agents, Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Publishing, self publishing, writing

The Author Learning Center may be the best resource for aspiring authors to learn from experts

You can find just about everything you need to know at the Author Learning Center.

You can find just about everything you need to know at the Author Learning Center.

It hasn’t been around as some of the other resources aspiring authors can turn to to improve their craft and learn the business, but if you haven’t looked at the Author Learning Center, recently,  you should. Quietly, the Author Learning Center has been amassing the most amazing collection of educational information for writers and authors to help navigate the new world of publishing.

Writing, Publishing and Marketing, Oh My!

On this site, you can find a wide variety of authors, agents and professional service providers sharing their insights, opinions, and expertise on writing, publishing and marketing books. Even better, most of this content is available in video, article and podcast formats. Plus, there is a regular schedule of helpful webinars available.

Some of the most popular content includes:

  • How Do You Build a Social Media Platform From Scratch?
  • How Do You Grab A Reader’s Attention?
  • 3 Steps to Make Social Media Sell Your Books
  • What an Agent Really Wants From an Unpublished Author
  • When to Begin Promoting

A Book Launch Tool to Help You Get to Your Goal

ALC Book Launch ToolIn addition to the great content, the Author Learning Center offers a Book Launch Tool and Author Circle tool to help aspiring authors create a plan and accountability on their publishing journey. It is a subscription model and it is managed by Author Solutions, who sponsors this blog, but if you subscribe for the year and eventually publish with an ASI imprint in a year, you will get your money back in a discount on your publishing package.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing

Self published author and speaker, Terry Hawkins, gets publishing deal with traditional publisher.

For some time, I have been saying this is the best time in history to be an author because there is more than one path to publishing and more than one way for an author to get picked up by a traditional publisher. Terry Hawkins is another great example of how self publishing can lead to even bigger opportunities.

Terry founded a professional training company, People in Progress Global, in 1989. Since then, educating businesses and individuals has been her passion, and along the way she has helped more than 300,000 professionals find their drive and realize their goals. She is a native of Australia so before her relocation to the USA she was one of the most sought-after, award winning female speaker down under.

Choosing iUniverse as her self publishing services company

Because of her busy speaking schedule she used the publishing package path to get her book “Why Wait to be Great?” self published through iUniverse. In the video below she explains how iUniverse took a good book and made it great.  Once in the market, the book gained the attention of Barrett-Koehler, which is a respected publisher who  welcomes authors who share in its mission of “Creating a World That Works for All.” 

Publishing her book is one way she hopes to encourage people

In the press release announcing the acquisition, Terry made this comment,  “It’s been my life’s work to help people achieve their goals and experience success both personally and professionally,” said Hawkins. “With the help of Barrett-Koehler and iUniverse, the methods and teachings I’ve used in my own life to overcome great adversity and throughout my career, are now available to everyone in ‘Why Wait to be Great,’ and I hope it encourages others to deal with their pain and follow their dreams just as I have with my own.”

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authors, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

What is the most important thing for non-fiction authors: Write with clarity.

I think it is a daunting task to write a book on how to write well, yet there are volumes of such books published each year. Few become classics, like The Elements of Style, but there is a new book published today that I think is worth noting. The title is Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction.  It is written by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd and in the description of the book, the publisher makes this claim, …Good Prose—like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style—is a succinct, authoritative, and entertaining arbiter of standards in contemporary writing, offering guidance for the professional writer and the beginner alike. This wise and useful book is the perfect companion for anyone who loves to read good books and longs to write one.Good Prose Cover

Time will tell if this volume holds up to that claim, but the sections I have read are quite good. Here are some of the statements I found particularly insightful. Some of these excerpts will also featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition.

  •  To write is to talk to strangers. You want them to trust you. You might well begin by trusting them. No doubt you know some things that the reader does not —why else presume to write?—but it helps to grant that the reader has knowledge unavailable to you. This isn’t generosity; it is realism.
  • Good writing creates a dialogue between writer and reader, with the imagined reader at moments questioning, criticizing, and sometimes, you hope, assenting. What you “know” isn’t something you can pull from a shelf and deliver. What you know in prose is often what you discover in the course of writing it, as in the best of conversations with a friend—as if you and the reader do the discovering together.
  • Beginnings are an exercise in limits. You can’t make the reader love you in the first sentence or paragraph, but you can lose the reader right away. You don’t expect the doctor to cure you at once, but the doctor can surely alienate you at once, with brusqueness or bravado or indifference or confusion. There is a lot to be said for the quiet beginning.
  • Meek or bold, a good beginning achieves clarity. A sensible line threads through the prose; things follow one another with literal logic or with the logic of feeling. Clarity isn’t an exciting virtue, but it’s a virtue always, and especially at the beginning of a piece of prose. Some writers seem to resist clarity, even to write confusingly on purpose. Not many would admit to this.
  • For many other writers, clarity simply falls victim to a desire to achieve other things, to dazzle with style or to bombard with information. It’s one thing for the reader to take pleasure in the writer’s achievements, another when the writer’s own pleasure is apparent. Skill, talent, inventiveness, all can become overbearing and intrusive. The image that calls attention to itself is often the image you can do without.
  •  Sometimes the writer who overloads an opening passage is simply afraid of boring the reader. A respectable anxiety, but nothing is more boring than confusion.
  • You can’t tell it all at once. A lot of the art of beginnings is deciding what to withhold until later, or never to say at all. Take one thing at a time. Prepare your readers, tell everything they need to know in order to read on, and tell no more.

For many other writers, clarity simply falls victim to a desire to achieve other things, to dazzle with style or to bombard with information

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authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Kindle, self publishing, writing

Hey, wait a minute. Print books may not be dead.

