Tag Archives: publishing

Becoming Unstuck and Writing about Becoming Unstuck

Here’s my recent post from BACCALiterary – the website of my writer group.

It’s a mixture of a little writing, a little publishing, a little politics. Stir and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

OK maybe not that last part.


I recently published my first book. Well, the first book that I actually wrote. For work, I help authors get their books published on the regular. This was my own book though, which made the experience slightly different. Noting the differences between my experience of other people’s books and my own was meta enough, thank you, and yet there was a further complication.

The book I wrote is called FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers. Which presumes that I know a few things on the topic. That’s true. I’m glad to report that I still feel competent to have written it. The difficulties came when the process of launching this book encountered, well, stuckness. You know, the stuff I’m supposed to know about extricating from.

Things Happen

I want to paint an accurate picture. And to be sure, wonderful things happened. Some great opportunities arose, surprising me with bounties of time (a client needed to postpone our work, due to a personal emergency) and space (a last-minute chance to hide out at a writer’s retreat one long weekend enabled me to put the finishing touches on the manuscript before sending it to the copyeditor). Beta readers were generous and attentive and incredibly helpful. I rejoiced. This was going to work out fine! Even with a full-time job, I was going to be able to stick to my production schedule and get this puppy out in October, as planned.

Then the copyeditor also had an emergency. It was a critically serious one, and needed to be honored. As long as it took for things to get back on an even keel, that’s how long the delay would be.


Then the US political environment took an unexpected turn and I found myself grappling with past trauma I had not expected to need to look at any more in this lifetime. Time, effort, and therapy were required to deal with the reawakened monsters in the shadows. As long as it was going to take, I realized, that’s how long the delay would be. No negotiation was possible with myself on this stuff. I needed to feel safe walking down the street again before becoming capable of glad-handing strangers about the merits of my new book.

Releasing the book in October simply wasn’t going to happen. OK. I readjusted my sights, and planned for early- to mid-November.

More Politics

Speaking of the US political scene, during that timeframe, the news reported that a candidate had won the national election. Suddenly, releasing a book about becoming unstuck felt ridiculously insufficient. And besides, who was going to want to buy such a thing? As if a craft book for writers was going to make a difference to anyone. More reflection, more therapy, more conversations with trusted friends. A growing sense emerged that we each need to focus on doing what we do well, as the best form of resistance, to become forces for positive change. I wrapped my brain around that notion and decided to publish as soon as possible.

Indie Publication and Amazon

Independent publishers like my company often rely on the combined forces of CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – both parts of the Amazon empire – to take the completed book files and turn them into paperbacks (CreateSpace) and Kindle-compatible ebooks (KDP). So when CreateSpace delayed my publication date, and KDP refused to accept my formatted ebook file, a great welling of frustration, a sense of stuckness, you might call it, once again invaded my happy plans for book launch. In neither case was it a serious problem. Eventually, the paperback did become available (there had been a backlog of orders at CreateSpace), and the ebook file was accepted (KDP had changed its web form, so I needed to re-start the ebook setup process).



Four local authors: A M Carley (left) signs her book for Zack Bonnie (right) while Mary Buford Hitz and Bethany Carlson talk about publishing.

The book was available from Amazon by the last day of November, and I had plenty of copies on hand in time for my first book event, a soft-launch celebration as part of the twelve-author local writers holiday reception and signing at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, VA. And people bought copies of my book!

Instead of being bummed out that I missed my October launch date, I decided to focus on the New Year, and appeal to writers who need a boost so they start off January with energy and focus. I’m offering a free course for writers who buy the book. That way, they can create their own accomplishments and a-ha moments during the first month of 2017.

Lessons Learned

What have I learned from these periods of stuckness?

  • Stuckness happens.
  • “Circumstances beyond our control” can be affected by our behavior and attitude, anyway.
  • Sometimes the schedule must change. Accepting that reality can create new opportunities.
  • Putting one foot in front of the other, being doggedly purposeful, will often see you through to completion of the next step.
  • There’s always a next step.


This post is reproduced from BACCALiterary.com where it originally appeared.


Virginia Festival of the Book 2014

March came around again this year, and with it, the annual Virginia Festival of the Book – celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014.

Banner from the Virginia Festival of the Book's websiteI knew I wanted to attend “Pub Day” – Saturday’s all-day event featuring authors, agents, publishers, and other experts. Last year, the writer group I belong to presented a panel for Pub Day. This year, I looked forward to a lower-pressure kind of day, even if I would miss an invitation to the Saturday-evening cocktails for presenters.

Part of the fun was running into friends and acquaintances at odd moments. At lunchtime, I wandered down Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall to Timberlake’s old-fashioned lunch counter, in search of a hot dog for a friend who couldn’t get away from her post, as an exhibitor in the Omni Hotel’s lobby. On my way back, I chatted with a colleague about how to host a BookFest panel of authors that really works. I thought to myself that could be fun to do one day. Another writer-group compatriot rode up, locked her bicycle to the rack, and walked with me back into the hotel, ready for some afternoon sessions.

Then there was the inadvertent eavesdropping. As I sat outside – in the oh-so-welcome sunshine! – for a few minutes to eat a sandwich, I realized the people clustered nearby were kibitzing about BookFest panels I had been to, or knew about. I remembered why these gatherings remind me of high school.

photo of Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman, web editor of VQR and co-founder, Scratch Magazine

This year’s highlight event for me was at 10am on Pub Day, featuring Charlottesville’s own Jane Friedman on the topic of The Digital Publishing Landscape. I liked it for a few reasons. My husband joined me for this session. These days, he mostly stays away from all things literary, although (or because) he once lived the life in NYC. It was a pleasure to share the experience with him. Also, I was relieved that, because of my own adventures in publishing and author services over the past several years, I could follow what Friedman was saying. She said it well, in a relaxed, good-humored, confident manner, and with excellent slides to add visual impact.

A cautionary example of perils of unprotected literary works in the public domain, like Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books was the image of a digital bundle of three books from the series, its cover featuring a blonde (not copper-haired, not even green-haired) come-hither older teenager posed in a plaid farm shirt. Next to a bale of hay. I mean, really? On behalf of Lucy Maud, a distant relative of my grandfather, I was outraged.

ridiculous Anne of Green Gables cover

Ceci n’est pas Anne Shirley

Among the many topics Friedman covered in the allotted hour, she spoke empathetically to authors’ struggles with marketing their work. She recommended adopting what she calls “Lifecycle Marketing” for your publications, recognizing that books can sell long after they are launched, through an author’s ongoing direct engagement with readers and fans. One of her slides included a graphic in the familiar Keep Calm typeface and layout, exhorting authors in search of their market to “Keep Calm and Write More.” Translation: It often makes more economic sense to focus on writing more books to sell to your existing audience, rather than to expend your energies trying to expand your base. You’re probably a better writer than marketer, anyway.

I queued up after Friedman’s talk, for the chance to thank her and say hello. From time to time we’ve made contact on Twitter and Facebook, but I had never met her. It was a goofy thrill, when I extended my hand and introduced myself, to hear her say she recognized me from social media. What a lovely way for Pub Day to begin!