Time for Writing: 8 Steps to Become a Weekend Writing Warrior

Carving out the time to write a book requires planning, persistence, and at times, a lot of caffeine.

Even with all the right elements in place, making time for writing is a major undertaking, especially when your days are filled with commitments to work, family, and social activities.

time for writing

So, you have a dream to write that book, but you’re locked into a schedule that’s keeping you from pursuing your dream.

I know the routine: Get up, work all day, come home and make dinner, and look after the kids (or unwind in front of the TV) and then you fall into bed, exhausted, before you have to do it all again the next day. 

When the weekend comes, you just want to kick back, take it easy, and put the week behind you. Then Monday comes around and the rat race starts all over again.

Soon you can hear yourself making excuses for all the reasons why you didn’t write:

“I was so busy this week I just didn’t have time…”

“I’ll do it next week when I’m more organized…”

“I’ll start writing when I’m feeling more motivated…”

“I’ll get to it once I quit my day job and have more time…” But as you know by now, there’s never a perfect time.

We’re always busy with something. And if we don’t take action when we can, the excuses will keep coming until we run out of time forever. 

Don’t let your dream die. I’m going to help you get your book done.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

Time for Writing: 8 Steps to Becoming a Weekend Writing Warrior

By becoming a weekend writing warrior, you can get it done. I know because I’ve done it. In this post I’ll share with you my 8 step strategy for writing a book on the weekends even if your week is crazy busy.

#1 – Start With Intentional Planning

When it comes to getting your writing done, strategy is everything. Without a plan, you drift; and when you drift, you end up back where you started, wasting more time while procrastinating.

The key to writing a book on your weekends is to get plan out how you will use your writing time. If you know ahead of time what you’ll be focusing on, where you’ll be writing and for how long, when it comes time to start writing, you’ll show up ready for keyboard action.

Our intentional planning model should consist of:

  • Researching topics, articles, and interviews
  • Chapter mind mapping
  • Crafting an outline

A good craftsman always shows up to create with his best tools. As writers, we need to spend time preparing to write before showing up at the keyboard. You want to do any necessary research outside of your writing time, not during it.

Stopping just to check that “one thing” breaks your writing flow (and often sends you off into the wilds of the internet, never to return).

During my writing sessions, if I get stuck and need to check on something, I’ll make a note in the paragraph like CBL [Come Back Later].

You can set up your chapters as well by doing brief mind maps for each. If you have crafted your book’s outline already, this should be easy. Take a few minutes each day during the week to do a quick outline for each chapter.

You don’t have to write anything until the weekend, but at the very least, make some notes about what you’re going to write when the weekend comes so you’re prepared.

#2 – Setting Up Your Writing Space

Your writing environment has a huge influence on how your writing sessions flow. Will you write in a coffee shop? A quiet room? Under the stairs?

Locked in a closet with just your laptop and a light bulb? Wherever you choose to write, it should be at least comfortable and a place you can stay focused for long periods of time.

My environment consists of my computer, motivational quotes, and mind maps for my books.

Here’s a table detailing what a good writing space looks like.

How to Start Writing TipExecution
Minimize Distractions
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog
- remind everyone it's YOUR time
- Turn your phone off
- Close ALL web browsers
- Close your email
Get Comfortable- invest in a GOOD chair
- or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy
- fill the area with motivational quotes
- make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise- turn off all sounds if it distracts you
- turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate
- choose energizing music to help you focus

Decorating your writing space adds to inspiration, but also serves as a reminder:

This is where you write. Make it a place that you can enjoy creating in. But does it have to be just the one place? Of course not. You can change writing locations and have two or three designated spots.

I would recommend having a primary spot you write in consistently, but have another place set up that you can get to just in case you need to change locations. Try out several places and see what works best.

Take note of how you feel working in your creative element.

Is it comfortable? 

Are you comfortable? 

Is it an energetic spot or, do you feel irritated and restless? 

Do you work better in a place that’s quiet [private room] or super noisy [Starbucks]?

On days when I spend all day writing, I’ll break it up into two different locales: one is my writing room, and the other is a coffee shop.

If the noise is a problem, I’ll wear headphones and tune out everything with some mellow writing music.

#3 – Show Up With Your Mind Map and Book Outline

I have shown up many times to write only to realize I had no plan for what I was writing. This leads to procrastination and then I look for something else to occupy my time.

Know what you are going to write by planning beforehand. Developing your mind map or a book outline is the surest way to start cutting into the pages.

Before you become a weekend writer, you’ll need your mind map and outline.

If you start writing without having done these important steps first, you’ll eventually end up stuck. Make sure you have your book fully mind mapped and a general working book outline.

Use your outline as a checklist to get your words down on paper with purpose. Each of your writing block sessions should have a clear purpose as to what you are going to write.

#4 – Eliminate Internet Distractions

One of the biggest obstacles writers face is being pulled out of their “writing zone” by message indicators, vibrations, and pop-ups.

This includes notifications that “you’ve got email” or, better yet, someone that you don’t even know has just liked one of your comments on Facebook and you feel that need to check it out right away.

My advice: unplug yourself from all things connected to the Internet. Here is what you do:

Option 1:Unplug yourself completely from the internet. Turn off Wi-Fi or physically unplug your network cable. This is the best option to separate yourself from the internet during your writing time. This is the “zero tolerance” method that I use as my number one choice for getting things done.

Option 2:Use productivity apps to eliminate or cut down on time spent checking certain sites. Use an app such as RescueTime to block the sites that distract you by choosing the amount of time you need to focus. RescueTime send you updates via email to let you know how much time was spent on certain websites. This is good to know, because the next time you catch yourself saying “I didn’t have time to write” but you spent three unproductive hours on a certain site, you can channel this time into your weekend writing schedule.

Two more apps I recommend are: Cold Turkey and SelfControl [for Mac]. Both apps are designed to reduce or eliminate wasted time, and this means higher focus and more time targeted for writing words fast.

In a nutshell: Sit Down. Unplug. Focus. Write.

#5 – Establishing a Writing Schedule & Time Slots

When time is limited, it’s important to be strategic in how you use it. In the previous step, we took action by cutting off our interaction with the Internet during our writing time.

