Tuning into Productivity: Harnessing Brown Noise as a Writing Tool

Finding focus amidst the noise can be a real challenge in our increasingly digital and connected world and using brown noise as a writing tool can help. Yet, for writers, achieving and maintaining concentration is undeniably crucial. One unexpected tool shown to help is Brown noise, a specific type of sound masking that can encourage focus and boost productivity.

What is Brown Noise?

Brown noise, also known as Brownian or red noise, is a soothing, low-frequency sound similar to the soft roar of a waterfall or the gentle patter of rain on a rooftop. Unlike white noise, which contains all frequencies equally and can sound like static, Brown noise decreases in intensity at higher frequencies, providing a warmer and softer auditory backdrop.

In terms of aiding the writing process, Brown noise can be particularly beneficial due to its consistency and ability to mask other more distracting sounds. Whether you’re writing from a bustling coffee shop, a busy office, or just dealing with typical household noises, Brown noise can provide a stable and consistent audio environment that allows you to tune out the extraneous sounds and tune into your thoughts.

What does Brown Noise Sound Like?

Using Brown Noise as a Writing Tool

It is relatively easy to integrate Brown noise into your writing routine. Numerous online platforms and apps offer free access to high-quality Brown noise tracks. You can play these on your computer or through headphones if you prefer not to disturb others. The volume should be adjusted to a comfortable level in the background – not so loud as to become a distraction, but strong enough to help muffle external noises.

Another advantage of using Brown noise as a writing tool is its potential to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus, a condition that causes a persistent ringing or buzzing in the ears and can be particularly distracting for writers. By masking the irritating tinnitus sounds, Brown noise can provide significant relief, allowing you to fully concentrate on your writing.

Not for Everyone

However, like any tool, Brown noise isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Some people may find it distracting or simply not beneficial. The key is to experiment and find out what works best for you. You may want to try other forms of sound masking, such as white noise or pink noise, to discover which color of noise best fosters your personal productivity.

It’s also important to remember that using Brown noise should be part of a broader strategy for creating a focused and productive writing environment. This can include setting specific writing goals, ensuring your physical comfort, and taking regular breaks to avoid burnout.

The #1 Writing Tool


Brown noise can be a surprisingly effective tool for writers seeking a cocoon of focus amidst distractions. While it might not replace a disciplined writing routine or a well-structured work environment, it can certainly enhance them, providing a consistent, calming backdrop against which your creativity can flourish. It’s always worth experimenting with different strategies to find what helps you write your best – and Brown noise might just be the unexpected key to unlocking your next level of productivity.

If you like this post, please share it with your friends! Writing is hard, and any tools that we can use to make it easier is appreciated. Got comments? I love comments. Please drop me a line.

30-Day Blogging Challenge

Ready for a Blogging Challenge?

If you’re like me, you get really busy doing day-to-day tasks and don’t always take the time to hone your skills. I found on of the best ways to keep in practice was to participate in a 30-day blogging challenge. It’s easy to do and you don’t need anyone to join you. It’s you and the keyboard.

Here is a quick start guide to get you started:

Quick guide to a 30 day blogging challenge

Editorial Calendar

I find that as long as I have something written in my desk calendar, then I am more likely to do it. Because I am a task-oriented person, everything has to be written down for me. Mostly, so I can mark them off and get a feeling of satisfaction!

This is an example of my editorial calendar:

I have four blogs in the works, so it’s necessary for me to use a spreadsheet to keep my writing on track. I plan my posts out four months in advance, add them to my calendar, and my day timer software. This way, I can work in advance and I don’t have to spend any time trying to figure out what I’m going to write about. You can set up the spreadsheet in google docs too.

Need some help getting started on your blogging challenge?

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My Favorite Software for Writers

I’ve talked about my favorite software for writers before, but I want to focus on the tools I use to help me organize my writing. One of the things that I am still amazed by even after over 20 years is the fact that I can write as many documents as my computer has the memory to hold. To me, that’s an amazing thing. The software I use is equally, seemingly endless.

NOTE: All of the software I mention, I own and use regularly. I am not affiliated with any of these products.

Here are my favs:


As I have written about Scrivener in the past, you might know that I use it for everything I write – eventually. Anytime I am working on a nonfiction piece, I use Scrivener to keep my chapters in order and everything nice and neat.

