NaNoWriMo Reflections

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 1
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

At the beginning of November, I decided that I would do a type of alternative NaNoWriMo challenge. If you missed it, you can check out the blog post I wrote about it here. Basically, my goal was to finish writing Book 2 of my California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Wedding. However, I was projecting the word count to be between 30,000 and 35,000 (not the usual NaNoWriMo 50,000), and I’d already had a head start–I’d written the first six chapters in October before the birth of our daughter, Xaviana. I figured this “NaNoWriMo for Wimps” would be optimum for me, since I am taking care of Xaviana, and I lost a week of writing time in the beginning of the month when my parents visited. And, of course, there was the Thanksgiving holiday. All of these factors combined to create a pretty abbreviated writing month.

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It turns out that I was right to set this modest goal. By the end of today, I will have completed my first draft of The Mermaid’s Wedding. I only have to finish the last three chapters, and I’ve mapped them out so that all I have to do is actually write them. This will be easy because the momentum is there. The book will be just under 35,000 words. Even though I’m technically finishing my modified NaNoWriMo a day late, I feel great about it!

I know that some of you commented that you liked the idea of the alternative, personalized NaNoWriMo. Writers out there, did you participate in the traditional NaNoWriMo, or are you a fan of my “NaNoWriMo for Wimps” idea? If you took the challenge, did you meet your goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Kindle Unlimited and Indie Authors: A Mixed Bag

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 18
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Earlier this week, Amazon leaked its intentions to start a new program called Kindle Unlimited, which they touted as a kind of Netflix for eBooks. Today, the program has launched. In case you don’t know all the details, the program is available for $9.99 per month to U.S. customers only, and over 600,000 eBooks and 2,000 audiobooks are available to subscribers. The cheap price, combined with the 30-day free trial, makes it a no-brainer for voracious readers. In fact, I just signed up today!

Kindle Unlimited: good or bad? I think that, like most things in life, it's probably a mixture of both.

Kindle Unlimited: good or bad? I think that, like most things in life, it’s probably a mixture of both.

It truly seems that Amazon has a monopoly on eBooks. Here’s an interesting blog post with more facts about Kindle Unlimited, as well as reflections on the monopoly.

But what does this mean for authors, especially indies? Any books enrolled in KDP Select are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. I checked my book listings for confirmation, and found that this had indeed gone into effect this morning. However, authors are not forced into Kindle Unlimited; we have the option of contacting Amazon to remove our book(s) from the listings. Many books from large, traditional publishers are not available on the service, so any authors who decide to yank their books out of the program would be in good company.

Naturally, one wonders how this will affect authors’ royalties and payments. Amazon does a decent job of answering the question, stating that, “Once a customer reads more than 10% of your book, or a Kindle Owners’ Lending Library customer downloads your book, you’ll receive a share of the KDP Select Global Fund.” This, of course, raises the question of exactly how much of this fluctuating global fund we’ll actually be paid, and I suppose that remains to be seen. Here’s an awesome blog post that describes the global fund, and even includes some mathematical calculations.

I am excited to experience Amazon’s new experiment firsthand, and am curious whether Amazon’s algorithm will recommend Kindle Unlimited books more often than others. Although author payment is still a weird, gray area, the increased exposure could be an amazing benefit of the service. I’m also wondering how the availability of the service will affect eBooks’ success in the KDP Select free days. Free days have been invaluable for my books, increasing my readership and driving up sales of my paid books, and I’m hoping that they will still remain lucrative.

Readers and indie authors, what do you think about Kindle Unlimited? I’d love to hear your opinions!

Business, Publishing, and Life Vlog Episode #6: Social Media for Authors in 2014

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 5
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 5, 2014 at 7:48 am

I’m excited to announce that we’ve taken BPL worldwide! Our first-ever international BPL episode took place in London this past weekend with special guest Mabelle Abi Ramia. Mabelle is a social media and marketing guru, and I can’t wait for you to hear her amazing social media tips for authors. Click on the image below to watch the video. Enjoy!

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Writing on Vacay: 5 Tips to Write on the Run

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 2
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

It’s that time again…summer vacation season. As we writers jet-set across the globe (or maybe just road-trip to the next city over), inspiration often strikes. I don’t know about you, but as soon as I come up with a new idea for a book or blog post, I want to get it down right away before the Muse goes out to lunch.

