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

North Carolina Poet Laureate resigns post because of protests that she was only self-published.

Don’t know if you saw the story this past week about the uproar in North Carolina regarding the appointment governor Pat McCrory made.

Valerie Macon  Photo Credit: Department of Cultural Resource

Valerie Macon
Photo Credit: Department of Cultural Resource

Valerie Macon, a disability examiner for the state, was appointed last week as Poet Laureate and it created quite a stir. The governor came under fire for selecting someone and not including the Arts Council in the decision. Perhaps more importantly, the “establishment” questioned her credentials simply because she was self-published.  Macon chose to resign this week because she did not want the negative attention surrounding her appointment to distract from the position. In an interview after her resignation she made this statement:

“I remain passionate about the mission of poetry to touch all people regardless of age, education or social status,” she wrote. “I would like to encourage everyone to read and write poetry. They do not need prestigious publishing credits or a collection of accolades from impressive organizations — just the joy of words and appreciation of self-expression.”

The Governor’s response was interesting. While saying he reluctantly accepted Macon’s resignation, McCrory also took a shot at North Carolina’s established writers, some of whom had criticized the governor for bypassing the traditional method of selecting a poet laureate.  McCrory stated,

“I’m also disappointed by the way some in the poetry community have expressed such hostility and condescension toward an individual who has great passion for poetry and our state,”

What is your take on this situation? While there are much bigger things happening in publishing and in the world, I do think this is an interesting reaction from the “establishment”. It does show that self publishing has moved forward in many circles, but there are still pockets of people who think unless you follow the publishing path that has always been, you are not a “real” author.  Actually this situation is consistent with my experience. Academia is still reluctant to embrace self-publishing.  I think that will change in time. In fact, I think this is the last area where the indie revolution will triumph. Use the comment section to let me know your opinion. 

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

Overcoming the last 3 roadblocks that keep writers from finishing their books.

In my previous post, I set forth five common roadblocks that I have seen stand between writers and a finished book. That list included:

  1. Forgetting why you wanted to write the book
  2. Losing the discipline of writing regularly
  3. Losing sight of the day you want to hold your book
  4. Doubt takes over
  5. Unclear what you will do when you are done writing.

I suggested ways to overcome the first two and so in this post, I would like to address the remaining three reasons why some writers never see their books in the hands of readers.

Losing sight of the day you want to hold your book

A third roadblock I often see is writers lose sight of the day they want to hold the first copy of their book.  Putting a date on the calendar and working toward that day is absolutely critical. For some authors it is a real deadline like having books for a speaking engagement. But for others, it is a day they have deemed important. One of my favorite stories is an author who I worked with who actually wanted to give everyone who attended his 50th birthday party a copy of his book…and he did.

So picture the day when you want to hold a copy of your book.  Then create a timeline to get there.  You may need to work with someone to set the key milestones to make your goal, but without a deadline, it is easy to have a project drift for months and even years.

Putting a date on the calendar and working toward that day is absolutely critical.

Doubt takes over

Another roadblock I see is doubt creeps in and paralyzes your keyboard.  This is very, very common.  Authors often wonder if their writing is any good or will anyone else want to read it.  Quite frankly. one of the most frightening things to do is to take something you’ve poured yourself into, hand it to someone else, let them read it and see what they think.  And I don’t care if it’s someone close to you, or a complete stranger, there is always a lingering fear of rejection.

Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources that can help you get feedback and make helpful connections.  One of the best sites is Book Country.  Another great resource is the Author Learning Center. Conferences are also very helpful. I particularly think the Writer’s Digest Conference is quite good for writers at all experience levels. Each of these provides a way to improve your work and help you gain confidence in what you are going to publish.Roadblock 2

Doubt can manifest itself in a lot of different ways.  In some cases it is doubt that your work is any good.  It is doubt that anyone will want to read it.  It is doubt that you can sell any books.  But the reality is you never know what can happen until you get your book into the marketplace.

There is one particular author I worked with who had worked on his manuscript for 10 years. It was a nonfiction history book. It was quite good, but he was really, really unsure about actually getting it published.  Finally, one day I looked at him and said, “Well, you know you can do a second edition,” and so he put that book into the marketplace. Yes he has sold copies, but more importantly, he has received comments from people all over the globe who have had a chance to read his book and enjoy it.

Unclear what you will do when you are done writing.

So that’s four out of the five roadblocks.  The last one is you are unclear what the next step is once you’re done writing.  This is a very common among authors who are so focused on getting their manuscript done that they don’t know exactly how they are going to get published.

I have written a lot about this topic in the white paper, The Four Paths to Publishing. Here is a link for a free download. It lays out your options and guidelines for choosing the right path for your project.

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Author Solutions, authors, Balboa Press, book selling, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Holding your book for the first time. Hear what it is like from these authors.

In conjunction with the release of its 225,000th title, Author Solutions has released a video titled, Special Delivery: Holding Your Book for the First Time.”. This unique compilation captures a range of authors speaking about what it was like to see a copy of their print book for the first time.

Two of the authors, Donna Schwenk and J. L Witterick were eventually picked up by traditional publishers, Hay House andG.P. Putnam’s Sons respectively, one of the world’s leading trade imprints of Penguin.

If you are still working on your manuscript, I think this video will motivate you to write to the finish.

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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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