I respect your privacy and will not rent, share or sell your personal information.

Join the Race to 50,000 Words: National Novel Writing Month

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”


If you’ve been putting off writing your novel (or other genre), November is an excellent time to get started because it’s National Novel Writing Month .

Although it began as a national effort for novelists, it is now practiced around the world by fiction and nonfiction writers. This year 400,000 writers in 616 affiliated chapters across six continents are expected to participate. They will gather in coffee shops, libraries, and many other places to encourage each other and reach for the 50,000 word goal, or 1,667 words a day. Some work alone at home, but check in online with their fellow writers.

Started by Chris Baty and 20 of his friends, the first NaNoWriMo actually took place in July 1999 in San Francisco. Described in their history as half literary marathon and half block party, it is celebrating its 16th year.

National Novel Writing Month is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes stories matter. Through their programs, including the Young Writers Program, the Come Write In program, and Camp NaNoWriMo, they empower and encourage vibrant creativity around the world.

Starting November 1st, eager writers gather in coffee shops, homes, cafes, etc. starting right after midnight on Halloween. They hope to keep each other motivated and awake as they race toward the goal of 50,000 words by midnight November 30th.

Most will continue to go to work and carry on their normal lives in between writing sessions, but most see writing as the primary task this month.

To get started, participants set up accounts and log on to report their word count and participate in the forum. It’s on the honor system and completing your goal is your reward. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word mark, just participating is an achievement. Experienced NaNoWriMo writer, RJBlain, gives you the pros and cons here, but will not try to coerce you to join.

What kind of novel (or other genre) can you possibly turn out in a month?

Quantity, not quality is the point. 50,000 words is the goal.

They don’t have to coherent, but many fiction and nonfiction writers use this time to speed up their productivity toward churning out that inescapable crappy first draft. Would-be novelists and even nonfiction writers use the time to prove to themselves that they can complete a piece of work.

Hugh Howey, author of the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series, believes that writers who work well under pressure can turn out good quality manuscripts during NaNoWriMo. Whatever you turn out in November will need editing later. If writing a novel is not your goal and you use the time to write about your past or create poetry instead, he believes the experience can still change your life.

But everyone doesn’t see NaNoWriMo as a good thing.

NaNoWriMo is not for everyone.

Alan Baxter, author of dark speculative fiction, takes a very dark view of this November ritual. He believes it’s unrealistic and a cruel joke on those who expect to have a novel at the end. You can see his full rant here. He announces that he won’t be participating, which is no surprise to me. I don’t think NaNoWriMo was created for professional writers who have already found their niche, pace and audience.

Another writer, David McDonald, admits that keeping up with the demand to finish 50,000 on the same project was grueling, but he did it. He gives tips on how he did it, and is happy for the experience that made him stretch beyond his usual short story length pieces. David is clear that he wouldn’t end with a polished piece. Here’s his take from on the reward for reaching the finish line

“And what of the actual novel? Was it worth it? Again, I have to say yes. The plot outline I had worked out translated pretty well into novel form and I can see that it is worth persevering. Sure, it needs some revising and editing, but the fact remains that the bulk of it is there, instead of in my head like it had been for the fast few years. NaNoWriMo was the kick in the pants I needed to take the next step.”

NaNoWriMo Writers Who Became Published Authors

In case you wonder if any NaNoWriMo writers ever become published authors, the answer is yes. Since 2006, 100 NaNoWriMo novels, such as Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, have been published by traditional publishers. Hundreds more have been published by independent, small press and self-published authors. Many have been published in the authors’ native languages. See a full list of published authors at http://nanowrimo.org/published-wrimos

2014 Brings Exciting Features to Spur You On During NaNoWriMo

  • You don’t have to write alone. Come Write In, a program that offers free resources and support to literacy related spaces, will expand beyond libraries and bookstores. Three hundred and ninety spaces, including cafes and community centers (and even an American style pizza restaurant in Japan), will become local beacons for creative writing through NaNoWriMo.
  • Debbie Millman, president of the design division at Sterling Brands, returns to run “30 Covers, 30 Days”, which challenges designers to create a book cover for a participant’s novel in progress in 24 hours. A celebration of the collaboration between design and writing, this program will inspire authors and provide prints for an Art of NaNoWriMo event

If you aren’t convinced to jump on board yet, maybe you’ll catch the NaNoWriMo fever from this video by Errol Elumir.

What do you think? Is NaNoWriMo an event you could embrace? Have you ever participated? Did you make it to the finish line?


Each year I post an updated version of this article appears on www.coloryourlifepublished.com announcing NaNoWriMo.


Way to make time to write

If you want to go at a slower pace than NaNoWriMo, I’d love to be your travelling companion to make your writing journey a fun trip with a soft landing. Check out my 4-week ecourse “Rockin’ My Book” where you can ease into the writing process with a gentle push, but no pressure. Once you sign up for the course you’ll get a lesson loaded with content and suggested activities in your emailbox each week. As you complete the lessons you may email me with questions and concerns.