I know that I don’t use it to its fullest application. There is a Facebook group for Scrivener users, and they are always asking questions about the software that is so far out of my ability to understand that I usually ignore those conversations. I’ve found that the software is as easy or as complicated as you would like it to be.

Scrivener software for writers help outline your stories.
Scrivener keeps my notes in order and gives you easy access to chapters.

Scrivener can be used as a series of notepads, which is what I use it for, or you can use the templates to build a story. It has a bit of a learning curve, and since I use other software, I’ve not gone that far with the tutorials.

Software for writers can compile text to document format

Once you’re done writing, you can compile the entire manuscript into several formats. The part I like the best is the tree on the side where I can see my chapters and get to them easily. I can’t do this in word or google docs.

The Novel Factory

I am trying to write fiction. I spent hours and many dollars reading books on how to write a novel, how to outline a novel, how write from the seat of my pants, and hours of trying to understand acts and beats.

It wasn’t until I gave The Novel Factory a trial run did all the things I had read fall into place. I wrote the first part of my very first novel in word until I couldn’t see my way through the fog. That’s when I started looking for something to help me stay on track. The Novel Factory software does that.

The Novel Factory puts your outline into focus keeping you on track.
This is the background of The Novel Factory where you can see the scene outlines at a glance.
The Novel Factory software for writers lets you focus on each scene.
This overlay gives you the scene details. You write into the text box. I love the scene blocking tab.

I bought the software as a standalone on my desktop, and I moved my first novel into it, and was able to finish it. It’s a mess that needs to be rewritten since it’s way off track, but I will get to that.

Keeps the story on track

The book second in the series started in The Novel Factory and it went very smoothly without any of the problems I ran into the first time. With the outlines and templates to work with or modify to meet your needs, it’s much easier to stay on course and wrap up the story. Both of those novels are 60K plus.

You can build your own outline/beat sheet or use pre-designed templates that are free to download. In fact, I had downloaded the free templates before I bought the software. I liked them so much that I decided to buy the software.

If you’re struggling with your plot, you might want to look into The Novel Factory. No, it does not give you cookie cutter stories.

More Software for Writers for Increased Organization


Plottr is a plotting software that I had to modify to get it to work the way that I wanted to use it. In its simplest form, it is a glorified excel workbook. That being said, it’s much more than that.

The outline below is a list of my current and future projects and different series using a template by another author who needed an organizational chart.

Plottr software for writers organizes your story scenes.
This outline shows my current and TBD projects at a glance.

Here is what it looks like when you plot a book:

Plottr software for writers organizes your story scenes.
Chapter outline on left in default mode.

My complaint in this format is that it’s hard for me to follow the chapters. I think I might be the only one though since everyone loves this software.  I used it halfway through my first novel, and it kind of helped me get things and people organize, but it still was hard for me to follow. This is why I moved to The Novel Factory.

Choose your view

I used it to lay out my second book, and once I flipped the view, I found it much easier for me to follow.  Here is the flipped version for the second book:

Plottr organizes your story scenes.
By flipping the view, I found it easier to see the chapters and my characters timeline.

Now I can see where in the story these things happen.

Plottr organizes your story scenes.
Another view of the character’s timeline.

I have J.K. Rowling to thank for this because someone posted her spreadsheet worksheet and it was laid out in the same format, but she had the chapters off to the left.

You can use a piece of notebook paper to outline your story. Any software for writers will keep your notes cleaner.
You can use a regular piece of notebook paper to write on.

There’s nothing expensive or sophisticated about her method. In fact, it’s not even a lined accounting spreadsheet. Just a piece of notebook paper.

Inexpensive Software for Writers

Liquid Story Binder XE

This is the first software I bought about 12 years ago. I used it to start my first novel, and at the time, I couldn’t afford Scrivener or anything else expensive, so I bought this software. I love the heck out of it. It’s easy to use, and it helped me to keep my story semi-organized.

Build character with photos

I think the part I really liked was that I could build my character pages and add photos. I could lay out my scene maps and make notes. It was everything I wanted that kept everything orderly and ready to use.

I confess that the story is still in its original condition, and I have not gone back to write on it for almost 8 years, but it is still a story I will go back to. What I didn’t know when I started writing was how plotting was important, so this is a seat of your pants story from beginning to end.

I am only a quarter of the way into the story, and I don’t’ know how it will end, but I have a good idea that it will continue to be a seat of the pants type story.

Liquid binder XE software for writers is a great way to start if you're on a budget.
Liquid Binder XE is an economical way to plot, organize, and write your novel. It’s a Scrivener alternative.

