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Scary Reads For Your Halloween Weekend | Writer’s Relief

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Scary Reads For Your Halloween Weekend | Writer’s Relief

What better way to spend a Halloween Saturday than reading a scary-good book while munching on candy corn? Writer’s Relief found a great list of creepy novels at popsugar.com that you should definitely read with the lights on!

Whether you want to spend the night with vampires, ghosts, or witches—choose your next spine-tingling read here.

 

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Writing

How Writers Can Connect To Create An Effective Emotional Support System | Writer’s Relief

How Writers Can Connect To Create An Effective Emotional Support System | Writer’s Relief

You’ve probably heard this time-worn stereotype: Writers are solitary hermits who spend their days, nights, and weekends hunched over keyboards and shunning social interaction. But even the most introverted author will benefit from human connections and emotional support. At Writer’s Relief, we know it’s important it is to interact with others—even if it’s only virtually! Here are some easy ways to connect with other creative writers to create an effective emotional support system that will help you fight writer’s block and beat the rejection letter blues.

How To Form Connections, Gain Emotional Support, And Make Your Writing Life Easier—And More Fun!

Join a trade group for your genre. Consider joining a national organization for your genre. Some examples are Romance Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Become a member of a local critique group or writing workshop. If you prefer something less formal than a national organization, consider joining—or even starting!—a writing group in your area. Many are meeting online as well, so you’ll still have the opportunity to connect with other writers and get feedback on your writing. You might also consider signing up for an online writing class.

Consider online social network groups for writers. Whether it’s through an established organization for writers or a more casual group like our Writer’s Relief Café on Facebook, getting support and encouragement from other writers online is just as valuable as meeting in person. Just be sure to exercise caution about divulging personal information online—and be careful about where you post your own writing!

Hire a writing coach or developmental editor. Do you have trouble motivating yourself to write or with sticking to a writing schedule? Many writers do! In addition to getting emotional support and writing advice from your peers, consider hiring a writing coach. A writing coach will help you stick to a writing schedule and guide you in solving issues you may be having with your writing.

Find a critique partner or mentor. While joining writing groups and attending conferences can be so helpful, sometimes you need one-on-one help with your writing. Look for a critique partner—someone to email and swap manuscripts with—to help with editing. If you’re looking for expert, knowledgeable guidance, consider a writing mentor. Any author with experience and a good publishing record in your genre could be a great choice!

Get acquainted with the pros. Consider outsourcing the tasks that drain your energy and spirit so that you’ll have more time to simply write and network with other writers! Working with the experts at Writer’s Relief might be the best choice you’ll ever make for your writing career—we’ll format and proofread your work for publication, and do all the time-consuming busywork to create a personalized list of submissions perfectly targeted for your work. Best of all, our experts will always be professional, courteous, and friendly colleagues on your writing journey. Submit to our Review Board today!

Dealing With People Who Just Don’t Get The Pressures Of Being A Writer

Sometimes your friends, family, and coworkers simply can’t grasp the ups and downs of the writing life or why you love it so much. So it’s important to build yourself a community of writers to guide and support you along your writing journey. You’ll be a lot more successful—and have a lot more fun!—if you don’t try to deal with the pressures of writing (and the unavoidable rejections) all by yourself.

 

Question: What writing community connections have you found most helpful?

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Writing

Tweets From The Grave: Authors Speak From Beyond | Writer’s Relief

Tweets From The Grave: Authors Speak From Beyond | Writer’s Relief

It’s the witching hour, and the darkness is suddenly broken by a pale, sickly glow as the sound of incessant tap…tap…tapping echoes through the night. Oh wait—that’s just a writer taking a late-night break and tweeting! As Halloween draws near, the social media sorcerers at Writer’s Relief have wondered: What if long-dead writers could send us tweets from the grave? Here’s what we imagine our favorite authors would reach out from the beyond to tweet about today! (face-with-tears-of-joy emoji)

17 Tweets From The Grave From Our Favorite Authors—Gasp!

Maya Angelou: There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. That, and having an alien burst out of your chest. #BothNotGood

Edgar Allan Poe: Watching my fav football team—Go #RAVENS!

Robert Frost: Thank heaven neither path took me to 2020. #Blessed

Lorraine Hansberry: Never be afraid to sit awhile and think (before tweeting!) #TuesdayThoughts

Charles Dickens: I can’t believe I’ve been #ghosted! That’s three times!

Agatha Christie: Miss Marple is going to have a much harder time catching the murderer with everyone suddenly washing their hands all the time. #NoEvidence

George Orwell: It’s even worse than I thought. They now carry Big Brother around in their pockets! #Not1984

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Nay, let them only see us while we wear the mask in the grocery store. #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan

Emily Dickinson: Because I could not stop for death, he had to call an Uber. #RidesHere

J.D. Salinger: You aren’t just phonies. You’re cellphonies!!! #MondayMood

Jacqueline Susann: Just got a #newbook idea: “Valley of the Tweets!”

Gabriel García Márquez: Love in the time of quarantine. #NoThanks!

Jane Austen: They made HOW many movies of my books!? #Clueless

James Baldwin: Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. But please wear a mask when you go out! #StaySafe

Leo Tolstoy: 50K words in a month? No problem. #20thYearOfNaMo

Louisa May Alcott: I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ghost ship. #HalloweenSpirit

Shakespeare: Definitely ready to shuffle off this mortal coil in favor of a warm down jacket. #BardsOfAFeather

With these dearly departed authors haunting your Halloween, you might be interested in something that doesn’t leave you chilled to the bone: Have some fun in the sun and check out what these literary characters are tweeting while on vacation!

 

Question: What would your favorite dead author say on Twitter?

 

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Writing

Boo! These Are The 10 Monsters Your Book Editor Fears Most

As Halloween draws nigh, I’d like to introduce you to 10 monsters that haunt my nightmares.

Now, these guys and ghouls don’t regularly visit me, but they are a source of fear from time to time. And what’s often most troublesome is that I can seldom tell if they’re going to turn into a monster when we first meet.

Plus, I’m not the only one they visit.

I surveyed a group of editor friends on Facebook and discovered they’ve been visited by these monsters too.

Editorial monsters

1. The ghost

This possible editing client frightens me with their exuberant abuse of the exclamation mark in their first email. They’re so excited to work with an editor that they can hardly wait to take the next step.

But when I reply, the ghost vanishes, never to be seen or heard from again.

The ghost silently glides by the cardinal rule of working with an editor: At all steps in the editing process, seek to communicate clearly and in a timely manner.

2. Frankenstein’s monster

This would-be client has written a book that’s a monstrous mishmash of genres, styles, tone or plot. The editor (and therefore the eventual audience) doesn’t know what to expect from one chapter to the next, or even one sentence to the next.

And the monster’s creator, thinking that what he’s made is the pinnacle of creation, doesn’t see the readily apparent flaws in the book that everyone else sees.

Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t truly know what he is, but he expects someone else to make sense of it for him. When editors start doing that, they effectively turn into ghostwriters.

3. The werewolf

After receiving edits, the werewolf bares his fangs. He turns from a reserved client into an irate animal.

