Self-Publishing: 5 things I Will Do Differently Next Time

1-26-15 Self-Publishing Social Media Just for WritersGuest post by Martha Conway on her experience self-publishing her second book.

Last year, after having one novel published by a traditional publisher, I decided to publish my second novel – Thieving Forest – independently.

After six months of research and preparation I launched Thieving Forest in mid-August, and the experience has been enormously empowering.

Also confusing, exhilarating, time-consuming, and an effort that required me to exercise my brain in new and interesting ways.

It was like starting a new job, which it was. And like a hopeless perfectionist, I wanted to do everything right.

What have I learned, and what would I do differently next time? I’ve kept the list short.

[Read more…]

Literary Agent Jody Rein on Publishing, Marketing and Finding Your Readers

Jody Rein - Frances Caballo - Social Media Just for WritersJody Rein describes herself as a reluctant entrepreneur. She was in corporate publishing—where she was an executive editor in New York (with Morrow/Avon at the time)—then moved to Colorado. She stayed on as editor-at-large for about a year, but missed interacting directly with book people as well as acquiring books.

She realized eventually that the only way she could continue to do the work she most enjoyed was to pick it up from the other side of the negotiating table. It wasn’t a quick decision—she ghostwrote a book and did consulting (and had a baby or two) in the interim. But writers kept finding her, and book ideas kept popping into her head. So she established her own literary agency. Jody says that the urge was less entrepreneurial than driven by the work itself.

These days, Jody is busy developing interactive software for writers. Her goals are to apply marketing, promotion, editorial and sales knowledge to the world of ideas more directly.

To learn more about Jody and her thoughts on publishing, marketing and finding your readers, keep reading her entertaining account of how she arrived to where she is today.

 

Why do you focus on nonfiction books?

My focus in college was literary criticism—all fiction. I wrote a thesis on Oscar Wilde and John Irving, go figure! But my first publishing job was at the only major publisher in Chicago (at the time), and they only published nonfiction. So I learned a ton about acquiring, editing and selling nonfiction, and I loved it, probably because there’s so much room for creativity. Creativity?! Yes—since I didn’t know any better, I often came up with ideas myself for books, or acquired books that began as magazine articles or self-published books.

When I moved to New York, I was hired to acquire nonfiction at Dell (now part of Random House). When you’re young in publishing, it helps to become known for certain types of books. But I continued to read fiction, and participate in fiction acquisition (I was an early reader of THE FIRM, for example. Not that my reading helped—I said it was a “page-turner but not great.” Oh well.) I moved to Avon as executive editor because the Avon list I ran included both fiction and nonfiction.

Nonfiction remains my publishing lifeblood if not my personal reading preference. I know what works and I know how to sell it. When it came time to start up my agency, I found it much easier to find great nonfiction than the next great literary or commercial novel.

What happens when an author sends you a fabulous novel? Is there someone in particular who you hand it off to?

I’ve represented a few novelists, and much of the nonfiction I represent is pretty literary (memoir and narrative), so it’s not a given that I’ll hand it off. But lately I’ve been working closely with an old friend whose career path mirrors mine (editor to agent), and who spent much of her publishing life in the fiction world. We’re looking for projects to co-agent, so I would probably go to her. I still miss working hand-in-hand with New York publishing pals, even after all these years, so I’m very excited about this possibility.

How can you tell when a self-published book is right for a major publisher?

I could say—and it’s true—that each book is different. But at the same time, the answer can be pretty simple! Sales trump everything else. If the book is selling well, and the numbers are growing impressively each week, a traditional house can capitalize on that success and help it explode (look at 50 Shades).

If the book isn’t selling well, or if the sales aren’t growing, publishers will be much harder to land. Publishers don’t look at a book with modest sales on Amazon and say: “Hey, we could do so much better with that book!” They assume the book has found its market, and that its market is small.

Another way to look at it: In our culture, what is “new” has a value just for being new. That’s especially true in publishing—publishers want to “launch” books, media wants to break news. If a book has been self-published, that “new” factor is gone—and the only way to replace it is with the “coup” factor (Just made that up!). The publisher needs the “coup” of grabbing a hot self-pub book.

To what do you credit your success with self-published books and how do you define success?