The story has gone from word to Liquid Binder to Scrivener back to word, and one of these days, it might go to print. It’s a story I really want to write, and I daydream about it when I am supposed to be doing something else.

Plot or seat of your pants software for writers

Even though her mom was absent from her post, she could see her father sitting in his old, worn high-back leather chair. The ancient leather was worn thin in places and cracked in others. The sun had faded out half of the chair from buttery, gold leather to a pale, pink color. Her father had molded the cushions to suit his body from years of use to the point the no one else found it comfortable. That was one way to keep the guests out of it.

Although the hearth was cold and the fireplace clean, she saw her father sitting with his feet up on the hassock before it as if the temperatures were subzero and the Montana winds were bearing down on the old hotel.

Sandy noticed that he appeared to be talking to himself. On second glance, it seemed more likely that he was having a conversation with someone only he could see.

Her deep sigh reflected the sadness she felt about the loss of her father to his disease.

These are my favorite software for writers that have kept me sane and moving forward. Hopefully, you will find them helpful for productivity.  

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Great Places to Write When You Need a Change of Scenery

Writing from your home office can become boring and uninspiring at times. Since writing is a pleasurable experience – up to the editing part -, where you write can be much like the journeys your characters discover. That’s why if my brain no longer is participating in the writing process, I look for a new place to write. I have compiled a list of some great places to write if you need inspiration or just a getaway day.

Read or nap, either way, libraries are great places to write when you need a change of scenery.

Libraries are Great Places to Write

Libraries have always been a favored sanctuary for writers, offering an environment conducive to writing, access to an extensive range of resources, and a community of like-minded individuals. Many libraries also provide free Wi-Fi and computer access, which facilitates research and writing while on the go.

As a kid, I lived at the library as much as possible, so it’s only natural that this is the first place I seek refuge. There’s inspiration everywhere, and if you still can’t kick start your creativity, then take a break and read a book.

Coffee Shops are Great Places to Write

Coffee shops are a popular choice for writers seeking a change of scenery. They provide a warm, inviting ambiance, access to caffeine, and free Wi-Fi. For those in search of motivation, endeavor to locate a coffee shop with a distinct aesthetic or vibe that speaks to your soul. This is not my first choice because I find them too distracting, but it’s possible that I’ve never found the right coffee shop.


Museums offer an excellent alternative for writers who thrive on inspiration. They present a plethora of information and artifacts that can stimulate your imagination and assist in establishing your writing zone. Many museums also offer designated areas for writing, making them an ideal choice for those who require a serene space to work.

As a nonfiction writer, I tend to gravitate towards research. I can get lost down a rabbit hole for days, and the museum is just the right place to find facts and inspiration. I can’t say that I’ve ever written at a museum, but only because I don’t have but one near me, and I’ve written about it instead.

Parks are Great Places to Write

Parks provide a remarkable opportunity to engage with nature, which has always been a source of inspiration for writers. Whether you are seeking a serene spot to read or write, or you would like to take a break and admire the scenery, parks offer an excellent option.

Whenever possible, I like to take a notepad and write at a park picnic table. I’ve been doing this since I was about 11 or 12, and it’s still my favorite place to write. I find being outdoors freeing, and if I run out of words, I can people watch or in my case, watch the pelicans float on the river.


If you are fortunate enough to live close to a beach, it is a remarkable resource to seize! The sound of waves, the fragrance of salty air, and the sensation of sand between your toes can all contribute to a relaxed and creative writing atmosphere. I have tried to write on the beach, but that’s a no-go for me. Between the sand on the paper (yes, still pen and notebook when remote), suntan oil, and flopping around trying to get comfortable, I can’t do it. I can do it from the parking lot watching the ocean, and thousands and thousands of words have been written there in my car.

co-working spaces are great places to write when you need a change of scenery.

Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces are a splendid option for writers in need of a dedicated workspace without having to commit to a long-term lease. They offer an array of amenities, including free Wi-Fi, printing services, and access to meeting rooms. This is another place I can’t write. It’s like the coffee shop all over again, only with office machines and noisy co-workers.

I went full-time freelance to stop working with other people in my space, so I don’t seek this out. However, I know that many of my previous co-workers couldn’t work from home because they got bored and lonely, so this is perfect for them.


