Author Topic: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?  (Read 871 times)  

Offline lilag

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Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
« on: October 19, 2020, 11:05:58 am »
I have six finished fiction manuscripts (60k-100k in length) and a great idea for a nonfiction series for which I've written five first drafts. But everything is just sitting in folders on my computer. I have no idea where to go--I'm overwhelmed by the next steps and just plain stuck. I have been for more than a year.

I've spent so many hours reading about how to choose covers, market, advertise, actually publish, run social media pages, etc. But there is so much advice and so much of it conflicting that the more research I do, the more stuck I feel.

My freelance work has slowed a bit during the pandemic shutdowns, and I keep telling myself this is my time to break out on my own and get rolling with projects that I control, but I'm drowning in inaction and too much information.

Can any of you share specific resources, tips, ideas, or even checklists of where to go from here? I have the writing work done (in the case of my fiction manuscripts, and the bones of my nonfiction efforts), but getting them out into the world is proving to be more of a challenge than I expected.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 01:16:22 pm by lilag »

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    Offline jm2019

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #1 on: October 19, 2020, 11:26:26 am »
    Perhaps you're overwhelmed because you're thinking 6 and +. Instead, focus on 1.

    Pick the first book you want out.

    Get a freelance cover
    Write a blurb
    Upload to KDP
    Hit publish

    Keep other distractions out. Your work is ready, and just write a simple task list for that ONE book and focus on getting it out.

    And then, do the same for the rest. Eventually, you can start worrying about everything else. But it seems like you have a starting problem to publish...so get started by breaking the problem to small manageable chunks.

    good luck

    Offline Carol Davis

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #2 on: October 19, 2020, 11:40:48 am »
    I agree with what jm2019 said, a thousand percent.







    Offline Bite the Dusty

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #3 on: October 19, 2020, 12:00:52 pm »
    I relate to this so much. I'm in a similar position, and I'm taking an ad class for books that aren't finished because my mind is split and between the creative and business sides I'm more insecure about the business side. It's a lot, and I'm assuming no matter how much we manage to get right part of it is just going to be learning as we go and if we accept that we'll probably get somewhere faster than if we freely obsess.

    I agree with those above and wish you success taking it step by step!

    Online ShayneRutherford

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #4 on: October 19, 2020, 12:06:56 pm »
    Just seconding what everyone else said. It's that whole 'the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step'.

    Also, if you happen to have a Mac of some sort, I would recommend you pic up Vellum. It makes formatting your books super easy. And even though it's a bit pricey ($250) it should save you quite a bit of money in the not-so-long run, because you've already got six books to format.
             

    Offline lilag

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #5 on: October 19, 2020, 01:19:27 pm »
    Thank you. I probably am overthinking it and getting lost in the weeds. But even if I follow those basic steps, I'll still have to format (which is something I haven't learned to do yet), and shouldn't I have some kind of marketing and social media and/or website in place? Or can that all come later?

    I just have no idea if I'm doing everything in the right order--or what that order should be--to make my work the most profitable it can be. Then again, the way it is now, I'm not making a penny off of my finished work sitting around on my computer.

    Offline ShawnaReads

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #6 on: October 19, 2020, 01:35:37 pm »
    For formatting, if you're talking about e-book, I recommend Vellum. It does require Mac, so if you have a Mac, great. If you don't, see if you can buy one cheap used (I was able to, but I probably got lucky). If neither of those are an option, I've heard about Mac In Cloud, but I haven't used it. There are also people who sell formatting services--everything from by hand for a high price to just putting it through Vellum for you for cheap.

    Like the others said, focus on one book first. It's like cleaning out clutter from a house. It can seem overwhelming, but you have to just take it one box/pile at a time.
    Make a list of the steps that you need to do. No, you don't need to worry about ads yet. You don't need to worry about social media or a website. You can add those later if you want to. A lot of people recommend not even bothering with ads until you've got several books out, so you can put that off until you've got all the books you have ready now published.

