Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 10/24/14

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CRITICAL THINKING-WRITING II

Someone once told me that my true vocation was as a CSI (crime scene investigator) in the writing field because I question everything and look for better answers.  That particular person’s tone was a bit thick with sarcasm.  However I accepted it as a moment of “constructive criticism.”  Since then, I’ve developed several “rebellious” elements to my writing career that have greatly enhanced my editing techniques and (in my opinion) bring out the best in the manuscripts I’m editing or ghostwriting.  The following four points are part of those strategies.  I hope they will also help you fine-tune and enhance your projects.

  1. IF A CONCEPT is presented as “the accepted wisdom” or the “the way things are always done,” don’t hesitate to challenge it! Our society—humanity in general—and the thousands of cultural groups within it have, indeed, developed what is referred to as “conventional wisdoms.” They are established rules based on general assumptions that have proven to be accurate “the majority of the time.” These suppositions beg to be questioned and, in many instances, can be used in a storyline or the development of a character to demonstrate the harm of blindly believing the accepted wisdom or statement of fact—facts that the next generation discover to be untrue.
  2. Automatically accepting all authority is the other side of the following-conventional-wisdom coin. It is up to us (writers) to weed through the authority-maze, research viable options, and write about them. It is worthwhile to demonstrate the many levels of “authority” in our lives that protect us and our property, keep our cities and country functioning and guide us spiritually. However, it is even more valuable to expose the traps set by the PR firms of the world—ploys that are too often exploited in other areas of life to manipulate and deceive us.
  3. Don’t JUMP on the Bandwagon! If a certain genre has become popular and you see other writers turning their efforts in that direction, STOP! Should you be joining them? Ask yourself whether or not that genre peaks your interest. Check your passion quotient. If you’re not attracted to that field of writing—and research—stick to your own area. While other authors are drawn in by the intensity of the moment, you will be at the cutting edge of the genre you enjoy most. THIS will get the attention of readers, while the others will be lost among all the other instruments on that bandwagon.
  4. Lastly, resist the pull of emotionalism. Each of the three strategies mentioned above involve elements of emotional connection to our human automatic response systems. Emotions often blur clear vision. If there is anger toward an authority figure or establishment, a writer’s thought process can become jumbled. The “accepted wisdom of current thought” can supersede what really needs to be written and bandwagon-emotionalism will lead a writer down many wrong “rabbit trails.”

BEING an author and living the life of a Career Writer is so much more than a job.  If you’re like me, your friends think that “all you do is sit around and play on the computer.”  Yet the playing we do becomes STORIES peopled by unique characters who accomplish GREAT THINGS and INSPIRE others around the world.  So, WRITE your stories, my friend.  GET PUBLISHED!  And, enjoy the accolades of your friends and neighbors.  Your TIME is NOW!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Weekly Self-Published Book Review:Before I Forget

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Before I forgetBook reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review by Midwest Book Review:

 

Before I Forget

Morayo Olayombo Ruth Luwoye

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781432780296

Education is taken for granted in America. “Before I Forget: Ola Goes to School” is a memoir from Morayo Olayombo Ruth Luwoye who shares her life’s struggles and how her desire to seek education drove her forward, through poverty. Driven by her faith in God, she shares her life’s challenges of growing up in Nigeria. Moving with charming illustrations throughout, “Before I Forget” is a strong addition to any international memoir collection.

Rising Through the Ranks | A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (Part I)

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve explored some of the benefits of tapping into social networks (read those blog posts here, here, and here) for self-published authors.  Even for beginners or newcomers, there are ways to take advantage of the complex tools now at our disposal.  And social media is just the beginning! 

This week, I’m going to launch a series of blogs to provide a primer to––or a launching point for future discussions about––another means of augmenting your digital presence: Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).  What does this somewhat obscure term mean?  Simply put, SEO is a constellation of processes that boost your visibility on the internet by making your digital content––whether book page listings, or blog posts, or book trailer videos––easier for the average internet user to find.