Bookstores are an additional exceptional choice for writers. They offer an extensive selection of books and resources to inspire your writing, as well as a quiet space to work. Some bookstores also host author events and writing workshops, providing additional opportunities for inspiration and growth.

I’ve always felt guilty about using the bookstores like a library, so I don’t sit and read at a bookstore. I seem to be overly cautious about not wanting to camp out in a bookstore, even when there are tables and comfy couches just for that purpose.

Community Centers are Great Places to Write

Community centers offer an ideal choice for writers who wish to connect with their local community. They provide a range of activities and events, including writing groups and classes, offering an opportunity to meet other writers and gain valuable feedback on your work. If my community center had a local writer’s meet-up, I would consider going. I don’t know that I would be able to work at a community center, but I know that it might be a good place to do some casual research on current topics for magazine articles.


Universities offer a treasure trove of resources for writers, including libraries, writing centers, and workshops. They frequently host readings and other events featuring prominent writers, providing an opportunity to connect with the writing community and gain inspiration from established authors. Like the museums, I don’t have a close university to hang out in, but I am sure that I could find a spot to curl up and write.

Art Galleries

Art galleries can be a phenomenal source of inspiration for writers. They offer an array of visual art that can spark your creativity and inspire new ideas. Many galleries also provide designated writing spaces, making it effortless to locate a quiet spot to work.

I have not written anything art related, so I have not tried to write in an art gallery, but like the museum and university, I can see where it would be a good place to conduct research while educating myself on art.

Need some inspiration for writing during the holidays? Check out my simple list of ideas.

Historic Sites

Historic sites offer a glimpse into the past and can be a rich source of inspiration for writers. They frequently have designated writing spaces, making them an excellent choice for those who require a tranquil location to work. Like writing in the park, this offers a good place to pull up a picnic table and get your pen out.

I love to explore historic sites and spend a lot of time reading plaques and taking walks when I get to one. I have a passion for visiting all of the Civil War battlefields, and while I haven’t written about the war, I have spent time at a park bench quietly contemplating the actions of so many.

Nature Reserves are Great Places to Write

Nature reserves are a prime selection for writers who yearn to connect with nature and relish a peaceful environment. They present an array of hiking trails and opportunities to view wildlife, providing an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Having trekked over the mountains, hiking in Florida is not the same.

In fact, it’s hard to sit in a Florida nature reserve and write because we have lots of big mosquitoes. If there’s a mosquito, it will find me and bite me. On the other hand when I hiked in the Bridger Mountains around Bozeman, MT, I found many a place to sit down and jot my thoughts onto paper. It’s all in the environment.

Writer’s Retreats

Retreat centers provide a tranquil environment to work, away from the distractions of daily life. Many retreat centers offer writing residencies or workshops, providing an opportunity to connect with other writers and receive valuable feedback on your work. Like other organized activities, I am not very good at them.

I tend to wander off and seek an even quieter place to be, or my creativity gets so boxed up that a retreat only makes it worse. I do know many writers who thrive under retreat conditions and enjoy the opportunity to share their work and critique others.

Zoos are great places to write when you need a change of scenery.
Everyone has a story to tell.

Botanical Gardens and Zoos

Botanical gardens present a peaceful environment and an extensive array of plants and flowers that can inspire. Zoos are said to have been the inspiration for Dr. Seuss, so if you like to write at the garden or zoo, you’re in good company. Personally, if the botanical garden is outside, then I can find a place to sit at a bench and enjoy the flowers and trees, but if it’s in a greenhouse, I can’t sit still and enjoy it.

I find that zoos and gardens bring out the photographer in me more than the writer, but I know from experience that whenever I have photos of some place I’ve been, I will sit down and write about the experience.

Final Thoughts

No matter where you decide to write, if you find the inspiration to keep your story moving forward, then it’s the perfect spot for you.

Writing is solidary, so these ideas might help you get away from your desk and into the public.

If you found any of my tips useful, please feel free to comment below. I love comments! Sharing my post will help me keep this blog open. So, thank you for that.

The Power of Proofreading – Why It’s Crucial for Every Writer

A vital aspect of writing is proofreading—the process of carefully reviewing a written document to detect and correct any errors. Without it, who knows what nonsense I would type and misspelled words would be everywhere.

Proofreading Enhances Clarity and Comprehensibility

The first aspect of proofreading is to ensure that your writing is clear and easy to understand. Your intended meaning can get lost in grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies. By proofreading, you can fix these issues and ensure that your audience gets your meaning.  

