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

3 key takeaways from the San Francisco Writer’s Conference-2013 edition

sfwcLogoThis past weekend, I attended and spoke at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. I would contend it is one of the best, if not the best writer’s conference, in the country. The variety of speakers and panels and the keynote speeches are quite good. This past year was no different. Keynotes were delivered by:

  1. Bella Andre, the most recent self-published author who has garnered signifcant sales and press recognition. While her story was inspiring, it was interesting that she referenced how many people she has working for her to make sure her books are edited and formatted. I.t reinforced the need to find service providers who can help you.
  2. Guy Kawasaki, who has authored 12 books. Ten were traditionally published. Two were self published. His keynote was exceptional. I plan to do another blog post on the content he shared. Stay tuned. It will be coming shortly.
  3. R.L Stine, author of the best-selling Goosebumps series focused on where ideas come from and his presentation was hilarious and inspiring.

I believe you can order these presentations on the web site and I would encourage you do so. They are all worth the time. However, as I listened to the various presentations, the questions posed to me in my presentation, The Four Paths to Publishing and the conversations I had with many authors, I heard some common themes.

  1. Self publishing was the talk of the conference–Actually that isn’t that surprising given the events of the past year, but it still is amazing to see how quickly the conversation has changed from avoiding self-publishing to embracing it.
  2. Publishing is not an individual sport–No matter what path an author choses to publish, it still requires help from professional resources. There is an illusion that you can do this all by yourself for free, but the reality is you are going to need to either source help or work with an individual or company that helps you find the resources you need to get your book published.
  3. The quality of the writing in the book is still the most important thing–Over and over again, I heard presenters reinforce no matter what path you chose to use for publishing, the most important thing is the book. It should still be the focus of any author. So continue to work on your craft and the vision you have for your book.
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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, 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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self publishing

The 3 most common questions authors asked me at the GLAWS event.

Photos by Elaine Mura and Tony N Todaro

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at an event sponsored by  GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writers Society).  It was held on the campus of Los Angeles Valley College and we had a packed house. It was a great day despite the 100+ degree weather in Southern California.  My presentation was titled, The Four Paths to Publishing and with it, I outlined the four different opportunities authors have today to get their books into the hands of readers.  In just a few weeks, I am going to publish a white paper with the same title, but essentially what I said was an author can choose from one of four options to get published today.

  1. DIY–This involves using an upload or online formating tool to get the book in distribution.
  2. General Contractor– Here the author hires a number of independent contractors to complete the book and market it.
  3. Publishing Package– With this option, an author chooses an assisted self-publishing company who packages all the services into a convenient one-stop shopping opportunity.
  4. Traditional Publishing–This is as it has always been.

    One of the four paths to publishing

The white paper will provide much more detail about each of these paths and discuss the advantages and drawbacks to each option, but the feedback from the seminar was this framework was very helpful to people as they try to navigate the new landscape of publishing.  After the presentation, we opened up the floor for questions, which I always enjoy. There were more than an hours worth, but as I reflected on them later, I realized there were some common themes. Here are the three most common questions I was asked and a brief sentence or two on how I answered them.

  • Which path is the best one for me? By far, this what most people were trying to figure out. Unfortunately, there is not one right answer, but there is a way to determine which path is best.  Make sure you clearly articulate your goal for the book, the skills and experience you have, what time commitment you can make, and how much of a budget you have. With those items clearly identified, you will be able to choose the best path.
  • I have a children’s book. How do I find an illustrator. Just like with the first question, there is not one answer that applies to every author.  Depending on your goals and budget, there are a number of ways you can find an illustrator. First, if you pursue the publishing path option, most companies offer illustrations as part of their services. If you don’t want to utilize that option, you can find freelancers on sites like www.elance.com or www.odesk.com. Finally, if you live near a college or university, you might find some talent on those campuses looking for projects. However, you always want to be careful about setting expectations, deadlines, deliverables and payment terms.
  • I have published three books with traditional publishers in the past, but all the editors I worked with are retired or dead. What do I do now? Ok, that was not a common question, but I thought it captured the anxiety and confusion many previsouly published authors are feeling right now. The publishing world has changed and while that can be frustrating, it also means there is more opportunity than ever before. So I told the gentlemen who asked the question that he should pursue self-publishing and agents and publishers would discover him anew.
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agents, Author Solutions, authors, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

