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

3 more tips and a new term for publishing from Guy Kawasaki

Guy suggests self-publishing should be called Artisinal publishing.

Guy suggests self publishing should be called artisinal publishing.

In a previous post, I made note of a key-note address given by Guy Kawasaki at the San Francisco Writers Conference which I thought was quite good. Based on the traffic and comments on that post, I think many of you found his simple and clear insights helpful. So I thought I would share three more that I thought were important to remember and share the term he used to describe the new era of publishing. 

  1. Hire a copy editor–I know you have probably heard this comment over and over again, but I don’t think it can be emphasized enough. Too many self published authors think they are one draft wonders. I did not have the exact stats, but Guy shared a personal example where he had gone over the manuscripts numerous times and then submitted to the editor and was shocked at the number of corrections needed.  It’s not because he wasn’t a good writer. It just simply illustrates how important it is to have another qualified set of eyes on your work.
  2. Hire a cover designer–One of the scariest phrases I hear from authors is, “my daughter is an artist”.  She may be, but that doesn’t mean she knows how to create the right cover for your book. I have other posts on this blog that talk about cover design.  One of them is Six Tips from Wicked Good Book Cover Designers. Lots of good info there are how to determine what you need a cover designer to do.
  3. Never give up–Again, if you have read this blog, this is not a new statement. In fact one of the secrets of successful self published authors is believing in their work. It was just reassuring to hear Guy say it as well.

Finally, Guy suggested that there is a new term needed to describe the way self-publishing has evolved. He compared it to craft brewers or bakers. He said authors now need to think of their work as artisanal publishing. In other words, self publishing is no longer to be thought of as less value, but rather as an important craft. Not everyone agrees with his take, but I think it is further evidence that self publishing has fully arrived.  He gave three books as examples of Birds of America by Audubon, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.  Quite a diverse list, but each was first self-published and went on to be a big seller and classic.

What do you think? Do we need a new term to describe self-publishing? Do you agree with Guy’s suggestion? Use the comment section to let me know what you think.

Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Editing, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

4 great tips for every writer from Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

In my last post, I mentioned my attendance again this year at the San Francisco Writer’s conference, which took place back in February. One of the keynote addresses at the conference was given by Guy Kawasaki. Guy has published a dozen books using both traditional publishers and by self-publishing. He most recently self-published a book titled, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur. As he was researching the book, I had conversations with him about the services offered by Author Solutions  and other topics related to self-publishing.  I had never met him till the conference, but in our conversations I always found him to be a very reasonable and insightful person. His keynote only reinforced my opinion. He shared ten tips for authors today. With his permission, I am sharing a few with you in this post and in a  post to come.

  1. Write for the right reasons-According to Guy, writing for money is the wrong reason. Money is a consequence of writing a good book, but it should not be the primary motivation. He suggested there are others, such as enriching people’s lives, furtherng a cause or meeting an intellectual challenge. Could not agree more.
  2. Write everyday-I thought this was interesting challenge, but his point was writing is a skill and the more you practice  it, the better you get at it.  For a busy person, this can be hard to do, but it is a worthy goal.
  3. Build your marketing platform-This is not a new thought. Many have said it, but I thought he had some insights that bear repeating. The first point he made is you should build a platform so that you can “earn the right” to share your book with potential readers. That means you have to give to your audience before you ask them to buy your book.  One of the best ways to do that is “curate” content about the topic your potential book buyers are interested in.  Become a “sector expert” as Guy suggests, offering content that is of interest to your readers. In other words, become the go-t0 person for a particular topic.
  4. Tap the crowd-Seth Godin called this building a tribe, but it is the same idea. Use social media to build a following long before you publish your book. Use them for input on your title and your cover and even as beta readers. Their input will likely improve your book and give you a base of potential customers. Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

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.
Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, Editing, Publishing, self publishing

How much should an author pay to publish?

As self-publishing has become mainstream, there has been lots of discussion about what an author should pay to get published. This debate has come about because authors now have more opportunity to get their books into the hands of readers than ever before. But even though publishing is within the reach of virtually every writer it doesn’t mean there is just one solution that works for every writer.ASI_FourPaths_HomeGraphic_240x130

 In my recent whitepaper, “The Four Paths to Publishing,” I identify the four distinct publishing options available in the market today; DIY, General Contractor, Publishing Package and Traditional Publishing. There are advantages and drawbacks to each method, but they exist because there are a significant number of authors who find each of these paths a satisfying way to get their work published.

Each path seems to have its own set of advocates, many of whom are very vocal about the choice they have made. But if you listen closely to what they are saying, there is a strong implication that there is only one way to get published, and it happens to be the path they chose. And anyone who chooses another path is just not as savvy or as smart.

….as I listen to the rhetoric from those who only advocate for a DIY or General Contractor approach, it reminds me of people who love camping telling people who stay in hotels that they are overpaying for a vacation.

I find that very presumptuous. Some choose a DIY or General Contractor path because they have the time and skills to invest to get their book completed and do the marketing. Others choose a publishing package option because they either don’t have the time or they just prefer to pay someone to handle the details for them. That doesn’t mean they are uninformed. It means they made a purchasing decision based on service and convenience. Still others try to find an agent and pursue a contract with a traditional publisher. Again, that doesn’t make them less savvy. It is a choice they make, but isn’t it great that authors have these options available today? For even as recently as ten years ago, the only option open to an author was a query letter, hope and patience.

I do find the current debate quite interesting because as I listen to the rhetoric from those who only advocate for a DIY or General Contractor approach, it reminds me of people who love camping telling people who stay in hotels that they are overpaying for a vacation. Camping is a choice that works for some people. Staying in a hotel is a choice that works for others. Neither is wrong. They are just different. Publishing today provides the same opportunity. There are a variety of options that require a differing investment of time and money.

However, no matter which path an author chooses, there are some key things to remember.

  • Publishing is not free. Even if you choose a DIY option like Booktango, you will need to invest in editing and cover design. Those who don’t spend that money often put out an inferior product. Guy Kawasaki recently published a book about self-publishing and suggests you should plan to invest from $2,000 to $4,000. I think that is a reasonable benchmark, no matter which path you choose.
  • Marketing is an author’s responsibility. Even traditionally published authors have to build a platform and cultivate an audience. So get educated about how to do it, and get busy. The Author Learning Center has lots of great ideas and instruction that can make you a savvy marketer. And I highly recommend the book Platform by Michael Hyatt.
  • Everyone won’t be successful, but everyone has the opportunity to be successful. The indie revolution has leveled the playing field and created more opportunity than any other time in history. So don’t let that book idea sit on your computer. Get published. You never know where it may lead.