Articles tagged "Lulu"

Advice from the Literary Stars: Overcoming Writer’s Block

writers block WomanWe’ve all been there. Sitting at our desk struggling to move our story forward. Sometimes it’s a word that’s just out of reach, a scene you can’t adequately describe, or a transition that is a bit awkward. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t move forward. You are blocked. Fortunately, writer’s block is almost always temporary and all writers experience it at one time or another. So don’t despair. You are in good company.

If that is not enough encouragement to help you through your crisis, perhaps the following words of advice from these literary stars will help.

“Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me. Then I can go on.” — Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

“I encouragwriters block vintagee my students at times like these to get one page of anything written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing — just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day. Then, on bad days and weeks, let things go at that.”— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou

“Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like.” — John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden

Writers Block Hemingway“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it, you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” — Ernest Hemingway

“If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.” — Norman Mailer in The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing

 

writers-block woman 2“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” — Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

“Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that’s just me) as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time.” — Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, American Gods

“I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” — Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

 

10 Tips for Creating the Best Photo Book

Footsie

Sitges, Spain 2014

In the northern hemisphere, summer travel season is almost upon us. We will soon be packing our sunscreen, bathing suits, hiking boots, reading material, and digital devices for our next big adventure. While on vacation, it is great fun to post pictures of our feet on the beach or group shots taken at arm’s length, but footsies and selfies don’t tell the story of our great adventure in the same way as a photo book.

 

With today’s technology, your images, and a little know-how, you can create photo books equal to your experiences.

1) Why make a photo book?

Online photo galleries are convenient, free, and a great way to view your images from anywhere in the world with internet access. These galleries are quickly becoming the electronic equivalent of the box of printed images stored under your bed or on the back shelf of your closet.

Each of these images, whether stored in digital or print format, is a moment in time you experienced. Each snapshot captures and records a bit of your story. Photo books allow you to choose those special moments that when viewed together tell your story – or the story you wish to create.

2) Choose the best book format for your story

On Lulu you can create photo books in both hard and softcover formats in a variety of sizes. When making your choice consider the following:

  • Where will this photo book be displayed – on your coffee table, bookshelf, etc.?
  • Is this photo book for personal use or will you be purchasing lots of copies for friends and family?
  • Is the subject matter of momentous import – does it tell the story of your life, your child’s milestones, the vacation of a lifetime?

The story you are telling will help determine the proper format for your book.

Keywest

Key West, Florida 2015

3) Tell your story with photos

The best photo books have a cohesive theme and tell a story. They are not just a collection of your very best photographs. Think about the story you wish this book to tell and select images that tell that story. This is not to say that you can’t include those beautiful sunsets, landscapes, and pictures of lovely buildings, but you should use these as a means to set the stage for your story rather than allowing them to be the star.

4) Select the right images

A well-crafted story requires atmosphere, character development, and a tight plot. The same applies to your photo book. Careful image selection is the first and often most difficult step of putting together a photo book. Our natural tendency is to include every picture from our latest adventure. When selecting images for your photo book, remember you have a limited number of pages to tell your story and think about how can you tell this story with the images you captured?

5) Include what you want to remember

When sorting through your pictures, you may think, “How silly – who would want to look at a picture of ___?” If the answer is “I would,” that’s reason enough to include it in your photo book. We all want to make an interesting and beautiful keepsake from our experiences, but in the end, these are your memories and this is your book. Make it yours by including images of the moments you don’t want to forget.

6) Image order – Telling the story

Once you have selected the images that best tell your story or tell it the way you want it told, start putting them in order. Consider the flow of the narrative provided by the pictures. Avoid grouping all the landscapes, buildings, and food shots together on a page. Instead, use these images as filler to provide atmosphere to your story.

One way to present your story is to create your photo book in a linear fashion (“On the first day we did this. On the second day…”). Another option is to place complimentary images on adjacent pages or in a collage of similarly themed pictures such as food, shopping, or selfies. Remember, it’s your story, how do you want to tell it?

7) Presentation is everything

Once you have selected your photos think about how they are going to appear on the page. The Lulu photo book wizard provides a variety of book themes and page layouts. Choose a theme befitting the story you are telling, then have a look at the available page layouts. Themes and layouts help you to further organize and more effectively present your images. Depending on the book size and selected theme, page layouts will include full-page images for your best photos, as well as pages with two, four, six or eight frames for grouping similar shots.

8) Is your picture worth a thousand words?

