WordServe News: January 2015

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

Daniel Allen released his second book, Summoned, with IVP Books. 9780830836871_p0_v2_s260x420

*************************************************************************************************

Jim Burns and Doug Fields released the workbook companion to their book Getting9780781412186_p0_v1_s260x420 Ready for Marriage with David C. Cook publishers.

************************************************************************************************

Michelle Griep released a regency novel with Barbour Books, Brentwood’s Ward. 9781630586799_p0_v1_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

************************************************************************************************

Kate Hurley released her debut nonfiction with Harvest House Publishers, Cupid Is a 9780736962261_p0_v2_s260x420Procrastinator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

***********************************************************************************************

What We’re Celebrating!!

Deb Coty’s Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate won an Illumination Book Award: Shining a Light On Exemplary Christian Books!

How to Avoid the Second-Book Slump

How to Avoid the Second-Book Slump @JanalynVoigtWriting, like marriage, is an odd mixture of passion and duty. The same writers who speak of “falling in love” with a story complain about “having to” edit it. Some marriages are easier than others, and that’s also true of books. Some pearls make it to publication with few edits, but often, by the time a novel reaches readers, its writer is sick of working on it. Given these conditions, it’s not surprising to learn that the second book in a series frequently disappoints readers. Preventing this from happening to your second book requires a look at this syndrome’s causes.

Time Frame  

A debut novel usually benefits from years of labor as its author polishes it over and over in order to land a contract. But a second novel, when contracted from a synopsis and likely written in a matter of months, doesn’t go through as strenuous a process.

Solutions:

  • Simply being aware of this as a problem is half the battle. Commit to giving your second book your all, just as you did with your first.
  • Before you submit your second manuscript, make sure you put it in front of a number of “eyes.” Accept knowledgeable critiques, remarks from beta readers, and/or paid editorial advice.

Interruptions

A writer often has to set aside writing the second book in a series to work on edits and/or promotion for the first. While necessary, interruptions stifle the creative flow. Most writers find returning to a cold manuscript difficult.

Solutions:

  • Have all books in a series written before you submit them for publication. Previously, writers held off on writing a second book until the first had sold. This made sense because publication usually went through traditional publishers. These days it’s harder to win that traditional contract but easier to become published. Take this advice if you would hire an editor and independently publish your work, should it fail to land a traditional contract.
  • Learn to write your first draft quickly so that, by the time edits for the first book hit, you’re ready for them.
  • Dedicate part of your day to writing and part to editing, with a break in between. Your brain will learn to readily switch gears.

Conflicting Emotions

During edits, writers must face, accept, and overcome their own weaknesses. The angst this causes can attach itself in the writer’s mind to the series itself. To draw a parallel from marriage: While undergoing marital counseling , it can be hard to remember first love.

Solutions:

  • Go back over your notes or read earlier entries in a writing journal to remind yourself why you love this series.
  • Reconnect with your novel’s theme, which you hopefully drew from one of your passions.  Prayer and meditation can help.

Eroded Confidence

It’s common knowledge that artistic people are their own worst critics, and that’s certainly true of writers. As a result, while dealing with edits it’s easy to lose confidence and take fewer risks with the second book, which can rob it of zeal.

Solutions:

  • Re-read any endorsements or encouraging comments you received for your first novel.
  • Remind yourself that your publisher believes in you enough to work with you.
  • Give yourself permission to dream about what could happen in your story. Don’t censor your ideas, but simply write them down. And when you go back over your brainstorming session, be wise but bold.

Creative Desire  

When the passion in a marriage fizzles, it’s tempting to look elsewhere for fulfillment. In the same way, when a writer loses that loving feeling for a project, other tempting ideas can siphon creative energy and distract attention. This has an adulterating effect on the work at hand.

Solutions:

  • Rather than ignoring new ideas, write them down (briefly) and save them for later. This keeps them percolating on the back burner until you’re ready for them.
  • Stir your passion for the work at hand by dreaming about the story, exploring the nuances of its characters, and mentally writing the next scene.

If you follow these steps, you’ll soon recapture your passion for your series.

