Author Solutions, authors, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Mistakes spell check would miss, but a good editor will catch.

One of the most important things self-published authors can do is have their book edited by an experienced professional. Spell check does not count as editing despite what some first time authors may think. Let me just give you a few examples of mistakes in the following sentences that spell check would miss.

  1. I did not here the gate change for my flight; so I did not get there bags on the plane.
  2. Once I realized I needed to move myself foreword: I had the angel I needed to see what I needed to sea.
  3. He was so surprised. He looked like a dear in the headlights.

See if you can find them all and post your answers in the comment section.

In a few days, I will post the answers.

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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, 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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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, Editing, self publishing, writing

5 trends every author should watch as self-publishing evolves

Recently, I was asked what I believed to be the next big trends or issues around self publishing.  As I thought about it and shared my ideas, I thought it might also make a good blog post. See if you agree with my thinking and share your ideas in the comment section.

Editing is finally being recognized as essential by self-published authors.

This  seems like a “duh” statement,  but early on many self-published authors didn’t understand how critical editing was and so many books were not that good. All that has changed and most authors now work hard to find the right editor for their work.

Subscription models are cropping up everywhere. Authors have to figure out how to play. 

It seems like every week, there is an announcement about someone offering a subscription model for e-books. (See Scribd) It really isn’t that surprising when you see what happened in music. Books are simply following in the same path as the previous indie revolutions. The difference between music and books is you can sell individual songs from an album.  Not sure anyone would pay for individual chapters so how will authors participate?

Local stores like Books&books in south Florida are welcoming self published authors.

Local stores like Books&books in south Florida are welcoming self published authors.

Local independent bookstores are finally embracing and welcoming authors because they can create store traffic.

It wasn’t that long ago that bookstores would turn away any author who self published, but now bookstores are recognizing that a local author with a good book can drive traffic to the store.  So instead of rejecting them, they are welcoming them. That is unless you publish with Createspace. Most stores won’t accept those books because they believe Amazon has greatly undermined the retail market.

Hollywood is looking at self-published books more than ever for source material. 

A few years ago, I could not get any one in Hollywood to talk to me, if they were on fire and I had a bucket of water. But now the whole entertainment industry is looking for new ideas to feed the multitude of cable and subscription channels. And self-published books are a great source of new material. That is why we created The Hollywood Pitch database and the Book-to-Screen Pitchfest.

99 cents used to be a way to differentiate, but now every one is doing it so authors have to find new ways to use price.

Low price is always a purchase incentive and early on, many authors used a 99 cent price to build readership. Now it is a strategy that many authors employ so what will the next creative pricing strategy be to stand out from the crowd?  Time will tell.

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authors, book selling, Ebooks, self publishing

Libraries are selling e-books. What impact will that have on retailers and libraries?

WSJ logoIn the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, an article ran under the headline Libraries Check Out E-Sales. Subscribers to the Journal can view the complete article on-line, but if you haven’t had a chance to read the piece, I wanted to call your attention to it because I think it signals another significant shift in the publishing industry.

The lines used to be very clear. Libraries lent books. Bookstores sold books. Then with the advent of online retailers like Amazon, bookstores were no longer the only place to buy books, but the mission of libraries remained intact. They lent books.

According to a 2013 Library Journal study, 54% of regular library users had bought a book by an author they first discovered at their library.

With this recent development, the lines are blurring once again and I think this is a trend we need to watch. Here are some of the highlights from the article.

  • Roughly 13% of public libraries across the U.S. give patrons the choice to purchase e-books on their websites if a free copy isn’t immediately available, according to OverDrive, an e-book distributor.
  • Library officials said their primary motive was patron convenience; so far, book sales haven’t generated much money for libraries.
  • Offering e-books for sale could also help libraries woo publishers who have been reluctant to make e-books available to libraries for fear it would harm retail sales, according to Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association.
  • The Queens Library expects by the end of June to begin selling print books, e-books and other materials through the book distributor Baker & Taylor, which handles sales for about 60 public libraries.
  • Book sales through libraries so far have been low. More than 35,000 e-book titles supplied by OverDrive are available in the catalog of the New York Public Library. Since February 2012, the library has made less than $1,000 from sales.