In less time than it surely takes to review his edits, he fires off an email of unprecedented anger and bile. He can’t believe how ruined his work is now. He may be nicer the following morning.

The werewolf has failed to learn respect for experience and expertise or just doesn’t know how to argue his point without being combative.

4. The vampire hunter

She questions an editor’s rates. The vampire hunter believes most freelance editors are bloodsuckers who move from one paycheck to the next, seeking their next victim, er, client with little regard to the dripping-red pages they’ve left in their professional wake.

The vampire hunter may rely on outdated numbers or unfounded anecdotal evidence for their beliefs about rates. Instead, she should have an honest, open conversation with her chosen editor about the value that editor offers for such a rate.

editor fearseditor fears
5. The zombie

Barely alive, the zombie doesn’t want to do much work on her own. She may not do any work. She’s slow to accept changes or reply to time-sensitive communications. She also wants to dine on an editor’s brain so as to somehow consume that knowledge without doing the educational work the editor has done.

The zombie needs to realize that the work of creating a book is work all the way through. Handing off the book to an editor does not mean the zombie’s work is done. She still needs to be involved, especially when an editor asks a question. Don’t make an editor wait more than one to two business days for a response.

6. The witch

The witch demands magic. She knows her prose is as awkward as a three-eyed newt, but she believes an editor can turn even that into something princely.

The witch may need to ride her broom into a writing workshop before submitting work. Or she may need to enlist some beta readers to see if her work is even ready for an editor.

7. The shapeshifter

He agrees to one thing but asks for another. For instance, he may request and sign a contract for copy editing but ask for “just a quick read through” as well.

The shapeshifter should understand the different types of editors, what kind of editing they need, and what kind of editing their hired editor offers. This should be done when vetting an editor.

8. The mummy

Wrapped up in their own little world, the mummy takes so long to reply to emails or calls that the editor is certain they’ve fallen asleep — or worse.

Like the ghost, the mummy fails at the chief commandment of working with an editor: communicate!

9. The (copy)cat

This fabricating feline sprinkles plagiarized content around their books like catnip, hoping no one will notice.

Never plagiarize. Editors can sniff out that content almost instantly. Even if they can’t, plenty of online tools exist to help editors doublecheck suspected plagiarism. Plus, once you’ve plagiarized just a little, it calls your entire manuscript into question. The result? An editor won’t want that cat to cross their path again.

10. The blob

This ever-growing monster keeps adding content to his manuscript even as it’s being edited. Even worse, they keep adding content after it’s been edited!

The blob needs to know when to say when. He should do his best to achieve his best work before sending it to an editor. Any substantial changes during or after the editing phase should be — you guessed it — communicated to the editor.

How not to work with an editor

Now, this isn’t a complaint article about editing clients. Rather, it’s meant as a curtain-parting glimpse into what editors deal with in terms of unprepared, underprepared, or naive clients. It’s what not to do when working with an editor.

Additionally, many of these “monsters” come by it honestly. Because they don’t live, breathe and eat writing and publishing as editors do, they just don’t know what’s conventional or expected. Most editors understand this and are glad to help new authors learn the ropes — so long as the author is receptive to expert advice.

Be a monster this Halloween, but don’t be a monster to your editor.

We frighten easily, which is ironic given how much red we see.

Photo via fizkes / Shutterstock 

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Writing

With One Week To Go, Here’s My Prediction Of What Happens On Election Day

We are at the hinge point — the door is opening, or the door is closing. We are seven days away from Election Day, and millions of people have already voted. The Senate is up for grabs. The presidency is up for grabs. Our current president thinks women’s body parts are up for grabs. It’s a lot. So, I figured, why not offer my thoughts? Why not dig into the polls, do some nitty-gritty, examine the possible outcomes, and lay out what I think will be the likeliest course of action on that day.

Ready?

Here it is:

I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA

AHHHHHHHHH

I am a wildly vacillating ping-pong ball in a table tennis game played by angels and devils — my heart goes from table side to table side, from WANTON FOOLISH OPTIMISM to GUT-CHURNING SOUL-CRUSHING PESSIMISM, with little chance to settle on either. My hope is Schroedinger’s Cat in the goddamn box: it is dead and alive at the same time, its fate unknown until the box is finally opened and the cat is revealed. I have literally no idea what is to come. How could you? This is 2020. This is the year of CHAOS INCARNATE. Come Wednesday we might’ve elected a hive of giant hornets to the highest office in the land, and honestly, it’d be an improvement on what we got.

I mean, in a logical year, I see how this goes, right? The polls are strong for Biden, stronger than they were for Clinton, and more stable across vital districts and states. None of the shit they’ve tried to stick to Biden has stuck, and Trump appears, from my window at least, to be flailing — and I don’t say that as a Triumphant Liberal, because generally liberals are the first to be like OH GOD MY CANDIDATE IS DROWNING IN THE ABYSS THE OTHER GUY IS GONNA WIN. There’s a stink around Trump that’s like what you get off a car-struck raccoon — a rotten, bloated odor. Doesn’t help that he’s incredibly unlikable, and has accomplished almost nothing in his four years. Certainly nothing good. Oh, rich people are getting richer, that’s nice, if you’re mega-rich. Otherwise, where’s his health care plan? Where’s his COVID plan? Where’s Infrastructure Week? Anything?

His priorities have been:

a) rich people

b) bigotry

c) judges

All in equal proportions.

Beyond that, he’s got nothing. He’s proposed no agenda for 2020, and the GOP’s agenda for 2020 is, “uhhh, what’d Trump say?” and round and round we go.

So, in a normal year, in a normal country, the writing is on the wall.

But this is America in 2020. The writing is centipedes. The wall is a glitching TV screen. There’s no stability. No sense to what’s going on. Part of that is intentional — it’s not that 2020 is some kind of CURSED YEAR (except it totally is), but that the Grand Ole Party has committed a violent psychological assault on our brains. They are hypocrites at every turn, they are liars, they question expertise, they lie, they turn their face from basic facts — the ground beneath us is unstable because they have committed to its instability. If we are unstable, they can get away with more bullshit. If we’re trying to catch a bunch of falling plates and cups from rattled cabinets, they can steal our money and jewels and pets while we flail. We’re constantly on the defense because they’re constantly on the offense. All we can do is block punches because it’s INFINITE PUNCHES.

Could Trump win? I didn’t think he could win the first time. Hell, one could argue that he didn’t — between losing the popular vote and a bevy of inference, it remains unclear how “legitimate” that election even was. Do I think it’s possible he’s built on his coalition from 2020? That he’s gained voters instead of lost them? It’s hard to envision, because I’ve seen anecdotally (local and nationwide) a number of Republicans who have bailed — they saw a “businessman,” wanted some change, and got nothing for the bet. He’s withered on the vine and spends his time just shit-barfing on Twitter all day, and meanwhile farms and factories and small businesses are kicked to the curb. So it’s really hard to imagine people getting onboard a hayride full of manure as it totters drunkenly toward a cliff.

