Tag Archives: Publishing

3 New Year’s Resolutions I intend to keep

1 Jan

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In 2015, I will be more careful with my time. I want to work in a way that is more effective, creative and efficient.

1. Outsource more

This year I will increasingly outsource the work I don’t want to do and look for new opportunities in self publishing. I will consider outsourcing anything that takes me away from the actual business of writing. I am doing some of these I outsource already. But I intend to do more:

  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Cover Design
  • Formatting
  • Audio recording
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Research
  • Translations
  • Foreign Rights

2. Work on simultaneous projects.

I find that is easier to stay inspired if I dip between projects. I will have one main project at a time, but I’ll allow myself half an hour here and there to dip into something else if I want to. It’s not that different to spending a little time on social media or blogging. I see it as a way to warm up before starting work, or as an alternative if my attention is flagging. The main thing is to make the most of the time I have for writing.

3. Blog for readers, not for writers

I started Self Publish Bible at the beginning of my self-publishing career, when I was still had everything to learn about the business. A couple of years in, I feel my focus has changed. I have a little bit more experience and although the world is constantly changing, I know where to go for good information. You can’t beat blogs like  The Creative Penn. There are also some great podcasts – I love Rocking Self Publishing and The Self-Publishing Podcast; a great mix of enthusiasm, information and entertainment. I still like to talk to other indie authors and swap ideas, but I don’t need to do that on my blog.

So I’m starting a new blog.

Lorna Breaks Stuff is aimed at my fiction readers. It will be light-hearted and fun, with lots of colourful pictures. It should be an enjoyable way to keep in touch with readers without bombarding them with emails.

What do you think of my new year’s resolutions? Are you making any yourself?

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Literary festivals – what’s in it for indies?

20 May
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With indie entrepreneur, Joanna Penn

As a self-published author, you might wonder what you’d get out of attending a literary festival that primarily celebrates published authors and their books. I’ve just returned from Crimefest, an annual event in Bristol, England, and I would definitely go again. 

In recognition of independently published authors, Crime Writing Day began with a talk from self-publishing guru, Joanna Penn. Joanna emphasized the need to make self-published books as good as traditionally published ones, by using professional editors and cover designers. She also pointed out the fact that each book is not just one product, but many because it can be an eBook, a print book and also an audio book. It can also be sold in many countries, both in English, and in other languages if you get it translated. This is a good reason not to sign all your rights away to a publisher, but does not stop you from accepting, say a print deal whilst keeping your eBook rights. Joanna added that it was the business side of things that had made her self-publish. Once she had worked through the process of publishing her first book, she found that it was not that hard and she did not need a publisher to do it for her. 

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Some of the other writers I met at Crimefest had been holding out for traditional publishing deals but I think the Emerging Indie Voices panel was an eye-opener for many. This panel featured successful indie authors, Tim Cooke, Eva Hudson, Mel Sherratt and Carol Westron, who each spoke about their decision to self-publish. Mel Sherratt said she was grateful to Amazon for giving her the opportunity to publish her own books, after many years of seeking a traditional deal. She has since signed with a publisher for at least one of her books, but it was self-publishing that gave her the opportunity to do so. 

As a reader, as well as a writer, I can’t deny that I found It exciting to mingle with successful authors, many of whom had plenty of advice.There was also the opportunity to meet literary agents and editors, as well as readers and bloggers. But I think the thing I liked most about Crimefest was the shared love of books. It made me want to write more than ever. 

Have you attended any literary festivals as a self-published author? How did you get on?

Five star reviews, paperback problems and forging ahead

30 Sep

 

 

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Just a quick post to let you all know what I’m up to at the moment. I now have a very rough first draft of my second novel, May Queen Killers, but it will need a fair bit of rewriting before I am happy with it. It’s quite different from my last book in that I’m telling the story from more than one perspective. It’s still very psychological, but there’s more of a detective element this time. Like FRY, it will be fast-paced and full of twists and turns. I like to keep my readers guessing!

Later this month, I also have a short story called Vampire Driving School coming out in a charity anthology called ‘In Vein‘.  The anthology is in aid of St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and features the work of 18 different authors, so it should be a good read.

And finally, FRY got a fantastic five star review from IndieReader.com  a few weeks ago. They even made it their book of the week. As it was featured on their site, I also got a sticker to go on the book cover, which is great as we’ve just been finalising the paperback version. Getting the paperback out has taken longer than anticipated, so I’m really glad I launched the eBook first. When the paperback proof came back, there were a few minor problems such as the page numbers being larger on one side of the page than the other. It took a bit of fiddling to get the cover right as well, but it now has the IndieReader sticker and review on it, as well as an author picture and a few other features which were not available on the eBook version.

