4 Great Blogs for Self-Published Writers

4 Great Blogs for Self-Published Writers

Self Publishing

Here is a shout out to all of you self-published writers! If you are just getting started or are already deep in the process, let me recommend four of my favorite blogs for self-published writers. These four writers/bloggers are experts in their field and have many resources to help any aspiring writer reach their goals and publish.

Joanna Penn at www.theCreativePenn.com 


Joanna is a well-recognized name in the writing field. She lives in England and can offer an international perspective on publishing. Joanna’s site includes has over 1000 blog posts and 100 hours of audio information. She blogs on all aspects of writing. On her site, you will find podcasts, eBook and videos, resources, and even online courses. Click the START HERE button to begin exploring theCreativePenn.com.


Joanna’s books:


Joel Friedlander at www.thebookdesigner.comjoelf

Joel’s background is in printing, typesetting, and traditional publishing. He has taken his extensive knowledge and applied it to the expanding self-publishing market. He has won consecutive awards from Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers.

Joel offers blogs, resources, and courses on the nuts and bolts of manufacturing a book. If you need help in book covers, design, formatting, typography, this is the site for you.


Joel’s books:


edie-melsonEdie Melson at www.thewriteconversation.com

Edie’s site is a plethora of information. She offers daily blog posts from various writer’s as well as her own words of wisdom. Her site merits awards from Feedspot and positivewriter.com. If you are seeking information as well as inspiration, thewriteconversation.com is the place to be. Edie also is a great resource for those following the traditional publishing path.



Edie’s Book:

Michael Hyatt at www.michaelhyatt.com michael_hyatt_0412

Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and very familiar with the world of publishing. Much of his advice is for traditional publishing, but he offers great wisdom and inspiration for any aspiring writer. If you are into technology, productivity, or even just general leadership growth, his website is your destination. With blog posts, audio/videos, downloadable PDF books, Hyatt’s website is an up-to-date resource.


Michael’s books:

These blogs are a great place to start if you are branching out into self-publishing. From the writing process to book design and marketing, they have it all.






Write Openings and Closings That Sizzle

Write Openings and Closings That Sizzle

Dynamic opening and closings

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…(Star Wars)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. (Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…(Charles Dickens: A Tale Of Two Cities)

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.(George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four)

All children, except one, grow up. (J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan)

Imaginative beginnings pack a literary punch!

Opening lines grab our attention, set the tone, and leave the reader wanting more. Just look at the famous openers above. They have stood the test of time and continue to distinguish each literary masterpiece.

At the other end of those compositions are the closing remarks. They are a summation, a final note, or crescendo of the author’s work.

Dynamic beginnings and endings are the bookends of a well-crafted piece of writing.

They become the hallmark of an author’s work. I have discovered that my original opening and closing remarks rarely make it to the final draft. The refining process transforms my article. Consequently, the words I write in the rough draft change as my content and direction shift. Other than the title, these are the last components that I rewrite. Openings

In her book Just Write: An Essential Guide for Launching Your Writing Career, Susan Titus Osborn suggests how to begin and end a composition. Because these are such critical elements for any writer, I have used her recommendations along with several others to offer possible ways to start and end your writing.


  • Characterize a person by giving a quick glimpse into their looks and personality.
  • Tell a short narrative, a memory, or reminisce.
  • Make a statement of faith that will be defended throughout the writing.
  • Present a problem to be solved.
  • Write dialogue that draws the reader into the body of the material.
  • Choose highly descriptive words that set the tone of the piece.
  • Ask a thought-provoking question of the reader
  • Use quotes to begin an article, devotion, post, or book chapter.
  • Begin with a shocking statement or surprise.
  • Stir the reader’s curiosity.
  • Use a contrast.
  • Report a statistic.
  • Define a term.
  • Use an analogy, metaphor, or simile.


  • Tell a story.
  • Summarize the highlights of the story or article.
  • Write a straight statement, something you want readers to remember.Endings
  • Give a word of advice. What did you learn from your experience?
  • Shock the reader with an unexpected ending that startles or surprises.
  • Make a point not previously mentioned.
  • Close with a pertinent quote.
  • Replay the lead sentence of the chapter or article.
  • Tie it into the previous paragraph.
  • Restate the purpose of the writing.
  • Use a play on words, something clever and catchy to lodge in the reader’s mind.
  • Evoke a thought or feeling.

These final suggestions refer to website posts:

  • Encourage the reader to take action…share the post or a Call to Action.
  • Link to other resources.
  • Ask a question.
  • Tell readers what is coming in the next post.
  • Promote a product or service.

