I did it. I officially jumped into the NANO pool.
I don’t know what it is about this year and the desire and excitement to participate in NANO. Maybe it’s the unusualness of 2020 or maybe it was just this was the year I was supposed to do it. I have attempted to participate in NANO in the past, but never followed through. Technically, I can say I did NANO in 2016 when I wrote and published a book a month, but I won’t because that was a different writing schedule. By that I mean, some of those books had been written over a period of months. The ones written in a month were less than fifty thousand words.
I am a proud pantser, but I am also a planner. I spend about an hour on Sunday or Monday planning my weekly schedule. NANO is the perfect opportunity for me to combine the two. I also research things I’m not familiar with or need direction on how to do.
Knowing I was going to do NANO I went to YouTube and a few AuthorTubers. The amount of information out there was overwhelming. I heard everything from stockpile your favorite snacks, stay hydrated, don’t forget the wine and coffee, meal prep, hire a housekeeper if a messy space is a pet peeve, post “do not disturb” or other threatening signs on your office door for annoying family, join a NANO community, exercise, have your favorite music and get plenty of rest. Oh yeah, and make a writing plan.
I thought my head was going to explode. I took a step back and reminded myself of one simple fact. I wrote a novelette in three days with about six hours of sleep, coffee and a couple of meals a day. I’m pretty sure I can handle fifty thousand words in a month.
How did I prep for NANO? I created a plan that was right for me.
Commit to NANO
Don’t just say you want to do it, but tell someone. When you give life to the task becomes a reality.
Join a group for accountability
This is one of the areas where I messed up in my previous NANO attempts. Having an accountability group encourages me to stick to my plan and make attainable goals. Thanks Charmed Writers.
I liked the suggestion to have snacks at the ready. However, prior to NANO, I was diagnosed as being wheat, soy, almond, cow’s milk and egg white sensitive. Some of my favorite snacks include those things. However, I found a couple of things that work, plus I have plenty of water, coffee and red wine.
Keep a journal
I decided to keep a journal of my daily progress. I also use it to keep notes about my book.
Set a daily word count
The other prep tip I liked was setting a realistic daily word count. I knew I wasn’t likely to write on Sundays, Thanksgiving and I needed a little flexibility for BFCM [Black Friday Cyber Monday] sales for my lingerie business. Exceeding my daily writing goal will allow me to skip a couple of days if I want to.
Figure out what to write
When I was toying with the idea of NANO, I had an idea of what I wanted to write…the follow up to my 2019 NANO book.
As I said, I’m a pantser so when it comes to writing, I plop my butt in the chair and let the characters tell their story. Last year I selected a book I wanted to write, but for some reason I never connected with the story. It was like the characters had gone silent. I switched books and the story practically wrote itself. I didn’t complete the book, but I did write fifty thousand words during NANO.
I completed my 2019 NANO book in February of this year and as of this post, it’s with my beta reader and headed to my editor this weekend.
I wanted to release the book earlier, but with the strangeness of 2020, I decided to push it back to February 2021. When I completed the book, I had no intention of continuing the series. But the characters said something different. I deleted the last chapter and made part of it the first chapter of book four, the book I’m writing during NANO. My plan is to release the books back to back next year.
I just completed NANO day four and I feel good about my progress. As of this post, I’m at 9002 words. My daily goal is 2084 words, but I’ve been exceeding it.
Here is the best advice I have for anyone wanting to do NANO…just write. Whether the words make it to the final draft, it doesn’t matter. The goal is write a book with at least fifty thousand words. It doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be completed.
Happy NANO and Thanksgiving.
Happy fourth quarter. We are a few weeks away from NANO season. I have received emails, seen blog posts and You Tube videos reminding me about NANO month.
A few years ago, I signed up for a NANO account and never participated. Last year, I reactivated my account and signed up to participate in NANO for the first time. I posted questions in some groups for advice and to make sure I was signed up correctly. I was all set.
I had a book I was working on and figured this would force me to complete it. I thought I was doing well. Unfortunately the words just weren’t coming so I switched books.
I figured the book I switched would be easier to complete. I based that assumption on the other two books in the series which were novellas. As I continued to write, the book grew. Every time I thought I had an ending, the characters kept talking.
When November ended, I hadn’t completed my book. I took a break and continued writing. I completed my book…a few months later. I also have the first couple of chapters for the fourth book. By the way, I never intended to write a fourth book in this series, but when your characters talk, you kind of have to listen. So, not completing NANO it worked out for me.
As I stand on the precipice of another NANO season, I’m faced with a very important decision…do I NANO or not?
