Writing Craft

Eliminating blank page guilt – part 1

By: Ginger | Posted on July 23, 2021

The writing process is more than simply typing words onto a paper and coming up with a masterpiece. Well, unless you happen to have infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters… but for those of us that don’t, it’s important to remember that in order to put those words onto the paper in the first place, you first have to think them up. You have to mentally plan your story, breathe life into your characters, design your world – most of which initially takes place inside your head. Many non-authors don’t understand that there is more to writing than physically adding new words to your story, but as Ginger explains below, those other things are just as important.   There have been so many blog posts about the importance of writing every day that we made a conscious decision to chill on those for a while (although I still maintain that writing… Read More >

Can authors use song lyrics in their books?

By: Ginger | Posted on July 2, 2021

Unlike traditionally published authors, self-publishers don’t have the benefit of a design department to create their covers, a marketing department to handle their advertising, or a legal team to tell them what they can and cannot do. Some of these things are easier to manage than others, but usually the legal questions are the thorniest. We’ve actually covered a few of these in the past, at least in broad strokes, but this time we’re drilling in a bit to discuss a more specific question. That is, whether or not an author can use someone else’s song lyrics in their own book. If it’s something you’ve ever considered yourself, it’s vital to understand how to do it properly because if you don’t, even just a dozen of somebody else’s words interspersed within 70,000 of your own could end up really costing you.   Working in self-publishing, it’s often crazy how much… Read More >

Every Word You Write is a Seed

By: Ginger | Posted on April 30, 2021

One thing that prevents a lot of authors from taking that first step at publication is the idea that their publication has to be perfect, and they end up second guessing themselves into never publishing anything at all.  Yet for most authors with a large catalogue of books, there are probably at least one or two (from early in their career) that cause them to cringe a little bit whenever they think of them.  But that’s okay, because no words are ever wasted. Each publication builds on the last and grows you into a better and stronger writer.  Truth is, you never really know which of your stories is going to connect with audiences. Take it from Ginger, who has a great example of how a throwaway erotic parody once netted him 1000 unexpected sales…   If there’s one thing I love to hear, it’s the sound of Book Report… Read More >

Five Characters and Counting: How narrowing your focus can expand your story

By: Ginger | Posted on February 12, 2021

With most fiction, it’s the characters that make a story a success or not. Characters are what people remember, and when you’ve done a good job fleshing them out, you’ll find that your readers can’t get enough of them. They’ll read sequel after sequel, even when the plots are very different, just so that they can revisit the lives of the characters they love and continue to follow them on their journeys. And while it’s fine if your book has a large cast in general, Ginger is here to explain why you need to keep the focus on a much smaller set, and leave the rest as walk-ons, in order to strengthen your overall story.   A couple of months ago, I wrote about having to go back to the drawing board on a novel I’d been working on for nearly six months. I’d written 160,000 words of it –… Read More >

Twelve Tips for Building a Self-Publishing Career

By: Nate | Posted on December 4, 2020

There are many paths to success and if you poll a dozen different successful self-published authors you might get a dozen unique answers on how they got their career going. But you’ll probably also find that regardless of differences in things such as genre or marketing strategies, most (if not all) of those authors also have a lot in common. This is because, at a lower level, there are some core things that are much more essential to success. So if you’re ready to move from occasional author to serious novelist, Nate has put together a list of twelve self-publishing tips that will help you kickstart your own writing career. Tip 1: Do your research. Not just about your favorite niches and not just the bestsellers, though. Watch and read the news. Watch for trends in other media, like television or movies. And definitely don’t be afraid to step outside… Read More >

US Copyright FAQ: Your Questions Answered

By: Nate | Posted on November 20, 2020

A couple of weeks ago we went over the rules around copyright and designers as it pertains to your cover design, but what about when it comes to your actual book?  One of the questions authors often ask is whether they need to copyright their book in order to protect it. Unfortunately, like that last article and pretty much everything else related to self-publishing, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. It really depends on a variety of factors, which is why Nate is back to go over what you need to know.  Howdy, y’all! Let me preface this by saying that while I am pursuing a law degree with certification in intellectual property, I am not a lawyer, and I don’t really ever intend to practice. Nothing in this thread should constitute legal advice, and I would advise everyone to always engage a law professional in your jurisdiction… Read More >

When to throw out your first draft?

By: Ginger | Posted on November 13, 2020

For some authors, the common advice to “throw out your first draft” is the stuff of nightmares, but it should only be that scary if you’re taking it too literally. It’s rarely (if ever) necessary to just toss your book out and forget about it altogether! The point is more about how an author must sometimes be willing to tear their first draft down completely and rebuild it into a better or more marketable book. But the question is, how do you know when that’s needed? In his continuing series on turning your writing dreams into reality, Ginger lays out when and why you may need to go this route.   If you’re serious about becoming a successful self-published author, you have to make some serious decisions about what you’ve already written and published; and sometimes, you’ll have to go right back to the drawing board. Ernest Hemingway warned authors… Read More >

Be a Plotter when it comes to your writing career!

By: Ginger | Posted on October 30, 2020

Just like some authors start a new story not knowing where it’ll lead, many self-published authors approach their writing career ‘by the seat of their pants.’ But is that the best path to success?  In this installment in our series of posts related to turning your writing dream into a reality, Ginger lays out the argument that the truly successful authors approach their future in publishing with the same discipline as they plot out their stories. That is, they plan things out carefully by deciding on a genre, researching it thoroughly, and then commit to delivering books that meet reader expectations.   It’s a well-known concept – the writer as “plotter” or “pantster.” In fact, we’ve written about it a number of times on this blog! A ‘plotter‘ plans out the path of their story, often using something like a ‘beat sheet’ or a story circle. Successful authors who literally… Read More >

How To ‘Support Yourself Through Writing’

By: Ginger | Posted on October 16, 2020

While there are certainly some authors that write and publish occasionally as a hobby, I think it’s safe to say that it’s the dream of most authors to one day quit their evil day job and get down to the business of writing for a living.  In this first in an on-going series of related posts, Ginger will take you through the steps you need to turn that dream into a reality.  He’ll start with goal setting, but future posts will cover topics like budgeting, coming up with your concepts and plotting your novels, right through to publishing, launching and promotion. And with the goal of turning your part-time dream into a full-time reality.   I have a dream. If you’re reading this, I imagine you do, too: To support yourself as a self-published author – so you don’t need to bother with the day job, the hustle, or anything… Read More >

How To Finish Writing Your Book: Just Show Up

By: Ginger | Posted on October 2, 2020

I don’t need any hard data on the topic to know that the number of people that start writing a book far eclipses those that actually finish one.  Most of us probably know at least one person that falls into that category, their unfinished masterpiece collecting dust on their shelf or laying forgotten in a drawer somewhere. In fact, many of us (myself included) were likely IN that category for a long period of time before finally taking writing seriously. But the key to finally getting it done wasn’t anything more complex than simply chipping away at it, and as Ginger points out, the more consistently we can do that, the easier it will eventually become and the more successful and prolific we’ll be.   Here at Hidden Gems, we’ve spoken a lot about how important it is to write every day – and I mean a LOT. We’ve written… Read More >