10 Ways to Survive the Pre-Writing Process!

I sat down last night and tried to think of the 10 things I do to help me survive and stay dedicated to the grueling process of plotting and outlining my stories. I plot out all main details of every chapter in my novels, the only one I did not do this with was “Sleepwalker” but I guarantee if I would have, you would be reading Sleepwalker by now! 

It is good to keep a journal of your plots, characters and their characteristic info, story info like title, a list of Chapters names if you’re like me and love naming every chapter. When you successfully complete your pre-writing/outlining process with these tips, I guarantee your writing process will become much less stressful and hectic!

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Huge News in 2018!

Huge news for 2018!

I am over the moon excited to announce that you are looking at the new Grand Rapids Ambassador for Women who Write – Grand Rapids Chapter, (Women who Write GR) Presented by Hook a Sista Up (HASU) a platform for women entrepreneurs!

More information coming soon!

My bio will be added to the members list soon!

“Sarah A. Kenney is the author of YA fantasy series, “The Devils Curse Novels.” and Adult Psychological thriller, “Sleepwalker.”

Sarah is also Co-Owner of the online craft shop, “Saribears Designs” and volunteers her time raising awareness for Mental Health and the charity Letters Against Depression.”

Please visit Hook a Sista Up!

HASU

Sleepwalker Update!

I am VERY excited to announce that the final edit of “Sleepwalker” is FINISHED!

I am nervous, excited, terrified, ecstatic.. Any emotion you can think of I am feeling it! Creating Sleepwalker has been so different than writing Lucy’s story has been, I know Lucy like the back of my hand and I’ve plotted and planned out every moment of Lucys story. Ashley Niallsons story has thrown me for a loop! I did very little plotting throughout, my original plan was to create a short story – tops of 20,000 words and release it on Halloween just as a horror story but instead I was in the hospital fighting sepsis while I wrote this story, I ran past my deadline and decided her story needed to be explained. I knew I wouldnt be happy with it unless I dug deep into her backstory and took it the full length.

Sleepwalker is now a full length Adult Psychological Thriller novel of 50,000 words!

I will be having one more read through before converting this story into an eBook, I will be releasing the paperback version only 2 weeks later!

Join my mailing list to be the first to receive an e-mail of when, where and how you can get your hands on “Sleepwalker”!

Maialen Alonso!

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The Cover Designer that gave my first novel “Devils Fall” the perfect cover to depict Lucy being pulled between Heaven and Hell was the amazingly talented cover design from Bilbao, Spain – Maialen Alonso!

She has become both someone I look to as a friend and a creative designer. She creates vivid, eye catching covers while also expressing the authors story by creating covers that well, tell a story.

When I first released “Devils Fall” in November 2016, I had a cheesy cover of blue roses falling, this was meaningful to me to have the blue roses on the cover because of a special part of the book between the demon Asmodeus and Lucy. (If you’ve read “Devils Fall” you know what I’m talking about.) but I knew a cover with only blue roses were not going to catch anyone’s interest because as much as I hate to say it, we judge books by their covers and blue roses just weren’t going to bring readers in.

So, I searched for a cover on http://www.thebookcoverdesigner.com, I would say that I searched through over 2,000 or more covers for 2 months before I finally came upon Maialen’s “Hell Dance” book cover. I found her cover in February and knew I had to have it. I had plans to officially release the paperback of Devils Fall so I knew this cover on a matte finish would be perfect.

There was no other cover that I had found that made me think, “This is Lucy’s story!” but “Hell Dance” was the perfect depiction.

I purchased the cover and shortly after she contacted me to know what changes would need to be made. It was only a few hours later that I was the new owner of the beautiful “Hell Dance” now “Devils Fall” cover!

I have always had a wonderful experience collaborating with Maialen, she listen to what you need and always gets back to you quickly and not to mention – for me – she is on the other side of the world working to get a cover ready!

She has also helped me reformat paperback covers and helped me understand how to create my own paperback covers. I honestly do not think I would understand half as much about paperback covers if I did not know her!

Not only is Maialen Alonso an amazing cover designer, but she is also an author herself with several published novels, both written in Spanish and translated into English. After she finished her studies, she dedicated herself to writing, which is her chosen profession.

As a cover designer and an author this gives her the mindset and aspect of a writer to help ensure that your cover is perfect for YOU and YOUR story.

You can find her newest pre-made and custom cover designs on: http://maialenalonso.es

Or, find her written works at

http://www.amazon.com/author/maialenalonso

Let’s Play a Game..

I haven’t had Writer’s Block in quite some time, I usually have characters, plots and notes on every little detail of how a book is going to happen and I always start at the End..

Lately, I have been in a slump and have not wrote anything in about 2 weeks. This is something I NEED, I need to write or I feel like I am going crazy.. 

I figured out a little game to play to get your brain rebooted and thought I would share!

