Learning to Climb the Author Ladder

I realize it’s been a looong time since I last blogged, but believe me, it’s been on my mind! It’s just that what my brain (and heart) want to do often times don’t fall in line with that reality has to offer—which is 24 hours in a day. And boy, am I feeling the time constraints lately because I just realized my kiddos have about 2.5 weeks left of school! Where did the months go?! Eeks. I’ve come to accept that summer school may not work for us this year due to some things we have scheduled, not to mention, the enthusiastic cries of “Noooo!” that I get when I bring up the topic. 😉 So, what does that mean for me? I’m head-down, hunched over in the trenches of my laptop for the time being, trying to finish my current book.

The bad news is that I likely won’t be sleeping much for the next few weeks. The good news though? If I can keep up the momentum, I’ll be done with the second book in The Spark Brothers Series next month!

I owe a LOT to a group of four romance authors called The Writing Gals for everything I’ve been learning recently about writing and marketing. Thanks to them, I’m writing smarter and selling smarter. My productivity has improved six-fold (from writing 500 words a day to up to 3k sometimes!) and I’m actually excited about my job, even the oh-so dreaded marketing part of it. I’ve even been thinking about climbing the ladder—not the one on the munchkins’ bunkbed, haha—but the bestseller one.

When I worked in the corporate and non-profit worlds in my past life (aka. before kids), I never thought about, much less attempted, to climb the ladder. As an introvert, I’ve always liked to keep my head down and get the job done. It’s not in my nature to want to put myself out there and strive for promotions or advancements—I leave all the climbing to hubby who lives for it! But lately, I’ve been inspired to think bigger. To imagine and dream. To consider that I have what it takes—the skills, perseverance, and smarts—to succeed as an author.

What does this look like? Specifically, it means publishing more often and, to be frank, selling more. While I understand success cannot always be measured by numbers, it does help to see where I’m at and how I can improve. Selling more books means reaching more readers, which means spreading the message of love, truth, and hope I try to instill in my stories. If I can also earn enough to contribute to the family income in a substantial way (and thereby lessen hubby’s load), that would be the cherry on top of a delicious sundae.

So, this is where I’m at in my journey—learning to place one foot after another on the rungs of the author ladder. As you can see from the photo below, climbing requires a lot of planning and hard work, but most of all, support. Even someone as introverted as me sees the benefit of networking and learning from others who are further up on the ladder. I hope whatever journey you’re on, you’ll be able to find your village to help you grow. If I can help in any way in the area of writing and/or marketing, let me know!

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Here’s a fun and meaningful song about being yourself and letting your light shine, Sophie Beem’s “Glow”. It’s my go-to jam when I need a pick-me-up on the hard days of climbing.

What ladders have you strived to climb?

Behind the Scenes of My New Release: A Single Spark

In the midst of editing hubby’s sci-fi book last year, I got the itch to start planning a new romance series. The inspiration came one morning after I’d dropped the munchkins off at school. As usual, I had the radio on and happened upon the morning talk show of a top 40 station. The deejay had been sharing how she’d received a mistaken text from a man, a man she got very curious about.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

She did some Googling and located his Facebook profile. That’s when she pulled up his handsome photo and began spinning a wonderful romance in her mind. Guy texts girl by accident. Girl texts guy back. They strike up a conversation. One thing leads to another and bam!—they live happily ever after. Great, right? Except for the part where said guy is married. Oh, the disappointment! I really felt for the deejay as she shared her experience. It would’ve been such a great story if it all had worked out, right?

Right!

That’s when the wheels in my head began spinning out of control, leading me to come up with a story based on this very premise, and subsequently a whole series based on a family of five brothers.

Whoa baby!

It was my first time plotting out a whole series from beginning to end before I started writing. And boy, was it fun! I began searching for images I could use for the covers, and found five that worked perfectly. From there, I began coming up with character names, personalities and professions. Then I did some matchmaking and paired up each unsuspecting brother with a woman who would complement him well. I also had to figure out the obstacles to their happily ever afters and make sure they fell in line with some popular romance tropes. Here are some of the storylines you can expect in this series: frenemies to lovers, opposites attract, and marriage of convenience. I’m the most excited about this last one since it’ll be my first attempt at writing such a story.

