Ready to Write and Publish a Book?

This week brings you a wonderful entry by my friend and guest blogger, J.T. Bishop.

I am often told by people when they learn I’m a writer how they’ve always wanted to write a book. How they have a book in them but don’t have the time to write it. Or how they’ve started but never finished. I always encourage them, but few follow through.

As the author of now nineteen books, I used to be one of those people. I’d had numerous false starts and plenty of unfinished work sitting on a file on my laptop, but that nagging feeling never left me. One day back in 2012, I sat and started writing (again), only this time I kept going. When the doubts cropped up, I ignored them. I just wanted to finish. And six months later, I did. Since then, I’ve learned a lot. My journey is not impossible. If you’re one of those people who feels your literary masterpiece is only a few typewritten words away, then this is for you.

My first piece of advice would be to know your goals. Is this just for fun? Do you want to make some money from your book? Do you want to make a career out of writing? If so, do you want to traditionally publish or go indie? Your answers will lead you in various directions and may even affect what you choose to write, so do a little research first.

Once you start to write, don’t stop. This is critical. Don’t overthink the words. Trust your story and trust your gut. You know the tale you want to tell, but all too frequently for most, the inner critic surfaces and tells you how crappy your story is. DON’T BELIEVE IT. Just keep going. Get your butt in the chair and continue typing. When I wrote my first book, I fell into the same trap. Frustrated, I told myself that no one has to see it. If it’s terrible, it will never make the light of day, but at least I could say I finished. And once you finish, you’ll realize it’s not as bad as you think. In fact, it might even be pretty good.

Characters have a mind of their own. They’ll take your story to places you never anticipated, and it can be a little annoying. I like to give them free rein, though, and see where they take me. They rarely disappoint and will usually come up with a better story line than I had planned. Moral? Go with the flow. You might be surprised where it leads. Some of your best stuff won’t show up until you start to write. Once you show the universe you’re serious, it will back you up a hundred percent. Start showing up.

Let go of assumptions. You do you. Once you dive in, you’re going to hear an amazing amount of advice. From craft, to what to write, how fast to write it and how often you should put words to paper. If choose to publish, you’ll learn how often you should publish, what courses will help, how and where to advertise, and that’s just the beginning. It never ends. I used to get hung up on the write every day rule. I finally realized that, for me, it’s not true. I pick up the pen almost every day, but when I’m not feeling it, I take a break. And when I’m in between books, I need a reset. Learn what works for you and trust it.

And once you successfully complete your masterpiece, you’ll soon realize that writing your book is the easy part. Assuming you’re doing this to make some money, this is absolutely true. Once you finish, there’s a myriad of things to accomplish next. Editing, proofing, a book cover and blurb, reviews, a newsletter, social media, budgeting, and marketing are just a few of things you’ll need to embrace. The writing piece is small potatoes compared to this. If you want to make a serious living from your work, you’ll have to become an expert in all of the above (even if you’re traditionally published).

And all of the above is impossible without mindset. This is the big one. If you don’t believe you can write a book, if you continue to come up with reasons why you can’t, then you’re correct. It will never get done. You have to find a way to confront this problem and banish it. There’s nothing special about me, other than I told myself I had a great story and I wanted to write it, and then I got busy. Now I have nineteen books with two more on the way. This is doable. If you’re passionate and determined, nothing will stop you.

There’s lots more I could mention, but this is plenty to start with. Any writer you talk to will have their own suggestions and advice, all of it valuable. If you give this a serious go, I think you’ll find that what you need to know will show up when you need it. The amount of work is eye-opening but also fun. If you’re like me and you love crafting a story, bringing it to the public and helping a reader escape from the real world for a few hours or more a day, then all of the effort is worth it. Especially when you see people enjoying your work. There’s no better feeling.

So, the next time you find yourself saying you could write a book if it weren’t for…add your reasons here, just remember that there’s nothing stopping you other than you. And keep in mind the advice above. Do your homework, make a plan, get started, and let go of the reins. You might be surprised at where it may lead.

J.T. Bishop is an award-winning author who writes mystery thrillers with a supernatural edge. Growing up, she read books by Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, and Dean Koontz, devoured every episode of the X-files, and watched plenty of TV shows with great partnerships that left her wanting more. She loves tangled relationships, unexpected twists and turns, heart-stopping love stories and the complications that come with all the above. Throw in a little supernatural fun and she’s hooked. Her evil plan is to hook you, too.

She’s the author of The Red-Line Trilogy and its sister series, The Fletcher Family Saga, which features touches of urban fantasy, light sci-fi, and paranormal romance. She’s also happily writing mystery thrillers featuring two charismatic detectives who may occasionally encounter a supernatural villain or two, and a crossover series which follows the exploits of a gifted, but troubled, paranormal P.I. and his spunky sister.

All the above keeps her busy, but in her spare time, she loves a good movie, tasty food, an unfortunate sugar addiction, and traveling.

