authors, Editing, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Treat Your Book Like a Start-up: How Beta-Readers Can Help You Launch Your Book Successfully

BookCountry-logoLucy Silag, community and engagement manager at Book Country, has written a very helpful whitepaper outlining the benefits of including beta-readers in your writing process. Book Country is an online writing and publishing community that is a division of Penguin Random House. Lucy is a graduate of the fiction program at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is also the author of the Beautiful Americans novels for young adults (Penguin/Razorbill) and has written nonfiction for magazines and blogs. What follows is an excerpt from her whitepaper, which you can obtain when you register on the Book Country site.

 What Is a “Beta-Reader”?

The idea of a “beta-reader” comes from the parlance of start-up companies. Before a company launches a new website, they will ask web-savvy “beta-users” to use their site and give feedback on it. The company then has a chance to improve their site before they make it widely available to the public, which helps them to make a better product and avoid bad publicity.

A “beta-reader,” then, is someone who reads your book and gives you feedback on it before you begin the publishing process. This helps you to see how readers would react to your book if you tried to sell your current version to them.

How do beta-readers help writers?

Beta-readers help writers to figure out which parts of their books are working and which parts need to be revised. Often, writers can’t see what’s not working in a manuscript unless someone points it out to them.  Additionally, a beta-reader can make suggestions for how to improve your book’s cover, marketing copy, and even your author bio.

Get a copy of this helpful whitepaper at BookCountry.com

Get a copy of this helpful whitepaper at BookCountry.com

Who Is the Right Beta-Reader for You?

Here are a few things to look for in your ideal beta-readers:

  • Do they read a lot of books, especially contemporary books? Are they aware of current publishing trends and bestselling writers?
  • Are they well-read in the genre that you are writing in? For example, if you are writing romance, you’ll want a beta-reader who has read many romance novels. They’ll be able to tell you how your book measures up against other writers of the genre.
  • Do they write too? A writer will be able to analyze your book in a way that goes beyond what the average reader will offer in terms of feedback. A beta-reader who is also a writer can tell you not just where you have made typos or copyediting mistakes but can also offer suggestions for how to improve voice, character development, plot, setting, and pacing.

Finding Beta-Readers through Online Workshopping

Online workshopping has become a convenient, low-risk, and free way for writers to get feedback on their work. Often called “online writing communities,” these sites are like social networks for writers and no-commitment writing classes all in one. Simply join the online writing community and exchange feedback with writers from the comfort of your own home.

What should you look for in an online writing community?

  • The community should have a fair system for making sure that members are actually reviewing one another, rather than just posting their own books for review.
  • Make sure the community has writers in your genre.
  • Writers reviewing manuscripts in a community should be exchanging detailed, honest feedback, and offering suggestions on how to make your book better.
  • You should be able to post new drafts of your book and archive previous versions of the manuscript so that you can access them as you revise.
  • The community should have credible ties to the publishing industry, so that you can trust the opinions and advice of the site’s content.
  • The community should be open to traditional publishing and self-publishing.
  • The community should be focused on helping one another.

What Kind of Feedback Makes Your Book Better?

A writer needs honest, detailed feedback about these writing issues:

  • plot
  • setting
  • character development
  • voice
  • continuity
  • setting
  • point of view
  • pacing
  • dialogue
  • clarity in specific lines or passages of the prose

Since so much of finding an audience and selling a book is about how a book is positioned in the marketplace, it’s also important to get feedback about how your book compares to other books in its genre, and whether the way it’s presented (for example, the book’s cover and title) makes sense to a reader. A writer should get feedback on his or her synopsis too.

Workshopping your book with beta-readers can be the difference between a great idea and a great book. Follow the example of successful start-up companies, and find beta-readers to help you launch your book successfully.

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Author Solutions, authors, Publishing, self publishing, writing

4 Paths to Publishing Speech Now Free to the Public at Los Angeles Valley College

Ad-ASLLC-FourPaths_Oct18On Saturday, October 18, I am going to be giving the keynote address at the Digital Author and Indie/Self Publishing Conference at Los Angeles Valley College.  While attendees will be paying to attend the conference, they have decided to open my 4 Paths to Publishing session up to the public who can attend free of charge. The talk will take place in Monarch Hall to accommodate the number of people they expect to attend. Tickets are required so they can gauge how many to expect. You can request them by clicking on this link.

If you are in the Los Angeles area or know someone who is interested in learning more about the publishing options available to authors today, do plan to attend or pass this on. I look forward to seeing you there.

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

Being blind since birth hasn’t stopped Craig McFarlane for doing anything including publishing a book.

         There can be many obstacles to publishing a book, but for Craig MacFarlane, being blind was not one of them. In his book, Craig MacFarlane Hasn’t Heard of You Either,  he tells his remarkable and inspirational story of how sightlessness  has not limited him in the least.Craig MacFarlane
 Blinded at two years of age as the result of an accident, Craig has gone on to become the the World’s Most Celebrated Totally Blind Athlete among his many achievements. He has also used  his athletic accomplishments  to establish himself in the “sighted” world and as the platform for an impressive 30 year career in the world of business.
        I think you will find this interview inspirational and motivational.

