“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.” - Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Whether you grew up with a book always in tow or you only recently fell in love with reading, we can all agree that books are an important part of learning, dreaming, and doing. Why is it, then, that picking up a book can be so difficult? How many times have you claimed to be an avid reader, but when someone asks what you’re currently in the middle of, you blush and say, “Oh I haven’t had much time for it recently, what with work and...” Yet that night you watch the seconds count down till the next episode begins or scroll down your newsfeed for the hundredth time. Perhaps we shy away from a book and reach for the remote - or phone or computer - due to the emotional commitment that is required when reading something.
Whatever it is, it’s time to take back the reins and commit to reading. Commit to the books on your shelf waiting to be dusted off. Commit to the titles you’ve yet to discover. Commit to the authors you consider yourself to be a fan of, but have only read half of one of their books. Commit to your claim to be a lifelong reader.
Here are 20 commitments I’m making. Why not make your own manifesto of sorts?
1. I will make reading a part of my daily habits. I will make time for it like I do for showering and walking the dog.
2. I will find a new author that speaks directly to me, and I will read everything they have written.
3. I will research what and who my favorite authors read and read them, as well.
4. I will always have something to read with me. Whether that’s a book, a reading app, a newspaper, or an online journal bookmarked as my home page.
5. I will read aloud to someone I love.
6. I will give each book a chance.
7. I will not waste my time on a book that I don’t like after said chance has been given.
8. I will not bash a book that I don’t like if someone else is giving it a try.
9. I will open a book. I will close my computer. I will silence my phone.
10. I will set a book on top of my TV remote, so that the decision is intentional, rather than habitual.
11. I will re-read favorite books as easily as I re-watch favorite movies.
12. I will read anything that interests me: Novels, poetry, genre fiction, self-help, old letters, memoirs, etc.
13. I will buy books by local authors at local bookstores.
14. I will not loan out my most adored books. I will buy a copy for the friend who is asking for it.
15. I will ask people I know and people I don’t know what they are reading. I will write down the titles and authors and actually look them up.
16. I will go to the library and pick a book, merely, by its cover.
17. I will always have another book at the ready when I near the end of my current read.
18. I will listen to an audio version of a book I have already read, just to see how different it feels.
19. I will read with a pen. I will mark sections that move me. I will underline words that grip me.
20. I will write down my favorite passages, just to experience how the words feel as they are written.
Inspired by Austin Kleon’s https://medium.com/show-your-work/33-thoughts-on-reading-9fa9dd2be07c
Are you an avid journaler? If not, here are five reasons why you should keep a journal:
- Journaling helps you document not only the general events of your life, but the mundane routines of today, which may be easily forgotten or missed tomorrow.
- A journal is a safe and secure place for you to vent and sort through your emotions and ideas. Talking to friends and family is great, but sometimes it is best to run your words through the test of pen-and-paper first.
- The practice of journaling helps you get to know yourself. In the same way that reading about a character in a book helps you to understand him or her, writing about yourself and the people around you will encourage deeper insight.
- Although a journal is a private place for your thoughts, it creates a timeline of your life that has the potential to be shared with others, whether directly or indirectly.
- You make up the rules. While some writers have found that it can interfere with their professional writing, you can devote as much, or as little, time as you want to the routine. Additionally, there are many ways to bring technique and style into the practice of journaling, which will strengthen your voice and tone as a writer in both your leisure and professional writing.
Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.
- Robin S. Sharma
If you keep already keep a journal, here’s a challenge to add to your writing routine: while recording the broad happenings of your day, try focusing on the details. After all, a story without details means nothing. Let the details of your life become the source of inspiration for your fiction or creative nonfiction. (link to “Using Real Life To Be Relatable)
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”
“These handwritten words in the pages of my journal confirm that from an early age I have experienced each encounter in my life twice: once in the world, and once again on the page.”
“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.”
So many times an author writes a great book and believes, wholeheartedly, it will sell off the shelves and help thousands of people. While many of them do sell, great success is rarely seen without enormous effort. Although, writing, editing, and publishing a book takes determination, the work doesn’t stop when the product is in your hands. Don’t let your book fizzle-out before it has the opportunity to catch ablaze.
Joel Osteen once said, "You cannot expect victory and plan for defeat." But what does that mean? How does an author "plan for defeat”? One of the biggest ways is by failing to have a marketing plan in place.
Social media marketing is an extremely powerful way to find followers, create relationships, and consequently, create book sales. If you don’t have your own Twitter account or a Facebook page for your book, start there. When marketing on social media platforms, it is important to be sure you are not just trying to create a financial transaction. Nowadays, people don't like to be beat over the head with sales. They want a relationship. They want to know, "What's in it for me?" So encourage them, teach them, and let them know you're the expert in your field. Post quotes from your book, retweet encouraging information, links to helpful articles or videos on your topic, tell a short but funny story, research what other authors of similar books are doing and determine the pros and cons. The options are endless! When it comes to social media, engagement is imperative. Every time you comment on someone else’s posts or tweets, you are going to pop up on that person’s followers’ feeds and pages. When applicable, make sure to tastefully place your book link at the end.
