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

The Guardian newspaper in the UK suggests $6,000 needed to effectively self publish. Debate ensues.

Last week, Suzanne McGee, penned a feature  in the Money section of the Guardian, with the headline, You can try to be the next Hemingway — for $6,000 and the subhead, Self-publishing has made it possible to get your writing out in the world. But it hasn’t made it cheap.

In her article, she suggests based on her interviews with a number of self published authors, there are some critical elements you need to consider if you are going to self publish. Those include

  • An ISBN number
  • Editing
  • Cover Art
  • Paid reviews
  • Promotional print copies of your book

The GuardianShe suggested the total cost of the project would be around $6,000 with the two-thirds of that budget going to editing. Not surprising her article generated 80 comments and many opposing views.  Some were civil in their comments and some were rude.  Based on her response to the comments I think she was simply trying to point out that self-publishing is not and should not be considered a “free” opportunity as some might lead you to believe.

Certainly you can spend more or less than the amount she suggests, but those who were debating the number I think missed the most helpful points of the article.

  1. You are going to have to invest in editing to have a good book--I think this is the most important thing every self published author needs to remember and good editors are not cheap or free.
  2. You will have to invest time and money in promotion–She suggests paid reviews and many debate the value of those, but the point is you can’t just publish a book and wait for people to find it. You are going to have to spend some coin to garner interest and publicity.
  3. You will have to give things away before you see sales—In her article she suggests you need promotional copies of your book to hand out to media or others to get word of mouth about  your book started.  I think that is true, but there are other things you may want to consider as well.

The other great value to an article like this is it points out the need to have a simple way to evaluate the options out there for authors. I have written extensively about this topic and have a white paper title The Four Paths to Publishing, that layouts out the different opportunities available today for authors to get their books in the hands of readers.

If you would like to read the complete article in The Guardian, you can find it by clicking here.

 

 

 

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

Important things I learned at Book Expo America that you may find helpful.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend Book Expo America, which is the premier publishing industry trade show in the US. Because the industry is undergoing such amazing transformation, it makes this show very interesting as trade shows go. This year was no different. Here’s what I heard or saw that I thought you might find interesting.

Hugh Howey, author of the best selling book, Wool.

Hugh Howey, author of the best selling book, Wool.

Hugh Howey told people how hard it is to be a successful author. Hugh Howey has become well-known for his book Wool, both for his sales and his publishing strategy. He retained his digital rights for Wool, but signed a publishing deal with Simon and Schuster for his print rights. That makes him a great example of a hybrid author.

What I found most interesting was what Hugh said in a session I attended where he was a panelist. He shared that Wool was actually his 8th book and that he had committed to a 10 year writing plan. He also shared how he would work a job and devote a large part of the rest of his time to writing. So to get where he is now required sacrifice, commitment and perseverance. Not every author is willing to invest what he has, but I really appreciated his honesty.

Subscription services are acquiring content, but not sure if they are attracting readers yet. There were a number of announcements from Scribd and Oyster about adding content from select publishers, which made news. What we have not heard yet is how many people are signing up to take advantage of these services. So I think the jury is still out as to how this will impact publishers and benefit readers and authors. Michael Shatzkin provides some insightful thoughts on this topic in his latest blog post.

Archway Publishing authors enjoy BEA reception.

Archway Publishing authors enjoy BEA reception.

Archway Publishing authors were very happy. One of the benefits for Archway authors is the opportunity to attend a reception with people from the Simon and Schuster team. It was one of my highlights of the event. It is always great to meet authors in person and have them meet the great people at S&S.

There are still individuals who think they speak for every author. Even though there are more choices and ways to get published today than ever before, there are still some people out there who believe the way that they published is the only way to get a book to market. I continue to be fascinated by that point of view. There are different authors with different goals and different needs and so there are different paths to getting published. I have written and spoken about this topic quite extensively.  Here’s a white paper that I have mentioned before that outlines the 4 Paths to Publishing.

 

BookCon will go to two days next year.

BookCon will go to two days next year.