Indie Authors – do you release your eBook and paperback versions at the same time, or do you prefer to put out the eBook first? 

 

 

My experience of running a successful Kindle Direct Publishing promo

25 Jun

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When I self-published my first novel, FRY, I chose to take part in the KDP select programme, which committed me to being exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, in return for the opportunity to give away my novel for free for 5 days. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I used two of those days early on and was pleased with the result. For me, this speeded up the process of getting customer reviews and also helped me to get the book into the ‘customer also bought’ sections of some much more prominent books, which resulted in more sales.

I saved the final 3 days for near the end of the 90 day period because this meant I had more reviews, which is important both for convincing readers to download your book, and also for convincing book promotion sites to feature your book. I prepared for the promotion a month in advance by notifying relevant book sites (see AuthorMarketingClub’s free submission tool for a list of these.) I was pleased with the result. FRY was featured on some prominent sites including Freebooksy. This resulted in almost ten thousand downloads and put FRY at number 25 in the Amazon.com chart for free books.

How did this affect sales?

Previous to this, FRY had been selling quite well in the UK, but sales had been much slower in the US. Following my three day promo, I had a good week of sales in both the US and the UK, so I can definitely say there was a sales bump. A few weeks on, FRY continues to sell better in the US. I have also had a few sales on other Amazon sites around the world. FRY has also had an increase in the number of reviews on Amazon.com and these have been overwhelmingly positive.

So what’s next?

Well, here’s the scary part. Now that my exclusive period with Amazon has ended, I have chosen not to renew the deal. My book is still on Amazon, but, it is now on Smashwords also and I will be trying to get sales on other sites. Going exclusive with Amazon worked well for FRY, but I would not want it to remain exclusive as I think it’s important to reach people with other e-readers.

My next novel, May Queen Killers, comes out in May and I will be going exclusive again as I definitely feel that it has been beneficial. But I can’t see myself renewing the agreement after the first 90 days. I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket.

Have you used the KDP select programme for your book? How did you get on? Did you think the free days were worth the exclusivity agreement?

A Toddler’s Self-Publishing Tale – Guest Post by “What Squirrels Do” picture book trilogy author Hazel Nutt

27 Mar


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My name is Hazel Nutt. I’m a two year old toddler and I have so many ideas for books, that tradional publishers wouldn’t be able to keep up with me (my parents find it hard enough.)

I first decided to go the self publishing route, as I am a control freak! I wanted to keep complete control over my picture books (and my parents). My parents are easier to keep in check than an agent of a traditional publisher.

I want to get up about 10 picture books this year and I don’t have the patience to wait a year for a publishing date for each and every one. I’m a toddler and I want things done now!

I have initially self published on Amazon, where I have three picture books published as paperbacks and Kindle versions and another additional couple of picture eBooks on Kindle.

I have another picture book ready to go that my parents’ plan to publish as an eBook on Smashwords, which will be available in lots of additional eBook formats than just Kindle, to see how much that makes a difference. They may decide to make that particular book permanently free, in order to get interest in the other books I have co-created with my parents.

I tend to take up a lot of my parents’ time during the day, so they have had to burn the midnight oil to get these picture books created and published for me, but they know how important the dream of being a published writer at just two is to me.

I think they initially wanted to get everything published last year, but instead they gave me the gift of publishing my three picture books about what squirrels do when people are looking the other way, for my second birthday in February. I was thrilled.

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Since then, I have been telling my parents how to market these picture books in a number of ingenious ways. I’ve got them to create and maintain a blog written from a toddler point of view, with me letting people into my life with a weekly diary summary –  my art, tips for other toddlers on how to train their parents and picture book reviews and author interviews. I’ve got my parents to create squirrel masks and a squirrel coloring book to accompany my picture books.

As part of a virtual book tour, for the month of March, I have been doing interviews left, right and centre, being published all over the Internet. I have been asking for reviews from as many people as I can and I have been writing guest posts like there is no tomorrow (well my parents have until 2 or 3 in the morning, which I know because I often wake up with a wail and they are still dressed.)

There is of course much more we could do, like videos, more on social media sites and networking, but the most important thing is that my parents are trying to do all sorts of imaginative things (based on my suggestions) to make me successful.

This is perhaps where traditional publishing has its advantages, as there are already marketing channels in place and you have the year build up until your book is published, so there is a hungry list of buyers waiting to snap up your book. Basically, you are not on your own.

The virtual book tour will be a good basis to build future promotions on. My parents will make me a successful author and they wouldn’t get that satisfaction if we had gone to a traditional publisher.  You never know, once I’m a well known picture book author, I might get noticed by a traditional publisher.

