Articles tagged "writing"

Writing with Purpose

Here at Lulu we talk daily about how every person has a story to tell. About the role of publishing in knowledge sharing. About the importance of text in education and business. About how critical it is that we as a culture write down and retain the world around us.

We write for a lot of reasons, but one thing we don’t think about as much is just how crucial writing is for us as individuals. The simple act of writing is in and of itself a special release,  whether we write fiction for pleasure, non-fiction for memories, or manuals to share knowledge, writing unburdens us of something stored inside of us. And in doing so, we offer that something up to the world. We give a little piece of ourselves so that others might enjoy it or learn from it.

Recently, we were reminded of this by someone who persevered through a difficult time thanks to writing. Here is his story:

About a year ago a lot of intense things happened in my life, and I fell into deep depression, and it caused a lot of problems for me and my family. I was really struggling to get out of it. I started to journal things each day, but it wasn’t the same. And my wife would say how she missed the “old me” before I got really depressed for about 9 months. I decided to do both, write something to help myself, but also write something to help her see the me that she married, not the depressed me. I spent the next 6-7 months writing a little bit each day, as much as I could even if it was just a paragraph. It helped me crawl out of the hole that I was in, and it gave me something to look forward to. I finally finished my book a couple of weeks ago, about 7 months after starting it. I’m not sure how to classify the book that I wrote, as it is more of a “this is me in every important way”, and I only intend for my wife to read it.

Thanks to you, and everyone supporting you, I was able to accomplish my goal, and just this week my book arrived at my house and I presented it to her. She spent the evening reading it, laughing and crying (good cries), and it really had a profound effect on me and her. And I couldn’t have done it without you.

This kind of story inspires us and reminds us how important offering self-publishing tools can be. We must not lose sight of the therapeutic benefit of writing regularly, of unloading our problems, our joys, and our fears onto the page.

The world of publishing is ever changing, and in this near-constant upheaval, it is easy to lose sight of the things that really matter. This matters.

We’d like to thank this author for sharing their story, and extend our gratitude to them and all of our authors for doing us the honor of choosing our service to print your books.

 

Author: Edie Summers – The Memory of Health

Lulu author Edie Summers has more than a decade of experience in health and wellness. Her book draws from personal experiences to highlight the benefits of mindful living in conjunction with more traditional health care options.

Recently, Lulu sat down with Edie to hear how she approached self-publishing her memoir, and what mattered most to her in finding a company to work with her on this project.

 


Get the Book

The Memory of Health

A memoir and guide to living well. The Memory of Health is a meditation and conversation on well-being. What makes you thrive, even in the face of great odds? What makes you come alive? At the age of 22, Edie developed chronic fatigue after having surgery for a ski accident. While physical therapy was helpful, she had to seek alternative treatment to regain full use of her knee. In the course of seeking answers to her health challenges, she discovered the power of mindful living and became a conscious consumer in her quest for true well-being. Whether you like mainstream, alternative, or integrative medicine as your solution for health and well-being, be conscious of the choices you make, because they matter.

Bring on the Reviews!

Thank you, Internet for connecting all of us, all the time. I can’t make any decision without consulting the web for reviews. Need new tires? Find some affordable options and compare reviews. A new computer? Same. Dinner out? More of the same.

Books are different. I’m not going to pick a handful of books and make a choice based on the reviews. Buying books is more subjective. I actually decide whether or not to consider buying based on reviews. Those little stars can be the difference between trying out a new author, or passing them over for someone I know and trust.

5stars

In this way, getting reviews for your book may well be the most important factor in hooking new readers (a good cover and well crafted description being the other elements). The question becomes: how do I get reviews for my book?

The first thing to do would be to tap resources you have on hand, such as friends, family, coworkers, or fellow writers. These are the folks who are willing to read your book and give reviews initially. It’s a great place to get started, particularly if you have a network of authors and fellow writers who can provide honest feedback.

Remember, not all reviews are going to be glowing. But a specific criticism or suggestion can be more valuable than simple praise. This is self-publishing, so a well crafted critical review could be the impetus to revise the work, in the end landing you an even stronger book!