But, it’s 2020. And white supremacy is a helluva drug.

Further, they’ve created a pipeline that pumps shit into people’s heads while convincing them it’s caviar. Fox and OANN are just a steady parade of lies, lies, lies, there to lube up King Dump and keep him slick and gooey. People have built for themselves not so much an echo chamber as a Jonestown enclave with all the “””definitely unpoisoned””” Flavor-Aid you require. I mean, you try to tell people “hey that’s not a true thing you just said” and they snap back with WELL DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH despite the fact they did literally no research at all except reading an e-mail from Old Uncle Dave who said that the Democrats are aborting babies in Brooklyn pizza ovens in order to appease the Demonic Socialist Treaties. “Someone on Facebook said that masks don’t work so I believe them unreservedly and that is my idea of ‘research,’ please and thank you. COVID is a hoax and it’ll disappear on November 4th like magic!”

So, in a normal time, he couldn’t win.

But this ain’t normal.

Could Biden win? I didn’t think he could back in the primaries. I was wrong. He’s run a far better campaign than I expected. He’s taken serious steps to actually bring onboard a diverse coalition of voices, and he actually did move in a more progressive direction in places it counts. He’s made it clear he’s the guy who embraces compassion and science and while normally I’d hope those would be obvious picks for campaign planks, it’s 2020 and we’ve got a president who jerks off to Q-Anon propaganda and who lacks basic competency in nearly everything. (God, I really wish for a journalist who would simply ask him to explain basic facts about our government. A journalist who plays dumb and who asks for his explanation, and then you watch him just stammer through some gibberish answer like an 8th grader who didn’t read the book he’s currently giving a report on.) So, Biden could win too. The numbers favor him. Sanity favors him. Basic humanity favors him.

But the Cursed Year 2020 may have other things in store.

And part of that is down to the fact that this binary outcome is by no means the only, or even likely outcome. We have far greater shenanigans that could occur, friendos. Biden could win, and Trump could contest it, and now that he’s got Supreme Court Justice Handmaid’s Tale in the seat, she could throw the election to him. Especially if Biden doesn’t win in a landslide, the kind that ends up decided on Election Night, even though no election is ever actually decided on election night. If we have anything approaching Bush V. Gore, they’ve packed the courts so hard with corrupt bastards, that fate is written. They’re glad to do the devil’s work on this one.

Then there’s all the extra fun add-ons — protest! General strike! Civil war! Shit, if I woke up on Wednesday and the news said, “Both presidential candidates were eaten by starving polar bears, which throws the election to Kanye West,” I’d be like, yeah, that tracks. Because I don’t know! I don’t know what’s happening! I don’t know what’s coming down the pike! It’s probably not going to be great. Shit’s on fire! We’re under the boots of a burgeoning theocratic kleptocracy, and even just saying those words makes me feel like I’ve lost my marbles. It sounds too extreme, too fearful — it can’t be that bad, right? Except the majority is ruled by a minority who is increasingly pushing religion over science, who urges white supremacy and misogyny over inclusion, who is continually working to undermine the vote rather than get the vote out, who is expecting grand overtures of gratitude for doing literally nothing except hurting people, who supports a president that routinely makes comments about being president for an extra four years, or eight, or for life, or demanding his children become president next, or, or, or. It’s seeing a house and saying, “Well, that house is clearly fine, it’s a house, it’s just standing there,” while simultaneously realizing the whole thing is riddled with termites and will fall down in a stiff breeze. It looks okay from the outside, but it’s rotten to the core.

I don’t know what happens! I have no prediction! Revolution! Coup! Evangelical pogroms! Trump eats babies while accusing Democrats of eating babies! Democrats treating all this as normal until they’re thrown into jail! Boogaloo-slash-Proud Boy TV network! Fire bees! Laser bears! Holes! Holes opening up underneath all of his, holes from whence goblins crawl, holes that stink of sulfur and moan and gibber! Aaaah! HAhahahaahAHAHA AAHHH WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING WHAT THE SHIT IS GOING TO HAPPEN ARE WE GOING TO BE OKAY ARE WE NOT GOING TO BE OKAY JESUS EFFING CHRIST ON A CRAPWAGON THERE’S STILL THE PANDEMIC AND STILL THE RISING BOIL-TIDE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND AAAAAAAH PLEASE MAKE THE SHITTY PRESIDENT SHUT UP AND GO AWAY I NEVER WANT TO HEAR HIM OR SEE HIM OR LAY EYES ON HIS MAGGOTY FUCKING TWEETS EVERY AGAIN AAAAAAAAEEHhhghghhhrrble

Ahem.

I got nothing.

What I got is this:

The one place I have some hope — some persistent, steady hope — is in each other. I’ve seen that in the last four years a lot, where people — a lot of people — come together and stand for one another, and who have stood up for what matters most, which is a democracy that benefits not only the few, not even the many, but a democracy that serves everyone. And I know that if the shit hits the fan, we can count on the people to get on some comfortable shoes and a jacket and hit the streets, particularly for those who can’t. And I think we need to be ready for that. To raise a ruckus. To cause that good trouble. To disobey non-violently and to choke the gears of the machine until it shudders and breaks. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I know it could. Anything could happen now. This is the final run-up and the chaos will continue. The chaos will worsen. We must be there for each other and for our democracy, in the voting booths, on the streets, in the charities that need us, for everyone who is reaching out and will be hurt by four more years of this venomous, inept administration.

You’re not alone.

I’m not alone.

I have hope in you.

Also, the laser bears.

I have hope in laser bears.

Because, I mean, at this point, why the fuck not?

LASER BEARS 2024

pyoo pyoo

*bear noises*

Categories
Writing

Registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge Is Now Open!

I just opened up registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge, my new live class in November. You can find the sign-up page here:

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CREATIVE COMMITMENT CHALLENGE

I’m still answering questions about the class too, so if you have any, please contact me HERE.

(P.S. Registration will be open until Saturday October 31, but after that it’s closed and I can’t let in any late-comers, so if you know you want in, register now!)

Categories
Writing

15 Daily Writing Exercises to Unblock You, Improve Your Craft, and Trigger Your Next Big Idea

Writing can be grueling.

Some days you feel you have what it takes.

Other days, you want to go back to bed.

Even after writing almost 200 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers, some mornings the blank page just stares at me.

I feel like a fraud, fear I’ve lost it or never had it to begin with.

Can you relate? Few writers escape it. Not even the legends.

Hemingway wrote, “There’s no rule on how it is to write … Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

Margaret Atwood says, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

Yet fear holds back so many.

Am I good enough? Will I ever be?

You’re not alone. There’s no magic to successful writing.  It’s all about hard work.

Even when you don’t have the energy.

Even when you’re second-guessing yourself.

All writing is rewriting, and you can’t rewrite a blank page.

So what to do?

Some writers motivate themselves with prompts or other exercises, just to start getting words onto the page. Might that work for you? Try these and see.

Here is a writing exercise for each day of the week, designed to keep you at the keyboard and producing.

Need help getting more words on the page when you write? Click here to download my free guide: How to Maximize Your Writing Time.