This is also the first time I’m doing my marketing for a new release differently (thanks to the amazing advice of The Writing Gals!—if you’re an author, you gotta check them out). I won’t bore you with the details, but if you want them, feel free to ask!. Let me just say that each new book is another opportunity to learn what to do and what not to do, and this time around I’m a tad bit wiser and more patient. I actually sat on this book for a few months before I released it (I had another deadline to meet), and took my time getting the story “just right”. With feedback from my awesome beta readers, I spent hours fixing the beginning of chapter one and another few days making the last chapter believable and satisfying. I’ll admit I got frustrated a few times (or a lot!) in the process and wanted to throw in the towel more than once. But when I finally finished, I was thoroughly proud of myself and my stubbornness. Yay me! Haha.

I hope you’ll check out big brother Aiden’s story in A Single Spark. It’s at a special release price of 99¢ for a limited time!

Confessions of a Competitive Gal

Theodore Roosevelt was a smart guy. How do I know this? Because he’s the one who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Image courtesy of flickr

Yup. And I should know. I may not appear like someone who keeps score (or maybe I do, haha), but I’m about as competitive as a quiet, non-threatening Asian girl can be. 😉

As you can imagine, this trait does not bode well for someone who works in sales. Yes, I spend a lot of time writing books, but the other part of my job is selling them. And boy, is that part hard.

Ever since hubby and I published the book we wrote together, he’s been asking me every day how many copies we’ve sold. When I showed him the latest results, all he could say was, “Wow, it’s not easy to sell books.” Haha. Amen to that!

There are so many methods that authors use to sell their books. Some spend hundreds of dollars on ads every month. Others release a new book every 4-6 weeks!  You can imagine how competitive this industry is.

For many authors, we write because we dislike numbers, but selling books is all about the numbers. The number of words you can crank out in a day, how many sales you make during any given week, your author ranking in your particular genre. It’s so, so easy to get caught up in the numbers.

I found myself getting caught up in this trap recently. I heard of some bestselling authors writing one to two thousand words a day, and wondered why I couldn’t do the same? Assuming I could keep it up, I’d be able to crank out a book every other month—at a minimum. Sure, it would mean some late nights, but I’m a night owl already, so why not?

Well, after attempting this kind of lifestyle for a few weeks, I realized why not. 😛 I realized the very reason that I had started writing—for the pure joy of it!—had all but disappeared from my heart. I had become a writing machine—cold and robotic. I no longer looked forward to creating characters and storylines. I had lost my passion for words. And it was sad!

After reevaluating my priorities, I took a step back—way back!—and decided to stop. To stop writing for the sake of selling. To stop staying up so late. To stop comparing myself to other authors who are able to write more and sell more than me.

And do you know what happened? I found joy in writing again. 🙂

The thing is, we are all on our own journey in life. No two people are the same. That’s the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork, that we are unique beings created with our own set of abilities and passions and strengths. There’s no need to compare ourselves to another because how can you compare two completely different things? We are each meant to do what we’re good at and what we are able to handle. It’s as simple as that. (Kind of.) 😉

So, here’s to doing your own thing, wherever your passions lie, and to doing them for the pure joy of it.

What do you do for the pure joy of it?

Cover Reveal for Hubby’s 1st Book: The Time Rift

There were many things I looked forward to when I married my hubby nearly 17 years ago. I had hoped we’d have lots of fun together (check!), travel to warm destinations together (check!), start a family together (check!), and grow up through all of life’s ups and downs together (double check!). What I never expected us to do though was write a book—together. Yep, that’s a lot of togetherness in case you couldn’t tell. But that’s what marriage is all about, right? (Haha, gulp!)