But first, a touch of necessary background:

These days, it’s much easier to find information online than it used to be.  The internet has gone through a number of changes, but if you hopped onto a computer in the early 1990s, you will remember just how different the experience was.  If you didn’t have a specific website address to type into your browser’s navigation bar––well, good luck finding anything other than an error message!  Lucky for us, we now have access to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  All you have to do is enter a couple of keywords into the search box, and a complicated algorithm takes those keywords, chews them over, and spits out thousands of websites that contain relevant information.  This search process has become so easy, and so subsumed into our everyday activities, that it seems both natural and obvious to hop online to answer even the easiest questions, including ‘what’s the weather like today?’ or ‘what time does the grocery store close?’

We tend to think of search engines as democratic tools, as likely to spit out one piece of relevant information is it is another, equally relevant piece.  All blogs dedicated to self-publishing should get their chance at the top of a list of search results, right?  Wrong.  The first thing you need to know about search engines is that the results they provide are strategically ranked.  Paid advertisers on Google, for example, spend a considerable amount of money to guarantee that their websites are at the very top of every list.  The second thing you need to know about search engines is that there are some extremely simple––and entirely free––steps you can follow to take advantage of, or optimize your digital content for, these algorithms.  That’s where this blog series comes in––we’re here to help!

Step 1: Optimize Your Keywords

Functionally speaking, a keyword is a word or expression that you and your readers both use to collect together related material.  The best keywords are not just those that show up often, statistically-speaking, in your book or in conversations surrounding your book.  Articles, pronouns, and ‘be’ verbs remain the most common words in the English language, so a truly effective keyword will be just common enough to occur in a substantial number of related texts, and just specific enough to exclude truly irrelevant material.  As an author working to amplify your presence online, it’s important to remember that you’re not just looking for more users to stumble across your website; you’re looking for the right sort of users––those users who will stick around long enough to fall in love with your written voice and, hopefully, your book!  Incorporate keywords in your website (or blog, or YouTube video) titles, meta tags, bodies or descriptions, and in your link profiles.  As Google converts to Latent Semantic Indexing (more on that in future posts!), make sure to identify and incorporate LSI keywords throughout your written materials.

[ For more free resources specifically related to keywords, check out Google’s AdWords indices, Wordtracker, and the Bing Ads Intelligence homepage. ]

Keywords are only the tip of the iceberg!  Next week, check back here for the next installation of this blog series.  I’ll be addressing matters of content––and how can you use the actual raw stuff of your digital presence to bolster your SEO.

Check back every wednesday to read more about the art of self promotion!  If you have a question about any of these tools for self promotion, would like to hear from me about something specific, or have other big news to share, please comment below!

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing Week in Review: 10/21/14

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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

With “Let’s Get Digital” You Can Finally Say Yes to Successful Self-Publishing

This article discusses important things to consider when considering self-publishing and provides information about a new book by David Gaughran, a successful self-published author, that offers advice and resources for writers who are ready to publish, but are unfamiliar with the indie self-publishing process.

 Appeal of Writing Memoirs Grows, as Do Publishing Options

This NY Times article discusses “the age of memoirs” and how self-publishing is making it easier and more accessible. This is an interesting read for anyone considering writing a memoir.

Canada’s Self-Publishing Awards shortlists announced

Finalists for the first self-publishing awards in Canada, the Blurb Inc. Creation of Stories: Canada’s Self-Publishing Awards, have been revealed. I always encourage writers to study successful self-published authors. Lists such as this are a great resource to learn what makes a great self-published book.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

How to Scare Away Readers

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Happy October, everyone! In honor of this month, I’ll be sharing Halloween-themed posts each week. Be sure to check out the previous posts about spooky self-publishing statistics and why authors are scared to self-publish. This week, I’ll talk about things that will scare away readers and how to avoid these mistakes.

1) Typos and poor grammar

While even books published by big name traditional publishers occasionally have mistakes, readers expect books to be near flawless. If your manuscript is full of typos and grammar mistakes, readers will not take you or your book seriously, no matter how great your story. It is difficult to review your own manuscript, so I always recommend hiring a professional copyeditor.