Looks like self-publishing will be a hot topic at the Writers Digest West Conference

Writer’s Digest has hosted one of the most respected conferences  in New York City in January for quite some time. This year, they are also holding a writers conference  in October on the West Coast.  In fact, this is the first time this event has been this close to the Pacific. The registration web site gives more details. Here’s what it says:

For the first time ever, Writer’s Digest Conference brings its real-world publishing knowledge, writing inspiration and networking opportunities to a West Coast audience in 2012. Join us in Hollywood to find out how publishing and tech developments affect writers, how you can make your work and your pitch irresistible, and what you can do to get going, get discovered, and get published.

I will be speaking and sitting on a panel at the conference.  In my seminar titled, Seven Secrets of Successful Self Publishing, I will share all I have learned from

I will be speaking about the secrets I share in this e-book. You can download it for 99 cents at http://www.booktango.com if you don’t want to wait for the seminar.

working with authors who have found self publishing to be a very satisfying publishing option.  In addition I will sit on a panel titled, Self Publishing in the Real World – What to Expect, What to Do, and How to Do It.  I am really looking forward to this panel because they have assembled a very diverse group of people who can speak to the topic from different points of view. Here’ s the lineup:

Dana Newman, Attorney and Literary Agent, Dana Newman Literary, LLC, Eric DelaBarre, Writer/Director, Seven Publishing, Brian Felsen, President, BookBaby, Stephen Blake Mettee, CEO/Publisher, The Write Thought Inc. and K.C. Sherwood, Abbott Press Author and winner of the Mark of Quality.

There are a number of other seminars or panels that address the topic of self publishing because clearly it is the topic that is on everyone’s mind. I am really looking forward to my time there and hope to see you in Hollywood as well. Registration information is available on the web site. Just click here for more info.

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agents, Author Solutions, authors, Balboa Press, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

4 things every writer needs to know if they are planning on publishing today

The world has changed for authors which means they have new opportunities and consequently responsibilities.

As you can imagine, with the announcement a few weeks ago about Author Solutions being acquired by the world’s largest publisher, there has been an enormous amount of media interest. This is both a thrilling and confusing time for authors, so I think it is more important than ever for authors to be informed and choose the best option for getting published based on their goals, skills, patience, and budget. My last post suggested there were four paths authors could pursue today, and I laid out the differences among them. But recently, at the end of a very thoughtful and comprehensive interview, I was asked the question, “Is there anything else you would like to say to authors today?” What follows is my response to that question.

Gone are the days of walking to the mailbox and pulling out a pile of rejection letters and wondering if you would ever get published. Today, every author can get publishedand get his or her book into the hands of readers—whether you use a DIY method, assisted self-publishing, or sign with an agent and try to acquire a traditional publishing contract

That means authors have more opportunity than ever before, but they also have more responsibility. And that is not something anyone seems to be talking much about. Whereas before it was the publisher, now it is the author who has the responsibility to set clear goals and a budget. Having clarity about these two areas will help authors make the best decision about which publishing path is best for them. In addition, they also need to have a realistic assessment of the skill and time they have to put to the project.

You can absolutely change your brakes and wash your car for less money if you do it yourself, rather than paying someone to do it for you.  But if you don’t know how to change brakes or you don’t have time to wash your car, you should pay someone to do it for you.  I think the same type of decision-making should be applied to making a publishing decision.

In addition, authors should:

  1. Make sure you have a clear picture of who the audience is for your book.  Saying your goal is to sell to every man, woman, and child on the planet (I had an author tell me that) is not realistic.
  2. Understand your options. DIY, assisted, and traditional publishing all have advantages and drawbacks. Inform yourself. There is plenty of information out there. In fact, that is why we created the Author Learning Center (www.authorlearningcenter.com) and why I published 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors. It’s an ebook on booktango.com  for 99 cents.  We have been told by many authors that both the ALC and the 7 Secrets are very helpful.
  3. Think about your marketing while you are writing your manuscript, and know there are no guarantees with marketing. Just ask any marketing director at any company in the world. You do some things that you think will work and they don’t, but you also do some things that far exceed your expectations. The key is to be consistent and experiment. Not everything is going to work, but if you do nothing, you don’t stand a chance.
  4. This industry-changing shift in publishing does not mean everyone will be successful, but it does mean everyone will have the opportunity to be successful. Honestly, I think that is the most exciting thing about the time in which we live. At ASI, we are simply providing the opportunity, whether you want to publish for free with Booktango or use an assisted self-publishing imprint like AuthorHouse or iUniverse or publish with an imprint tied to a traditional publisher like Westbow Press and Thomas Nelson or Balboa Press and Hay House. Not that long ago, authors only had one choice: find an agent and pray they could sell the manuscript. That has all changed, and I think that is amazingly exciting.

Too many authors publish a book with the expectation that the world is just sitting, waiting for their manuscript to get finished, and once they make it available for sale, the world will come to them. The reality is, being an author takes an informed, consistent effort, but when you get those e-mails from readers that tell you how much they enjoyed your book or found it helpful, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

Certainly, there are economic considerations when it comes to publishing, but I think the one common goal that unites all authors is they want to impact people with their writing. That’s why those motivations I mentioned on our call are so key. Writing to help others or telling a story that has to be told or supporting a business or ministry are worthy pursuits because they impact people.

As I say to authors all the time, I don’t know how many books you will sell if you publish, but I know how many you will sell if you don’t. I don’t know how many people you will impact with your book if you publish, but I know how many you will impact if you don’t. And to all the naysayers and fearmongers, I would like say: quit bickering about methods, and let’s encourage authors to seize the opportunity.

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

4 important things all authors can learn from Seth Godin’s latest publishing plans

Last week, Seth Godin, author, thought leader and publishing innovator announced he was returning to his traditional publisher, Portfolio, to publish his next three books. At the same time, he was launching a new experiment using Kickstarter to measure interest among his followers for his new book.  The text from the Wall Street Journal article that covered this announcement is copied below.  It is worth the read.

…his hybrid approach—which essentially supplements his publisher’s efforts with his own promotional work—could well become an industry template because it eliminates much of the uncertainty for booksellers and publishers deciding which titles to bet on.Godin has long been one creating new models for publishing..

I find this change in direction a bit surprising and also instructive to any author thinking putting a book in the market in the new world of publishing. Here’s some of things I think we can all learn from this latest development.

Seth Godin returns to his traditional publisher.

  1. A big platform does not always guarantee book sales–Even with Godin’s following, some of his self published books struggled to achieve the sales he hoped for. It wasn’t because of a lack of effort or even publicity, but readers purchasing habits are hard to predict. I find at times, first time authors believe if they do everything they read, it guarantees success as if selling books is like a math problem. Now that doesn’t mean you should not follow sage marketing advice, build a platform and get creative in your marketing efforts, but it doesn’t mean you will always have big sales.
  2. Being an author is as much about the journey as the destination–Despite this change of strategy by Godin, I don’t think he has failed in any way. His decisions and risk taking have helped fuel discussion and debate about how authors and publishers and readers and agents will relate in this new world. If you only measure your impact as an author by book sales, you miss the point. A book gives you a platform from which you can impact people’s lives. That is what makes becoming an author such a worthwhile pursuit.
  3. Publishers and authors will share the risk together going forward–Whether it is through self publishing or through ideas like Godin’s current Kickstarter plan, authors and publishers are each going to have some skin in the game when it comes to bringing books to market. The days of publishing companies putting up all the money are likely gone except for a few exceptional authors.
  4. Creativity is still one of our most valuable resources–Godin has always been willing to try new things and been very creative about how he promotes his books. We can all learn from that. Take some risks. Some will work. Some will not. That’s OK as long as you don’t take a second mortgage to promote your book. And when in doubt, remember point number two in this post.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Giving Book Readers a Say

Seth Godin Returns to Old Publisher, but Measures Fan Interest Via Kickstarter

By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG

Seth Godin, the best-selling business author who jettisoned his longtime publisher Portfolio in August 2010 in favor of selling his books directly to his readers, is now returning to Portfolio and will publish three new titles in January.

Bloomberg NewsAuthor Seth Godin says testing reader interest could reduce risks.