So, the story goes (our story, not his story, which we’ll get to soon), hubby enjoys sci-fi movies, and about five years ago, he came up with his own idea for one. And since he doesn’t like to read or write (did I tell you we’re opposites?), he asked me to write it. Now, this is where I double checked the vows I made on our wedding day. Even though I hadn’t promised “to have and to hold and to write a book together”, I agreed to do so because I love my hubby.

Oh, how I must love him … because I had NO idea what I’d gotten myself into. LOL.

Writing this book together took five years to complete—that’s almost a third of our marriage. A lot of things happened during that time, including a big job change for him, a dozen books published for me, and the challenges both of us faced in raising our two munchkins. Whenever we could though, hubby would write a chapter here and there and I would edit (AKA rewrite) it. Thanks to the wonder of Google docs, lots of coffee shop visits (for hubby), some hair pulling (for me!), one title change, and some storyline revisions (thanks to the help of our awesome beta readers), we ended up with a grand total of 73,861 words.

Whoa baby. (Did I mention hubby tends to be on the wordy side? LOL.)

We are so relieved to be finished with this book. Now comes the exciting (and scary) part of putting it out into the world for all to see.

So, without further ado, here’s the cover reveal for The Time Rift!

Renowned physicist Lance Everett has two great passions: donuts and time travel. The only thing that rivals them is Juliet Bradley, the redheaded beauty who captured his heart at a college football game. After reconnecting with her a decade later, Lance can’t imagine his life being more complete. Even without a time machine, he foresees a happy marriage and a breakthrough in his scientific pursuits.

 

Until the unthinkable happens.

 

Now Lance is left searching for answers and questioning what he values the most. A chance encounter with a mysterious man offers him some unexpected solace, as well as the opportunity of a lifetime. But the stakes are higher than he ever imagined. Will he risk it all to gain back what he lost, even if the consequences can never be reversed?

You can pre-order The Time Rift now for only 99 cents*! If you enjoy sci-fi, especially time travel stories, we hope you’ll check it out!

*Release day will be March 21st, and the print version will be ready a week later.

4 Keys to a Sustainable Lifestyle

I’m going into my fourth year as an author, and while it’s not a full-time job (I’m still employed as a chauffeur, referee, and chef by day, haha!) it requires a lot more of me than I expected. Or, it could be that I tend to go “all-in” when I sign up to do something. If you didn’t know, us perfectionists have a hard time slacking off. 😉 So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I got very sick a few months ago during the month of November. Somehow (I say this sarcastically because no one was at fault besides me) I found myself with 3 book releases in the span of 2 weeks. On top of that, I had some extra family stuff to attend to, and I wasn’t sleeping much. Then … come to find out just last week … I had forgotten to pay a very big and important bill that month. Ouch! Realizing I had dropped the ball like that and then having to tell hubby about it—you can bet I’m not doing that ever again.

Can we say, lesson learned? Not only did I learn I have to write everything down these days (or else I’ll forget about it), I also learned the way I was living was not sustainable. I was barely getting by and my body knew it. Unfortunately, it took going to the extreme side of busyness for me to see this. But now that I know what is “too much” for me, I have a better sense of what is “just right”. And what helps me stay sane and healthy is holding onto these four keys to a sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Sleep enough. I hate to admit it when my hubby’s right, but he’s right about me needing more sleep. I used to stay up until 2AM to work, even though I knew I’d need to be up around 7AM to get the kids ready for school. Now, I make myself turn in at midnight, so I wake up feeling more energetic. More energy also means a less grumpy mama, which my kiddos really appreciate. 😉
  2. Let God in. The older I get, the more I realize letting God into my daily life isn’t about seeming more spiritual or feeling better about myself, it’s simply about survival. Life is hard, and being human is hard. Bible verses I used to skim through when I was younger make so much sense now and bring me peace and comfort in this crazy world.
  3. Ask for help. Eeks. Another thing that perfectionists don’t like to do is ask for help. Why would they when they have everything under control—or so they like to think. 😉 But asking for help is part of being human. And it’s good to give others a chance to love on you.
  4. Admit your limits. You don’t have to do everything. In fact, there’s no way you can do everything. And you’re not supposed to do everything. Even God took a day off. And Jesus rested. If you have any doubts, repeat these last two sentences again. 😉