Proofreading Strengthens Your Professional Image

Errors in your writing can give the impression that you’re careless or unprofessional. By proofreading your work, you show your dedication to quality, attention to detail, and professionalism. This will help you establish credibility, gain respect, and ultimately, create better opportunities for yourself or your business.

Proofreading Eliminates Ambiguity

Ambiguity can break down effective communication, which can lead to confusion, misinterpretation, or even conflict. Proofreading allows you to refine your language, choose the most precise words, and remove any potential ambiguities.

Proofreading Enhances Readability

You must hold your reader’s attention or engage their emotions, and proofreading can help you improve your writing’s readability by addressing issues like sentence structure, word choice, and punctuation. This will make your writing more entertaining or engaging, as well as easier to read.

Proofreading Builds Confidence in Your Writing

Proofreading is essential for building confidence in your writing. Before you let anyone read your work, make sure that you have polished it. If you don’t, you end up with a piece that may have potential being set aside because it was too hard to read.  

Proofreading Develops Your Writing Skills

The process of proofreading allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I have issues with commas and tense. Sometimes. By examining your work with a critical eye, you’ll gain a better understanding of your writing habits and patterns. This self-awareness can help you develop your skills and become a more effective writer over time.

Proofreading Protects Your Reputation

In the digital age, the written word has an incredible staying power and critics can bring up something you wrote decades ago. By proofreading your work, you can catch errors before they’re published, protecting your reputation and preventing potential embarrassment or damage to your personal or professional image.

Instant Grammar Checker - Correct all grammar errors and enhance your writing.

Proofreading Conclusion

Never overlook proofreading when writing. It ensures clarity, strengthens your professional image, eliminates ambiguity, enhances readability, builds confidence, develops your writing skills, and protects your reputation. If your project is a book, once you’ve proofread everything in it, hire a proofreader and a line editor to go back over it again. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve missed. Then it’s polished.

How Do I Use a Beat Sheet?

Old fashioned typewriter for editing and rewriting your beat sheet.

Every story has a structure, and I’m sure that you already know this from watching television or reading the newspaper. It starts with a beginning; it has a middle; and it has an end. What happens between those places is where the fun is.

Every type of story has those components (or beats as we’re going to call them) and other components that fit under those headers. Even this blog post has beats.

A pyramid plot, which might be the simplest of all of them is as follows:

  • Set up – beginning
  • Conflict begins and rises
  • Conflict is at its climax
  • Conflict is ended and the story falls back to normal
  • Conclusion

The End. We all go home either satisfied with the ending or mad because it didn’t work out the way we think it should.

What is a beat sheet?

The beat sheet is a quick outline – not that nasty word again – that lays out the whole story in a simple form. When I said this post had a beat sheet to it, I meant it laid out the introduction, and then started to answer the questions we usually associate with a news story. The Ws and an H or so, with the H being the climax since it answers the question asked in the title. From there, we wrap it up with a conclusion.

Why would I use a beat sheet?

There are several reasons why you would use a beat sheet, but the number one reason is that it helps you stay on track for your story. By using a beat sheet, you make sure that your events happen in the right place of a story where it will have the most impact. The next time you read a novel, watch what happens at the 25 to 30 percent mark. Then again at the 75 percent mark. These are big beats in the story.

The other reasons are as follows:

  • It’s quicker than the more formal outline since it’s bullet points
  • It helps you focus without getting bogged down in details, which is good for those who write by the seat of their pants

You can keep your beat sheet on your desk next to you as you plan your novel or blog post. It’s your cheat sheet.

Where do I get a beat sheet?

Beat sheets are all over the internet, but you can create your own to make it fit your story. If your story is a three act story, then you can divide up your beat sheet into three parts.

Here are a few places you can get a beat sheet:

How do I use a beat sheet?

Like an outline, the beat sheet is there to keep you on track. Here is the basic beat set up for a three act story.