Text and image captions are not required, but they can add useful details to your photo book. Include information like the date, place, name, or event if it is not readily apparent from your image. When adding text to your photo book, use the same font throughout to provide cohesiveness and place text so that it compliments your images rather than overwhelming them. Text should serve as a prompt to help you tell the story and recall the details.

9) What about the cover?

There are several cover designs to choose from in the Lulu photo book wizard. You can choose to insert a picture into a frame or select a cover that is created entirely from your image.

Regardless of the cover format you select, the image you place on the cover of your photo book should capture the feeling of the book as a whole. It can be an image included in the book or an image you select specifically for the cover. The image should be high quality and immediately identifiable with the book’s story. For example, a wedding album cover should include a picture of the happy couple, a travel album cover may include an iconic picture from the destination, and or course a baby book would include a picture of the baby on its cover.

Scrapbook supplies

Photo Books: No supplies needed

10) Keepsake albums

Like the scrapbooks of yore, today’s photo books allow you to capture, organize and present your digital memories. Instead of paper, tape and glue, you choose a theme, upload your pictures, then drag and drop them onto the page. The best part of creating a digital album is that you can experiment with different themes and page layouts until you have a photo book that’s perfect for you. A bound photo book printed on high quality photo paper is a much better way to tell the stories of your life than either that forgotten box of prints or those electronic photo galleries.

10 Things You Want to Know About Self-Publishing

The author of this article, Laura Shabott, and I were panelists at last year’s Self-Publishing Book Expo in New York City where we discussed and answered questions about book formats and formatting. Her advice is thoughtful and her tell-it-like-it-is approach is both refreshing and informative.

We all know this is a golden age for writing and publishing. Counterpoint?  The competition has never been more ferocious. With over 5,000 new book releases everyday on Amazon, today’s self-publishing author needs to be shrewd, savvy and prepared. Here are ten empowering things you need to know before entering the playing field.

1) You may write for yourself, but you publish for a defined audience.

Writing is all about you. Publishing is not. It’s about them, your future readers. Who are these people? If your quick answer is, “Well, it’s anyone who can read,” stop right there. Listen to me. You need to know who is going to read your book. Is it a professional network, your yoga students or your blog followers? Will you go to every bookstore within a hundred miles of your home and ask them to carry your book? Will you bite the bullet and plunk down 10,000 dollars for a publicist? Tough, tough question; who is my audience? Answer it and you have a book that sells.

2) Pick a book title that works with Internet algorithms.

Your title is organized by its exact words in search engines. Using the name “Confessions of an eBook Virgin” for my self-publishing guide groups it with “Confessions of a Virgin Sacrifice.” If the focus of your book (yoga, diet, novel, anthology, divorce) isn’t somewhere in your title or subtitle, it will drift aimlessly in the vast oceans of digital content.

3) Editing is EVERYTHING!

People often balk at paying for a seasoned developmental book editor or writing coach, copy editor and proofreader. So WHAT if it costs a couple of grand? Anyone can get a part-time job, but no one can reverse a sloppy book launch.  You, a David against the Goliath marketplace, have a shot at rising to the crème de la crème of books if it’s tight. Use pros to ready your manuscript for market. Skip this part and be relegated to the miles-high heap of self-published typo-filled slush.

4) Choose the formats that work for your readers.

My readers? Every last one wants a book in the hand; digital natives, baby boomers, artists, writers and actors all want that. Once I produced a paperback edition of “Confessions,” sales took off at speaking engagements and local stores. This is ironic, since the book is about publishing eBooks. But, hey, audience is King. Give them what they want.

5) Manage your time wisely.

I manage my 168 hours a week like a dragon guarding a priceless treasure. If I am going have to be my own writer/designer/producer/promoter and financier, the case for any self-publisher, I need to get the most out of every minute – and so do you.

6) Don’t rush the publication of your book.

“Oh, I don’t have to line up 25 to 100 post-launch online reviewers,” thinks the new author/publisher. Or, “I don’t have to have a blog tour or get a professional review service. People will find my book because I am amazing!” No, they won’t and you will cry bitter tears of anguish.

You have to have a marketing plan. The checklist in the back of my book is a good place to start.

7) Beware heat-seeking sharks in the water.

Do your research before hiring or trusting anyone. Get at least three referrals from people like you when going with a vanity press or any publisher who will have control of your edition. Protect your asset; that book you spent months or years on is your intellectual property. But don’t shy away from a collaborative publishing arrangement with a small or mid-size press, a growing option instead of going it alone.

8) People will say bad things about your book.

