All posts by Jeannie

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, blogger, and speaker. She is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph (Sophia Institute, 2016) and is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie has been featured on dozens of radio shows, both Catholic and secular. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs. Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs. For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

Benefits of Being a Hybrid Author

I unexpectedly became a hybrid author, so I assure you that it was not intentional.  I realized after the fact that both self and traditional publication is highly beneficial.  I’d like to share what I love about both.

Self-Publishing

The benefits of self-publishing are so obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to explain them here, but I do think there are some worth mentioning.

With self-publishing, an author has total control over the entire process.  For some, this may be the sole reason to self publish over seeking a traditional publishing company, but for others (like me), it can be daunting to handle every detail from start to finish.

My first book was self-published.  I began writing it without a particular agenda for its printed version.  Self-publishing came in handy and pretty much fell into my hands due to close friends of mine who had a) already been through the process of self-publishing and b) were learned in professional formatting and graphic design.  I became a bit frustrated, however, because I had to make a lot of decisions I wasn’t prepared to make as a first-time author.  I also was overwhelmed at the editing process, which took a long time until the manuscript was even remotely ready for printing.

I also found self-publishing to be somewhat expensive, though authors do have a lot of options available now for finding reasonably affordable programs, formats, and cover designs within a budget (and without looking too cheesy or unprofessional).  There’s no question, however, that despite the initial costs to self-publish, the profits are exponentially better than going through a traditional publishing company.

Of course, an author must learn to build his/her platform and not rely entirely upon the book to bring an income.  I’ve found marketing to be particularly difficult for me, and perhaps it is (at least in part) due to my introverted temperament.  But finding small ways to connect with others through my niche (which happens to be grief recovery) has often landed me sales.

With self-publishing, I think it’s critical to do some extensive research beforehand and determine if this is a route you are willing to take with your book.  It is a lot of work, but I think networking with other independently published authors (like on the Indie Catholic Authors platform) can make the process more manageable when things get intense.

Traditional Publishing

Again, I am a newbie in this arena, but my first traditionally published book (From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph) will be released in February 2016 by Sophia Institute Press.  Much like my first experience with publishing, I was honestly torn about which direction to take with this book.

I had already gone through the process of self-publishing, so I was familiar with it and knew what to expect (generally speaking), but at the same time I had this nagging feeling that I was supposed to seek out a traditional publisher for the next book.  Naturally, some of my self-published friends were naysayers and tried to convince me otherwise.  But I prayed about it fiercely and eventually was approached by my Catholic Exchange editor, who suggested I submit a book proposal to Sophia Institute Press.

What are the benefits of traditional publishing?  For one, I merely wrote the manuscript, sent it to the publisher, and they are hiring editors, designers, formatting staff, and marketers to do the remaining work.  It has been so liberating for me to focus on other writing endeavors now that my manuscript has been submitted.

At the same time, traditional publishing companies offer a measly royalty for book sales, so I never expected to become wealthy using this method of publishing.  But I anticipate that the widespread promotion of my book (especially that it will automatically be in bookstores) will compensate for the lack of profit.

All-in-all, hybrid authors tend to be more successful than their independently published or traditionally published peers.  The reason is that they have the best of both worlds: They have acquired the ability to make high profits through self-publishing while at the same time gaining more public momentum through traditional publishing.  As a result, both processes – while divergent – somehow benefit each other.  Widespread publicity leads to higher sales, and higher sales (especially if you have more than one book) lead to more people being introduced to your work.

The bottom line for me is this: As an author, you really have to know yourself well and understand the pros and cons of both types of publishing before you start the process.  Profits and sales are only fragments of the bigger picture of why you are writing and how you intend to reach your audience.

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Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2015 “Typewriter” by Unsplash on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs. Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs. For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

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How To Become a Professional Writer – 12 Tips

I’m going to share with you twelve tips I learned at a recent writers workshop I attended, which was hosted by a professor of English and prolific author, Dr. Dennis Hensley.  He has over fifty published books and has been featured in hundreds of periodicals.  I really love his short, sweet, and to-the-point helpful hints from which we can all benefit, whether we have been published several times or have just begun our publishing journey only recently.