Beat Sheet set up:

Act 1

1 – Opening page or image – pg 1

2 – Set up the story – pg 1-10

3 – Set the theme – pg 5

4 – Catalysts to action – pg 12

5 – Debate the action – resist the action – pg 12-25

6 – Make a choice – heat up the scene – pg 25 (25 percent in)

Act 2

7 – Introduce subplot that runs parallel to the main story – pg 30

8 – Action scenes – all fun and games – running, screaming etc. – pg 30-55

9 – Midpoint – Character is either up or down – pg 55

10 – The bad guys are hot on the trail – conflict is heating up – pg 55-75

11 – Bad guys are winning – character loses all – pg 75 (notice 75 percent in)

12 – Despair – agony – hold your head and cry – pg. 75-85

Act 3

13 – Fresh start – new revelation – get those bad guys – pg 85

14 – Finish getting the bad guys and wrap up the stories – pg 85-110

15 – Closing scene – all is well in the world – pg 85


Now that you have an idea of how things are set up, the next time you watch a sitcom or a movie, check the beats to see where they are added and how they correlate to the overall story.

If you can’t find a beat sheet, then create your own based on your needs.

Am I Ready for a Beta Reader?

You’ve written and rewritten your novel. You’re happy with it and think it’s ready to see an agent or publisher. You might be ready for a beta reader. Are Beta Readers Necessary?Let’s look at what a beta reader does for you:They are your best friend during the writing process. Not the alpha reader because they always find something wrong, but the beta reader is the one person you trust with your manuscript.Here’s what they do:

  • Read your draft be it a novel, screenplay, or any other written word
  • Offer feedback on your work
  • Their feedback helps improve the work and make it publisher ready
  • They point out plot holes
  • They point out any confusing areas in your novel
  • They critique the pace, the dialog, the style, and whether your character had two different shoes on  – hey, it happens
  • They help you make the story engaging and point out weaknesses

 Your beta reader will help you be a better author, as well as help you refine your work and make it the best it can be. Where can I find a Beta Reader? There are many places where you can find beta readers:

Writing communities: Join writing communities, either online or in-person and ask if anyone is interested in being a beta reader. You’ll find writing communities online, and some of them are genre specific, so if you’re writing a cozy, then check out the cozy writing group on Facebook. You can also look for local writer groups.

Online sites: There are several online sites like Scribophile, Critique Circle, and Wattpad specifically designed to connect writers with beta readers.

Friends and Family Plan: Reach out to friends, family, and co-workers that are not mad at you (reduces the negativity) to read your manuscript. Beware of people who will just say anything to please you because they love you. That’s not helpful. 

Professional beta readers: Consider hiring a professional beta reader or editor if you’re looking for more in-depth feedback on your work. Do a Google search for a professional beta reader or check out the jobs boards. Stay away from cheap rates. You get what you pay for.

​Regardless of where you find beta readers, it’s important to provide clear guidelines for what you’re looking for in their feedback.  Having a beta reader who you trust and who has a good understanding of your writing goals can be extremely valuable in helping you improve your work.

What are Some Beta Reader Questions I should Ask?

When working with a beta reader, it can be helpful to provide them with specific questions to guide their feedback. Here are some questions you might consider asking:

  • What did you think of the plot and pacing of the story?
  • Were the characters well-developed and believable?
  • Was the dialogue natural and convincing?
  • Were there any scenes or parts of the story that were confusing or unclear?
  • What did you like most about the story?
  • What did you like least about the story?
  • Were there any specific parts of the story that you felt could be improved?
  • Was the story engaging and did it keep you interested throughout?
  • Was the tone of the story consistent and appropriate for the subject matter?
  • Do you have any overall suggestions or recommendations for improvement?

Remember to be open and receptive to the feedback you receive, even if it’s not what you were expecting. Consider each suggestion carefully, and use the feedback to make your story the best it can be. Don’t forget to thank your beta reader for their time and effort in helping you improve your work.

Are Beta Readers Paid?

This is up to you. You might get better responses and critiques from a paid editor or professional beta reader, but if you trust your friends and family to be brutally honest, you can probably pay them in cookies and pizza.

​If you’re paying a beta reader or editor, be sure to discuss the terms of their service, including the cost, the amount of feedback you’ll receive, and the turnaround time for the feedback. If you’re working with a professional beta reader, you may also want to ask for samples of their previous work and get references from other writers who have used their services. 

How Many Beta Readers Should I Hire?

The number of beta readers you should hire depends on several factors, including the size and complexity of your work, the amount of feedback you’re looking for, and your budget. Here are some general guidelines:

  • For shorter works: 1-2 beta readers may be sufficient.
  • For longer works: 3-5 beta readers can provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the story.
  • For more complex works: Consider hiring more beta readers, 5 or more, to ensure that all aspects of the story are thoroughly evaluated.

