Beta Readers, Book Covers and Great Websites for Indie Authors

8-15-14 400The post on the best 50 sites for self-published authors was published in June but I just discovered it last week so I’m including it in the week’s Roundup. You’ll also find posts from Joel Friedlander, The Next Web and one by Anne R. Allen on how to find beta readers, always a timely topic. I hope you enjoy this week’s picks.

The Indie 50 – The 50 Best Sites for Indie and Self-Published Authors from August Wainwright: This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now and kept putting it off. Having now finished the list, I completely understand why I’ve been procrastinating for so long.

What is a Beta Reader? Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Getting and Giving Feedback on your WIP from Anne R. Allen’s blog: The term first came from fan fiction, and it means a person who reads your work-in-progress (or “WIP”) when you, the writer or “alpha,” are ready for feedback—before it goes into final draft to be sent to your fanfic page, editor, or agent.

5 Keys to Book Cover Success from The Book Designer: So, you survived the gauntlet of rewrites, the flood of red ink your editor poured on your pages, and countless sleepless nights you spent worrying about how to tie the story together. Finally, you put the last period at the end of your tale’s final sentence with a heavy sigh and a hopeful cheer. Congrats! You have a manuscript.

What really happens when someone clicks your Facebook Like button from The Next Web: We talk a lot about reversing the decline in organic Facebook reach and succeeding with Facebook marketing. Maybe we’ve been overlooking a quick win right under our noses. The Facebook share button could be a huge opportunity to delight a reader with a seamless sharing experience, one in which you can control the look, feel, and message of what gets shared.

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 200About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

 

Photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc

10 Great Resources Writers [You] Need to Know About

XMAS presentMy gift to you this holiday season is this list of resources for writers that I love and that I believe will make your lives easier. Some will save you money and others will help you to polish your books. So let’s get’s started with my holiday list of ten great resources writers need to know about and in some cases start using today.

Applications to Create Professional-Looking Banners and Images for Pinterest

Canva

Have you ever experienced Facebook banner envy? You know, those beautiful Timeline banners that some people pay a great deal of money to graphic designers to create? Guess what? Canva, presently a free application (it’s still in Beta so request your invitation), is a tool you can use to create Facebook banners, Twitter headers, cards, biographics, business cards, photo cards, and other image-based messaging. It’s an easy, intuitive tool to use.

Here are a few samples of items I recently created with Canva. First, here are some two Facebook banner images. The blue one is for my Facebook profile, and the second one is a banner I used on my Facebook author page.

Happy Holidays

 

SMJ4W with URL

 I created this image when I ran a promotion on my blog recently.

12-2-Blog

  The next image is one I created when my Facebook likes reached a certain number.

 Thank you 744 Likes

Canva features some images that you can purchase for $1 or you can upload your own. The majority of images and features are free of charge.

PicMonkey

I’ve used PicMonkey for months to resize and crop photos for free. But recently I wanted to create some images for Pinterest so I upgraded to the paid plan, about $30/year. Here are a couple of examples of my creations. I created the first one for Nina Amir’s Author of Change program and then uploaded it to Pinterest and Twitter.

Write a Book That Inspires You

And here’s a holiday collage for Pinterest I created just for fun.

Holiday Collage

Once you create and save the images, you can share them directly to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, or Tumblr as well as send them via email to a colleague. You can also use this tool to create Facebook covers or perhaps a collage of some of the books you’ve written.

Pinstamatic

Use this application to create a variety of images. For example, you can type quotes onto a sticky note, create a pin of your website or your Twitter bio, or create images to pin text, quotes, locations and dates. You can even create a pin of your favorite song and its album artwork. When I typed in Someone Like You by Adele, Pinstamatic provided several options, then created an image to pin based on my selection.

 Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 2.28.03 PM

 In this example, I typed a favorite quote, included the author’s name, and when I pressed “Pin,” the image uploaded seamlessly to my Pinterest account.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 10.53.28 AM

You can also use Pinstamatic to upload your own images (book covers), quotes by your favorite authors, and great lines from books that you’ve written. Don’t forget to include your book title when quoting from your novel or memoir.