Amazon trolls, your neighbors, reviewers and friends will say idiotic things about your book. Unless they are in the writing business, in which case you will think that they are cruel. Lighten up or it will crush you.  If you keep hearing the same thing over and over (I don’t like your protagonist), then it’s a real problem that you, the author, need to fix.

9) Self-publishing gives you total control. Use it.

If, after all this work, there is a fatal flaw in your first effort, yank it. Start over. Put the title back out fixed. That is power. You are the boss of your book and anyone on your team.

10) Go Local

Take a carton of your print-on-demand edition or short run and sell directly. Canvas your own region through library talks, independent bookstores, fairs, flea markets; anywhere you can grow an audience. Going local is organic, affirming and actively engages your community in your work.

 

Takeaway: Self-publishing a good, if not great, book is a rite of passage. The experience can lead to a career in writing more books, providing support services like editing, reviewing or designing – or something totally unexpected!

Laura Shabott

Laura Shabott

Laura Shabott is a Provincetown based writer, a dynamic speaker and an empowering self-publishing consultant. She is the author of Confessions of an eBook Virgin: What Everyone Should Know Before They Publish on the Interneta five star rated primer for anyone curious about online publishing. Go to http://www.laurashabott.com, tweet @laurashabott or email laurashabott@gmail.com.

2015 Writing Resolutions: 7 Tips for Staying on Track

new-years-resolutionsBy now, most people have realized their 2015 resolutions are in serious danger of falling to the wayside. You are not alone. On average, only 8% of New Year’s resolutionists are successful in reaching their proclaimed goals. But, with resolve and a little encouragement, you may count yourself among the determined 8% at year’s end.

Here are seven tips to help get your writing resolutions back on the road to success.

#1 – Define your why

You say you want to lose weight, quit smoking, start / finish writing your novel, devote more time to marketing your book, or find more happiness. But do you know why you want to do those things? Your “why” is your motivation. If you don’t know why, you are more likely to lose your resolve upon encountering the first setback.

#2 – Consider the why-nots

This is the flip side of your whys. As Noah St. Joan explains in his book, The Secret Code of Success, everything you do is caused by your why-tos weighed against your why-not-tos. Your brain is like an infinite weighing machine: It’s always comparing your perceived benefits (why-tos) against the perceived cost (why-not-tos).

Whenever you’re considering an activity — like spending time editing your novel, answering emails, writing press releases, or reading this article — your brain is going, “Why should I do this? How will it benefit me? What’s it going to cost me? I’d rather be watching TV.” Because our brains are always negotiating with us, our why must be a greater motivator than the alternative.

#3 – Enlist the help of friends

The easiest way to fail is to try to do something alone. There are not many examples of people who did great things completely alone. Bill Gates had Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Michael Jordan had his dad. Paul McCartney had John Lennon.

The way to overcome this mistake is simple: tell your friends what you want and why you want it, and ask them to support you in making positive changes.

#4 – Use positive peer pressure

This is the continuation of #3. Ask your friends to tell you when they see you straying from your goal.

Many people will feel uncomfortable about this one, but what they don’t realize is that your friends already know when you are not making an effort; they are just too nice to say anything. That’s why you must give them permission to tell you when you mess up or fall short of what you said you wanted to do. Just resolve to not get mad or be defensive when they tell you.

#5 – Recruit an accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone you communicate with at regular intervals (monthly, once a week, even daily) to check on your progress. The beautiful thing is, you can also be that person’s accountability partner and help THEM make positive changes, too.

#6 – Ask experts for advice

No matter what you’re trying to do – write a poem, sell your book, schedule an interview, be nicer — without a solid plan of action, your good intentions will probably fall short. That’s why it’s good to find other people who have succeeded at the thing you’re trying to do and ask how they did it.

There is always someone who likes to talk about him/herself who will share their experience with you if asked politely. Even if you don’t know anyone personally, there are numerous blogs on all subjects that you can peruse. If you can make use of others’ advice, you can avoid the most common pitfalls thereby increasing your chances of success.

#7 – Don’t set yourself up to fail

This is the worst mistake of all. The truth is, everyone knows how to write a book, quit smoking, or be nicer. Most people simply don’t believe they can do it — either because they’ve tried in the past and failed, or they just don’t believe they’re capable of doing it.

Most importantly, don’t’ give up. It’s still early in the year and there is plenty of time to get your writing and marketing resolutions back on track.

Your friends at Lulu.com

7 Questions to Ask When Converting Your Blog to a Print Book

After writing a teblog to bookchnology blog for a UK-based magazine for about three years and notching up hundreds of blog entries, I approached the magazine editor and suggested this interesting collection of articles was worthy of a book.