Daily Writing Exercises 

writing exercises

writing exercises

1: Answer these Questions

See if these stimulate you.

  1. Who just entered your office?
  2. What is he or she carrying?
  3. What does he or she want?

2: Write a Letter To Your Younger Self

Tap into your emotions and imagine this as a real, separate person you might be able to move with your words.

3: Imagine a Scene

  • An ex-love walks into a coffee shop but hasn’t yet noticed you. Should you greet them? What do you say to someone whose heart you broke five years ago?
  • You’re a child who’s been told Santa isn’t real. Write about your feelings and how you might interact with younger kids who still believe.
  • You find a peculiar device in your pocket and have no idea how it got there. You feel someone’s watching you. What do you do?
  • In fewer than 250 words, describe a defining moment in your life.
  • Write about how your character’s best friend’s body shows up in front of their house. What will they do to find out who’s responsible?

4: Write a Story Someone Once Told You

Exercise your storytelling muscles.

5: Write From a New Point of View

If you find yourself most often writing from the same perspective, try a different voice.

  • First-person (I, Me, My).
  • Second-person (You, Your). This POV is more common in non-fiction, rarely used by novelists .
  • Third-person limited (He, She). Common in commercial fiction, the narrator uses the main character as the camera.
  • Third-person omniscient. The narrator has access to the thoughts of ALL characters (not recommended except as a writing exercise).

6: Write About Someone Who Inspires You

  • a family member
  • a friend
  • a historical figure
  • a teacher
  • any hero of yours

Try writing a short story in first-person from their perspective.

7: Write About Someone You Know

With this exercise, you create a story with a lead character based on a family member, best friend, or anyone else you know well. 

8: Free Write

Set a timer.

Write the first thing that comes to your mind.

No agenda, no filter. Ignore the urge to self edit, and don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling.

Just write.

9: Omit needless words

Find a piece you’ve written and edited but still needs work.

Ferociously excise every extraneous word and see if that doesn’t add power. This is a fun exercise that should be the hallmark of every writer.

10: Blog

Blogging is a great way to get yourself in the habit of writing regularly and sharing your work with an audience.

11. Analyze Your Favorite Book 

Evaluate what kept you interested.

  • Favorite character? Why?
  • Setting?
  • Theme?
  • The writing style?

12: Create a Timeline of Significant Moments for Your Protagonist

The better you know your main character, the richer your story will be.

Go beyond birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. Focus on events that make a real difference in her life and how you tell her story.

13: Write About Somewhere You’ve Been

Mine your memory for every sensory detail.

14: Use Writing Prompts for Practice

They’re all around you. In real life, in magazines, online lists, even six-word stories.

A writing prompt is simply a starting place. An idea.

The rest is up to you.

15: Write About Something You’re Good At

What’s your expertise? Write about it in detail.

16: Play Devil’s Advocate

Write a strong argument for the other side of an issue about which you’re passionate.

These exercises should get you unstuck and writing like never before.

Need help getting more words on the page when you write? Click here to download my free guide: How to Maximize Your Writing Time.

Categories
Writing

How to Overcome Writer’s Block Once and for All: My Surprising Solution

You well know the frustration.

It comes time to write, and you can’t produce a single word.

Maybe you’ve tried for weeks, months, or even years. But still nothing comes.

You’re suffering the dreaded Writer’s Block while your writing dream, your story, and the message you long to share with the world all collect dust in the attic of your mind.

If you don’t find a cure soon, you’re going to give up—and your story will never reach the masses like you hoped.

Good news! I’ve discovered how to crush Writer’s Block once and for all, and my more nearly 200 books, 21 of which have been New York Times bestsellers, prove it.

You don’t have to quit, and if you already have, you can change your mind and get back to writing.

So what’s my secret?

I treat Writer’s Block as the myth it is.

“Wait!” you’re saying. “Foul! If it’s a myth why am I suffering from it right now?”

Believe me, I know what you’re going through. I’m not saying I don’t have those days when I roll out of bed feeling I’d rather do anything but put words on the page.

But I know how to get unstuck.

During my career I’ve learned to turn on a faucet of creativity—even when, in fact especially when, I find myself staring at a blank page.

My approach stops Writer’s Block in its tracks, and it can do the same for you.

How can I call Writer’s Block a myth when you and countless others seem plagued by it?

Let’s think this through.

If Writer’s Block were real, why would it affect only writers? Imagine calling your boss and saying, “I can’t come in today. I have worker’s block.”

You’d be laughed off the phone! And you’d likely be told never to come in again.

No other profession accommodates block as an excuse to quit working, so we writers shouldn’t either.

If writing is just a hobby to you, a diversion, something you can take or leave, it shouldn’t surprise you that you find ways to avoid it when it’s hard.

What Is Writer’s Block? Something All Writers Need to Know…

What we call Writer’s Block is really a cover for something much deeper.

Identify that deeper issue and you can overcome Writer’s Block and finally start writing.

Overcoming Writer’s Block: Confronting the 4 Real Causes

Want a PDF of this guide to read whenever you wish? Click here.

Cause #1: Fear

Do you fear you’re not good enough?

That you don’t know enough?

Do you fear the competition? Editors? Writing itself?

You have big dreams and good intentions, but you can’t get past your fear?

Would you believe all of the above describes me too? Yes, even now, every time I begin a new book.

Let’s be honest: Writing a book is hard.The competition is vast and the odds are long.

That kind of fear can paralyze. Maybe it’s what has you stuck.

Solution

So how can I suffer from that same fear and yet publish all those titles?

Because I discovered something revolutionary: After failing so many times to overcome fear,  it finally dawned on me—my fear is legitimate.

It’s justified. I ought to be afraid.

So now I embrace that fear! Rather than let it overwhelm and keep me from writing, I acknowledge the truth of what I’m afraid of and let that humble me.

Eliminating writer's block

Eliminating writer's block

Legitimate fear humbles me. That humility motivates me to work hard. And hard work leads to success.

That’s why fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Better to fear you’re not good enough than to believe you’re great.

Dean Koontz, who has sold more than 450 million books, says:

The best writing is borne of humility. The great stuff comes to life in those agonizing and exhilarating moments when writers become acutely aware of the limitations of their skills, for it is then that they strain the hardest to make use of the imperfect tools with which they must work.

I’ve never been motivated by great amounts of money (not that I have anything against it!), but that quote comes from a man worth $145 million, earned solely from his writing.

How humble would you be if writing had netted you $145 million? Yet, humility is the attitude Dean Koontz takes to the keyboard every day.

If you’re afraid, fear the “limitations of your skills.” Then, “strain the hardest to make use of those imperfect tools with which you must work.”

That’s how to turn fear into humility, humility into motivation, motivation into hard work, and hard work into success.

Fear can be a great motivator.

Cause #2: Procrastination

Everywhere I teach, budding writers admit Procrastination is killing their dream.

When I tell them they’re talking to the king of procrastinators, their looks alone call me a liar.

But it’s true.

Most writers are masters at finding ways to put off writing. I could regale you for half a day with the ridiculous rituals I perform before I can start writing.