Get caught up with J.T. and her writing adventures at www.jtbishopauthor.com. And while you’re there, get a short story prelude to her first book for free, plus a novella and a few other offerings. You can find her on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/J.-T.-Bishop/e/B00P2O61IE

On Rebuilding and Writing a Book

The five-year anniversary of The Fire passed without much comment a few days ago. If FB hadn’t reminded me with its “on this day” feature, I would have missed it. That’s a good sign. Five years removed from the blaze that ate everything we owned, we’re still standing. Still moving forward. Resilient.

I don’t wish the dire crucible that creates resilience on anyone. But if you are experiencing one—and they can take so many different forms—I can stand as your hope that someday, your upending won’t be all-consuming. That you’ll be defined in different terms other than the daily effort of putting one foot in front of the other on the climb out of disaster.

It seems impossible that five years have passed. The first was a blur as we navigated the changes that encompassed internal feelings, our faith, and general replacing of stuff. The kindness and generosity of friends and family got us through that. You know who you are. Utter strangers stepped in to help in that first year too, even if it was simply sitting us down in the employee lounge with a cup of coffee when we were in the midst of overwhelm.

It restored my faith in humanity. And I started writing. Perhaps first out of a weird survivor’s guilt, that since being saved from death, I needed to make something of my life. Thus compelled, I challenged myself by writing a book, something that utterly terrified me. That’s how “On Rescue Dogs and Losing Everything” came to be.

It was well-received, and I’ve gotten messages that it’s helped folks through their own crises. That feels good. You can order it here: https://www.amazon.com/Rescue-Dogs-Losing-Everything-Uncovering-ebook/dp/B07P1GHW7L

I got to donate a bunch of money to animal rescues and shelters from the proceeds too. That’s ongoing, by the way. The cool thing about writing a book—and the disturbing part of it, too—is that once it’s written, its out there. No turning back.

This past May, I reached a point where I wanted to try on a new career as an author/publisher. Evidentially terrifying myself by doing new things has become a habit. I took a class in YA (Young Adult) writing. Being an inveterate rule-follower, I always feel better after I’ve taken a class in something. Legitimized.

I wrote a YA dark fantasy book, which is my personal reading jam. Other people whose jam is also dark fantasy liked it. So I wrote another in the same world. Then a prequel novella to use as a free book for folks who either read my book or joined my author newsletter that goes out monthly. I’m finishing up the third in the Darkwood series this week. There are at least two more books to go that I’ll finish this year.

Some days it’s torture, but most of the time I love my new job.

 Being an Indy writer/publisher stretched me and continues to do so. I joined groups to help me wrap my head around the craft of putting little black words on white pieces of paper while also doing the jobs of a publisher and publicity person. Actual creation of new words takes about three hours daily to hit my sweet spot of 2,000 good words—that’s about eight pages of book. I write a book in a couple months, with another month for making it better and, you know, grammatically correct with the commas in all the right places. I spend two hours a day learning to get better at the skills I need to be successful. Such as Ads on Amazon and FB. Oy. My head may explode. Implementing the marketing and publicity takes another two or three hours daily. It’s not a little part-time hobby.

For those of you who think that self-publishing is a “lesser” route than going for traditionally published books by one of the big five publishing houses, I hear you. I was secretly in that camp myself until last May. While there are some absolutely terrible self-published books, there are also millions that are great. There are good reasons to self-publish. The income is better, by a lot. You control the look of the book, from the cover to the interior formatting and front and back matter. Getting your book in the hands of readers is in your control.

Traditionally published books (if they take your book, which is a long shot) take between 2-4 years to be published. And they dole the advances out over that time. Can’t feed your family on a $5,000 advance stretched out over 2-4 years. And at the end of all of that, the author is still doing most of the marketing and publicity work themselves unless they are a “biggie” like a John Grisham or a Steven King. There are new folks that make it work, which is fantastic. I’m a voracious reader, and the more books I have to choose from, the happier I am.

Resuming this weekly blog is part of my renewed determination to make a real go of this writing thing. I want it to be the career that gives back to the world. That sounds grandiose, but this is what I know for sure: Books saved my life as a lonely child, and sinking into a good book remains a refuge for me on tough days, or when the world becomes too loud. I’ve got to believe I’m not alone.

My goal is to write forty to sixty excellent books in this next decade.

That’s a solid bookshelf. I’m seeing it in my head right now. The next book in the Darkwood series comes out Thursday March 10th. It’s the 2nd in the Darkwood series but can be read on its own with no issues. You can read it for free on KU, or order it from Amazon in paperback or eBook here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NH45625

So, that’s what The Fire sparked, five years ago. Those themes we see in fiction, of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, or in nature when new growth springs out of a terrible forest fire… they can be real in your life too.

Take a look at my author page. Come join me on the journey. I’d love to have you along.

Just click this https://www.subscribepage.com/m2f4a3 or scan the code below for access to my author page and get the free book that comes with it.