To quote Tom Althouse, "If you feel like giving up, give up on that feeling and give into the realization there are endless possibilities waiting to be discovered before you." This may be your feeling on marketing, but try to think differently. Take on the challenge of learning how to market your book. Research and read about techniques, dive into different strategies, and never be afraid to ask questions. Most importantly, let your enthusiasm for your book carry over into your marketing - expect success and act upon it!
What is partnership publishing and why is it the best option for today’s authors? Partnership publishing is best described as a hybrid between traditional and self-publishing. Many authors are turning their backs on the hoop-jumping processes of traditional publishing and are embracing the collaborative process of partnership publishing. Partnership publishing offers authors many of the same perks of traditional publishing routes, while allowing them to maintain creative control and royalties for their hard work and dedication.
Why shouldn’t you merely run your manuscript through a normal self publisher? The difference with partnership publishing is that your manuscript is treated with great care to ensure a first-rate and professional end-product. Staffed by industry professionals, Certa Publishing is a partner publishing company that provides more than just expertise. It provides authors with personal support and guidance throughout the entire publishing process.
With Certa Publishing, authors pay upfront for the hard costs of production, but what they get in return is so much more! They secure experts in the field, who work not only on publishing the book, but successfully marketing it, as well. This unique model allows authors to pay only for the services they want and need. Whether it is editing the initial manuscript, designing the book cover, printing and distribution, marketing techniques, or social media set-up and maintenance, it is all made available to every author.
Partnership with Certa Publishing offers the benefits of traditional small press’ knowledge and resources, while providing authors with full rights to their book at the end of the process. Partnership means authors are able to focus more of their energy on what they do best – writing.
Constant communication, personal transparency, and long-term commitment are a few of the qualities that set Certa Publishing’s partnership apart. Larger, traditional companies may only push a book for a brief period of time, but for Certa Publishing, partnership means marketing for success. This requires time, repetition, and open communication between publisher and author.
While self-publishing requires grueling attention from the authors, traditional publishing requests too little input, leaving authors feeling as though they’re in the dark. But Certa’s publishing partnership allows for the perfect amount of attention and input, from both author and publisher. This stems from the agreement to become partners, exchange resources, and talents, rather than merely exchanging money and product. It is quite possibly the future of publishing!
Readers yearn to relate to characters. In fact, if a reader cannot find anything relatable about them, a book may end up back on the shelf after a few chapters. While professions and personalities may vary from character to reader, there is a definite human quality that makes a reader believe that a character could actually exist within their world. If not as themselves, then as a friend, co-worker, family member, etc.
If this level of relatability is so important, how can you ensure readers will be able to identify with the stories you write? It's simple! Base your stories on real people, details, and experiences.
Think of your story as a plant. It starts as a seed or—an idea. Your effort is the water necessary for development, and your dedication is the sunlight. Your seed will need to be surrounded by organic details and characters—the soil. Each specific element acts as a nutrient that enables the story to take root and flourish. A story taken from real life will thrive, not only from a literary standpoint, but also within the reader’s imagination.
In order to do this, observe your surroundings, take note of the people you interact with. Be open to new experiences, conversations, and friendships. Here are a few tangible ways to start:
- Brew a pot of tea or coffee and sit down with a grandparent, parent, or someone significantly older than you. Ask them questions about a certain time in their life, such as, where they met their best friend, how they got their job, etc. Regardless of how novel or mundane their answers are overall, they can provide specific details that are hard to make up!
- Pull out your old journals or diaries and flip through the years. Time and maturity can cast a whole new light on your experiences. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can help kick-start a new plot twist or character development.
- Always carry something with you to record your findings. If you’re a pen-and-paper person, carry a small notebook specifically for writing things that capture your interest and inspire creativity. Try not to mix tasks and to-do lists with your details, phrases, and stories. There are a number of apps for your smartphone, as well. Apps such as, Evernote, Dragon Dictation, and DraftPad can be helpful.
- If you have ever told a friend the details of something you were struggling with in life, only for them to stop you and say, “Goodness! This is starting to sound like a movie!” Swallow any embarrassment over your life’s drama, and write it down. Chances are someone else will find it just as riveting.
These are just a few things you can use to develop this valuable habit of gleaning details and characteristics from life and incorporating them within your writing. Documenting traits, personal details, and honest circumstances of people around you, will help you elevate your writing, and consequently your books, to the next level of relatability and influence.