Tag Archives: Self-Publishing

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!

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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!

Have you entered the McGrath House Indie Book Awards? More information here.

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!

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!

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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!

How Do You Price your eBook or Paperback?

For self-published authors there is a fine balance between looking to get your work out there for your readers and the ambition to make a profit.

Many self-published authors use the services of Createspace, KDP or Smashwords to get their book published – easy enough platforms that instantly ensure your book is loaded up with major retailers online. That’s the easy part…now you need to reach an audience who wants to buy your book. So what about the pricing?
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There is such a disparity between quality of work and price when it comes to eBooks and Paperbacks. What is a good price, for all that time spent writing, editing, creating, getting publish ready. Selling a book for 0.99c (less than a coffee) reaps a royalty payment of around 0.35c on an eBook – yet many readers want the quick bargain and it does help get your book quickly out there! But will you sell enough to get a return on your basic investment?

On the opposite end, I see eBooks advertised for $5.99 and above and paperbacks reaching upwards of $20.00 USD. As an avid reader, that is a hefty price to pay – especially for those authors you have never read or heard of before. Yet, I understand and appreciate that even at those prices, the royalties are still minimal per book.

So do you sell more at the lower price and make less, or keep your book high but sell less (if any at all)?

Having researched a little bit further into this – my best advice is to check out your competition. Who are the top authors in your genre, and what is the top ranking book selling at? Like any product, you need to be competitive. You don’t see Coke and Pepsi with major differences in their pricing mechanisms – and so authors need to have this same savvy when pricing their books.

Look at books in your genre, their page count, content, reviews and try to get as close as possible to their pricing. Or perhaps even look at ways to attract readers to one of your books to hook them into your writing. Countdown deals and free promotions are good opportunities, but I’ve also seen mixed results. It’s a constant battle and one that any independent author needs to proactively manage if they want to attract new readers.

As I tell everyone, this is not a ‘get rich quick scheme’ and the worst thing that we could do is have our readers not even bother looking at the synopsis because our pricing turns them off.

Taking the Plunge to Publish

As an author or writer, taking that first step to getting yourself published is certainly a big decision. I remember writing many pieces of work, but shelving them away, or thinking that if they weren’t accepted by the ‘big name’ publishers that I should just bin them.

The reality is, that if you are not represented by an agent, or mostly if you fall into the thousands of other manuscripts submitted to big publishers, you’ll be waiting forever to get your first publishing contract. Nowadays, self-publishing is a great avenue for aspiring authors but having now ventured down that avenue it’s not one to jump into without doing your proper research. Critiques can be cruel and positioning your book correctly from the very beginning is the key to starting off your success as a published author!

What do you want from being published?
I wish I could tell you otherwise, but writing will not get you rich quick. For me it was about having my work recognised and enjoyed by readers, and my books are growing steadily, but not without a continued personal effort. Think about why you want your book published, who your ideal audience would be and how committed you are to your book’s continued promotion and success.

Proof reading and editing your work
It is so easy to think that reading and editing your own work would be suffice, but my strong advice is to get a third party to edit it. Personally I pay for editing, however it is an outlay that many would prefer to avoid, so if you can get someone you trust who can be objective, and has a good grasp of grammar, spelling etc. It’s the small mistakes that distract readers from your story, and can lead to poor reviews.

Getting the right cover and promotion material
You want your book to stand out and be noticed. You want potential readers to want to buy your book on the first view. So make sure you spend time getting the cover right (colours, graphics, style) as well as an enticing blurb and other promotional material. Do a cover reveal, get a book trailer and post to your social media channels. Get the word out there that your book is coming and get people excited about it before they’ve even read the first line!

Getting it right on Kindle or eBook formats
With e-Readers offering much more convenience than paperback and reachability all over the world, why wouldn’t you publish your book electronically? However, be warned, the formatting is tricky, and can sometimes lead to compatibility issues for readers, again distracting them from the true essence of your story. My advice is do your research, spend the time getting it right, and if you’re not sure, ask someone who can help. There are many authors out there who have tried, tested and learned from their own mistakes, and will be very willing to support and help you succeed.

Connecting and marketing your work
I met an author recently who told me he hates social media and refuses to engage with it. Big mistake! The World Wide Web is your key connection to the world, and whilst it takes a lot of effort, it will help you connect and network with other authors, and spread the word about your book. So don’t be afraid, set up a Facebook page for your profile, try out Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Whilst they aren’t the only channels they certainly help and I’ve made most of my sales through these channels with people I’ve never met in person.

Marketing is the key to your book’s success; you need to be prepared to find opportunities and avenues to reach new audiences.

Enjoy this journey, be passionate about your writing, and use it as a connection point with other authors and readers. This is a brilliant community to be a part of!

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The Business of Writing

Many a writer could easily believe that getting a book published would quickly result in a flurry of sales and interest from the general public.

Unfortunately, that is not the reality.

Being a writer is an art of passion, and for me personally, it releases the creativity and ideas that bottle up inside my head. I had ambitions however to develop my writing into something that could be made public; a story that would be read, known and talked about. To do this, I needed to build a following.

Nothing is simple.

What I found is that there is an entrepreneurial side to writing that many new authors underestimate. I certainly did! I quickly needed to put myself out there; and that was a frightening thought. The ‘what ifs’ start to arise as my work was released into the wide open world, and I tentatively waited for that first bout of feedback on my story, my writing, and its public appeal.

Confidence is key . . .

It is about finding the right audience, targeting your work aptly and listening to your readers. Criticism is expected, and broad shoulders are necessary for survival; any business owner should expect that.

Being an author is like owning your own business.

Your writing is your pride and joy, something you have worked on for a great length of time, and most likely put your heart and soul into every typed page. Suddenly, you are at the hands of your consumer, and the control feels like it is slipping away.

So take back the control! business-writing

Connect and grow your network, push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and use your creativity to build visibility for your work in different ways. Develop your author brand! Get comfortable with social media, and join online and community groups to broaden your reach. Anyone who starts a business will say that their first year is the toughest, but the rewards are fruitful when the hard work pays off.

Hence, I am reinventing myself as an entrepreneurial author and I’m embracing the business of writing!