self publishing

What are some the next big things we will see for self-published authors?

This past weekend I was a panelist at the Writer’s Digest conference in a session that focused on new developments in indie or self-publishing. Panelists included Dan Dillon from Lulu and Amanda Barbara from Pubslush, which is a crowd funding platform for authors. Moderator was Phil Sexton from Writer’s Digest.

Jimmy Brass

Jimmy Brass is a graphic novel that was self-published through AuthorHouse in partnership with Golden Apple Comics

As usual, there was some lively dialogue and great questions from the audience and I always find the Writer’s Digest conference to be one of the best in the country. Being on the panel prompted me to think about what might be  some of the next big things we will see in Indie or self-publishing.

Self-published graphic novels will grow substantially

This past spring, we announced a partnership with Golden Apple comics to launch self publishing packages specifically tailored for graphic novel creators. About the same time, Amazon also announced a move into that space. Both are signs that graphic novel creators are going to be the next big group of content creators to take advantage of indie publishing.

Gorging Out cover

Gorging Out is a self-published novel that was recently optioned for film right.

Hollywood will produce a movie based on a self-published novel.

50 Shades of Grey will be in theaters shortly and while it started as a self-published novel, its meteoric success came once a traditional publisher, Random House, picked it up. I believe it won’t be long before you will see a film on the big screen that is developed from a self-published book. In fact, recently we announced another book that was optioned by Hollywood. Link to the release is here.  Stay tuned.

Subscriptions will not be as big a deal as the current bluster would lead you to believe.

If you pay attention to publishing news, subscription services are getting quite a bit of coverage. However, it is interesting to me that none of the news is around how many readers have signed up for the services. I think that is because consuming a book is a very different experience than consuming a song or a television show or movie. Pandora and Netflix do not require a significant commitment of time and much of what you get from their subscription services is disposable. A book is different. In the time it takes you to read a book, you could listen to one hundred songs or watch multiple movies. You can justify the value of a subscription because of the volume. I don’t think people will see the same value with books because they cannot consume them at the same rate.

I could be wrong and time will tell, but it will be interesting to watch.

Subscription services may lead to the resurgence of the serial.

While I don’t think book subscription services will get the traction of music and video services, I do think the format may fuel a resurgence of people writing serials and introducing a new chapter or what I call a micro-book each month. It has happened yet to any measure, but I think it will and may be one of the ancillary benefits of the new subscription services.

What do you think? Do you see any other big developments that I have missed? Use the comment section to let me know.

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, book marketing, book selling, Editing, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

The 2 most interesting questions I heard at the Writers Digest Conference West

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at the Writer’s Digest West Conference in Hollywood. I did a presentation titled, 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors and was a panel member in the session Self Publishing in the Real World – What to Expect, What to Do, and How to Do It. I always enjoy these opportunities because I am able to bring clarity to writers and authors who can be overwhelmed and confused by all the changes taking place. Plus, I get to hear what authors are currently thinking. That is why I especially enjoy the Q&A period.

From conference to conference, I hear a lot of the same questions, but every once and a while, someone asks a question I have not heard before or asks it in a manner  that frames the issue in a different way.  At this conference,I heard two questions which I not heard expressed previously.

The first question was from an author who had a book about to go live and she asked in a somewhat exasperated tone, “What am I missing?” The reason for her question was she had been reading and preparing to launch her book and was a bit overwhelmed by all she had to do. It left her doubting whether she had missed something. Was there something she was not doing that would cause her book to be a dud?. I found the question fascinating because it illustrates the challenges many authors are facing today.

As I have shared in this blog, there are four paths to publishing today. One of them is what I call the General Contractor path, which means an author can hire a number of independent contractors to do the work of getting the book into the market.  That is the path this author was pursuing, and as her question suggested, it can be overwhelming.

The chart shows the tasks needed to get a book into the market,and as you can see there is a lot to do. That is why some authors prefer a publishing package or traditional publishing path.  In a few days, I will be releasing a white paper that provides greater detail about these publishing paths, but her question was very timely.

The second question that caught my attention was offered by a gentleman who had given his manuscript to eight different editors or agents asking for opinions. All eight gave a different critique and the range of responses were all over the map. His question was, “How do I know which editor is right?”

He was clearly frustrated, but again, this question illustrates one of the challenges  authors are experiencing as changes are taking place in publishing.  That is why I did a post a few months ago asking Alan Rinzler advice on selecting an editor.  He offered six tips on finding an editor that you can read by clicking here. I think you will find it helpful.