But my track record says I must have overcome Procrastination the way I have overcome Writer’s Block, right?

In a way, yes. But I haven’t defeated Procrastination by eliminating it. Rather, I have embraced it, accommodated it.

After years of stressing over Procrastination and even losing sleep over it, I finally concluded it was inevitable.

Regardless my resolve and constant turning over new leaves, it plagued me.

Solution

I came to see Procrastination as an asset.

I find that when I do get back to my keyboard after procrastinating, my subconscious has been working on my project. I’m often surprised at what I’m then able to produce.

So if Procrastination is both inevitable and an asset, I must accept it and even schedule it.

That’s right. When I’m scoping out my writing calendar for a new book, I decide on the number of pages I must finish each writing day to make my deadline. Then I actually schedule Procrastination days.

By accommodating Procrastination, I can both indulge in it and make my deadlines.

How?

By managing the number of pages I must finish per day.

If Procrastination steals one of my writing days, I have to adjust the number of pages for each day remaining.

So here’s the key: I never let my pages-per-day figure get out of hand.

It’s one thing to go from 5 or 6 pages a day to 7 or 8. But if I procrastinate to where now I have to finish 20 pages per day to make my deadline, that’s beyond my capacity.

Keep your deadline sacred and your number of pages per day workable, and you can manage Procrastination.

Cause #3: Perfectionism

Many writers struggle with Perfectionism, and while it can be a crippling time thief, it’s also a good trait during certain stages of the writing process.

Not wrestled into its proper place, however, Perfectionism can prove frustrating enough to make us want to quit altogether.

Yes, I’m a perfectionist too. I’m constantly tempted to revise my work until I’m happy with every word.

Solution

Separate your writing from your editing.

Perfectionism leads to writer's block

Perfectionism leads to writer's block

As I said, Perfectionism can be a good thing—at the right time.

While writing your first draft, take off your Perfectionist cap and turn off your internal editor.

Tell yourself you can return to that mode to your heart’s content while revising, but for now, just get your story or your thoughts down.

I know this is counterintuitive. When you spot an error, you want to fix it. Most of us do.

But start revising while writing and your production slows to a crawl.

You’ll find yourself retooling, editing, and rearranging the same phrases and passages until you’ve lost the momentum you need to get your ideas down.

Force yourself to keep these tasks separate and watch your daily production soar.

Cause #4: Distractions

It’s like clockwork.

Every time you sit down to write, something intrudes on your concentration.

Whether it’s a person, social media, or even a game on your phone, distractions lure you from writing.

Solution

How serious is your writing dream? If it remains your priority, It’s time to take a stand.

Establish these two ground rules to safeguard your work time:

  1. Set a strict writing schedule.

Tell anyone who needs to know that aside from an emergency, you’re not available. That should eliminate friends and loved ones assuming “you’re not doing anything right now, so…”

It’s crucial you learn to say No. During your writing hours, you’re working.

  1. Turn off all other media.

That means radio, TV, email, or social media.

When we feel stuck, our inclination is to break from the work and find something fun to occupy our minds.

That’s why Facebook, online shopping, and clickbait stories and pictures can keep us from writing.

When we should be bearing down and concentrating on solutions, we’re following links from the “10 Ugliest Actors of All Time” to “15 Sea Creatures So Ugly You Won’t Believe They Exist.”

Before you know it, your time has evaporated and you’ve accomplished nothing.

A Writer’s Block App I Recommend

To stay focused on writing, use a distraction-blocking app called Freedom. (This is an affiliate link, so I earn a small commission at no cost to you.)

Freedom allows you to schedule your writing time and blocks social media, browsing, and notifications on your devices till you’re done.

You set the parameters and can override it for emergencies, but it’s a powerful tool.

Other Strategies to Overcome Writer’s Block

1 — Just write. 

You don’t get better at anything without practice. Writing is no different.

John Grisham established his writing routine long before he became famous. He got up early every morning and wrote for an hour before work.

“Write a page every day. That’s about 200 words, or 1,000 words a week. Do that for two years and you’ll have a novel that’s long enough. Nothing will happen until you are producing at least one page per day.”

2 — Lower your expectations. 

You aren’t going to do your best writing every day. Show up anyway, do the necessary research, and write. Even when it’s not your best work.

“Never to sit down and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent. I write a little bit, almost every day, and if it results in two or three or (on a good day) four good paragraphs, I consider myself a lucky man. Never try to be the hare. All hail the tortoise.” ― Malcolm Gladwell

3 — Get to know your characters. 

Instead of focusing on the big picture, the late bestselling author Tom Clancy thought about his characters:

“ … and then I sit down and start typing and see what they will do. … It amazes me to find out, a few chapters later, why I put someone in a certain place when I did.”

4 ― Read.

Writers are readers. Good writers are good readers. Great writers are great readers.

Read at least 200 titles in your genre.

Read everything you can get your hands on.

It’ll help you grow in your craft and inspire you when you come up empty.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” — Stephen King

“Read, read, read. Read everything  —  trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” — William Faulkner

5 ― Give yourself a break. 

Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes your best writing ideas come when you’re not in front of the computer.

“Plots come to me at such odd moments, when I am walking along the street, or examining a hat shop … suddenly a splendid idea comes into my head.” — Agatha Christie

“Some days all I do is stare at the wall. That can be productive, too, if you’re working out character and plot problems. The rest of the time, I walk around with the story slipping in and out of my thoughts.” — Suzanne Collins

6 ― Start at the end of your book.

John Grisham finds it helpful to begin at the end.

“Don’t write the first scene until you know the last scene. If you always know where you’re going, it’s hard to get lost.”

7 ― Brainstorm.

Set a timer and throw caution to the wind.

Think of ideas for a short story or novel.

Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling.

Imagine great characters, names, traits, story settings, themes … anything that comes to mind.

All you need is the germ of an idea to start creating a story.

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott

8 ― Get a change of scenery.

While having a space set aside for writing is important, sometimes what you need is a change of scenery.

Write in a coffee shop, the park, get away for the weekend by yourself. That may be just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

9 ― Stop while you’re ahead.

Ernest Hemingway loved to stop when he was on a roll.

Always stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. ”

Writer’s Block Quotes from Bestselling Authors

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

“My cure for writer’s block? The necessity of earning a living.” — James Ellroy

“Writer’s block is just another name for fear.” — Jacob Nordby

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Just pick up a pen and physically write.” — Natalie Goldberg

“If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.” — Anne Tyler

“If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. ‘Count on me,’ you are saying: ‘I will be there to write.’” — Norman Mailer in The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing

“The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?” ― Phillip Pullman

“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.” ― J.K. Rowling

“I don’t sit around waiting for passion to strike me. I keep working steadily, because I believe it is our privilege as humans to keep making things. Most of all, I keep working because I trust that creativity is always trying to find me, even when I have lost sight of it.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou

“It doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating. I also like to remind myself of something my dad said in [response] to writers’ block: ‘Coal miners don’t get coal miners’ block.’” — John Green

“If I waited for perfection, I’d never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” — Barbara Kingsolver

“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.” — J. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” — Jodi Picoult

“I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen–whether I’m working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book–it’s usually because I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place.” — Jeffrey Deaver

Click here for more inspiring writing quotes.