Once you’ve reached out to your friends, family, and fellow writers for reviews, you might consider sources like Publishers Weekly or Kirkus, who offer paid reviewing services. This is a good way to get a “professional” review, but this may not be the most important element in increasing sales and visibility.

In fact, what might matter the most, are the stars. Invesp is a site dedicated to the commerce of opinion, and they present a nice little info graphic (see below) that highlights how important it is to have stars on those reviews. The main takeaway here is that getting 4+ stars can be as important, if not more important, than having a written review from a paid service like Publisher Weekly. Another crucial point this information brings up is review quantity. Most buyers feel confident with 4 to 6 good reviews. What this means is that you don’t actually need a lot of great reviews to get your book that extra attention. Just a few reviews with 4+ stars can be all it takes to start pulling in new readers!

bookheartEither way, as a self-published author, if you hope to have your worked noticed and picked up by new readers, you’ll want as many stars and reviews as you can get. These reviews are the “word of mouth” you’ll need to help find new readers and get them excited for your book.

 

It’s a lot of work, arguably more work than writing the book, but in the highly competitive self-publishing world, getting attention is the cornerstone of growing your book’s readership.

Bonus – Lulu has a section in our Forums called “Shameless Promotion” for, well, shamelessly promoting your book. It’s a great way to get the attention of the Lulu community and test the waters for reviews.

The importance of online customer reviews - editable

 

Infographic by- Invesp

Additional Resources:

Need Some Help Marketing? Ask a Friend

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

Free Access to Author Learning Center

 

The Best Writing and Storytelling Podcasts for Authors

Boost your writing skills with podcasts recommended by Lulu for writing and storytelling.

We’re all book people here at Lulu. We believe in the power of telling stories and our mission is to give everyone the platform to do so. But technology has been as important to other forms of storytelling as it has been to book publishing. Case in point: podcasts.

There are dozens (or hundreds) of podcasts for every subjecg out there, and it’s no different for publishing, storytelling, and writing. If you’re an author with some downtime, you owe it to yourself to download some podcasts and plug in some headphones to make sure you stay at the top of your game.

Here are a few of the best podcasts to help you hone your writing skills and get your storytelling juices flowing.

Authorpreneur Lulu Author PodcastsAuthorpreneur Want to learn about the business of writing books? Whether they’re fiction writers or entrepreneurs, Jim Kukral gets tips and tricks from authors on how to make a living being an author in Authorpreneur. For anyone serious about making a living being a writer of any sort – or just for listeners who want to learn how people dedicated to their craft have carved out their niche – Authorpreneur is a valuable resource.

Recommended episode: How Andy Weir Took ‘The Martian” From Blog to BestSeller to Blockbuster Movie (Starring Matt Damon)

The Moth The Moth isn’t necessarily about writing, but it is about something that’s important to all writers: telling stories. Whether you’re writing business books or paranormal romance, it’s important to engage your audience. The Moth showcases some of the best live stories about nearly every topic imaginable, and is a great tool for learning how to tell a compelling story.

Recommended episode: Neil Gaiman – Liverpool Street

Dead Robots Society Podcast Lulu Author TipsThe Dead Robots’ Society As the title implies, The Dead Robots’ Society is a little more irreverent than other writing podcasts, and it could be right up your alley if you want something more lighthearted. Still, the hosts take writing very seriously and have no problem sharing their (sometimes painful) writing experiences. The most recent episode as of this post is “The Horrors of Back Cover Copy” and is a hilarious take on trying to sum up your story in a few hundred words.

Recommended episode: Episode 349 – Kickstarters and Patrons

Helping Writers Become Authors Interested in avoiding common writing mistakes? Having trouble writing compelling character arcs? Not sure how to pitch your novel? Helping Writers Become Authors covers every aspect of the book-writing process that you could ever hope to come across. If you want a comprehensive collection of tips – especially for fiction writers – download Helping Writers Become Authors today.

Recommended episode: Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 32: Boring Opening Lines

Selected Shorts Brought to you by Symphony Space and WNYC, Selected Shorts is a collection of “fiction, sometimes classic, sometimes new, always performed by great actors from stage, screen and television who bring these short stories to life.” It’s a more traditional take on storytelling, as much a stage show as a podcast.

