Get a free custom cover for your novel

October 23, 2014 Leave a comment

As I continue this 2-month series about my participation in this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you are tasked with writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November), I’m detailing both my online efforts on the NaNoWriMo site and (will soon) be detailing the planning steps I’m taking with the details of my book so I can hit the ground running on November 1.   There are already several “Write-Ins” announced for November 1 in areas throughout the country (and I’m sure, world), including several in the Denver, Colorado area.  I’ll discuss those in the coming days.

But today I will discuss the NaNoWriMo offer for a free custom cover for your book.  When you complete their online form (which is an easy proposition that requires submitting a 750 word synopsis of your book, your title, your author name, and your email address), you enter into a drawing to receive a free custom-designed cover by a cover designer for the book you are writing in NaNoWriMo.  Hundreds of thousands of writers participate in NaNoWriMo every year and they are giving away 30 covers, so your odds aren’t great — but there’s no reason not to apply.  I did — I took my synopsis that I posted a few days ago and shortened it even further to arrive upon 750 words, and then submitted it. I even chose the “be surprised” option by declining to submit my email address to be notified.   If you haven’t yet entered this drawing, you may do so from the Forums of the NaNoWriMo site.

Somehow, I have a feeling I’m not going to be one of the chosen few, and not just because the odds are approximately 10,000 to 1.


Forget those odds! The good news is that if you choose to publish your NaNoWriMo book with Outskirts Press, you are GUARANTEED to get a free custom cover for your book.  Just enter the promotion code COVEROCT14 with your Diamond book package before the end of October, and we’ll hold that promotion for you until your book is finished at the end of November and ready to publish in December. You can see samples of custom covers all along the right hand side of this blog, or if you prefer to see the 100 most recent ones, simply scroll through our online bookstore.

All the details of the FREE CUSTOM COVER promotion are available by clicking here.

Announcing IDLE HANDS to NaNoWriMo

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment

The next “Badge” I received on NaNoWriMo was a Writing Badge, rewarded for announcing my novel on the site. I chose the Event date, which is November 2014. I provided the novel title: Idle Hands

Next it asked for the Novel Genre and provided 18 choices ranging from Adventure to Young Adult.  Idle Hands is a dark comedy-thriller, but that wasn’t a category, so I simply chose “thriller/suspense.”

coverNext it asked me to upload a cover .jpg for the book (see, I knew that would come in handy).

It asked for a short synopsis next.  I have a short three-page “treatment” that delves into the relationship between the three main characters, the two turning points, the two twists, and the climax, but that sounds too long to be defined as a “short synopsis” so I cut excerpts from it and arrived at this as a synopsis for Idle Hands:

“Brad is a Jewish entrepreneur who is approaching 40, unmarried, and lacking confidence in spite of his success with an internet matchmaking service he founded and programmed (initially to simply help with his own dating woes).  And before he knew it, it became successful and he became a millionaire. But it wasn’t enough. And on the cusp of a full-blown mid-life crisis, Brad meets Fenderson Quinn, a charismatic and unpredictable 27 year-old millionaire who sold his own company for $750 million dollars when he was 25.  Neither Brad nor Fender have to work, and with too much money and too much time on their hands, their devil-may-care attitude leads to a fast friendship punctuated by an ever-increasing sense of danger that culminates in murder, mayhem, and malevolence.”

Next it asked for a novel excerpt, which seemed odd since I haven’t written it  yet (aren’t we supposed to wait until November 1, NaNoWriMo?). So I left that blank and will fill it in later, after I’ve written my first word count (no reason to start early when it doesn’t officially count, right)?

Then I clicked “Save” and BOOM, collected my first Writing Badge: You’ve Got a Novel.

The next badges are Adding a Writing Buddy and Updating Your Word Count, and since it looks like that second one needs to wait until November also, I’ll be looking for a buddy.

Our Executive VP at Outskirts Press is participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, too, so I’ll be adding Kelly to get my next badge.

Are you a “Planner” or a “Pantser” ?

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

I received a clever email from NaNoWriMo (well, actually, from the point of view of my unwritten book) inviting me, on behalf of unwritten books everywhere, to write my book this November.  It suggested that Step One in preparing for National Novel Writing Month is to DECIDE to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve already decided that.  Then, the email provided a link to a “Prep” page on the NaNoWriMo site which provided a series of steps leading up to November 1.  Step One is making the commitment to participate. Check.  Step Two is asking yourself whether you are a “planner” or a “pantser.”

According to NaNoWriMo, you are a “planner” if

1. You believe in rigorous preparation.

2. You’ll spend the months before November carefully fleshing out characters, building worlds, and plotting your story.

3. On November 1, you’ll have an outline—or at least lots of helpful notes.

 And, on the other hand, you are a “pantser” if

1. You believe in hardcore spontaneity.

2. You’ll spend the months before November stocking up on inspiration and mayyybe a vague idea or two (if you’re ambitious).

3. On November 1, you’ll have a blank document and your imagination.

It would be interesting to see if NaNoWriMo actually had statistics on the success rates of “planners” vs “pantsers” — in other words, which category is comprised of the most people who have successfully written 50,000 words? Perhaps my guess is based only upon the fact that I’m clearly a “Planner” but I would wager a guess that, statistically speaking, there are more “winners” in the “planner” category.  Being a planner suggests other character traits that will come in handy when trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days, namely organization, dedication, and commitment.  While the NaNoWriMo site says “We think both are equally valid” they clearly don’t, because in the very next paragraph they eschew the very essence of being a “pantser” by saying, “And even if you’re a pantser, we recommend reading through the links below… You never know what might inspire you.”  A pantser wouldn’t do that — that sounds like preparation and planning.