I understand how publishers think about acquiring books, because I was in that role for so many years. I know what questions to ask of self-published writers. Your readers can ask themselves the same questions: How many books have I sold? In what period of time?  Are my sales increasing? How widely are my books distributed? How many books have I self-published and what do my sales tell me?

How I define success: Did I sell the book?

I’ve sold every self-published book I’ve represented but one, but it’s harder now—when I started acquiring self-published books, things were more black and white.

Years ago, self-published fiction, by and large, was never of interest to publishers, because most “publishable” novelists did find homes (many more publishers and many more mass market opportunities to build skills and audience).

Self-published nonfiction books, though, often represented niches that traditional publishers had yet to discover. Self-publishing was a great way to document a new market.

Also, it was possible to launch a self-published book locally, drive up sales in a small market, and sell the book to a traditional publisher without any chance of cannibalizing sales. It’s tougher now with fewer bookstores and pushbutton national distribution for eBooks.

The Role of Book Marketing

What role does marketing – especially social media marketing – play in helping a self-published author rise from obscurity?

Without marketing, all books disappear. One of the big ironies today is how little things have changed (Bear with me on this one!). Yes, everything is different—millions of books are published today, with ease we never would have imagined a short time ago. So it’s harder than ever to get attention. YET even way back when, all book marketing was niche and social. Even before “social media,” the smart writers were the ones who found their communities—the people most likely to read their work—and marketed to those people. We used to call it grass roots marketing—now MBAs call it finding verticals, but it’s the same thing. We advised writers to find special interest groups through magazines and local meetings.

Now, smart writers can—and must–find and connect with their communities online. Through social media. But they have to do it authentically. 

Social Media’s Role in Marketing & Selling Your Book

How important is it today for authors to have large followings on social media? Do publishers really make it a numbers game?

Writers often look for formulas, but publishers don’t. Publishers need the information that will give them assurance that the book in question will sell enough copies to make money. They look at all the factors involved (platform, content, competition, quality, skills, concept, etc) to try to get a sense of how the social media evidence might translate into book sales. Followers and web page views are important, but numbers don’t tell the whole story—publishers know you can build up a twitter following that looks huge until you notice how many followers live in Tasmania.

The importance of followings also varies with the type of book. Romance readers live online, so publishers expect writers to be engaged with that community. And it’s hard to believe a proposal whose author claims to be an “expert” in any field if the author is unknown online.

Suggestions for Your Next Query Letter

What does an author of a self-published book need to accomplish before sending you a query?

When you send your query, in addition to the typical query letter content (who are you? what is your book? How will your help your book reach its market?), answer the questions I mentioned above (I’ll repeat here in more detail):

  • When did you publish your book?
  • In what formats?
  • Where is your book distributed?
  • How many copies have each format sold, total?
  • How many copies in the last 6 months? The last month?
  • What is the price of your book? Do your sales numbers include free books?
  • What other books have you self-published? What other books do you plan to self-publish?
  • Why are you seeking a traditional publisher?

What advice on marketing do you give newly published authors?

That’s a trick question, right? The marketing should start, for both traditional and self-published authors, months before the publication date. And it doesn’t stop. Some bits of specific advice:

 1.) If you’re traditionally published, run any marketing/promotion plans by your publisher to make sure you’re not duplicating efforts or stepping on toes. Use your agent to run interference & advise you re timing. 

2.) If you’re traditionally published, don’t forget that you have a publisher! Include the publisher in your tweets & posts, RT the publisher, share good news. Be a team player (not a nag) and the humans out there in New York will be grateful.

3.) Think communities; think readers! Use your own personal experience as a guide—you don’t buy every book you hear about; you buy books from writers you trust on subjects in which you have a keen interest. If you get an email from some stranger about something that has no appeal to you, you feel offended and annoyed. It’s a time-waster. If a friend tells you about a wonderful novel, you feel appreciative. As a book marketer, don’t think that the world out there is somehow different than your own experiences. Target your efforts so you’re always that welcome friend.

7-14-14 Frances Caballo Social Media Just for WritersIs it true that even if an author finds a publisher, the author is still responsible for the marketing? Explain your answer, please.

