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 selling, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

My 2nd most popular post: The 7 key elements of a great book cover

One of the great things about analytics on a blog is they tell you what people are reading most and what search terms they use to find your blog.  My post popular blog post by far is The 5 Essential Elements of Every Good Story. However, the second most popular post is the one I am reposting below, The 7 key elements of a great book cover. Hopefully you will find this helpful and you don’t even have to search for it.

Along with an eye-catching design, this cover employs a great subhead to help the reader know the benefit of reading this book.

Along with an eye-catching design, this cover employs a great subhead to help the reader know the benefit of reading this book.

The 7 key elements of a great book cover

Do first impressions matter? Of course, they do. For your book, your cover will make the first impression on readers. It is your three-second introduction to the reading public. When readers are browsing the bookstore shelf or the internet,  your book cover needs to grab their attention, but also make a promise as to what readers will find on the pages inside.  So here are seven elements of cover design you should  give thought and attention to as you get ready to publish.

  1. Your title. Place yourself in the reader’s shoes when making your final decision for your book’s title. Will your title make sense to the reader? Is it easy to remember? When choosing your title make sure it conveys your message and fits the design you have in mind. As a writer, try not to get too caught up in creating a clever title, when a straightforward title will do. Creativity can sometimes interfere with clarity.
  2. The subtitle. If needed, elaborate on your book’s subject with a subtitle. A good subtitle provides additional information through a descriptive line which compliments your title. Include any searchable keywords that are not in your title  in your subtitle if appropriate.
  3. Cover design and layout. Your title should be legible at a glance and you should avoid small or faint text as well as busy backgrounds. Select a font or two for your text, staying away from decorative fonts that are hard to read. Choose a strong image that helps people remember your book and integrates with your title. A single image usually impacts more than multiple images. Remember your image should not overwhelm your title, so beware of overpowering your words with pictures. Above all, make sure all text is easy to read.
  4. Back cover or panel copy. This should be a short summary of your book that gives readers a preview or teaser for what to expect when they read it. It should not be about why your wrote the book or a table of contents. It should work like an ad to draw in potential readers.
  5. In this soon-to-be released book, the cover draws the reader in and hints as to the story of the book.

    In this soon-to-be released book, the cover draws the reader in and hints as to the story of the book.

    Endorsements and reviews. Endorsements and reviews help add to the credibility of your book. So if you have endorsements from influential people or reviews, think about including them on your back cover or jacket flap if you have a hard cover edition. If you have an endorsement from a well-known personality you may want to consider putting a mention on your front cover.

  6. The spine. Make it simple, easy to read, and viewable sideways. In most cases, you do not want to include your subtitle due to space limitations.
  7. Your author bio. Briefly state who you are and your most recent accomplishments. Try to keep your author description around three sentences and establish your credentials if you are writing a non-fiction book and your personality if you are writing a fiction book. Readers love to know things about the author. It helps them connect with the book in a different way. Use your author bio to help readers feel like they know something about you.

You have likely spent months and maybe even years working on your manuscript. Make sure you take the time to give your cover the attention it deserves. After all it is the first impression most readers will have of your book.

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

7 things you need to know to write the best title for your book

Choosing a title for your book is certainly a creative decision, but it is also your first marketing decision because your book title can greatly help or hinder the sale of your book. While most authors usually have a title in mind when they first start writing their manuscript,  it is worth considering the following tips before you select a final title for your book.

Short can be sweet…and memorable

Short titles are usually the best.

Short titles are usually the best.

Think about the book titles you remember. I suspect many if not have short titles. So try to come up with a title for your book that has no more than four or five words at most. For whatever reason, it seems like a lot of titles have three words in them. The Hunger Games and The Tipping Point are examples. Keep that in mind as you craft your title.

“Your book title is your first marketing decision”

Avoid words that are obscure, hard to pronounce or spell

Sometimes in an attempt to be provocative authors will choose words that are unusual in an attempt to standout. Don’t be tempted. Obscure words are great for scoring points in Scrabble, but for book titles.

Give readers a hint about what they will find in the book

Again some authors will attempt to be coy thinking they should be obscure or provocative and tease readers with the title. Not a good plan. Make it memorable but don’t confuse readers or make them guess what the book may be about.

Know your genre

While it is important to be unique, it is also important to understand what the latest trends are and what is appropriate for your genre. You can learn that by looking at on-line retailers, the titles of a respected publisher in your genre or visiting your local bookstore or library.

Love EmHave a clear subtitle for your non-fiction book

If you are writing a non-fiction book a subtitle can really help readers understand what they will get from reading the book. A great example is a book published by Berrett Koehler titled, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, with the subtitle, Getting Good People to Stay. This is a great example of a catchy short title, with a great subtitle.

Do your research

Once you have a title or titles you like, do some research to see if there are books out there in your genre with the same or a similar title. I have been surprised over the years, how many authors chose a title without doing a simple internet search on an online retailer to see if that title is already being used.

Ask your readers what they think

If you have viable options for a title, you may be able to engage your readers to determine your best title. If you have a blog or mailing list, you can present the title candidates to potential readers and let them vote. Along with learning which title like the most, you also help market the new book before it’s available.

Do you have any other tips you would like to share? Leave a comment and I will post it.

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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, Publishing, self publishing, writing

From idea to published book: Advice for aspiring authors from Westbow Press author Rob Wingerter

Rob Wingerter did not set out to be an author. In fact, like many first-time authors these days, he took a circuitous route to getting published.  He has spent the better part of his life and career as a partner with a global accounting firm specializing in tax matters. Along the way, he was led to open a retreat center called Mahseh.

You can read about and watch a video where he explains his journey on his blog, www.robwingerter.com. However, what I also found interesting was his advice to aspiring authors. Rob wrote his book, Regaining Your Spiritual Poise as a means to inform people on the topic of retreat and to establish his credibility on this subject.  Along the way, he learned some things about what it takes to get from idea to holding a book in your hands. In this 90 second video, he talks about his process and  provides some  tips on how to stay on task and set yourself up to keep moving toward your goal. I think you will find his perspective helpful.

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