The next thing we want to do is decide:

  • How long are your writing sessions going to be? 25 minutes? 40 minutes? One hour?
  • How many writing sessions are you doing today?

For example, I’ll do three one-hour sessions in a day. I’ll write for one hour, take a ten-minute break, repeat. During the break, get up and move around, stretch or grab some coffee.

How to Set Up Your Writing Session

One option is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Self-published author Steve Scott, who has written close to 70 books, utilized the Pomodoro Technique to structure his writing time. 

Set your timer for 25 minutes and write. Take a five-minute break, and repeat. This system works really well and is great for getting focused and writing in short bursts. If you want to go longer, set your timer for sixty minutes. I use the timer on my iPhone.

Set it for the time you are committed to writing and GO. You should focus only on your writing during this period.

No research, editing, or breaking the writing flow, unless there’s a house fire. Just write.

Set a goal for yourself to crank out one thousand words in an hour. These are longer stretches and can be tough for some people so if you are struggling, start with the Pomodoro System and ease your way into doing longer sessions.

#6 – Set Your Word Count Target

Many people get overwhelmed when they think about writing a book. But if you write 3000 words a day on the weekends, you can be done with the first draft of your book in a month. 

If you plan ahead and set your writing goal at a pace of 800-1200 words per hour, you’ll be done in thirty hours of writing time.

This might seem like a lot but think about it: How much time do you spend watching TV in a week? How much time do you spend at the office? How much time do you spend checking email or on social media?

It can be done, and you can do this!

Set a daily word count target for yourself. Be strategic about this and take a rough guess how long your book is going to be. If I know I’m planning to write a 25,000-word novella, if I crank out 6000 words per weekend, I can complete a draft in a month.

If your book is shorter or longer, you can adjust to fit your target deadline. You can easily track your word count in Scrivener. You can also use a Google spreadsheet or a simple Excel spreadsheet. By tracking your progress, you have a clear indication of how close you’re getting to your goal.

It’s also highly motivating to know you’re making progress.

#7 – Reward Yourself

There’s a famous proverb that says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

I have no idea who Jack was, but I do know that if you spend your entire weekend writing, you’re going to need some R&R at the end of it. This is a critical stage.

If you spend week after week putting in time at work and then working more on the weekend, even if it is a passion project like writing your novel, you’ll get burned out and feel less inspired when the next weekend comes around. You deserve a break.

Do something for yourself. Go to a movie. Take your friends out to dinner. Get away from the manuscript.

I usually end the weekend by engaging in some fun activities such as:

  • Watching a movie
  • Spending time with the kids
  • Taking a long walk or running
  • Taking a long drive and thinking about future goals and what I accomplished this weekend
  • Meditating or working out

#8 – Plan Your Next Writing Weekend

There’s one more stage after you have wrapped things up at the end of your writing weekend.

This is an important step.

Before you pack it up, take ten minutes to draft a quick action plan for the week. This consists of the book research, chapter outlining, and anything else you need to do outside of the writing process.

I do this step Sunday night before bed. Then, when the week starts I know exactly what work on to set myself up for success the following weekend. The alternative to this is to spend five minutes each night writing down what you’ll do the next day.

Do you need to outline your next chapter? Tighten up your overall book outline? Reach out to any online influencers about your next book release? This step is part of the intentional planning phase that will keep you focused.

So even while you are busy in the week with your other commitments, having a short list to refer to makes your mission clear.

The weekend is nearly here again. Are you ready? Don’t make excuses—get your book written. You can do this. If you follow the 8-step plan, three months from now you can be celebrating the publication of your next book.

The next time someone asks you the question: “How do you find the time to write?” You can now tell them: “Oh, it’s easy. I write books on the weekends.”

What to do Next

Now it’s time to cut the reading and get to learning.

If you’re ready to write a book and self-publish it, in the next 90 days, join your free training!

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Are you able to pump out books quickly while maintaining quality? What tips do you have to write faster?

Hemingway App: How the Hemingway Editor Can Make You a Better Writer

Writing without editing is like building a house without walls.

If you don’t think so, then you’re probably not someone who’s serious about writing – and writing well.

Not only does editing your own writing help you improve as a writer, but it’s also necessary to turn your very first thoughts of the story or book into something that actually represents how it looks inside your mind.

You know how it is.

Sometimes your writing just doesn’t do the story or book in your head justice.

Using the Hemingway App editor is a perfect way to get as close as possible to bringing your true vision to life.

hemingway app review

What is the Hemingway App Editor?

The Hemingway App is an editor that highlights and corrects grammar, fluency, and sentence structure in order to help your writing read and look better.

If you’re new to the world of writing software, you may not be aware of what’s available for you.

The Hemingway App is just one of many resources out there designed to not only improve your writing as you have it but also teach you how to write better and produce tighter, neater prose in your books.

NOTE: If you want to know how to improve your writing with or without the use of a software like the Hemingway App Editor, we cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

Is the Hemingway App Editor Right for You?

When it comes to choosing a writing software that’s best for you, there’s a lot to consider.

We make it easier for you. This quiz will tell you which writing software is best for your needs. Who knows, maybe the Hemingway App is your perfect match!

Want to find the best writing software for you in just MINUTES? Take this quiz and we’ll tell you exactly which one will help your writing process the most.

Click Here to Take the Quiz

Hemingway App Benefits

Before we get into the real review, let’s touch on the benefits of the Hemingway App in order to help you understand exactly what this writing program has to offer.

#1 – It’s very simple to use

The Hemingway editor is not a difficult editing tool to use. In fact, it’s as easy as copying and pasting – because that’s literally all you have to do.

Just copy the writing you have and drop it into the editor. Then, BOOM, your work has been edited.

Technically, your work has been commented on, and it’s up to you to make the necessary edits suggested by the editor.

As far as ease of use, the Hemingway app is perfect.

#2 – It creates better-sounding writing

A lot of what makes the Hemingway app unique is that its purpose is to help your writing read more fluidly.

One of the main issues with many people’s writing is that it often sounds choppy.

The smoothness of writing is a coveted skill not many possess naturally and therefore, the Hemingway app editor makes it easy to see where your flow is falling short.