Grab a pen and paper or your laptop, something to write or type on.. 

Start blasting a list of names.. It doesn’t matter if these names have meaning yet just write them, maybe change their spellings even..

Once you have your list of names and your brain has run empty, start from the first name and think of who this person would be.. Then the second, third, etc.. If you get to a name and can’t think of ANYTHING that gives this name a life, cross it off.

Once you get to the end of your list, you now have a small (or large) character roster to choose your main character out of..

Take their stories and their names, now do the same with “Titles” except these are what genre, then write a plot based on the genre you chose and use the names from your roster. 

Once you have all of these you have all the essentials to write atleast a short story to kick start your brain! 

The whole issue with writers block is our brain cannot think of “words” which unfortunately in this case is our lives.. but once you force it  to “create” like you’re the BOSS, you will get back at it!

Have Fun!

 

How to easily format your eBook using Calibre..

Self publishing authors tend to think they need to spend money to make their eBooks, cause if you’re not spending money to release your work then nobody will buy it right? The whole mind set of a good investment gives back..

This isn’t always the case, sometimes you are a new author who has no day job but cannot stand the thought of waiting to give your book the breath it wants to take when you will finally publish the long nights of writing that you have worked so hard on..

Luckily, in the age of technology that we live in, the lifeline to the publishing industry is write at our finger tips (you catch that? Heh.)

When I first started writing, I will admit, I had no money in my bank account but I felt the need to get the stories I spent two years every day writing out into the world. So, I began researching online how I could do that.. I found Amazon, ofcourse, the one self publishing format that to me has been the saving grace to my writing life. Amazon is one source that your creativity is literally all on you. You will format, edit, cover design, upload, everything by yourself but it is entirely free. I know a lot of authors who HATE editing and formatting (really who does? We are called “writers” for a reason.. editors got their own thang going for them.) but as self publishing authors we wear many, many hats.

Another source to consider publishing through is NOOK, a branch of Barnes & Nobles.. I have not had any luck with publishing through NOOK but would push other authors to consider this option for the main reason being after $10 worth of sales you will get paid, unlike Amazon, where you get paid three months out from the selling date.. I received my May payment in July, April in August.. etc.. you get the point.. no sales in March, you won’t get paid in June… NOOK has the option for paperback publishing as well, I have not published paperbacks with them for the fact of the out of pocket charges, but from the sounds of it you would have your book selling through Barnes & Noble.. Remember, if you choose the options for Amazon, you can also publish through NOOK but only if you do not sign up for KDP select which is a 3 month contract where you sell exclusive on Amazon but you give readers the option to download your book for free on Kindle Unlimited and you will be paid through KENP, KENP is the based off of the number of pages the reader flicks through and you will be paid out of the KDP Global Fund..

I have been researching IngramSparks as well which you pay out of pocket for instead of only when a sale is made, they have reach to get your novel out to major markets including Amazon, but as I said, you will have to pay out of pocket and it will depend on the demand of your prints.

One final way to get your book out to the public is through libraries.. you will not get paid for this, it is considered a donation to the local section of the library but if you donate the first book of your series and someone rents it, they most likely will find you on google or amazon and buy your second book..

It is all what you consider the best option for YOU.. I currently only publish exclusively through Amazon since this is the best option for me, I love the freedom of doing what I want with my work.

When publishing with Amazon, you have choices to create paperbacks as well as ebooks. I will only be covering the process of using calibre in this post to create eBooks but will consider talking about the process of paperbacks at a  later  time if anyone is interested!

Starting off with Calibre.. you can easily download this formatting program for FREE by going to Calibre Download 

If you are new to Calibre, it may look like a massive headache waiting to happen once you load the program but I promise you – If I can do it, so can you!

First off, You will want to save your book as a Doc. or DocX. and please before uploading your file into Calibre make sure you have sectioned each one of your chapters, if you have not done this when you upload your file as one massive file with no section breaks, you will have problems rise when you go through all of these steps and end up at Table of Contents. Your Table of Contents will not detect any chapters.. You then will have to start over..

Step 1: Add book from a single directory..

step 1I suggest uploading one book at a time so this process doesn’t get confusing at first.. Simply go up to the left hand corner of your screen to “Add books” and select “add books from a single directory” – this will then open the box tab to select your book which would be best to format in a doc. or docx. format to begin with. Your book will appear in your library that is listed in the middle of your screen.. Before doing anything else go to Step 2 first and fill out the Metadata..

Step 2: Edit Metadata

step 2I secretly love metadata.. I love to say it, I love to write it, I love it because it is easy.. You will select “Edit Metadata” which is right next to your “Add Books” tab.. Metadata is especially important for your ebook, I look at Metadata as your books birth certificate, the ISBN is its SSN but without Metadata you truly do not know who wrote your book, the title, the series, what its about, its rating.. the list goes on.. You will select “Edit Metadata individually” and select your book from the library..