Yes and no. Publishers work hard to sell the books they publish; it’s in their interest to do so. They have marketing, sales and publicity staff; they run inter-departmental meetings prior to a book’s publication to strategize the launch; they send out press releases and create promotional copy and sometimes create author websites; they coordinate with other media if it makes sense, they follow up with phone calls and send out tweets and set up tours and sometimes do much more. So the author isn’t “responsible” for all the marketing—the publisher is the responsible party.

But nobody loves a book like its author, and nobody is able to engage with a book’s audience like the author. The publisher publishes many books at once; the author is invested in just one at a time. The publisher focuses on any given book only for a very very short period of time, maybe a couple of weeks. Thus it has always been. The best publishing experiences are partnerships, where, usually with the help of the agent, the author coordinates his own marketing efforts with those of the publisher, and continues those efforts long after the publisher has moved on to the next list. The author focuses on what the author does best; those marketing efforts that require a personal touch such as expanding his own platform through engaging social media. The publisher (we hope) does what a publisher can do best—get the attention of movers and shakers in national media online and off (who listen to publishers but not so much to authors) engage with readers on a larger scale, promote to bookstores & other large outlets, etc.

Jody’s New Tool: Writers’ Blog Finder

Tell me about your new book.

I think you mean my software, although I am writing a book! I’ve created a free book marketing tool—I hope everyone reading this will check it out! I would LOVE your readers’ feedback (write me at [email protected]).

Jody Rein book coverThe product is:  www.writersblogfinder.com

In this interview I’ve talked about the importance of finding and marketing to your target audience—this product helps writers do that by recommending reputable blogs in a variety of general content areas.

So, for example, if you have written a business book, you would search for “nonfiction: commercial,” and the subcategory “business.” If the site is working (fingers crossed) ten or fifteen trustworthy business book sites will pop up. Some of the sites review self-published books; most are great first stops for building your own community through interacting with the bloggers, finding more blogs, or just learning about the subject.

I do a lot of consulting these days—I have a consulting company called www.authorplanet.org. I advised one of my consulting clients to get more engaged in his community, and I used my own blog finder to make recommendations. It worked! I was so psyched.

I’m planning to add one more category to the blog finder—book promo sites (like Bookbub or Kindle Nation Daily). It’s in the works.

And the book?

It’s titled TO SELF (PUBLISH) OR NOT TO SELF? How to Decide!

(I’m still messing around with the subtitle.) Most writers today face that question, and I feel their pain! Writers usually want to write, not be publishers, at least not right off the bat. But in today’s world, you can’t be a writer without also becoming somewhat expert in publishing options–it’s crazy stressful.

So I’ve created a system I call “The Ten Tells,” (“Tells” as in Poker.) Authors are guided to examine, at a personal level, how they feel about money, time, credibility, goals, desires—and more. I provide clear checklists, tons of case studies and, of course, the voice of experience. By the end of the process, I hope readers will feel great about their decision and free to focus on the writing and not the stress!  

Anyone interested in being notified with the book comes out (please, please) can sign up for my newsletter here: http://authorplanet.org/contact-us/

Note: Jody will be on vacation for two weeks starting today and promises to reply to your comments when she returns!

Frances Caballo - Social Media Just for Writers About 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, the 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

 

 

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+.

 

 

Twitter, SEO and Self-Publishing for Writers

Twitter logo

It is amazing how much information on self-publishing and marketing for writers is published. This past week produced these stellar posts. They won’t disappoint you.

The Official Self-Published Book Marketing Plan from Livehacked: I remember when I finished my first book, a thriller called The Golden Crystal. I thought to myself, “this is it. I’ve done it. I wrote a book.” And while I was, technically, correct (the book was, after all, finished), I wasn’t even close to being able to launch it into the world.As you know, finishing a book isn’t the same thing as launching a book. One is a singular, independent activity that takes nothing more than dedicated consistency and a few good ideas. The other takes much more planning, administration, organization, and careful oversight. It also takes a lot of work.

It pays to think outside the box from The Passive Voice: The other day I had a conversation on Twitter with Michael J. Sullivan regarding the unusual publishing of his upcoming book Hollow World. I thought it was rather fascinating, and I was incredibly interested to learn more about what he’s doing and why. I also figured that if I am interested, someone else probably is, too. I asked him if he’d like to write a guest post for my website to elaborate on the topic. I figured not having a 140 character limit would help express ideas and thoughts. I feel very lucky that he agreed.