Hazel Nutt is a baby blogger who loves to share her take on the world, through words and art. She writes funny posts that should tickle the humor buds of most parents. She particularly likes blogging her toddler opinions and advice on how to train parents, to ensure that other toddlers can also wrap their parents around their little fingers! Find Hazel and her opinions here. Please sit back, relax and enjoy.

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Hazel Nutt also writes funny picture books. Her first trilogy is about what squirrels do when people are looking the other way. The What Squirrels Do is a trilogy of picture books that give people an insight into these curious creatures, not EVER revealed to the public before. It will shock you to know some of the devious tricks squirrels play. It will solve some of life’s mysteries, like why there are shopping trollies in the middle of the woods and why car alarms go off in the night, and they will make you laugh.

These books cannot fail to bring a smile to the faces of both toddler and whoever is reading the book to them. Why not take a look at http://www.whatsquirrelsdo.com for more information on these delightful little curiosities.

Taking the Traditional Route – Guest Post by ‘Dolls Behaving Badly’ Author, Cinthia Ritchie

13 Feb

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When it came time to look for a publisher for my first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, I had no doubt that I’d go the traditional route. I was working as a journalist at the time and every few days the UPS man would bring in a box of books for review. I’d sit at my desk, barely able to contain myself. Browsing through those books, so new, so untouched, was the highlight of my week. I loved the feel of the bindings, loved opening the first pages and reading the dedications, the acknowledgments, loved turning to the first chapter and not knowing how the voice would sound, if it would be lyrical and lovely or brisk and matter-of-fact.

In my mind, traditional publishing was the only way to go. I wanted the verification, the approval. I wanted to know that editors in New York (who all wore, I was sure, expensive shoes and sleek, tailored suits) were impressed by my writing, and my book. I wanted to feel as if I had made it.

Dolls Behaving Badly released last week through New York based Grand Central Books/Hachette Book Group. I have the verification, the approval, and though I’ve never met her, I imagine my editor wears expensive shoes and wears smart dark suits.

Yet, looking back, the whole process hasn’t been as seamless as expected. My book is out, yes, but the world isn’t mine. My life is basically the same. Except that now I must promote my book. And that means competing with self-published authors who have the freedom to set prices as they see fit.

Indie on the rise

Years ago, self-published books were viewed as a last resort for people without the writing or story skills to nab a traditional publisher, and most books were badly edited, badly written and badly produced.

That’s changed, however, and the past few years have seen since more self-published books hitting the New York Times bestseller list. In fact, one weekend last summer saw four independent authors snag seven New York Times bestseller spots.

Self-publishing is no longer reserved for old ladies writing their memoirs or housewives penning poetry about flowers and trees. Authors are producing professionally edited books with slick covers and clever marketing campaigns, and they’re edging ahead of higher priced traditionally published books.

This hurts. I know. My book sells for around $14 in bookstores and $10 for eBook format. That’s reasonable, or used to be reasonable.

Yet, I’m an unknown author and while there’s a good chance of people picking up my novel in a bookstore, there’s less chance of that same person buying it online for $10 when there are hosts of others selling for $5.99 and less.

Like all of us, readers want a bargain. They want a good read, yes, but they want to spend a reasonable price. They want to feel as if they’ve made a smart choice. They want to feel smart. We all do. Yet how smart is it to spend twice as much for one book than another?

Good news, bad news

The price differential between indie and traditional books is bad news for authors backed by publishing houses. The good news is that traditional publishers offer invaluable information and support when it comes to promotion. I’ve been lucky enough to garner positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Review, Booklist and Library Journal Review. The weight of these reviews, along with the reputation of an established publishing house, could take me far.

Could, that is.

When it comes down to it, we are all, traditional and self-published authors alike, fighting against thousands of other authors and thousands of other books for readers. It’s a daunting process, and many of us will lose.

Years ago Mark Doty gave a talk at my graduate school. He looked around at the forty or so of us gathered in that room and said (and here I paraphrase): “Only one of you will make it. It won’t be the best writer, but the most determined.”

This, I believe, holds true for post-publication authors as well.

Cinthia Ritchie is a former journalist who lives and runs mountains and marathons in Alaska. Her work can be found at New York Times Magazine, Sport Literate, Water-Stone Review, Under the Sun, Memoir, damselfly press, Slow Trains, 42opus, Evening Street Review and over 45 literary magazines. Her first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, released Feb. 5 from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group. 

 

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Dolls behaving Badly is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indie Bound. You can contact Cinthia on Twitter and Facebook.

Next week, I’ll be blogging about how my daughter and I made headline news around the world and my family’s connection to the Titanic.

 

 

 

 

Interview with Marquita Herald, Author of ‘Boost your eBook Sales Success’

16 Jan

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Over the coming weeks, I’ll be doing a series of interviews with self-published authors about their experiences of writing and publishing their own books, so it seems appropriate to start with Marquita Herald, who has just written a book about boosting eBook sales.