But how do you write when you’ve already got a packed day of sight-seeing, visiting, and–oh yeah–some much-needed R & R? Here are 5 tips for writing on vacay. Follow them, and you’ll write inspired prose on the run. Plus, you won’t feel behind on your writing projects as soon as you’ve unpacked your suitcases. Win-win!

Next time you're flying, do some writing as well! Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Next time you’re flying, do some writing as well! Photo courtesy of Flickr.

  1. Use travel time wisely - If you’re flying, don’t waste the whole flight watching movies or sleeping. Get out your laptop and write a little! The same goes with road-trips; take turns driving, and when you’re not the one behind the wheel, do some journaling or write on your laptop.
  2. Carry an inspiration notebook - They’re little, they’re cute, and they can fit easily into your handbag. No I’m not talking about baby chihuahuas…I’m talking about inspiration notebooks! New story ideas often strike at odd times, and since our senses are so much more acute during travel, we’re likely to be more open-minded and creative than usual. Don’t forget those awesome ideas–write them down right away!
  3. Journal – Journaling about our reflections on the vacation, the places we’ve seen, and the people we meet is a great way to amp up creativity and keep in practice with our writing. You may not have time to journal every day of your vacation–and probably shouldn’t if you’re living it up. But journaling during your downtime just feels amazing!
  4. Talk to locals - This may not be a writing tip, but talking to new people on vacation is the perfect way to learn about new cultures and get ideas for characters in your books.
  5. Try something new. Then write about it. Use your inspiration notebook. Try to write about your new experience in a very descriptive, story-like way, and who knows–it might end up in your new book.

Writers out there, do you write on vacation? What are some of your best tips? I’d love to hear your opinions!

 

Business, Publishing, and Life Vlog Episode #5

by Kristina Ludwig
May 19
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 19, 2014 at 9:55 am

Yesterday, Antonio and I shot a brand-new episode of BPL. This is my favorite episode yet since we have our first-ever special guest, international business expert Edward Layoun!

Edward shares 2 awesome business tips that you’ll want to apply no matter what your chosen field, and one life tip that will inspire you to reach new heights. Edward has great energy, and I hope his tips will jump-start your week! Click here to watch. Enjoy!

Evolution: 5 Ways to Evolve as an Indie Author

by Kristina Ludwig
May 12
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 12, 2014 at 8:30 am

Being a self-published author is hard work. The industry is constantly changing, the author is responsible for his/her own marketing and promotions, and, like an old car, a career as an indie author needs constant maintenance.

I’ve found that one of the most rewarding parts of being an indie author is the fact that our careers are constantly changing, and there’s something new to learn every day. As is the case in many new industries, the field is wide open–to those who have the perseverance and drive to take it!

I’ve realized that the greatest key to success as an indie author is evolution. Just as our careers are constantly evolving, so must we, as writers and people. Here are 4 ways I’ve found to evolve as an indie author.

Evolution is key for a career as a successful indie author! Image courtesy of challenge2.com

Evolution is key for a career as a successful indie author! Image courtesy of challenge2.com

  1. Start a new blog -  Most of us have blogs centered on our expertise as writers, but what else lights up our lives? The more we blog–in different places–the more we build our author platforms, increase our discoverability, and, most importantly, practice our writing skills! Plus, starting a new project makes us more creative. It’s inevitable, with the surge of fresh new ideas. I just started a pregnancy blog, Prego in San Diego. I had an amazing time discovering a new WordPress theme, customizing it, writing my first post, and interacting with all the almost-mommies out there who commented on the blog. If you don’t want to start another blog, guest post on other people’s blogs, and encourage them to do the same on yours.
  2. Expand your services - It’s not enough to write and blog–ask yourself what else you could be doing to help other writers. Maybe it’s starting a YouTube show, or perhaps you’ve always wanted to get into writing coaching. I speak from personal experience on both matters; last month, Antonio and I started a YouTube show called Business, Publishing, and Life, and it’s been a great way to connect with friends and writers. I also joined a collaborative office called Hera Hub, and have connected with several women who are interested in meeting with me to discuss writing and self-publishing–hello, beginnings of writing coaching!
  3. Learn a new skill - There are so many different skills that go into a career as an indie author. Not only must we be awesome writers, we must know social media, business, marketing, editing, and book formatting. Learning any of these skills takes time, but it’s totally worth it. Think of the time and money you could save by doing these tasks yourself. Of course, editing is not something I’d recommend doing by yourself; an editor and/or a group of beta readers is essential. But many of the other skills can be accomplished alone. My latest example of skill building is learning to design an eBook cover. I have artistic background, but zero graphic design experience. To fill in the gaps, I took a cover design course on Udemy. Skillshare also offers a variety of courses. I’m finishing up the course soon, and am planning to design my own cover for my next book, “Amish Scholar: Samuel’s Book.”
  4. Read - One of the best ways to become a better writer is to read more. Read fiction books, non-fiction books about writing or indie publishing, whatever you want. Reading is the perfect way to expand your mind and improve as a writer.
  5. Discover other publishing platforms - I’ve been singularly focused on KDP Select, and love Amazon as a platform for indie authors. However, I realized that it might be time to expand my reach by discovering other platforms. I’ve started researching Google Books and Apple Books, as well as Smashwords. So far, I’m still exclusive to Amazon, but I’m doing my research and, after all, that’s the first step. :)

