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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Guide to Setting Realistic 2016 Goals

The new year is upon us and it is really time to start thinking about resolutions. I want you to think about how New Year's makes you feel? Do you feel excited (I do)? Do you get stressed? Does it make you feel like a failure by the time February rolls around?

If you feel like the latter, please...make this new year the last year you feel like that. The new year is the perfect time to make new goals, and build upon the year before. So, to make it easy for you--not that I am a goal expert--but I've found a pretty easy solution to making realistic goals.

What do I mean by realistic? Well, I'm not going to set my goal to be a millionaire by December 2016. Is that to say it won't happen? No, in fact if it did I would welcome it. Being a millionaire is a long term goal for sure, but not a year goal. That is the key...what I just said.

Long term goals vs. short term goals vs. monthly goals vs. weekly goals vs. daily goals. 

Phew. Sounds like a lot of work doesn't it? I guess it can be, but once you really break it down it doesn't seem so daunting.

So to set it up I write out what my long term goal is. My long term goal spans about a year to five years for now, I have even longer goals up until retirement age, but I don't want to get too complex. This is just an example and isn't to say these are my specific goals.

  • Long Term Goal (one year) December 2016 {see that I give myself a time frame}
  1. Make $4,000 a month selling books (print or eBook) {now this goal is not a million dollars, and after research I've done, if I can publish the books I have planned it is a realistic goal}
  • Short Term Goal (4 months) April 2016
  1. Publish my first trilogy + free short story for email subscribers
  2. Have 10,000 email list subscribers {If I market and keep up with my monthly, weekly and daily goals, getting 10,000 subscribers is attainable...not easy, but attainable a post on email subscribers coming soon}
  3. Host a giveaway
  • Monthly Goals {What must be reached each month to reach short and long term goals}
  1. Write at least 20 quality blog posts
  2. Pay for 1-2 Social Media campaigns to gain subscribers
  3. Read a new book {Constant learning. As a writer, if you don't have time to read you don't have time to write.}
  4. Complete a service for someone else, family or stranger {I am a believer you must serve other to be successful. Greed may seem prosperous, but the important things in life will dissipate. Successful relationships are a priority for successful people}
  5. Research editors and cover designers {this isn't every months, because I hope to find editors and designers that I just keep working with}
  6. Website maintenance
  • Weekly Goals {What must be done to reach monthly goals, etc}
  1. Write 5-10 Facebook page posts
  2. Budget a set weekly amount for social media campaigns
  3. Write at least 10,000 words 
  4. Write 5 blog posts
  5. Give sneak peaks into chapters and upcoming writing
  6. Find 10 new likes or subscribers or friends a week
  7. Read a at least 80 pages of a different book
  8. Periscope and tweet at least once a week {follow me @emmyedits3}
  • Daily Goals {what I must do everyday to reach long term goal}
  1. Personal development book or podcast for at least 10 minutes
  2. Spiritual meditation
  3. Exercise at least 20 minutes
  4. Write at least 2,000 words a day
  5. Post on Facebook or Goodreads
  6. Connect with other authors on Goodreads
  7. Read 5 pages a day of a different book
  8. Play with my children

If you notice, very few of my daily goals even remotely seem like they could help me make an extra $4,000 a month with my writing,, but for me if I am daily strengthening myself, focusing on my health, and spending time with the people I love most I have more energy, balance, and order to accomplish the other things like writing, marketing and selling. 

I hope you don't feel overwhelmed. Take an hour, write out your long term goal then Break. It. Down.

You can't just write a goal with no road map on how to reach it. That is where people fail. I'll take weight loss for an example (since it is one of the biggest goals) people can say I want to lost 50 pounds, and then 2 weeks later they are the same weight or have gained weight. It's because they don't break it down. What are you going to give up each day, what are you going to do weekly, monthly etc. to reach that goal? 

I wish you the best of luck planning your year. Set goals, you will always progress if you set something to strive for. 