Examining the Business Model of Ebook Subscription Services (Part I) from Smashwords: In recent months, we’ve witnessed the launch of two high-profile ebook subscription services – Oyster and Scribd. Both aim to do for ebooks what Spotify did for music and what Netflix did for film and television entertainment. They’ll provide readers access to an all-your-eyeballs-can-eat smorgasbord cornucopia of thousands of ebooks for a subscription fee ranging from only $8.99 per month (Scribd) to $9.95 per month (Oyster).

SEO Regicide: Content the King is Dead from Atticus Marketing: The genesis for the focus on content began about 5 years ago. Changes in consumer search behavior gradually took effect – whereby users began looking for increasingly specific answers with increasingly granular content pages. The “long tail” of search became the industry’s hottest new buzzword. SEO experts, ninjas, and mavens started churning out pages with very subtle differences – “Best Seattle underage DUI Attorney”, “Top 10 Settle teen DUI Attorneys” “Great Seattle Drunk Driving Lawyers for drivers under 21” ad nauseam. The industry adopted the boorish practice of rewriting news stories and vomiting them back onto blogs that quickly became poorly written rehasings of yesterday’s news.

3 Reasons Why Your Twitter Following Isn’t Growing by Rachel in the OC: Nobody is following me! My Twitter growth is going backward, not forward. What am I doing wrong? Nobody likes me. I must not be funny enough. Any of these statements sound like you? I hear these daily, especially from authors who want to sell more books and a) aren’t sure Twitter will do that for them (more on that in a moment), or b) Have a Twitter stream but no idea what to do with it or how it relates for marketing and selling books. Let’s deconstruct.

 

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, Self-Publishing and Goodreads May Be Losing Readers

This week’s roundup is a potpourri of writing advice, self-publishing tips, an introduction to MiniBuks (fascinating!) and the continuing saga on Goodreads. Why should we as authors care about the alleged censorship happening on Goodreads? Because there are 20 million readers there and it’s the largest book-sharing social scene on the Web. BookLikes is gaining popularity and LibraryThing is great, but until they ramp up, Goodreads is a must for authors trying to reach readers. I’m not suggesting that writers simply hawk their goods on Goodreads; instead, be the reader that you are by listing your favorite books, reviewing books, joining groups, and engaging with other users. Here’s this week’s scoop:

Write Where the Juice Is from The Heart and Craft of Life Writing: When I read this advice recently in Vanessa Talbot’s ebook, 101 Ways to Live Extraordinarily, I thought of one of my great-great-grandmothers. Family legend has it that she opened the first brothel in the Yukon. The topic certainly does give us plenty of food for talk.

How to Go Places That Scare You In Your Writing by Charlotte Rains Dixon: Whatever it is that scares you, it is important to go there. Why? For a number of reasons. Because once you get it out on the page, it won’t scare you anymore. Because there’s fabulous gold to be mined in the scary places (stories are nothing without conflict). Because if you’re not going there, you’re probably not putting your true self on the page.

To “Self”-Publish, You Need a Team from The Passive Voice: Bob Mayer asserts that to “self”-publish, you need a team. He explains that seeming contradiction thusly: Thus, I believe the term “self”-publishing primarily means that the author retains most of the rights to his or her work (most particularly electronic) but teams with others in order to bring a story to market, including sometimes selling rights to print, foreign and audio (although we are big fans of Audiobook Creation Exchange). And this last bit is key: Authors create product, which is story (not book), and readers consume product through a variety of mediums. Everyone else is in between. Authors need people of value in between in order to get story to reader.

Answers to the 7 Biggest Questions About MiniBüks from The Book Designer by Joel Friedlander: I met David and Kathy Seid this spring at Author U in Denver, Colorado. They were there to show authors and self-publishers their line of small, pocketable books that fill a unique spot in book retailing. They call these books—and their company—MiniBük. They are nicely-printed 3.5″ x 5″ books that can be used in many ways. Tracy R. Atkins interviewed David and Kathy to find out what exactly a MiniBük is, and how authors can use them.