DIY Tools for Designing Your Next Book’s Interior and Cover

DIY Book Covers

DerekMurphyAfter writing your book you need a great cover. You can hire a designer (I use the best cover designer, Kit Foster) or you can try to create a cover yourself.

Self-published authors on a tight budget might want to try a new DIY tool. Cover designer Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers has put together a package of book cover design templates made in Microsoft Word.

Although it sounds like an unlikely pairing, the templates look clean and professional, not only for simple non-fiction covers, but also for all types of fiction. If you’re familiar with using MS Word, customizing the templates to make them unique shouldn’t be difficult.

Also included in the DIY Covers Package are templates and instructions to make full print covers, business cards, and blog headers, giving writers more control over the graphical elements of their author platform. If you’d like to see the samples and read more about the project, you can visit www.diybookcovers.com.

To use the tool, you’ll need to install the fonts and templates, and then find an image you like. Derek recommends these sources:

The website includes a QuickStart guide, a Cheat Sheet, training videos, 80 fiction cover templates and 70 non-fiction cover templates. Here’s an example of a DIY book cover.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 2.45.41 PM

The developer will be adding more features including gradients and color washes and templates for business cards, blog banners, and Facebook covers.

Book Design Templates

Joel FriedlanderAre you tired of paying the high cost of a graphic designer for the layout of your book? Joel Friedlander’s Book Design Templates let Indie authors quickly and easily create the interior layout of their books. There are templates for fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction, reference, and technical and non-fiction books. In addition, there are now templates for children’s books

Joel is a book designer so self-published authors can trust that the templates carefully balance typographic beauty with ease of reading. Although I haven’t yet used the template I purchased, a colleague has and she said the process was easy. If you need help, Joel’s team will upload your book into your purchased template. Finally, each template comes with five kinds of interior pages, section breaks, running heads, and page numbers.

These templates will save writers money and help them to produce books that appear professionally designed.

By the way, self-published authors should all become acquainted with Joel’s blog, The Book Designer. You will learn everything you need to know about self-publishing, book covers, and book marketing by reading his posts.

Resources to Help Writers Focus on Their Writing and Publishing Careers in 2014

There are numerous editors and bloggers who can help you to make your narratives shine and here I recommend some of the best in the field.

Nina Amir

Nina Amir 6-2012 (3)If you’re a nonfiction writer, you’ll want to check out Nina’s Become an Author of Change program.

How do you know whether you are a candidate for the Author of Change program? You are if you feel called to:

  • Change on a personal level or to become a successful and inspiring author.
  • Help others change because of things you have learned.
  • Write about how to create change personally, organizationally or globally.
  • Express a sense of purpose or mission to inspire others to take positive action.

Through the course work and homework, you’ll be asked to look at:

  • Who you are as a writer.
  • Who you are as a businessperson.
  • How you need to change to become a successful published author.
  • How you need to alter your message to make it effective.

The course has three study options that start at $147 (early bird special is $127 until December 31, 2013).

Presently, Nina is hosting a Twitter contest. The two people who send the most retweets about her Author of Change program will either win a free seat in her program or a free one-hour consultation. Here’s the tweet to get you into the contest: “Become an Author of Change with @NinaAmir #AuthorofChange Pls Retweet http://bit.ly/1gzRVMH

Martha Alderson

Martha AldersonWho wouldn’t want to consult with the author of The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master, The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories, and the Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts? Easy Exercises to Get Your Writing? This is the woman who really understands plot (confession: this is my weakness in fiction writing).

In Martha’s four-week Plot Workshop, you will receive a competitive analysis of your plot from Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and plotting help and guidance from Martha.

She also offers Deep Plotting Writing Retreats where you can plan, polish and test your plot both at the overall story level and at the scene level. 