Once you know what to watch out for and what habits you tend to fall into, you can correct them going forward and have smoother, easier-to-read prose.

hemingway editor example

#3 – Anyone can use it

If you have the ability to write, copy, and paste, you can use the Hemingway app editor.

Because this editor works by giving you suggestions within your writing, you’ll have to be able to read and decipher what each piece of advice means as well.

But as long as you can copy and paste your work as well as understand the tips the app is giving you, you can use this.

#4 – It’s cheap or free

Although you can purchase a desktop version of the Hemingway app editor, it’s also completely free to use on their website.

You can just go to Hemingwayapp.com and paste your writing in the space where their writing is.

The results and editing tips immediately populate – all for free.

hemingway editor review example

#5 – You get better the more you use it

As I’ve mentioned above, this is a great app to use whenever you want to check your writing for major grammatical and spelling errors, but you can also use this as a learning tool.

Whenever you input copy for the app to edit, make note of results that pop up time and time again. This will show you where your weakest points are and it also allows you to gauge how much you’re improving whenever you use it.

Hemingway App Editor Review

Let’s get into the real stuff – whether or not the Hemingway App is really worth all the hype.

Take a look at the video below to understand how it works and your different options when it comes to using the Hemingway editor.

Ease of use: 5/5

This editing app is the easiest I’ve seen to use. It’s literally as simple as copy and pasting, as I mentioned above.

The best part about this editor, though, is that its simplicity allows you to use it often and quickly.

Even if you want to just check over an urgent email before sending it, you can do so within a minute.

Functionality: 4/5

The Hemingway app functions just as you’d expect. As far as whether or not the editor does as advertised, it does – but only to a certain extent, which I’ll touch on in the next point.

The app does actually highlight and pinpoint the different areas you can improve on, as well as telling you what reading level your writing is at and how many words it is, as seen below.

Reliability: 3/5

One of the downsides of this editing software is that it doesn’t take style and writer voice into account when editing.

This app basically works to correct the most basic common writing problems. However, if you have a very distinct style or a writing voice that strays from “normal” writing guidelines, this editor won’t be able to detect that and edit accordingly.

Therefore, it’s not as reliable for fiction writers because the voices used in writing tend to differ.

Overall: 4/5

Overall, the Hemingway App editor is a great way to make your writing stronger very quickly. However, keep in mind that this should not be used as an editor for every piece of writing you do.

If you’re someone who wants to use it in order to see which areas you need help with, that’s great.

But you will still need to hire an editor even after using this if you want the best quality writing.

Why are adverbs bad in the Hemingway App?

Adverbs are considered bad in writing because they’re weak and can often be replaced with a stronger, more accurate word to reflect the same idea.

I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote by Stephen King about adverbs.

“The path to hell is paved with adverbs.”

If you want your writing to be impactful, you have to use strong verbs instead of adverbs in order to get the point across.

For Example:

She ran quickly to grab her backpack before leaving for school.

She sprinted to grab her backpack before leaving for school.

These two sentences say the same thing, but the second is stronger due using a better, more fitting verb instead of an adverb.

How does this involve the Hemingway App editor?

The editor is designed to find little mistakes like this in order to help you write with more clarity and intrigue. You won’t have to worry about missing these mistakes when self-editing because the app will point them out for you.

Your Next Steps – If You’re Ready

At this point, you have to make a decision.

Either take action to write your book, or allow yourself to wait, take your time, and probably not get your book done at all.

It might sound hard, but facts don’t lie. The longer you wait, the bigger the chance that you’ll never do your book idea justice.

And even if you think you’re prepared and ready by using the Hemingway App editor, you’re far from it.

In fact, it hardly ever does.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

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Have you used the Hemingway App editor? Do you know of anything better? Drop those comments below!

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book? A Detail of Full Expenses

You already know. There is a cost to self-publish a book. Much like with any worthwhile endeavor, you may have to sacrifice some cash in order to make more down the road.

“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.”

– Joanna Penn

It’s been an epic journey, from coming up with your idea to fleshing out the first draft of your book, and now, it’s time to launch your book out to the world for everyone to enjoy.

how much does it cost to publish

However, you may be wondering, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” Self-publishing has broken down a lot of barriers for writers and dramatically lowered the costs of publishing a book, but there are still some involved.

Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords, first-time authors and professional authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1,000.

On the other hand, you can spend as much as $20,000 on self-publishing and book marketing costs if you have that kind of budget. Let’s break down the costs of the self-publishing process.

We’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.

NOTE: We cut down self-publishing costs covered in this post by detailing the best methods for writing, marketing, and self-publishing a book in our VIP 2.0 Self-Publishing Program.

Learn more about it here

The Rise of Self-Publishing

If you’re an author dreaming of making your books available to millions of readers, you can make it happen. You only have to invest your time, some money, and a little bit of sanity.

The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible for us to all fly with our books. Are you ready to make yours fly?

There are many factors that can affect the cost of publishing your book.

What it really boils down to is this: How much are you willing to spend, and how well do you want your book to sell?

The reason I ask these questions is because if you go cheap on everything, you could end up putting out a low-quality book that gets panned by bad reviews, and then it won’t sell.

When publishing on Amazon, quality sells. And yes, quality costs money. But there are ways you can creatively cut costs and still put out a quality book. Let’s take a look.

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

To start, let’s look at a sample budget. Now, these aren’t the high-end numbers for self-publishing. You can spend as much money as you want — this is a list of budget-conscious pricing for getting your book done within a reasonable budget.

I’ll go into each of these in more detail, with links you can check out for yourself and find what works within your budget.

Take some time to shop around see where to get the best value for the best price.

However, these are some average prices you can expect when self-publishing your book.

What You NeedDetailsAverage Cost
Professional Cover DesignEach book NEEDS a professional cover. People judge books by covers and without investing in one, your book will fail.$100 - $600
Professional EditingEven if you're the best writer out there, your book will still need a fresh, unbiased pair of eyes on it.$300 - $1,500
FormattingA good book needs proper formatting for paperback, hardback (if you want this) and for Ebook. Luckily, this can be included with cover design at many design firms.$50 - $300
PromotionIf you want to run ads for your site or pay your launch team in any way, these are costs you will have to cover.$0 - $500
Author ToolsThis includes courses, building your site, automated email services, writing software, and more.$175 +

How Much Does a Book Cover Designer Cost?