    Is the book edited and proofread? If not, do that. If finding an outside editor/proofreader is too expensive or seems too overwhelming, see if you know someone personally with the skills to do it. You can even do it yourself, if that's a skill you have. Try to have at least one other person read it for a final proofreading pass at least, if possible.

    If you focus on the e-book, it's not usually that hard to get a cover. Look for premades. Look on here for the threads of cover designers, go to their websites, and check out their portfolios. The nice thing about premades is you know what you're getting because you can see the (mostly) finished product.

    You can work on print versions if you want later. Some people don't bother with print at all. In fact, a lot of steps are optional. Some people do copyright registrations. You can (I do), but it's optional. Same for buying your own ISBNs. Same for social media/website/newsletter.

    Step one: choose which one of your books you want to publish first.
    Step two: edit/proofread it.
    Step three: go online and find a premade cover that you like, is within your budget, and is genre-appropriate. Buy it.
    Step four: format the e-book. Buy and use Vellum on a Mac if you can. If you can't, look at the other options I mentioned.
    Step five: publish. It's pretty easy to publish on Amazon. There are aggregators like Draft 2 Digital if you don't want to manually do all the rest of them. (Unless you choose to go exclusive with Amazon to be in KU, which makes this step even simpler.)
    Step six: repeat with the next book.

    Get the books out there first. Then you can worry about adding on the optional things to help your books sell.

    Online ShayneRutherford

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #7 on: October 19, 2020, 01:37:56 pm »
    Thank you. I probably am overthinking it and getting lost in the weeds. But even if I follow those basic steps, I'll still have to format (which is something I haven't learned to do yet),

    Vellum. If you have a Mac, there is nothing easier than Vellum. I have a Mac just so I can have Vellum, that's how much I love it.



    and shouldn't I have some kind of marketing and social media and/or website in place? Or can that all come later?

    I just have no idea if I'm doing everything in the right order--or what that order should be--to make my work the most profitable it can be. Then again, the way it is now, I'm not making a penny off of my finished work sitting around on my computer.

    Uh, regarding the right order... You want to edit first, then proofread, then format. At any point in there you can get going on your cover. Premade covers are a good option if you want to keep costs down, because they're plentiful, and usually cheaper than custom work. Make sure the cover is suitable for your genre (you want it to fit into the genre, while also being eye-catching). If you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask. A good cover designer will know the conventions for covers they're designing for, and if they don't, don't use them. If you want to go custom, start looking early, because good cover designers can tend to get booked up a fair bit in advance.

    At minimum you want a website with a newsletter sign-up link on it. And you also want to put the newsletter sign-up link in the back of all your books. Check out Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque. And the Self-Publishing Unboxed books by Patty Jansen.
             

    Offline MorrowWriter

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #8 on: October 19, 2020, 04:15:25 pm »
    Get yourself setup on Amazon KDP (takes 15 to 30 minutes from memory). The "publish" step is probably the easiest part of the whole process. This was the step I was most worried about, but it's really no big deal.

    I don't know how much budget you've set aside for each step, but I would recommend getting a custom cover made. Working with a talented graphic designer is actually a fun process.

    Francis Morrow

    Offline Melisse

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #9 on: October 19, 2020, 05:42:54 pm »
    Nothing is make or break. Nothing horrible is going to happen. Work on realistic expectations. You don't have to have all the ducks perfectly in a line. Publishing a book will teach you valuable skills. If you make a mistake you can fix it. Maybe write a blog, write about aspiring author fears and wishes. Start meeting other authors in your genre, that is where many opportunities come, and where you'll find writers with common interests. My website is cheap though weebly, one I can do myself. You can always upgrade when you have the money and/or time. Self-publishing is fluid.

    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #10 on: October 19, 2020, 06:11:04 pm »
    It took me all day to figure out how to publish my first book.  It's only 20+ pages, but it had color photos and a table of contents I could NOT figure out.  I finally got it up for my dad on Father's Day...and every single book has been MUCH EASIER. 

    You won't know until you try.  Don't let fear keep you from living your dream!  8)

    Author of Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Suspense and Historical Non-Fiction.
    Lavender Lass Books | Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter |YouTube | Pinterest | Instagram

    Online NikOK

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #11 on: October 20, 2020, 05:21:07 am »
    Nothing is make or break. Nothing horrible is going to happen.

