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Five Tips to Help You Get Your Manuscript Finished

You were inspired. You started out strong, but you’re starting to run out of gas before the finish line. Not to worry! Here are five surefire tips to help you complete your manuscript and self-publish it. Put them into practice and you’ll holding your first book signing before you know it.

Calendar1. Set a target date when you want to hold a finished copy

Imagine what it will feel like to hold the first copy of your book. Having that goal in mind can be a key motivator to keep you writing. It might be a specific day like your birthday, wedding anniversary, or a date that coincides with an upcoming event (a speaking engagement, conference or convention).

2. Pay attention to your best time/place for writing productively

Most people are more productive at certain times of day than others. When you write, keep track of the time and location when you’re most effective, and try to set aside that time each day for writing. You might be at your most creative in the morning, for example, or at night after the kids have gone to bed.

3. Set a schedule that will allow you to hit your target date

Now that you have a target date for completion, work backwards to establish a schedule to reach your goal. Let’s say you want to have a book signing in six months, but it will likely take you two months to get your book designed, printed and distributed. You need to submit your manuscript for production four months from now. Do you intend to have it copy edited? If so, you’ll probably need to allow another 60 days, leaving you only two months to get your manuscript ready to go.

4. Make yourself accountable to someone for finishing your book

Designate someone who will hold you accountable for sticking to your schedule. It can be a friend, family member, or someone familiar with the process. For example, publishing consultants at AuthorHouse have served in this role for thousands of authors. A firm but gentle hand can be all the encouragement you need to stay on track.

5. Plan an event to celebrate the book’s completion

For many authors, writing and publishing a book is one of the greatest accomplishments of their lives. Celebrate this feat! Throw a launch party at your home for friends and family. Give out copies of your book to those who’ve inspired you. This is more than a book, it’s part of your legacy. Take a few moments to pat yourself on the back and enjoy your achievement.

Millions of people have an idea for a book, but only the disciplined few earn the title of published author. You can be one of them!

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 

Using Research to Craft a Better Book

Research is a must for self-published authors because it shows that you are informed and knowledgeable on a topic, and it gives you instant credibility with potential readers. Don’t think that research is only necessary for nonfiction authors; fiction writers can benefit from doing their homework, too!

The good news is that when you are writing about a subject that you’re passionate about, researching can be fun and rewarding. Today we present WestBow’s six-step guide to getting that research done!

1. Read

Magnifying glassIt’s a cliché that good readers make good writers, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Immersing yourself in your topic (or genre) will inspire you to write your own book. Plus, surveying what books are out there can help you write a book that fills (not falls into) the gaps in the marketplace.

2. Let the Research Lead You

As you’re delving into your topic, the information you find might surprise you. Don’t ignore this; take advantage of the opportunity, and follow the research to its natural conclusion. Keeping your mind open will help you produce a more well-rounded book, even if it’s not the book you originally envisioned writing.

3. Make Notes

Write down anything and everything (including the source and location) that you may want to include in your book. This will save you time as you write, and help you cite the information accurately. Remember to always credit the original source when using another author’s ideas or information, whether a statistic, theory, song lyric or quote.

4. Walk a Mile…

…in someone else’s shoes. Arrange to spend time with people who fit the profile of your characters so that you have a better idea of how they talk and work, their mannerisms, what their environment is like, and so on. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and use all of your senses to record information. This will help you create believable characters and establish authentic settings in your book.

5. Ask the Experts

Don’t merely rely on books and journals for your research. Journalists talk directly with experts to get the information they need for news articles, and an author’s approach should be no different. Not sure where to find an expert on your topic? Start with a library or university. Whatever you do, don’t rely solely on unverified Internet research.

6. Know Your Audience

Decide for whom you are writing your book and find out as much as you can about this group of people. Immerse yourself in the communities and activities of your potential readers, either in person and on the web (online forums, for example), in order to get a clear picture of the people you are writing for.

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 

The Fulfillment of a Dream

In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Jennifer Elig; author of “Cincy the Flying Pig.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

For years I have dreamed of writing books for children. As a previous educator, I would work into my lesson plans time for my students and I to write classroom books about a topic we were discussing in class. Instilling a love of reading and writing in each and every child was a major goal of mine. I truly enjoy every step of the writing process and love seeing the joy on children’s faces when they pick up one of my books to read for the first time. Seeing books I have written fly off of library shelves and needing to donate more of them, simply to fill the demand for the rate they are being checked out, is also a dream come true.

