Tag Archives: writer tips

Traveling Writer Advice

At some point or another we, writers, will need to travel for work. Whether it’s a book tour, convention, or speaking engagement. It’s just par for the course when you’re writing professionally. Now that I see writers traveling again for work, I thought it was time to share my tips and advice for those that are traveling for work.

Research
How far are you traveling? Learn about the city/cities along your tour. This is beneficial when you look at hotels within a reasonable range to the location the event will be held. This will also help you pack appropriately. If you’re not leaving your city or not traveling very far from home, a lot of these tips may not work for you. You may not have to pack clothing for a few days, may not need to pack toiletries.


If you are going to a city family or friends are in, you may not even need many things like money for a hotel room if they’re willing to take you on for a day or however long you need to be in the area.


If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you know if you have vaccines to enter the country. Also, know if you need electrical adapters. For example, Europe has different electrical outlets than the United States.

Packing Appropriately
This seems self-explanatory, but sometimes we forget while in the prepping stage for a trip. What is appropriate for traveling as a writer? Laptop, cellphone, or anything relating to the event. Are you going to sign your books? You will need a pen. Are you going to also record the event? You will need a recording device. This could be your cellphone, a camera, or even the gear of a podcaster if you’re also doing that.
Bring an extension cord, extra-long power cord/surge protector. You may be provided space at a convention, but you will not always be provided cords and extensions for your devices.


Though you are packing for work, don’t forget to pack for yourself. Clothing and a few extras as a ‘just in case’ preparation. When you’re there finally, many things can still happen. A fan could accidentally spill something on you, you will need a backup outfit. Don’t forget your toiletries. I also recommend bringing your favorite coffee (thank me later).


You will also need a table and all that you want to decorate it with. For example, books, book racks, displays, tablecloths, author posters, book posters, serving platters for the merch you may bring, etc. I recommend creating a to-do list and marking off everything as you pack it in bags and pack it into your car. Don’t forget your padlocks! If you need padlocks, make a special keyring with these specific keys on it.
If you’ve done your research well, you will also know what else you will need to pack, like adapters, or where you can get your petty cash converted into local currency.

Books
When I started out, I did not know how many books or products to pack. The best advice I ever got and continue to listen to is the number of books. If you’re expecting a large crowd at your booth, which can happen with advertising of your location at an event, bring more. It is better to have more than too little. If you’re worried about running out or do, make sure you have a way for readers to pay through a device like Stripe.

The laptop that you bring can also be used if you’re willing to allow people to pay, say, via Amazon. Make sure you clear and log out all information after every guest uses your device to protect their privacy. They’re trusting you and you should respect that.


If you have a series of books, always bring double or triple the amount of the first novel of the series and a smaller amount of the rest. For example, Book one pack fifty. Book two – four pack twenty to thirty. You will always sell the first of a series, but not everyone wants the rest until after they’ve read that first book.


With the above tip about book series, take that also into account for one-off novels. Bring the amount you would for the first book of a series.
Think of every book as its own business. With that mindset, you will bring all the goodies for each book or each series. This is where all the merch comes into play and those insta-pleasers freebies (like candy with your brand on it also a big-time pleaser is totes and bags. People at conventions always need more ways to carry their haul. If it has your brand or book all over, it as they move around the convention, they’re also passively advertising for you.).

Security
Above I mentioned padlocks. Always have bins or luggage you can lock. Though conventions and big events can be fun, there is always the looming risk of theft. Some places will allow you to put your totes under your table to hide them, but it’s usually best to pack and unpack if your goods are in a small batch. This means if you aren’t erecting large racks for clothing or shelving for products, pack, haul with you, and unpack.

This can be extra to some, but it is better than investing x-amount of money into your goods, merch, products, and having them swiped on you. Sadly, it happens. Desperate people will do desperate things when wanting to make a quick buck.


Bring helpers if you can. Sometimes you just must do things for yourself, it can be hard, but all of us have done the lonesome walk of working without help. I recommend bringing someone or more to help. I have a bad back that has flare-ups from time to time, so I always bring someone with me just in case I cannot lift something on my own (totes of books are super heavy).


This is also helpful in that more eyes can see more things going on. If you’re occupied at one end of your table, you may not see someone waiting at the edge. More people can help with customer service.
Helpers can also bring the risk of theft lower. Someone will be less likely to steal from you if there are too many people in their way or could see them doing things.