Amazon: Friend or Foe? Depending on your pov, Amazon is either horrendous for the book business or a great asset. Too much to say about that in this blog post, but suffice it to say Amazon is disruptive and even destructive at times.

BookCon drew big crowds. BookCon was the consumer day on Saturday which allowed readers to come face-to-face with their favorite authors at book signings and Q&A sessions. Big lines. Big hit. Next year it will be two days. Great move by the publishing industry to cultivate readers.

Did you attend BEA? If so, use the comment section to let readers know what you learned at the event.

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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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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book signings, Indie book publishing, self publishing

Confused about how to do book marketing? Here is a simple way to build an effective marketing plan.

Book Marketing sign postIt wasn’t that long ago that the biggest challenge for a writer was getting published. Clearly that has changed because now there are four paths to publishing which I have written about extensively. So getting your book into the hands of readers is not the obstacle it once was. Now what I hear from authors is confusion about how to market their books. They seem overwhelmed or not sure where to start.

Knowing this POEM will help you.

So in this blog post I want to give you a simple framework and acronym for how to think about book marketing that will take some of the mystery out of the process. Any good integrated marketing campaign has four key activities. Publicity. Online. Events. Multi-Media. That forms the acronym POEM, which is an easy way to remember what you need to do.

Publicity is using the traditional media to make sure people know about your book. By traditional media, I mean newspapers, television and radio. To be effective in this activity, you need to be clear on the elevator pitch for your book and the audience you are trying to reach. Tactically, you will likely need a press release and a simple media kit you can use to pitch producers and journalists. The key with publicity as with the other categories is being clear on what you are going to do and what you need to hire someone to do for you.

On-line is perhaps the biggest opportunity for all authors. I believe a key element is having a blog. This is a way to create an ongoing connection with your audience. Use keywords and tags to make your content show up in searches. And be sure to have an email for media who want to reach you.

You should also be selective and strategic about social media platforms. What I have learned is Facebook is good for some books and worthless for others. Same thing with LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and whatever the next platform that will appear. Try some things and figure out what works best for your book. Use the analytics available to you to see what creates traffic and engagement. Also, be sure to gather email addresses. That way you are building a list to which you can market future opportunities.

Book signingEvents is the third area where you should focus. The first and most important event is your book launch party. You can do this in very creative ways, but every author should celebrate the publication of the book. Then look for other opportunities for book signings and speaking engagements in your area with groups that would be interested in your topic. Libraries are also a great place to connect with for events.

Multi-media is the fourth area of a solid integrated marketing plan. We are an image driven culture so I believe having a video or book trailer is critical. If you do one, make sure it is produced well. You want it to make a good first impression and you can use it to help you with your other areas. Post it on your blog. Send it as part of your pitch to media. You may also want to consider creating an app for your book depending on what type of book you have.

 

Putting POEM to work for you.

Marketing is work, but with POEM you have a framework for creating the right type of plan to make sure you are engaged in the right activities and not missing something. However, even with a plan, the biggest challenge for many authors is persistence and consistency. It is easy to get discouraged, but the most successful self-published authors I know just keep at it.

Questions to ask as you get started.

So look at what you are doing right now. Do you have plans or activity in each of the four key categories of an integrated campaign? If so, that is great, but no matter what you are doing now, you should still write down a six or twelve month plan to keep yourself accountable. Then once you do that, you should make an honest assessment of what you can do yourself and where you need help.

Hopefully you find POEM helpful and please use the comment section to let me know what else you are doing to organize your marketing activities.

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

Even in the media drenched times in which we live, books still impact lives in unique and signficant ways.

A number of years ago, I wrote a white paper titled, The Democratization of Publishing.  I suggested then that one of the key benefits of self publishing was not just getting to market quicker or earning more royalties, but using books to make a difference in the lives of others. Author Solutions (AS) has recently started a campaign that validates that claim.

Under the banner of Real Authors, Real Impact, AS is highlighting authors that have published a book for the purpose of impacting others. In this campaign, there are stories of authors who have promoted organ donation and saved countless lives, helped raise awareness of domestic sex slavery, even helped changed laws.  You can find the complete list of stories in the campaign on the Author Solutions site by clicking here. 