1.  EMOTION:

What about your writing will grab a publisher’s attention?  The most common way books sell is still by word of mouth, so make sure your writing evokes the intended emotions through your style and voice.

2.  AUDIENCE:

Do you know your audience?  It’s common for us as writers to sort of gloss over our target audience, but this is a critical component to successful professional writing.  What is the age range for people who read our work?  Are they primarily male or female?  What education level do they typically possess?  Know who you’re writing for, and you will be more successful in selling more books.

3.  STYLE:

What’s your writing style?  Ask people what they specifically like about your writing.  Is it the colorful details of your descriptions, or perhaps the engaging dialogue you use to captivate your audience?  When you receive specific feed back about what makes your style unique, you will better understand how to capitalize on your natural talents.

4.  LONGEVITY:

How long can your book last?  Some authors know their work will only be relevant for a short amount of time, while others truly desire that their literary work becomes timeless and classical.  Only you can determine what works for your particular book or writing niche, but truthfully, longevity sells better – and more – books.

5.  CONTROVERSY:

This point seems obvious, but many authors overlook it.  Be sure to cite your primary sources when you are quoting other people’s work and even when you paraphrase someone else’s idea.  This will avoid the inevitable controversies that could potentially entangle you in a messy situation when you are publishing your manuscript.

6.  COMPETITION:

How many comparable books are on the market?  Note catch phrases, terrain, dress, architecture, and food.  Be a student of culture.  Writers are, by nature, detailed in their description of characters, plots, and emotions.  Be cognizant of how you would describe – through your senses – the variety of your life experiences.

7.  HONE YOUR MECHANICS:

Review grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.  It may come as no surprise, but most schools do not teach grammar anymore.  In turn, many students are graduating high school and even college without proper knowledge of sentence structure or the general mechanics of the English language.  Don’t make that grave mistake, because it will drastically hurt your credibility as a professional writer.  Always hire a professional editor before you publish your work.

8.  POTENTIAL:

Consider your momentum.  What’s your potential – as an author, of your work, as a person?  How many ideas do you have?  Consider sequels and other pop culture ideas that are associated with many successful literary works.

9.  PRODUCTION:

Do you really need those charts, maps, photographs, and cartoons in your published manuscript?  Probably not.  A few of these can add necessary detail to your book, but if you use them indiscriminately, it can harm your credibility.  Most readers do not want to be inundated with excessive graphics.  They want to read your book.

10.  PROMOTION:

How willing are you to promote your books?  Offer interview questions that you want people to ask you about your book.  This makes it simpler and likelier that you will land those radio and television interviews, because most broadcasters are too busy to actually read your book.  But if you offer them several interview questions ahead of time, they will most likely be happy to oblige you in promoting your book.

11.  PROFIT:

How much money can you make?  Obviously with self-publishing, your profit margin is considerably higher than through the route of traditional publishing.  Think about creative ways you can earn more money: translations into different languages, audiobooks, a study series, etc.

12.  HONORS:

What accolades have you received that are relevant to your book?  Is it really that important to include every post-secondary degree or certification you have received if there’s no relevance?  People want to consider you an expert based on your knowledge, but also on your experience.  Consider this when you are creating your author biography.

Though most of us aren’t entire novices when it comes to writing, editing, and publishing, it is always beneficial to consider certain areas we may overlook from time to time, as well as ways we can improve our approach to writing and self-publishing.  We become seasoned veterans over the course of time, but I believe a dose of humility helps keep us grounded and focused, too.  Hopefully these tips taught you something new but, if not, drew you back to a renewed focus on your work!

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing
Image Copyright 2014 by Condesign on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

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Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs. Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs. For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

Write or Not: How to Balance Work and Family Life

By Jeannie Ewing

The concept of moderation has lost its significance in our modern milieu. Most of us operate at one of two extremes: busyness or business. We convince ourselves we have no time for anything remotely important to us, but if we look at our lives closely, we tend to recognize this to be a glaring fallacy. The business to which we attend involves our professional pursuits, upkeep of the home, and maintaining our personal relationships and self-care.