Drawing from Alan’s suggestion, I told the author he should make sure he is taking advice from an editor that knows his genre and also one that offers suggestions that still allow the book to be written with his voice.  I think it helped him narrow down the editors he would follow up with, but it does point out that too many opinions are not as helpful as one qualified critique.

Perhaps you have some questions about your publishing options. If so, feel free to use the comment feature to send them my way. I will do my best to answer them for you and help you chose the best path to becoming a published author.

agents, Author Solutions, authors, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

Looks like self-publishing will be a hot topic at the Writers Digest West Conference

Writer’s Digest has hosted one of the most respected conferences  in New York City in January for quite some time. This year, they are also holding a writers conference  in October on the West Coast.  In fact, this is the first time this event has been this close to the Pacific. The registration web site gives more details. Here’s what it says:

For the first time ever, Writer’s Digest Conference brings its real-world publishing knowledge, writing inspiration and networking opportunities to a West Coast audience in 2012. Join us in Hollywood to find out how publishing and tech developments affect writers, how you can make your work and your pitch irresistible, and what you can do to get going, get discovered, and get published.

I will be speaking and sitting on a panel at the conference.  In my seminar titled, Seven Secrets of Successful Self Publishing, I will share all I have learned from

I will be speaking about the secrets I share in this e-book. You can download it for 99 cents at if you don’t want to wait for the seminar.

working with authors who have found self publishing to be a very satisfying publishing option.  In addition I will sit on a panel titled, Self Publishing in the Real World – What to Expect, What to Do, and How to Do It.  I am really looking forward to this panel because they have assembled a very diverse group of people who can speak to the topic from different points of view. Here’ s the lineup:

Dana Newman, Attorney and Literary Agent, Dana Newman Literary, LLC, Eric DelaBarre, Writer/Director, Seven Publishing, Brian Felsen, President, BookBaby, Stephen Blake Mettee, CEO/Publisher, The Write Thought Inc. and K.C. Sherwood, Abbott Press Author and winner of the Mark of Quality.

There are a number of other seminars or panels that address the topic of self publishing because clearly it is the topic that is on everyone’s mind. I am really looking forward to my time there and hope to see you in Hollywood as well. Registration information is available on the web site. Just click here for more info.

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

What I heard from agents at the Writer’s Digest conference might surprise you.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Writers Digest conference. It was additional evidence that the Indie Publishing revolution is in full swing. Here are some of the highlights of what I heard
  • Agents are changing their tune and their role in publishing
I sat in on a panel called, “Ask the Agent”. It was very well attended and the agents on the panel did an excellent job. Some of their quotes that stood out to me, included
“I don’t believe there is a one size fits all for authors any more.
“I am working extensively with self published authors. I am delighted to work with them.”
“I don’t call myself an agent any more. I call myself an “author advocate”
It wasn’t that long ago that agents would not even give self publishing a mention, but clearly the changes in the past few years have caused them to see they must redefine their role in the publishing ecosystem and embrace what self-publishing brings to the industry and the market. Authors took notice. There was lots of interest at the Abbott Press booth. Abbott is the self publishing imprint of Writers Digest.
  • Marketing is really the authors job

In the same panel discussion mentioned above agents also talked about how marketing is really falling more and more to the author. In fact one agent, said “publishers are looking for authors to be partners in marketing.” That means authors must build their platforms.  I liked the definition one agent gave for a platform. He said, “a platform is a built-in audience for your book.”

  • Social media presence is a must-have for an author

It used to be the first thing an agent did was read the manuscript or query letter. Now, when they receive something from an author, the first thing many agents do is is google the author’s  name and look for a social media presence. That’s because authors have to be part of the marketing process and connect with potential readers. The days of just writing and letting everybody else do everything else are long gone. No matter how good of writer you are, you need to become a good marketer.

  • All the changes and choices are a good thing, but they are also confusing

It truly is the best time to be an author, but all these choices  can create challenges. One agent responded to a question from an author by sayin, “You are in good company. We are all overwhelmed”. I appreciated his honesty, but there is help. One of the best things I think an author can do is subscribe to the Author Learning Center.

Overall, it was a very good conference. Lots of great content. Good collection of authors with a variety of experiences. I look forward to attending again next year

Self published books have to be better than traditional books according to one agent to get noticed.