It’s important to remember that the quality of feedback is more important than the quantity. One insightful beta reader can provide more valuable feedback than several beta readers who don’t understand the story or your writing goals. When selecting beta readers, look for individuals who are familiar with the genre of your work and understand what you’re trying to achieve.

Additionally, consider the possibility of hiring multiple rounds of beta readers. After incorporating feedback from the first round of beta readers, you may want to have another round of different beta readers review the revised work to see if the changes were effective. This can help you ensure that your work is the best it can be before submitting it for publication or sharing it with a wider audience.

How Long does it take for a Beta Reader to Finish?

Typically, beta readers should provide feedback within a few weeks of receiving your work. However, if the beta reader is busy with other commitments or if your work is particularly long or complex, it may take longer. If you have a specific deadline, be sure to discuss it with your beta reader and make sure they’re able to meet it.

When working with a beta reader, it’s important to be clear and respectful of their time and other commitments. Provide them with clear guidelines for what you’re looking for in their feedback and make sure you have a good understanding of the terms of the agreement. Regular communication can help ensure that both you and the beta reader are on the same page and that the feedback is provided promptly.

I hope these suggestions helped you decide whether or not you’re ready for your first round of beta readers. 

Write Your Way to Success Writing About What You Love

Time and again, I have heard teachers say, “Write what you know”. Well, what if what I know is not that interesting? I know how to make ice, but I wouldn’t write a whole column with step-outs on how to make ice. I might be interested in an ice maker, though. I also might be interested in writing about the different types of ice makers, but that’s about as exciting as watching paint dry. While it has benefits for those who are interested in buying an ice maker – and I am one of them – I cannot imagine spending a whole day or even weeks writing about ice makers.

What I can imagine spending a whole day writing about is something that I love.

I have been fortunate enough to love cars, as well as write about them. The same is true for my trivia books and my jewelry books. I love puzzles and games, and I have written crossword puzzles, word search puzzles and fill in the blanks puzzles. Most of those puzzles have been used to market a product, but the end result is I was able to write about something I love.

The benefits of writing about what you love:

  • You’re never out of ideas
  • You never get tired of coming up with new copy
  • You can talk for hours to a client about why you should write their copy
  • You never have to fake your passion
  • It doesn’t take much to get you excited
  • You want to write and write and write

I am sure there are many more benefits, but these are the ones that I run into daily, so I thought I would share them with you. I hope find something that you are passionate about and can spend your time writing and writing and writing.

AWAI helps people get started writing copy that can lead to you writing about the things you love. Here is a link to give you an idea of the programs they have available. 

Writers: Outlining Stories Made Easy

Okay, who am I kidding; outlining can be hard. I am in the middle of outlining a new novel that I already started with a very basic seven step outline, but I now want to expand. In the middle of writing it, I decided to switch genres, which is good for the novel and bad for me.

I found that outlining can be overcomplicated. I analyze too much, so some of my previous outlines got out of control as I spun the ‘what if’ wheel that caused my outline to be longer than the novel. I knew there had to be a better way.

Outlines are great for my nonfiction books, but hard for me when it comes to fiction. So, I had to really simplify it to only a few things. Here is a simple story outline example that I used and am using for my current novel/short story/novella:

  1. Hook – Married couple with conflicts
  2. Plot turn 1 – conflicts escalate
  3. Pinch 1 – Money is an issue
  4. Midpoint – they decide to get more money
  5. Pinch 2 – Greed becomes a factor
  6. Plot Turn 2 – They reach a point of no return
  7. Resolution – Greed wins

I found it best to use a short story outline template in order to write this book. However, like I said, it took its own turn while writing it, so I will need to modify my short story outline into something a little longer. The finished book will be around 250 to 275 pages, which is roughly between 250 and 300 per page.

When it comes to outlining stories, I found that if I apply the “Keep ISimple Stupid” plan, I am a better writer.  Too big of an outline stops me from creating, but with no outline at all, I am all over the place.

Outlining stories is easy if you remember that every story is simply a reaction to an event followed by a conflict followed by a conclusion. You can break out any story into a manageable outline, even newspaper articles by asking yourself: Who, what, when, where, how and sometimes why.  

How to write a quick outline in three steps:

  1. Lay out the key scenes and what they mean to the story. They do not have to be in order.  Many people have done this on index cards or sticky notes.
  2. Then start adding details to each scene.
  3. Move them where you want them.