In addition, she offers a 27-step free tutorial designed to help you plot your novel, memoir or screenplay as well as fee-based one-on-one consultations. If you have difficulty with plot in your stories, Martha is the expert on this topic.

Susanne Lakin aka C.S. Lakin

C.S.-Lakin-150x150Are you concerned with how you are telling your story, and about elements such as pacing, character development, structuring chapters and scenes, building tension, epiphanies, and denouements? Could you use someone to delve deep into the heart of your story and come back out with encouraging, constructive feedback? If so, then Susanne Lakin and her team of editors can help you. Members of her editing team are professional copyeditors and published novelists in a variety of genres, and Susanne brings to her editing and critiquing nearly thirty years of experience in writing novels.

In addition to being a respected fiction copyeditor, Susanne is the author of fourteen novels and numerous nonfiction books. Her instructional blog Live Write Thrive was named one of the top ten blogs for writers in 2012. If you’re looking for support as a writer, you’ll find lots of it there.

If all you want is a critique, head on over to her www.critiquemymanuscript.com web page where writers can upload documents and pay for either a partial or complete manuscript critique. She does 200+ critiques a year in nearly every genre for clients all over the world.

If you’re attending the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, you’ll be able to meet Susanne and Martha in person.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld

JordanJordan says that she has a simple philosophy in her editing, coaching and teaching: “Practice. Polish. Persist.” She advises, “Make your writing life into an ongoing, deep writing practice that can survive the test of time, discouragement and change. Never stop trying to become better and polish your work, learn new things, take classes and feed both your muse and your craft. But what will set you apart is your persistence. Don’t give up. If you need help with any of these things, I’m here to help you.”

Jordan brings an editor’s attention to both the micro and macro aspects of your fiction project, but she also brings a writer’s ear—having been writing and publishing for two decades (author of the novel Forged in Grace, and the writing guides Make a Scene & Write Free). She likes to work with fiction writers at all stages—from the seed of an idea, to the final product—and at all levels, whether the writer needs coaching or a final copyedit. She is especially fond of developmental edits and critiques. 

Story in Literary Fiction

WHC 2-2013Story in Literary Fiction is a wonderful website filled with interviews of top editors and writing teachers, essays on how to improve one’s writing, a writing blog, and award-winning short stories that the creator of Story in Literary Fiction, William H. Coles, offers for free.

In addition, William offers an online, eight-week free literary fiction workshop and a fee-based tutorial.

William has written numerous short stories, three novels, and Story in Literary Fiction: A Manual for Writers. William holds the distinction of having placed in the William-Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition many times and was the 2006 Winner of the Sandhills Writers Competition for his tory “Reddog.”

I hope you enjoyed reviewing my list of resources for writers. I’d love to hear about your favorite resources too!

 

“wrapped gift” photo credit: CS_McMahon via photopin cc

socialmediaforwritersAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapterthe San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Book Covers, Publicists, Book Sales and Leaving Amazon

Books

I have a wide variety of post in this week’s roundup. Let’s start with book covers. To me, designing book covers is not only an art it’s a science. Luckily, Joel Friedlander makes it easier for all of us by reviewing dozens of them every month and imparting his wisdom. Be sure to review his thoughts on this month’s submissions. Jane Friedman, meanwhile, wrote a wonderful post on what to expect from a publicist. I know someone who is paying a publicist $10,000 for two months worth of work. Is he happy with the results? It’s too early to tell. Every writer thinking about hiring a publicist should read Jane’s post. There are three other great posts below and I hope you’ll check out all of them.

41 redundancies you should ditch from Ragan.com: I ‘ve always believed that editing someone else’s work is easier than writing your own. Lately, though, I’ve been asked to “work my magic” on so many bad writing projects—blog posts, emails, articles—that I am not so sure anymore. Sometimes I just stare at the screen wondering, “What can I possibly do with this?”