2) A poorly developed story

Sometimes authors get rushed to meet a deadline or lose track of the direction of their book. If elements such as plot, characters, setting, organization, and voice aren’t properly developed, your book will leave readers disappointed. Since you are attached to your story and know in your mind how it is supposed to read, it is always best to have someone else review your story. Consider hiring a developmental editor or ask trustworthy friends, family, and colleagues to provide feedback.

3) A generic cover

Despite the cliché “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” readers decide whether or not to purchase a book based on the cover. Rather than using stock photos or artwork, I highly recommend spending extra for a personalized book cover that is professional and that captures the essence of your book.

I’d love to know, what scared you away from a book?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 10/17/14

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CRITICAL THINKING-WRITING

Writing with critical thinking methods is often a challenge for me, especially when experiencing multiple emotional events.  However, clients call and projects must be completed.  Thankfully, I’ve developed a few steps that quickly get me back on track (usually).  My top three are:

DO whatever it takes to get to the office! Sitting myself down in front of the computer and resting my hands on the keyboard brings my focus to the table (as some folks say), and sets my thoughts in motion.  I like my office environment.  It has a big window overlooking a greenbelt with cottonwood and cloud vistas that always inspire me.  My desk surrounds me in a horseshoe shape—2/3rds working area, 1/3rd bookshelf/computer/printer stations.  A window-seat is covered with an eclectic collection of blankets to accommodate our two old-lady-cats.  It’s MY PLACE to write; my place to connect with the writing flow.  If you’re a multitasker, you probably have several projects going at once, so my next “get-organized” step will be an absolute for you.

Surround yourself with your immediate, must-get-done-now projects. I start at the corner of my desk to my left, laying out each file as they come into my hand, and continuing until they are all visible—OR—I’ve reached the telephone (which is the last available desktop space).  Now, catch your breath.  Didn’t know you had so many, did you?  Personally, I combine my client projects AND my personal projects in this grouping.  Each one is important to me and my clients, and the simple act of laying them out has already given me an inkling of the order in which they must be completed.  Yep—rearrange them in that order.  Some will be more immediate than others because of the DUE BY dates.  Others will filter to the top because of the client need or expectations.  And occasionally, a book project pulls itself up the timeline because of my personal interests—which leads me to the next step.

Allow your writer’s curiosity to move a project closer to the front of the line. Our world and the people in it offer infinite opportunities for discovery and infinite subjects to write about.  So whether you’re assisting someone in developing their book, or writing your own, open your heart and mind with the curiosity key that will open new doors.  Exploring “where others have not gone before” is exciting; an adventure that will not only enhance the writing of the current project, but will also cultivate seedlings for many new ones.

And, the last step (for today) is to KEEP your sense of perspective.  If one of your book projects looms TOO BIG before you, it probably needs to be cut down to size—literally.  It may actually be a two or three book series.  And, from a personal perspective, projects like that can cause us to become “unbalanced” in time-management.  If one client (one topic, one editor, one co-author, etc.) becomes TOO needy, the time needed to actually complete that project can evaporate.  SO…do the “scale from one to ten” measurement, with one being your opportunity to watch a sunrise and ten being the outbreak of thermonuclear war because you didn’t get the resolution response written.  WHERE do your projects fit along that scale?  I’m guessing that none will reach the ten-level.

Now, take another deep breath and relax. All your writings WILL be completed in due time!  The old saying that “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven,” is true.  The season for your book to be written and published is right now and into tomorrow!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Weekly Self-Published Book Review:Operation Seeding

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Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review by Midwest Book Review:

 operation seeding

Operation Seeding

Michael Andrisano

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781432781187

Weather is life. “Operation Seeding” is a thriller from Michael Andrisano as a corporation takes over the skies with cloud seeding, giving man the ability to control the very weather itself. With a four month downpour causing massive flooding and loss of life and property, Bob Thurston, CEO of the founding company, realizes the evil his technology is capable of and must set out to stop those who would do so in acts of terrorism. “Operation Seeding” is an intriguing take on science fiction and thriller, much recommended.

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