    That's really great advice  :D  Things don't necessarily end when you press publish.  It would be amazing to have everything 100% the way you want it before it goes out in the world, but it's not so bad to make changes over time.  Maybe it's more realistic to think about publishing as a step in the process rather than the end of it.

    And, I completely understand where you are coming from.  I always assumed that I'd be writing things and tucking them away in some dark corner of my computer, but after actually getting motivated and putting the first one out there, it's all become much easier.  Publishing your book is a learnable skill, and if you've got the drive to write book after book, then you'll do great.  It took me 9 years to finally hit the publish button, so hopefully it doesn't get you as bad as it did me  :D  It's really not so bad.

    Like everyone has said though, maybe pick one and get a good edit and focus on it.  What's the saying?  How do you eat a hippopotamus?  One bite at a time.  Ha, or something like that.

    Offline kathrynoh

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #12 on: October 20, 2020, 02:49:12 pm »
    For formatting for your first books, use Draft2Digital. Vellum is great but you can do a decent job with Draft2Digitial's free formatting. If you don't know them, they are a distributor to sales sites like Amazon, Kobo etc but the really good thing about them is that you can use their site just for formatting even if you don't use any of their other services.

    And seriously, just jump in and get started. It might seem overwhelming but really, there's no right and wrong. Publish, get data on what works and what doesn't then adjust your plan.

    Online Carol (was Dara)

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #13 on: October 20, 2020, 03:35:07 pm »
    Here's how I would do it:

    Step 1: If all your books are in the same genre, decide what kind of branding you want. Scroll through the bestsellers in your subcategory to get an idea what your audience expects. 

    Step 2: Find an artist whose portfolio is filled with covers in that style (something that suits your brand) and hire them for all 6 covers. If you're buying a premade, talk to them about whether they're willing to do matching covers in the same style for all your books at a discounted price (many will if you're buying multiple covers at once).

    Step 3: Hire a proofreader (or an editor, followed by a proofreader, depending on the condition of your manuscript).

    Step 4: While your artist and proofreader are doing their work, buy Vellum, get MacInCloud (if you don't have a Mac), and spend a weekend watching tutorials and practicing. Since you've got six books and more on the way, it's worth the time and investment to learn formatting.

    Step 5: Once all the above is done, if you have time left over, set up a simple Wordpress website. It can be very basic and doesn't need to take more than an afternoon to create. Ask your cover artist to make a graphic in several sizes that you can use as the header on your website and your future newsletter.

    Step 6: If you have still more time left, create a Facebook account, if you don't already have one, so you can run ads from the account. You don't have to interact on social media, unless you just choose to. You can simply use it to run ads for your new release.

    Step 7: Still have time to kill? Use a service like Mailerlite to set up a newsletter. Again, it can be very basic. Study up on automated welcome sequences to warm up your subscribers and, if you feel like it, participate in promos with other authors to grow your subscriber numbers. 

    That's about it! Only 1-4 sorta need to be done early. The rest can be as you get to it, although it's best not to put them off too long. Good luck!

    Offline jvin248

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #14 on: October 20, 2020, 04:39:11 pm »
    .

    +1 Keep it simple. Some of the advice provided is what you may want to do after you get several books published.

    Choose one book. You could choose a short story you have. Perhaps that is the best way. Even if you write a twenty page story just to experiment with, do that, you can always unpublish later.

    Choose only one place to publish: Amazon. 80% to 90% of book sales go through Amazon. Some authors find bigger success on the other platforms later, other authors have 'gone wide' but found little advantage and a lot of work so they came back to Amazon. So for now focus on just Amazon.

    Are you using MS Word? LibreOffice Writer? You don't need any other program or computer to get started formatting. LibreOffice is free and runs on all major computer OSs, even Windows, and saves as Word files too.
    https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200645680

    Covers can be made in LibreOffice Draw (or whatever MS Office uses, I use LibreOffice) or you can use KDP's cover creator with stock images and fonts. Some use Gimp.org or Photoshop. Some hire out. This first one go as simple as possible.
    https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200965970

    Go through the KDP forms, answer the questions, upload the formatted file, upload the cover.

