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, 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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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, Indie book publishing, self publishing

Who’s Who of comics praise Carl Reiner’s new self-published book, I Remember Me

Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks and Jay Leno are just some of the renowned comedians who have praised the new book from Carl Reiner, titled, I Remember Me.  Now 90 yearsCarl Reiner, I Remember Me old, Reiner’s work as a comedian, actor, director, TV writer and author has garnered numerous accolades, including twelve Emmy wins and one Grammy award.  With such a resume, certainly Mr. Reiner could have a secured a traditional publishing contract, but because of the speed to market advantages of self publishing and desire to make sure his story got told his way, he self-published his new book with AuthorHouse.

In this book, Reiner shares ninety years of love and laughter, highs and lows, mistakes and triumphs. Told with a warm heart and an occasional touch of nostalgia, he draws from decades of family, friends and fun to illuminate his life and career as one of America’s most loved and memorable figures. Stories range from hilarious to touching.  For example, there’s a chapter dedicated to Rinnie the dog who unfortunately mistakes a skunk for a cat and a heart wrenching recollection describing the day of his wife’s passing, plus much more.  It may sound cliche, but at times you will laugh. At times, you will tear up.

If you have a gift card, or e-reader, spend some time with I Remember Me. It will brighten your holiday.

Mr. Reiner could have a secured a traditional publishing contract, but because of the speed to market advantages of self publishing and desire to make sure his story got told his way, he self-published his new book with AuthorHouse.

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Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book marketing, Editing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

You never know what can happen when you publish your book, but sometimes it is pretty cool.

A young woman used the book to let her Mom know she was going to be a grandma for the first time.

A young woman used the book to let her Mom know she was going to be a grandma for the first time.

If you have read this blog, you know I have published a children’s book titled Eli the Stable Boy. It is a story I told my twenty-year old daughters when they were young. They strongly nudged me to publish it so I did and dedicated it to them. They thought that was pretty cool, but recently I had a woman tell me about how the book was used in her  life that made me even more glad I published.

Finding out you are going to be a  grandma for the first time. During a family Christmas gathering a woman who knows me was handed a gift box to open. In it, was a copy of the Eli book given to her by her oldest married daughter and son-in-law. She later admitted when she opened the box, she thought to herself it was an interesting gift because she knew me, but she wasn’t overly excited, and did not want to appear unappreciative. So she turned to the front of the book to see if I signed it and she saw these words written:  “Grandma, will you read this to me when I get older?”.

It took a moment, but then it hit her. Her daughter was telling her she was pregnant with her first grand child. She immediately dropped the book and started screaming with joy and jumped up to hug her daughter. Now mind you, no one else had read those words and I am sure they thought she was over reacting to getting a kids book for Christmas, but once she stopped her exultation she and her daughter let everyone in on the secret.

OK, I know the royalty on the sale of that one book is not going to change my life, but stories like this one make me glad I invested the time and money to publish. Do you have any stories like this one where you have heard from readers as to how they used your book or how it impacted them. If so, leave them in the comment section and I will post the best ones.

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

The 4 Paths to Publishing: Understanding your options for getting your book into the hands of readers.

Authors today have more ways to get published than ever before, and while that is exciting news, it can also be the source of much confusion. In fact, many authors are overwhelmed with the seemingly endless menu of options for publishing.   They are also not sure which is the best way to get their book to market.  To clarify the options that exist today and help authors make a discerning decision about their publishing choice, I wrote a white paper called, The Four Paths to Publishing. 

Here is an excerpt that lays out the premise for the paper.

The past four years have brought about more upheaval in the publishing industry than the previous 400 years combined. From the time Gutenberg invented the printing press until the introduction of the paperback about 70 years ago, there weren’t many groundbreaking innovations. However, in the last few years, the publishing world has undergone an indie revolution similar to what occurred in the film and music industries.

With the introduction of desktop publishing, print-on-demand technology, and the Internet as a direct-to-consumer distribution channel, publishing became a service consumers could purchase, instead of an industry solely dependent on middlemen (agents) and buyers (traditional publishers). In addition, the exponential growth of e-books and digital readers has accelerated change, because physical stores are no longer the only way for authors to connect with readers.

While these changes have made now the best time in history to be an author, they have also made it one of the most confusing times to be an author. Not that long ago, there was only one way to get published: find an agent; hope he or she would represent you; pray they sell your book proposal to a publisher; trust the publisher to get behind the book and believe in the project; and hope that readers would go to their local bookstore and buy your book. This description of traditional publishing (or what some now call legacy publishing) is still a viable path for authors today, but now there are three other distinct paths an author can pursue to get published: DIY, General Contractor, and Publishing Package. Each of these could be appropriately labeled as self publishing, but each offers distinct advantages.

It is available to download for free on the Author Solutions web site or by clicking here.  Use the comment section to let me know what you think. Do you agree with my assessment of the industry? Do you find the identification of the four paths helpful? I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the paper.

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