SKU-001045558When the Lord first planted this dream in me, I was a young adult. I received a mailing inviting me to take a children’s writing aptitude test. After writing a short story and being reviewed by an instructor, they were very complementary of my writing skills and invited me to work one on one with an instructor to get me on a path as a professional published author. At that point in time, I had an infant and couldn’t afford that option, so I just put the idea on the back burner. Over the years I revisited the idea several times, but there were always more pressing items that needed to be taken care of first.

As my child grew and began to start his toddler years, I began looking for Bible-based counting books to assist me in teaching my son how to count, but with a Christ-centered base. As I scoured the books stores and internet, I found there were none of those resources that existed, so I decided to write my own. After completing the counting book, I naively began submitting my rough copy to big name publishing companies, not aware of the actual process and difficulty involved in getting a publisher to accept a manuscript. Time and time again, my manuscript was rejected for various reasons. With my bubble burst and feeling dejected about the whole process, I put my manuscript in a dresser drawer and left it there for several years. It was not until four years ago that a flicker of hope would re-emerge.

A6300149My husband, who has always been very supportive of my pursuits, came to me one day four years ago and said, “It’s time.”  Time for what, I thought. He then explained to me that he felt it was time for me to try to get my book published again. He encouraged me to look into publishers and pricing information and told me he would support me in whatever decision I made. It was in that same time period that a friend of mine picked up a coffee side table picture book I had created with the title “A Cat’s Life,” that included photos of my cat with a story line from the cat’s perspective.  She told me it was really cute and that I should look into getting it published. At this point, I really started to take the publishing process idea to heart. Enter Westbow.

After a couple of weeks of research, it soon became apparent to me that there was a vast difference in publishers. From pricing to support, to the way each business was run, I ultimately chose Westbow because of the Christian-based guideline they operate under. As a self-publish company, Westbow Press is also tied to Thomas Nelson Publishers, which opens another world of opportunities to me as an author.  When I began the publishing process with Westbow, it was very clear to me that I had made the right choice. Each person I worked with was encouraging and helpful every step of the way. With payment plans that are available, I was able to not only publish “A Cat’s Life,” but also now had the ability to publish my counting book “One Lord, Two People.”  When it came time to put my third book, (”Cincy the Flying Pig”) into production, I knew exactly where to go. Thanks to Westbow Press, what was once only a dream, is now the fulfillment of a dream!

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 

Alice Anderson: Author of more than 60 books shares why she chose WestBow Press

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Alice Anderson; who’s authored more than 60 books — this summer penning eight simultaneously. As a ghostwriter, she’s never credited with many of her literary creations.  Alice did put her name on one of her latest works though, “Through the Bible in High Heels,” recently self-published with WestBow Press.

Anderson coverThe bottom line on why I chose WestBow Press?  It was the marketing and distribution services that lured me in.  If I’m going to continue to support myself by authoring books, I need to concentrate on the actual writing process and on marketing my services as an author-for-hire or ghostwriter. Obviously I do as much marketing of my own books as I can: speaking at women’s groups, writers’ groups, and hosting book signings I’ve arranged across New England. I also knew I could not get as wide a distribution by myself as a royalty publisher could provide. That was especially relevant for my latest book, Through the Bible in High Heels, published by WestBow Press.

Nothing in the literary world is as difficult for me as catching my own typos and bloopers.  Even though I always read a finished manuscript aloud to catch things the eyes miss, “oopsies” still fly under my radar.  My eyes look at my manuscript and see it as a mother sees her only child: perfect—except it almost never is.  The editorial services at WestBow caught things I would have never noticed, because I’m too close to my own work.  And they did it nicely, without making me feel like a neophyte.

Writing a book during your lifetime is quite an accomplishment, Alice Anderson’s written more than 60.

The WestBow staff is wonderful to work with!  (Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition.  Horrors!  This is one author who’s been around the printing press a few dozen times, but please remember, I’m writing to you as a friend, not a grammar guru.)  Every person I interfaced with at WestBow was pleasant, efficient, professional, and excited about my book.  That meant a great deal to someone working at home alone.  I really didn’t feel alone on this project, because WestBow staff were a phone call away, cheering me on and answering my concerns as they arose.

By the time the complimentary copies of High Heels arrived, I actually felt sadness at not being able to work with them anymore!  Maybe I should write another book and have WestBow publish it? Actually, Through the Bible in Work Boots is already written and waiting in the wings. Too many husbands wanted to know when I was going to write one for them. Can the teenagers be far behind?

