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The Author Toolbox

The Author Toolbox

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The Author Toolbox

240 pagine
3 ore
Jul 8, 2017


Ever feel overwhelmed as a writer? Wonder how you will get it all done?

Becoming an author in today’s publishing world involves so much more than simply dreaming up an idea, putting words on a page, and then polishing it to perfection. There is also a website to build, a blog to write, a social media presence to build, a fan base to email, taxes to file, book launches to plan, and ongoing marketing campaigns to maintain…all while trying to write that next book and the one after that.

The Author Toolbox is filled with over 100 practical tools to help today’s author build a book, a platform, a business, and a career. Why? So we can get it all done while freeing up both time and mental energy to do the one thing we really desire…write.

Jul 8, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children including a daughter with Cornelia de Lange syndrome and a son with allergy-induced asthma. In addition to her personal experiences in the realm of special education, she is a volunteer Awareness Coordinator for the CdLS Foundation. She has published a dozen articles in publications including Exceptional Parent and Special Education Today. She has published several non-fiction titles including a book for parents with special needs children and several short or full-length devotionals on topics ranging from football to gardening. In the meantime, she is honing her fiction skills on inspirational romance and hopes to acquire an agent soon. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When not busy with her day job, writing, or speaking, Candee can be found shuttling her kids to various activities or reading a good book. She and her family make their home in Colorado.

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The Author Toolbox - Candee Fick



Once upon a time there was a woman who dreamed of writing a book. In the scope of her vivid imagination, she could see characters come to life on the page, editors in a bidding war over her manuscript, a book tour to launch the masterpiece, and a flood of money into her bank account. Enough cash that she could quit her day job, buy a cute little mountain cabin near a lake, and spend her days rambling around in nature while contemplating the next idea.

Yeah, I write fiction.

In real life, I have a day job, kids, laundry, a house to clean, meals to cook, and carpools to drive leaving me precious little time to devote to my dream of writing. Not to mention that crafting a manuscript wasn't enough. There were years of conferences, queries, rewrites, more manuscripts, and contests before I finally got a contract...which led to platform building, website development, marketing plans, launch teams, blog tours, and even more marketing while still trying to work on the next book idea.

When I first dreamed about writing a book, I never imagined how much work was involved beyond creating characters and recording their journey toward a happily-ever-after ending. Of course, learning how to write well was vitally important because I needed to have a good product to sell. However, I eventually learned the hard way that writing the book is only one piece of what it takes to be an author. I also had to build a platform, a business, and lay the foundation for a career.

Well, as the daughter of a carpenter, I knew that in order to build something that would endure, I needed both a plan and a box of tools. So I set out to discover the practical (and affordable) tools I needed to be successful and have collected them here as a way to help other aspiring authors work smarter, not harder. Of course, no list is totally comprehensive or could possibly include every tool on the market, but just like you don't need fourteen Phillips-head screwdrivers cluttering your toolbox, these basic tools should be enough to get you started as you...

Build a Book,

Build a Platform,

Build a Business,

and Build a Career.

Do you have the tools you need?

And why would you listen to me?

My love of all things literary began very early. As in I learned how to read at age four and was never far from a book afterward. Stories like Little House on the Prairie, The Black Stallion, and the Chronicles of Narnia fed my imagination long after I stepped away from the page. I gravitated toward other bookworms and school recesses were often filled with story reenactments or continuations long before fan fiction became popular.

Bonus tool #1? Read a lot. Learn the essence of story. Grow in craft by seeing how the bestsellers write. Keep your pulse on the market and what readers like. Inspire your own writing by keeping the creative well full. Set yourself a reading goal on Goodreads and discover new authors in your genre. Just read.

As I grew, I continued to read. But soon my teen-aged angst spilled out into a journal where I freely expressed the emotions of the season. Romantic crushes and rejections. Hopes and dreams for the future were offset with tear-stained pages of fears and worries. Bad free form poetry marched alongside written prayers.

Bonus tool #2? Journal the emotions of your personal journey. Unless you're writing a memoir, the exact events won't make their way into your books, but the emotions can. And should. All that angst from a romantic breakup will add realism to a scene when your heroine is betrayed by her best friend. So record those moments of fear, loneliness, regret, bitterness, and rage over injustice as well as times of innocence, joy, hope, anticipation, and the first blush of love.

Fast forward a few more years and I was a young mother of two including a special needs child. My days were spent chasing kids, cleaning up messes, and shuttling between therapy appointments while trying to implement the exercises at home and still maintain a healthy, normal family atmosphere. I continued to escape my reality through the pages of a book, but something new began to happen. I dreamed stories I had never read before.

I would awaken in the midst of a riveting scene, heart pounding with the emotion of the moment. The second time it happened, I couldn't think of anything else for hours...and we almost missed a doctor's appointment. Rather than let my children suffer, I quickly learned to scribble the dreams down with as much detail as I could recall including snippets of dialogue. My earliest novels found their roots in those dreams.