Happy Writing.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pushing through problems to reach success

Today has been a thoughtful day. The holidays are here, everything is magical, my kiddos can practically hear Santa's sleigh bells (my seven-year-old asked today if we could call him his proper name, Chris Kringle, haha). But through all this my family has been hitting some bumps in the road.

My sweet youngest guy has had a year of tests and doctor visits (he's good, just some things that had to be double checked.) We are now at the end of the year and bombarded with bills from multiple doctors. I'm not meaning to get too personal and am not trying to be woe is me, in fact quite the opposite.

I mentioned above today has been a thoughtful day. Because of these lovely expenses, which I will gladly pay (somehow) for my boy, I nearly decided to shelf my upcoming series because I decided it wouldn't be practical to pay for more editing, cover design, ads etc. Then the thought came to me...No, aren't things worth reaching for found in some of our most trying moments? Think about it, most things that are great and worth attaining come from hard, tedious, sometimes emotionally draining work.

Think of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, JK Rowling, even Stephen King. The famous entrepreneurs were ridiculed, they failed miserably multiple, if not hundreds of times, yet we still know their names for their accomplishments. The two authors mentioned, JK Rowling was 'as poor as you could be without being homeless' according to her when she wrote Harry Potter, holy cow talk about a success story. Stephen King has said before he was rejected over and over and over again. Now he is the name of horror in my opinion.

The point of this soap box is to hopefully motivate you to keep going with your ambitions. It won't get easier, it may even seem more hopeless, but as I pondered my own situation someday somehow I knew it would be a big mistake if I did not continue forward with my books. Take a self inventory of your own situation, and decide if somewhere inside yourself you know your goal is worth reaching no matter how uphill the climb may be. I believe there is greatness in all of us, just few of us hold on until we reach the top of the climb.

Good luck with all your brilliant ambitions and Happy Writing. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hire an Editor. Please

In today's writing world really anyone can publish a novel. Some people do it within hours. Fantastic. So for those who spent weeks, months, even years on their manuscripts how can  you distinguish yourselves above...well above all the slush to be blunt?
The easiest way to stand out is to have a clean, error free manuscript. I'm sure you've heard it before, but you have a neighbor who got an 'A' in high school English so you're having them read your book. That's super, and I encourage beta-readers, BUT the best investment you can make as an Indie author, or even an author reaching out to agents is to have your manuscript professionally edited before publication, or submission. I assure it will be money well spent.
Nothing upsets a reader more than getting bogged down during their exciting reading experience due to grammatical errors, spelling errors, or plot errors. I actually read a book (it will remain nameless) where an important character's name changed halfway through! What?
There are amazing places to find freelance editors I'll list a few for your convenience:

So when you are looking for an editor what should you keep an eye out for?
Credentials: You don't need a formal degree in editing, but some have various types. I have a copy editing certificate that has really helped me during my work. However, I have hired editors with no formal training, they simply have talent.
Price: Most editors charge on word count. Even if it's a penny a word it adds up quick, so make sure you're clear on the pricing. I have seen some charge per page as well.
Process: Double check the process of the editor. What type of editing program do they use? How quickly can you expect edits returned? Will there be more than one person editing the manuscript? Do they offer samples. Editors should be available to answer questions, but you as the author must keep in mind writing is a subjective business. An editor will do their best to catch every error, but they are human. They also may change something you disagree with. That's okay, don't accept the edit, but don't haggle them either. Again, a subjective business. I highly recommend signing a contract. It's an investment on your part, protect that investment.
Please take my advice. Editing is priceless in the writing realm. No matter how many times you've read your own story, you will miss something. I have ran my own editing business for over a year and I still send out my manuscripts to other editors. I just don't trust myself with my own writing. It's worth it.
My most recent editors were wonderful and reasonably priced. You can find them at

Good luck, and happy writing!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Top 6 Tips for Being Productive

We all have those moments when we can't seem to muster up any motivation to work--or get off the couch and stop the Harry Potter Marathon. I know you do it too.

I've found especially during this fun festive season it can be very hard to find time to work on your goals, writing, or projects...unless it involves a Christmas gift. I get it, I think the last three days I've written one paragraph in book 2 of the Relic series. Yikes, my publication date for the entire trilogy is in the spring!!!