He immediately began asking questions, including, “Why on earth might anyone be interested in a series of blog posts collected together into a book?” He was also concerned about the complexities of publishing, but having already published with Lulu, I knew this was the least of our worries – I published the book in 2009.

Can anyone turn his or her blog into a book?

In theory yes, but there are some questions worth considering before you initiate that big WordPress download.

Is there an audience for the book?

You don’t need to do a lot of market research on this. You can publish with Lulu even if you anticipate a limited or specialized audience.

How much effort is required?

If you are doing this because you want to see your name on the spine of a book, you should consider that selecting your best posts and formatting them for the printed page will be quite a bit of work.

Will your blog work as a book?

The blog I converted to book format was mainly journalism and commentary, so I could easily imagine it on the printed page. On the other hand, turning your years of Tumblr posts into a book may be a futile exercise – and may even infringe copyright unless you personally own every image you shared. Remember, your posts may work well in the context of a blog where you might feature video clips, Instagram photos and other media that looks great when viewed on an iPad, but is not going to translate to the printed page.

Are the blog posts relevant now and in the future?

Blog content almost always features a date-stamp, which can translate to book content in an epistolary format – dated blogs in sequence – but there is an important time distinction between blogs and books.

Blogs are written and published in the now, usually referencing the exact time they were written. As time goes on, new posts may update or supersede earlier ones. As such, some of your blog entries will be completely unsuitable for use in a book because they are comments on a moment, rather than less time-bound thoughts or comments.

A book needs to be planned with a much longer shelf life than an individual blog post. When you publish a book, it is published at a moment in time and cannot be quickly updated except through new editions. In general, book content needs to be planned so that it will not become quickly dated.

Will the structure of my blog translate to a book?

It is worth viewing your blog in the round. You may have a hundred thousand words of great content, but you may end up stripping away half of that content to preserve your best posts. It is worth thinking about whether you want a literal version of your blogs in book format or whether you can do more with the text when planning how it might be read on the page. For example, you may be able to connect several blogs together and present them as longer essays.

Why should I do it?

If you are already blogging then you are a writer. Many writers have used short publications that were eventually collected together into a longer book format – The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens is one of the most famous examples. In fact, there is little to distinguish the way Dickens wrote then from a blogger today who releases short articles then collects them together into a longer book.

Posterity is as good a reason as any to take a close look at your blog to see if it might be worth publishing as a book. Even if your blog posts are individual and cannot be collected together into a coherent story, there may still be value in collecting them together. In my case, my articles from 2006-2009 that went into my “book-of-the-blog” have now been deleted from the magazine website. Now my book is the only place where they continue to live!

Mark Hillary

Author BIO

Mark Hillary is a British author, blogger and advisor on technology and globalization based in São Paulo, Brazil. He is a regular contributor to journals including The Huffington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, and Computer Weekly.

Mark live-blogged the 2010 UK General Election for Reuters. He was an official blogger at the 2012 London Olympics. He was shortlisted as blogger of the year in 2009 and 2011 by Computer Weekly magazine.

Contact Mark: www.markhillary.com (@markhillary)

Mark on Lulu: http://j.mp/lulumarkhillary

Help Us Say #NOMORE to Domestic Violence

We’re joining the effort to make this Sunday’s big game about more than just football. To raise awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence, we’re donating a portion of all our profits through Monday to InterAct, our local nonprofit agency that provides safety and support to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We’re setting out to raise $20,000 and you can help us get there!

We’ve been inspired by the recent efforts of the Joyful Heart Foundation’s NO MORE campaign and an existing relationship with InterAct— and we hope to leverage a growing national conversation into greater local awareness and promote the stories of independent authors who have survived and written about their experiences of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

With as little as 25% of domestic abuse and 32% of sexual assaults reported in the U.S., encouraging open dialogue and embracing the voices of victims and survivors is crucial to bringing about positive change. Lulu.com is privileged to serve as a platform for courageous independent voices and hopes to transform the energy around Sunday’s big game into positive action off the field.

To discover brave and powerful voices speaking out about domestic violence and sexual assault around the world, visit Lulu.com.

You can help say #NOMORE to domestic abuse when you get a print book through Monday, February 2 with code NOMORE. Be sure to share the deal with your friends so we can reach our goal donation.

Grab a book to help say NO MORE

Thank you for your support!

A Little Thursday Fun!

meme-january