Recommended episode: Cannolis and Carroll

Lulu Podcast Snap JudgementSnap Judgement Sometimes the best way to tell a story is to combine it with other art forms. Snap Judgement features stories told to music and you’re just as likely to be inspired by the story being told as you are by the soundtrack it’s set to. Listening to stories is a very different experience than reading them, and hearing accompanying music brings that auditory engagement to a whole new level. It’ll make you think about how your audience interacts with your own stories.

Recommended episode: Snape #603 – Omen

The Writer Files Every episode of The Writer Files podcast is titled “How [Insert Author Here] Writes.” Could it be simpler than that? From bestselling authors to people who write for business – such as bloggers and copywriters – The Writer Files picks their brains to find out just how they get their work done. Learn about overcoming challenges, nurturing writing best practices, and more from a wide variety of authors.

Recommended episode: Standing Desks, Binge Reading, and James Patterson’s MasterClass

Is your favorite podcast listed here? Have some others that you’d love to share? Or maybe you have a podcast of your own! Let us know in the comments.

 

How to Find a Writing Group

Join a writer's group to share your workWe writers can work anywhere with a horizontal surface on which to rest our laptops or pads of paper. But, the process of turning what we imagine into text is a singularly solitary effort. We know what we want and mean to write. We clearly see it in our mind’s eye. Yet our mind is a tricky place. It tends to fill in the blanks we left on the page resulting in under developed characters and unresolved plot lines.

Joining a writing group is one way to fill in those blanks.  Not only can a group make your writing more of a collegial experience, but a group of like-minded writers can also help you meet your writing goals, work out the kinks in your plot lines, and point out any inconsistencies in your work.

So where do you find these mythical people? Here are a few places to look:

1. Local writing centers and communities

The first place to start is the internet. A quick search using your city name and “Writing Group” will get you started. If you get too many results, include the genre in which you write to narrow down the list. Once you find a promising group, send a message to the group leader or attend a public meeting / class to determine if the group is a good fit for you.

2. Conferences and Retreats

While you are at it, search for any local writing conferences or retreats to attend. Sharing your contact information with other writers at these local gatherings is the best way to make contact with authors who can recommend or introduce you to an existing group.

3. Bulletin boards

Despite living in the digital age, that old school means of finding like-minded people can still be effective. If you are interested in starting a writing group post a notice at your local public library, coffee house, or arts center. You can even post a notice on your city’s Craigslist > Community > Groups section.

4. Writing associations

Professional associations such as Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America have chapters throughout the country. Check their sites for directories to find members in your local area.

Lulu Joining a writing group

5. People you already know

We all have one good book inside of us – or so we would like to think. So, why not build a writing group from your friends and acquaintances. Most of us don’t live among authors and poets, but that’s not the point. The key is establishing a routine for a regular exchange of work. A word of caution may be needed here. Remember, criticism – even constructive criticism hurts. So choose carefully from those friends who will welcome your suggestions – and vice verse.

6. Online critique groups

Multiple online services are available and are often set up as an exchange: you must critique others’ work to have your own critiqued. Though they are often free, you may need to pay for full access or pay for an unlimited number of critiques. Some groups to to check out: Critique Circle, Review Fuse, Scribophile and Ladies Who Critique. One thing to keep in mind is that the readers in each group may or may not be your target audience and may not be a fan of the genre in which you work.

Meetups are a great place to share your writing

7. Meetup.com

This online service connects local people with similar interests ranging from Spanish literature to Scrabble. If there isn’t a writing group in your city, for a small fee you can start your own – or hold virtual meetings and exchange work via email.

8. Social media

Social media is now the most common way to connect with like-minded individuals and to find potential writing group members. Try these to get started: LinkedIn Groups for Writers, Facebook Groups for Writers, Goodreads Writing Groups and Twitter Lists for Writers.

Another options to just put out a call on your own social networks that you’re starting a writing group. You might be surprised who responds!

