find solitude, but I don’t really like being away from him anyway. My solution, good sound blocking headphones. The $15 skullcandies do just fine with music blaring. I’m fighting the urge at this very moment to look up and watch him play MGS5, because flashing lights and colors and explosions! But, the good ole headphones are doing a fantastic job of keeping me on task.
  4. Have all the things you need near you.
    Have the thirst of a thousand deserts and need to drink water all the time like me? Keep the bottle within arms reach, like not even far enough to have to lean over… leaning over might let you find something to distract yourself with, like dirty carpet that needs to be vacuumed (v_v)…
    Sniffly nose? Keep tissues up your nostrils. There’s no time for blowing, only writing.
  5. Stop going back to edit what you just wrote!
    Sometimes your own writing is the distraction. You didn’t like the way that sentence flowed, or how it pairs with the next paragraph. You used the same word four times in three sentences, or didn’t use appropriate punctuation. MOVE ON! Do not stop, do not go back. This isn’t Iraq, you can leave a man behind and come back for him later. This is the #1 thing I do that slows me down. I re-read, a million friggen times before I’m even done writing the thing. I have successfully resisted the urge to do that in this entire post, huzzah! And of course I just went back and changed the exclamation point in the sentence before last to a period because there was one in the last sentence… I’ve already failed.

Procrastinations:

  1. Make a checklist.
    If you’re anything like me, having a checklist of the stuff makes it more tangible. If you start your day, and writing is at the bottom of your list… then that’s exactly the priority you’ve put on it. If you feel like that’s unfair, reevaluate the things above it. If you’ve put it higher on your list for the day, and either get it done last, or not at all, then you’ve perhaps put it too high on your list and it needs to get demoted. Either way, if you’re unhappy about how things went at the end of the day, reevaluate the list, and evaluate what you actually did throughout the day. You probably ended up spending a lot of time doing something that was not on your list at all.
  2. Checklists aren’t for everyone… Set a reminder.
    Set a specific time in the day where you will do nothing but write; right before bed, when you wake up, immediately after lunch, etc.
  3. Reward yourself.
    Everyone likes to get a gold star. I prefer a bright orange star, but whatever. Not just with writing, with anything really, but when you do the thing you said you were going to do, give yourself a little treat of some kind. Maybe you really wanted to walk the dog, play an hour of video games, eat a whole snickers bar (I don’t advocate this… simply because I’m also on a fitness journey), have wild sex, buy that really cool shirt from the FiXT Store… Depending on how heavily you want to reward yourself, be careful where you set the bar for something as small as “getting two paragraphs done”.
I said it was going to be short, and I made it more like medium… and now I have no time left for my new novella T_T. That’s the procrastination price you pay… I’m outta here kiddies. Have a great week.

The road to success isn’t paved: Part 2 – Launching & Platforms

When it comes to self publishing, I only have experience with two services; Amazon, and Createspace.

Amazon was awesome, easy, hell it was even fun! They made it very newb writer friendly to start, it’s easy to get it through review, and see your page on the app store before even going live. Updating files or settings only took about 12 hours to go through, though the initial approval was more like 36 hours.
The only thing I didn’t really like about Amazon, was the explanation of the pricing system. It’s not always clear to the writer what they’re getting into, or the difference between the 30% royalty plan and the 70% plan.
I lied, there was one more thing I didn’t like. When setting up the physical copy at createspace, the Amazonians did not have a way to link my digital and paperback versions until both were live… I ended up having to put the paper back copy live for realz for about 4 hours to get them linked. Fortunately, (or maybe unfortunately?) no copies slipped out into the public.

Creatspace was a different damn story. Even their inexperienced setup walkthrough was difficult, and slow. Good god was it slow. Being a child company of Amazon, you’d think they would get access to their high speed servers… Incorrect.
They don’t walk you through, or even tell you anywhere, the size file you’ll need for your cover. I went with the same size as was used on Amazon, assuming that they would let me create a custom back and spine. Again, incorrect. You have to upload the whole cover, front/back/spine, as one PDF.
Nextly, they’re not the fastest to respond to customer service inquiries, and their “Call Me” system does not work, at all. I ran into several issues while setting up The Mill and had to be in contact with them quite frequently. Their CS portal doesn’t always save the previous email on the same chain either, so often times you won’t be able to see what they said, or you said.
They don’t allow you to set up for pre-order. It’s just not a thing. I understand that they’re “Print on Demand”, but seriously, can you not set up a system that allows people to place orders to be filled at a later date? Can you not store the order request in a database that has a “release on” date set in it, so when that date occurs, the orders print? It doesn’t sound like a difficult system to set up to me. A few new servers to hold onto the project requests, a system to hold the orders until a specified date, then release to the printers.
This was probably the second biggest issue to me… maybe third since I’ve been setting up my second book in Createspace and I decided I was a pro and didn’t need the newb route. They shipped me the wrong book! When I ordered a copy for review, I got some guys book of children’s poems. Fortunately, I got someone on the phone and we fixed it rather quickly. That was probably the best customer service experience with that company.
As said, I didn’t take the hand holding walkthrough for my second book setup and it turns out that this system is actually broken. The cover will constantly say that it’s not ready to publish, even though it is. You have to save, refresh, save, cut off a chicken’s head and spread the blood over your laptop, then save again. Minus the chicken head part, but it’s still pretty bad.

