Weekly Self-Published Book Review:The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott

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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:

 the complete mystery

 The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott

Michael Oborn

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN:9781432788933

The mind of Joseph Smith has been debated much, by both Mormon and non-Mormon alike. “The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott” is a mystery surrounding the early time of the Mormon faith and the pursuits of Joseph Smith and his early circle of Brigham Young and Matthew Alcott, his historian. Michael Oborn creates a novel that explores the potential of Alcott to rebel and release a tell all history of the period, free from meddling from above. “The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott” is a strong pick for those who are seeking a bit of religion blended in with mystery and thriller.

Diversity & Self-Publishing (summary edition)

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been digging into the particulars of diversity and how it is, or is not, or could be better represented in the publishing industry–that is, in both traditional publishing and in self-publishing.  But you’re here reading this blog, which means you’re either a self-published author, or interested in self-publishing, and that means the stakes are higher in this matter, that you have an incredibly unique place in the argument.  I’ve already written a little bit about how the track record for self-publishing is somewhat more diverse than it is in traditional publishing, and why.  Authors and readers like you have already brought about change.  You are the change.

That’s right, you are the change.  (This bears repeating, I think.)  Without you and your investment in bringing about a better, more diverse world of words, we would not have authors like the aforementioned CJ Lyons, Orna Ross, Lara Nance, HM Ward, Kailin Gow, Margarita Matos, Abdul Qayum Safi, Lozetta Hayden, Manuela Pentagelo, Tejas Desai, Aleysha Proctor, Mary Sisney, Liz Castro, Nadeem Aslam, Johnny Townsend, and Qasim Rashi.  We would not have created a niche market that has blossomed into a fully-fledged mainstream market, and we would not have opened the doors in traditional publishing by exerting pressure from the indie sector … without you.

So how does this relate to self-promotion?  Well, that’s a good question.  There’s all manner of potential ways in which we could layer further exploitation and abuse on minorities and under-represented groups by trying to turn diversity into a promotional gimmick.  You definitely don’t want to find yourself on the other side of the gimmick line, dear readers.  No buts, howevers, or addendums allowed.  The connection between diversity in self-publishing and a solid foundation for self-promotion is this: honesty.  Yes, honesty.  In your marketing, as in all other things related to your book(s), you should and must be honest.  Are you an author of diverse heritage, or identity?  Awesome.  Get that out there.  Are you an author who comes from outside the “diversity sector” but who wants to uphold the vision, beliefs, and self-realization of those who do?  Awesome.  Get that out there.

Author Beth Revis, who self-published her latest Young Adult novel (The Body Electric) writes eloquently on the role and nature of such allies in the world of words.  “Representation is important,” she writes.  “At its most basic level it says: I see you. And in this world of bright lights and hollow dreams, of statistics and caricatures that turn people invisible, that is important.”  Read the rest of Revis’s blog, and you’ll see that there is a place for the ally–even though it is vital we recognize that saying we support something isn’t the same as actually making it possible.  It’s equally vital that we not put ourselves up on pedestals as allies, when we’re often not the ones who have borne or are bearing the brunt of marginalization.

Perhaps the best thing we can do, both as self-published authors and as authors working on self-promotion, is to make room in our lives and works for the conversation about diversity.  It’s really taken off on certain platforms (most notably, the social networking websites, such as Tumblr and Twitter), but it hasn’t yet reached critical mass.  The more we make ourselves at home with diversity as a topic, the more footholds diversity has to make visible the invisible.

If you’re looking for my earlier posts on diversity & self-publishing, see:

And check back next week on Wednesday as I launch a new series on the merits of merchandising for self-published authors interested in self-promotion!

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: 03/24/15

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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.

High School Teachers Guide Students Into Self-Publishing

In some high school classes, teens are becoming published authors through self-publishing projects. Students are producing poems, short stories and nonfiction works in class with self-publishing tools. This is an interesting read for writers, teachers, and parents.

Facebook Ads: A Guide for Indie Authors

By targeting ads to specific users on Facebook, indie authors can market their books and build their readerships. This article is a must read for authors considering Facebook ads.

Smart Indie Authors Connect at Writers’ Conferences

There is little question that writers’ conferences can provide a big boost for an indie author’s career. This article discusses the benefits of writers’ conferences and how to find them.

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.

