Whether You Want To Self or Traditionally Publish These People Will Help You On Your Journey
I’m in the process of publishing my 2nd book this year. The first one, which was self-published is available for free download by signing up for my email newsletter.
The second book, which is traditionally published through Finishing Line Press, will be available for pre-order soon, but since I’m sure you signed up for that newsletter, you’ll know about that as soon as it is live.
The point is, I devoured a ton of information over the past few years to reach my publishing goals.
6 years ago, I had no idea what to do with my writing goals. I had been writing since I was a kid, but had never been published, aside from a high school magazine or local journal. I was sure I was doomed to leave my writing collecting dust in various journals, never to see the light of day.
But over the last 6 years, I’ve gotten an MFA in Poetry, I’ve published two books, been published in various magazines, and even released two music EPs. Now, I want to help those of you that were sitting in my place a few years back; let’s start by looking at some of the resources I read that helped me with motivation, craft, marketing, and all the other in’s and out’s in this crazy industry.
If you follow the advice in these books, I’m sure you will be well on your way to being published yourself sooner rather than later.
1. On Writing by Stephen King
This is the quintessential guide to writing practice. I’ve never been a huge fan of Mr. King’s fiction, but there is no doubt that the man is prolific and successful. This book explores how to build a daily writing practice, stay motivated, and learn to love rejection. It will inspire you, no matter what genre or type of writing you do.
2. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
This book taught me discipline. It spends much of the book talking about “the creative muse” and how to create the right scenario to coax her out of her shell. At times he gets a little too spiritual with it, but the basics of creating the art that you were made to create, and working hard to make sure it’s the best version of that, are invaluable.
3. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
This book takes the discipline from the previous two books and really focuses in on inspiration and how to get creative ideas. The biggest takeaway for me is you don’t have to be a genius to create good art, you just have to be yourself. Stop spending so much time trying to create a once in a lifetime masterpiece, and just create. Have more fun with it. Life is short.
4. Rhyme’s Reason by John Hollander
These next two are specifically for poets because that’s my specialty. I mostly write free verse poetry, but this book helped me see the beauty in form. It’s been one of the most essential elements of me finding rhythm and structure in my free verse, and it’s a must-read for any aspiring poet who is still searching for their specific style.
5. A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
Like the previous book, this book is for getting in the weeds about what makes good poetry. Mary Oliver is the queen of imagery, and this book is taught in college creative writing classes across the country. There’s so much to learn here and it is a resource I have constantly turned back to for the last 10 years of my writing career.
6. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields
This one is a little strange. Part writing advice, part rant, part disconnected fact book, this book attempts to bring writing to the 21st century. Shields emphasizes that there are a million ways to be creative, and will get your brain thinking about modern ways to do so, but he also correctly points out that all good art is authentic. We crave realness.
7. The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano
The title is pretty self-explanatory. This has just been a handy resource for those days that inspiration is lacking. I’ve actually turned out some really cool pieces from using these writing prompts, and they are often a lot different than something I normally would’ve written, which is a great creative exercise.
8. Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 No-Cost, Low-Cost Weapons for Selling Your Work by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, Michael Larsen, and David L. Hancock
Alright. This one is a little more business oriented. The truth is, there is an audience for modern poetry, but it is difficult to find it. Whether you are self-publishing or traditional publishing, you are probably going to have to do quite a bit of your own marketing, and if you are like me two things are true.
1. You don’t really want or know how to market.
2. You don’t have a large marketing budget.
This book teaches you how to bootstrap your marketing efforts, and even if a few items are outdated, there is a lot of actionable advice.
9. Writing Poetry to Save Your Life: How to Find the Courage to Tell Your Stories by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
One of the hardest things about releasing your private thoughts is how revealing it can be. I’ve written poems about past relationships, childhood abuse, mental health issues, and all of it can make you feel a bit exposed. This book is great at showing you that your vulnerability is actually your strength. And being authentic is so important for being an artist.
10. The Creative Penn by Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn’s blog is probably one of the most diverse and informational resources on the web for modern creative writers. She’s had so many guests on her podcast and has a wealth of different experiences to draw from. This is a must read blog if you are looking for information on how other people have walked this path before.
11. Jane Friedman by Jane Friedman
This is another resource with a wealth of information. Jane has been in the publishing industry for 20 years and she shares a wealth of industry secrets on her blog.
12. The Passive Voice by David Vandagriff
This blog is interesting because for a long time no one knew who ran it. Passive Guy is an attorney by day, and didn’t want people to know that he was the one typing the blog if it ever came up in court. But now he’s focusing more on the blog and revealed himself. Passive Guy has prompt posts, grammar posts, and strange rants. It’s really entertaining and helpful to see someone be successful just being themselves. Or I guess a fictional version of themselves.
13. E-Book Success 4 Free by Jason Matthews
This is a smaller site, and it won’t wow you with its graphic design (sorry Jason), but sometimes you can get a lot of value out of smaller sites because they will give you a lot of information without charging you a premium. Jason Matthews does a great job of walking you through how to create an e-book and make it a success, and you can see that he has a lot of practice self-publishing himself.
14. Jera Publishing
This blog puts self-publishing on easy mode. Maybe the thought of doing all the work yourself is a bit intimidating. This blog will help ease the struggle and get your a product you can be proud of.
15. Contribute Your Verse Podcast: Episode 2.2 How To Motivate Yourself To Make Art
This has been one of my favorite podcasts for a while, and it has just started its second season. Early in this season Derek talks in depth about motivation, and I came away from the episode feeling like it was my moral imperative to create art.
16. Hashtag: No Filter: Episode 157 11 Solid Reasons You Should Consider Using Instagram For Business
This is a podcast I’ve only recently started listening to, but it’s very helpful when it comes to navigating one of a poets best friends and worst nightmares, Instagram. This particular episode is just an appeal for why Instagram is an important tool for your business, and even though I’m really trying to avoid spending more time on social media, she makes some compelling points.
17. The Side Hustle Show: Episode 224 $5k Month as a Self-Published Author – In Fiction!
This show is really motivating if you are trying to make more money on the side and are looking for ideas. The host, Nick Loper, has interviewed people from a ton of different niches that are making money on the side. This episode explores how to self-publish on Amazon, and make a decent income.
18. The Creative Penn Podcast: Motivation Myth
You’ll notice I mentioned Joanna Penn’s blog above. Her podcast is an excellent resource as well. This episode explores how to make the muse work for you, rather than the other way around and how to set the stage for good luck.
19. Contribute Your Verse Podcast: Episodes 4 and 5
I told you I liked this show. These two episodes are Part 1 and 2 of a deep dive into the process of self-publishing. If you are thinking of self-publishing, I would honestly start here before I bought any of the books or anything on the list. This is the most important episode you can listen to if you are starting from nothing.
20. Story a Day by Julie Duffy (any episode)
This podcast is useful in the same way as the prompts book. With really short episodes and constant prompts, this podcast will have you completing small, actionable writing goals, every single day.
Well that’s it. My 20 helpful books, blogs, and podcasts to get you started on your publishing journey. Which ones did I miss? What media have you encountered that helped your writing, marketing, or creativity?
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If you want more personalized help with your publishing journey, be sure to check out my coaching services, where I will walk you step by step through publishing your next book.
Until next time,
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