The second topic, even though I’m out of order here with the title, is Launching. Prepping your launch is paramount to success. My novella, The Mill, has been done for about 4 months, and the art was complete in early June, but I’m waiting until October… why?
For one, Horror books are hard to market to begin with, and if I were to launch in the middle of summer, when everyone is out on vacation, at the beach, thinking about sunshine, they’re not going to be in the mood for doom and gloom (at least most of them aren’t).
Halloween is a set time of year here in ‘Merica for all the horror and gore you could ever want to feast upon. So, why should I fight uphill, against the sunshine and the beaches, when I can hold off, solidify my marketing strategy, better identify my target audience, reach out to bloggers and reviewers? I talked a little more about blogging and reviewers in this post, check it out if you’re interested.
So, my advice to you, dear reader, is this:

  1. Find some sort of seasonal, or largely promoted event, to tie your release to.
    For example, you wrote a fiction book about Football, and it finished up in March 2015. That sucks… you pretty much missed your big opportunity to tie it to the super bowl. Hold on to it for another 8 months, at least, and spend that time connecting with fans, building your Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Reddit presence. The 2016 super bowl is Feb. 7th, so consider going live in early January. And understand, that even though you wrote a book about a sport that is mainly dominated by males, a lot of your readers will be female. Don’t forget about dem ladies. 
  2. Buy artwork for your launch. (I know I know, this was in the last post too)
    Not just for the cover, but additional promo images you can use for ad campaigns, teasers, adding to your teaser trailer (which I highly recommend. I’m working on my video with my good friend George right now!), etc. 
  3. Speaking of teaser trailer, even if it’s just some stock photos, with text overlay, and a not so great song you purchased the rights to from spotify, make a trailer.
    Humans are much more likely to watch a 15-30 second video, and then click your link, than they are to read words in a post with one image… let alone read words in a post with no image… Ain’t nobody got time for that. Make yourself a video, put it on youtube, and consider doing a paid Facebook campaign with it. I will be doing that shortly ^_^ 
  4. Find conventions / meetups that are an appropriate venue for you to stir some hype.
    This was a brilliant suggestion from my marketing manager, Kent Barton.
    It may not be appropriate for you to bring your Football book to Buffalo Wild Wings and start asking people to read it, but something like Fantasy Draft night may be a good idea. In my case, with the novella, Tacticon might be an ok-ish venue for me to tout my book at, but the Mile High Horror Fest is probably my best bet (I’ll be calling the event organizers this weekend…) 

Well, that’s it for today kiddies… I might do a part 3 if I learn anything new during the “Go Live” phase. We’ll have to see. Stay tuned for more awesome though ^_^, thanks for reading.

Fearful One

By Jim Stigall: jimstigall.blogspot.com

Hungry.

Hungry.
Hungry.
Lonely.
Frightened.
The only things that consume my mind as I wander through this wasteland of a place, this city that once was. Massive, beautiful, wondrous thing my feeble mind can no longer comprehend. A world I do not understand, was never really part of, don’t even remember.

Hungry.
Hungry.
Lonely.
Frightened.
Dying.
My tattered flesh burns in the heat of the sun, freezes in the midnight moonlight, wrinkles in the waters of the seas. Is this really all I was meant to be, a shell of the human I once was? Trapped inside this unending torture, forced to watch the destruction of the species I called my kin?
Hungry.
Hungry.
Blood.
Meat.
Death.
The taste will never leave my mouth. It’s the stench, the reek, of their fear that drives me, brings me, strengthens me. My life, my species, cannot go on without yours, but you cannot persist with ours. We will never know art, music, happiness, love. But you will never know the absolute desolation, the anger, the pain, the hate of living a prisoner inside your body, knowing only the urges, the needs. Never able to stop yourself.
Lonely.
Lonely.
Lonely.
Spotted.
Frightened.
And as you come for me this time, the revenge you take on my hostage mind, know in your heart that I meant you no harm. Know in your soul that I never meant to hurt you, scare you, kill you, eat you. Know in the deepest safest place of your mind that in that moment, where I reached in to take a bite, I wish you to die, completely, instead of turning into one of me.
Meat.
Death.
Lonely.
Lonely.
Not alone.
Together we will walk now, no longer alone, no longer afraid, no longer dead. Within each others strides, we become whole again. Whole to see a companion, a friend. Now we are not alone.
Walking.
Walking.
Stumbling.
Crawling.
Darkness.

Now I watch your face as I truly fade into the black, my head cut clean from my body. I was left too, once. All alone when my walking companion died. Just as I was, you’re alone to suffer the anguish of killing, causing pain, reaping fear. But now I am free.

Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!!

IT’S HERE!!!!