Bonus tool #3? Record all ideas when you get them. Whether it's a voice memo on your phone, a scribbled note beside your bed, or a physical file of newspaper clippings or photographs, keep track of those ideas somewhere. Then when you're looking for the next thing to write about, romp through the playground of ideas and see what strikes your fancy and captures your imagination. Some may percolate for years and develop into something rich while others fall by the forgotten wayside. But you won't know unless you've got that idea file in place.

For me, that file folder containing my scribbled dreams nagged until I made the decision that once my two munchkins were finally in school all day, I would start to write those ideas into full stories. Then a surprise baby threatened to derail my dream even longer, until a church sermon kicked me into gear. My pastor started a Climb the Mountain series based on a congregant's very real quest to climb Mount Everest. With the idea of a long journey, the need for a plan, specific tools, supportive friends, base camps at new plateaus, and finally the lure of success as object lessons, we were each challenged to identify the mountains in our lives that we wanted to climb. For some, their virtual Everest was an addiction or a failing relationship, but my mountain was this dream of writing a book.

Bonus tool #4? Have a plan to climb your mountain and pursue your dream. Start walking but look ahead to see the terrain. Gain knowledge and acquire the skills you need to navigate the obstacles. In other words, put some tools in your toolbox.

That sermon was in 2004. By the end of 2005, I had my first non-fiction manuscript complete but had no idea what to do next. That question led to a two-year mentored writing course, multiple published articles, my first published book in 2007, another non-fiction book, and the start of a devotional-type blog that led to a few more books. However, fiction had always been my passion even if it took a lot longer to learn the novel-writing craft. I wrote my first fiction manuscript in 2007, was runner-up in my first writing contest in 2009, continued writing and pitching my ideas to agents and editors, entered more contests, and attended many writing conferences. In 2014, I signed my first novel contract with a traditional publisher and my debut novel released in 2015, followed by more contracts.

Through the journey pursuing my dream, I've learned a lot of things the hard way and I'll be the first to admit that I'm still learning and discovering new tools to make this writing dream easier. Not to mention, with our unique personalities and writing styles, every author is different and what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. The ideas in this book are the tools I've used myself with an emphasis on being super practical and super cheap too. Since I've written both fiction and non-fiction, I'll do my best to show how these tools work for both types of books.

This book is divided into four sections. First, we'll look at ways to help get those words out of your head and onto paper so you can edit them into something beautiful. Then, we'll turn our attention to building a place for you to stand when you start telling people about your book and where they can buy it. Next, we'll talk about how to handle all the money you earn and still pay Uncle Sam. Finally, we'll develop a plan to do all over and over again. Each main topic starts with a checklist to get you started thinking about the types of tools that are available to put into your own toolbox. (The entire checklist is included at the back of the book or can be found at

My goal within these pages is to equip you with practical ways to accomplish all those other tasks that go along with being an author, thereby freeing up your time, money, and creative energy to do what matters write.

Part One:

Build a Book

Build a Book: Introduction

Practical Tools to Help Authors Build a Book

Do you have a ...

•  Word processing program (Word, Scrivener, etc.)

•  Place to write

•  Time to write

•  Equipment and supplies (laptop, index cards, pens, etc.)

•  Plotting method or do you create seat-of-the-pants style

•  Knowledge of basic manuscript formatting

•  Basic writing aids like a grammar program, Emotion Thesaurus, etc.

•  Critique partner or other objective feedback

•  Accountability partner

•  Growth program (craft books, classes, podcasts)

Much has been written elsewhere about what goes into the actual book (like fiction's plot, characters, and setting as well as conflict, dialogue, and consistent point-of-view) and we can assume that you already know how to find a computer or notebook in order to record your story.

The primary goal in this section is to help you get BICHOK (bottom in chair, hands on keyboard) so you can pound out those words and then use the other tools available to polish them into a well-crafted manuscript. None of the rest of this information matters without a good story, so let's get those words out of your head and onto paper so you can edit them.

A Time And A Place

The most important thing to a writer is writing. Without words on a page, the rest of this discussion about formatting, editing, pitching, platform building, and marketing is pointless. So the first tools to put in your toolbox are those that will help you write.

Of course, you will need something to write about (and I've got my go-to tools for plotting a novel and unpacking what makes a character tick), but that's a topic for later.

Tool #5: Set up a work station. This is a place where all of your writing resources and inspiration come together. It doesn't help to sit down at your laptop to write and then need to keep getting up to go find that reference book or pen to scribble a note to yourself. Maybe you're a lucky one with a home office or a computer station you don't share with other family members. If so, make sure it's stocked with everything you need at your fingertips because nothing is worse than putting your muse on hold while you run off to find that thing you need.