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.

6 Reasons to Publish a Spanish Version of Your Book

6 Reasons to Publish a Spanish Version of Your BookAre you really reaching out to your largest reading audience as possible? Our country is filled with a diverse group of readers, so you may be limiting your reach if you only published your book in English. Most authors have never even thought about translating their book into a foreign language; however, it’s a smart decision if you want to effectively spread your book’s message.  Communicating in another language breaks a barrier and allows you to connect with a previously untouched audience.

Six reasons why you should consider translating your book into Spanish:

1.)    Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world, after English and Chinese, with more than 48 million Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. alone.

2.)    More than half of the growth in the total population of the U.S. between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population.*

3.)    The Hispanic population has surpassed 50 million and accounts for more than 50 percent of the U.S. population growth since 2000.*

4.)    Become familiar with the unfamiliar: “Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and as individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable.” – Edith Grossman, translator of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Living to Tell the Tale

5.)    There are roughly 338,000 Christian congregations** in the U.S., with 16 percent*** of U.S. Christians a part of churches that had services in either only Spanish or both Spanish and English.

6.)    The potential reach from a market made of 500 million Spanish speakers in the world should not be overlooked.

WestBow Press makes it easy to publish in both English and Spanish through our translation service. Have you ever considered publishing your book in a foreign language?


*According to U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Briefs

**According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research

*** Calculated by Duke University sociology professor Mark Chaves in the National Congregations Study (page 31).

5 Tips for Keeping an Author Blog

Robin Densmore FusonWhen I published my first book, one of the things that most frightened me was doing my own marketing. I discovered the best way to market my book was through social media, and that included a blog. There are many kinds of blogs, from how-to’s to devotionals. Whatever your interest is, there is a blog for you.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Blog Alive and Generating Hits

1.)    Post often. For you it may be daily, biweekly, weekly or monthly. It is best to post at least once every week. This will bring your audience to your blog regularly, which will keep your name alive and may even cause you to come up in conversation. Sometimes, just writing a sentence or two, or posing a question for readers to comment on will help you to post more often. Don’t forget to reply to any commenting, even if they are not flattering or are negative. (more…)

3 Reasons to Write Every Day

3 Reasons to Write Every Day “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
— Aristotle

Writers often talk about the importance of creating (and sticking to) a writing schedule. There are writers who insist that writing every day is the best way to success; then there are those who swear that to simply write when inspiration comes will do the trick. Some build their writing schedules around word counts, some by page numbers, others by hours at the keyboard. Some set their deadlines by the week — others by the month.

Of course, different systems work for different people, but there’s a strong argument to be made for writing every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot. In fact, a single sentence commitment will do. Hopefully, once you get that first sentence down, more will follow. Some days that one sentence might turn into four or five pages. Other days that single sentence might be all you can muster. But that’s okay. Instead of striving toward ambitious goals, you’ll be creating a habit.  

Here’s how daily writing can help your productivity:

  1. Relieve the Pressure: When writing days are few and far between, each individual writing session can come with a lot of pressure. It’s easy to feel like you have to make up for lost time — to produce a high volume of high quality material right away. However, if you’re writing daily, you can approach each session with smaller, friendlier goals in mind. You might feel freer to try new things and explore new ideas. Simply by writing more frequently, you give yourself plenty of time for experiments, mistakes and corrections.
  2. Stay in Rhythm: Writing daily will help you keep your work fresh in your mind. You’ll be far less likely to forget what your characters were doing, to lose your train of thought, or to have to revisit your research. With ideas, plotlines and arguments still lingering, it should always be easy to pick up where you left off.
  3. Fall into Habit: As with any other craft, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the easier it will be and the more you’ll get done. By making time to work every day, writing can become second nature — as instinctual as brushing your teeth. You won’t struggle to fit it in to your life anymore; you’ll just do it. Thinking and creating will become part of who you are in your daily life.

Stop making goals and start creating a habit. Write — at least one sentence — every day. And see where that one sentence leads you. Remember, it’s only through writing that you can become a writer.

How do you make writing a part of your lifestyle?

Tick Tock, How Do You Fit Writing and Marketing on the Clock?

J.V. CarrWestBow Press author, J.V. Carr, knows a thing or two about a busy schedule. She juggles raising children and maintaining a household on top of sharing her book’s message. Learn more about how she finds time for her time-consuming responsibilities.


