Author Learning Center, authors, book marketing, book selling, Hollywood, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

The good, the bad, the scary and the future of book publishing

Recently I had an opportunity to participate on a panel and I loved the title: The good, the bad, the scary and the future. It caused me to reflect on the state of the industry both in terms of where we are now and what can we look forward to in the near future. Here are my thoughts from that panel. See if you agree. If you have any other ideas you would like to share, use the comment section to do that.

The Good

Publishing options—there continue to be more ways for authors to publish books and get them into the hands of readers. Services, formats and distribution opportunities all continue to increase.

Connecting with readers through social media—savvy authors are taking advantage of social media to find potential readers and have them share about the book with their connections. Technology like Meet Edgar and Bookgrabrr have made it much easier.

Authors aren’t as isolated—writing a book is a solitary activity, but the journey doesn’t have to be. Platforms like The Author Learning Center help authors get connected with others who can provide help and encouragement along the way.

Still Alice

Still Alice started as a self-published book and became an Oscar winning movie.

Hollywood is more interested in ever in books—I think I read somewhere that there are 28 movies being released in the near future based on books.  That means more opportunity for authors no matter how they publish.

The Bad

Anybody can get published—with self-publishing still growing, it means almost anyone can become an author. That means there are more books available to readers than ever before so it has never been more important to have a well written book and compelling story.

Competing for attention is challenging—there are so many things vying for our attention that it is more important than ever to have a targeted marketing campaign.

The Scary

How hard it is to write a good book—I think people who start out with an idea underestimate how much work and skill it takes to write a good book. That is why it is more important than ever that a writer be committed to the craft and business of being an author.

….it is more important than ever that a writer be committed to the craft and business of being an author.

Reading for pleasure in some countries is declining—studies have confirmed fewer people are reading as a leisure activity. There are still some exceptions. Book clubs create power readers. Emerging countries seem to be cultivating more voracious readers, but in a number of established countries, the potential customer base could be shrinking.

Opportunities with bookstores and traditional publishers are waning in some markets and genres—As operating bookstores becomes more challenging and traditional publishers consolidate, there can be fewer opportunities for authors. That is not always the case depending on the market and type of book, but there has definitely been a decline in opportunities from even 10 years ago.

The Future

Self-publishing will continue to grow—since we first drew pictures on a cave wall, we have always wanted our ideas and stories to have permanence. Because of that I believe self-publishing will continue to expand to more people and more countries.

Hollywood will find more first time and self-published authors—as the demand for new ideas and stories continues to grow to feed the number of cable and streaming channels, Hollywood will expand where they look for ideas.  Movies like The Martian starring Matt Damon and Still Alice for which Julianne Moore won the Oscar started as self-published books which I believe opens the door for other authors who have not published traditionally.

Book shops that become a community focused will thrive—while bookstores have been challenged in some markets, we have also seen a number of retailers flourish who use their store as a place to gather people around ideas and events.

Author Learning Center, authors, Indie book publishing, self publishing

6 Tips on How to Fulfill Your Publishing Resolution

It’s that time of year when many people make resolutions and set goals they want to accomplish in the coming year. For some, that includes writing and publishing a book, but they are not sure where to begin or how to realize their dream.  Simply put, many people don’t have an idea or plan on how to get from idea to manuscript to holding a copy of their book.

From my own experience and from the thousands of conversations I have had with authors at book fairs, trade shows, and writer’s conferences, I’ve found that there are six things that successful authors do to get published. So if publishing a book is on your resolution list, here are six tips to help you get that manuscript off your computer and into the hands of readers.

“The first and most important thing you need to do is set a date when you want to hold a copy of your book.”

  • Set a date when you want to hold the first copy of your book. The first and most important thing you need to do is set a date when you want to hold a copy of your book. That’s because research shows that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. Your date can be just a point in the future you choose, but it may also be an important event, such as a speaking engagement, holiday, or even birthday party. In fact, one author I worked with had the goal of getting his book done by his 50th birthday so he could give a copy to everyone who attended the party. That date became one of the key motivations for him to finish his book.
  • Create a timeline with the milestones you need to pass to reach your publishing goal. The second thing you need to do is create a schedule with the tasks that must be completed to meet your deadline. In other words, you need to understand what is needed to get from where you are to where you want to be and set appropriate milestones along the way. If you already understand how to get a book published, you may be able to do this on your own, but most authors need to work with someone who knows the publishing process to make this happen. Your timeline should include important steps like completing your manuscript, editing your manuscript, submitting your manuscript, and allowing time for both the cover and interior design. Of course, the timeline for the book will depend on the type of book you are writing. For example, a children’s book will take less time to edit than a lengthy historical fiction novel, but you would need to make sure you allocate the appropriate time for illustrations.