Even though we’ve been told “you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” the reality is, we do it anyway. The design of your book can often determine whether or not people will actually pay for it and read it. Your cover will make or break your book right off the bat. If there’s any one cost you don’t want to go cheap on, this would be it.

While it’s true you can outsource to someone on Fiverr and get a decent cover for less than $20, it pays to do your research and find a better designer who is going to deliver a cover that sells your book.

Cover designers aren’t just talented creators. Many who do it as a living have inside market knowledge and tailor your book cover for your specific genre.

If you do decide to go through Fiverr, check out this video Chandler Bolt recorded on how to use Fiverr.com to outsource your book cover design.

I would recommend setting aside a budget of at least $100. This isn’t to say that spending tons of money will get you an awesome cover, but going cheap may hurt your sales in the long run.

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

A high-quality book should always be edited by a real editor. Whether you hire a line editor or copy editor, you should get a professional to look over your work. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself with 30 years of experience, you need to outsource it to a professional editor.

Trust me: A book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat.

Love your book by spending the cash on editing. You can find quality editors at Upwork, or you can find the editors we recommend in our Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex if you’re a member of the Self-Publishing School community.

You can get a very short book, around 15,000 words, line edited for about $150-$250. 

Ghostwriting, developmental or structural editing will run you much more than that depending on the length of your book and the depth of edits you require — prices run around $2,000 for 100,000 words.

How Much Does Book Formatting Cost?

When it’s time to format your book, if you’re publishing on Amazon, you might want to get it formatted both for print and for Kindle. You can outsource the formatting of both your e-book and print book for around $60-$200.

Fiverr has some good formatters at reasonable prices. I’d also recommend asking fellow authors if they have any great recommendations for book formatters.

Once you find a book formatter you really like, hang on to their contact information for future reference.

How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?

When it comes to spending cash on promotional sites, you could empty your bank easily. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best within that budget.

Budgets vary but I’ll spend $29 on the low end for Buck Books and go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book. Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results.

For the best results on several paid launches, I have used:

When it comes to paid promotions, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return. Check out this detailed list of promo sites — some are free!

How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?

 Creating an audiobook can run you anywhere from $300 to $3,000 depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it.

If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can run towards the high end of the budget, especially if you’re using high-end talent.

If you have a good voice or acting experience and you want to give it a shot, you can purchase the basic equipment and record the audiobook version yourself. Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.

Additional Author Tools and Expenses

Here are some of the basic tools for professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment. Other tools will bill you monthly.

#1 – Book Publishing Courses

If you’re new to the game of self-publishing, take a course like Self-Publishing School or join our Mastermind Community, for everything you need to get started.

You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy.

But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and branching out to learn other skills after you get your first big win.

#2 – An Author Website

Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs and promote your work. You can build an entire website or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in.

It’s also important to capture leads to build your mailing list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.

Here are some things you’ll need to look into in order to get started with building a website:

  • Hosting: You can sign up for hosting with servers such as Bluehost or Hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year, which is very reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.
  • Domain Name: You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out Name.com. A domain name will cost around $10-$15 per year.
  • Email Subscription Services:
  • If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up for an email subscription service to manage your emails. There are several choices:
    • MailChimp: This is free up to the first 2000 subscribers. If you opt in to use their autoresponder service or other upgrades, you’ll have to pay around $10 a month depending on the number of subscribers.
    • AWeber: This platform costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
    • ConvertKit.com: ConvertKit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers but starts at $29 a month for your first 1,000 subscribers. This is now one of the most robust sites for building an email list.

#3 – Publish Under Your Own Company

I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but there are perks to publishing your print book under your own company, instead of publishing with a CreateSpace (which has now merged with KDP) ISBN or another print-on-demand service.

The ISBN (the 13-digit number above the barcode at the back of your book) lets bookstores and libraries know everything about your book, including the publisher.

If you use a free, generic ISBN assigned to you by CreateSpace or Ingramspark, you’ll limit your chances of a bookstore carrying your own book.

Free ISBNs eliminate your ebook from being stocked on Overdrive, for example, which circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014 to public libraries all over the world.

Getting your own ISBN and setting yourself up as your own publisher will cost $295 for 10 ISBN codes, but it will help you access all distribution channels.

This isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out — it’s more important to publish your book and get it out there. However, if you are serious about building a self-publishing empire and making a full-time living from your writing, you’ll want to eventually invest in getting your own ISBN codes and setting up your own publishing company.

How to Increase Book Sales

We all want to make cash with our writing. It may not be the only reason we write, but self-publishing your own book is still an investment. And like any investment, it’s nice to get a return rather than taking a loss. Here is a list of strategies you can implement to increase your book sales and get more eyeballs on your work.

  1. Run a contest through Goodreads.
  2. Reach out to podcasters and influencers in your niche and set up an interview. This has proven to be a big game-changer for authors like Hal Elrod and Tim Ferriss.
  3. Run promos every 3 months. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to 99 cents again. Set up some paid ads every other day for one week. Try using the KDP countdown strategy.
  4. Blog about the topics in your book. Set up a blog and get more traffic and interest in your work by writing about what you love. Traffic that lands on your page can be directed to your Amazon Author Page and that means more book sales!
  5. Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
  6. Apply for a spot on Bookbub. Bookbub is the big gorilla when it comes to book promoting. It’s expensive ($300 and up), but it’s a solid investment and you will make your money back on the promo costs. You can check out Bookbub here and sign up for an author account to get started.

4 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs

Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. Here are a few tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.

#1 – Save Money on Book Formatting (if you dare!)

Write your ebook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the number one author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money on formatting costs.

If you’d like to learn more about how it works, check out this Scrivener Webinar hosted by Joseph Michael with Chandler Bolt. Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer also offers a bundle of book design templates for both fiction and nonfiction.

These templates cost money but will save you money in the long run from outsourcing. I have personally been using these to do the formatting for my books.

It can be time-consuming at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll save money on formatting costs.

#2 – Build a List of Email Subscribers

Although this topic deserves its own blog (or book), I’ll mention it here because if you build up an email list now, it can save you thousands of dollars in promotional costs down the road.