I don’t want to make a promise and not follow through. Grant it, the only person I would be disappointing is me. Considering how things worked out for me last year, it might be to my advantage to sign up for NANO.
So what are the pros and cons to doing NANO this year.
I can’t figure out a valid reason not to do NANO this year. Writing a book in a month isn’t new for me. After all, that’s what I did every month in 2016. I think right now my focus is a little off and participating in NANO this year could possibly help me.
If I do this, does anyone have any tips on how to survive and win at NANO? Clearly my previous plan of sitting down and writing on a whim didn’t work, otherwise I would have finished my original NANO book.
Happy NANO Prep.
See you next month.
Happy August. How has your summer been?
I am at the end of an experiment per se. I booked a review slot with Hidden Gems.
Like some authors it hasn’t been easy for me to get my readers to post reviews. I really wish I understood why this simple request is so difficult to fulfill. Then I think about myself. I have read quite a few books and am guilty of the very thing my readers haven’t done…post a review.
As a writer, I have become more aware of the importance of leaving reviews.
Last month, I enlisted the review service Hidden Gems. I heard great things about the service, but was a little apprehensive because of a past experience with a different review service. After asking around, I settled on them and I’m glad I did.
I choose their entry level plan, 50 reviews with my book A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I was very nervous. The nine reviews weren’t representative of the sales. This is my best selling title. When I do signings or book club events, the book is well received. Many have said how much they like the hero Jeremiah. However, the majority of them have yet to write a review.
Working with Hidden Gems was me walking into the lion’s den to face fifty readers unfamiliar with me or my books.
When the first reviews came in, I was good. Then a bad one appeared and I was fit to be tied. I know I’m not Jane Austen, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele or Debbie Macomber, but I can tell a story. However, I get a little pissed when people say they couldn’t get passed the first chapter. A thing like that can shake a writer’s confidence.
I think what stopped me from replying to that first bad review was the fact the review misquoted several things. Here’s a review tip…if you’re going to leave a bad review, know of what you speak. As I re-read the bad review for the fifth time, I came to the conclusion this person was looking for a reason not to like my book. Oh well, their loss.
As the reviews came in, I was surprised to see how my book was viewed. Let me clarify. I thought of it as sweet & sexy. However, the reviews came back as just sweet. There was the occasional rushed storyline. Some were upset I didn’t mention the faith element. Overall Jeremiah has been well received.
A bonus during the review period was an increase in sales across my library.
I’m glad I tried the service. It was well worth the money. Will I do it again? Yes. I have to be honest, I wouldn’t have done this if it hadn’t been for the fact that I want to apply for a BookBub Featured Deal. I’ve heard of authors getting a BookBub Featured Deal without a lot of reviews. However, the two times I’ve gotten featured deals was with my book that has 30+ reviews. Using that as a measuring stick, I wanted to make sure I set myself up in a positive light. We’ll see what happens when I apply.
As of this post, my Amazon average is 4 out of 5 stars for A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I’m hoping to keep it there or higher.
I also think I’ll be adding Hidden Gems to my release plan. I know it’s costly, but if it will help make my book launches more successful, then it’s well worth the money.
If you’ve tried Hidden Gems or another service, what was your experience?
See you next month.
What Are You Doing During the Quarantine?
Happy May and happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers.
I have to be one of the few people not too upset about being on quarantine. I work from home so this isn’t that different from my everyday routine, except I can’t go to the gym, the salon or church. I sympathize and pray for everyone who has been infected or lost someone.
Before you virtually yell at me, or gather ten or less people to come and beat me up, step back, take a deep breath and look at the gift you’ve been given.
How many times have you said if I had a little more time, I could get this done. Or, I need to finish my book, but I’ve got a presentation I need to get done for my other job. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, but never had the time. This is your time.
Did you know if you had committed to writing 2000 words a day for the past six weeks, you’d have enough for a book? Or two novellas? If you continued writing until the lock in was lifted, you could have two books and possibly a novella or short story. Enough inventory to launch your writing career or if you’re already published…a new series.
I hear a lot of people complaining about being locked in and what they miss. This is such an amazing time.
During the lock-in, I finished a book and started another. I’ve updated my writing and marketing plans. I’ve been testing Facebook ads. This has also allowed me a chance to try some newsletter vendors I’ve never used before.
Don’t waste this time complaining or thinking you can do it later. There are quite a few businesses offering freebies or discounts to new customers. I tried a newsletter I had been wanting to try. I liked the results and will definitely be using them in the future.