“….most of us can write more in one good hour than in three hours when we are not ready to write.”

  • Determine the best time for you to write and make an appointment on your calendar for that time. My third tip is to determine the best time for you to write and block out that time on your calendar. What I’ve learned from my own experience and conversations with multiple authors is that most of us can write more in one good hour than in three hours when we are not ready to write. I recall one conversation with an author who has published more than twenty books, some traditionally and some self-published. I was having lunch with she and her husband and I asked her if there was a time that was better than others for her to write. Before I could finish the sentence, her husband blurted out, “five thirty in the morning.” By his own observation he had noticed that was the most productive time for his wife to write. If you want to get work done, it’s very important to know what time of the day you write most productively and make sure that time stays available for you to work on your manuscript.
  • Make yourself accountable to someone. The fourth recommendation I have is to be accountable to someone. Share your goal and milestones with someone who will encourage you and help you stay on task. It could be a friend, a spouse, an editor, an agent, or a publishing consultant. Fact is, most of us work better when we have someone checking in and reminding us of our deadlines and research proves that out. In the same study I cited earlier, the researchers also concluded if you share your goals with another you increase your odds of reaching them. They call it having a “partner in believing”.


    Setting a date when you want to hold a copy of your book is a key to getting to your goal.

  • Start planning your promotion before you finish your manuscript. Now, this may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but with the advent of social media and the other opportunities we have to communicate, you can have people anticipating the launch of your book long before you finish your manuscript. One of the key things you must do to promote your book successfully is identify your audience. For whom is your book intended, and who might actually enjoy reading it? This is a seemingly small thing, but it’s very important, because it lays the foundation for promoting your book. I asked an author one time who the audience was for his book, and he very seriously looked at me and said, “Every man, woman, and child living on this planet.” While his ambition is admirable, he is setting a completely unrealistic goal. Defining your audience is the foundation to a good promotional plan.
  • Plan an event to celebrate the publication of your book. Many people start writing a book, but far fewer get to the goal of publishing, so when you do, it is time to celebrate. It’s actually quite fun to think about it when you’re doing the hard work of editing and revisions and proofreading. You might want to mark the occasion by holding a book signing at a bookstore, but you can also be creative. Depending on your book, you may want to host it at a kitchen store if you have a cookbook, or a church if you have a spiritual book, or a school if you have a children’s book. Just be sure you take time to celebrate your accomplishment no matter the venue.

If you found this information helpful, I would suggest you also look at The Author Learning Center to help you on your journey. There are tools and expert advice at your fingertips to help make 2018 the year you become a published author.

Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

5 free webinars every aspiring author should watch

As part of my role with Author Solutions, I have the opportunity to give and participate in numerous webinars for writers and authors for The Author Learning Center, Hay House and iUniverse to name a few. I always enjoy the experience, but I have to tell you I think some of the best webinars available to authors are on the Archway Publishing website.

Some of the best free webinars for authors are available on the Archway Publishing web site.

Some of the best free webinars for authors are available on the Archway Publishing web site

Full disclosure: I am always involved with approving the topics.and sometimes talk with the presenter to help shape the content, but each time I am always thoroughly impressed with the content and the topics that Simon and Schuster makes available to authors through Archway.

Here are the webinars that you can access for free to learn more about what it takes to publish a better book and market it more effectively.

  1. Secrets of an Acquisitions Editor – How To Get The Attention of a Traditional Publisher-Presenter: Michael Szezeran, Editor at Simon & Schuster
  2. Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make–Presenter: Abby Zidle, Senior Editor at Gallery Books and Pocket Books
    from Simon & Schuster
  3. Four Keys To A Killer Cover–Presenter:Jason Heuer, Associate Art Director at Simon & Schuster
  4. Best Practices For Authors on Facebook–Presenter: Susan B. Katz, Author & Strategic Manager at Facebook
  5. How To Capture Attention On Twitter–Presenter: Andrew Fitzgerald, Twitter Media Team
Author Solutions, authors, Editing, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

6 tips to make sure you fulfill your New Year’s resolution to publish your book!

These tips will you get from manuscript to published author this year.

These tips will you get from manuscript to published author this year.

This is the time when people set goals and make resolutions for the coming year.  If publish a book is on your list, here are some suggestions to help you make sure 2015 is the year you become a published author.

Set a date when you want to hold a copy of your book.  In all the years I have worked with self-published authors, I have found that picking a date for when you want your book available is absolutely critical. If an author works with a traditional publisher, there is always a release date set by the publisher. That determines when the manuscript needs to be finished by.  When you self-publish, you need to set your own “release date”. Otherwise I find too many other distractions get in the way of actually finishing the manuscript. Now this date can be an actual event such as a speaking engagement or a book signing or you can just pick a day. But without a day circled on the calendar, it is likely you will never get to your goal.