In the meantime, this video is a compilation of some of the stories you will see in the campaign. If you wonder if your book can make a difference, watch the video. I think you will find it to be motivating and inspirational.

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

Can a video help your book be discovered by more readers?

In a recent issue of Publishing Perspectives, Gabriel Pena i Ballesté, the CEO Bookmovies.tv, wrote an article, titled, The book trailers: The best plan to connect books and readers. His main premise is video is a great way to help with discoverability. Given we are a media and image driven culture, I tend to agree.

Pena is CEO of company focused on creating book trailers, so he clearly has a bias, but he offered some helpful things to keep in mind as you think about creating a book trailer. I have taken some of his advice and added some of my thoughts to help you as you develop video content to promote your book.

  1. Be clear on the goal of your book trailer before you begin.  Are you creating a teaser? Are you creating a campaign? Are you trying to establish your credibility as an author? If you are not clear on what you want to accomplish with your video, chances are the video will not be as powerful.
  2. Keep it short. We have media ADD as a culture so it is important you make your point as quickly as possible.
  3. Have some distribution channels in mind. If you create a video, but are not sure where you will post it or how you will drive traffic to see it, you may be wasting your time.  Start with your own blog as the first place to post and then anywhere your book is for sale online.
  4. Don’t think a video is a substitute for reviews and recommendations. A video is a great promotional tool, but you should still pursue reviews and endorsements from others. It will only make your promotional plan that much stronger.

In short, a book trailer should be part of your marketing plan, because it can help with discoverability, but you should keep these four points in mind as you create the video. In addition, I have provided some examples of videos promoting books that may inspire you. Enjoy

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authors, book marketing, book selling, Publishing, self publishing, writing

My most popular post by far: The 5 essential elements of every great story.

One of the great things about the WordPress blog platform is the analytics it provides. With them, you can tell what posts get the most views and what search terms are bringing people to your blog,  I always watch these numbers because it tells me what readers are most interested in and what prospective readers are searching for.

The most read post by a landslide is the one titled, The 5 essential elements of every great story.  So in the event you have not had a chance to read it, I thought I would repost it here. Hopefully, you will find it helpful.

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Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to be part of three Book-to-Screen Pitchfests where authors  learn how to pitch their book as an idea for adaptation for film or television and then have the opportunity  to pitch to entertainment executives in a speed-dating like setting. They have been great events for the authors and the entertainment executives alike. There have been hundreds of requests for different books.  One has been optioned and there are a number of others that are under consideration.

If you break down every great story, it has these elements

What has been most interesting to me is  no matter what the genre, there are some common elements to every great story. The books that get noticed have these elements. The books that Hollywood execs often pass on are missing one or more of these.  In fact one exec said to me, “If you break down every great story, it has these elements”. So what are they?

  1. An inciting action. This means open the story with some event that sets the characters and action in motion.  Get my attention in the beginning and give me a reason why I am going to care about the people and the story going forward.
  2. Conflict. There needs to be some challenge to overcome or some quest or mystery. The character or characters need to have some type of struggle.
  3. Resolution. Make sure the conflict gets resolved by the end of the book and don’t come up with some crazy way to solve the matter. One thing I have noticed about authors’ books that get close to being requested, but often get a pass is the resolution to their story doesn’t make sense. They set up the conflict, make the characters interesting and then resolve it with something that comes out of the blue. In their efforts to be creative, they end up making the ending implausible and that hurts the story.
  4. Protagonist. Give me a character I want to care about and can understand. Help me understand why they do what they do. Sounds simple, but it is very challenging.
  5. Antagonist. Life is often about struggle and opposition and so great stories present those challenges as well. Many times it takes the form of a person. As with the protagonist, make the antagonist interesting. Help me understand why he or she presents the opposition.

Now none of these five elements should be surprising, but I have been somewhat surprised at how some books are missing one of these elements, have them underdeveloped or make them implausible. How about your story? It would be could to do a quick review of your manuscript to see if you have these elements included. All good stories do.

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