Table Kits
I do not know if any other author does ‘table kits’, but I do. A table kit is basically everything I’m going to use on my table at an event. From the labels to the standing displays advertising my being there. I research one tote as a ‘table kit’, bag, or tote devoted to electrical and extras I may need, and however many I need for books. I also will have luggage for clothing, hotel must-haves, like my favorite coffee or toiletries.


Whether you’re using sticky labels or displays with prices, I recommend labeling all. It will help them, the guest, look if you’re busy. Small displays explaining things like a book genre are very helpful to a customer that may want a quick glance. Have thrillers? A guest may like comedy and seeing a thriller label will help them tell if you’re a writer that they may want to invest in. Also, good also to have something dedicated to your social media if it is not on bigger staples like standing author banners.

Petty Cash
For those paying in cash, it’s best to have a safe place to put your income and for any change to exchange. I suggest a minimum of twenty or thirty. Your lockbox should always remain on you or a helper.


If you want more advice, or have questions, just comment. I don’t know how to help you if you don’t ask!

The Word: Top 15 Fears Writers Have

Every day writers face fears. Not from the storylines, they’re writing, though I’m sure are, the fears I’m talking about are fears of a different kind. Every writer whether well-known or just getting started have fears. These fears are rooted in the unknown and self-doubt often. In today’s article, we’ll address the top fifteen fears that are most common in the industry.

  • Not selling books
  • Readers not enjoying the work
  • Missing deadlines
  • Not finding the time to write
  • Receiving poor reviews
  • Forgetting to back-up their work
  • Lack of recognition
  • Writer’s block
  • Conveying story correctly
  • Rejection letters
  • Ideas stolen
  • Work is pirated
  • Plagiarism
  • The idea has already been done
  • Money to back a project

Now listing the top fifteen fears, how does one address them? Self-doubt is a terrible thing, especially if it goes hand-in-hand with an unwillingness to accept things you cannot change. The things you cannot change and must accept if you want a forward progression in your career are critical reviews, piracy, and not selling books. Readers not enjoying your work walks aside critical reviews, you cannot please everyone. The quicker you accept this the easier it’ll be on you.

Piracy happens. This was a personal hard pill to swallow. Most websites that post books are legitimate and will link to the proper buying locations, but from time to time you’ll find one that has a pdf or digital copy. Websites advertise books in a ‘store’ to pose as a proper book outlet, but it’s a scam to make a profit off of the traffic or illegally distribute work. Most will take down the item if you file a copyright claim, but often it still just won’t matter.

Years back one author came up with a very interesting way to track who was stealing their work. I cannot remember who it was, but the basic idea was watermarking the document. Whoever ended up with the stolen copy either got an incomplete ‘review only edition or a copy that declared it had been stolen if not gotten at x location. I love this idea.

Plagiarism is illegal, but it still happens to this day. You see it in the news authors suing another. Often the one being sued has used a shady ghostwriter. This gives ghostwriting a bad name. It also ruins the reputation of legitimate authors working months on a novel. If you discover your work is stolen or too closely copied, you really must seek legal aid. What also can happen, sad is one coming up with a brilliant idea unaware it’s already been done. It happens, but what you do upon discovering your idea is too close to something else it’s best to work on it more until it’s unique again. Ideas being stolen is sadly a problem too. Brainstorming with a friend is a great way to get the engine going, but there is no doubt it is risky if you don’t know that person very well. You risk your idea being stolen and written quicker than you can do it yourself.

Writers struggle to portray their stories exactly as they imagine them. It is hard for some to take the movie in their head and put it on paper properly. Editors can help in this area, but it is still a frustration before an editor can get ahold of the manuscript.
Rejection letters can bring up harsh feelings of others not liking your work. It’s part of the business and something I addressed in another The Word entry, The Word: A Quick Guide to Getting Signed.

Not selling books and not having the money to back a project can be hard. Not having money is part of why I started out doing everything myself. I freelanced as a graphic artist just to pay for editing, but learning everything else saved me money. I’ve seen the financial struggles that could’ve been and are going on every day with writers. I don’t have any magical money advice. There is no way to just get things done for free. Nothing is truly free.