When you launch your next book, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of fans waiting for your next release.

Not only that, but these are the fans who will leave reviews if they join your book launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.

This drives your rankings up, and this drives sales even further. Sound good?

You can start to build your email list by including a link to a lead magnet in your ebook. A lead magnet is an offer of a free, valuable piece of content that readers will get if they go to your website and subscribe to your email list.

#3 – Barter When You Can

If you’re just starting out with self-publishing and you’re on a tight budget, look to barter services when you can. By coming to a deal where you exchange your services or something you have that is of value to people, you can save yourself lots of money.

As a writer, maybe you have some copywriting skills.

See if you can share some of that in exchange for design work from a cover designer. But it doesn’t have to be just raw skills that you barter — Dana Sitar got a cartoonist friend of hers to do the illustrations for her book in exchange for $50 and 10 percent of direct sales of the book.

It’s a decision she doesn’t regret, as the illustrations get her raving reviews. If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to fully cut back on the quality of your book.

See if there are possibilities to cut a deal and get the service you require to set your book apart.

#4 – Write a Great Book!

This might seem like an obvious tip, but paying attention to the quality of your book throughout the writing process is going to save you money. The better your book, the less you’ll have to spend on editing.

You will also gain a solid reputation as someone who writes really well. This means loyal fans will spread the word about your book and your blog, your email list grows, and any future books you release will practically promote themselves.

Well, almost.

Your Next Step

We are in a great era of self-publishing.

Anyone can turn their dream into a reality with just a few months of hard work, a bit of cash, and a great book idea. We’ve broken down the cost to publish your book so that you have a rough idea of what to budget. Writers have gone on to publish bestsellers with as little an investment as $1,000, while others have required up to $20,000.

It all depends what you prioritize and if you can save costs in a manner that doesn’t decrease the quality of your book.

While money matters, remember the reasons you want to self-publish your book: to get your message out there, build authority, and add something new to the world.

Spend what you can to make your book as high quality as possible. If your audience likes it, you’ll be sure to hit your goals.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

How much are you willing to pay to get your book written, published, and selling well? Let us know in the comments below!

Traditional VS Self-Publishing 2019: Everything to Consider Before Deciding

You might be about to make the wrong decision.

It’s scary. You want to or have already written a book and now it’s time to decide between traditional versus self-publishing.

Which can help your book see the light of day?

traditional versus self publishing

Traditional Versus Self-Publishing

You’ve finally made the decision. After years of saying “I should,” you’ve made the bold decision to finally sit down and write your book.

It’s a tough, yet brave decision. Sitting down to get your message out in the world will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do.

But now that you’ve made this decision, you may be wondering: 

Should I approach a publisher and go down the traditional route? Or should I self-publish and become an indie author? Which is better, traditional publishing versus self-publishing?

Before the age of the internet, the only way a writer could get their book in front of millions was to send a book proposal and a query letter to a traditional publisher or agent. The writer hoped that day’s gatekeeper had drank their morning coffee, woken up on the right side of the bed and actually given your letter and proposal more than a 10-second glance.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.

This resulted in brilliant people like yourself being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, stories, and knowledge with the world.

Talk to an Expert About Traditional Publishing Versus Self-Publishing

If you want to skip right to the good stuff, give one of our experts a call, explain what you want out of publishing a book, and they can help you decide which avenue is right for you.

This is a FREE coaching call designed to help you understand what you want to get out of this process.

Don’t make the mistake of pursuing the wrong path and wasting too much time – and even money in some cases. Just click the button below in order to schedule a call and discover whether traditional publishing versus self-publishing is best for you.

The Publishing Industry Is Shifting

Thankfully, this industry is changing for the better – at least for those of us who are savvy in self-publishing.

With the development of online marketplaces like Amazon, the publishing process has changed. You can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house thinks about your idea.

You have a book inside of you and the world needs to read it!

Type of WritingWord CountPages in a Typical BookExample
Short story100 - 15,000 1 - 24 pages"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry
Novella30,000 - 60,000100 - 200 pages"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
Novel60,000 - 100,000200 - 350 pages"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": by JK Rowling
Epic Novel120,00 - 220,000+400 - 750+ pages"Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin

Why Self-Publishing?

The publishing world has changed, and it’s time for you to reap the benefits. Here are seven reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll think twice before dealing with a publishing company again.

#1 – You Don’t Have to Wait for Permission

With self-published books, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light.

  • You decide when and how to publish a book.
  • You decide whose hands your book gets into.
  • You decide how successful you are.

In other words, you don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the global market.

“But, don’t traditional publishers have a good idea for what will sell or not? I mean, if they reject my book, they’re probably right that no one would want to buy it.”

Wrong.

Have you ever heard of Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek”? It has been a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller for over four years. It sold nearly 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 35 different languages.

Oh, and get this: It was rejected by the first 26 publishers it was presented to.

Maybe you’ve also heard of a certain children’s book, the one about a young boy with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead who discovers he is a wizard. The ”Harry Potter” franchise is a patent bestseller, with the last four books in the series being the fastest-selling books in history. 

Yet it was rejected by 12 publishers in a row, and was only picked up because the eight-year-old daughter of an editor demanded to read the rest of the book. Even then, after the editor agreed to publish, they advised J.K. Rowling to get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children’s books.

Little did they realize the publishing success they had stumbled onto.

Now, just imagine all the other authors out there who stopped after the first 10 or 20 doors slammed in their faces, believing the lie that they didn’t have a profitable idea.

You cannot allow other people to determine your success.

Self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that. You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than one person at a publishing firm who may not realize the potential publishing success in their hands. 

#2 – You Can Publish Your Work Quickly

If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish.

For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accept your proposal, it will take at least another year before the book is actually published.

With self-publishing, you can produce your content as quickly as you want. And in the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish a new book whenever you want. That way, you can share your work as quickly as you create it!

#3 – Bring Home the (passive) Bacon

Traditionally-published authors are typically paid an amount of money up front. However, once the sales come rolling in, they only get a small cut of the earnings. 

Why? Because they have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.

But when you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing, book production and publishing). On Amazon, for example, self-published authors receive 70% of the royalties for an eBook priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Now that isn’t bad!