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but a practical way to start making some changes toward a more balanced lifestyle. I also highly recommend the following list of 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living. I recently stumbled across it online, and I loved it so much, I got it printed as a poster at Costco. I’m going to hang it up in our bedroom where I can see it every day. (You can click on the image if you’d like to print your own, too!)

Image courtesy of https://leoniedawson.com

The guideposts are a good reminder that we were made to be so much more than workaholics. We are meant to be authentic, compassionate, resilient, joyful, grateful, creative, and calm. So let’s let go of the things that suck us dry and cultivate the things that give us life. 🙂

I know I shared this song before, but it’s something that gives me life. And this particular performance brought me to tears. Here’s Keala Settle singing, “This Is Me”, from The Greatest Showman.

What things do you need to let go and what things do you need to cultivate in your life?

The Wonder of Your First Crush

I was once a teenager. This may not come as a shock to most, but to my kids, it’s a bit weird to think of their mom as someone not much older than they are now. As I watch my munchkins grow older and taller, it’s a bit weird for me to think they’ll soon be going through puberty and all the lovely stuff that goes with it. Aside from those first glimpses of love (aka. infatuation), there’s nothing truly glamorous about adolescence. Oh, but to be able to experience all the giddiness and wonder of your first crush? That’s something worth remembering.

I remember my first crush back in third grade—yes, I started a bit young, but that might explain how I ended up being a romance author. 😉 Anyhow, my first crush was on a cute Asian boy in my class. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that I stood next to him in our class photo. Fast forward to high school, and I fixed my sights on a blond football player who played the trumpet in band class. His name I do recall, but I’ll keep it to myself so as not to embarrass anyone. 😉

The great thing about these crushes was how innocent and endearing they were. There was no drama, only moments of daydreaming and hoping.

This is the kind of love I tried to capture in my newest release, Romantically Ever After. Gracie and Brady’s story is just plain sweet and maybe a tad bit naive, but I love how their relationship develops in an organic and genuine way. Not too much drama, but lots of tenderness and blushing. Just the way young love should be.

Here’s an excerpt:

Brady Hansen shook off his puffy winter jacket and fell onto his bed. He covered his eyes with his hands, his palms quickly warming from the heat in his face. Great. If he had a penny for each time he blushed in front of Gracie, he’d have enough money to buy her a couple dozen roses. Not that he ever would do such a thing. Nope, that’d be way too obvious. He was already sure she thought something was up with the way he escaped her company as quickly as possible. He sighed. It was either escape or confess how he felt about her, something he wasn’t ready to do. Not today, tomorrow, or ever.

 

He dug his phone from his jean pocket and switched it on. He clicked on his photo album and scrolled through the pictures he had saved to a folder titled with a simple letter “G”. G for Gracie, of course. Scrolling through the pictures, he stopped at ones they had taken a few months ago when they happened to both be wearing their green Oregon Ducks hoodies. He remembered that day well. They were sitting together at a cafe off campus and playing around with her new selfie stick. They’d taken a series of photos, each one showcasing a different expression. The faces they made ranged from normal to serious to downright silly. The last photo though was the one he loved the most. Gracie called it his trademark Brady face, also known as his “make a mental note” face. When they took it, with the two of them squeezing one eye shut and twisting their mouths to the side, he’d realized something.

 

He was in love with his best friend.

 

Brady loved that Gracie got him. She saw his goofy side and his clumsiness, and she accepted him for who he was. But that was the problem. Everything that she accepted about him was everything she wasn’t looking for in a guy. How did he know? It was obvious from the way she went gaga over the actors in those chick flicks she watched. They were all tall, handsome, and charming. Oh, he had the tall part down, but with it came feet that were too big for his body. Handsome and charming though? He’d need a fairy godmother for that.

