Outline or Not Outline … Join the Debate

To Outline Or Not Outline?

Among authors, there is a heated debate regarding whether to outline or not outline your book. There have been countless debates about using outlines. It’s a very personal matter among writers. The determining factor is the method that increases your productivity the most.

The outcome of the debate is unsettled. Traditionally, non-fiction writers use an outline to draft their books. They view outlines as blueprints to move them step-by- step to the finished product. Having an outline makes it easy to define the problem and envision the solutions you’ll want to present in a non-fiction book.

On the other hand, fiction books are very imaginative. They might include unlimited plots, twists and storylines. They develop their own characters and scenarios.

A large number of fiction writers believe an outline is a mental straight jacket. They believe it restricts the flow of creativity and blocks new ideas. For these writers, an outline leads to a rigid expression of their content rather than an organic flow (which is sometimes interpreted as artistic). They prefer to let narrative forces guide them rather than be led by an outline.


The no-outline diehards believe that writing should be the art of creating. They believe you get to what needs to happen as you write. This far exceeds the task of completing a pre-set outline for the day. No outline means fresh, organic prose.

Many of them have no habits or rituals that prompt a writing session. Some have no scheduled times to write or any favorite writing places. Some even reject the tools designed to make the writing task easier. They live in their own writing world and make up any rules they need as they write.

The truth is, there are no cookie cutter writers. Therefore, there are no right or wrong decisions about using or not using an outline. There is only selection. Match a method (outline or no outline) with your writing skills and your personality to determine a preference. This offers the best expression of the real you through your writing.

What’s your opinion? I’d love to know what you think of this issue. If I get enough responses, I’ll post an updated post in the near future.

Do you need more information? You’ll find it in the Chapter 3, “Plan or Plunge: The Outline Dilemma,” available in our forthcoming book, “Night Writer: Optimize Your Time, Upgrade Your Skills, and Write Around Your Day Job.” You’ll find it on Amazon as of June 28.


Sharing this post from a fellow authors at CURIOUSEREDIT (www.curiouserediting.com). Enjoy!

The Only List of Author Resources You’ll Ever Need

Resources are great. But the right resources can save you so much time. I’m often asked for all sorts of how-tos on social media, email marketing, author branding—you name it. For the last couple of months, I’ve been compiling them all into a nice list just for you. Because I love you.

Favorite books on marketing/branding/publishing/writing:

Your Brand Is Calling by Mike Loomis (honestly, if you’re building a business, just hire the man so that you don’t waste time like I did. When I hired Mike, I had a 35% increase in profit . . . in one quarter.)

Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl (it’s all about email marketing)

Making a Killing on Kindle by Michael Alvear

How I Sold 30,000 Books on Amazon’s Kindle by Martin Crosbie (beginners, you’ll want to read this one first)

Publishing 101 by Jane Friedman (if you have any interest in traditional publishing, this is the only book I recommend)

A Writer’s Guide to Characterization by Victoria Lynn Schmidt (this changed everything for me in terms of archetypes)

Writing Deep Scenes by Martha Alderson (once I learned that there are actually four parts to a novel, it made outlining so much simpler)

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman (ensure this is by your side when writing dialogue)

Selling Socially for the Holiday

As authors, we’re probably used to selling socially. However, we need to put a different spin on things for the holidays.

For the most part, we need every shortcut we can get to help us – something that won’t take much time yet prove to be extremely effective.

Selling socially impacts all of your social networks, and are the highlight of any marketer. Authors know it as the mother lode of all marketing, whether fee or free. It’s one of the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective marketing tools available today. It’s the place go to tell the world about your book.

selling socially

Once you get your promotion lined up, it’s the place to go to let your readers (and future readers) know about it. Here are several ways to capitalize on the social networking explosion and other online media.

Since the majority of authors are already active social media users, selling socially won’t waste their time. Remember that with little thought and effort you can promote your books to millions of potential readers.

When it comes to holiday posts, you’ll want to be social while spreading the holiday cheer. Yes, focus on selling socially but be careful not to over-promote on any one platform.

Instead, focus on posting engaging content that will excite them about the holiday and show them how your books will help make their shopping easier.

You’ll want to show a positive vibe in everything. This will keep them coming back for your posts and your offerings. No hard sell is necessary when you stay focused on holiday cheer.

If time permits, drum up a contest or two to keep them active while vying for your prizes (which will include your books, of course). If you can tie your contest into your book’s cover or characters (available on your Amazon Author Page – provide them with the link).

This forces them to go to your sales page and to glean your other book titles. You could be setting yourself up for mega sales. Several contest sites are listed here.