Marquita is a personal growth specialist, a top 50 Personal Development Blog Award recipient for ‘IGG Tips, Tools and Tantalizing Ideas’, and the published author of 4 books on the art of living your life by design. Her latest book, “Boost your eBook Sales Success – The Essential Guide to Online Marketing Resources for KDP Select and Beyond” is available now in all popular eReader formats from her blog or from Amazon.

Aloha, Marquita! You live in Hawaii, don’t you? What’s it like living in paradise?

Yes, I live in Maui. It’s expensive and, unless you’re a tourist looking for souvenirs, shopping options definitely leave something to be desired. But it is also beautiful, the people are genuinely friendly, and the weather is mild year round. I’ve lived here most of my life so it really just seems like home to me. I’m only reminded of the distinctive nature when people ask me what it’s like to live here.

Why did you choose self-publishing?

I’m an entrepreneur at heart so I love the flexibility, challenge and opportunity to control my own destiny.

Would you consider a publishing deal, if you were offered one from a traditional publisher?

I’ve learned to never say “never,” so I’ll just say it would depend on the circumstances, and on my ability to play an active role in the decision making process.

Your latest book ‘Boost your eBook Sales Success’ should be of interest to anyone reading this blog. Can you tell us more about it?

Fundamentally it’s a “no fluff” roadmap for authors to develop the mindset they need to bridge the gap between art and entrepreneurship.

Writers will learn how to identify and reach their target audience, how to develop a marketing plan (yes, you need one), and strategies to spread the word about your book. There are also resources for author interviews, book reviews, advertising and promotion.

I’ve highlighted Amazon’s KDP Select in the book because there continues to be so much misinformation floating around about the program. While I’m not pitching the program, I have attempted to offer a perspective on how the program can be used as a springboard to future success.

Last but not least, the book also includes the most extensive list of websites and blogs ready to promote your eBook Amazon KDP Sales “free” days you’ll find anywhere, and each listing includes the site description, submission guidelines and a “hot” link directly to the submission page. Many of these sites promote a variety of genres and offer a wide range of promotional opportunities, so the resources are valuable whether or not you’re participating in KDP Select.

Like many self-published authors, I have a whole (virtual) bookshelf of books on ePublishing. What’s different about yours?

For one thing you’ll find no rules. When I first started blogging I made myself crazy trying to do everything the “gurus” said I must do or risk certain failure. I’ve also found a lot of that same style in self-publishing and associated marketing materials. In self-publishing, just like in life, to succeed you have to find the courage to listen to your heart and discover the way that is best for YOU.

In my book I share my own experiences – including the mistakes, provide plenty of information and resources, along with a hefty dose of motivation and encouragement to be willing to find your own unique path.

The other thing that sets this book apart is my emphasis on developing the right skills and mindset to treat your writing not only as your art, but as your business.

What’s your top tip for someone like me, who’s just on the verge of self-publishing their first book?

As tempting as it is to say “just go for it.” I’d have to say to start thinking about your brand identity now. It doesn’t matter that your book is not ready. Your brand is not your product. Your brand connects you to your readers on an emotional level. It’s what you stand for, it’s what makes you stand out from the crowd, and it’s your purpose. It’s not your features.

Did you make any mistakes when you published your first book? What would you not do again?

It really is what I would do more of … I’d make more mistakes, faster. There’s a pretty big learning curve associated with self-publishing, so it’s natural to look for feedback from those who are more experienced. There’s nothing wrong with asking for advice, but it can become a stall tactic. The sooner you find the courage to commit and take action – and be willing to experiment and make mistakes you can learn from along the way – the more confident you’ll become and the faster you’ll grow.

You also run a blog, don’t you? Can you tell us more about it?

I launched my blog, IGG – Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas a little over 2 years ago, and my passion is motivating readers to accept that they have the power to create their own life  experience. This mission is very personal for me because I grew up surrounded by people who viewed themselves as hapless victims; so from a young age I dedicated myself to mastering resiliency, and sharing with others how to develop those skills that enable us to not only embrace change and take responsibility for their own life choices, but to bounce back from adversity stronger than ever.

Thanks for appearing on the blog, Marquita and good luck!

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‘Boost your eBook Sales Success’ is now on sale at Amazon. You can also purchase it from Marquita’s blog, where it is available in 3 formats – .mobi, .ePub and PDF. For a limited time, you can also get a bonus gift. If you buy the book, you can also sign up for a free monthly newsletter with updates of the resources, plus additional tips on marketing, publishing and author branding.

Do you have any questions for Marquita about her book, or her blog award ?

 

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