I know that some work with a bartering system. Since networking is vital anyway an exchange of talent happens. For example: if a writer can edit very well, but cannot create a book cover they may find help from someone who can do the cover for some editing help. Even if you can back a project, it doesn’t guarantee the book will sell, most often that boils down to the marketing. Can’t sell books if you don’t reach the audience.

Money can be the primary motivation for many to write. I advise against it. If you’re in this business only for the money, you’ll become frustrated quickly when the money doesn’t come. No one gets famous instantly. No one makes money out the gate. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. A lot of work has to go into it before the money is ever seen.

Not finding time to work is everyone’s struggle. This leads to missing deadlines in most cases. A word here or there, a paragraph at lunch, or even scribbling on a napkin. If you can find even the smallest minute, you can progress the story even if it’s at a slow pace. This is also a fix for writer’s block, but it doesn’t always work and not for everyone.

Recognition comes in time. I was recognized as a graphic designer before I was ever known for writing. Sometimes your known for one thing and not another. All I can say is keep at it. It’ll change.

Have you ever faced some situations before? Have you discovered your own solutions to the above issues? Let’s talk about it.

I’m Answering Common and Uncommon Interview Questions Part Two

How do you handle literary criticism?

I understand its part of the entire industry. I’ve seen it come in several forms like from the editors of my work to even unsolicited reviewers or readers. The only thing that can be done is nod and keep moving forward.

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

It depends. I sometimes have the world before writing, sometimes I write and realize I must flush out the world more. Either way, it happens and must for my characters be able to work within the limitations of the world I’ve created.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Everywhere. I’ve taken a lot of ideas from nightmares and dreams I’ve had. Some element from a show or some element from something has done or said will inspire me even if I’m not needing it. Something just clicks and the wheels turn.

Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?

I listen to rock music, dark cinematic music, southern rock, or dark ambient music. I’ve I’m writing something set at a special time, like the 1980s I’ll listen to the music of that period to help inspire the world building I’m placing my characters.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I have high functioning anxiety, depression, and ptsd. Which all means I will drill myself into the ground, burn out because I’m trying to do to my best, and overly worry about things that shouldn’t be worried about. It’s draining emotionally and mentally.

If you could only have one season, what would it be?

Autumn.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Hmm. Smart, creative, and stubborn.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I’ve never seen it help a writer. Confidence in yourself and your work is beautiful, but letting yourself get a big head isn’t a quality personality trait whether you’re a writer or not. Overly confident actions that become cocky, to me, send a red flag that shows insecurities that the person is trying to overcompensate for to mask themselves in a ‘better light’.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The first work I published I eventually unpublished it. It taught me a lot. I didn’t know much about the industry when I did this work and I learned the proper process to getting things out as an independently published author. Eventually, with all I learned because of this I approached the entire publishing process differently. I think this helped as the books to come have made their way to publishers. It changed the course of my career and perspective entirely.

What Is The Best Part Of What You Do?

Meeting fans and networking. This surprises me as I’m very introverted and a homebody, but it’s like I come alive or wake up almost around others. This side of me comes out I didn’t know was even there. I enjoy greeting fans, readers, others in the industry, and other writers.

The Word: Working While Traveling – Convention Prep Advice, Tips, Item Reminders, and First Timer Help

I’m sure many of you have traveled because you’ve published a book. You must do signings, conventions, and appearances to help push your products to audiences and hopefully gain some new readers at the same time. I have done events in the past, probably more, but the biggest worry I had was how to prepare. What should I have with me? What would I need? How can I make sure I’m as ready as possible.The questions can mount quickly, especially for a someone doing their first event. Here are some tips to help you accomplish an event prep.

Plan Ahead

Before packing I highly recommend making an inventory list of everything that you can mark off as you’re packing. A single convention can take months to prepare for. Buying copies of your book, merch, and everything you’ll need to simply take with you.

Also before you start packing I recommend checking out the hotel’s website. See what they offer you, look closely at the rooms’ pictures on the website to get a good feel for what you may need. I brought my own coffee after finding out the coffee wasn’t very good or strong once.

Know your event’s schedule, what you will have to pay out of pocket for (like parking), and addresses to put into your GPS device.