Can you suggest some other ways to revive your writing mid-series?

How to Avoid the Second-Book Slump was first published at Live Write Breathe, Janalyn Voigt’s website for writers.

The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform – Part 3

Building Your Author Platform

To be a successful author, you need to think differently. Within your gut, an uncontainable passion burns. Your passion is to change the world.

Steve Jobs was a person who changed the world by promoting Apple products. I am typing this blog on my Mac with my I-phone 6 by my side. Watch this marketing video clip where Steve Jobs challenged a company to think differently:

Marketing is about values. In this noisy world, your message is a clarion call of what you stand for. Be clear about who you are and what you are about. Where do you fit in the world? More specifically, where do you fit in your niche?

Rejection is Your Friend

One of our main marketing mistakes is to try to be too general. We fail to touch anyone’s life because we are trying to touch everyone’s life. We “like to be liked.” We don’t want to be rejected.

There is already a beat of the drum that your soul marches to. There are other’s who feel the same way you do. They are your “tribe” and you all march to the beat of a different drum. Before you find your tribe, you will likely find rejection from people who don’t hear what you are hearing or see what you are seeing.

A friend of mine, Tracey Mitchell wrote Downside Up (page 15). She wrote this about rejection:

1. Rejection acts as a personal conductor, carefully arranging who and what qualifies for your future.

2. Rejection is a friend who witholds no secrets, exposes all enemies, and closes every wrong door.

3. Rejection is a golden opportunity to better understand God’s love, human relationships, and gifts of encouragement that lie within you.

Think differently about rejection. The closed door of rejection to your message prevents you from wasting your precious time with people who “don’t get you.” Smile at rejection as your friend.

I had a friendly conversation with a woman representing a publisher at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). I shared with her that my background was pastoral ministry. She then asked what my denomination was. When I said “The Foursquare Church” she quickly said, “I won’t be able to publish your future books.”

I sincerely thanked her for her honesty and then asked, “Why?” She then said, “Our constituents do not believe in women pastors and they are closed to Pentecostal Denominations.”

I was so thankful for her blunt honesty. I knew that this was not a publishing house that I would publish any of my future books with.

Fearless Marketing: Take the Risk and Get the Word Out

Fearlessly market to your tribe. Instead of spending time trying to get people that you already know to be interested in what you are doing, throw your net on the other side of the boat and find those who identify with your voice. Here are a few specific tactics to build your tribe and market your message.

Click the Picture for Instant Access to Free Ebook

1. Free Give Away Write a simple ebook and put it on the front of your website or at the end of your blog. You give it away for “free” when they type in their email address. The secret of the email address is that this person who is on your site may be a tribe member. Follow up with them with future blogs and products. Don’t worry about the perfection of your ebook. Click the picture for an example of one of my free ebooks.

2. Building Partnerships Are you spending time building relationships with others who are influencers? I had the privilege of sharing a meal with Dan Miller and his wife Joanne at a conference. As we built a relationship, Dan asked me to speak at the 48 Days Cruise that he is leading in February 2015. Michael Hyatt and his wife Gail are also speaking as well as other influencers.

Click Picture to Find out More about The Influence Cruise.

You never now where one relationship will lead you. Be intentional about networking. Invest in conferences and events where you will meet and learn from people who are impacting others. In fact, I want to invite you to sail to the Caribbean with me on The Influence Cruise. (Click the picture above to find out more information).The relationships that you build on these type of events can become joint-venture partners in the future.

3.Getting the Message Out Get outside of the box of being a traditional author who waits to be discovered. You have a message, so develop your message in such a way that you have additional products to offer your tribe. If they already love what you stand for, chances are they will appreciate other teaching and resources that you provide.

marketing building your platform

Click to view “Exploring Ephesians” Course

 

Here is an example of an online course that I have developed called “Exploring Ephesians.” As a course set up on Kajabi Next, it continues to be a source of encouragement to everyone who takes it. Sign up today to see the example of what I have done, then develop your own course. I’m sure you can do an even better job!