So as I've realized how frazzled I've let myself get I've written out my six strategies for staying productive, making progress, and writing more. Now as my gift for you this holiday season I'd like to share them.

1- Prioritize your to-do list:

  •  This may sound simple enough, but it's amazing how many of us get thrown off our lists (even if you write out the list). You must prioritize your tasks and DO NOT move on until the previous task is complete. This will help you stay focused and motivated to move on to the next task.

2- Decrease distractions:
  • Again, probably obvious. Then why do experts always mention decrease distractions? Because we don't do it. Now, I understand distractions. I have three munchkins under the age of 7, my oldest is in school so she is not much of a whirlwind, but my younger boys are tornadoes. I can't pee in peace...they find me. Add a Christmas tree with breakable ornaments and presents waiting to be opened into the mix--yikes, I get it. I'm talking more, when you actually are sitting in your own space ready to work,and ready to write. Turn your phone on airplane mode if you have to, disconnect the internet if you can so you don't scroll through the endless feed of Facebook. I struggle with this too, if I am at a bump in my writing I always find I 'take a break' on Facebook. That's not going to inspire me: maybe exercising, reading, blogging would be a better 'break' time activity.

3- Wake up with Determination:
  • This isn't always easy. I am a firm believer if we tell ourselves the day is going to be "one of those days" it will be. I believe our minds and attitude are extremely powerful. If you had a sleepless night, I understand feeling tired and wanting to slug around all day, but it will be a day wasted. I'm all for resting and sleep, but I also know as adults we can't just stop living for a day. If you can, I want to know what you do for a living. I highly recommend Yoga. I have found great invigoration doing Yoga when I'm tired, stressed or just sluggish. Surf Youtube, there are so many great videos that take about 15 minutes to do and you'll feel different I promise. (and guys, my husband does Yoga with me sometimes, so feel free to try it out)

4- Organize your space:
  • This actually can fit in with decrease your distractions, but I view this as physical not virtual distractions. I am not organized. I'll admit it, it is not a talent of mine. I'm clean and I can scrub toilets like nobody's business, but I am not organized. I find if I let things go too much I will begin to feel stressed, uneasy and frazzled internally. If you step back and slowly organize your space, whether it's your room, desk, car--wherever I have a inkling you will feel better and be more productive. 

5- Avoid T.V.:
  • Hold up, before I'm labeled as a T.V. hater...I'm not. That's why it's on my list. I love T.V. and I can get majorly lost in it. I can flip on Netflix and watch FOUR episodes of a show in a row. That's like 3 hours of wasted time! I could have spent that time doing all the above things and feeling quite pleased with myself by lunch time. I find when I spend my day doing the things that will better myself, such as attending to my children, reading, writing, nourishing my body, by the end of the day if I want to watch a movie or T. V. show I do so very restful. When my sink is full of dishes, homework was ignored and not finished, or I haven't blogged or written I'm doing those things with a stressed mind, with the T.V. on and I don't produce quality work. 

6- Set aside five minutes each morning for personal development:
  • I think this last step can be life changing. Whether you focus on spiritual development, business development, or true personal development setting aside five minutes is amazing. I subscribe to Darren Daily and guys it's awesome. I receive a text each morning and a link to a five minute video. This guy is very motivating and I feel ready to conquer my day. I also recommend reading development books, or finance books. If you are wanting to change your lifestyle this is a critical step in staying focused and productive. 

I hope these help. I'm not always perfect at these steps, but the days I am are wonderful and refreshing. I want you all to keep striving for greatness. Reach your goals, I'm right there with you trying my best. Feel free to comment with your own productivity ideas. I love new input!

Happy Writing

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How To Be a Better Writer

Writing is exciting, and fun, and takes you places you didn't think you'd ever go. But there is one thing you must make time for if you want to be an even better writer--reading.