Be Santa Clause

  • Make a itemized list of everything you’ll be taking, every item of clothing to every tiny piece of merch. You’ll be checking it twice if not three times.

Luggage

  • There’s a saying that the more totes, the bigger the truck, or if there’s a trailer behind a vehicle the bigger the vendor. From what I’ve witness it’s true. The more you have to pack the more you’ll use to haul the luggage and bins around.

Recommended Items to Pack/Don’t Forget

  • Three outfits per day. Some may call this much, but you never know what could happen. Hate to be the person walking around with the breakfast spill on your shirt all day. You’ll need one for event and if you feel like you need to change before dinner it’s best to have something different. Vendors sometimes have dinner together after a day of convention work.
  • Big bins are your best friend.
  • If you’re going to a convention or signing event in another state, the best advice I ever was given was to take no less than 50 of the first in a series with 25 or 30 copies of the rest of the books in the series. 50 copies of every other book you plan on taking with you. You may not sell everything or anything, but the best plan is plan to have more than you need just in case.
  • Take a laptop, its cords, its charger, and anything you need to have that laptop function. Whether its to play a book trailer on it, for someone to shop online for a book you may not have, or for you to use a laptop is key.
  • Bring a power strip. Sometimes you’re only given an outlet near your table, a power strip is the best thing to maximize its usages. Do remember not all places will provide power for your space, but if they do this is a must have.
  • Make sure you have a folding table. Some places will provide a table for you, but most of the time no. Make sure you take your table as a back-up.
  • Remember your ‘swag’ or your merch. Either to sell or to give out.
  • Don’t forget your tablecloth and/or signage. If you have a table cloth to fit the above mentioned table, great! Sometimes you don’t need it, but it’s always to get one. Sometimes the tables, if they supply, are rough and you want to make your spot ideal as possible. Signage is great to tell who you are, what you’re selling, or where they can get freebies! Also a table cloth is real handy in hiding any big blue colorful totes you used to haul your items indoors before the convention or signing began.
  • Bring display cases or book stands! This is option depending on what you want your space to look like. Shelving helps hold many items, especially if you have a lot of things and a small bit of space up front. A table can have books laying down on them, but a stand that’s upright can beautifully showcase your work.
  • Bring your business cards and their holder!
  • Phone and charger.
  • I’ve been told 50-100 petty cash, lock box for your money, a receipt book, and whatever device you need to make online sales through your phone or laptop.
  • Any table decoration you want to liven up your book displays, hold your swag on, and things that draw attention.

It seems like a lot, good because it is. Over time it’ll be routine though. You’ll be alright.


Quick Reminder Tips/Final Advice

What I did before traveling was to pre-pack everything in my tote and bags. This gave me a good idea how much room I was going to need before packing my vehicle. It also allowed me to head out first thing in the morning without worrying. First timers may not have much, I had a single tote once with two suitcases that held my clothing and my important items.

Remember as you’re packing to mark off your itemized inventory list (the thing mentioned earlier before the list here) and don’t get rid of it, pack it too. When you go to pack up to go home you will then have the list of everything you packed and reuse it as a checklist to make sure you pack everything up and nothing is left behind.

My first convention I ended up taking my table, one big blue tote with everything in it, two large bags of clothing (my husband/helper came with me) my laptop, and all my other items. I did an event locally to raise money for a school nearby. Took my tote, table, tablecloth, and all the books and items I had at the time. I also asked other indies to send me some of the swag they give out for free so I could help them spread the word locally.

After the event ended I got some sleep, and then was up again working on a story in the middle of the night ignoring the sounds from the hallway. I was posting on my social media through my laptop since I didn’t have a better phone at the time. As my husband was driving I also caught some more sleep.

Some authors give out candy, I don’t recommend it. I have talked to me that tried this and discovered that people would come up to grab the candy and keep going. It brings people to the table, yes, but not to stay, not to buy, and not to talk for longer than it takes to get themselves a few pieces. I’m sure some would disagree with me on this though.


Worried how to get hold of some of the items mentioned, like swag items? Don’t worry I’ll be doing another post about swag/merch help.

Did this piece help you? Let me know in the comments! I knew this was something I was going to eventually post. I haven’t done many events, but this mainly what I do, advice I’ve been given and practiced, and recommend. Got a piece of advice I forgot?Let me know!