    Libraries are selling e-books and prints books. What impact do you think this will have?

    Libraries are selling e-books and prints books. What impact do you think this will have?

While the dollars and units are not significant yet, one other key point made in the article was that according to a 2013 Library Journal study, 54% of regular library users had bought a book by an author they first discovered at their library.

So now if you go to the library to look for a book and they don’t have it, instead of putting it on reserve and waiting, you can just buy it. Time will tell what the impact will be on retailers and libraries, but once again the indie revolution makes things better for readers to get content and for authors to get discovered.

What do you think? Will this trend develop into something significant or will it have no real impact? Is this good for readers and libraries or does it confuse the mission and roles. Use the comment section to let me know what you think.  I personally find this quite fascinating.

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

The 2nd Gutenberg Effect: How self-publishing is creating exciting new opportunities for Christian authors.

BRMCWC_Logo4This past week, I had the pleasure and opportunity to speak at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, which is one of the premier conferences for writers and authors focused on the Christian market.  It was my first time there, but it was a very good conference. There were a number of informative seminars and the closing banquet and awards ceremony were broadcast over the internet. In the afternoon, I offered a seminar on Four Paths to Publishing which has become a very popular session at conferences this year. The free white paper on the topic is available for download here.

I also had the privilege of giving the closing address at the conference. I titled my remarks, The Second Gutenberg Effect: How self-publishing is creating exciting new opportunities for Christian authors.  I based my premise on some information I uncovered about Gutenberg and his personal views about his Christian faith and his role in helping spread the Christian message. Even if this is not a market you are focused on, I think you may find my statements helpful. I received a significant number of positive comments from people at the conference right after the banquet and even the next morning. What follows is largely the text of what I presented.

I would suggest in time, the effect of self publishing will be as profound and potentially far reaching as the effect of Gutenberg’s invention.

The Second Gutenberg Effect

A few years ago, the editors of Time magazine published an issue ranking what they believed to be the most significant events of modern history. The list was not that surprising. The invention of the automobile was near the top. So was putting a man on the moon. But according to Time, the most important event in recent centuries was the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg.

That is not that surprising, when you consider Gutenberg’s invention helped fuel some of the most significant social and cultural changes including the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution.  According to one historian, it also orchestrated the creation of the “middle class,” as the free flow of information between common men and women gave power to the people and struck a fatal blow to the absolute rule of the elite. Gutenberg probably didn’t recognize it at the time but his invention would, either directly or indirectly, play a role in dismantling empires and empowering common people.  But we know that was not his primary concern.

Instead, he was driven by a mission that was far simpler but had eternal consequences. Johann Gutenberg wanted to make the message of God available to everyone and, in so doing, share the good news of Christ with people all over the world.  Gutenberg stated his mission with these words. 

God suffers in the multitude of souls whom His holy word cannot reach.  Religious truth is imprisoned in a small number of manuscript books, which confine, instead of spreading the public treasure.  Let us break the seal which seals up holy things, and give wings to truth, in order that she may go and win every soul that comes into this world, by her word, no longer written at great expense by a hand easily palsied, but multiplied like a wind by an untiring machine.

Gutenberg also saw his invention as more than just technology, but actually as an instrument in the hand of God. He made this statement in reference to his press.

            Yes, it is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall soon flow, in inexhaustible streams, the most abundant and most marvelous liquor that has ever flowed to relieve the thirst of men!  Through it, God will spread His word.  A spring of pure truth shall flow from it; like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.