Connect with Others to Promote Your Book

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March is National Small Press Month, which celebrates small publishers and showcases the unique voices of the authors who choose them. This makes March the perfect time to promote your self-published book! To help you take advantage of this, I am offering promotion advice and ideas on the blog every Monday this month. Be sure to check out the previous posts: Why March is the Best Time to Promote Your Self-Published Book, 10 Ways to Promote Your Self-Published Book in March, and Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Self-Publishing.

This week I’ll share an easy way to connect with others and promote yourself and your work — blog comments.

1. Find blogs.

Find blogs by fellow small press author, other people in the publishing industry, and people interested in the topic of your book.

2. Read the blog.

Read several posts to get a feel for the author and his or her readers. Never comment on a post without reading the entire post! You can’t contribute to the conversation if you don’t fully understand what the conversation is about.

3. Position yourself as an expert.

This gives people a reason to take interest in your comment. Just be careful not to act like a know-it-all. No one likes that person.

4. Be professional at all times.

Disagreeing is okay, but always be respectful about it. It’s okay for other people to have a different opinion.

5. Add value.

Make sure your comment adds value to the conversation. Simply commenting things like “Thank you” or “Nice post” don’t add value.

6. Be brief.

Now is not the time to write a novel. Keep your comments short and to the point.

7. Include a link.

This is key! Always include a link to your website or blog. If you don’t, you are wasting your time. The link is how you will promote yourself and your work and allows people who were interested in your comment to contact you.

8. Fill in all fields appropriately.

Each blog will most likely have an area where you can enter your name, email (most likely not published), URL, text of your comment, etc. Don’t change up the order on this. For instance, you shouldn’t add your website address to the comment box; it should only be placed in the URL field.

9. Share the love.

Mention someone else’s book/blog/website where appropriate. All of your comments should not be “pushing” your book. Vary your comments. Others will have more respect for you and know that when you mention your book or website, you are making an appropriate reference.

10. Never SPAM!

Write your own comments, keep them relevant, and stay away from any questionable “blog commenting” services. A good rule of thumb is — if you would be ashamed to call the blog owner and let them know what you’ve done, you shouldn’t do it.

Check back next week for more promotion ideas.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director 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 03/20/15

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A BIT MORE ABOUT THE PLOT

When I was still in the high school classroom (teaching advanced writing), I borrowed the Science and Biology teacher’s skeleton for a day. I found it to be a very useful visual in my efforts to explain the importance of actions and events when building the storyline (plot) of short stories and novels. This illustration is from the free ClipArt files and I especially like that the figure is IN MOTION…as the plot should be.

skelton

There is an ongoing discussion among writers as to whether Characters drive the Plot or the Plot drives the Characters.  I’m in the first camp—because it is the re-actions of the characters (to the plot action/events) that keep Readers turning those pages.  The skeleton illustration demonstrates that the brain (character thoughts, emotions) send the signal to the other parts (plot action/events) in order to move forward.

I can, however, acknowledge the other discussion position because if there was no “hand” to send a signal to (no planned plot event or action) then nothing would happen.  Ah…the conundrum!

So it is that I focus on the concept of MOTION—moving forward toward my desired conclusion—when developing a plot for any length of fiction.  Here are a few ideas to help with that…

  1. Start with “The End.” Have you seen the TV commercial (mini-short-story) where the cowboy rides off into the sunset and is knocked off his horse by the words THE END? Knowing how you want your story to close should provide many ideas for the characters to “act out” in order to get there.
  2. Think dialogue. Some writers don’t consider dialogue to be part of the definition of PLOT. However, I offer this thought using the above scenario. The cowboy is knocked off his horse—injured—so there will be some type of re-action to that event and (for humans) it usually includes LOUD WORDS. What they say usually leads to the next step in the storyline.
  3. Consider HOT and COLD, never TEPID. Lukewarm, half-hearted plot points usually cause a reader to close the book and not pick it up again. Again, I’m NOT saying that there needs to be an explosion in every chapter. Cold/cool moments are very necessary in order to give readers a chance to consider what has happened, and what they “guess” might happen within the next pages.
  4. Take a look at the skeleton’s CENTER of gravity. The dynamics of motion rely on balance. It is the same with the fiction novel. Protagonists and Antagonists (and their supporting characters) need to be vitally present, active, and positioned throughout the story in a balanced manor.

I hope this running skeleton helps someone better understand the concept of PLOT—actions and events—necessary for excellent fiction writing. Just the “look” of those running bones should spur us all forward just to escape IT!  Smile….and enjoy many inspired hours of creative writing and publishing!