Do you have busy days? A crazy work schedule? A busy house that steals your time? If so, how do you find the time to write, promote your book and keep up with your online presence on social media?

It may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task to juggle your life and writing, too. And believe me, I haven’t perfected this yet, but I am peacefully striving toward the writing and marketing goals I have set for myself. I say peacefully because at first I felt panicked to promote my newly published novel, Username: Bladen. I stayed up too late reading, writing, setting up and maintaining my social media accounts. Eventually I ended up too tired to continue. (more…)

3 Tips on Writing a Children’s Book

How to Write a Children's BookDid you know that the National Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country with the 94th annual celebration this week? We’re excited to honor those children’s authors and books that have made a lasting impact on a child’s life. And, if you’ve ever tried to write a children’s book, you know that it’s not as easy as it may seem. Children can be fickle in what they like, and some adult authors struggle to reach an audience with different interests and on a lower reading level.

How can you write a Christian children’s book with a positive message that children want to read? No matter where you are at in the process of writing your children’s book, we can help you with a few writing tips:

  • Determine your motives and message. With thousands of children’s titles published each year, you must figure out how to make yours stand out. Do you have a specific message you want to share with children? Perhaps you have noticed a certain type of book lacking in the children’s department, and you think you can write a book to fill that gap. Before you do anything else, spend time thinking about why you want to write a children’s book, then determine what message you want to communicate.
  • Get on their level. Children are a unique group of readers. Their attention span is short, their interests vary from moment to moment and their view of the world is different than adults. So, spend time with children to learn what they like, what they are curious about and what scares them. Keep these children in mind when you start writing. It is also important that you know exactly what age group your book is aimed at. A book for a toddler would be written differently than a book for a five-year-old.
  • Utilize pictures. Not only should the words in your book connect with the children in your target age range, but the pictures should as well. Since most young children cannot read on their own, illustrations and pictures help them understand a story. Your pictures should be age appropriate, bright and colorful and match the plotline of your story. If you are not an illustrator you can hire a freelance illustrator or choose from one or more of the interior illustrations services WestBow Press offers.

Writing a children’s book is not always easy and can become an exercise in being concise and communicating a big message on a child’s level. But, seeing a child’s eyes light up when they read your book is worth all the hard work.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Finding Your Voice as a Writer

Finding Your Voice as a WriterIt’s important for writers to find their voice and apply it to their stories. But first, what is a writer’s voice? It’s a combination of things – syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc. – that make your writing unique. Your voice when writing books differs from when speaking at engagements.  No one else can offer what you can – your unique perspective and storytelling will keep your readers coming back for more if you stay true to yourself and your voice. So, it’s essential for you to unlock your creative potential and find your writing voice.

Here are a few tips on how to find and develop your voice:

1.)    Visualize someone you want to talk to. Pretend you’re writing a self-help book for teens, and you have a fourteen-year-old niece. Visualize your niece sitting next to you as you write. This makes it easier for you to tell the information with words of encouragement from a concerned loved one rather than simply instructive words coming from a figure of authority.

2.)    Play games. Create lists of words in order to discover ideas you’ve kept hidden from yourself.  Make sure these words mean something to you; don’t just search for synonyms. Really think about them.  Make a list of words that you find creepy, then a list of things that you find inspirational. Make a list of foods you enjoy, then a list of places you want to visit. Make a list of movies you enjoyed as a child, then a list of gifts you’d give yourself and family if you won the lottery.

3.)    Free write. Write whatever comes to mind without editing. Take a few words from the lists you created from step two and simply begin writing. After a few sessions, review your work and see if you would publish something similar. Your most honest work is usually revealed when you’re comfortable and without stress or deadlines.

Your voice is created from persistent hard work, and when you challenge yourself. So, keep writing – and reading – in order to develop your voice once you discover it. You’ll stand out among other authors by showing the world you have something to say and have a unique way of saying it.

How did you find your writing voice?

Ten Commandments for New Authors

Ten Commandments for New AuthorsOver my past 20 years in the book publishing industry, I have seen many new authors make the same mistakes. These mistakes seem obvious to industry insiders, which is perhaps why we have not done a better job of helping authors avoid making them. In this era where most new books are self-published, to some degree, an author is responsible for several functions that are normally outsourced to their publisher. As a result, these mistakes are becoming more common.

While not nearly as important as the original Ten Commandments, these guidelines can determine an author’s level of success. (more…)

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