      Most know that the first book ever produced on his press was the Bible, but authors of all backgrounds took advantage of this new-found freedom. Mystics, Theologians, Hymn writers all published their work to help spread the message. Some impacted hundreds. Some thousands and some like Luther, and Calvin and Zwingli and Wycliffe left legacies in print that have edified and exhorted the church for ages.

The effect of Gutenberg’s press was profound and far-reaching both for culture and the church, but not much changed in publishing for nearly 500 years.

Then around 1998 three technologies emerged at the same time to create another unprecedented opportunity for authors called self publishing.

Together, Desktop publishing, digital printing and the internet as a distribution channel made it possible for authors to produce and distribute books without working through a traditional publisher if they chose.

And much like Gutenberg’s first press, this latest development has become disruptive and controversial, but it has also created new and exciting opportunities for authors.  And I would suggest in time, the effect of self publishing will be as profound and potentially far-reaching as the effect of Gutenberg’s invention.

Both for culture and the church–because now stories and sermons, bible studies and personal testimonies and biographies that would not –or could not– be published before can now be shared with readers to edify and exhort, instruct and inspire. 

As before some of these books may only impact a few, others thousands and still others may become the print legacies of this generation. Only time will tell.

But there has never been a better time to be an author because there are a number of different ways to publish these days. These choices can make it exciting and confusing at the same time, but the opportunity for authors to impact others with their writing has never been greater. So no matter which publishing path you chose, I want to encourage you to not neglect the opportunity to get your book into the hands of readers because you never know what could happen.

In my next post I am going to provide some examples of how this 2nd Gutenberg Effect is actually happening with authors, including something cool that has happened with one of my own books.

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

Phase 2 of a successful book marketing campaign: Once you submit your manuscript.

In an earlier post, I introduced the idea that there are three phases of a successful marketing campaign. The first phase is Before You Submit Your Manuscript. Phase 2 is Once You Submit Your Manuscript. This is when you truly begin to prepare the groundwork for the launch of your book.

marketing-381x300Here are the key things to focus on during this critical phase.

DEVELOP YOUR BOOK’S MEDIA “HOOK.”
Sometimes called the “elevator pitch,” this is the two-minute speech you would give to get media outlets
interested in featuring your book. Above all, make sure your pitch is brief, clear and unique. Don’t just talk about your book, but make sure you talk about the topic of your book in your pitch.

PLAN YOUR BOOK LAUNCH EVENT
One of the key elements of your marketing plan should be a book launch party. This is a way to generate
interest and start the grassroots promotion of your book. In addition, if done correctly, it may be a way to gain important media attention. Be creative in your planning and location. Tie it in to the theme or subject of your book. And don’t forget to have fun. Publishing a book is an accomplishment. Take pride in your achievement.

Marketing your book takes work, but if you prepare appropriately, it can be a lot of fun.

IDENTIFY OTHER VENUES FOR BOOK SIGNINGS
Most local churches, bookstores and libraries welcome authors who are interested in speaking or holding
book signings, but they want to plan for them in advance. So even before your book is available, make
contact with locations that you think would host a book signing. However, do not set a date until your book is available for purchase.

•ASSEMBLE YOUR MAILING LIST
When it comes time to invite people to your events, you want to have a quick and easy list you can use to distribute announcements. Prepare that list now, and be sure to accommodate for both email and regular mail.

• SEND OUT YOUR BOOK LAUNCH INVITATIONS
When you approve your author copy at the end of the publishing production process, send out your
invitations to your book launch, and include local members of the media in your list.

FINALIZE YOUR MARKETING PLAN, CALENDAR AND BUDGET
A sustained effort is another key to an effective book marketing campaign. Establish the discipline of setting a
calendar of your activities for the coming year and planning the investment needed to accomplish those tasks. It will keep you accountable and help you reach your goal of connecting with as many readers as possible.

Marketing your book takes work, but if you prepare appropriately, it can be a lot of fun. This is when you get to take the manuscript that you have worked on for so long and put it into the hands of readers. There is not many things more thrilling for an author than that.

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