#4 – You Form Invaluable Connections

Self-publishers around the world have gathered online and in person to provide a community that supports one another in publishing their work.

These connections become priceless as you meet other up-and-coming influencers like yourself.

“Wait—so where would I meet these people?”

Because self-publishing requires that you find your own editor, cover designer, formatter and launch team members, you end up connecting with people throughout your whole writing experience.

Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.

The camaraderie allows people to expand far beyond what they could have done on their own, or what they would have been limited to with a traditional publisher.

#5 – You Control Your Objective

So much of a book is influenced by the motive that fuels it.

  • Is your motive to make money?
  • It is to launch a new career?
  • Is it to share your story?
  • Is it to become a public speaker?
  • Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?

Remember, writing a book is hard work. And nothing is worse than seeing your hard work be transformed into something you didn’t want. When you self-publish, you are able to preserve the dignity and genius of your objective. No one is pressuring you to sell more books, or to taint your message so that it will reach wider audiences.

You are not pigeonholed or made to become someone you’re not comfortable with.

You write as you, and for you. And that is liberating. That is self-publishing freedom!

#6 – You Control Your Creative Concept

There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after they went down the traditional route. 

When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.

Your book may become something you are not comfortable with. Or, your dreams for a sequel or a revision may be completely squandered if it does not comply with the motives of the traditional publisher.

But as an independent author, you retain total creative control. 

You are free to be expressive with your work. You are free to be vulnerable and controversial. You are free to be you.

When you self-publish, you also control who you write for. If you sell via the Amazon Kindle store, you can choose, and then tweak, your categories and keywords. You determine your marketing efforts.

With 45 percent of e-book sales going to indie authors, audiences are showing that they respect and want to purchase the ideas of everyone—not just those endorsed by traditional publishers.

#7 – You Control Your Future

Most people looking to write a book want to earn more money, gain more freedom or have a platform to share their ideas.

When you self-publish and have complete ownership over your ideas, you also have complete ownership over your future.

There is no traditional publishing firm to stop you from selling a supplementary online course that includes material from your book, starting a speaking career, re-releasing your book with a hardcover or audiobook, or even releasing an updated version of your book.

You determine the trajectory of your book, your ideas, and your publishing career when you self-publish.

Even Big Names Choose Between Traditional Publishing VS Self-Publishing

Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established and successful authors admit that the joys of being an indie author outweigh a traditional publishing deal.

So much, in fact, that big name entrepreneurs who have large followings and could easily get a traditional publishing deal are opting to go the self-publishing route.

These people include Pat Flynn, Jeff Goins, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, Johnny B. Truant and James Altucher.

Why Go With Traditional Publishing?

As you can probably tell, we here at Self-Publishing School are huge advocates of being in control and ensuring you get all the money you deserve for the work you’ve put in.

That being said, sometimes traditional publishing will be the best option to fit your needs.

Here is why some people might opt to go with traditional publishing instead of reaping the rewards of self-publishing.

#1 – You have connections in the publishing industry

The chances of landing and agent and making it in traditional publishing is very low.

Because this market is very saturated and publishers really only publish certain types of books, those who have better luck with traditional publishing are those who have connections within the industry.

Bascially, if you know someone who is an agent or an editor at a publishing house, it might be beneficial for you to work with them in order to get published through that house.

#2 – You want the label

The best perk when it comes to traditional publishing is typically the fact that you can say you’re a traditionally published author.

Because you have to go through a number of different processes and rejections in order to “make it” with traditional publishing, it can be seen as a sign that you’re a better writer than others.

However, as much as it can sound impressive, it doesn’t always mean it is.

#3 – Distribution

Book distribution is much easier as a traditionally published author, mostly because you don’t have to deal with any of it.

Traditional publishing houses have very wide reaches and because of this, your book can reach a lot more stores in more places than if you traditionally publish.

#4 – Less responsibility on your part

If you’re the type of person who just wants to write the book but don’t want to worry about the title, cover, editing, or more, then traditional might be for you.

Keep in mind that traditional publishers do purchase the rights to your book when you get a book deal and therefore, can make you alter anything in it to meet their needs.

Meaning, your plot and characters can drastically change. If you’re okay with that, then traditional publishing works for you.

#5 – No upfront costs to you

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean traditional publishing is necessarily “free.”

Typically, those who get traditional book deals receive an upfront payment of varying amounts. From there, the rest of the expenses fall on the publisher.

However, those upfront payments aren’t often big enough to cover your living expenses for the length of time it takes to get your book finished and out into the world. And that means you’ll still have to continue to work another job while writing and meeting deadlines in order to get your book done.

#6 – A slow and steady process

This can be both a pro and a con. If you’re not in a rush to get your book out into the world, then the slow and lengthy traditional publishing process might be a good thing for you.

Ultimately, Self-Publishing Will Change Your Life

It may be that, like quite a few writers, you’ve dreamed about working with a big-name publishing house all your life, and nothing will satisfy you until you get that experience. There is nothing wrong with that.

If you’ve identified this need early on, then maybe it’s best for you to go down the traditional publishing route. 

But let’s say you win the book lottery and get published. There is still no guarantee that your publisher’s efforts will get your work in bookstores or into the hands of the editors of your favorite literary magazines and newspapers. There’s also no guarantee in sales volume. 

However, self-publishing gives you an alternative path. It gives you an assured chance of getting your book out there. You have a better chance of seeing success in your sales and making an impact if your message resonates with enough people. Not to mention, you get to stay true to the vision of your book.

Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community and control to shape your life into one that you adore.

So, start writing your own bestseller today.

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish six bestselling books in a row…and use them to build a seven-figure business in less than two years. Click here to save your spot now!

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Character Development: How to Write Lifelike and Intriguing Characters Easily

The character development in your story is vital for its selling.

Think about it.

Why do people continue to purchase books in a series? It’s not always because of the storyline.

In fact, more often than not, it’s because someone fell in love with the characters and care so much about them and their journey that they’re willing to follow them through the entirety of it.

That is why you need to put an emphasis on the character development in the book you’re writing – or preparing to write.

character development

Stick with us through this post and you’ll learn exactly how to accomplish character development in a way that will make readers think about your characters as if they were real people.