 

That’s how he knew Gracie would never feel the same way about him that he felt about her. And why he couldn’t tell her how he felt. And also why he couldn’t be near her because every time he was, he ended up going gaga and doing something so not cool. Like falling onto her in an elevator and squashing her.

 

She had smelled so good though. Like fresh strawberries on a stack of homemade pancakes, the fluffy kind his mom used to make for him as a kid. He missed his parents and even his two older brothers living back in California, but not as much as he longed for his best friend down the hall. He missed hanging out with Gracie and studying with her. If only there was a way to turn off his heart, so it’d stop trying to fly out of his chest like those old cartoon characters’ did whenever they saw the girl they liked.

 

Knock, knock!

 

“Brady, open up! I have something to tell you!”

 

He shot up and almost fell off the bed at the sound of Gracie’s voice outside his door. Whoa. She sounded more excited that he’d ever heard her. Could it be? His heart started pounding as he wondered what she wanted to tell him.

I hope you’ll check out Romantically Ever After! It’ll for sure get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a sweet song about young love, Kenny Holland’s “Less Than Three” that matches this story perfectly.

Do you remember your first crush?

Cover Reveal: Romantically Ever After

I’ve had romance on the brain for a few weeks now because I’ve been writing a Valentine’s themed story. This doesn’t mean I don’t always think warm-fuzzy thoughts, but reality and fiction are very different, in case you haven’t noticed. 😉 During the day, I do a lot of “mom-ing”, but at night after the family is in bed, I get to relive falling in love again along with my characters. Writing a Valentine’s Day story seems even more romantic than usual because I get to mention the colors red and pink (I love pink!), heart-shaped everything, stuffed bears, engagement rings, and more—all in one story. (That was a major spoiler alert if you didn’t notice. LOL). I also included my favorite romantic trope—friends to something more—to make the falling in love part of this story as sweet and organic as possible. I’m quite happy with how it turned out, and hope you’ll love it, too!

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Gracie Sutton and Brady Hansen of Romantically Ever After!

If you read Chasing Romance, you’ll remember Izzy’s daughter, Gracie. Well, it’s now her turn to find her happy ending (but not without a few bumps along the way first).

Two best friends find romance in the most unexpected place: each other.

Despite her parents’ broken relationship, Gracie Sutton still believes in love. Even though her first year at college hasn’t turned up any romantic prospects, an unexpected message gives her a chance to reunite with a loved one. With her best friend, Brady, by her side, Gracie returns to her hometown to meet her estranged father.

Spending Valentine’s Day weekend in Romance, Oregon should be a wonderful occasion, but the tension between her parents and her mom’s new boyfriend makes her heart weary. Gracie questions whether or not happy endings exist anymore … until Brady helps her discover her own romantically ever after.

Romantically Ever After is now available for pre-order HERE! Release date will be February 1, 2018. There are also 2 other books from the Welcome To Romance series releasing with mine for Valentine’s Day. Find out more about the series HERE!

I’ll close with one of the songs I listened to on repeat while I wrote this story, Kenny Holland’s “This Dance”. It’s such a sweet song about young love, which is what Gracie and Brady experience.

An Ode to Winter Break

Oh Winter Break, how I loathe—ahem, love!—thee. Let me count the ways.

One, you arrived so quickly after Thanksgiving break, which only ended twenty-four and a half days ago.

Two, you bring me ample amounts of time to spend with my children and make it too easy for them to invade my bubble morning, noon, and night.

Three, you trick me into thinking bedtime is near when the sky grows dark at five o’clock … when in reality, there are many hours left to endure.

Four, you actually last long enough (2 weeks, baby!) to the point where I’ve gotten kinda used to having my routine thrown off.

Five, you make me appreciate not having to pack lunches every night or rush around every morning.

Six, you force me to slow down and just be present with my kids, even as I fight the urge to check my phone.