Of course, you might not be so lucky and end up writing on a laptop that travels anywhere from your dining room table to the coffee shop. My first book was written by hand on paper as I chased a crawling baby around the house, then transcribed onto our family computer during his naps. I've heard of others who wrote in a recliner in the corner of their bedroom and even one who set up a TV tray in her walk-in closet. If you find yourself in one of these types of situations, consider stocking a tote-bag with paper, pens, and your reference notes. Today, I alternate between my home office and other locations so I keep all my notes in Scrivener (more about that later) and always have my portable Bluetooth keyboard in my large purse along with a notebook and pens.

The point is having a well-stocked place to write because when you arrive, your brain knows that it's time to get to work.

Tool #6: Make an appointment with yourself. It's not enough to think about writing some day. You need to schedule time, mark it on the calendar, then show up. Depending on the other demands in your life, that might be a half hour in the morning before the family wakes up or a two hour block on Saturday mornings when you escape to a coffee shop. Maybe you pack a lunch and spend thirty minutes during your lunch hour at work. Or maybe you're lucky enough to have larger blocks of time during your day in order to write. If writing is important to you, then your schedule and calendar should reflect that priority somewhere.

Of course, you need to be realistic. Factor in transition time to get your brain shifted to the new task as well as that detour to the restroom and the kitchen for a snack. And have a plan to deal with distractions like children, phone calls, and incoming notifications on your phone. Some have found it helpful to build in a set of rewards for keeping their writing appointment or consequences for missing it. Find what works for you.

Word Processing Made Easy

Now that you have a place to write and a scheduled appointment to be there, it's time to get to work putting those words onto the page or screen.

Tool #7: Set a daily word count goal. Yes, daily. I've tried a weekly target but kept finding excuse-filled days pushing me toward an impossible Saturday marathon and burnout. I also tried to set a daily goal of 500 or 1000 words a day, but normal days were hard to find at our house. I later set individual goals for different days depending on appointments or other responsibilities. The important thing is to make writing a daily activity in order to exercise your creative muscles and develop internal discipline. Even if I only think I have time to write just one sentence or ten words, I always find myself writing more words than I thought simply by putting my fingers on the keys.

Tool #8: Get a timer. I have a ticking kitchen timer that sits above my computer, almost taunting me to keep the ticking of the keys at the pace of the ticking of the dial. At first, use the timer to make yourself sit there for fifteen minutes before being tempted to go check email or Facebook or even fold laundry. Then use the timer as a challenge to see how many words you can get down in half an hour. Finally, you may end up needing the timer to remind you to get up and move around every hour...or stop writing for the day in order to pick up the kids from school or fix dinner.

Tool #9: I have an old AlphaSmart Neo that is a dedicated word processor. Without being distracted by the other features of my laptop and the Internet, this tool forces me to write. And the tiny screen that only shows about four lines of text helps me to turn off my internal editor's desire to fix things and instead keep plowing ahead with new words. An easy Control-W command gives you the word count of the file you're working on so you can see how fast the words pile up. It runs on a few AA batteries that last for almost a year and it instantly saves every keystroke for you in eight different files. When you have a chapter or scene done, simply plug it in to your laptop, open Word, press Send, and watch your words appear. I'm not sure they make them anymore, but a quick Google search found a bunch on EBay for under $25 and more on Amazon.

Tool #10: Scrivener. This word processing program was originally designed for Apple/Mac computers but later came out with a PC version and now as an app for the iPad. With the ability to automatically back up the files to Dropbox, it's easy to work in my current manuscript on my laptop or on my iPad using my portable Bluetooth keyboard and then pick up where I left off on the other device. Plus the back-up feature to a cloud gives me peace of mind in case my laptop dies taking all my hard work with it. (More on backing up data later.)

The beauty of this software suite is that it keeps your manuscript and all the related research in one central place and allows you to easily rearrange the order of scenes without needing to cut and paste. Entire courses, multiple YouTube videos, and even a Dummies book have been dedicated to how to use this powerful program, but here are a few of my favorite features:

Project/Session Targets let you see a little bar move across as you type toward your daily word count goal and see how close you are to finishing the total project as well.

You can customize the Labels feature to color code scenes by differing points of view and see at a glance if the heroine is taking up too many scenes and you need to let the hero talk.

Split the screen and have two files open at once. This is handy when referring to a piece of research, a table or calendar of the story timeline, or even to show the picture of a character or the setting to help you get into the story as you write.

Use the index cards to create an outline and then a synopsis. Each section of text is attached to a virtual index card with a place for a title and text. I use the title line for a brief overview of the scene topic (like snowy outing or opening night or even black moment) and then summarize the action in a few sentences. I can check the pacing of the story at a glance and then use the scene summaries to jump start writing a synopsis.

Switch between scenes with a simple click instead of endless scrolling. This really comes in handy when you come up with a great plot twist and need to drop a few hints in an

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