We’ll cover these main character development concepts in detail:

  1. Types of Character Development
  1. 12 Valuable Character Development Tips
  1. Character Development Exercises
  1. Character Arcs
  2. How to Create Strong Character Arcs

Once you nail all of these, you’ll be writing strong characters in no time.

Talk to an Expert to Discuss Your Character Development

Did you know we have our experts on hand to help you with your books – for free!

It’s true.

Just book a call for a FREE 20-minute coaching call and our experts can help you gain clarity

BOOK A FREE COACHING CALL! Talk with one of our experts by clicking the button below and scheduling your free coaching call.

What is Character Development?

Character development is the process and execution of creating a fully rounded, complex, and lifelike character within your fictional writing with the purpose of making readers invested in them and their life or journey.

But before we get into the extensive details, I’m going to cover what constitutes a well-developed character as well as the different types of character development you may consider.

What is a Well Developed Character?

In order to have a well-developed character, they need a full backstory, personality traits reflective of it, realistic actions and emotions, along with being highly relatable to the average reader and as complex as a real person.

If you can’t imagine your characters as a real-life person, they’re not quite complex enough to be well developed. The key with character development is crafting your characters to feel as if they’re people you know who just live far away.

Get comfortable with thinking of them as real and you almost always will have a well-developed character.

Types of Character Development

When it comes to learning how to write characters – and write them well – you have to understand which type of character you’re dealing with.

These are the different types of characters to write:

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Secondary
  • Static
  • Foil
  • Stock
  • Dynamic/Round

Don’t be alarmed if you think this is a lot of different types of characters. After all, we all have people in our real lives who would fill these character “types” and that’s why it’s important for your book to include them.

Without them, you can’t go through with character development and expect a captivating cast.

But let’s help you understand what each type of character brings to the story.

Here’s a chart describing the types of character development you’ll have to execute on.

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With this information, you can better understand which character development to focus on with each of the fictional people you create.

12 Actionable Character Development Tips

Now that you know which type of character you’re focusing on here when writing your book, let’s dive deeper into the character development methods you can use and exercises to help you get it right.

#1 – Create a background for each character

Our realities are shaped by where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.

That being said, the one with the most influence on our lives is where we’ve been – our past.

The same is likely true for your character. Based on what their life was like prior to the start of your novel, they’ll have different interests, quirks, fears, and more.

Your job is to fill out what their life has looked like up until the beginning of your book.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Fill out a character development sheet so you can understand your characters as full-fleshed people instead of just two-dimensional beings you created.

Cover these main ideas when crafting your character’s background:

    • Their childhood (good, bad, poverty-stricken, spoiled, etc.)
    • Their parents (divorced, never married, one missing, both missing)
    • Their friendships
    • Their hobbies and interests as a kid versus now
    • Their motivations for feeling the way they do about any given situation
  • Their personality type and how it affects their actions

These are some basic elements you should understand about your character in order to shape their personality, opinions, and actions that appropriately fit their background.

#2 – Know your characters’ strengths and weaknesses

One of the biggest means of influence over your characters will be their strengths or weaknesses.

We, as humans, constantly face our strengths and weaknesses on a daily basis, even in the smallest of forms.

What your characters are good at and what they’re not great at will affect how they perceive different events, what actions they choose to take, and can affect their overall character arc (which we’ll touch on later).

If your character’s strength is talking to strangers and gaining their trust, this might be an asset for them throughout their journey. However, if that is your character’s weakness and they’re forced to do so, it can cause conflict for them.

These strengths and weaknesses will shape your character arc and the plot as a whole, so know them well before writing.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Create a list of 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses for your characters. Make sure these play into the plot in order to cause conflict and gain sympathy from readers who can relate.

#3 – Create nervous ticks or habits

If you’ve paid attention to humans for long enough, you’re aware that we all have certain habits we don’t even realize we’re doing when we’re nervous.

Me? I pick at the skin around my nails. It’s a pain (literally) and I never notice I’m doing it until later.

This can be a key characteristic that will make your characters feel more real and help make them more relatable to your readers, which will make them want to give you those 5-star reviews.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Make a small list for each of your characters. Write down 2 odd habits for each of them and decide which is their go-to (the one they do without even thinking about it) and which is made worse through nerves or anxiety.

#4 – No character can be perfect

It can be really hard to write your favorite fictional person as having flaws. After all, we want people to love them, right?

But a “perfect” character is not lovable – they’re hateable because it’s not realistic.

The more you try to make your character “flawless,” the less readers can relate and therefore, they’ll like them less. You have to build flaws into your character just like we all have drawbacks in real like.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
List 3 major flaws your character has that can actually become problems within your plot. Think about any bad habits they have, situations they dislike, or even personality traits that aren’t seen as “good” in order to craft these flaws in a realistic fashion.

character development tip

#5 – All characters need realistic motives

No matter which character they or what they want in your story, they need to have a real and valid reason for feeling this way.

Take He Who Shall Not Be Named from Harry Potter for example.

Voldemort (woops!) wants to kill Harry. That much we should all know – even if you’ve never read or seen the movies. But if he was just trying to kill Harry Potter for the sake of murdering a child, it wouldn’t’ make sense.

Yes, he’s evil, but he also has a valid reason for wanting him dead, right?

He has to kill Harry Potter because he’s the only person who was able to defeat him before – and because the prophecy says so.

If your characters – no matter how minor they are – don’t have a motive that makes sense, readers will be pulled out of the story and end up questioning what’s happening, and not in a good way.

This is largely how plot holes arise so in order to avoid them, stick to this character development method.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
When coming up with your antagonist’s motives, list at least 2 ways in which they’re valid. For Voldemort, it would be the fact that Harry can kill him and that he wants to rule the wizarding world.

Your bad character has to have at least 2 strong reasons for opposing your protagonist and they should make sense given their history.

#6 – Give each character a unique feature

This is particularly for those of you writing Game of Thrones-esque novels with a large number of characters, but it’s important for others as well.

When writing a book, you want your readers to easily visualize and differentiate the cast. You want each character to stand out as individuals.

A perfect way to do this is to give each person an identifiable feature.

For example, let’s use Harry Potter again because you probably know what the main characters look like.

Harry has glasses. Hermione has fuck teeth (up until she has them shortened a bit too much – and this is only in the books for those of you about to argue), and Ron has flaming red hair.