That's right. You have to find time still to read, I promise you it will help your writing exponentially. If you can't find time to read, you may want to reorganize some priorities. I don't mean that rude, and I don't want to cause you to huff and yell at me through the computer screen. I get being busy, I'm a mom of 3 kiddos under 7, and have other obligations besides walling myself up in my writing worlds. It can be difficult to find time to read.

I actually found I stopped reading for MONTHS. Life got away from me and I never could find the time to read books--now keep in mind reading books and falling in love with stories is what inspired me to become a writer in the first place. Yet, I'd allowed time to push out my first love of the written word.

I've started reading again, currently I'm working on Brandon Mull's series The Beyonders (to the joy of my husband, he's been trying to get me to read it for years). I have been amazed at the amount of motivation I find after I spend 20 minutes reading, that I can push into my stories. It's almost like reading gives your creative brain a rest for a moment and lets the juices flow so when you're ready to write again the words just flow out.

My advice as a professional reader, read many genres. I know it's fun to stick with what you like, but it's great to branch out and see how captivating other genres can be.

I promise if you set aside a few minutes each day to clear you head and escape into a book, your writing will improve. You stories will improve, and therefore your future/current fan-base will grow!

Happy Writing (and reading) 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

BIG step in achieving success!

What are you trying to accomplish? What do you dream about? What do you study, like we talked about in my study your passion post.

I have a thought I'd like you to ponder today as you are sitting down with your daily goals and trying to accomplish. Are you ready? Knowledge is not power.

Hold on...wait did I just say that? Yes, yes I did. Knowledge is endless. It can even teeter on the side of overwhelming thanks to the age of the internet. Before I explain my above statement answer this: Have you ever wanted something so bad you spend countless hours researching, studying, implementing strategies that before you know it you have a creak in your neck from stress. That my friends is being overwhelmed with knowledge...but you haven't acted upon your knowledge.

There it is. That is the key. Knowledge itself isn't the power, it is how we implement that knowledge that gives us power. As I've said before, I have spent years researching SEO (I still feel like I don't get it) Self-publishing, how to write, how to make passive income, how to traditionally publish novels etc. Yet, what have I done? I've written a book true, but it's sitting on my hard drive. So, one day I finally realized I could spend my life learning the proper way to do things, or I could actually publish my work for others to read and build my own success instead of reading others.

So that is what I'm going to do. I'm going to implement my knowledge I've gained and use it to build the life I want. In many areas. Now, I'm in no way saying to stop learning...I love learning. We must keep learning, but be careful to not waste your life just gaining knowledge on how to do something and never actually doing it.

Happy Writing!
Knowledge + action = power!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Top 10 Sites for Self-Publishers

Let's face it, as wannabe writers we all need a little help with guidance. The self-publishing world is vast and masterpieces can get lost if you just throw them out there. Trust me from experience, it will blow away with the wind.

So I thought I'd compile a short list of some of the sites I love to browse and seek guidance from when I need some motivation. It also is a great place to start to learn about opportunities out there for your writing. So without further adieu...

Top Ten Sites Wannabe Writers Should Use:

The Creative Penn
Great insight to self-publishing and being an authorpreneur

Nathan Bransford

Both a traditionally published and self-published author, he has great insight and tips for emerging authors. (I've read his book How to Write a's awesome. I recommend it)

David Gaughran
Really lays into self-publishing and why it's a great option to look into.

The Book Designer
Has great advice from everything from editing to cover design. He has lists and lists of people to turn to for help, as well as his own insight to being a successful Indie.

Hugh Howey
A huge self-publishing success story. Hugh has first hand experience into what it takes to sell books and make a living doing it.

Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant
These guys are experts at self-publishing and recommend the funnel method--totally makes sense. (read their book Write, Publish, Repeat. Just do it, trust me)

Jane Friedman
Excellent thoughts on writing, editing and publishing

Lindsay Buroker
Self-published author that knows her stuff about marketing, and search optimization etc.

The Self Publishing Team
They have some great tips for authors looking to market and sell their own books.

JA Konrath
Successful self-published author with lots of advice.

The Most Crucial Part of Your Book

As I thought about what to write today, I was reminded of an experience I had as I tried to submit my first book to literary agents.