The Real Key to Strong Book Sales from The Passive Voice Blog: It has been a mantra in self-publishing circles that an author’s most reliable pathway to long-term financial success is to rapidly write and publish more and more books. This strategy is supposed to increase your exposure and name recognition, and therefore the “discoverability” of your books to buyers who browse retail websites like Amazon.

Simple Tips on Finding and Working with a Book Publicist from TweetSpeak by Jane Friedman: I’ve heard a lot of nightmare stories from authors who hired freelance publicists and didn’t get what they wanted out of the relationship or investment. Sometimes I think that happens because of misaligned expectations, or even a misunderstanding of what publicists can achieve or accomplish.Put another way: When it comes to book marketing and sales, it’s not always easy to say “Effort A led to Outcome B,” especially if book sales gain momentum from word of mouth (that’s still often the case), and authors don’t have access to precise sales analytics. You can’t always figure out how or why someone decided to visit Amazon or their local bookstore to buy your book.

e-Book Cover Design Awards, October 2013 from The Book Designer: Each month, Joel Friedlander reviews book covers while imparting important insights to his decisions. This month he received 99 covers in the fiction category and 17 in the nonfiction category. Take a look at what he has to say about them.

Self-Publishing And Direct Sales: Pros, Cons And Problems from Forbes: A few months ago, I pulled my ebook from Amazon and decided that I would only sell direct for a while. I made that decision mainly because I was fed up with the hideously basic tools that Amazon provide and wanted to experiment more than Amazon would let me. Since then, I’ve released an anthology of non-fiction writing, A Passion for Science, which I’m also only selling direct as an ebook.

 

socialmediaforwritersAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media strategist, trainer, and author of Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.

 

 

Writing, Book Marketing and Covers that Sell

self-publishing, Social Media Just for WritersIn this Roundup, there are some great tips on writing, book marketing and covers that will make your books stand out on the Web and at your local bookstore. 

Key Components to Include When Writing Your Nonfiction Book – by Stephanie Chandler: “If you’re writing a book, you may be wondering what you should include aside from your standard manuscript. Following are components to consider, though not all are mandatory.”

25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy – by The Write Life: “Writers rarely spit out their best copy on the first draft. (If you meet a writer who claims to have the secret for doing so, please let the rest of us know.) First drafts — and second drafts and sometimes thirds — exist to hash your ideas out on paper. After you’ve revised your book, story, blog post or article until you can revise no more, you just hand it off to your editor to clean up, right? Well, that’d be ideal. But most of us don’t have the luxury of hiring an expensive editor to review our personal blog post. And since procrastination is the writer’s best friend, you probably don’t have time to even ask a fellow writer pal take a quick peek for errors.”

The Secrets to Successful Guest Blogging – by Peg Fitzpatrick: “Guest blogging can be a valuable asset in your tool kit, whether you’re a blogger, writer, podcaster, or small business owner. Being published on the right blogs can help you gain new followers, hone in on your niche or build your thought leadership. I’ve written posts for Bit Rebels, Marketing Profs, and The Huffington Post to name a few. There are a few tips to doing it right as as an editor of 12 Most for the past few years and a fairly frequent guest writer, I’m happy to share some of the secrets that have worked for me.”

Book Cover Design Awards for July – by Joel Friedlander: This post is Joel’s review of book covers he receive during the month of July. I always learn a lot from him about covers that work and those that fail.

The Collapse of a Writing Routine—and How It Was Restored – Written by Frances Kazan for Jane Friedman: For years I was a disciplined writer. After walking the dog, I was seated at my desk by 9 a.m. After 500 words I’d go downstairs for lunch, followed closely by the dog. Sometimes my husband joined us, and sometimes he didn’t. Like me, he was a writer; his office was on the floor above mine. Around 2 p.m. I would return to edit, then I took off for either a yoga class or a walk in the park. Following this routine, I finished a master’s thesis (later published), a historical novel, Halide’s Gift, numerous articles for Cornucopia magazine, several lectures, and the first draft of another novel, The Dervish.

 

socialmediaforwritersAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media strategist, trainer,  and author of Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapterthe San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.