It's October, and NaNoWriMo is fast approaching.
For those of you who have not yet been immersed into the NaNo culture and may never have heard this term before: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's a free writing event that takes place over on nanowrimo.org to encourage people to write. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a brand new story...all in one month. It's like no-shave November, but far more creative and infinitely cooler.
Why, you ask? Well, for one, you're cranking out an entire novel in 30 short days. If that's not epic I don't know what is. Along with that, there's writer goodies-- workbooks, pep talks, articles, world crawls, word sprint tools, regional groups you could get involved in, and a ton of sponsor offers for winners and even for participants. Like, awesome sponsor offers-- from 50% off Scrivener, Dabble and more, to space on Dropbox, a free class with CreativeLive, free novel help with IngramSpark, AutoCrit memberships, writing courses, FocusMe subscriptions for free during NaNoWriMo with a percentage off deal after, Fictionary subscriptions, deals with Storyist, StoryPlanner, Scribophile, a chance to submit with various publishing companies, and more. The sponsor offers change by year, but they're always super great.
If you're under 18 and you want to do it, there is a Young Writers website as well, with the option of choosing your own word count to fit your age. Or, if you are a teacher or a mom, you can get on Young Writers NaNoWriMo and create your own classroom-- complete with a teacher account and lots of goodies to help you in the creative process. Do I hear epic homeschool/creative class project? I think so!
If you're still needing some convincing, here are 5 good reasons why NaNoWriMo might be something you might want to consider. ;)
1. NaNo opens up a world of creativity you might not have realized you had. For those of us who have been telling stories from the womb, it's a chance to challenge ourselves to sit down and work hard on something. For others who may be interested but hesitant, this could be the push you need. And for the newbies in the writing world, NaNoWriMo is a completely encouraging, non-judgmental environment that will propel you forward towards your dreams. Even if you don't think you're good at creative writing at all, taking a month to try things out might prove to show a side of you that you didn't realize existed!
2. It's a good push for those who like writing but just sit around thinking about it instead of doing something. With people all over the world joining in, NaNoWriMo is a great way to jump into the world of writing. You've got a challenge, a goal, and a huge support system. Not only do you get those awesome winner goodies for hitting your goal at the end of the month, (and even participation deals), but you can also buy swag, win virtual badges, get all kinds of motivational pep talks, participate in sprints, word wars, word crawls, the super-busy forums on their website, and more. It's a huge boost of motivation, and it's got a great amount of excitement along the way.
3. It's a good way to let loose and be a little crazy... Did I mention that NaNo is tons of fun? Of course the goal is pretty epic, and of course you need to have a lot of determination to get through the month while writing all those words. But NaNoWriMo is also insanely enjoyable. You can join up with other writers (like me, lol), share your progress, give sneak peeks of your novel, have an excellent excuse to drink lots of coffee, and lose yourself in a world all your own. Novembers are some of the best months of my life, and I'm convinced that if you have a passion for writing or even a slight interest you'll find that it is a great chance to delve fully into the world of writing.
4. You can learn a lot during the process about yourself and life in general if you pay attention. :) So you can have fun AND learn? YES! If you read the pep talks, pay attention to any critiques from your writer friend, and look out for your own writing tendencies, you can really learn a lot through the process. I have learned more in NaNoWriMo then I can ever say. My first NaNo was when I was 15 and that book is crazy bad. But it's also one of the best experiences I've had, and I gained so much from writing it that November that I still keep in mind today. Other NaNoWriMo years taught me various other lessons-- pacing, planning, characterization, and more.