Indie authors, what do you think are the best ways to evolve? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

“Write” Your Wrongs: 5 Ways to Write Yourself Out of a Corner

by Kristina Ludwig
May 8
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

I’m nearly finished writing Book 3 in the Amish in College series, “Amish Scholar: Samuel’s Book.” This book follows Mercy’s boyfriend Samuel as he attends agriculture and business classes at a local university, in the hopes of finding a solution to save his family’s failing farm. The only problem: both Samuel’s father and Mercy think he should quit college because it’s taking too much time from the farm (his father) and from his free time (Mercy). Samuel struggles to not only find the solution to the farming dilemma, but to balance his love life, his studies, and his work on the farm.

The book was flowing along quite nicely until yesterday, when I wrote a little over half a chapter and then got stuck. Annoyingly enough, the more I tried to get un-stuck, the deeper I sank, as though I’d fallen into writers’ quicksand. Half an hour later, I put Samuel and friends away for the day, working on other projects instead.

Writers' quicksand can be hazardous. Here, I share some tips to get out! Image courtesy of horseandman.com

Writers’ quicksand can be hazardous. Here, I share some tips to get out! Image courtesy of horseandman.com

When I reflected on this later, I realized that my unusual case of writers’ block had occurred because I’d written myself into a corner the previous day. There was literally nowhere to go, so I was stuck on Chapter 26. Ugh.

Luckily, all I needed was some time away from Samuel, a good night’s sleep, and a little distraction, and I was able to write 4 full chapters today, back to back. Woohoo! Based on personal experience here are 5 ways to write yourself out of a corner.

  1. Distance Yourself - It’s great to be close to your characters, but don’t forget what happens when you’re too close–you get smothered! Once I gave myself a little time away from Samuel, I was able to write myself out of the corner and create a few new twists and turns along the way.
  2. Meditate - Sometimes, we write ourselves into corners simply because we haven’t thought enough about what happens next. In moments like these, it pays to turn off the computer and look out the window, or close our eyes and just think. And remember, meditation can happen anywhere–and it frequently occurs in unexpected places, like the shower.
  3. De-clutter - Your book, that is. I had to delete some scenes to keep things more open-ended and effectively set up the next few scenes. Even though no one likes to delete his or her hard work, responsible story decluttering can be the best way to move a story forward. To me, it feels like knocking down a wall in an old house to create an airy, open floor plan, full of possibilities.
  4. Outline - As an organic writer, I usually only outline once per book, right before I begin writing Chapter 1; even that outline is more like a rough synopsis. However, if I’m stuck, I turn to outlines to get my ideas flowing and organized. Remember, you can always deviate from your outline, but at least you’ll be out of the corner.
  5. Sleep on it - Sometimes, all you need to solve a plot problem is a good night’s sleep. Many times, I’ve only been able to write myself out of a corner after a nice long rest and a cup of morning coffee. A fresh start works wonders.

Writers, do you ever write yourself into corners? What’s your best tip to get un-stuck? I’d love to hear your experiences!

 

Business, Publishing, and Life Vlog Episode #4

by Kristina Ludwig
May 5
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 5, 2014 at 10:28 am

It’s that time again… Time for BPL Episode #4. Antonio and I share a business tip with a new perspective on goal-setting to help you get ahead this week. The publishing tip relates to one of my favorite things: blogging. And the life tip is based on a personal experience I had this weekend at the swimming pool, of all places!