It Takes a Village to Self-Publish a Book to Avoid Losing Your Shirt or Your Mind

If you want to self-publish a book without losing your shirt or your mind, you need help.

Self-publishing is not a solo act.

Yes, you may write your rough draft alone in your room or closet for months with only quick breaks to refuel your stomach and sleep.

But to publish a book that stands any chance of being read, much less being profitable, you need to gather others who can help you with the less-glamorous, but essential parts of getting your book to market.

It takes a village to publish a book to avoid losing your shirt or your mind. ←Click to tweet

Who must be in your village and what is the role of each?

1. You

You must be an eager participant not just in the writing, but in the marketing of your book.

There is no “set-it-and-forget-it” in book marketing.  ←Click to tweet

No publicist, agent or company will care about your book more than you do.  Think of yourself as the contractor and the other folks in your village as subcontractors. You will select them and oversee the work they do for you.

2. Publishing coach or accountability partner

A coach or accountability partner plays an important role. You know that you could get your book written without any prodding, but if you’re like most humans you accomplish more when you have someone nudging you along.

You could build muscles and lose weight on your own too. Chances are, however, that you won’t stick to any fitness plan if you don’t have someone tracking and encouraging you on.

A publishing coach serves an even more important function when you are self-publishing.  She will help you evaluate your options in selecting the other members of your village so you aren’t scammed into overpaying for services or being lured into worthless package deals from  unscrupulous companies.

3. Editor

Did you let out a loud sigh of relief when you finished your rough draft? Perhaps you thought the hard part was over. Depending on who to you talk to, that may be true.

But I pity the fool who publishes a book without having a professional editor go through it with a fine-tooth comb.

Without a skilled editor, your book will be screaming “amateur” and will become the victim of ruthless reviews on Amazon and other online retailers. Today’s readers are not very patient with books that are riddled with errors or sound like 5th grade compositions.

Once the editor returns your manuscript you still have work to do, refining and polishing.

James Michener was not kidding when he said,
“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

4. Proofreader

While the editor was digging into content, ensuring flow, structure and consistency of style, the proofreader is looking for mistakes in spelling and grammar that can mar, alter or skew your meaning.

Proofreaders know that they can’t count on spell checkers, so they use many other means.

5. Book cover designer

Since the cover is the first thing prospective buyers see, it plays an important role. The front cover captures attention, and if it garners enough curiosity the reader goes to the back cover where the details convince the reader to plunk down his credit card.

Even though ebooks typically show only a front cover, it is nonetheless important.

Consult your coach,  fellow authors and colleagues to help you find book cover designers who can work with you to create the cover that best represents your book.

6. Interior book/layout designer

Self-publishing a book can be easy, but self-publishing a “professional” book requires skill. Chances are you don’t have all the skills required. That’s why I urge you to gather the experts you need to have in your village.

Up until this stage you may have been working with your manuscript in Microsoft Word.  When getting it properly formatting, Microsoft Word is no longer your friend.

No matter how well polished your manuscript is, you can fall into a big pothole if it is not laid out properly.  While some of the Print on Demand companies may give you instructions on doing this yourself, it’s still possible to make amateur mistakes that will diminish all the work you’ve done up to this point

 7. Printer, Fulfillment and Distribution

Once your book has received the blessings of the first six folks in your village, you’re ready to share it with the world.

Your coach or anyone of the other experts can be helpful in selecting the company that will print your book. Print on demand companies often have an option for getting your book into the hands of buyers. While you may enjoy selling your book at book signings and book release parties, chances are you don’t want to tackle the task of shipping every copy purchased online from popular retailers.

8. Marketing department

Most self-published authors have little experience with marketing.


A word of caution:

Beware of companies selling packages that include all of these services in one. They are too often motivated more by profits than by helping you get a professional book.

For newcomers to publishing, gathering your village will seem like a daunting task. You can count on your coach and groups of self-publishers and independent publishers to steer you toward the ethical and affordable experts. Local, national, and online groups are dedicated to helping you succeed with your book writing, publishing and marketing goals. A few of them are


If you’re ready to gather your village or learn more about starting your book, I’ll be happy to be your traveling companion. Here are your coaching options.




Get Dan Poynter’s New Book on Writing, Free July 13 and 14–Hurry!

“Forget what you heard about book writing, publishing and promoting; the model just changed–for the better! Now you may print shorter runs at prices that make sense, publish your “books” in other (electronic) ways, sell them automatically and promote them for practically nothing. You will discover how to wring maximum value out of your work. This is an exciting time to be a writer.”

This is how Dan Poynter begins Writing Your Book: Cashing in on Publishing, Faster, Easier, & Cheaper, his 54-page ebook loaded with tips, steps and advice based on decades of experience and success. This Kindle version is free today, July 13 through July 14 until midnight.