    Hit that publish button!

    Then when you find the book listed on Amazon, send the link to your friends, get their feedback on anything you can adjust.

    Go back in later and fix whatever they or you found. If you designed a better cover replace it. If you found a graphic designer to make a new cover then replace what you had there. If you found typos in the last chapter, fix those and replace the file.

    Now that you went through the process, you just repeat the steps for your other stories.

    You will have an author profile page on Amazon. Just use that for now.
    Later you can get a custom URL (Netfirms is reasonable) and then get a Wordpress.com free website that you point the URL at. That way if you change where you host your website you just redirect from your Netfirms account to the new location. The caution is that if you get both the URL and website at the same location you become a hostage of that one company. ... But all that is way ahead of what you need to do now.

    Start with the first story or book uploaded.

    .
           

    Online alhawke

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #15 on: October 20, 2020, 05:10:19 pm »
    I have six finished fiction manuscripts (60k-100k in length) and a great idea for a nonfiction series for which I've written five first drafts. But everything is just sitting in folders on my computer. I have no idea where to go--I'm overwhelmed by the next steps and just plain stuck. I have been for more than a year.

    You've learned how to write by writing all those manuscripts. It's probably made you a better writer. Now you have to learn to market your babies.
    Here's what I did when I was in your shoes:

    I read Write, Publish, Repeat by Platt & Truant. This is an enjoyable read that helped guide me into the publishing world.

    I also copied an Indie writer I admired. I studied how they marketed, created covers, a website, copyright page, newsletter. I compared their work with trad published books. Try to pick a writer in a similar genre.

    That's what I did and I like to think I created a great product and author platform. Here's what I didn't do: sell my first book. For the first 6months. Because nobody told me that books don't sell without actively marketing them--or I didn't read enough Kboards, I guess (I do sell books now, btw). My point here is to, hopefully, take away some of your stress. You won't get it all right with the first book. Publish it anyway.

    Just do it. Take the plunge. And welcome! It's a rush.
    « Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 05:13:01 pm by alhawke »


    A.L. Hawke | Author website | Goodreads | BookBub

    Online nightwork

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #16 on: October 20, 2020, 07:51:48 pm »
    Can any of you share specific resources, tips, ideas, or even checklists of where to go from here? I have the writing work done (in the case of my fiction manuscripts, and the bones of my nonfiction efforts), but getting them out into the world is proving to be more of a challenge than I expected.

    you could have all 6 novels formatted for free via D2D's tool in an hour, you don't need vellum or any other software you gotta be sold & learn

    "getting them out into the world" is literally the easiest part of the job

    information gathering is a classic form of procrastination, "more studies are needed before i act"

    magic eight ball says you have anxiety or another issue that causes you to gather an excessive amount of information before you just do it

    ask me how i know

    seriously you don't need more checklists or "resources," you need a xanax or a therapist or a trusted friend to kick you in the...




    « Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 07:53:22 pm by nightwork »

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #17 on: October 21, 2020, 05:16:32 am »
    Choose one of those books and format it, and get it out there. Once you get used to the idea of publishing one of them, it will become easier to take the same step on the next one.

    Offline Guy Riessen

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    Re: Stuck and overwhelmed... any advice to get moving?
    « Reply #18 on: October 21, 2020, 12:41:39 pm »
    For formatting for your first books, use Draft2Digital.

    Best advice ever for formatting. It's free and you'll get a formatted ebook ready to go without having to purchase a mac and vellum--you're already struggling with momentum--dont' add extra mass at this point!!!

    Open another tab in your browser and go to Draft2Digital upload your file and format your first book. Make changes if you want. Try some other layouts if you like. When happy you'll have a mobi file ready to publish on Amazon.

    The folks at Draft2Digital are also very helpful and quick to respond if you have problems

    Good luck!

    Guy Riessen | website

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