Once you have the basics, then you can go in and add the details. There is more to outlining than just this, but for some of us, the K.I.S.S. method works best. Hope this helps you write your first outline. If you need more help or want to delve deep into outlining, then K.M. Weiland has books that will help you plot your course. Start with this one:

Is Kindle Publishing Right for Me?

Have you asked whether or not Kindle publishing is right for you?

This topic has been done to death by every blogger in the universe. So, why one more post? Because I’ve used Kindle publishing to publish my books, and I like it. Besides, I get to call myself an Indie Publisher by using Kindle Create to publish my book.

Kindle Publishing

Seriously though, my books are all non-fiction, so that makes a big difference in the scheme of things. As a non-fiction writer, I can drill down on publishers to find the ones that fit the niche for my book.

For instance, I write trivia and have a series on music trivia covering the top hits of the decade, which is considered pop culture. A lot of publishers cover pop culture. Since my books are based on U.S. pop charts, then I stand a better chance of getting them published if I limit my searches to U.S.-based publishing houses.

Those who write fiction books need to find a publisher in the genre of their choice. This is a little easier when you realize that many authors in your genre thank their agents in the acknowledgments and the publisher is on the spine and front pages.  If you decide to go the way of traditional publishing, the leads are there for you to follow.

Pros and Cons of Kindle Publishing

Pros of Self-Publishing
You have total control over the outcome
You have total control over the outcome
Cons of Self-Publishing
You have total control over the marketing
You have total control over the marketing

I am not kidding about the pros and cons. 

Kindle Publishing Gives you Total Control

Total Control over the Outcome–It means that you control every aspect of the editing, printing, formatting, delivery, and cover creation of your finished work. That sounds great on paper, but it adds a lot of workload to writers who only want to write.

If you’re not well-versed in editing (possibly using the Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press Stylebook), then you might want to hire an editor. I usually do hire someone to take a look at my final manuscript before releasing a book. I am amazed at how many errors I make in the simplest of texts and editing is not my strong suit, but I hope to get better.

Get outside help

I also use Grammarly (an AI add-on to Word with a free version) to do at least one once-over before turning it over to someone to edit. At least then my errors won’t be so embarrassing.

I hire editors from Upwork, and there are many freelance writers doing gig work on Fivver who edit manuscripts. I have hired folks from both places and have been happy with the results.

Here are some links that might help you with the editing phase of your book:

Cover design is another part of the publishing process that you may need to hire out if you’re not proficient in Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, or Gimp. I do my own covers, and I buy my art from Creative Market or use my own photos as I did on my hiking Yosemite book. Both of my trivia books have cover art from Creative Market by the same artist. 

I will make this post a part of a series on Kindle publishing because this is a BIG topic with a lot of parts to it.

1950s Music Trivia
Think you can answer these 1950s music trivia questions?
1960s music trivia
Music trivia from the 1960s

Marketing ups and downs

Total Control over the Marketing–This is one of the most difficult parts of writing and publishing a book. If you thought writing was tough, wait until you start to market your book! Amazon gives us the ability to create ads from our published works. All you have to do is give them money, and they will place your books all over Amazon where they will be seen by people interested in the subject you write about. While that’s all well and good, if you have a niche book, you want to go outside to find places to advertise.

Your book might do well being advertised in traditional print magazines and newspapers, or as banner ads on blogs and websites, and other affiliate marketing bloggers. It may also do well as ads on Facebook and newsgroups all over the internet.

You will need to do a lot of research to find the right place to advertise your book since you know the intended audience. My music books would advertise well on music-related blogs or newsgroups, and my jewelry design book would do well on arts and crafts sites. The upside to ensuring that your books are being seen by the right audience is to do it yourself.

Another big positive about doing it all yourself is that it’s on your schedule and not someone else’s. If your editor suggests edits, then you can do them when you have time.

Now for the negatives

A great big negative is that there is no advance on future royalties sitting in your bank account. You must live on whatever your royalties are for your current sales. They are paid in real-time, so there is no waiting, but if you want a steady income, you have to move on to your next book as soon as you send the first one to the editor.

There is no get-rich scheme here. It is all hard work, and it can take years to write a book, but there is no reason you have to wait years to find out if the one you did write will ever get published. There is no shame in being an indie publisher, and even the big authors find it useful for smaller projects.

We’ll chat about some of the other finer points of self-publishing in the future. Until then, keep writing and get your manuscript ready for the world to read. 

Learn more about Kindle publishing

Want to know more about Kindle? This book is a good place to start.

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