You Can Defeat Writer’s Block

  • Stand up to it the way you would a bully
  • See it for the myth it is
  • Turn your fear into humility and humility into hard work

That’s how to defeat Writer’s Block once and for all.

Want a PDF of this guide to read whenever you wish? Click here.

Categories
Writing

How To Optimize and Update Your Published Articles and Blog Posts to Rank on Google

There’s no sugar-coating it: The world of SEO can be tricky to navigate — but it’s absolutely doable, even for the newest of newbies.

It’s so worth it, too. SEO is a powerful long-term approach writers can utilize to boost (free!) traffic to their websites or blogs.

Sure, you can build an SEO article from the ground up. (Might I suggest this writer’s guide to mastering SEO?) But it doesn’t have to be that complicated just yet. You can start by optimizing your existing content.

I’ll walk you through my approach — as a writer myself — to on-page SEO optimizations.

On-page SEO optimizations: What does that mean anyway?

Let’s start with the basics. In the SEO world, there are a ton of technical terms, but don’t let that scare you.

When we talk about on-page SEO optimization, we’re talking about taking an existing article or page and updating it to increase its chances of ranking on Google — aka attracting more eyeballs.

On-page SEO optimizations can be a relatively easy way to step into the SEO world. After all, you already have the content out there. You just need to make some updates so Google will take notice.

How to identify content worth optimizing for SEO

First and foremost: It’s not worth attempting to optimize every single article on your website or blog. You have to remember different pieces of content serve different purposes. Some will work better on social. Others are perfect for your email newsletter audience. And some just might have the potential to rank on Google.

So how do you determine which of your existing articles are worth optimizing?

I suggest starting with the low-hanging fruit. Using a free SEO tool like Ubersuggest, search your website’s URL. You’ll see which pages get the most traffic through Google and with what keywords. You might identify a great opportunity to optimize what’s already working well and climb the (Google) ranks.

If you don’t yet have enough traffic to your site, or you’re not spotting any obvious keyword potential, you can always do a quick DIY survey of your content.

When doing this, I like to think about what folks Google. I look for articles that take the shape of ultimate how-to guides, “best of” lists, product comparisons, recommendations, questions answered… you name it. These posts tend to be more all-encompassing and lengthy in nature. Perfect for Google.

Let’s take a quick assessment of some articles on The Write Life and use them as examples.

I’m seeing articles about the best laptops for writers, how to self-publish a book, how to get paid to write and a guide to Upwork. I suspect people are searching these terms, so these all have the potential to make strong SEO articles. (And in many cases, they do!)

On the other hand, something like “ways writers can recreate the coffee shop experience” probably isn’t something that gets searched a ton, so you probably wouldn’t want to focus your efforts on optimizing it. However, it’s great content for other platforms like social pages, community groups or newsletters.

Once you pluck a few ideas from your site, it’s time to dive in with some keyword research.

A step-by-step guide to the on-page SEO optimization process

This is the fun part of SEO optimizations (at least in my humble opinion). I’ll walk you through each step I take when optimizing an article for SEO.

Step 1: Pinpoint your target keyword

If you don’t already have a selected keyword, you’ll need to do some research. Remember, your keyword is the word or phrase you want to rank for on Google.

Use a keyword research tool for this. We love Ahrefs around these parts, but again Ubersuggest is a great (and free!) alternative.

So let’s say you want to optimize an article about cold brew coffee. Type the core terms into Ubersuggest. In this case, it’d be “cold brew coffee.” Leave out any unnecessary adjectives, prepositions or articles. Here’s another example: If you were optimizing a post about how to self-publish a book, you might simply search “self-publish book.”

Going back to the cold brew coffee example, when you search that term in Ubersuggest, you’ll find there’s a high search volume (49,500 when we looked). That’s great! That means tens of thousands of people are searching the term each month.

However, you’ll see the SEO difficulty (SD) is pretty high. (At the time we checked, it was 58.) The SEO difficulty ranges from zero to 100, and the closer you can get to zero, the better.

If you scroll down, you’ll find more keyword ideas. View all keyword ideas to see what related terms people search. Consider the different angles.

Remember: Your goal is to find a relevant keyword with a high search volume and a low SD.

Also, keep your reader top of mind. The keyword “how to make cold brew coffee” has a lot of potential — 33,100 monthly searches with a 22 SD. But if you want to optimize a review you wrote of the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks, readers are less likely to click because you’re not giving them what they’re looking for.

For the sake of this example, let’s optimize our hypothetical article with the keyword, “how to make cold brew coffee.” It has a high search volume and a relatively low SD.

Step 2: Read Google’s mind

You’re about to read Google’s mind. Think you’re ready? It’s not as difficult as you might think!

In this step, your goal is to better understand what Google considers top-ranking material for this keyword. Really, you’re just surveying your competition.

Here’s what you’ll need to do: Search your target keyword in Google, and take a good look at the first page of results. Start taking notes on:

  • The top-ranking articles: Read through the top three to five ranking articles. What content do they cover? What questions do they answer? Take inventory of headlines, formatting, tables and graphics.
  • The featured snippet: For some keywords, Google will populate what’s called a “featured snippet.” This is the box of text that populates at the top of your Google search. Note the content it’s highlighting. This is Google saying, “Hey, here’s the best answer!” If you can rank in this top spot, you’ll get more views, but fair warning: It’s pretty tough.
  • People also ask: This box contains questions related to your keyword. Consider: Are these relevant questions you could answer in your article? For instance, people also ask, “Can regular coffee be used for cold brew?” You could probably easily answer this somewhere in your article: “You can use regular coffee for cold brew. In fact, you can use any sort of coffee you’d like.”
  • Related searches: Finally, scroll down the related searches at the bottom of the first page. See if anything stands out. You might get some good ideas for topics you can add to your existing content like, “how to make cold brew in a mason jar” or “how to strain cold brew coffee.”

Again, the goal here is to simply take inventory and survey your competition. In a way, you’re getting inside Google’s brain to see what it “likes.”

Step 3: Beef up your article

It’s finally time to write!

With on-page optimizations, you’ll work with the existing content you have. There’s rarely a reason to delete everything and start over. You simply want to beef up your article with additional information, reporting, graphics or sections you noted in step two.

Of course, you never want to copy what exactly another top-ranking site is doing. Make this your own! But maybe one article included a neat graphic, and that sparked an idea. Or maybe another article listed several cold brew coffee recipes at the end of their guide. Perhaps you add one or two of your own. Again, use your research as inspiration and guidance — not your rulebook.

As you work, keep your reader in mind. This is one reason I love SEO writing — your goal is to serve the reader and give them all the information they’re seeking. Now, this doesn’t mean you want to jam-pack your article with every single element you noted from the top-ranking articles.

Instead, ask yourself: If I wanted to learn how to make cold brew coffee, what would I want or need to know?