E-N-T-I-C-I-N-G is the name of the game! That’s what gets your readers to click on your posts and draws them into your subtle sales pitch. The workhorse of this tactic is the headline.

Your reader is more likely to click on something that piques their curiosity. People also respond to something that poses a question they can’t readily answer.

The best headlines are the ones that are short and filled with emotional words or killer phrases. Sometimes you can take something from the news, but be sure it can’t be misconstrued as something negative. Also, don’t try to use a pun regarding a politician. You’re asking for trouble.

In the meantime, posting good content following a hot headline is the way to go. And remember, you want to highlight the holiday in everything you post. Let’s see if these blog and article examples help make it clear:

  • 7 Holiday Social Media Marketing Dos and Don’ts
  • 10 Holiday Marketing Tips to Boost Festive Sales
  • Kick Start Your Holiday Marketing Campaign And Keep It Alive
  • TIS THE SEASON TO PROSPER: Smart Holiday Marketing To Rev Up Your Revenues
  • Seasonal Marketing Secrets

When possible, keep your headlines focused on the information inside. Use graphical features such as all caps or bold to add emphasis.

And be sure to include a link in your brief resource box. Keep it up through the holiday season and beyond, and your sales are sure to follow.

All of the strategies in the HOLIDAY SALES series were excerpted from this book. There’s still time to get some great promotions in for the holiday. Start here with Boost Your Holiday Book Sales, available at Amazon.com.

Graphics via CC0 Public Domain


Never Too Late Promotions

It’s closer to December now but these never too late promotions are worth a try. When possible, see if you are linked through social media or via co-workers to anyone in these professions. If so, try to make a connection with them to help you place a few of your books for the holiday.

Here you’ll find a list of tactics to get you moving. It’s possible that you’ll come up with a few more on your own. Either way, get busy and remember, it’s never too late to launch a promotion!

Do This Now:

  • Offer your cookbook to kitchen specialty shops, specialty food stores and upscale grocery stores
  • Fitness centers, pharmacies, beauty salons and personal trainers could be a perfect match for health, diet and exercise books
  • Hospital gift shops do well with inspirational books, gift books, poetry, books of quotes, non-fiction, self-help, and children’s lit
  • Most garden stores have gift shops as well as botanical gardens
  • Specialty museums that might show an interest in your gardening books
  • Have you penned a memorable travel book? Make it available at tourist attractions, RV parks, gift shops in hotels, your local chamber of commerce and other local venues – and don’t forget the your local travel clubs and Visitor’s Centers
  • Gift shops in children’s venues such as science museums and hospitals may want a fresh line of children’s books
  • Seek out toy stores, doll shops, children’s specialty shops and science museums to place your children’s books
  • A huge market exists for chick lit which could move easily when stocked in women’s boutiques or hair and nail salons
  • Home décor stores, especially specialty stores with door knobs, curtains or wall craft might enjoy providing a copy of your home décor books to customers
  • Fore! That’s the direction of your golf book when placed in pro shops and sporting goods stores along with soccer and other sports-related topics

never too late
Boost Your Holiday Book Sales
is a quick and easy read, yet filled with easy-to-implement instructions. Get your copy today at 

Graphic via CC0 Public Domain




Deck the Inbox and Website

Here’s another group of holiday marketing ideas to boost your sales. These will help you keep the holiday spirit. They also show your visitors that you’re committed to holiday sales.

With everyone in the holiday spirit, you should help your business reflect it as well. When you deck the inbox and website, you keep things festive. Adding decorative touches to your e-mail, website, social platforms helps share the season with others. By the way, try to add something to all of your correspondence.

Now Do This:

  • Change your social media banner to reflect the holiday season (some of my clients change theirs every two weeks during the holidays)
  • Decorate your online storefront or business site to create a festive look for your visitors
  • Do the same with your social media accounts and e-mail blasts
  • Create landing pages with holiday-themed content and decorative graphics
  • Don’t forget your sales pages and receipts – the more festive the better
  • If you are using an e-mail service, select a variety of holiday-themed templates to send your messages out
  • Locate shareable holiday quizzes and quotes to send out to your regular mailing list
  • Add a decorative graphic to your regular correspondence
  • Add a holiday message to your signature line
  • Create holiday-themed newsletters, deal announcements, Christmas gift ideas and more

These ideas can be expounded upon and, in some cases, can be adapted for other times of the year. It all depends upon what you want to communicate to your audience. Either way, the effort will pay off (pun intended) when you choose to deck the inbox and website.

Deck the Inbox and Website
Don’t miss your chance to make mega holiday sales. Get Boost Your Holiday Book Sales, available at Amazon.com, and get started today!

Graphic via CC0 Public Domain