Dynamic beginnings and endings are an important link between the author and the reader. Beginnings introduce the subject and invite the reader to engage with the content. They are the calling card. Endings are the farewell, the memorable last words of the author before the connection is cut. Write them well and you will turn your readers into loyal fans.

(I used quotes for my beginning. The ending was a combination of summation, making a new point, and metaphor!)

How to Proofread Like a Pro

How to Proofread Like a Pro


What is the difference between proofreading and editing?

Editing is an overall term for polishing and perfecting a text and getting it ready to print. There are different types of editing (see my post, Master the Editing Process), each with a specific purpose. Editing includes correcting the focus, organization, and development of the whole paper, sections, or paragraphs.

Proofreading is one part of the editing process. It is the last pass of a critical eye before the text goes to print. At this point in the text’s evolution, it should be free of content and copy errors.

Proofreaders examine the printer’s proofs or other written or printed material and mark any errors.  The proofreader is looking at grammar, spelling, and sentence structure or other glaring errors that need correction.

In their work “How to Avoid Costly Proofreading Errors,” Carolyn Boccella Bagin and Jo Van Doren give several rules for improving your proofreading skills. I’ve also included a few of my own. Follow these suggestions to proofread like a pro:Proofread

  1. Print out a hard copy.
  2. Never proofread your own copy.
  3. Read everything in the copy straight through from the beginning to end.
  4. Read copy backward to catch spelling errors.
  5. Read pages out of order.
  6. Have proofreaders initial the copy they check.
  7. Use a blank sheet of paper to block out the lines before and after the targeted text.
  8. Take short breaks so you can concentrate more clearly.
  9. Alter your routine.
  10. Make your marks legible and understandable.

Still need some help? Check out ClearTips for instruction on a variety of grammatical subjects. Their website provides answers to your editing questions.

And don’t forget to use any electronic spelling and grammar checks that come with your writing software. Or you might install Grammarly onto your computer and web browser. It is my software of choice.

If you really would like to have a seasoned professional review your text, here are some listings of groups that offer proofreading services:

Servicescape.com Prices start at around $7/ page and go up according to turnaround time.

Proofreadingservices.com Prices start at around $6/ page.

Proofreadfingpal.com with prices at $.027/ word with a seven-day turnaround.

Give your manuscript the streamlined, professional edge it deserves. Happy proofreading!

Master the Editing Process

Master the Editing Process


Editing is actually not one skill, but many. There are several types of editorial polishing each used at different junctures in the writing process. Each of these is a skill unto itself and requires its own consideration.

If you ever consider hiring an editor, one question will be asked…What type of editing do you need? The best way to answer the question is to familiarize yourself with the different types of editing and when each is used. Let’s take a look at how you as a writer can perfect the work at different stages.

Eraser to EditContent editing. Consider the order, clarity, readability, and accuracy of the writing. Do the sentences and paragraphs flow? If fiction, are your characters believable and consistent throughout the book? Is the plot credible
During this type of editing, we trim the “fat!” What is the “fat?” Identify those extraneous sentences, descriptions, and paragraphs that weigh the text down. Snip, snip! Using an editor’s unbiased eyes, take a deep breath and cut those from your writing.

Copy editing. Read each sentence looking for mistakes in spelling, usage, grammar, and capitalization. Make sure your writing adheres to a specific style, important when submitting to a specific publishing company. Here are some specifics:

  • Sentence Structure… Look for extra words, adjectives, and adverbs. Cut away the verbosity. Make your sentences clean, concise, and simple. For a clear viewpoint, read the text backward, one sentence at a time.
  • Word Choice. Use words that are descriptive, short, specific, and concrete. Invoke the reader’s five senses.
    Verbs speak volumes. Use active verbs not passive ones. Make sure the verb and subject agree.

A resource I use is The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. At over fourteen hundred pages, it is the most comprehensive thesaurus in print.

Technology. Most word processors like Microsoft Word have built-in spelling and grammar checks. However, automatic scans won’t identify all the flaws. Even though a word is spelled correctly, it may still be misused in context.
Take a look at these automated editing tools…

  • Grammarly…My favorite online software is Grammarly. There is a free version and also a premium upgrade which costs less that $12/month, totally worth it if writing is your passion. Download it into your word processor and install it onto your internet browser. Grammarly takes care of spelling, grammar, even sentence structure in texts, emails, social media, and anything else you may be composing.Grammarly
  • AutoCrit… For $30/month, AutoCrit is an online editing wizard. It analyzes word choice, repetition, pacing and momentum, dialogue, and strengthens your writing. This piece of online software is especially suited for fiction writers.
  • ProWritingAid…This online tool checks grammar and spelling, improves readability, finds overused words, clichés and redundancies. ProWritingAid is free with an upgrade to Premium for $40/year.
  • Hemingway EditorHemingway Editor is a basic tool for any writer and only $20 in a downloadable version.