WSJ logoThis past weekend, the Wall Street Journal, ran an article titled, Don’t Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay, with the subtitle, The e-book had its moment, but sales are slowing. Readers still want to turn those crisp, bound pages.

I was fascinated to see such a claim because a year ago I did an interview and predicted that e-book growth would slow and print would still be a significant part of book purchases. The reporter was actually quite surprised and even said he disagreed with me. Now I admit my claim was not based on exhaustive research or statistics, but rather observing my habits and other readers who I know. Yes I do read e-books, but for me, certain books were best experienced in print. So while I have downloaded a number of books, I have also continued to purchase print books.

The author of this essay, Nicholas Carr, was basing his claims on more substantial evidence than his own reading habits, but offer some compelling arguments. Here is a quick summary.

  1. A Pew Research Center survey released last month showed that the percentage of adults who have read an e-book rose modestly over the past year, from 16% to 23%. But it also revealed that fully 89% of regular book readers said that they had read at least one printed book during the preceding 12 months. Only 30% reported reading even a single e-book in the past year.
  2. The Association of American Publishers reported that the annual growth rate for e-book sales fell abruptly during 2012, to about 34%. That’s still a healthy clip, but it is a sharp decline from the triple-digit growth rates of the preceding four years.
  3. A 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an e-book and that a whopping 59% say they have “no interest” in buying one.
  4. From the start, e-book purchases have skewed disproportionately toward fiction, with novels representing close to two-thirds of sales. Digital best-seller lists are dominated in particular by genre novels, like thrillers and romances.
  5. E-books, may turn out to be just another format—an even lighter-weight, more disposable paperback. That would fit with the discovery that once people start buying digital books, they don’t necessarily stop buying printed ones. In fact, according to Pew, nearly 90% of e-book readers continue to read physical volumes. The two forms seem to serve different purposes.

    Print books seem to be holding their own in many genre.

    Print books seem to be holding their own in many genre.

Only time will tell what formats will dominate, but if you read the full article and read the comments, you will see this topic creates some spirited debate. The most important implication for me is that authors should not abandon print as they think about going to market unless they are publishing very specific genre fiction books. Print should still be part of your go-to-market strategy.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Kindle, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Six tips from wicked good book cover designers

Even with the growth of ebooks, book covers are still an important issue for authors to consider.  So I asked some book designers I respect to offer some keys to creating a great cover for print and digital formats. Here are six simple things you can do to make sure your cover stands out from the rest.

Pick something to be the focal point. On the cover to the right, type and image are too similar in size.

Pick something to be the focal point. On the cover to the right, type and image are too similar in size.

  1. Do your research. Sounds simple, but it is the important first step. Go to a local bookstore. Observe the customers. See what books stand out on the shelves. Do thesame thing online and on e-readers.  Also, pay attention to the thumbnails. Some designs work well on a bookshelf, but don’t work as a thumbnail.
  2. Pay attention to your genre. You don’t have to do a cookie-cutter cover, but you should look at the best covers in your genre. Notice any common elements and trends. Pay attention to the images being used.
  3. Pick a focal point. Everything can’t be important. So you need to decide whether the typography or the image is going to be the focal point. When they are similar in size or the amount of visual space they occupy, it can hinder the eye from being drawing to the cover.
  4. Image matters. Make sure you choose an image that is relevant for your genre but that is also eye-catching. Avoid cliche or what I call, computer desktop imagery. Also, one striking image is almost always better than a collection of images. Collections typically violate point three.
  5. Check the thumbnail. Once you have a cover you like, make sure you reduce it down in size and see what it will look like as a thumbnail. The rise of e-books has made the thumbnail more important as you think about designing your cover
  6. Choose your colors carefully. If you are publishing in the US, colors convey a message in themselves. Here is a general guideline as to what colors communicate.
  • Red – High Energy, powerful, passionate, excited, strong, sexy, fast, dangerous.
  • Blue – Male, Cool, conservative, trustful, reliable, safe.
  • Yellow — Warm, bright, cheerful, sunny, cheerful, happy
  • Orange – Warm, playful, vibrant, bold.
  • Green — Natural, fresh, cool, organic, abundant.
  • Purple — Royal, spiritual, dignified
  • Pink – Feminine, soft, sweet, nurturing, secure, gentle.
  • White — Pure, clean, bright, virginal, youthful, mild.
  • Black — Sophisticated, elegant, seductive, mysterious
  • Gold – Expensive, prestigious, affluent
  • Silver – Cold, prestigious, scientific, clinical

Crafting a well written manuscript is the most important task of an author, but making sure the cover is inviting, eye-catching and relevant is an equally important job. Using these tips will help you make sure you have a cover that is as good as your book deserves. What other tips do you have for creating a great cover? Use the comments features to share your ideas.

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Author Solutions, Balboa Press, book marketing, book selling, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

Self-published Probiotic cookbook gets picked up by traditional publisher.

One of the strongest motivations for publishing is having something to say that can help others. Donna Schwenk had suffered from some health challenges that led her to change her diet and the way she prepared food for her family. From that experience, she published a book that provided practical advice on how to use probiotics as part of a regular diet. This is a topic that has grown in popularity of recent given the rise in food allergies and digestive issues.

Donna self published her book with Balboa Press, the self publishing division of Hay House. That led to her being noticed by Hay House publishers and next thing you know, she was offered a publishing contract. I have said for some time, I do not know how many people you will impact with your writing if you publish, but I know how many you will if you don’t.

Donna’s story is a great example of how self-publishing empowers individuals to make a difference in other people’s lives by following through and publishing a book.  Hopefully her story will be an inspiration to you to finish your manuscript and get published this year.

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