How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their best readers from Salon: With 20 million members (a number some have noted is close to the population of Australia) and a reputation as a place where readers meet to trade information and share their excitement about books, the social networking site Goodreads has always appeared to be one of the more idyllic corners of the Internet. The site sold to Amazon for an estimated $190 million this spring, and Goodreads recommendations and data have been integrated into the new Kindle Paperwhite devices, introducing a whole new group of readers to the bookish community.

 

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+.

 

 

Self-Publishing and the Creative Process

Art 550This week’s post center around the creative process. As writers, we’re always imagining new worlds, thinking about our covers and looking for ways to overcome obstacles to the creative process. It’s my hope that the posts below will aid you in your own creative process, whether you write fiction, poetry or nonfiction. 

Publishing And Marketing Tips For The Apple iBookstore With Mark Coker From Smashwords by Joanna Penn: As ebooks move far beyond the mature markets of the US and UK in 2014, I think all authors should be aware of the other platforms that compete, and in some cases, dominate. A few weeks ago, Mark Coker did a presentation for the Alliance of Independent Authors on the opportunities for publishing and marketing in the Apple iBookstore. It’s a long video but well worth watching if you’re not making many sales on iBookstore, because there are things you can do to maximize your chances of sales. I’ll certainly be making some changes myself based on Mark’s talk.

Why Every Author Needs a Google+ Account from BookBaby Blog: A recent article on Hypebot does a good job explaining why content creators (especially authors!) need to be using Google’s social platform. Here’s the quick summary.

10 Ways to Overcome Mental Blocks & Boost Creativity from Fine Art Tips by Lori McNee: The need to create is a shared desire among artists, writers, musicians and even bloggers. But, sometimes we creatives hit a mental block and often find ourselves stressed, overwhelmed and unable to produce original ideas. This happens to me from time to time, so I compiled a list of my proven ways to overcome mental blocks & boost creativity.

How To Make Your Own Free Book Cover In MS Word from The Creative Penn: Derek Murphy of Creativindie Covers is a brilliant designer and has designed a number of my own book covers. But although I personally believe in paying professionals, I’m also aware that some people want to have a go themselves, or need to because of budget restraints. This post is for the avid DIY-ers!

10 Words to Cut from Your Writing from Entrepreneur by Shanna Mallon: As Mark Twain famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” His point? Strong writing is lean writing, When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don’t need–such as the 10 included in this post.

 

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+.

 

 

Self-Publishing Scandal, Brand Yourself & Writing Tips

Fall Leaves

It’s fall and in Northern California that means we have cool mornings and evenings, and warm afternoons with the temperature settling well into the 70s. There’s just a hint of winter in the cool breeze. With this type of weather it’s difficult to stay ind

Bloomsbury Seeks Deal With Author Solutions from Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran: The publishing world has been turned upside down by ebooks and self-publishing. All the old middlemen – agents, publishers, distributors, retailers – are scrambling to reinvent themselves, trying to remain relevant in a digital world. Self-publishing is big business. By my estimates, self-publishers have captured 30% of the US e-book market. And everyone wants a slice. Unfortunately, many organizations are prepared to do pretty much anything to make sure they get theirs.

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling from BookBaby Blog by Chris Robley: The animation studio Pixar has produced so many successful films, not because those films are full of fancy visual pyrotechnics (though they often are), but because Pixar’s writers, directors, and animators privilege plot, empathy, and character development above all else. Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats provides a glimpse into her own creative process and lists 22 rules for sturdy yet surprising narrative construction.

Brand The Author, Not The Book! from Book Promotion.com by Rachel Thompson: At least three people asked me this week the same question: do I brand myself the author or my book(s)? What happens when I release my next book(s)? To piggyback a bit off Lori’s last article ‘Why You DON’T Need A Website For Each Book‘ earlier this week (great article, please read it), I feel strongly the same concepts she spoke about in her article apply to your overall author platform. If you market your book and not you, the author, you risk not only creating all types of extra work for yourself, but diluting your branding as well.