I have already done a lot of planning for my book, Idle Hands, and in the coming days I’ll share those plans here so those of you who are planning on joining me on this writing adventure can see what a “planner” does to prepare for NaNoWriMo.  And I’ll also continue filling out my author profile by collecting more badges…

T-Minus 10 days until NaNoWriMo kicks off….

Categories: NaNoWriMo Tags:

Providing author info to websites

October 20, 2014 Leave a comment

The NaNoWriMo website finally “relaunched” and it became possible to provide author information and information about the book I’m planning to write in 30 days during November (along with hundreds of thousands of other participants).  So this posting will discuss the process of completing the “Author Information” portion of the profile to earn one of the “Participation Badges.”  Here they ask you for your location, your birthday, your hobbies, your favorite music (while writing), your website, your “StayClassy URL” (I didn’t know what that was, and there was no “help” or hint as to its meaning on the website), your occupation, your favorite books or authors, and your author biography.

Over the years at Outskirts Press, we have experimented with asking very few questions of our authors at the initial stages of “getting to know them” and a lot of questions at this initial stage and we have invariably discovered that very few people are comfortable sharing many details about themselves right off the bat, so I was surprised to find questions like these so soon into the NaNoWriMo author process, particularly the birthday, which is a security-risk question that we never ask our authors. I tried to just provide a  month and year for my birthday and it forced me to also include the day (so I randomly picked a number).

Anyway, here’s what I put for my author bio:

Hello everyone. This is my first time participating with NaNoWriMo as a writer, although our publishing company, Outskirts Press, is a previous sponsor of National Novel Writing Month.  Within 30 days, I hope to successfully write at least 50,000 words (I’m shooting for 65,000) of my comedy-thriller “Idle Hands.”

On a professional note, I have published three non-fiction books (Sell Your Book on AmazonSelf-Publishing Simplified and Publishing Gems: Insider Information for the Self-Publishing Writer), as well as an anthology of short stories, and two children’s books (One Wacky Wasp and Aidan’s Shoes).  My personal website is at

As the president and CEO of Outskirts Press, I am actively involved with a number of publishing and writing associations nationwide. I have a feeling time will be in short supply this November, but I hope to have enough left over to participate as much as possible with NaNoWriMo both online and offline. 

supportSpeaking of sponsorship, we finally heard back from NaNoWriMo about sponsorship, and they said they were full, which is strange, because according to the little graphic on their website, they appear to be about $700,000 short of their financial goals.

Next time, we’ll earn our first Writing Badge by announcing our novel to the NaNoWriMo community…

Categories: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo on hold ’til the 20th

According to the revised “notice” on the NaNoWriMo site, and specifically their event calendar, there’s not much going on in regards to National Novel Writing Month until the 20th, when the founder of NaNoWriMo (Chris Baty) is participating in a webinar.  So I’ll check back in a week and then hopefully their site will be updated with the 2014 campaign so I can complete the “badges” involved in registering. Then, in the days that follow leading up to November 1st, I will share some fiction plotting and outlining tips that I will be using for my novel Idle Hands.  These postings will hopefully help other writers as they prepare for November 1st, when NaNoWriMo officially kicks off.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Sleepless nights as a writer

Ncrest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbaNoWriMo is causing me to lose sleep already, and it’s only the beginning of October.  This is one of the reasons I’ve been reluctant to join in on the annual write-a-thon of writing 50,000 words in 30 days every November with thousands of other writers from around the world.  I have a little bit of an … addictive… personality.  That served me well when I was launching Outskirts Press in 2002 because I thought nothing of working 20 hours a day; and in the ensuing decade,12-18 hours a day helping writers successfully self-publish their books.

And now that I’ve committed to writing a book in a month, my mind is constantly abuzz with plot details, character details, even specific lines that specific characters will say at specific moments in the book.  I hope I remain this fanatical throughout November, but that seems like a long way away.

So I log-in to the NaNoWriMo site to attempt to create more of my profile, and see that I still cannot earn any more “badges” (more about that in a future post).

At least they’ve updated last week’s message to something new, which, in essence, says they’re experiencing technical difficulties.    If I remember correctly, they experience “technical difficulties” every year in October.  Perhaps that is the reason no one has gotten back to us at Outskirts Press about sponsorship.  Every year, Outskirts Press donates a percentage of our gross annual revenue to organizations. In the past these organizations have included The Children’s Hospital, the Make a Wish Foundation, the Education & Literacy Foundation, Colorado Humanities, and yes, even National Novel Writing Month. Rob in our Corporate Marketing dept. has been trying to contact them for a week or two now about giving them money this year and has received no response.  When you can’t even GIVE money to a company, you know they’re having difficulties, technical or otherwise…

Categories: ceo Tags:

The NaNoWriMo book cover

Yesterday I mentioned I would be sharing my temporary book cover for the book I plan to write in 30 days this November during the National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo).  The book is called Idle Hands and the caption I’m toying with including on the cover says: “Two young millionaires. Too much time to kill. To hell with the American Dream.”   That … kinda… tells you what it’s about. And, of course, the title and cover provide hints, as well:


Categories: Uncategorized

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 148 other followers