5. If have a story that you would like to tell, NaNo helps you get started with it. Or, you may realize through NaNoWriMo that you have a story you should tell that you never even knew about. :D Maybe you're still hesitant. "I'm not a writer, that's crazy!" you say. Well, I suggest you give it a go--even just one time. You can even set a personal lower goal for yourself if you want, instead of shooting for the set-in-stone 50k. The point is to focus on writing for a month, because you never know what might turn up. I think most people have a story in them. Is it going to be the popular genre? Probably not. Mine aren't. But whether it is or isn't, stories are important. Even if you decide to bend the rules of NaNoWriMo and write 30k on a memoir, it's still an amazing feat. So write an epic poem. Write a vintage style mystery. Write a literary political novel. The point I'm trying to make is--be you. It doesn't matter if you're not the typical fiction writer who adheres to the "rules of writing" (those are made to be broken anyways). NaNoWriMo is there to get you writing, to tell the story that's important to you--so even if you think you're not a writer, you might just end up being super glad you joined. ;)
If you're interested, you can do it with me. Not only are you able to connect with me and other friends on NaNoWriMo's website (if you look Victoria Minks up in the search bar, you'll find me!), but we are also doing epic stuff for NaNoWriMo here at Fearless Type. You can hop on the NaNo threads in the community, join us on Twitter for word sprints and challenges, tune into our live Instagram videos, follow our Insta stories for dares, polls, tips, tricks and more, and even participate in our NaNo-prep month, where we'll delve into a lot of nitty gritty to make this your best November yet. So don't forget to connect, and let's do this thing together!
If you're reading this, you're obviously interested in becoming a published author.
I was a young one when I first got interested in actually getting my work published some day. In fact, my dad was the one who started me on the path to researching all my options. And let me tell you one thing, all the types of publishing routes and the huge variety of opinions on what is best is enough to make your head spin! I chose to start my own publishing company when I was sixteen, but it has been a long road of learning and hard work, and I'll be the first to say: It's not for everybody. The truth is, there are pros and cons to each variation of publishing, and it really depends on the individual with what is best for them! There is no right or wrong. And I'm here to break it all down in one simple post so you can figure out what's best for you...without having to spend countless hours scratching around the internet for information.
First off, it's not really as simple as just traditional versus indie publishing.
Yes, the traditional route is pretty self-explanatory and the most well-known option there. But then you have the self-publishing realm which covers everything from true indie to combination options. On top of that, people can have a very misguided view of what Indie publishing is, because there are so many so-called self-publishers that look just that... unprofessional and cheap. So before we get into pros and cons of each route, let's get some quick definitions going.
Definitely the longest-standing route of publication, traditional publishing means you as an author send out submissions to various agents or publishers until one of them likes your work enough to accepts you. This then means they sign you on for a book deal, and from there on you work with your publisher to get the book to the market.
Vanity Press Self-Publishing:
A vanity press, also known as a subsidy publisher, is a publishing house in which the author has to pay to get their book printed. This way was the most popular decision for those who didn't (or couldn't) get traditionally published, before other ways became more well known. This was especially for people who just wanted a printed book for family and friends, or maybe a couple hundred to sell at a church or social group.
A rather new term and idea, this is a middle-of-the-road option. The phrase can be used for various modes of publishing but the basic idea is that the author works with a press to publish a book--it's basically a partnership. Rather than the publisher being in control (Traditional) the author gets to have the final say of things, while still getting a lot of assistance from the publisher. (Which leads to another name for this type-- assisted publishing). Often in this case an author will submit their novel to a publishing company, then if it's accepted, will work together with that press to publish. The difference here between Traditional is that often these companies are smaller and you are the one taking the responsibilities for the expense and possible losses, not the publisher.
Though this is often used interchangeably with "self-publishing", I believe it's rather different. Indie Publishing (short for Independent publishing) is when an author goes into self-publishing, perhaps even starting their own publishing company. Many Indie Publishers use print-on-demand services and try to get into bigger stores like Amazon. Indie Publishing overall has a reputation for being more serious and professional, and it's looked at as a business move versus a boasting claim of being published.
For those who aren't interested in producing print copies of their books, there is the option of going solely into e-book publishing. This is definitely the easiest route out of them all, and can be very quick as well.
Now that we've broken down each into simple explanations, let's look at the pros and cons of each!
So how do you know what's best for you?
You all probably know by now that I'm an Indie Author. I enjoy the freedom and I love being able to wear all the different hats involved in the process of writing and publishing a book. Does it get overwhelming sometimes, though? Definitely. I'm glad I'm an Indie author, but there are moments when I just really want to hire a bunch of people for different jobs. But even though sometimes I really wish I had a team to help me out, I know I wouldn't be as happy in a traditional book deal, and I'm beyond excited with all I've been able to learn because I had to.
So would I recommend Indie? Yes. Is it for you? Maybe not. While I would recommend it, I'll be the first to say that it's not for everybody. And that's ok. Here's what's what.
If you like various types of work (design, formatting, editing), if you're willing to put in the time to do it well... if you enjoy having complete freedom for your creativity, style and standards, if you like being your own boss, and if you tend towards an entrepreneurial spirit, then Indie might be for you.
If you're interested in being top-dog in the process but want help along the way, if you don't want to spend so many hours on work you could have others do, if you would rather invest money than time, if you don't like being the only decision-maker, if you want to work alongside a team of people who know what they're doing-- then maybe hybrid publishing is for you.
If you just want to write, if you like the traditional triumph of snagging a book deal, if you don't want to mess with details or book launches or any of that at all, if you would rather go through the energy of contacting agencies and publishing houses rather then learning how to do stuff independently, if you are ok with possibly getting dozens of rejections... then maybe you're cut out for traditional.
Obviously, this is just an intro.
There's not time or space in one post to go into all the details for each style of publishing, nor am I the best one to talk about all the various types. But I wanted to give you all a basic idea of what each entails, so you can get a better idea of what might work for you. Think you're an Indie at heart? Then I encourage you to go research indie publishing. One invaluable resource for you is Joel Friedlander's Book Designer Website. Just trust me on that one. From cover design to book formatting to knowing about ISBN numbers and more, if you're going to do the Indie route, go to his site and learn. Take the time to know what you're getting into, to learn about the different areas of book publishing that maybe you never even thought of before. Copyrights? Book launches? Marketing? Hiring proofreaders? If you want to be an Indie, you need to know this stuff.
If you find yourself leaning more towards hybrid or traditional, I'd still say go do some more research. How do you go about finding agencies? Tips for emailing potential agents? What will you need to be aware of before getting involved with a publishing house?
The main point is that writers can't just be writers. You have to be willing to put in some effort to know your game, and it doesn't matter whether that game is Indie or Traditional or whatever. Not only will you understand how things works better, be able to act with confidence and knowledge, but you will also be able to converse better with other people about your work or services you are paying them for.
If you're interested in hybrid styles of publishing, did you know that's essentially what Fearless Type Publishing is? We are a company that is a blend between traditional and indie for other indie creatives who want to work with a team. Learn more about us here!
So, Tell me. What Publishing route do you think fits you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and give some advice to your younger self? Well, I do. I have a whole list of things that I would tell little authorly me if I could. I was writing by the time I could spell, and doing "chapter books" at a young age as well. It's great getting started at a young age, because that means your whole life is ahead of you-- but there are some difficulties too.
People will say stuff. It's up to you how you take it.
One of the biggest challenges for a lot of young writers is the fact that a lot of people refuse to take them seriously. They might applaud their efforts, think it's a cool hobby-- but once you mention that you're determined to get published, be professional, or have writing as part of your career in some way, there are a few basic reactions: The great people are encouraging, and want you to pursue your dreams. The majority might smile and just go along with you, while continuing to say things to (perhaps unconsciously) lessen the importance of your goals. And then there will probably be a few who scoff or try to discourage you from pursuing writing.
Here's the point I'm trying to make. Those people that discourage your dreams? Don't worry about them. Instead focus on your goals, appreciate the ones who encourage you, and realize that no matter what you do in life, you're going to have somebody say something, and it's up to you what your reaction is going to be. Be grateful for the ones who support you, let them know, and use their words to help you on your way. And those that aren't convinced that your dreams are important, or who are outright antagonistic-- you can use that as fuel too. Keep your perspective. Turn that negativity into a positive force to keep you going.
For instance, if they say "you won't be able to make a living off of that", you can use that to remind yourself that your passion combined with drive will help you get places-- and that it's better to do what you love and are meant to do then be obsessed with money. If they dismiss it as a hobby, think about how amazing it is that you can take something most would consider a fun side past time and turn it into your life. If they claim you aren't good enough, tell yourself that's the wonderful thing about writing-- you are constantly learning, growing, and adapting.
Basically, it comes down to the fact that people will have their opinions, and you need to let those shape you in a positive way instead of a negative one.
It might take a while for your writing to be publishing-ready. That's alright--it's something to work towards. You will probably look back years down the road and cringe at what you wrote now... But don't get discouraged, because right now is excellent time for lots of practice. You'll be glad for it later. The fact is, one-night wonders are rarely true, or beneficial. These years aren't wasted, even if you don't even publish anything till your 20's or even 30's. It's better to be grounded, mature, and practiced before putting trying to hit goals just for the sake of hitting goals. Patience is key.
I'm not saying you can't publish as a teen or young adult. I'm just saying, make sure your work is going to continue making you proud a decade later. Often, young writers find the need to reinvent themselves as they get older, simply because they didn't give themselves enough time to grow into themselves and their craft. Presence is huge, and if you throw something out before you're ready, it could continue to cause problems years down the road. Now. On the flip side, it is true that you will never be truly READY. There comes a moment when you just need to go for it, and allow yourself to grow through the process.
If you're a young writer though, here is the best advice I've found. Put your writing out there...but in a different way, for the purpose of developing as a writer. Get on Wattpad and post your chapter novels on there, so you can get feedback from other writers and readers. Start a blog and post flash fiction every week. Join a Camp NaNoWriMo cabin and share excerpts. Find a writing group and start a free online magazine together to practice. Invest in getting an ebook cover designed just for you and get your novel printed for you and your family, and be bold enough to ask for their critiques and thoughts. Find a writing mentor who can be perfectly honest with you. Be brutally honest with yourself, too, and evaluate your own things and your own life, so you can decide if you are ready to publish or not. And remember that you are learning an art.
You will sometimes feel inadequate.
However, that is no reason to quit--never, ever, ever give up. After what I just said about being able to be honest enough to know whether you are publishing-ready or not, it can be a swift course to feeling like you are way below the mark and that it will take years to get good enough.
Here's the thing. We as writers need to be realistic enough with ourselves to make good decisions, evaluate our craft, and continue to grow. But if you let that spiral into over-critical negativity and self loathing, you have toppled onto the other side of things and still are going to cripple yourself and your writing journey. The fact is, as writers, we have got to be balanced. Unfortunately, most people veer on the side of thinking they are ready, talented, and practiced enough when they aren't, or they let their own self-doubts and criticisms destroy their confidence and ultimately their goals.
The truth is, everyone is learning, and everyone can get better. But you also have to realize just that-- you are getting better and better all the time. You are better than you were yesterday, as long as you keep moving forward. Inadequacy is just a word. You have to stay in the mindset that you are evolving in your writing journey, that you are constantly learning and growing-- and how can you be inadequate if you are continuing to grow? You can't be not enough or a failure if you keep going, keep improving. You don't lose if you're learning.
It's good to have a plan and some clear goals.
Stop writing in twelve books at once. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Stop the thinking that you have to do it all-- blogging, writing, graphic design, youtube, etc etc etc. You don't. You are you. You have unique goals. Take the time to define what those goals, dreams and aspirations are in your life and then break down baby steps to reach them.
You want to publish a historical superhero story set in tech-infused ancient Egypt? Then you better get working on a plan to make that happen. Maybe that means you do weekly comics and post them on your Instagram to keep inspired while you research tech and ancient Egypt. Maybe that means you read up on some superhero plotlines and figure out what direction you want to take things. Maybe that means you start a YouTube channel vlogging about science and archaeology and how that relates to writing. Maybe that means you DON'T start a book reviewing club, you don't try to write articles on writing, you don't randomly announce you're suddenly a graphic designer, you don't start an editing service.
Let's look at another view. Maybe you want to influence teenager screenwriters to pursue their dreams and give them the resources to learn. So set your sights on what it will take to do that. Maybe that's starting an online group for indie filmmakers and screenwriters. Maybe you blog about movie plot breakdowns, finding tips and tricks on what works and what doesn't. Maybe you Facebook Live your screenwriting process and tips once a week. Maybe that's not Instagramming pictures of coffee and books. Maybe that's not starting a podcast interviewing indie actors.
Basically what I'm saying is, you have to learn early on to prioritize and be able to focus on what it takes to get your dream into a reality. You don't have to do everything like everyone else. Who cares if everyone is blogging these days? Maybe you were meant to use a different media form. So what if everyone is trying to be the next big book aesthetic instagrammer? Maybe that's not what is really going to help you reach your personal goals. You have to be able to look at what's going around you enough to know what's working for some people, but conscious enough of your own plans and goals to know what you should invest time into.
This goes for writing books too. Should you really be writing willy-nilly over a flash-fiction blog, three novels, a screenplay, and a nonfiction book? In rare cases, maybe it works. But most of the time, if you want to see anything accomplished, you have GOT to focus on what's most important for you, right now. Inspiration is fickle. You need to couple that inspiration with dedication to see anything happen.
It's ok to say No sometimes.
Just because you love writing doesn't mean you have to do any and all writing related projects for other people. I'll just say it now. Once people find out you're a writer, there's a good chance you'll run into people who want to take advantage of that. While it's great to connect, build your tribe, and help others, sometimes it's easy for enthusiastic young writers to overextend themselves. Especially if you're not getting paid for taking the time away from your own learning and writing to constantly be helping others.
I'm not saying don't help others. I'm saying you can't beta-read for five people, co-write a novel with your best friend, blog, join vlogging challenges, edit a screenplay for a buddy, and try writing your own novel all at the same time. Inevitably, your things will get pushed to the side because you feel obligated to others to help them with their things, and then you stay stagnant with your own writing journey. Learn when to say no, and realize it is ok.
Take the time to really learn how to write stronger.
The biggest plague for young writers is their weak writing. Their greatest asset is that they are so impressionable and imaginative at a younger age that their creativity can be off the charts. On the one hand, young writers haven't been exposed to as many rules, writing styles and restrictions as an older person might, so their imagination is a able to come out in more unique ways if they let it. On the other hand, young writers have the habit of copying the writing style they enjoy reading. (It's ok, a lot of mature writers who haven't defined their author's voice still do this).
First, neither of those are bad things. In fact, you can use both for your advantage. Copying other people's styles can help them transform into what feels right for them. It's like taking the chance to be a chameleon for a while can help them unlock what works for their voice. It can also help them keep intact their wild, unbarred imagination. But let's take a closer look at their biggest plague-- weak writing.
The problem is, young writers tend to fall into all the traps of purple prose, unrealistic plotlines, flowery words, weak verbs, an excess of adverbs, dry sentences, confusing paragraphs, rambling, and they focus so much on style and having fun that they lose impact. It's all part of the process, and I'm not condemning that writing, because it's a step in the writing journey, and you have to allow yourself to write badly in order to write well. The problem comes when young writers learn to rely on those things and refuse to learn from mentors because they're convinced that their weak writing is ok.
Be determined enough to keep developing as a writer that you can be proud of your work but also want to be better. Read books on writing, follow blogs, and listen to those who are experienced. They know what they're talking about and are just trying to help. You have to be able to get out of your comfort zone of weak writing and put into practice everything that makes it stronger. That means learning language, plotlines, editing, character crafting, and writing styles. That means being open to finding the next thing to make you better.
Don't feel like something is wrong if you don't always write by the book, or like other good authors, or the way people expect.
And the point I just made brings me to the next thing. As you study writing, learn the rules, and put them into practice, recognize that you are you, and you have a unique voice. Yes, there are writing rules. Yes, you need to learn them. But yes, you also can learn how to break them. It's ok to go against the flow, as long as you are conscious of what you are doing and break the rules well. Don't allow yourself to make mistakes because you don't know the rules, the styles, and the guidelines of writing. But do allow yourself to try new things, experiment, and do you. Making mistakes is ok when it's part of the process to learn and make forward-moving steps. It's going to cost you when it's because of refusing to learn, though. Try different genres. Allow yourself to think outside the box. Let your unique self shine through your work. And don't worry about what others say.
To sum it all up: Yes, you're a little crazy. And that's ok. Yes, some people won't understand you. That's also ok. I believe in you. Be who you were meant to be. Keep chasing those dreams, and make them happen.
If you're a young writer, leave me a comment below on what point most resonated with you. Have you experienced any of these things? What have you had difficulty with that you wish someone would tell you more about?
If you're older, this still can apply to you. And maybe there's a young writer in your life that needs to hear these things. Be awesome and share this article with them!
Don't forget that there is an entire resource library right here on this website with free workbooks, worksheets and more. It's constantly expanding, so be sure you grab those now! Keep learning, and never stop being amazing.