A Final Opportunity We are all learners. When God first spoke to my heart “to engage” in building a platform for the books He was calling me to write, I needed to take baby steps. Wherever you are on your journey as an author, let’s connect.

Let me know if I can help you in any way. Leave a comment below, or find me on social media. Let’s make Jesus famous as we share His message which will change the world.

 

 

Lessons I Learned From My Editor

From conception to finish, I spent a couple of years on my first novel, Shaken. I had a mentor who coached me, a professor who professionally edited the manuscript, and an internationally acclaimed novelist who provided a critique. But nothing affected my story quite as much as signing with my publisher and beginning work with my editor.

Writing is difficult. You are bleeding your emotional artery on the page, complete with life experiences, beliefs, and creativity. But editing? That became another playing field entirely. In my military-romance-driven brain, it could be described as surgery to remove shrapnel. Each piece of metal must be plucked for an individual to get back to full health. In a similar way, editing requires painful digging to remove everything that does not add value to the character. After the shrapnel of your story is removed, you are freed to enhance and improve your story until it’s as close to perfection as you can get it this side of heaven.

KarissLynch Kill Your Darlings

Working with an editor is refining, a true process of iron sharpening iron (just don’t throw the sword at them if you don’t like what they say), but ultimately, it is a beautiful journey. The longer I work with my editor, the more I am thankful that God gifted her to look at stories differently than I do. She makes me better, and she is constantly teaching me and reminding me of craft tips that just haven’t taken root yet. Over the course of writing The Heart of a Warrior series, here is what my editor has taught me:

  1. Timeline is everything.

By the time my first novel went to my editor, the timeline needed major surgery, something I hadn’t thought about in great detail during crafting. I am a pantser and only use a bullet point outline to guide the major points of my scenes. Everything else just spills out on the page. This can make editing much harder for me. When it came time to edit Shadowed, I had a better timeline in place. Lesson learned? Don’t make the same mistakes on the second novel as you did on the first.

  1. Ground your character. Ground your scene.

Ever heard of floating head syndrome? No? Well, that’s probably because I just made it up. But I have it. Bad. Especially when I am writing in a steady stream of consciousness. Characters speak but you don’t know what they look like or what is going on around them. Thankfully, I am now aware of this ailment and am working to correct it before the manuscript goes to my editor. Each character needs to be firmly grounded in whatever is going on, each person in the scene accounted for, even if only briefly. Your scene also needs to be grounded within the larger story. Your reader should have no question where the character is, what is going on, who the character is with, and what drama is unfolding.

  1. Provide concrete details. Paint the canvas.

I actually love this part of writing, but I also struggle with fear. What if people think that a place or person doesn’t look that way? What if I get a detail wrong? What if, what if, what if? The “what if” game keeps me paralyzed from simply using my imagination and the beautiful tools of my eyes and the Internet to ground a scene exactly as I see it. I use research to make sure I didn’t get a basic detail wrong, but otherwise, I craft exactly what I want the reader to see. They are less likely to question what I paint in great detail than they are a canvas where I leave glaring holes due to my own people-pleasing and insecurity. No fear. Write boldly. Paint that canvas, and give the readers a scene they don’t have to try to imagine. Let it unfold in all of its beautiful detail. And then make that process even better in the next book.

Time for surgery on your manuscript. What weaknesses do you notice that you could improve on next time? What lessons have you learned from your editor (or critique partner)?

Refusing the Writer’s Call

Refusal of the call questis a common element of great stories, fictional or historical. The hero is called to a quest, but, initially, he balks. He says, whether through word or deed, “I’m not big enough for this task.” Or maybe just, “I’ve got better things to do than sacrifice myself for that.”

From Jonah getting on a ship sailing in the opposite direction of Nineveh to Bilbo Baggins telling Gandalf that all he wants is a nice tidy hobbit house with tea served on time, heroes have been trying to escape the call since mankind has been telling stories around the fireside. And for just as long, the stories have been winning the hero over to the adventure.

Why? Few of us see ourselves as heroes. We know we’re not up to the task, whatever the task is, and we’re right. We’re not big enough, strong enough, brilliant enough or good enough for the task at hand. And yet, deep in our souls, we know God made us for more than having our tea on time.