Seven, you’ve given me plenty of chances to play board games, take silly selfies, do crafts, play video games, and eat lunch with two of the most important people in my life.

Eight, you help me rethink my priorities and encourage me to make decisions I won’t regret (years from now when the kids are grown).

Nine, you challenge me to be a better parent—one who chooses relationships over rules, routines, and rigidity.

And ten (the reason why I love you the most): You are SO MUCH shorter than summer break. 😉

On a more serious note (haha), I have been mostly enjoying winter break with the munchkins at home. Spending time with them during the day means lots of late nights so I can catch up on work, but it’s all good. They are totally worth it. I’m not saying I always choose wisely or even feel loving and patient all the time (I’m human after all!), but I’m much more mindful of making my relationship with them a priority. It’s not easy or natural for me to do this, which is why I’m SO grateful I recently came across the parenting blog, Untigering.com, and its Facebook group. Every one of Iris’s posts has resonated with me and moved me to reconsider my parenting style. I highly recommend checking it out (especially if you’re needing a sanity saver during winter break).

On another note, for this new year, I’ve decided to adjust my posting schedule on my blog from weekly to bi-weekly. This is mostly to save my sanity as I try to balance my roles as writer, wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My author career really picked up last year and I’d love to continue to grow that part of me. I’m trying to focus my energy and efforts on doing what is sustainable because, as I’ve come to realize, there is only one of me and only 24 hours in a day. I thank you so much for following along with me on my blogging journey, and I hope you will continue to do so every other week. 🙂 As always, feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

I’ll leave you with this powerful song from The Greatest Showman, “This Is Me”, sung by Keala Settle. The heart and raw passion that she sings with will blow you away. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat ever since I bought it, and the munchkins are even listening and singing along! Now I just have to watch the movie. 😉

How do you remind yourself to value relationships over rules, routines, and rigidity?

What Contact Lenses & Q-Tips Reminded Me About Marriage

I had an eye-opening—quite literally!—experience recently. Midway through my bedtime routine, I found myself with two contact lenses stuck in my eyes. They were plastered to my eyeballs to the point that they wouldn’t come out, no matter how hard I tried to pull them off. I had stayed up quite late the night before writing so my eyes were dry, and it didn’t help that this pair of contacts were a few days past their lifespan. The lenses were stuck, stuck, stuck! It felt like my eyeballs would never breathe again.

What did I do? Call for back-up, of course!

I went running downstairs to where hubby was standing in front of his computer screens (yes, multiple ones because an IT guy can’t have just one) and told him my plight. He looked into my eyes and troubleshot the situation (did I mention he’s an IT guy?), suggesting everything from using eye drops, to moving the contacts around in my eye, to lying down and relaxing. After I’d done all of the above and my eyeballs were still trapped behind their round plastic prisons, hubby knew that desperate times called for desperate measures.

And that’s when he pulled out these babies …

and stuck them in my eyes. Yep, I’d never felt more vulnerable or closer to hubby than in that moment. There we were nose-to-nose, looking into one another’s eyes as he used two Q-tips to gently pluck the contact lenses from my eyes. Yes, it was as unromantic and scary as it sounds! In between my attempts at staying still and busting out in uncontrollable laughter, I joked that this was prime material for a blog post on marriage. So, ta-da! Here are some marriage truths I was reminded of that I’ll share with you today. 🙂

  1. Marriage is all about being close. Okay, so it doesn’t require you to literally be in one another’s faces (except when you kiss or need to do an emergency contact lens removal!), but your spouse is quite possibly the one person whom you know the best and who knows you the best. When another person lets you into their world and shares all his/her dreams, fears, longings, and regrets with you, it’s a big deal. It’s a privilege not to be taken for granted.
  2. Marriage is all about being vulnerable. Trust is such an essential part of a relationship, but it’s one of the basic foundations of a marriage. Marry someone you can be yourself with, someone who is your safe place from the craziness of the world. Someone you would trust your heart with (and possibly your eyeballs, too). And be someone who offers that same kind of cozy and comfortable haven to your spouse.
  3. Marriage needs to be fun. And funny. Because laughter, inside jokes, and memorable stories you’ll talk about years from now help keep the spark alive when life gets hard or mundane. You can bet I’ll never look at Q-tips the same way again.