What One of the World’s Great Novelists Learned About Writing from David Ogilvy from CopyBlogger: His novel, Midnight’s Children, won the Man Booker Prize in 1981, and in 2008 the novel was named the Best of the Bookers, the best Booker winning novel since the prizes’ inception. However, before Sir Salman Rushdie was a famous, knighted novelist, he was a copywriter under the suspender-wearing, direct marketing pioneer, David Ogilvy. Yes, that’s right. The great novelist learned from the great copywriter.

In the Digital Publishing Era, Content Trumps Platform from PublishingPerspectives by Edward Nowotka: This past Friday people working in all aspects of digital and online publishing came together to talk about the future of publishing at Rewrite the Web in Berlin.  The day-long think tank covered topics from the publishing house of the future (Dr. Siv Bublitz, Ullstein Verlag) to how we read (Henrik Berggren, Readmill), writing so we can be found (Jens Redmer, Google) and Hybrid Authorship (Joanna Penn), along with collaborative writing with readers (Ashleigh Gardner, Wattpad) and redefining journalism (Bobbie Johnson, Matter).

 

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+.

 

 

How Are You Doing? These Social Media Applications Will Tell You

metrics

In previous posts, we’ve covered curation and scheduling. Now it’s time to use some social media applications to analyze your results. 

15 Social Media Applications to Measure Your Success

You’ve been reading your news feeds, curating information, and finding great nuggets of information on Twitter and other networks. You’ve tried some of the social media applications mentioned earlier in this book, and you’ve scheduled some tweets and found your groove. 

On occasion, you join a twitter chat on eBooks, self-publishing, or blogging. You’re enjoying your new friends from Australia, Malaysia and New York. 

The next step is to analyze your efforts. Yes, this will involve numbers but you only have to review them, not compute them yourself. 

“But I can intuit how I’m doing!” you might say. Great, let’s just see if the analytics prove that you’re right.

measure

Measuring engagement is just as important as measuring book sales. Your author platform is all about building and furthering your brand — you — and social media provides the means to do that. You don’t have time to waste and that is why analytics are so important. 

What if you discovered that your travel book was more appealing to men than women were? Would that information prompt you to adjust your messaging? What if you discovered that your historical fiction about the Tudors was selling better in New York than in Oregon? Wouldn’t that information lead you to scheduling your posts when East Coast residents are more likely to be online and using social media? 

With analytics, you can better understand the demographics of your following so that you can tailor your messages and their timing accordingly. Applications that measure your return on investment (ROI) will ensure that your time on social media is well spent. 

Not to worry. Analytics aren’t particularly difficult. There are applications to conduct the intricacies of calculating the metrics and provide detailed reports. The hardest decision you will have is to make is determining which application is right for you. There are many to choose from. 

Now for the applications that can help you. 

Social Media Applications to Measure Your Success

colorful

 Google Analytics  

This free product from Google will provide you with insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. For example, you can determine whether your website visitors are coming from Twitter or Google+, what they do while they are on your website, and how often they return. Everyone who has a website needs to use this tool. 

 

SproutSocialSproutSocial  

For $39/month, SproutSocial will analyze your Facebook and Twitter accounts. The analytics are comprehensive and in addition to a PDF report, you can download an Excel spreadsheet that examines your click-through-rates on a day-by-day basis. It provides in-depth demographics and measures tweets, retweets, follows, mentions, replies and direct messages. It will also measure how social you are and determine your influence. You can also use this application to schedule your posts, unfollow users, and at the premium level, it will determine your best posting times. 

SocialAppsHQ  

Use this free application to monitor conversations occurring on the web about you, your books, and the self-publishing industry in general. It takes less than 10 minutes to setup. It pulls information from your Google Analytics account to tabulate page views and visits. Pricing starts at $1.99/month. 

Measureful 

For $49/month, this application will analyze your data every week, build your reports, and send them to you. Measureful automatically distills your Google Analytics data into weekly insights and reports. You can connect your accounts in five minutes or less and wait for the reports to arrive. 

 Curalate

Curalate  

Curalate bills itself as the only analytics program for Instagram and Pinterest. It will analyze social media conversations and provide insights into your Pinterest and Instagram profiles. Use it to measure, monitor and grow your influence. In today’s increasingly visual world of applications, Curalate can combine sophisticated image recognition algorithms with technologies to provide you with an analysis of your images at a pixel level. If you’re a photographer or artist, this is the analytic tool you need. 