Additionally, maintain your natural writing style and voice. Although SEO writing may feel a bit more prescriptive, you’re not writing for a robot. Avoid keyword-stuffing at all costs. (That means awkwardly wedging keywords into your post.) Again, SEO is all about the reader.

You’ll want to pay close attention to your headline (or title tag), excerpt (or meta description), you subheads (or H2) and your image descriptions. If you can do so naturally, include your keyword in these.

Links also help boost page rankings, so find opportunities to link out to credible sources. Or, once you republish your newly refreshed article, see if you can find other pages to link to it on your site (again, when relevant!).

Step 4: Give it a week and check in

The optimization process is ongoing, and it’ll likely take a good bit of experimenting.

Once you update your content, give it a week or so before checking in on it. Again, you can use Ubersuggest to peep your top pages and keywords.

After a few months, take another look at what’s ranking on Google for your intended keyword, and see if there’s anything else you can do to boost your rankings.

The ultimate key? Patience and persistence. The optimization process is ongoing. Google is constantly shifting its algorithms, and new articles are jumping in to compete for those rankings each day. Just keep your fingers to the pulse, and keep working. I have faith you’ll land on the magical Page One eventually!

Got an article in mind you’d like to optimize? Share your updates in the comments below!

Photo via franz12 / Shutterstock 

Categories
Writing

e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2020

Welcome to the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during September, 2020.

This month we received:

35 covers in the Fiction category
7 covers in the Nonfiction category

Guest Judge

We are once again pleased to welcome Tanja Prokop to The Book Designer as a guest judge this month. Tanja was born in Germany, but lives and was raised in Croatia. Her three beautiful daughters and her amazing husband are her biggest inspiration in life. She has an MA degree in German language and literature and philosophy. A few years ago she started her own design company and became a professional book cover designer. She designs covers, and is constantly creating new visual experiences for her clients. Tanja is also a multiple winner of various book cover design contests and has created thousands of covers. You can find her pre-made covers at Book Design Templates, or visit her site at www.bookcoverworld.com.

Comments, Award Winners, and Gold Stars

I’ve added comments (TP: ) to many of the entries, but not all. Remember that the aim of these posts is educational, and by submitting you are inviting comments, commendations, and constructive criticism.

Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Please leave a comment to let me know which are your favorites or, if you disagree, let me know why.

Although there is only winner in each category, other covers that were considered for the award or which stood out in some exemplary way, are indicated with a gold star:

Award winners and Gold-Starred covers also win the right to display our badges on their websites, so don’t forget to get your badge to get a little more attention for the work you’ve put into your book.

Also please note that we are now linking winning covers to their sales page on Amazon or Smashwords.

Now, without any further ado, here are the winners of this month’s e-Book Cover Design Awards.


e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for September 2020 in Fiction


James Egan submitted Black Tie Required designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.



TP: I love, love, love everything about this cover! Amazing work!

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for September 2020 in Nonfiction


Jordan Barnes submitted One Hit Away: A Memoir of Recovery designed by Jordan Barnes. “This image conveys the immediacy of opiate addiction, and the urgency for escape and recovery. The bold colors, a flash of warning and blood, capture the eyes, drawing the reader into the chaotic landscape of confusion and smoke. The subject is faceless, as this is not only one man’s burden to bear.”



TP: Amazing! The illustration is beautiful and the combination of the imagery and typography is spot on!

Fiction Covers


Alexis Johnson submitted The Seventh Year Trials designed by Maria Spada.

The Seventh Year Trials
TP: A beautiful cover design with amazing typography. Beautiful!


Amari Utomo submitted Tidal designed by Amari Utomo. “The poetic, deliberately water-less image and large sans-serif font were to demonstrate both the power and breadth of tidal systems, and to indicate how humanity may run aground, given climate change.”

Tidal
TP: This is a very interesting cover design. The image itself allows a lot of room to play with the title, so I would say that his is the only thing I miss here. The typography is too simple in a way.


C.D. Watson submitted Apocalypse Weird designed by Christine Savoie, Bayou Cover Designs.

Apocalypse Weird
TP: A very appealing design with strong design elements. Nice job!


Caroline Walken submitted In Hiding designed by Talia from Book Cover Kingdom. “In Hiding began as a 1500 word short story entry, once it was selected for publication I returned to the keyboard to complete the saga. Bookcover Kingdom took my synopsis and some random images I used as motivation. From those few scraps, Talia created this eye catching cover.”

In Hiding
TP: A nice cover design that could have a more popping title, maybe. I would also suggest a stronger font for the author’s name.


Christopher Kezelos submitted The Sasquatch of Jackson Farm designed by George Evangelista. “The cover image of the Sasquatch was designed by George Evangelista. The logo, copy, and layout were produced by one of the co-authors, Christopher Kezelos. The logo is a comprised of StringFellows and Bizon fonts, with extra leaf and flower flourishes added separately.”

The Sasquatch of Jackson Farm
TP: Such a nice cover design. I really love the image and the title accompanies it well.


Colleen tice submitted Broken Spirit Beautiful Heart designed by Colleen tice. “Broken Spirit Beautiful Heart’ s cover represent the main character’ s struggle of forgiving her childhood abuse.”

Broken Spirit Beautiful Heart
TP: I have to say that the images are working amazingly well together but the typography is completely unreadable in a thumbnail size. With a strong typography approach, this cover would be a winner.


Dawn Bates submitted Moana designed by Jerry Lampson. “Moana gazes directly at the reader, presenting as a universal female archetype who, despite her traumatic journey still projects undiminished strength and compassion. Principal typeface: TT Moons contains both masculine & feminine characteristics while being strong, clear and readable.”

Moana
TP: This cover is very well structured where all important elements are visible and prominent. The cover, however, looks more as if it was a poster. All in all, a great design.


Ebook Launch submitted August Origins designed by Ebook Launch.

August Origins
TP: Strong typography and well chosen colors.


Ebook Launch submitted A Brief History of Several Boyfriends designed by Ebook Launch.

A Brief History of Several Boyfriends
TP: A great cover design. I love the typography treatment!


Ebook Launch submitted The Lonely Bones of Cycle Jones designed by Ebook Launch.

The Lonely Bones of Cycle Jones
TP: The whole cover is amazingly structured and very nicely designed. Great work!


Elle Madison submitted Of Thorns and Beauty designed by Covers by Combs. “The darker hues and edges for a gritty tone to a classic retelling. Silhouette instead of face because character is always hiding in shadows. Clouds around castle symbolize encroaching evil.”

Of Thorns and Beauty
TP: A beautiful cover design!


Estelle Grace Tudor submitted Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key designed by 100 Covers. “The cover relates to the fairy door Octavia discovers and of the key she has to find in order to go through the door into Fairy Land to complete her quest. The scroll and ornate lettering fits the fairytale/fantasy theme well.”

Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key
TP: Very genre-appropriate and well designed.


Gesine Schulz submitted Punsch, Plätzchen & Pistolen designed by James. “”Punch, Cookies & Pistols: Xmas crime stories from cozy to cheerful” is roughly the translation of the German title of my collection of short crime stories. When I discovered this premade cover on James’ website I immediately bought it because it captures the mood of the book.”