Step 3 metadata entryOnce you are on the Edit Metadata page, it will look like this.. It is very self explanatory, you will fill in your Title, Author(s), Series name, Author sort, Title sort, and lastly the book number in the series.. Once you finish the top section, you will go down to “Browse” this is where you will select your cover image, it will appear on the inside cover of your ebook, the first thing that your readers will see.. after they have already seen it when they bought it.. but it is important! Simply select your image you want to upload and then fill out your Tags, publication date, publisher (self), and the languages this book will be available in.. you then will go to the bottom of the box and select “Ok” ..

Step 3: Conversion.. (The part I hate the most..)

This slide show will show you the step by step options through the process and which tabs should be selected.. scroll below to get more details on what to input and output..

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1.) Insert Metadata.. all of your metadata information should be available here that you have already filled out but verify that it is correct..

2.) Ignore “Look & Feel” and “Heuristic Processing” .. these options should be set correctly already..

3.) “Page Setup” – I usually set my “output” to Kindle Fire, input I leave as “default”..

4.) Structure Detection – you have the option to remove the first image inside of the book, remove fake margins (I select this.) and the option to insert metadata at the start of the book which I usually do not do.

5.) Table of Contents – the only options I select on this is “Do not auto-detect chapters” because usually this will double your table of contents and that will result in you doing this all over again.

6.) Ignore “Search & Replace” – there really is no use for this.

7.) DOCX Input – This is what your original file will have done to it while it converts into Mobi or EPUB.. I select “Do not try to auto detect a cover from images inside of the book” – this will only cause problems and duplicates if it is not turned off.. and “Do not add a page after every end note”..

8.) Mobi output. – This is what your final file will look like ..  the only options I select are “Do not add Table of Contents” (this is for the reason that you are going to convert your Mobi file to an EPUB – you cannot edit a Table of Contents to any file unless it is an epub first.) and I usually turn on “ignore margins” for the fact that it will alter your margins and could result into having to edit more..

9.) FINALLY, select “ok” .. at the bottom right corner of your screen will be a number under the metadata for your book that says (1) you can select this and watch your file convert.. You will then have to go through this process once more to go from a mobi file to an epub file to edit in your table of contents, the great thing about this process is that the table of contents will be added to both your mobi and epub because you converted the mobi to an epub.. this will not show on your mobi ebook when you open it through Calibre but if you end up having to upload MOBI to Amazon or another source it will automatically have your Table of Contents.

Step 4: Phew.. Hope you’re still with me after Conversion! – “Adding the Table of Contents through EPUB”..

Now you have converted your book which was the biggest challenge, you can now work on your Table of Contents which like I said will be used in your multiple formats but you can only edit your ToC through EPUB..

Simply select “Edit book” and it will open another screen where you will also have the option to edit your book through HTML .. I would suggest re-reading your book BEFORE you even add the file into Calibre because the last thing you want to have to do is edit through HTML .. I have for minor adjustments before but if you don’t have to, you really do not want to..

1.) Your blank Slate… This is what your table of contents looks like at first “blank” .. you will select “Create an entry” this will open the window to a side panel of your unnamed chapters.. Select your first entry which will most likely be your cover, You then on the right hand side of your screen will have a box for “Title of the entry”.. You would name this “Cover”

2.) For every chapter you will need to select a starting point of detection for the ebook to detect where to direct the reader when they choose to navigate with your ToC once they purchase your eBook.. You do this by scrolling over to your entry, a green bar will appear and you will go to the top of the page where you chapter or other page will start and select this.. This will become your navigation after your ToC is created.

3.) Once you finish your first entry you will select “OK” and be navigated back to your Table of Contents page, you will then select on the right hand side of your screen the button that says “Create a new entry below this entry” .. this will make sure your chapters are all separated and not consider “inside” of eachother..

4.) You will repeat this until you have every chapter detected and named.. Warning: You will regret ever creating a 50 or more chapter book..

5.) Once you are finished with your Table of Contents select “OK” and you will be navigated back to the editing html screen, you will scroll up to the top bar to “File” and select “Save” .. if you exit this screen without having saved, it will not keep your Table of Contents and I promise it will make you cry..

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FINALLY! The most fulfilling moment will be navigating back to your library and selecting “EPUB” that is your file format under the selected book in your libraries cover image.. This will open a screen that is in the shape of a tablet and you will be able to select the “T” button and see your Table of Contents..

Your files should save under a folder named “Calibre Library” when you are asked to upload your manuscript to Amazon or another source you will simply go to this folder and select EPUB or MOBI.. whichever they ask for..

Phew! You don’t realize how long of a process something is until you write it out! I hope this helps with formatting your eBook and if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a message and I’d be happy to help out in any way that I can!

Best of Luck!

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