It was a positive experience because I learned something, but also a 'bang your head on the table' experience. I had forgotten what the most important part of my novel was. I was so captivated by my exciting conflicts, captivating climaxes, and the remaining two stories I still have to write I had forgotten about the first chapter.

My story is such that my first chapter was rewritten no less than 20 times. I knew it was important, so I worked hard to make it as great as possible. I finally got to a point that I just moved on, the beginning was at a good spot, I felt like I'd encompassed beta-reader feedback, I introduced my antagonist and felt I created a mystery about what was going to happen with said antagonist.

I admit my first 15 agents I sent the manuscript to, I did so prematurely. This is why I bang my head. By nature I'm not a patient person, but on my trilogy I had spent two years writing it, and the last year revising. I was patient, I wanted to do it right, but for a moment I lost patience and felt such pride in my book-not a bad thing to have pride in your work- but I sent it prematurely. I realized after my inbox had crickets chirping, or an occasional rejection I looked back at my first chapter.

Guys, the chapter was good, structurally. I have a massive conflict that occurs, but I began my story saying my antagonist was nothing special. Literally in my first paragraph I described him, and said he viewed himself as nothing special.

WHY IN THE WORLD would an agent want to continue reading a story in which the main character is nothing special? My writing was good, it developed a character, but when I was honest with myself I realized for the first 9 pages my antagonist didn't really do much to keep a reader interested. Yes, the end of the chapter offered some excitement and from chapter 2 on I feel the story moves quickly and is captivating.

Th purpose of this post is to remind you, who are writing, to review your first ten pages. Better yet, have a stranger read them. Strangers will be honest, because they are objective and make excellent beta-readers. Make sure your story sucks a reader, or potential agent in those first few pages. I lost sight of that. I knew in my mind not much happened in the first bit, but as the author I knew what was going to happen. I believe I talked myself into believing that if they could just read the entire book I would get my million dollar deal.

I may never get an opportunity with those 15 agents, in fact I'm not sure I will traditionally publish, but I don't view this as an opportunity wasted. It was a learning experience, and in truth that is what writing big learning curve.

I challenge you to re-read your beginning. Then ask another person to read it. Make sure when potential readers flip through the pages, whether on a book shelf or when they get to view a sample on Amazon that they want to keep reading it and buy it. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Finding your reason

Have you ever heard the expression--This is my 'why'? What does that mean? It's something that has helped push me through the moments I don't want to continue, the times where I've gotten lost in the slush of naysayers on the internet, or the pile of statistics riddled against me.

Your why is the reason you strive to be better--in whatever you're trying to do. I feel blessed to know many lovely people with the entrepreneurial spirit. They range in their talents: fitness, consulting, writing, teaching, coaching etc. And each one of these people has a 'why'.

The same should go for authors and writers. If you're trying to get something published, whether it be traditional or self-published, you have to have something pulling you through to the end. I promise you there will be days where you will stare at your computer and be disgusted by the words on the screen. You will view yourself as an utter failure, you will see stats saying the odds of making any money on books is a minuscule percentage. What's going to pull you over those hills? How are you going to push through?

Want to know why those percentages are so low? Because people quit too early. There I said it, hang me for it, but that's how I feel. I believe too many folks give up too early, and let the little squeaks of negativity infiltrate their dream and poison it. Was that dramatic enough for you?

As I've said before, I don't know what is going to become of my books, honestly I don't know if anyone even likes reading this blog, it's fairly new, but I'm not going to quit. I have my why. It's my littles that I love. I want to show them that they too can reach for their dreams. I don't care if your dream is to be the greatest chocolate chip cookie maker on your block. If that's your dream go for it. Mine happens to be making writing my full-time income, and my kiddos are what push me to keep going. You may think its cheesy, but that's what does it for me.

No matter what you're striving for, find your why and hold tight to it. Plaster it on poster board and hang it on every wall in your house if you have to, but do it. If you don't do it, somebody else will!

Hang in there! I'd love to hear your why, and what your goals are too!

Happy Writing, Happy Why-ing!