The Best Self-Publishing Links: Whaling with Ahab, Writing with Amtrak, and Competing with TV

Let’s begin this link roundup with the most challenging and inspiring article I read this week, Steven Pressfield’s “Write Your White Whale:”

The #1 question that writers ask: ‘I’ve got a million ideas. How do I know which one to write?’ Answer: Write your White Whale. Which idea, of all those swimming inside your brain, are you compelled to pursue the way Ahab was driven to hunt Moby Dick?
Here’s how you know: you’re scared to death of it.

He goes on from there, offering just the kick to the literary pants that most writers fearful of a new project need.
The big writing news of the week seemed to be the Amtrak writing residency program.

Up to 24 writers will be accepted into the program, which will provide one free round-trip ticket on a long-distance train, complete with a sleeper car that has a bed and a desk and ‘a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration.’”

You can apply for the Amtrak writing residency until March 31st, but be warned, some writers are putting up red flags when it comes to the apparently rights-taking legalese used in the application.
Hugh Howey takes on “The Golden Age of Television” in “And a Leaden Age for Others,” noting that authors aren’t in competition against each other, they’re in competition against all forms of entertainment:

We in the publishing business are storytellers. Others are telling stories with video games, television, comic books, and film. People are sharing stories with one another on Facebook and in online forums. When we see books as being our competition, we fight amongst ourselves, and we all lose.”

Since I wrote a book about a popular TV show, I felt a little conflicted reading that article, but I still agree with his premise. I guess it shouldn’t be so shocking to me how few people choose reading over other forms of entertainment, but that’s a result of the technological age we live in, where nearly everything you can consume can be yours with a click.
Speaking of entertaining, a self-publisher I respect and know wrote about the genesis for his most recent book in Behind the Scenes: Postcards from Fred. It’s a touching story that shows how book ideas come about, as well as a reminder that you should listen to your spouse, especially when they may be smarter than you.
Another writing friend, Andi Cumbo-Floyd, has a new freebie up for joining her email list called Our Best 10: Tips for Writers. Use her blog’s sidebar to sign up. I have yet to dig into it, but I’m always game to learn how to be a better writer from others.
Do you know the best time to write and get ideas, according to science? The Buffer Blog tells you the answers in a lengthy article, but I’m just going to summarize it here: get up early. Though many will disagree, it’s worked for me, and I’m one of those guys who never thought his internal clock would shift to being creative and productive in the early morning hours.
The BookMarketingBuzzBlog [ref] I guess their space bar wasn’t working when they had to type in their blog title.[/ref] offers a nice list of where to publish your ebook.
But publishing a book requires writing a book, and here are 11 reasons you won’t write a book this year, by Andy Traub.
But once you do write that book this year, will you only release it as an ebook?
In my humble opinion, you should definitely invest in the time it takes to create a stellar print version. This BookBaby article on “Why Selling Hard Copies of Your Novel Matters” offers three good reasons, but it left out an important one. It’s really freaking cool to have your own book on your bookshelf. [ref] For what it’s worth, my print copies have been outselling my ebooks lately. I don’t know why, but I’m not complaining! [/ref]
David Gaughran’s “Publishers Weekly Ignores The Real Scandal At LA Times Festival of Books” looks at Author Solutions’ continued involvement in the event, offering services to writers at exorbitant extortionist rates. If you’re unfamiliar with Author Solutions, or don’t know how many traditional and self-publishing companies work with Author Solutions, you’d do well to read Gaughran’s A Victory Against Author Solutions, where he lists the many companies that have links to the company.
Let’s end on a high note with a sarcastic monkey drummer, taken from one of my favorite websites, Life in Religious Publishing. The title of this particularly relevant gif [ref] I’m a drummer, not a monkey, though I assume some people would debate that. [/ref] is

“When an author makes a lame joke and I’m obligated to laugh:”