Analytics SEO Software  

A free account will provide you with an analysis of one user, 20 keywords, social media metrics, and 100 pages and backlinks. It offers a software package that provides online search engine optimization, and SEO advice, data and tools. Check the website for pricing.  

tweetchat

Actionly  

You can use this social media monitoring tool to measure online buzz about your books and the response to each post you schedule to determine which tweets and posts were most effective. Its dashboard provides information on positive and negative remarks and measures the success of your Facebook and Twitter posts. This application also integrates with Google Analytics. Individual plans are $20/month or you can test drive it with a free trial. 

Social Crawlytics

This is a free tool that you can use by simply signing in with Twitter. In clear columns, it will provide you with information on how many people navigated to your website from Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Delicious. It will also tell you how many of your website pages were shared, how many downloads occurred, and how many pages were scanned. This is all important information to have. 

SocialBro

Socialbro  

If you want to measure your account growth and determine the best times of day to send your tweets, then SocialBro is a great app to use. This application will bring into focus your target audience and help you to better understand your audience on Twitter. It will also monitor hashtags, keywords, and URLs. Plans start at $6.95/month. 

 

Tweriod

Tweriod  

You try this application for free or start a premium account for just $3.99/month. Tweriod will provide a monthly analysis that analyzes your Twitter follower base, provides summary statistics, provide numbers on mentions and replies, and measure your influence. If you use Buffer to schedule your tweets, Tweriod will determine your best tweeting times and automatically synchronize that information to your Buffer queue. 

HootsuiteHootSuite  

Yes, this application known for scheduling your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts also provides analytics when you purchase the paid version, which costs $8.99/month. The paid version will also allow you to post to your Google+ page. 

Buffer  

This is another scheduler that offers detailed analytics on all your posts to every social network when you purchase one of its paid plans. It will also work seamlessly with SocialBro and automatically queue up your best tweeting times. 

bitlyBit.ly  

Bit.ly is not only a link shortener. When you consistently use this website to shorten your links, Bit.ly will track click-through rates for you. It also offers an enterprise analytics platform. 

Crowdbooster  

Crowdbooster offers a 30-day free trial. After that, plans start as low as $9/month. At that price, this application will analyze your Facebook (up to 50,000 fans) and Twitter (up to 50,000 followers) pages. You can also use this app to schedule your tweets and Facebook updates and you will receive weekly summaries analyzing your progress.

Which application do you use to measure your success?

 

Also see:

9 Social Media Apps to Help You Be More Social

21 Apps for Your Tweets, Posts & Updates

How to Curate Your Best Content

 

Social Media Just for WritersAbout 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 Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Marketing, Twitter, Self-Publishing and Exploring What If

sweetJane Friedman is a must-follow for Indie authors; her posts are always chock-full of great information. And if you’re serious about blogging, Heidi Cohen is the blogger to read. In this roundup of posts I loved this past week I discovered some sweet posts from a variety of bloggers, including some on self-publishing. I hope you enjoy them.

Marketing, Twitter, Self-Publishing and Exploring What If 

7 Step Marketing Framework – In this bost, Heidi Cohen discusses the seven step to successful marketing. They are: define your marketing goals, identify your audience, create the offer, develop your creative, choose your channel, test your marketing and determine your success metrics. To learn more, read this post. 

Jane Friedman wrote a great post this week about my favorite social media network, Twitter. Here is is: Does Twitter Make Sense for Most Writers? 

Are you happy being an Indie writer, or do you long for a publisher to represent you? This is an interesting post about this topic: Publishing: 7 Things Lessons Learned From My First Book Deal 

If you have a difficult time selecting a genre for your latest creative endeavor, take a look at this post by Harry R. Campion: Choosing a Genre for Your Self-Published Book 

I found this post by Rebel Brown this week and it really spoke to me. Take a look at it and let the question “what if” expand your imagination: The Innovation of What If?

 

Also see:

How to Curate Your Best Content

 

Social Media Tips for Writers (And Reluctant Marketers)

Social Media Just for WritersAbout 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 Chapter and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Photo Credit: dhester