But Mr. Godin, a marketing iconoclast known for titles like “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable,” is taking an unorthodox path. A champion of new approaches to business, Mr. Godin decided to test online whether readers would be interested in his new books before the works actually hit the shelves, a decision that he says could make publishing and selling books considerably less risky in the future.

For Mr. Godin, his hybrid approach—which essentially supplements his publisher’s efforts with his own promotional work—could well become an industry template because it eliminates much of the uncertainty for booksellers and publishers deciding which titles to bet on.

“The pressure on the bookstore and the publisher is to pick stuff that will work,” said Mr. Godin. “I’m saying ‘Hey, Mr. Bookstore Owner, the world has spoken. There are lots of people talking about these books.’ “

Mr. Godin began his publishing experiment in June on Kickstarter, a website that enables people to solicit funds from individual investors. Before agreeing to his new deal with Portfolio, an imprint of Pearson PSO -0.50%PLC’s Penguin Group, Mr. Godin hoped to gauge interest from readers in the three new projects he had in mind. To potential backers, he presented a variety of pledge packages—that is, different levels of financial support for the projects bring perks for individuals, such as previews of the books and copies autographed by the author.

The lead title he offered is “The Icarus Deception,” which he describes online as looking at “how our economy rewards people who are willing to stand up and stand out.” There is also an illustrated book for adults titled “V is for Vulnerable” adapted from one section of “Icarus,” and a compendium of previous writings.

The Kickstarter campaign began on June 18 at 5:50 a.m. By 8:15 a.m., he’d reached his pledge goal of $40,000. By the end of the next day, he had exceeded his personal goal of pledgers signing up for 10,000 copies.

Mr. Godin’s followers continue to sign on to the Kickstarter campaign. As of Sunday at 1 p.m., the pledges totaled $232,000. Since the pledge window remains open until July 17, the total could move substantially higher.

Addressing the response to his new project, Mr. Godin, said, “What this shows is that if you build a tribe, you can use it to calmly build a publishing career that doesn’t involve a roulette wheel experience where you only have a week to succeed.”

Mr. Godin’s experiment comes as publishers and authors alike seek out new ways to build stronger direct ties with readers.

“You have to go direct to consumers today because it’s gotten harder to get attention from general media,” said Dee Dee De Bartlo, a principal in the marketing and publicity firm February Partners. She herself is taking a direct approach in marketing a new title from Rodale Press, “The Starch Solution,” which preaches the benefits of a plant-based diet. Her firm is targeting self-proclaimed vegans on Facebook.

Ms. De Bartlo thinks Mr. Godin’s hybrid approach may appeal to other authors. “It’s hard to convince publishers to take on some authors unless you can prove you have a fan base,” she said. “This is one way to do it.”

After Mr. Godin left Portfolio in the summer of 2010, he launched a joint venture imprint with Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +0.09%called the Domino Project, which published a dozen titles. Among them was Mr. Godin’s “We Are All Weird,” which generated disappointing sales, results Mr. Godin later attributed to his own failure to aggressively promote the book. Late last year Mr. Godin called it quits, writing on his blog that the effort was “not a lifelong commitment to being a publisher of books.”

As for Portfolio, it believes that the early copies that Mr. Godin sold will generate wider consumer interest when the book is distributed to stores and online.

“Before we published ‘Purple Cow,’ Seth self-published it and sold 10,000 copies,” said Adrian Zackheim, Portfolio’s publisher. “It went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. The idea is that the core base will start talking about the book, and that will spread to non-core readers.”

Kickstarter Pitch

Author Seth Godin is seeking fan pledges via Kickstarter:

For $4 or more: Pledgers get a digital preview edition of ‘The Icarus Deception.’

$49 or more: four copies of ‘Icarus’ plus access to the preview digital edition.

$111 or more: eight hardcover copies of ‘Icarus'; two signed copies of ‘V is for Vulnerable'; a limited-edition essay collection; digital preview.

$1,150 or more: Mr. Godin will interview each participant and write a brief account of an artistic accomplishment that will be included in ‘Icarus.’ Pledgers also get eight hardcover copies of ‘Icarus'; two signed copies of ‘V is for Vulnerable'; an essay collection; the digital preview.

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