I’m happy and relieved to say my contacts finally emerged from my weary, bloodshot eyes thirty minutes later. What worked? Thanks to Google, I found out the best (and easiest) way to get contacts unstuck from your eyes is to use two fingers, and place one on the upper lid and one on the lower. With the finger on your upper lid, press straight down. With the finger on your lower lid, press straight up. The lens should pull away from your eyeball and come out! Trust me, it’s much more pleasant than sticking Q-tips in your eyes. 😉

I’ll close with a sweet song I’ve been listening to on repeat: “Rewrite the Stars”, sung by Zac Efron and Zendaya, from the upcoming movie, The Greatest Showman.

What truths have you learned about marriage?

The (Not-So) Glamorous Life of an Entrepreneur (+ How to Add a TOC Page to Your eBook)

It occurred to me today that entrepreneurism runs in my family. Both of my parents were self-employed before they retired; my dad had his own insurance business and my mom did home loans and real estate. It kind of makes sense now that I also embraced the all-so glamorous life of an entrepreneur.

I’m so kidding about the glamorous part, if you can’t tell. 😉

If there’s anything I’ve learned about having your own business, it’s that you—and only you—end up doing everything to keep the business going. (That is until you make it big and can afford to pay people to do things for you.) I’m talking about a lot of manual labor and blood, sweat, and tears (especially the last bit!). As an indie author, this means learning how to do everything from making your own book cover, editing your story, formatting your manuscript for publishing, and marketing your book once it’s published.

Eeks. It’s so not a glamorous life. 😉

The boy in the photo is pretty much what I look like when I’m trying to do one of the above tasks. But (here’s the silver lining, folks!), I’ve grown so much in my skillset over the years that I could actually provide these services to other authors and charge them for it. See what a savvy entrepreneur I am?! LOL. I’m totally kidding though because I’m not a fan of self-torture and I still want to have time to write books (oh, and take care of my family, too!). However, since I’ve gained so much support from other indie authors and know how important it is to have “a village” as an entrepreneur, I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned with other authors.

One thing I can do fairly well now is create a Table of Contents page for an ebook, which I’ll share below. There are several steps to navigate through, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do it without too much moaning and groaning. Trust me when I say if I can learn how to do this, anyone can. 🙂

How to Add a TOC (Table of Contents) Page to Your eBook (for Microsoft Word documents):

  1. Insert a blank page in your document where you would like the TOC to go.
  2. Type “Table of Contents” at the top of the page and list the chapters and additional back matter pages underneath it. (See the image for an example.) 
  3. Go to Chapter One in your story and select the words “Chapter One” (place your cursor at the first letter and drag the mouse to the right until you reach the last letter).
  4. Go to the “Insert” menu and choose “Bookmark”. Type in a name (an abbreviation such as “Ch1” is a good idea since you’ll be doing this multiple times) and click “Add”.
  5. Go to the TOC page in your document and select the words “Chapter One”.
  6. Go to the “Insert” menu and choose “Hyperlink”. Click on “This Document”, then click on “Bookmarks”. The bookmark name you added in step 4 will appear. Select the name and click “OK”.
  7. The words “Chapter One” on the TOC page should now be underlined. Check to see that the hyperlink is working by clicking on it (it should take you to Chapter One in your story).
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 for the remaining chapters and any additional back matter pages.

Easy peasy, right? 🙂 If you have any questions at all or if anything I wrote is unclear, please leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll try my best to help and share a virtual tub of ice cream with you if needed.

Here’s a song by Jason Chen called “Blank Check” to inspire you while you work.

Are you an entrepreneur or know of someone who is? What pros and cons do you see about having your own business?