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: Why The Wind Loves Children

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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:

why the wind loves children

 Why the Wind Loves Children

Fred Schlissel, author
Tetyana Snezhyk, illustrator

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN:9781432786212

Why the Wind Loves Children is a softcover children’s book written in the style of folklore. Grandfather and storyteller Fred Schlissel spins a parable about how the land used to have fewer colors and no wind. Then came children — bright, inquisitive, and laughing. The energy of their love and the air from their laughter brought about the wind, which loves children to this day. “What a wonderful thing had happened. There were leaves on the trees and the wind made them move. A person could even hear the sound of the leaves rustle as the wind gently moved them one way and another.” Simplistic color illustrations reminiscent of a child’s artwork add a compassionate touch to this gentle and heartwarming fable.

Diversity & Self-Publishing (ep. 5)

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On this most auspicious of post-St. Patrick’s-Days, we will answer the last two questions in a series of questions (and blog posts) on the role (past, present, and future) of diversity in publishing, and particularly in self-publishing.  If you missed any of the blogs in this series, you can find them here, here, here, and here.

The first of our remaining two questions may seem deceptively simple:

  • Should we make diversity happen?

But I should like to protest against any intimations of straightforwardness.  There are very few people in this world, I think, who would openly declare “No!” in answer to such a question, but there are a great many–perhaps even the majority of our regular authors and readers–who do unconsciously, or subconsciously, respond in the negative.  How is this so?  It is so because recognizing a need, then stepping out and actively contributing to positive change and forward momentum, is incredibly difficult.  What is that quote we attribute to Edmund Burke?  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  Anything–any inaction–that allows an unjust or under-representative system to continue is a silent, but extremely resounding, “no.”  Whenever we come up against the status quo, creating change is going to take more than a little goodwill, or even a great deal of goodwill.  It takes vision, energy, resources, and endurance.  Perhaps the question we need to ask isn’t “Should we make diversity happen?” but rather, “Why aren’t we doing this already, and how can we make good on what we already know to be the right thing to do?”

Having determined that encouraging diversity in the world of books is a good thing, our next question necessarily follows:

  • How can we better foster a self-publishing community that welcomes diverse authors and readers?

I think we need to take a long and honest look at the systems we trust to install agents, editors, book buyers, illustrators, executives, and even CEOs.  This holds true for other industries apart from the world of books, of course, but when talking about the life of the mind and the imagination, we need to be especially aware of the insidious influences of a stagnating infrastructure.  In essence, we need to reevaluate what we’re already doing, and jettison the injustices actually built into publishing DNA.  We need to be honest with ourselves and with others about who holds power over who gets published, and who gets the resources to self-publish.  There are subtler, even more sinister workings behind-the-scenes that we need to reevaluate, too, such as the tendency to grandfather in unspoken assumptions and expectations when it comes to what the industry sees as risky, or the “right fit.”  If we use patterns of the past to justify the future, we had better make sure those patterns include a rich texture of voices and stories and authors.

The playing field is slightly more level in the world of self-publishing because diverse authors should not, in theory, be facing the same editorial and agent-related hurdles that a traditionally published author is.  But we need to be honest, here, too, since self-publishing companies are made up of people and packages that may, by dint of being human, possess biases or flaws in reasoning.  Many of these companies are small in terms of staff, so they may or may not have the option of setting up an ethics and diversity committee, but it is worth every company’s while to make sure they are actively promoting diversity in both the workplace and in the products and services they offer.  If you are an author seeking self-publication, it never hurts to ask if such a committee exists, or whether the company you’re working with has any strategies in place.

So, if self-publishing were a kind of building, I’ve taken a quick survey of its architecture from the top down–from its executives to its staff to its authors.  But there’s another key component I haven’t mentioned yet: the market.  That means you, dear reader.  If you read books, you’re driving the market.  Every book bought and sold shifts the flow of money toward or away from various authors and industries.  If you want to see diversity in the world of books as much as I do, then there’s no better way to effectively contribute to that change than by putting your money to good work.  Buy self-published books by diverse authors, and you’ll see more diverse authors publishing.  It’s as simple as that.  Or rather, it may not be the only avenue through which you can create change, but it’s a simple and practical one that will see important and long-term effects.  That’s the kind of action I can get behind!

And that’s all the space I have for the week.  I know that these ruminations of mine barely barely scratch the surface of these questions, much less the conversation as a whole.   Over the next week, as I attempt to pull together a coherent summary of my responses to the questions I posed four weeks ago (and what all of this has to do with self-promotion), please drop me a line in the comments section below with your own thoughts or suggestions!  And of course, check back next week as we delve into still more of the self-publishing world!

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.

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