These are very distinct features that can help you picture them as wildly different characters.

Now, you don’t have to give each and every character some crazy hair color or style, but try not to have your entire cast look the same.

If you have a main character with brown wavy hair, have the next with blonde curly hair, etc.

Keep in mind that siblings can certainly look similar!

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Create a spreadsheet or other document that lists all your characters and document their features. If you have two characters who spend a lot of time together in your book and you see they look similar, alter their appearance until they’re differentiable.

Take my own spreadsheet for my work in progress below as an example.

character development spreadsheet

#7 – Develop a wide variety of personality types

Meaning, don’t create all of your characters to be the “dark and sarcastic” type or the “tough guy” type.

You have to have a wide variety of personalities – just like in the real world.

You can even back up their personality with real-life psychology. As an example, I have two characters who both have a tragic background.

However, they don’t process that trauma in the same way. One character takes on a very withdrawn approach while the other hides his pain with humor. This gives them very different personalities despite having similar histories.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Reference your character’s backstories and do a little research into possible coping mechanisms and how that can affect their personality. Develop it from there in order to have realistic personalities that differ.

#8 – Match your character’s history with the effects of it

This is when some research will come into play, which should be required anyway. Looking into some psychological effects of trauma can help you accurately and realistically dive into character development.

Now, not all characters go through trauma, but there are other big life events that can shape how they behave.

If you have a character whose parents were very strict growing up, they may be a bit of a rebel and lack the decision making abilities others have – mostly because they never learned how since their parents made those choices for them.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Since you know your character’s backstory, do a little research into how those specific struggles or realities can shape a person’s psyche in order to accurately and realistically craft their behavior.

#9 – Make secondary characters foil types

This is largely to help with personality contract within your novel. Most of the time, this will happen naturally if you’re giving each character a unique personality but it’s great to keep in mind anyway.

If you have secondary characters (characters who get a decent amount of page time but are not main characters), craft their personality types to show the opposite of the main characters’.

Why? Because you want to firstly create more diversity and secondly, create some non-plot-specific conflict.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Pinpoint your secondary characters and development them in a way that makes them clash or oppose your main characters in certain ways.

Think about what could annoy your main character the most and give your secondary characters some of those habits or personality traits.

#10 – Give each character a distinct voice

We all speak differently and that means your characters should too. Depending on where they’re from, they could have different accents, slang, and even phrases they tend to use regularly.

Think of a friend of yours for a minute. What are some specific phrases they use a lot?

It’s likely you were able to think of something in just a few seconds because it’s so unique to them and something they say a lot.

Your characters should be developed in the same way.

If you write two characters from very different areas of the world and they have the same style of speaking, your audience will be pulled out of the story because it’s not realistic. Their voices have to be consistent and not the same.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:

These tips can ensure your characters speak differently:

    • Choose a slang word each character likes to use
    • Use different wording for the same meaning like “apologies” versus “I’m sorry” or “my bad”
    • Use unique sentence structures to give each character a unique speaking rhythm
    • Make sure your more educated characters speak like it and your less educated use simpler words and phrases
    • Create phrases similar to “knee-high to a grasshopper” with unique meanings for your characters’ specific regions
  • Read their dialogue out loud in the voice you image they have and make changes if necessary

The point of giving your characters unique voices is to ensure your readers imagine them as real people instead of two-dimensional beings living in paper.

#11 – Create a diverse cast in every way

I’ll be honest, there is a very real problem in literature when it comes to diversity.

You can debate this all you want, but coming from someone who reads many books, it’s a very real issue that only you and other writers going forward can correct.

Your book should be just as diverse as the real world.

If you don’t have characters with varying skin, hair, or eye colors along with varying body types, disabilities, and even mental illnesses, your characters are not diverse enough.

You do not have to write a book about these things in order for you to include them in your novel.

For example, one of my main characters has high levels of anxiety. His storyline does not revolve around this mental illness, but it is there, seen, and can affect his plot.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE:
Look through your characters and their appearances as well as their personalities. If there isn’t clear diversity amongst them, create it.

You want to make sure you are allowing diverse readers to feel included, heard, and represented.

#12 – Avoid stereotypes

This is really a “do not do” tip versus a “must do” tip. The reason for this is because so many writers feel as though they need a “side character” (or even a main character) but is too lazy to do the real work.

Which means they create a stereotype of a specific type of person that can oftentimes be harmful without the author even knowing.

A great way to ensure you never have offensive stereotyped characters is to use a sensitivity reader or make sure you have a diverse group of beta readers who can speak on behalf of the characters you’ve developed.

What is a Character Arc?

A character arc is used to describe the inner and even outer journey, which can be physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise that a character experiences throughout the duration of the story or plot.

You thought you were done learning about character development, didn’t you?

You’re not! In addition to crafting well-rounded characters, you also have to think about including arcs for them.

How to Create a Character Arc

At the very least, your protagonist, or main character, requires an arc for their storyline and journey to be captivating and satisfying for readers.

As an example, I’m going to use Harry Potter from that series simply because it’s widely known and his character arc even within the first novel is distinct.

Harry Potter starts the novel as an 11-year-old kid suffering from emotionally abusive relatives who care for him due to his parents passing away.

But by the end of the movie, Harry has discovered he’s a wizard, learned of his prominence in the wizarding world, and even taken on Voldemort himself (well, sort of).

This character arc is distinct in that his mental and emotional journey from start to finish is wildly different. Harry Potter is not the same at the end as he was in the beginning – and this remains true throughout each book in the series.

When your character comes out at the end of the book as a transformed person in certain senses, it’s a character arc.

Here’s an example of what a character arc looks like on paper and how you can utilize plot elements in order to further your character’s development.

character development arc explanation

Your Next Steps – But Only if You’re a Serious Writer

It’s time to get serious about your book. If you’re here, it means you want to learn how to write your book to the best of your ability.

That’s exactly what we can help with.

We put together this FREE training for you to understand what it takes to write and publish a book.

Make sure to watch this because you can create incredible characters all you want, but they’ll never see the light of day without publishing.

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What is your favorite part about character development? Which characters of yours are you most proud of and why? Comment below!