Squee update incoming. The Mill has arrived and hot damn, it’s beautiful. Even smells good… See for yourselves:
Now, if that isn’t the prettiest little novella you’ve seen, you’re lying to yourself.
Alright. That was all I wanted to update. Digital pre-orders available now, paperback pre-orders sometime this week, launching October 15th! 

Self Publishing – The road to success isn’t paved

Seeing that I have yet to achieve success, I’m not sure I should write this post… but I will anyway.

Self publishing is easy. You write the thing, you log in to Amazon, you upload the thing, you press the publish button.

Successful self publishing is a nightmare of frustration and heartache. Here’s why:

  1. If you didn’t already have a massive Twitter following, you need to grow one.
    Much easier said than done, and sure, you can buy the “follower” services, but they just hack people’s accounts and force them to follow your page. As soon as the person realizes, they’re going to unfollow you and change their password.
    You first need to start following people in your genre, hopefully they’ll do you the good grace of following back. Eventually you’ll start to get unprompted follows, which you have to be wary. You’ll follow them back, and as soon as you do, they unfollow you. It’s dirty tricks Twitter is…
    Before you even get a few hundred people following you, you need to start posting. A good ratio (from my marketing manager) is 25% book 75% personal. So… get ready to share all the mundane and strange things going on in your life with people you hardly know (or don’t know at all…)
    Fortunately for you, the highest volume of likes/follows/purchases for authors do not come from Twitter. They come from:
  2. Facebook sucks, your Facebook friends suck, and their friends suck too.
    If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few close friends and family members that are dedicated to your cause, and helping you out. If you’re unlucky, your Facebook page will need some serious money thrown at it to become even marginally well known. Luckily enough, Facebook offers some good tools for getting your page out there, promoting your posts, etc. Not only that, they have some really good data output on everything so you can fine tune your campaigns. I’m a dataphile, so I really liked this.
  3. Reviewers don’t want your self published garbage.
    I’ve been to hundreds of websites, bordering on thousands soon, looking for people who would review my work. About 70% of the time, their review policy clearly states no self published titles. There are some good reasons for it, and I totally understand.
    1. Your book may actually be total crap… I know it’s hard to come to grips with, but it is a possible reality. They typically don’t have time to wade through all the crap to find the gems, and everyone thinks they have gems.
    2. You could make their lives a living hell… “When will my review be ready?” “Are you going to give me 5 stars?” “Are you going to post it on GoodReads? Twitter? Facebook? Are you going to tell your mom?” “Can you do it faster please?” “Will you do an author interview?” “WHY DID YOU RATE IT 2 STARS! ZOMGWTFBBQ!!!”
      See… it’s stressful for them too. They don’t deserve this.
    3. They often have full time jobs, kids, spouses, fur-babies, obligations. Again with the gems in the poop… they don’t have time to find them.
  4. All the rejection letters.
    Even when you do find a reviewer that will read self published works, you’re going to get about 50-80% of them replying “I’m sorry, but I’m not able to read Book Title.” If at any point right here you consider pressuring them for why, stop. Stop right now. Reviewers talk to each other, and if you’re asking why after being rejected, you’re one of those #3.2 people. No one will want to work with you.
  5. You no longer have time for anything else in your life. Ever.
    If you work, and self publish on the side, you will not have time for diets, exercise, anime, cooking, going to the grocery store, practically anything else while you’re getting started. Your free time must be dedicated 100% to the cause if you are even to get close to success.
This is getting pretty long… so I’ll end with, here’s a list of things you should invest your time in if you’re wanting to be successful in self publishing:
  1. Start a ton of social media accounts, join tons of groups, get visibility:
    1. Facebook
    2. Twitter
    3. Google+
    4. Myspace
    5. GoodReads
    6. Shelfari
    7. Book Blogs
    8. Blog/Website
    9. Etc.
  2. Post at least once a day to Twitter/Facebook/Google+. Anything less than that is suicide.
  3. Post a new blog twice a week. Don’t tell me you have nothing to post about… tons of shit happens in your life everyday, and you have at least 10 years of history to talk about if you need.
  4. Be super active on GoodReads/Shelfari, reviewers like a well-read author.
  5. Find sites that support indie/selfpub authors like yourself and cling to them desperately.
  6. Ask your friends to share and support you. Bribe them with food/beer if you have to.
  7. GET COVER ART AND PROMOTIONAL ART FOR YOUR WORK. I can’t stress this one enough. People are visual, they just are. Presenting them with some kick ass art to go with your book when begging for reviews will make you that much more likely of being successful. Get cover art. Get promotional art for running advertisements. Shell out the $150-$300 that’s needed to make this happen because it will pay you back tenfold.
  8. When contacting reviewers, remember that they are human. They want to be talked to, they want you to take more than 15 seconds to glance over their review policy before contacting them. Read their About Me, stalk them on social media for a little while, and when you contact them, relate to them somehow. Make it personal. This is likely the most draining part of the process. Learning about someone so you can ask them a favor of losing 2-8 hours of their time to read your work, then lose another hour or two writing a review. Be nice to them, be actually invested in being in contact with them.
Alright, this is getting super long. I’m out of here.
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