Best of all, this episode comes with a very special, life-changing announcement, so be sure to check it out!

BPL Episode #4 comes with a special announcement!

BPL Episode #4 comes with a special announcement!

5 Reasons Why Becoming a Successful Author is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

by Kristina Ludwig
May 1
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 1, 2014 at 10:16 am

If you’re a runner or know someone who is, you’re well aware that we’re in the height of marathon season. We just had the Boston Marathon of course, and it seems like every time I turn around I’m hearing about a different marathon, half-marathon, or 5 K race in my area. Antonio is even planning to run a 5 K with obstacles!

Marathons are not just for runners, though. I think that the writing life is a marathon–we writers have a burning desire to get our work out there, but first we have to train for it, and then work hard every day. And just as unexpected obstacles might pop up when running a marathon on unfamiliar turf, the same thing happens as we discover our voices, move towards publication, build our platforms, and promote our work. So many writers give up their dreams at some step along the way, but persistence is key. A marathon runner is not going to drop out in the middle of the race, and we writers can’t drop out either.

We writers can take some hints from these guys!

Writers can take some hints from these guys! Image courtesy of fansided.com 

 

With that in mind, I’ve devised 5 reasons why succeeding as an author is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy!

  1. It’s a full-time job - Marathon runners train for months so they can crush it in the race. Even if they’re working full-time jobs, they wake up earlier, train in the evening, and do whatever it takes to come out ahead on race day. We writers can take a lesson from this. I worked full-time as a pharmacist, but dreamed of being a writer. So for about a year, I dedicated most of my free time to learning all about self-publishing, taking advanced writing courses, attending conferences, and, of course, practicing my writing! I treated writing as my other full-time job, and soon I was able to make it my only full-time job.
  2. You have to be in for the long haul - Sprints are quick and intense, and runners have to expend maximum energy in a short period of time. But marathons require endurance. A successful career as an author is pretty much the same. Very few authors will write one book and live off its royalties for the rest of their lives. Most of us have to write many books and keep them coming regularly. As soon as we finish one, we have to start writing another. This is not only because of how the creative process works, but also because more books=more discoverability.
  3. It requires discipline - Marathon runners are some of the most disciplined people out there, and they have to be. They must build their strength and endurance to almost superhuman levels, and this can only happen by living a structured life. Writers have to be disciplined, too. It’s very easy in a creative field, especially one in which we’re self-employed and determine our own hours, to just put off writing to go to the beach or go shopping. It’s also easy to get carried away running errands, or even doing something mundane like cleaning the house. But the fact of the matter is, we have to discipline ourselves to put distractions aside and write every day. Which brings me to my next reason…
  4. It’s all about setting goals - When training for a marathon, a runner must set daily and weekly goals: distances covered, running paces, and healthy eating goals. Writers can do the same thing. Weekly writing quotas keep me in line with my bigger goal of releasing one eBook per month. And it’s not only about writing quotas: the goals of successful authors also include ones related to social media and networking, timelines for speaking events, blogging, and platform building. Writing a list of goals for the day or week is one of the best ways to become more productive–and more prolific.
  5. It’s a growing process - Many runners have told me that, when they’re training for and running a marathon, they feel as though they grow not only in strength and endurance, but spiritually and mentally as well. Being an author is a constantly evolving process; we as writers are growing every day as we experience new things, find new inspiration, and hone our craft. And our reward for growing as writers is much the same as the reward for a marathon runner: not only having fans “cheering” for us, but feeling a sense of accomplishment as we grow. The mental and spiritual rewards are rich for us as well.

Writers, have you had similar experiences? Can you think of any more reasons why becoming a successful author is like a marathon? As always, I welcome your feedback!

Business, Publishing, and Life Vlog Episode #3

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 28
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 28, 2014 at 10:08 am

After a brief hiatus, Antonio and I are back with a brand-new Business, Publishing, and Life vlog, BPL Episode #3! We share three motivational tips for success in business, publishing, and life.

Do you prefer working for a large corporation, or have you always wanted to own your own company? Our business tip applies to both kinds of people, so be sure to check it out. In the publishing tip, I reveal my strategy for writing one novella per month. And our life tip will help you feel more centered and productive today, and all week long.

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Are you interested in being a guest on BPL? If so, feel free to comment below or email me at info@kristinaludwig.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts.