Is your book an AWARD WINNER?

The McGrath House Indie Book Awards 2017 is now open for entries! For the second year running, these awards are focused on recognising excellence across the independent author community.

Sponsored by McGrath House, entrants will be accepted until 27th August 2017. All books entrants will be judged and up to three finalists will be selected and open to public voting to select the overall winners for each genre.
All genre winners will receive a certificate in the post and will be able to use the McGrath House Winner logo for use on their book covers and any marketing material.

In addition, an overall winner will be selected across all entries, and will receive a glass engraved trophy as the ultimate prize.

Why Enter?

Winning a book award demonstrates is a great opportunity to showcase your book as an ‘award winner’.

You and your book will also be featured across all social media activities by McGrath House.

Key Dates?

Deadline for entries – 27th August 2017 – $1.00 USD processing fee
Voting commences – 1st October 2017 – 30 November 2017
Winners announced – December 2017

How to Enter?

Simply click on the link to enter your book’s details.
Please note that a $1.00 USD processing fee applies for all entrants.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Good luck!

Who’s Following You?

One thing I’m still continuing to understand as an author, is how to build a large following of readers. There are so many channels where you can reach a new range of readers: email lists, Facebook likes, Instagram and Twitter follows to name a few. What I also do is research and observe other authors, I watch those who’s following seems to increase with pace and substance, and I try to understand what they are doing so that I can continually learn and develop my own following as a result.

Do they pay for services to help build their following, do they pay for software that can automate their messages or are they just continually active on all social media channels and actively finding opportunities to create interest in a broad audience? The answer is probably yes, to at least one or two of these questions.

Whatever the answer, there is a commitment to building that following and it is something that clearly links to sales and book performance.

So do authors really need to become marketers to be successful?

Of course! Even if you are lucky enough to have a good publisher with an established reputation, readers are investing in your books and you as the author. If you want them to follow your work, they need to see a piece of you as a part of that package. Learning about how to build your public author image on social media is probably the very first thing you need to do as a new author. Then you need to make sure that the public find your profile.

Another valuable piece of advice someone gave me at the very start of my own author journey was that you cannot just keep posting about your own book. That gets boring and will quickly turn your following away. As an author you need to find ways to communicate different aspects of your writing story, your book, your interests and perhaps even other books you read and enjoy. Readers want to see who is behind the book, and they want to find interest in what you do and think. Just posting ‘buy my book’ won’t help your cause.

It was that advice alone that prompted me to set up my author website, make my book reviews part of my blog, and to just write my thoughts and experiences in different blog posts. It was all new to me at the start, but as I started to build a rhythm around my posts and I received comments and notes from people all over the world, I knew that this was my way of connecting to my readers and building a platform to attract a wide audience.

Essentially, every author is different, and my advice is to find ways to market yourself that you are comfortable with and go for it. Tell your story, but in a different way; a way that will bring readers to your book and following your future publications with anticipation.

Good luck and go for it!

LIMITLESS – Your chance to be published!

I’m so very excited to be a part of an exciting new project with a great group of independent authors who are committed to making a difference in the world through their written word!

LIMITLESS
The possibilities are ‘limitless’ when you have love, friendship and tolerance.
* * * * *
We want to showcase both true and fictional stories and poems in a very special anthology that will be produced with the aim to provide all profits towards the AMAR foundation via our own LIMITLESS site on Justgiving.com.

A cause that is incredibly important today, as AMAR is an award-winning charity that works in the Middle East to help millions rebuild their lives in countries scarred by war.

We will have contributions from published authors all around the world on this exciting new project. The aim is to select a variety of short stories and poems from the entries who will become a part of this important collection!

All finalist winners will have their short stories and poetry published on both paperback and kindle throughout a worldwide distribution channel. You will also receive your very own paperback copy to keep. The anthology will also include your individual biography and you will also have your name highlighted as a key contributor and author for this project.

* * * * *

    Key Dates and Entry Requirements:

Your stories or poems should be either fiction or non-fiction based around the subject of love, friendship and/or tolerance.
Short stories are required to be a minimum of 2000 words and a maximum of 5000 words.
Entries should be submitted in MS Word format (.doc), with line spacing of 1.5 and font size 12.
To submit your entry please use the form link.
SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY HERE

* * * * *

Deadline for entries is 31 July 2017
Judging between 1st to 31st August 2017

Winners announced in the Read My Mind Winter Edition released 4th December 2017
Publication of the Anthology is anticipated in advance of the Read My Mind Winter edition on 4th October 2017!

For any enquires please contact McGrath House (contributor to Read My Mind Magazine)

Network! Don’t Compete!

Too many times I see authors competing against one another to the point where it is not healthy. The very first thing I learned on my publishing journey was that I need other authors to help me be successful. Other authors are certainly not my competition. In many ways, they are my bread and butter, as they are often the first to pick up and read my work, and they help me with feedback, advice and guidance on how to ensure my book reaches more readers.

Therefore, author-to-author, I encourage you to get to know a network of authors; respect them, learn from them and build a friendship with them.

I watch in surprise at times as authors play themselves against other authors, or write far too critical reviews for the public to read, or even worse, openly put down other author’s work. This is not a game; many authors are doing this for their living. We are not all perfect, and we will never like the same things in life. However, we should appreciate talent and passion. Like an artist, we have our taste in the style and genre of any piece of work. The same goes for writing. If we all enjoyed the same things, life would be pretty boring!

And why should we compete?

Think about it … there are millions of readers in the world. There are now different ways people can now access books: paperback, eBook, and audio books. So what makes us (as an author) think we can dominate the ‘entire’ market on our own?

Fact: we can’t! So don’t even try.

As an author, my publicity, word of mouth, readership, reviews and more have all come primarily from the author community and then it’s grown from there. Without that author community I would literally be a lone soldier trying to get my book out there into the wide world of readers. With the help of my author friends, I have expanded my readership, built a community of support and surprisingly, I’ve even made some friends.

What I’m saying here, is network. Network the hell out of your author networks, either through social media, book fairs and events, or any other available avenues. Introduce yourself, your book and your genres. Get to know the author behind the book.

Personally, what has been amazing on my own author journey, is that I have met a group of authors who are incredibly talented and write in genres I may not have picked up in those mainstream stores. Through these connections we support, promote and help each other on our journey to building our readership. Even more, I call these authors my friends. Some of them, I have never even met, but they are incredibly important now to my life, and I could not do this without them.

At the end of the day, it’s another person to talk to, albeit online or over social channels, but it is a connection that will help you on your journey as a published author. Sometimes, we need to admit we cannot do it all alone!

Getting your Book Noticed!

What I have learned more than anything, is that the more credible your book becomes (via reviews and awards) the more likely it will spark the curiosity of your readers.

Reviews can be a little hit and miss. Firstly, you cannot force your readers to write a review after reading your book. Like most things, many people forget or will verbally acknowledge a good book, but your average reader will rarely sit down to write a one or two paragraph critique of your book. Most reviews come from professionals or even other authors, and trust me, sometimes it feels like you are pulling teeth to get a review written.

Another great way of getting visibility and credibility for your book, are book awards contests. Obviously, it counts on the quality of your book, but entering and winning an award can give your book a heightened accolade that will help get your book noticed.

The award contests below are just a few of the available opportunities for independent authors. Whilst there is an entry fee to submit your book nomination, these are certainly the contests that will create more hype around your book – if it is recognised as a winner!

Reader’s Favorite Awards – the deadline for the early bird entry is 1st April 2017!

Contestants for these awards range from new independent authors to New York Times best sellers. The awards have a range of prizes and an esteemed ceremony every year in Miami for its winners. They also have the attention from some publishing houses who have in effect picked up some of the winners to sign them to publishing contracts.

New Apple Literary Awards

Another great opportunity for recognition in excellence in independent publishing. The early bird entry deadline is 1st May 2017 with the final deadline 1st December 2017. Note, that the price increases so it’s best to get in early! The New Apple team will also provide a certificate and an award trophy (at your cost) and your book will be promoted for twelve months via their social media channels.

The Best Indie Book Awards

With only nine categories, and exclusive to only independent book authors, this is another great award contest to ensure you get the recognition you are seeking for your book. A trophy is awarded to the category winner, and your book is publicised across various social media channels – so in essence you get some free marketing with the accolade.

IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards)

Has been running for 21 years now and has a very strong reputation across the author and reader community. Entries are now closed (25 February) for 2017, but these awards are certainly one to put in your calendar reminders for entry in 2018.

For those authors who are a little more money conscious, or don’t have the funds to spare, there are some free awards contests available (many hosted by independent authors themselves) which are mostly reader nominated, but again anything that gets your book out there via different channels is certainly worth exploring!

Do Reviews Matter?

Once you publish your book, you suddenly open yourself up to the public, and that means the critics. I was always told that I needed to get reviews for my book, and of course, like any author, I hoped people would love my book, giving it five stars and glowing commentary.

However, is that truly the reality? Everyone is a critic, and human beings can be subjective. Therefore, what is a five star to one person might be a three star to another. I’ve learned not to set my standards so high to become disappointed with the four and three star reviews. In fact, what is more important, in my view, is the actual review itself.

I love to read the comments, how my book makes people feel, and what it perhaps meant to the reader. I also like to stay open to any constructive feedback, it helps me understand the psyche of my readers, and what I could learn for future publications.

However, when I say constructive I mean constructive. As an author, the reality is that there are people out there who can be brutal with their comments, and sometimes even hurtful. When you are in the public eye, this is sadly something that we open ourselves up to. What can we do about it? Nothing really!

When I say we can do nothing, that is exactly what we should do. Ignore it. Don’t respond with the same malice, and just move on. Look at any best seller on the market, and they have a wide range of reviews and commentary. Even the best of books have the worst of critics and the detractors. Stephen King, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell are among some of the best authors, and they have their share of one and two star reviews.

As an author, I would suggest that you listen to the majority of your reviewers to truly understand the quality of your work. Look at the patterns around the reviews, and specifically any comments that may be arising more than once. Unless you are consistently getting lower ratings, or the negative comments are forming a pattern, it is just part of the game, and you should not overthink it. Where you are getting a pattern of feedback, you have a choice too. You can do something about it – fix it in your current publication or in future works, or again just accept and ignore it. Either way, it means someone is reading your book, and it may spark the curiosity of more readers.

Reviews are important, but unless your book is averaging one or two stars, they are not the only thing that will sell your book. You sell your book! You are responsible for getting your book in front of the right readers, and when you do, you should expect and welcome their feedback. If you can’t handle the heat from your readers, then sadly this game may not be for you.

Read My Mind

I’ve been a published author now for almost two years, yet I still have questions about being an author, and sometimes it is difficult to know where to turn to get the ‘right’ information.

The one true source of information that helps me is my network of other authors, a real community of friends and support who have been a wonderful source of information and advice, as well as my sanity at times when I needed a good laugh.

What is even better is that this community of authors have now embarked on a journey to share their knowledge, insights and experiences through a series of articles in a brand new FREE magazine called READ MY MIND.

Lily Amis (NasSima Design) is the instigator, imaginator and producer of this magazine, and as an author I’m honoured to be a part of this community to be featured in the very first issue, which will be released in April!

Discover new books, get the latest information on publishing, as well as articles on lifestyle, humour, travel and more. The magazine will offer competitions and other great highlights, so it’s certainly a collaboration that shouldn’t be missed.

To subscribe to the magazine, enter your details here, and be a part of this great journey with us!

SUBSCRIBE

A Question of Formatting

So the one thing I have learned very quickly about self-publishing is that there is no one format that works for all channels when launching your book on either paperback or eBook. However, if you get it wrong, it has a major impact on the look and readability of your book, and potentially the response from your readers.

Readers don’t want to figure out the formatting; they get frustrated by page breaks in the wrong spots, and blank pages, or worse, text that is ever-changing in font and style throughout an eBook or paperback. I have learned to become pernickety about how my books are formatted, and I’m still not sure I always get it right. I spend hours launching a draft, checking it page by page, and then re-doing it again, until I’m satisfied.

Then, there are the picture or illustrated books. Now that is a completely different story. It is actually easier to publish in a paperback format, as you can save any file to PDF and voila, you’re done. But… putting these illustrations alongside their text into a kindle or ePub file is another story, and a whole art form unto itself. However, I personally would not want to get this wrong. Firstly, most illustrated books are aimed at younger readers, and attracting and keeping their attention is important to a book’s success. Illustrations that don’t format well with the text of a book, is the first failure in my personal view, and will ultimately lead to disinterest from younger minds and imaginations.

I tried multiple free Internet sites to convert my books, and most of them failed miserably. In the end, I hired someone from Fiverr.com to help me with my quest, and despite the small cost, it was well worth it to know that my book would look the way I wanted it to on an eReader device.

Smashwords will quickly convert most word documents into a good Kindle (.mobi) file suitable for Kindle. If pictures are involved, it may not work as well, but generally the files if checked can be amended (just be aware it may take a few goes). Again, however, I strongly recommend hiring the services of someone who knows their formatting, especially if your book has illustrations or diagrams, to ensure that you get the best effect for your readers.

Formatting is not something to take lightly. The key simple rules I follow for any book are:

1. Chapters should start on a new page.
2. Paragraphs should be clearly defined.
3. The font should be consistent in style and size.
4. Remove blank pages (where possible).
5. Keep it simple (this is the best way to keep it compatible for all eReader devices).

As always please reach out to me if you have any questions or need further information on your publishing journey!

Why Do You Want to Be an Author?

What makes you want to be an author?

This is the question you really need to ask yourself before you publish. Are you in it for money, fame, readership, kudos, or just to ‘see how it goes’?

Once you answer this question you can then decide which route you’d like to pursue in getting your work published.

Getting yourself signed up with a ‘publisher’ is difficult, but if your work is good and its fame you’re seeking – this may be the fastest route. Money, well dependent on your contract, and how good your publisher is, that could quickly follow. However, from my own learning, research your publisher, as them where they will publicise your work, and how they will market your book. If they are a small publisher they may not have the aptitude or contacts to go beyond their regional means, which in turn does your book no favours.

Now, self-publishing is another story. However, it is up to you, one hundred percent, no going back, and your success is dependent on your ability to network, market yourself, and position yourself to your intended audience. It’s harder than you think.

However, in self-publishing, the royalties are all yours, and you control your book’s direction, whichever way you take it. You just need to decide what you want from your book, what you’re willing to invest (in either time, money or resources) and more importantly, who your target audience is, and where to find them!

More to come on this subject with future blog updates.

Subscribe to my updates to receive more hints, tips, insights and advice.

Want to Self Publish?

So you have written a book? Finished that manuscript? Or maybe you are thinking of writing a book?

Not sure where to start?

Firstly, I will say that there is no one clear path for authors today.

However, I’m often asked a lot of questions by new authors and aspiring authors, what did I do?

Sadly, there is no exact science to success, but there are certainly some things you can do to give your book the best chance possible.

I have heard and seen much criticism for self-published authors. Much of this has been because of the ease of getting your book now on kindle or paperback via Amazon, Smashwords or Ingram without any vetting via an agent or proven publishing body. The thing is, if your book is bad it won’t sell. Fact! So regardless of being backed by a publisher, agent or doing it alone; the book needs to be attractive to the general public.

Without a doubt, there are some pretty terrible books on the market. However, I have seen these books represented by publishers as well as self-published authors – both of which I would never touch. From my experience, self publishing is what you make of it. If you want to be successful and you put the effort into your work and marketing it – you have a much better chance of succeeding. Like anything, nothing is guaranteed. But if you don’t try, you don’t succeed.

My advice, is to take the plunge, get your book ready, do your homework and just go!

If you would like any advice, guidance or help on your self publishing journey please contact me at mcgrathhouseltd@gmail.com