You do not have to own a Kindle in order to take advantage of this. Amazon makes Kindle reader apps available free for your computer or mobile devices. Grab yours at Kindle Reader.

Dan is the authority on self-publishing and author of 130 books.

Always keeping up with changing technology, Dan admits that he is testing Kindle Direct Publishing Select Freebie Day. He says,

You can help me gain experience, figures, and even some money, by downloading this free book on writing books.
The above is the pitch I am testing.

He begins his book stressing the importance of researching your topic for comparable books, readers’ reviews to ensure that there is a market for your book. From there, he goes on to tell you how to

  • Build your book using the world’s largest library that’s on your desk, the Web.
  • Get your book professionally edited and reviewed
  • Register your copyright
  • Properly use quotations and other information from others
  • Create and publish ebooks as well as print books
  • Convert and post your ebook
  • Collaborate with a colleague, editor or ghostwriter
  • Package, publish and promoting your book

The greatest benefit of Dan’s book is learning that you don’t have to choose between self-publishing and traditional publishing or ebooks v.s. print books. You can do all of these if you wish. He tells you how to do so profitably.

Any time Friday or Saturday, log on to
Get Free Book
or Copy\Paste:


How to Get Your Book Published: A Video from Danny Iny

You’ve already heard many times that 4 out of 5 people want to write a book, but that sadly many of them won’t.

It has very little to do with talent, skills or even time. You’ve already discovered that you make time in your life for the things about which you are passionate.

So, what is the problem. Why are people still not getting their books written and published?

Fear, lack of confidence and uncertainty are the culprits.

One of the best ways to get around these problems in addition to developing a positive mindset, is to listen to and hang out with folks who have already published a book and are willing to share techniques and tips with you.

In addition to what I share on this site, I like to bring in other authors who will share with you.

Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing created over 41 videos to respond to questions from his readers. Here is one about publishing your book. Watch. Learn. Enjoy.

What I Learned About the Kindle Select Program

It’s my pleasure to welcome guest contributor, Tea Silvestre, aka the Word Chef (http://thewordchef.com), as she shares her recent experience with Amazon’s KDP Select program.

Now that my book is published, I’m finding more and more authors expressing opposing sides of the Yay/Nay debate on joining the Kindle Select Program.

My thought is this: if Amazon is THE 100 lb publishing gorilla, why wouldn’t you try it out?

Funny how when you know you’re going to be publishing a book, you start to see relevant thoughts and opinions everywhere.

That’s what happened to me and how I found my way to the Kindle Direct Publishing page and its Select Program

My experience with Kindle Publishing (and their Select program) has been pretty cool.

I reached #57 on Amazon’s list of nonfiction free e-books on my first day.

Not sure that the free day has increased subsequent sales, but that’s okay with me. I really just wanted to get my book into the hands of new people. To get exposure to new prospects.

KDP would work best for folks who have a series of books (where you give away the first in the series, and then folks are prompted to get the next one).

My biggest headache? Formatting the manuscript. And really — it wasn’t a full-blown migraine type of headache. Just the kind of dull sort of ache that happens after a long day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started

  • I used to teach people how to use Microsoft Office software for a living (waaaay back in the day); so even though I’m not intimately familiar with the current version of MS Word, I know the functionalities and what they’re capable of accomplishing.
  • I’m comfortable with technology and don’t freak out when I need to learn something new; this is a state of mind you need to cultivate if you’re going to feel successful in the digital publishing (DIY) world.
  • I know how to use Google to look for answers to my questions. Need to know how to do a particular thing? Google it!

So that’s the place where I started from (technology-wise) in terms of launching this book.

Here are my tips for making your experience just a little bit smoother

  • Read the directions. My honey is constantly teasing me about my habit for not doing this. Yes, I’m a bookworm. Yes, I love to read. Just not directions. Those? I skim those (if at all). In this case, it’s a good idea to read the directions thoroughly before you start. Had I done that, I would’ve known that I needed to save my manuscript not just in html, but in html filtered. Apparently there’s a difference.
  • Zip your final files before you upload them. Html projects create a separate file for things like images. Your html doc needs to be zipped with that folder to keep everything together nice and tight.
  • Format your pages to 3.5″ x 5″ so you can see what your book will look like (roughly) at those dimensions. It helps to see if you need to fix any line breaks. (Then put the margins back before you save and upload them to Kindle.)
  • My best advice? Don’t rely on the Select program as your sole marketing channel. It’s just one tiny piece of your entire book marketing plan. And when my 90-day contract expires, I’ll be adding my book to Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iTunes and Smashwords (not to mention my own website!).

Until then, if you’d like to get my book for free, my last free download day is Wednesday, June 6th (24 hours only).

Bio: Tea (pronouced like Tay’ah) Silvestre is the author of “Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd: How thinking like a Chef can help you build a solid business.”  She’s also the founder of the Tastiest Small Biz Brand Awards and a sought-after marketing consultant and speaker.