When you self-publish, you need to set your own “release date”.

Build a timeline to get your goal. Once you have a date when you want to hold a copy of your book in your hand, you then need to build a realistic timeline to get your manuscript to published book.  Start with that date and work backwards with these key milestones in mind.

  • Complete the manuscript.
  • Time for editing.
  • Time for revisions based on editor suggestions.
  • Illustration or image creation if applicable.
  • Cover and page design.
  • Review and approval of cover and galleys.
  • Distribution to online and e-book retailers.

If you are familiar with the publishing process, you can probably build this timeline on your own. If you are not, then you will likely need help from a publishing consultant or supported self publishing company.

Put writing appointments on your calendar.  Most every author I have spoken with confirms there is a best time during the day for them to write. In other words, they are more productive when they write at certain times than others. For you it may be early in the morning or late at night. It doesn’t much matter when, but it does make a difference if you block that time on your calendar and keep it as an appointment.

Blocking time to write when you are most productive is one of the keys to completing your manuscript. (credit:

Blocking time to write when you are most productive is one of the keys to completing your manuscript. (credit:

Make yourself accountable. As with most goals in life, support is a key factor to success. Publishing a book is no different. So once you pick a date and build a timeline, make sure others help you stay on track. Share your milestones and ask them to check in and see how you are doing.  You may already have someone in mind who can help you in this way, but you may also want to look for a local writing group or online group.  The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (GLAWS) is a great example of a local writers group that can provide excellent support if you live in Southern California. The Author Learning Center is an example place to create an online group.

Make an investment. That in which we invest is usually what grows.  So when it comes to publishing a book, you are going to invest both time and money to get it done. Sometimes putting money toward a project even before the manuscript is done can provide extra incentive to get the job done.

Plan your book launch event.  Many people have ideas for books and even start writing, but it is a rare few who actually become published authors. So when you make it to your goal, you need to celebrate. Throw a book launch party to commemorate your achievement. Be creative. The location does not have to be a book store. I know authors who tie the location to something relevant in their book. It could be a restaurant or a church or a library.  Just put it on the calendar and it will serve as additional motivation.

If you have any other helpful suggestions that keep you motivated, please use the comment section to share those.

Many people have ideas for books and even start writing, but it is a rare few who actually become published authors. So when you make it to your goal, you need to celebrate.

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

5 ways that mistakes in your manuscript can hurt your reputation as an author.

Proofreading Secrets_FrontCoverRecently, I had Kathy Ide write a guest post for this blog titled: LET’S EAT GRANDMA: The importance of proofreading. I interviewed Kathy for the Author Learning Center and found her to be quite insightful on a range of topics. She is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker.  Her latest book is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors is a volume I would recommend to every aspiring author

What follows is a second guest post from Kathy that was originally published with the title, How to Uphold Your Reputation as an Author. As with her first post, I think you will find her points to be very helpful. Enjoy.

The buzz word in publishing is platform. But did you know that having mistakes in your manuscript can affect your reputation and platform?


Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.

Even if your manuscript has already been accepted by a traditional publishing house, if their in-house editor has to spend all her time fixing your mistakes, she won’t be able to catch the deeper, more subtle nuances of your text. Besides, you won’t be presenting a very polished, professional image to your publisher.

Mechanical errors can be embarrassing.

A friend of mine once picked up a book at a bookstore and noticed a typo on the back cover. When she reported it to our critique group, she didn’t say she’d found a mistake on a book published by “XYZ Publishers.” She said she found the mistake on a “Jane Doe” novel. She didn’t connect the error to the publishing house but to the author.

Mechanical errors may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.

I once saw a published article with this title: “Crowe Turns Hero to Help Snake Bite Boy.” The story was about actor Russell Crowe helping a boy who’d been bitten by a snake. But by spelling snakebite as two words, this sentence implies that Mr. Crowe helped a snake bite a boy! Now, I got a good laugh out of that. But I sure don’t want those kinds of mistakes showing up in my own writing.

Mechanical errors can affect the sales of your book.

Readers who find a lot of mistakes in your book will not be as likely to recommend that book to their friends. And who knows? You may have a high school English teacher reading your book, and she just might recommend it to her students . . . unless there are a lot of mistakes in it.

Mechanical errors can give you a poor reputation.

If you self-publish, or work with a small, independent publisher that doesn’t proofread carefully, your book may go out to the public with several typos, inconsistencies, or PUGS (punctuation, usage, or grammar) errors. Readers who catch those mistakes may consider you an amateur.

For a lot of avid readers, typos practically jump off the page. And many are familiar with the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. If your reader knows the rules and you don’t, that’s not going to make you look very good.

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.

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.