The Word: Writing Can Be Therapy…Truth!

I’ve said it many times before, too much perhaps, how writing began as a therapy for me. I came across a blog post that made many good points toward the subject of writing and therapy. I’ve never hidden that I have been in therapy, I call it mental maintenance, and it was suggested to me and others have shared they were suggested to write as well. It’s an emotional purging.

I began writing in my youth as an attempt to control a world I had no control in. I wrote about famous people liking me and thus those around me would too. I know, it’s almost sad, but I was little and in all honesty, I can’t hide my roots, I’ve chosen to embrace them. It’s where my writing began, my trying to help myself began, and it really did a lot for me at the time that has trickled through even to this day.

Some of our best ideas, as writers, come in those moments as our eyes are drifting and we’re about to fall asleep. BAM! The muse has hit us and we scramble for the nearest writing anything to scribble it down. It can be a bit of dialogue or merely a concept, but it must be written down. We have also felt that horrible gut feeling of forgetting if we haven’t written it down as well.

I’ve written about a purging method (check it out at Horror Tree) toward writing that has helped me. I’ve never been an ‘outliner’ type of writer. I have come to learn that I’m not alone with that when I took the workshop held by James Patterson (read the post here).

My best tips are:

  • Always park a notebook and pen/pencil for emergency muse wallops.
  • Writing can be therapeutic, write down EVERYTHING! You never know what could be used.
  • If you want to organize, keep a notebook separately for your thoughts, dreams, and story ideas. Even though at the moment they may seem different you just can never tell where and when inspiration may come to you. Lots of nightmares have helped me fill in the gaps of plots and stories.
  • Don’t force anything (unless you’re on a deadline then get that shit done!)
  • Keep private thoughts as private as you want if you’re doing it to work out some things in your life. Remember you DON’T have to share anything with anyone, you don’t even have to tell someone if you’re in therapy. Heck, if you don’t want to you don’t have to even publish something if you don’t feel its to the best you can.

The Word: Things to consider before going indie/self-pub

Before Publishing

Before you ever step forward with your finished manuscript there are choices to be made. Are you going to self-publish or submit to a publishing house? What the hell does it mean to be a hybrid? What’s a vanity press? I hope today’s post helps answer some of your questions.

  • Self-publish: Self-publishing means you’re putting up the funds to pay for the work required before publishing and ultimately publishing yourself.
  • Independent-publish/small publisher: Being ‘indie’ means you’re publishing through an independent publisher. An independent publisher will usually publish your book if they think it’s good enough, fits under their umbrella of genre(s) they publish, or if you’ve published before with them. (This can vary greatly publisher to publisher so don’t go saying I gave a definite in for you because it won’t work). They are not associated with the ‘top five’ or the bigger publishers, for example, Random House. They will help fund some of the cost or even all of it depending, but you may be asked to carry some of the weight if you want something special, for example hiring that one artist that does cover work you love so much.
  • Hybrid: A hybrid is someone who is publishing both ways. You can do this and it’s common for many authors to be this, having titles with publishers and titles they’ve self-published. It’s not a bad thing.
  • Vanity Press: These are where many want-to-be published fall victim. I’ve seen it many times. Vanity Press prey on the naivety of those new coming to the industry. They’re also referred to as ‘pay to publish’ because that’s how they work. You will fork up a bunch of money to ‘be published’ when the reality is a publisher, that’s legit, will be investing in you and your work, not the other way around. I really hate this kind of publisher cause in no way should it be considered a legit or viable way to be published. It’s a big ol’ scam.

Things to consider or remember:

  • To agent or not to agent? Many that want to go the route of ‘the top 5’ need an agent. Agent inquiries really are the only way to be considered for a bigger publisher. Smaller or independent publishers don’t require this, just keep your eyes peeled for when submissions open up on their websites or social media.
  • Indie or self remember: You’re going to always have to be promoting your work. Some small publishers will help and some will not. Shouldn’t matter if they are or aren’t you should be out there nevertheless. If you aren’t doing it how can you ever expect anyone else to do it for you?
  • Believe in your work: You’ve put all the work into it so far, belief in yourself and what you’ve created will reflect in how you talk about your work, your projects, and people will want to check out what’s to be believed in.

Did any of this help you? What has? Share your story in the comments!