When we went on quarantine, it effected both of my businesses. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really expected a huge spike in book sales because people were home. However, I failed to consider my readership. Quite a few of them have children which meant their free time was now being used for home schooling, not pleasure reading. So what was I going to do?
I really wanted to freak out, but I changed my attitude. I was in the process of finishing a book I wanted to in May. However, I didn’t finish it until last week, which means the release date needed to be pushed back.
Looking at what’s happening in the world and to my sales right now, I’m considering a different launch strategy. Possibly pushing the release back to late fall. If I do that, I would have the next in the series complete and release the books back to back. I never would have considered that strategy if it hadn’t been for this life break.
I have also been looking at additional revenue streams. I love print books. Especially hardcover. During this time, I’ve been researching other versions of my books…hardcover, limited edition and audio.
Here are some things you can do during the shut in.
Re-stock print book inventory
Order new marketing materials
Book future ads
Set up some pre-orders
Recommend Books on BookBub
Update a series
Write a novella or short story
Listen to writing Podcast or You Tube shows
Check out what other writers are doing
Support your fellow writers
Create additional revenue streams
Bottom line, concentrate on how to turn this negative into a positive. Don’t waste this time. Look at it as a set up for 2021.
Stay safe and wise.
Happy April and Happy Birthday to me. Today’s my birthday and I am celebrating at a very intimate and exclusive restaurant, my house.
There is no need to rehash or complain about what we are all enduring. Here’s my only comment or prayer, we are all victorious survivors and can endure more than we can imagine.
I’m going to keep it short this month.
I just finished my first quarter as a planner girl. It has been an amazing experience. I’m a lot more focused and I’m amazed at how much I got accomplished. There are some tools I really like and some that I didn’t. At least right now. I might revisit the ones that didn’t fit later. I will only be discussing the planning tools I’m using for my author business.
Tool: Kanban Board
I’m not going to say I love this just yet, but I really like it. It helped a lot to see my tasks in front of me daily. It also forced me not to bite off more than I could chew. When I put this in place, I was going to write a different book. About two weeks into the first 30 days, the book I scheduled just wasn’t. I switched books and the words flowed like a faucet. In fact, the book went from novella to novel length.
There were a few things that were moved because it involved the book I was no longer working on. My math might be a little off but here are the results. I started the year with 3 goals and 59 tasks. I complete the goals. I realize those are going to take a little longer than expected. The goals had 59 tasks. I completed 32 tasks, 15 didn’t get done and 7 were carried over.
As of this posting, I’m working on next quarter’s Kanban board.
I have been meaning to try Fussy Librarian and just hadn’t gotten around to it. However, I received an email offering me a chance to try them for free with a free book. I did and ad day produced great results. My book got to #4 in a couple of categories and in the top 100 with another one. The tails on the ad lasted about a week. I will definitely be trying them again.
I have an official ad budget and I’ll let you know how it’s working at the end of the quarter. I think I need 90 days to really assess the results. I am currently in the first stage, testing facebook ads. This is an area I really want to crack. I have spent too much time and money on courses for them not to work.
Tool: Planner Inserts
I have been testing a mixture of planner inserts searching for the ones that are right for me. I think I have a system I like. I’m not the planner who likes a lot of stickers. Although I did see some last week that I really like. I do use colored transparency tabs and some dots.
I created an engagement log sheet which I use weekly to chart my sales, word count and social media followers. This has helped me. When I write things down, it helps me visualize and push myself. Or know when to take a break.
Tool: Author Planner
My author planner is really a business bible. It contains a calendar, production schedule, newsletter and ad schedule, expense and sales log, print book inventory and event schedule. This is very handy. I use it in conjunction with my 90 Day Plan notebook. Any story ideas are kept in a separate notebook by my bed.
Tool: Instagram…Social Media
I did an online course on building your Instagram audience for my lingerie business and tried it with my author business. It works well for the lingerie, but not as well for my author business. I’m thinking about trying Planoly to schedule my author posts. When I post on Instagram, I make sure to click the other social media options. This helps me stay engaged and post regularly. Interesting thing, when I post a shirtless man, I get great engagement. Go figure.
WIP…as of this post, I am approximately 4500 words away from completing my book. I know last month I said I was about 7000 words away from completing my book. That was true. However, the story took a turn and I added a few more thousand words. I really thought I would have finished it sooner. But the delay has worked to my advantage. I’m not sure how a release would have done right now.
I’m not sure what I’ll talk about next month. Let’s play it by ear.
Happy April. Stay safe.
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