As you can see, finding a writing group takes time but it is well worth it to have the support, feedback and encouragement a group provides. Are you part of a writing group, or do you have tips of your own on finding people to share your work with? Let us know in the comments!

5 More Apps Every Writer Needs

5 Apps For Every Writer

Your writing time is precious. Last year we gave you five apps that every writer needs to check out. We’re back with five more apps to help you stay organized, stay on track, and make writing that much easier. Or maybe they’ll help make your life easier. Either way, you’ll thank us.

1. Evernote

We’ve talked before about the importance of using the cloud in your writing, and we called out Evernote in particular. Whether you’re using it for writing, note-taking, or research, Evernote is great at pulling everything together. You can save websites for quick reference, snap photos, and even chat with someone if you’re collaborating.

Best of all, Evernote syncs between every device it’s installed on. So type on your phone while you’re on the go and take a quick picture, and it’ll be at you laptop when you get back home. When you don’t have to worry about where you’re writing, it makes it a lot easier to actually get to writing!

Available on Android, iOS, and desktop.

2. Simple Pomodoro

The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 1980s as a time management system, named after the Italian word for “tomato.” The basic idea is that you focus for 25 minutes at a time, punctuated by 3-5 minute breaks.

The good news is that you don’t need a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (after which the method is named), because you can time yourself from your phone or tablet. One of the best is Simple Pomodoro; like the name implies, it’s simple and straightforward. Tap to start the countdown, and when time’s up your break will start automatically count down, too. You’ll be amazed at how your time management improves once you get into a rhythm.

Available on Android.

3. Trello

Sometimes getting things done isn’t the problem – it’s keeping track of everything that gives you a headache! A little management can go a long way in keeping tasks straight. Trello is a project management system, but it works just as well for writers.

At its most basic, Trello works like this: you have boards for big projects, lists for groups or related tasks, and cards for individual tasks. This will let you break up your writing process however you wish: by chapter, by theme, by characters, and so on.  Once you get organized and don’t have to worry about figuring out where you left off, you can get past the planning and onto the writing.

Available on Android, iOS, and browsers.

4. Coffitivity

You have an issue: you have trouble working when things are too quiet, but turning on music or the television distracts you. What you really need is the perfect amount of background noise to keep you grounded. After all, studies have shown that ambient noise can spur creativity. Try Coffitivity as an easy way to keep those creative juices flowing.

Coffitivity lets you use the mild hustle and bustle of a coffee shop to keep you on track. Choose from ‘Morning Murmur,’ ‘Lunchtime Lounge,’ or ‘University Undertones’ and start listening. It’s that easy! Give it a try and see if it helps you get over that bout of writer’s block.

Available on Android, iOS, and web browsers.

5. IF

Ever wish you could automate the little things in your life? IF, the app from IFTTT (If This Then That), lets you connect the other apps in your life to try to make things a little easier.

The way it works is all in the name: “if something happens, then do something else.” You define the “somethings.” For example, if you favorite a tweet, then save it to Evernote. Or if you miss a call, then respond with an automated text. There are tons of supported apps and devices, from Facebook to Fitbit, and crossing even a few things off of your to-do list with automation will save you a lot of time in the end.

Available on Android and iOS.

Have you used any of these apps? What do you think of them? Do you have any favorites of your own that you think help make your life and writing a bit easier? Share your experiences in the comments below!

10 Quotes to Spark Your Writing

10 Quotes to Inspire Authors

Writing can often feel like a solitary endeavor: you sit down at your computer or notepad, take a sip of your coffee, and do your best to shut out the rest of the world as you put words to paper.

But you’re not alone! Some of the most successful authors in history know the struggle you’re going through and have persevered. Check out these quotes to make you smile, think, and get inspired as you get ready to write this weekend.


 

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” – Jane Yolen

 

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

 

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway

 

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” – William Faulkner

 

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” – Stephen King

 

“Don’t be a writer; be writing.” – William Faulkner

 

“Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.” – A. A. Milne

 

“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” – Edgar Rice Burroughs

 

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

 

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherryh


 

Have some of your own favorite quotes on writing? Share them in the comments!

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