Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, self publishing

22 authors collaborate to write book on how serving through AmeriCorps changes lives

ServeOne of the great things about the indie revolution is books that might not be of interest to traditional publishers can still find their way into the hands of readers and make an impact. Take for example the book, Serve, Reflect, Repeat. Full disclosure: This book was compiled by my oldest daughter who has served in AmeriCorps, but I did not think family connection was reason to disqualify this story from my blog.

I say that because I think this volume is an excellent example of another way a book can come to be. In this case, she did not write the manuscript herself, but instead engaged a network of people to submit chapters detailing their experiences. I believe you will find the book inspirational, but I also think you will find the answers to the questions I posed to her helpful as well.

What inspired you to write your book? AmeriCorps was such an important and transformational time in my life. I know other alumni felt the same way so I thought a collaborative book would showcase the power of national service as well as be an introduction to AmeriCorps for individuals considering pursuing national service as a path.

What was the most challenging thing about compiling stories from different writers? There were two chief challenges. The first was finding willing authors. This was a very grassroots effort; so I reached out to interested parties through social media outlets. While there was a lot of positive response, it took a concerted effort to actually get individuals to turn in a chapter. The second challenge was choosing what stories would be included in the book. There are so many amazing stories and it was difficult to narrow down the selections.

“The feeling of completing your book project is indescribable.”

What was most surprising to you as you went through the publishing process? Editing is tremendously challenging and takes significant effort and time, especially with a project like this. It was a very diverse group of writers from different regions, and with varying education levels, and backgrounds. It was important to create a cohesive voice while remaining authentic to each individual writing style.

What advice would you give to first time authors? Stick with it. The feeling of completing your book project is indescribable. This process was challenging for me, and significantly more time intensive than I initially anticipated, but it was worth it. During the writing, compiling and editing process I was also a full-time student and part-time employee. There were always excuses that I could have used to prevent me from working on the book. However, I set a deadline and was committed and see it through. I was purposeful in blocking out time to complete this project and I am confident others can as well.

What do you hope readers take away from this book? National service has the power to transform individuals, schools, neighborhoods, communities, regions, states, and the nation and we all have the capacity to serve and the responsibility as citizens to find the best way to help improve society. Everyone has something to offer to the world,

How did you settle on the title of your book? Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for the title. One of the other authors, Nicole Vera, suggested it. All of the authors voted on potential titles, but this one was the winner because it is so accurately describes what service should entail. We should serve, reflect on our time–what we can do differently, how we can improve, and what we should be proud of–and then we should repeat. This should be the cycle throughout our lives.

“I was purposeful in blocking out time to complete this project and I am confident others can as well.”

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Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

What types of memoirs do traditional publishers look to publish?

memoirsOne of the many changes that has come about because of self publishing is an increase in the number of memoirs that are written and published every year. The motivation for writing varies. Some want to capture their own story to leave as a personal legacy. Some want to share their experiences because they think it will help others. Still others have it on their bucket list and want to make sure it gets crossed off. Regardless of the reason why they are written, memoir is one the most significant categories of books that are self published as compared with traditional publishing.

Yet, there are many memoir authors that still aspire to be picked up by traditional publishing house. An admirable goal, but a difficult one because many memoirs are not as commercially viable as say a YA fiction book. However, that does not mean traditional publishers will never acquire a memoir. The criterion for what they look for is very clear. I say that because I asked a number of agents and editors what they look for in a memoir before they would consider it. Here’s what they said.

….memoir is one the most significant categories of books that are self-published.

Celebrity Appeal: This one is kind of obvious, but it needs to be on the list. If a person is noteworthy in some way, it may garner some interest from a traditional publisher, but this is not something you can control. Being famous or well-known isn’t usually a planned activity.

Teaching Material: Some life stories can instruct or inspire others so another way to get the attention of a traditional publisher is make your memoir something we can all learn from.

A Compelling Tale: Some people have simply lived a life that reads like a good fiction novel or seems almost like a movie. It has the typical elements of a good story. A good example of this type of memoir is the Pursuit of Happiness

One other helpful piece of advice: One of the panels I sat on included a very seasoned agent who had also worked as an editor for a traditional publisher. She suggested some memoirs can be made more commercially appealing by simply pulling out a section of the story instead of telling everything. Some authors are hesitant to do that because it is their story and they want it told in whole, not part.

Do you have a memoir in process or have you published one already. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

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

The 2nd Gutenberg Effect: Examples of how it is helping Christian self-published authors

In my most recent post, I published the text of the closing address I gave at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference titled, The 2nd Gutenberg Effect: How self-publishing is creating exciting new opportunities for Christian authors.

The main point I tried to make was that self-publishing is providing Christian authors the opportunity to spread their message in a way that hasn’t presented itself in such a significant manner since Mr Gutenberg invented his press.  Take Annie Downs for example.

I do not know how many people you will impact with your writing if you publish, but do I know how many you will if you don’t.

Annie Downs has used self publishing to impact young people with her self published book and obtain a contract with Zondervan.

Annie Downs has used self publishing to impact young people with her self published book and obtain a contract with Zondervan.

She is a blogger and speaker who focused on young women and their need to really understand their identity and significance. After many of her talks, she realized she had nothing to leave to with people. So she pursued self-publishing and published her book with the title, From Head to Foot. As she continued to blog and speak, her platform grew, sales increased and an agent took notice. He shopped the book and Zondervan offered a contract and republished the book with the new title, Perfectly Unique, praising God from head to foot.   I featured Annie in a blog post I almost a year ago. If you want to know more about her story, you can read the post and see a video interview by clicking here.