In all good stories, the hero finally accepts the call. After trying to outrationalize his call, Dietrich Bonhoeffer takes on the role of hero as he boards what is likely the last ship home to Nazi Germany, a ship that takes him ultimately to his death.

Having been elected to archbishop because he is quiet and conservative, expecting to make no waves in an El Salvador on the brink of civil war, Oscar Romero finally accepts that he must speak out, as he stands over the bodies of two murdered priests.

Paul accepts what he must do as God calls his name in a flash of heavenly light.

Little Samuel answers God on the third call in his small child’s voice: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  Not knowing, of course, that he was accepting a lifetime mantle as prophet.

We writers refuse our call, too. Sitting down at the computer and typing out a page is such a small thing, right? It’s tiny in comparison to the heroes that have been written about. And yet, it feels daunting.

There’s the courage it takes to face a fresh scene. Will it be beautiful or fall flat? It’s as if it’s a test of everything inside you.

And there’s the courage it takes to call yourself a writer. The voices are insistent. How many times have you told yourself that you should just concentrate on being a parent, give your talents to your church and your job, and live a peaceful, ordinary life? You don’t have time for this story? Or more likely, you’re not talented enough for the story you want to write?

But if God made you to write, you’re going to be restless until you do. You can play the role of Jonah, and get on the ship going in the opposite direction and fight it out with the big fish. Or you can accept that being brilliant and big-hearted enough for the story is not what’s at stake. If God made you for this writing quest, he’s planning on equipping you as you go. Sit down at your computer and get started.

How a Non-Writer Like Me Got Published (Part I)

I never aspired to be a writer. Truly. In fact, Mr. Johsen, my high school senior English teacher, once said to me, “Cofer, you will never graduate from college because you can’t write!”

grunge image of a fieldI also never really aspired to write a book. Seems most everyone who survives trying times hears from well-wishers the old adage, “You ought to write a book.” And many of us believe that we could… but never do.

Writing didn’t become a consideration in my life until, uh, well, God and Oprah suggested it. This happened during the height of the recession when my physician recruitment business of twenty years was struggling to pay the bills. Exasperated, I turned the computer off early one business day and shifted my attention to the Oprah show. A discussion was underway about women who had founded new businesses, many starting in a basement or garage. Mrs. Fields was among those featured, as was the creator of Spanx.

I was surprisingly inspired and then on my knees. “Lord, please show me a new way to be in the world. I’m likely too old to start a new business, and the garage is already full, but please weigh in if you have any ideas. What can I possibly do at this age to augment the business I already have?”

I was unprepared for the answer I received about ten days later. It was mid-morning on a Friday and I was alone in the house. The stillness was unnerving. I leaned on the door jam of my office and faced the darkened expanse of the room. I dreaded entering. The only thought in my head was the ever-present drone, get to work. And then it happened. I heard The Voice. It was that commanding “voice within my own” that William P. Young so beautifully describes in his book, The Shack. I’d heard it before.

“Write a book about the gifts you were given.”

Huh? God, is that you? Write a book… really?

I’d never written anything more than a decent consumer complaint letter, and yet I just heard God tell me to write a book. Like I knew how to do that.

But the nudge was unmistakable.

I knew too what He meant by “gifts.” I often thought of as gifts the lessons learned through my daughter’s addiction and recovery. Even at the moment when Annie broke into our house and literally stole the family jewels, the opportunity that event provided for intervention seemed a gift. Maybe the judicial system would stop her from killing herself with drugs.

If I was indeed to write a book, I first needed my daughter’s permission to share our story. Then in sustained recovery from drug addiction, Annie would be both antagonist and heroine in my memoir. Telling an authentic story would require vulnerability on both our parts, as well as a willingness to reveal some very private details from our lives. Were we ready for that kind of exposure?

Annie’s response was wholehearted. “Go for it, Mom!” I didn’t know at the time she was secretly musing, isn’t that precious? Mom thinks she’s going to write a book.