 

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Author Solutions, authors, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

From blog to book: Westbow Press author Mark Eckel tells how he did it.

I just need time to thinkI speak to bloggers all the time who generate content on a regular basis and contemplate creating a book from their blog, but they never quite seem to get the goal.  That’s why I was pleased to speak with Mark Eckel, who has turned his blog content into a book titled, I Just Need Time to Think: Reflective Study as Christian Practice, which was published by Westbow Press.

Mark (meckel@lbc.edu) is Professor of Leadership, Education, and Discipleship for Capital Seminary & Graduate School.  Indianapolis,  Dr. Eckel has written and published curricula, peer-reviewed journal articles, periodical essays, book and movie reviews, as well as his weekly blog Warp and Woof.

I was curious to find out how he accomplished a goal many bloggers talk about but never accomplish.  I think you will find his answers to my questions  very helpful and motivating.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Compulsion. I was induced and coerced into putting pen to paper. As a Christian I know that being compelled to write comes from The Spirit of God who lives in me. In our culture, the natural means for writing is what has come to be known as “blogging.” I was inspired from the inside to write, inspired from the outside to blog.

What have you found most enjoyable about maintaining a blog?

Everything. I enjoy all of life and revel in the whole of the world. The title for someone like me in a university setting is “interdisciplinarian.” I believe everything crisscrosses everything else creating a unity we know is there but cannot see. A blog allows me to explore everything I read, see, hear, and do. Enthusiasm about knowledge and excitement about sharing what I have discovered with others brings a smile to my face.

What made you decide to turn your blog into a book?

Credibility. The immediacy of blogging is clear: information floods our world so we can access the data instantaneously. A book has the power of physical, visible influence. Rightly or wrongly, people gauge some authority based on what a person can show they have accomplished. As an academic I wanted to have three books available for people who would demonstrate my ability in reflective study, movie review, and teaching-learning.

Why was it important to have your content as a book and not just as a blog?

Credentialing. As a teacher for over 30 years I have had to document the outcomes of my craft. As an author, I now have a record for others to assess. By writing a book I am holding myself accountable to others who can now critique my work as an academic. But I am also answering questions that everyone ponders in one way or another. A book says to people, “You cared enough to organize your thoughts about a subject so that we could read them in one whole book.”

 What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

Eckel blog

Author Mark Eckel took his blog http://www.warpandwoof.org and turned into a book from his post.

 Write. Just write. Don’t wait, write. Write when you want to, write when you don’t want to. Write now, write then. Set up a time that is best for you to write, but then, write. For me, I have the most creative energy in the morning. I normally wake up by 4 a.m. or before. I stay away from email and internet. I read at least 40 to 50 pages of periodicals or books. I take notes. I write while I’m reading and note-taking. But my counsel is always the same: write, write, write.

What advice would you give someone who wants to turn his or her blog into a book?

 Plan. A book is very different from a blog. If you read my website (www.warpandwoof.org) you will see I write about a lot of different subjects. But when I’m planning to create a book I have to ask myself my purpose for my subject. For instance, when I was writing my current book When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice (Westbow, September, 2014 release) I wrote weekly for six months toward the book. My plan about writing a book about movies was first generated through my blog.

 What has been most surprising to you once you published your book?

I Just Need Time to Think: Reflective Study as Christian Practice (Westbow, 2014) gave me vigor to write again. I did not expect to want to put another book together immediately but I was energized to do When the Lights Go Down and am now planning the third in the series Education is Ownership: Teaching-Learning as Christian Practice (working title, forthcoming). Instead of being tired of writing, I want to write more!

 Anything else you would want to tell readers?

Read. If you don’t read you won’t write. You can read a tablet, laptop, or hold the spine of a book in your hand—but read. Read everything you can get your hands on about your passion. Read people who disagree with you. Read authors you don’t know. Read to learn more and understand by reading, how much more you don’t know. Reading should be a humbling experience. Now I want to tell people about what I read. If I want to write, I have to read.

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Author Solutions, authors, Editing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

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

In my last post, I suggested that spell check does not take the place of a good editor.  In fact, it will overlook errors that an editor will catch. I gave these examples and asked you to see if you could find the mistakes.

  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.

Here are the corrections. quick edit of errors second attempt

 How many did you catch?

Also if you are looking for other information about editing, just simply type editing into the search box on the blog and you will find some helpful posts.

 

 

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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, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Free webinar to help you fulfill your New Year’s publishing resolution!

Register for the free webinar at the Author Learning Center.

Register for the free webinar at the Author Learning Center.

Along with losing weight, start exercising and quit smoking, one of the more common New Year’s resolutions is publish a book.  However, for most first-time authors, that task may seem confusing or unachievable. It does not have to be.

On Tuesday, January 7th at 7:30 pm EST, I want to give you some tips on how you can fulfill your New Year’s publishing resolution and make 2014 the year you become a published author.  Through the Author Learning Center, I will offer a FREE webinar titled, “6 tips on how to get published in 2014″.   Along with presenting helpful hints to get you to your goal, there will be a time for you to ask questions.  While there is no charge for the webinar, registrations are limited, so don’t wait to sign up.  Click on the link below and I look forward to hearing from you next Tuesday.

Register for the free webinar.

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