Punsch, Plätzchen & Pistolen
TP: The whole designs is consistent with every element in it’s right place. The title of the book sounds very interesting and the design will definitely help the sales of this book. Sehr gut!


Glen Dahlgren submitted The Child of Chaos designed by Glen Dahlgren/Cindy Wentzell. “I wanted to make sure the cover “made a promise that the book could keep.” It is an actual scene from the climax, and the dice are not metaphors (of course, the CHAOS letters are not literal in the story). The characters and colors are all from the actual scene. I hope you like it!”

The Child of Chaos
TP: This cover is very genre-appropriate and appealing. I just think that the title should be more emphasized. All in all a great cover design.


Helen Vdovychenko submitted Striker designed by MiblArt.

Striker
TP: I really love the typography treatment here. Amazingly well done!


J. Scott Coatsworth submitted The Shoreless sea designed by J. Scott Coatsworth/Kelley York – Sleepy Fox Designs. “The cover is a metaphorical version of the generation ship in the story, and the tree is an important part of the third part of the story, representing renewal and the choice of a different path for mankind.”

The Shoreless sea
TP: The background image is amazing! I can see what the designer wanted to achieve with the title, but because of the different spacing between the letters, the title isn’t balanced. If only the title was differently structured, this cover would be a winner!


James Egan submitted Breaking Gods designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

Breaking Gods
TP: Another great cover design. The images and the typography are spot on!


James Egan submitted The Nine designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

The Nine
TP: A dynamic, appealing and professionally designed book cover. Very well done!


James Egan submitted Fair as a Star designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

Fair as a Star
TP: When a designer knows what he is doing, then such covers happen. Genre-appropriate and beautiful! Great job!


Jovana DDD submitted Magic Uncorked designed by Dragana from Deranged Doctor Design. “Fantasy book cover design, Midlife Magic Cocktail Club Book 1”

Magic Uncorked
TP: A nice cover design with appealing typography. Nice work!


Jovana DDD submitted Bewitching Bitters designed by Dragana from Deranged Doctor Design. “Fantasy book cover design, Midlife Magic Cocktail Club Book 2”

Bewitching Bitters
TP: A very interesting book series with good and recognizable design elements.


Jovana DDD submitted Crumbling World designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Post-Apocalyptic book cover design, Surviving the End Book 1”

Crumbling World
TP: Strong colors and great typography. Very well done!


Jovana DDD submitted Fallen World designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Post-Apocalyptic book cover design, Surviving the End Book 2”

Fallen World
TP: It isn’t always easy to create book series designs, but Milo really has a doctoral degree when it comes to this. Great work!


Jovana DDD submitted New World designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Post-Apocalyptic book cover design, Surviving the End Book 3”

New World
TP: Beautiful work!


Jovana DDD submitted The Idea Man designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Thriller book cover design, The Idea Man Trilogy Book 1”

The Idea Man
TP: The whole series design is very appealing, but not overemphasized. It is spot on!


Jovana DDD submitted The Marked Man designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Thriller book cover design, The Idea Man Trilogy Book 2”

The Marked Man
TP: Very well done!


Jovana DDD submitted The True Man designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Thriller book cover design, The Idea Man Trilogy Book 3”

The True Man
TP: This is my favourite cover design in the series. They are all very beautiful as single covers, but as a series, they look amazing!


K.D. Ritchie submitted Fallen Academy Year One designed by Story Wrappers.

Fallen Academy Year One
TP: The cover design contains all important elements for a successful cover design and good sales. Great work!


Karri Klawiter submitted Heir of the Curse designed by Karri Klawiter.

Heir of the Curse
TP: Nice typography and imagery. Beautiful.


KD Ritchie submitted The Vigilante’s Magic designed by Story Wrappers.

The Vigilante's Magic
TP: A nicely balanced cover design. The combination of silver and red looks great.


KD Ritchie submitted American Witch designed by Story Wrappers.

American Witch
TP: A really well done cover design.


Michael Angel submitted The Devil’s Noose (Plague Walker Medical Thrillers Book 1) designed by Deranged Doctor Design. “Curious to see if you find this an image that’s effective at bringing in readers to a medical thriller!”

The Devil’s Noose (Plague Walker Medical Thrillers Book 1)
TP: A great combination of colors and fonts.


Simon Markusson submitted The Untoward designed by Nabin Karna. “A man seeks to evade his fate. A nebulous color palette, stark silhouettes, mists and shadows illustrate that the path will not be straight. The use of space as well as vast scale surrounding the figure conveys the insignificance of mortals next to the powers that be.”

The Untoward
TP: Beautiful work!


Timothy Browne submitted The Gene designed by Brett Pflugrath.

The Gene
TP: Very simple and strong. Maybe the subtitle would look a little bit better, if it wasn’t so close to the title. But that is just a small suggestion, other than that, very well done!

Nonfiction Covers


Ebook Launch submitted Bursting With Happiness designed by Ebook Launch.

Bursting With Happiness
TP: A very nicely balanced cover design. Great work.


Karine Kala submitted Riche de vie designed by Elian. “The colorful cover represents the colorful experiences I had in my life. The design represents the inner reflexions and realizations about life I describe in the book.”

Riche de vie
TP: The image is very nice, but I think that a bit more work should be invested in the title treatment.


Kkmal Hamouda submitted Recreational Mathematics designed by Kkmal Hamouda. “The final design of a book cover. It represents the material inside and beauty of non-fiction new mathematics. An important attractive fields of Recreational Mathematics.”

Recreational Mathematics
TP: The color combination doesn’t work well together. The title should be more emphasized and the actual mathematical operations on the cover should be minimal. This should be appealing while explaining what the book is about. Simpler colors and a professional approach would do the trick.


Kyle Houston submitted Patchwork Junkie designed by Lance Buckley. “The images used are either pictures from my past, symbolic things or relevance to the setting of the book. Enjoy”

Patchwork Junkie
TP: A great cover design! Very well done!


Martin Sawa submitted The Other Side of Success designed by Paul Barrett.

The Other Side of Success
TP: I really love the colors and the appeal of this cover, however, when you want to avoid to cover an image with the typography, then a different kind of justification would probably work better. This way the title looks a bit shifted.


Sabìnah Adewole submitted A Child’s Journey Through Poetry Hobbies Skills Talents Volume 2 designed by Freelancer.com.

A Child’s Journey Through Poetry Hobbies Skills Talents Volume 2
TP: An interesting cover design, even though I would love to see a more professional approach here.


Wageedah Salie submitted The Microchip Revolution designed by Wageedah Salie.

The Microchip Revolution
TP: I have to say that this is a really nice looking cover design. Nice work.


Well, that’s it for this month. I hope you found it interesting, and that you’ll share with other people interested in self-publishing.

Use the share buttons below to Tweet it, Share it on Facebook, Link to it!

Our next awards post will be on November 30, 2020. Deadline for submissions will be October 31, 2020. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

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