Self-Publishing News: 4.16.2019

the word "april" from the wooden letters

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Some of the best literature comes from places that the average American reader might not know about, and we write about these places frequently here on Self Publishing Advisor: India, Britain, and this week, Australia. In this week’s West Australian, Jackson Lavell-Lee writes to promote an upcoming event at Barefoot Books Busselton, which according to Lavell-Lee “will host a book self-publishing event on Sunday at 2pm in conjunction with independent publishing company Book Reality.” Lavell-Lee goes on to interview Book Reality’s director and a number of authors who have self-published through Book Reality, giving this article an especially personal touch.

In other fascinating self-publishing news for the week, UK bookselling juggernaut Waterstones is dealing with a landmark case after a petition featuring over 9000 signatures was delivered asking the bookstore to give its employees a living wage. How does this relate to self-publishing? According to the article from Books + Publishing, “Campaign organisers also planned to present Daunt with a self-published book called Working at Waterstones, which includes anonymous testimonies from staff about their experiences of living on a low wage.” It says a lot about at least specific value of self-publishing that is has provided a platform for necessary anonymous publications and therefore the voices of those whose jobs are on the line, whether or not their names are attached to this petition. If they don’t file a petition, their jobs may prove unsustainable in paying basic bills. If they do file a petition and get called out for it, they may be let go on any number of technicalities. Thank goodness for self-publishing, eh? Speaking truth to power is one of its strong suits.


spa-news

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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: Spring into Self-Publishing (Part I)

2019 is now well underway, but not so far underway that it feels quite like spring––at least, not if you live in the same part of the world that I do.  The weather is grey and cold––and wet––and worst of all, there seems to be no end in sight (even though we know, in theory, that this happens every year).  At some point during the incrementally lengthening days, there comes a realization: your writing is suffering.  Whether it’s because of all the other things piling up, or because you’ve burned through your allotment of holiday candy, I thought I’d take a moment today to encourage you with a few simple––and practical!––ideas for kicking those pre-Spring blues.

spring crocus snow

  1. Take care of your body.  Revisit your sleep schedule, your vitamins C and D intake, your water intake, and those other finicky cycles that we all tend to interrupt and sacrifice on the altar of our incredibly busy lives.  If you notice that one of these basic components of day-to-day health is off, don’t stress!  Take a moment to breathe, and take steps to correct them––sustainably, of course, and never ever punish yourself for struggling or lapsing.  Positive reinforcement only!
  2. Check in with friends and fellows.  We all need the boost that a good conversation can bring.  Google it: research shows that we need positive interactions with friends, family, and other community members to stay positive ourselves.  During this pre-Spring time, reach out and touch base with your friends and fellow writers.  You need them, and they need you too!
  3. Try something new, like signing up for a creative writing or introduction to publishing course through your local library, or join a local writer’s group.  Don’t think in terms of a long-term commitment just yet––just give it a taste, a quick try, and reassess after a month or so.  Is it helping?  If yes, keep going.  If not, let it go and try something else.
  4. Get outside.  We writers tend to stick to the hermitage for reasons of both preference and (mostly) practicality.  Writing is easiest inside, where there are plenty of wall sockets and comfortable seating nooks and wifi connections.  And before summer well and truly dries out the snowbanks, getting outside can be kind of … messy.  But here’s the thing: sunlight and fresh vistas can be some of the best curative tricks in the whole trade.  Take something portable––an iPad or regular plain old paper notebook––in case something sparks your imagination.  Get it down then and there!
  5. Plan something fun.  Whether it’s a big vacation or a weekly trip to a local coffee shop (or, let’s face it, the local bookstore!), build rewards into your upcoming schedule.  Giving yourself something to look forward to as you strive to write this spring will spur you on!

It only seems right that we lay a solid foundation for the months of work to come.  Just remember: it’s okay to pick and choose what techniques work for you!

house finch spring buds snow

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

In Your Corner: The Polar Vortex of Marketing

 

winter storm cat book

Are you managing to survive the current polar vortex sweeping across North America? (If you live in the southern hemisphere and are currently toasting your toes on a beach somewhere … is your suitcase large enough to stuff an adult human into? Asking for a friend.) This is the time of year—after the holiday magic has well and truly worn off, and before the rejuvenating effects of spring have kicked in—when we start feeling truly down and out. And of course, since everything is connected, our self-publishing adventures tend to suffer just as much as our general mood and the cleanliness level of our kitchens. (What? Your kitchen is still tidy? What’s wrong with me?) This is the time when we need a touch of encouragement to make it through the polar vortex, or whatever interminably cold and barren patch of ground we face.