So the new entry on my daily To Do list became “write a book.” I mean, how hard could it be, right? I already knew the story, so I figured I could crank something out in a couple of months. Uh-huh. I really was that clueless.

My writing began one night at 10:00. I’d promised my husband not to take valuable time away from our business day in order to pursue my newest folly, plus late night hours also provided a peaceful quiet. The time was guilt free. Settled in with a cup of tea, I faced the blank Word document on the computer screen before me…and silently prayed.

Okay, God. Now what?

(Stay tuned for Part II about finding a voice, and the will to keep going.)

Was there something that happened to you that got you on the writing path?

The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform – part 2

Building Your Author Platform

As a Mennonite farm girl growing up in Indiana, I learned the Mennonite philosophy of “being the quiet in the land.”  I was taught that it was important not to stand out or draw attention to myself. I never fit in.

You may not have grown up Mennonite, but likely you have been taught to fit in. In subtle and not so subtle ways you have been told “not to rock the boat.” If you write and market a book that looks like every other book, it won’t sell.

Be a Purple Cow - MarketingBe a Purple Cow 

Seth Godin lauded as a leading marketing expert, describes what it means to find your purple cow and market your message. Watch this interview.

In todays market with so many books, you will not make a lasting impact with an average book written to average people. Marketing today has changed. We have so many choices.

As you are marketing your book, you are really marketing you. You are the “brand.” So as you determine how to market your message as yourself these questions:

1. What is remarkable about you?

What is the 2-3% about your message that makes you unique? Rather than aiming at the giant target to make yourself look like every other author/speaker, aim at the bulls eye of being authentic. What about your message and life makes other people make “remarks.”

When I considered which book to write first, I settled in on the thing that people remarked about me the most: I am the mom of 6 children. I struggled with this decision to enter into this market. You see, I am not a mommy-blogger. I don’t like Pinterest and I don’t have ideas for how to have fun play dates with your children.

I am a mom, who never pictured herself being a mom. My first born daughter and I were rescued from a burning house when she was only 5 weeks old. Although we were saved from the fire, she developed colic and screamed for hours at a time. When I finally got her enrolled in Mother’s Day Out, she was “kicked” out for biting another baby and drawing blood.

Yet, with all of this struggle of imperfect motherhood, I have 6 beautiful children. 2 of my children are special needs boys adopted from Brazil at ages 12 and 8. Just surviving motherhood is remarkable.

What is remarkable about you and your message? What makes you stand out. Tell your story in such a way that your uniqueness stands out.

2. Are you willing to be vulnerable?

Marketing - overcome writer's blockTo be a purple cow that stands out from all the white and black cows you have to be vulnerable. You have to wrestle with the fact that what you are trying to do might not work. You have to overcome all the noise in your head that pushes you to be “normal.” The best way to overcome “writer’s block” is to find the “sweet spot” of your message.

When I first began writing 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Mom, I started using other people’s lives to tell the story. My editor would read it and say, “I want to hear your story.” I was afraid to tell my story. I didn’t want to be rejected for my flaws and I saw myself as ordinary.

When I began writing the second draft, I began exposing all my faults. I exposed my internal thoughts about being the worst mom in the world.

That’s when I hit my “sweet spot” of my niche. I’m not writing to the moms who feel like they have-it-all-together. I’m writing to the moms that are hanging by their fingernails. I found that every mom in the world wants to be the best mom in the world for her child, but often she feels like the worst.

What is the “sweet spot” of your message? Where does your message meet a felt need? That becomes your marketing message.

Find your Tribe of People and they will be begging you for more. When you write, you are writing their thoughts. This is not only true in your book but in every other way that you chose to communicate to get your message out. Such as:

  • blog
  • podcast
  • social media
  • radio interviews
  • tv interviews

Memorize short segments of your material that makes your message memorable. Capitalize on the felt need of your tribe. Validate their personal situation. Become a friend to walk on the path together.

Next week we are going to talk about being a risk taker. We will also talk about more specific marketing ideas that you can employ right away. This week as you go through your day, be willing to be a “purple cow.” Make your message stand out.