But the busyness tends to far outweigh the business in terms of time, and these are the fillers of our day – the downtime playing Internet games, fiddling on our technological devices, channel surfing, and other mindless activities we use as time fillers in order to rationalize that we are truly busy people.

The most successful – and satisfied – people of today’s society are those who manage time well. They know who they are, what they want in life, and how to achieve their goals in large and small increments. They live in harmony with their life circumstances and exhibit flexibility when unexpected crises or frustrations arise. Here are some tips on how to achieve that balance of successful individuals:

1. Learn the two second rule. This will eventually add minutes to your days, which you can subsequently spend on what is most valuable to you.

2. Make a list of your priorities. Determine what makes you feel fulfilled and what you feel God is nudging you to accomplish for His glory.

3. Keep a record of how you spend your time each day, using fifteen minute slots. Do this for at least a week. Yes, it is much tedium, but it will offer a visual aid of clarity and truth as to how you can more prudently and efficiently use your time.

4. Once you have a week’s worth of time records, take it to prayer. Ask God what you can eradicate and how. Then pray for the wisdom to balance your remaining time with personal relationships. This first and foremost includes God, family, others, and self-care.

5. Eliminate the fluff in your life. Replace with long-term goals, and write monthly, weekly, and daily short-term goals that are realistic for your state in life. In this case, under- rather than overestimate what you think is plausible to achieve. This will psychologically jump start your confidence in persevering toward your ultimate end.

6. Take breaks. It’s important to know yourself well enough to slow down and take a step back for a while. It may be disappointing or discouraging to you, especially if you are hyper-focused and ambitious, but succumbing to the natural rhythms of our bodies actually enhances our ability to achieve more with less emotional strain.

7. Frequent the Sacraments. Seek out a reputable spiritual director. We all tend to permit our lives to get off kilter every so often. That is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is perfect for getting us back on track. Ditto if you can score a devout spiritual director who will help clarify the more nebulous areas of your life, as well as discern spiritual attack and how to persevere through intense dark periods.

8. Don’t neglect sleep, prayer, or healthy habits. When you are pressed for time, you may feel tempted to skimp on sleep, cut out our daily walk, forget to eat, or skip your allotted prayer hour. Don’t do it. It’s a very stealthy way to slip from balance to chaos.

9. Offer up every moment of your day – the mundane to the inspired – as an oblation to God. In this way, you can maintain interior peace when you have a day (or week or month) that seems to set you back from your original goals.

My husband and I have two daughters, both of whom have different special needs. Ben is the breadwinner in our family, while I stay home with the girls. Many people ask with incredulity, “How do you do everything you do?” My response is simple: “I don’t waste time.”

I don’t play Internet or video games. We rarely watch any television in my house. My days and nights are full, and I am like everyone else – I get frustrated, distracted, behind, and I slip away from healthy habits. But I start over, sometimes in the middle of a bad day, always asking God to bless my defects in order that my life may bear more fruit than if I hadn’t faltered.

I truly believe that when we receive a “call within a call,” or secondary vocation, God fulfills it in us when we are intentional in the way we live. I begin my days at 5 AM with thirty to forty-five minutes of silent reflection, mental prayer, and journaling. If I don’t do it then, it doesn’t happen. And I know when it doesn’t happen, my entire day is skewed.

Put God first, and the details fall into place. God reminded me of this last week when I was driving and fretting over how to market my first book. He spoke quietly to my heart, “Seek first my kingdom, and all these things will come unto you.”

Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing
Image courtesy of Pixabay via photographer stevepb.

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Jeannie Ewing is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. She also has a story in the collection As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections. She is a regular contributor to RealHousekeeing.com, CatholicMom.com and CatholicExchange.com and has a monthly column on thepeoplespaper.info entitled, Time Well Spent. Find her at Love Alone Creates.