The second example comes from my own experience. I never set out to be an author, but years ago, I was working on a curriculum and writing some material to support lessons in that curriculum. As people started to use the material, they started asking for copies of the readings I had written for the lessons. So I would run to Kinkos and make copies. Frankly, it got to be expensive and tiring so I explored how to get published. It was really a niche book because it addresses the issue of how a person’s worldview is formed. I did not think it had wide commercial appeal so I decided to self-publish.  And this was all before I worked for Author Solutions.

The book has been available for a few years, but about three years ago, I got an email from a gentlemen in Italy. He explained he had been using the book at the Institute where he teaches. When I asked him how he got the book, he told me an associate of his was given the book at a conference he had attended the year before. He went on to explain they now had interest from an Italian publisher and wanted to get it translated and publish it in Italy. He was writing for permission, which I gladly gave. Then some months later a box arrived at my house with multiple copies of the Italian version of my book, A Clear View.

Clear view and italian version groupNow the royalties from this book will never be life changing, but the thought that someone in another country was willing to invest the time and money to translate and publish it, is very satisfying.

I suspect if you are reading this, you have a manuscript in the works or ready to go and you may be pondering your options. You may also be overwhelmed by the options you have today as an author.  But you should investigate self publishing as an option.

Because while I do not know how many books you will sell if you publish, I do know how many you will if you don’t.

Even more importantly, I do not know how many people you will impact with your writing if you publish, but do I know how many you will if you don’t.

Writing is a talent you have been given, but publishing is part of your stewardship.

So I hope you will seize the opportunity that is before you to get your work into the hands of readers and spread the story and message God has given you.

Writing is a talent you have been given, but publishing is part of your stewardship.

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Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

Carl Reiner releases enhanced e-book version of I Remember Me

In an earlier post, I talked about the release of a new book by comic genius, Carl Reiner, titled I Remember Me. In this book, which he published through AuthorHouse, has been praised by comics such as Jerry Seinfield and Jay Leno. 

Now Reiner has released an enhanced e-book that includes video and other images that helps bring the words on the page to life in a new and exciting way.  Here’s a video that provides a preview of the book. It is a great example of how the book is evolving.

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Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, Editing, helpful hints, self publishing

The best tip I ever received from an editor

editingWe all need to write and read, then edit and rewrite. Stop typing. Walk away. Question whether it is really any good. Get inspired and furiously start typing again. And we all need to self-edit before we ever give our work to an editor, but we almost always do the same thing. We start reading from the beginning. We start with the first sentence and then read from there, but that is not the best way to determine what shape the manuscript is in. The best tip I ever received from an editor is read the  last chapter first when it is time to self-edit. Why? Because our natural tendency is start at the beginning and read from there, which means the first chapter probably gets read and edited the most. The last chapter is the last written and probably the one that is read the least of the whole book.

I know this may not sound that genius, but try it. I think you will find the need to edit will be much more evident in the last chapter than the first and give you a truer measure of what work is needed on the manuscript.

What tips do you have that you can share with authors? Use the comment section to share yours with readers.

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Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

5 tips to getting published in 2013

2013 imageThere has never been a better time to be an author so if you have a manuscript you have been working on, 2013 is the year you can get published.  Here are five simple tips to help you make sure you get to your goal.

  1. Pick a date when you want to hold a copy of your book. Writing is a process, but publishing is a goal so you need a deadline. And I have found the authors who are successful in self publishing, set a date when they want to hold a copy of their book. Sounds simple, but it is really important.
  2. Decide when is the best time for you to write and make that your routine.  I have talked to hundreds of authors and the ones who get to the goal have a discipline about their writing. Most have a better time in the day when they write most productively. What is your best time to write? Do you know when it is? Have you marked out that time on your calendar everyday or most everyday.
  3. Make yourself accountable to help you stay on track. No secret here. Most goals are reached because we have others who help us get there. Find someone to provide encouragement as you write. This could be a friend, a relative or maybe a member of a local or online writers’ group. The Author Learning Center has tools and an online Author Circle that can help.

    The ALC has tools and an online Author Circle to help you get to your publishing goal.

    The ALC has tools and an online Author Circle to help you get to your publishing goal.

  4. Select the best publishing path based on your goals, budget and time and talent you have to invest. The Four Paths to Publishing whitepaper can help you understand and evaluate your options. You can download a free copy here.
  5. Plan your book launch event. Just like setting a deadline for holding your book, you want to set a date for a book launch party. Becoming a published author is quite an accomplishment and it is cause for celebration. Be creative. Think about holding it somewhere other an book store. Sell copies of your book and ask those who buy them to go online and write reviews. It will help you build your platform and get word of mouth started.

What are your publishing plans for 2013? Do you have a book you plan to get into the hands of readers this year?  Leave a comment with your plans and let me know when you publish your book. I will use this blog to help announce your accomplishment.

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Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing, Writing Contest

Carl Reiner started the novel. You finish it and you could get published.

Reiner ContestCarl Reiner, the highly respected comic genius has launched a unique writing contest in conjunction with the release of his new book, I Remember Me.  Reiner has started a novel, but doesn’t know if  he will have time to finish it because of so many other projects he has in the works. So he did something really cool. He is giving other writers an opportunity to finish the story and get published.  Here are the details on the contest:

Distinguished actor, film director, producer, writer, and comedian Carl Reiner has written the beginning of an intriguing story. How it ends will be up to you.

He, together with AuthorHouse Publishing, is giving aspiring writers the opportunity to become a published author. If you write the best story to his Adolf Meistermann beginning, you stand to win a publishing package from AuthorHouse. Reiner will handpick the winning manuscript and write the foreword to your new book.

To read the start of the story and get the full contest rules, visit the Novel Beginnings Writing Contest site.

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