Proofreading. This is the last step in the editing process. After the formatting and design work is done, edit once more for double spaces, typeface styles, or misplaced page numbers.

Write. Edit. Rewrite. Edit. Edit. Edit! Until the process is complete.

James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

Editing is hard work. Go slowly. Be thorough. Take your time. The end product will be worth the effort.




10 Easy Steps to Using Scrivener

10 Easy Steps to Using Scrivener

Scrivener is a writer’s best friend. It is a writing software that is easy to use but also has sophisticated applications. How do you use it?

Let me offer a ten-step process to explain the simpler aspects of the software. This will not cover the many fine points of Scrivener, but will give an overall view of how the software works and streamlines the writing process.

  1.  Download the trial version or purchase a copy. Literature and Latte offer a free 30-day trial of Scrivener so you can explore the many benefits. What do you have to lose? Download a copy if you haven’t already done so and follow along with the next few steps.
  2. Fire up the program. When you open Scrivener, choose one of the templates to begin a new project. The default choices include Fiction, Non-Fiction, Scriptwriting, Miscellaneous, and Blank (the basic template I use). Name your new work and where it will be saved.  Choose Template
  3. Get Familiar with the Scrivener Workspace. There are four main parts to the Scrivener workspace:
    • Toolbar… located at the top of the screen, it shows the default tools.
    • Binder…on the left of the screen. It holds the Draft (text of the project organized into folders…add a new folder by clicking the green + button in the toolbar), the Research ( your imported notes, pictures, or web pages), and the Trash.
    • Inspector…far right of the screen. You can access the Inspector by clicking the blue i button on the toolbar. It shows the card from the cork board associated with the current section of writing.
    • Center space…where the actual writing, editing, or outlining takes place.Desktop
  4. Import your writing project. If you have already started in another word processor, import your files by clicking File/ Import/Files. The program will automatically create a folder under Draft. Split longer works into chapters or sub-headings by choosing Documents/Split at the point where you want to divide the text. A new folder will appear under Draft.
  5. Start a New Project. If you are starting from scratch, you can either begin composing an outline or use notecards to storyboard the ideas. Look at the toolbar in the center of the workspace. There are three icons joined together which provide three different views of your project.
    • Scrivenings…the button on the far left is the Scrivenings button. It will show all of your folders and give an overall scope of your writing. In this case, there is only one folder.Scrivenings
    • Corkboard…This selection allows you to add cards, edit them, and rearrange their order. Add cards as needed by clicking on the green + button in the toolbar.Cork board
    • Outliner…In this view, you can outline your work. As you add lines, Scrivener automatically adds cards on the Corkboard and vice versa.  With Corkboard and Outliner, you can change the order, edit, or restructure with drag and drop.Outliner
  6. Add Research…Import pictures, files, or webpages into the Research folder. The background appears as the corkboard. Simply drop and drag onto the corkboard.Research
  7. Split the Screen…When you are ready to write, you can use the Split Screen mode. Click on the icon at the top of the page, right above the text, on the far right. You have a choice of vertical split or horizontal split as the icons show. Once you click the Split Screen button, you can change either of the screens by highlighting the title. Drag a research file, outline, or corkboard alongside your text.Split Screen
  8. Write…Self-explanatory. You know what to do!
  9. Edit…Under Tool, there are several editing helps including Spelling, several links to reference websites, and a search engine.
  10. Compile. This is where the magic happens. Once you are done with your project and ready to publish, choose File/Compile and select the format. That is the simple way to combine folders and save them as a .doc file, PDF, or .html. But Scrivener is even more sophisticated than that. If you hit the blue down arrow, a whole new menu opens where you can fine-tune the formatting for eBooks and other publications. Compile 2


5 Reasons Scrivener Belongs in Every Writer’s Toolbox

5 Reasons Scrivener Belongs in Every Writer’s Toolbox

Scrivener Pic

Scrivener is a versatile and comprehensive piece of writing software. It is suited for both fiction and non-fiction writers and available at the click of a button. The parent company Literature and Latte offer a 30-day trial or you can purchase outright on AmazonI have had the software for years, although I have only used the basic functions. Now, I am determined to thoroughly explore all of the nuances and take it to the next level.

What make Scrivener so unique? Let me share five reasons why I think Scrivener should be in every writer’s toolbox:

#1 Scrivener is versatile.

It comes in both a Mac and PC version although originally designed for Mac users. The developers are working on an iOS version that will be available for both the iPad and iPhone. You can start any project from scratch or import older texts. Scrivener also allows dictation with an app or other software.

#2 Scrivener is a complete writing studio.