It’s probably no secret at this point that I love Goodreads, the hybrid social media site for dedicated readers and book reviewers; it’s how I track what I’m reading, especially when my to-read pile (it’s actually an entire bookshelf, plus an extra coffee table, now) gets a little bit out of control. (Who am I kidding? It’s always out of control.) Well, back in October of 2016, the Goodreads blog hosted a series of posts that may prove to be exactly what you need to read right now, as a self-publishing author facing the doldrums yourself. The first post to catch my eye included a series of quotes from popular self-publishing authors such as Hugh Howey, such as:

hugh howey quote

colleen hoover quote

and …

andy weir quote

 

The post was titled “Advice for Aspiring Indie Authors by Successful Indie Authors” and I highly recommend that you check it out, as well as its sequel, “Indie Authors Share Their Secrets to Creating Successful Self-Publishing Careers,” which features much more lengthy insights from a number of others. As authorities on the subject, sometimes writers such as Weir and Hoover and Howey have the power to both inspire us and flip that emotional switch buried deep inside us, the one that gets a bit, ahem, iced over with repeated disappointment or from lack of use. If you’re at all like me, this is the time of year when my creative energy is at its absolute lowest, and I sometimes don’t even realize what all is possible, I’m so swept up in the blues. A wise word or two acts like a shock to the system, reminding me that, yeah, actually, I *can* do this thing I’ve been meaning to do, but have been feeling too anxious and self-sabotaging to get started on.

This week, take a moment to witness and absorb the wise words of these authors and remember what got you into self-publishing in the first place. Remember the joy that comes with carving out a space for yourself in the world of words, and seeing something you’ve written out there, changing the lives of those lucky enough to find it.

Now we can get started thinking about how to help more people be that lucky, right?

More on that next week!

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

2019: Time for a Fresh Start on Marketing

Oh, no, it’s time to review that dreaded list of New Year’s resolutions!  It’s not uncommon for these lists to be either too long or too ambitious for their makers to actually accomplish within twelve months, but that doesn’t seem to stop any of us from feeling the compulsive tug toward writing them–or from feeling miserable when we find ourselves running into a brick wall of complications.

writing goals

For those of us who are authors, many of us will end up making at least one of our resolutions that of writing and publishing a book in 2019.  But how might an author go from creating the goal of writing a book to actually getting it on paper and, finally, to publishing it?  If you’ve resolved upon a similar goal, here area couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Join a writer’s group.  

While there are certainly plenty of online options available to you, through internet forums and listservs and Facebook groups and the like, the best kind of feedback a writer can receive is the kind that is delivered in face-to-face conversation with people who have held your manuscript in their hands and feel some sort of personal stake in delivering detailed high-quality responses to the questions that you pose.  This is why, above all other things, I recommend you look to join a writer’s group in 2019.

But where to look?  I recommend stealing a page of or Lorena Knapp’s playbook over at the Write Life blog.  She recommends researching a variety of options before committing to any one writer’s group; you might start with local writing centers and then move on to conferences, bulletin boards, writing associations, your personal network, online networking sites like Meetup.com, and then as a last resort turn to social media and so on.  In my personal experience, conferences can be overwhelming (a case study in over-stimulation), bulletin boards are rarely up-to-date, and online networking sites lead to as many “misses” as “hits.”  I found out about my local writing association after attending an event at my local library, which often plays host to local authors–many of whom are self-published.  You can’t go wrong by asking a librarian!

  • Join a book club.

The library also happens to be a great place to begin your hunt for a local book club, since most libraries directly or indirectly sponsor these sorts of events, and can point you to the right people or resources to set up your own book club if there isn’t one already geared toward your interests.  You can also check online at the Reader’s Circle, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting readers with each other, to see if there are otherwise off-the-grid book clubs meeting in your area.

But why should a writer join a book club?  The answer isn’t as simple or the dots as easy to connect as with writing circles and writer’s groups, where writing is the common theme.  But as Evan Maloney wrote for The Guardian back in 2010, reading and reading well is actually the most fundamental of skills for a writer to practice:

As well as a large vocabulary, novels give writers a sense of how it is done. They offer templates that can be borrowed and adapted; they teach a writer how to create narrative structures and characters, how to develop tension, write dialogue, and maintain a consistent tone and pitch. Novels also trigger memories from a reader’s personal experience, and these give writers ideas for their own stories.

Best of all, writes Maloney, “whenever writing gets too painful, when each word and idea seems to be dragged from the mind like the limb of an aborted camel, reading offers a writer a lovely escape into a fantasy world where stories are revealed with simple ease and order on the page.”  Sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

  • Work with a ghostwriter, or if that’s not quite your speed, with an editor.

With a book club feeding you inspiration and a writer’s group providing you support and feedback as you write, the next best step is to find your voice.  If you’re struggling to find the time or cultivate the skills you think necessary to capturing your story, it may be time to look for a ghostwriter–someone who can sit down with you, hash out all of the relevant details, and then serve as architect and project manager for your book–all rolled into one.  We often associate ghostwriters with the traditional publishing model, since most of the ghostwritten books we see hit shelves are celebrity autobiographies–but you can be a self-publishing author and develop a healthy rapport with a ghostwriter, too!  Hybrid self-publishing companies like mine–Outskirts Press–often offer ghostwriting and editorial services as several of many tools to put in your toolbox.  The differences between ghostwriting and editing is significant–the former will take on a large part of the “generative” process, while the latter will help shape or reshape material you have already created–but the general impulse is the same: these services exist to help you get stuff done.  Don’t underestimate the power of a good edit!

  • Cultivate new and sustainable writing habits.

Here’s where things get a bit hazy.  Every author has individual writing habits developed over years of hard work and necessity, so what a “good writing day” looks like to you will most likely differ from everyone else you meet.  We can look to our heroes for inspiration, sure, but ultimately I find comparison a toxic, toxic beast.  The best way to succeed at adopting new and useful writing habits is to do so slowly and sustainably–by making incremental changes and sticking with them over the long term.

There’s a reason NaNoWriMo proves so difficult for authors to just “pick up” and do: it’s such an intense process that it requires writers to make enormous changes to their daily schedules just to fit it in.  A much better course might be to adopt more manageable alterations–boosting the time you spend writing every morning by five minutes a day for a week, perhaps, or by restricting your self-editing to only five minutes a day–and to evaluate their efficacy regularly, discarding the useless ones and keeping the useful ones.  As my grandmother used to say, “trim the fat!”  Keep the things that help you, and shed the weight of those which don’t.

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

Is It Time to Relaunch Your Book?

book launch

Publishing a book for the first time can be an exciting proposition. Dreams of hitting it big can fill your eyes with stars and the world with hope.  Sometimes those dreams come true immediately, but more often than not, reality has a way of stifling even the most optimistic writer.  Success rarely comes immediately, even for those “overnight successes” you hear about in the news. What the news often fails to tell you is how many months and years that “overnight success” toiled tirelessly to reach that brass ring.  Often, the only difference between success and failure is not giving up.

If the bloom has fallen from your publication in the absence of overnight success, now is the time to dust off the dust and get excited again.  Your book is still published!  You are still a published author! And things in the marketplace may have changed in your favor since you’ve put the book on the back burner.  Bring it back to the front and let’s relaunch your book with all new zest and zeal!

1. Re-announce your book
Repeat all the steps you took when you published the first time. Does it matter that your book isn’t brand “new”?  No.  It’s new to anyone who is hearing about it for the first time, so that’s more than enough reason to widen your net.

  • Notify close family and friends in person and by phone or text
  • Notify an even wider circle of friends and associates via email and social media
  • Mail promotional announcements or postcards to everyone you know

2. Use social media
Depending upon how long ago you initially published your book, things may look quite a bit different in social media, and those differences can represent an opportunity for your book that may not have existed before.  Was Facebook the behemoth it is today?  Were videos on YouTube as popular as they are today?  If you were marketing a book even as recently as two or three years ago, the landscape is completely different now.  You may find more success with a book video trailer, more success with a Facebook page, and more success with author readings or events.   The world of independent writers is still growing, which means the community is becoming more vibrant and active in all circles of life.  That activity can translate to awareness, which can translate to word-of-mouth advertising, which can translate to increased book sales.

3. Update your author platform
If your attention on your book has waned over the past several months or years, chances are your author platform is in need of some loving care, also.  Check in on all the social media profiles you set-up when you were initially published.  Is your profile picture still a good representation of you? Do any of your other graphics or images need an update?  Has it been a while since you’ve posted anything on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Linked-In accounts?  Refocusing on book marketing means refocusing on all the elements involving your writing career.  You may discover that as you get more excited about your book, so, too, will readers.

4. It’s never too late to START marketing
Perhaps your attention waned shortly after publication because reverence and riches didn’t follow publication as soon as you had hoped.  Perhaps you didn’t put as much effort into marketing as you could have when your book was first published.  That is very good news!  Why?  Because that means all the opportunities you had when your book was first released are still available to you.   People rarely pay attention to when a book was written or published.  All they care about is whether it will solve their problem, or entertain them, or help them prepare something delicious to eat, or help their children fall asleep peacefully.  No matter how “old” your book may seem to you, it’s brand new to everyone out there in the world who hasn’t heard of it yet.   Start marketing your book TODAY and help those people find your book.  


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.

In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list. 

Kelly Schuknecht: The Highlights Reel (part 2)

Today we continue the work began in last Wednesday post as we farewell our longtime contributor Kelly Schuknecht. Kelly is moving on from Self Publishing Advisor to take on new challenges and we wanted to revisit some of her best and most popular posts here. Here are three more posts that really went down in the record books with us and our readers!

self-publishing in december

Here’s a gem for the ages! After all, it’s an evergreen subject; every author needs constant reminders of just how easy it is to miss errors in one’s own work, and of the need for extra eyes on any unpublished manuscript before it goes to press. This post, first published in 2010, really connected with its audience–and that was before Kelly updated the post with further tips and tricks in 2016. This post, and its update, has been one of our top performers of all time, and for good reason: Kelly walks readers through how to utilize an editor, how to get those extra eyes on your work, how and when to leave the manuscript as finished, and several suggestions on how to read the material by your lonesome and still achieve excellent results (clue: the words “out loud” and “backwards” are both used, but not together). This post serves as great proof that good writing will always be good writing, and therefore suggestions on how to craft good words will also remain steady.

Have you even thought about Amazon’s BXGY lately? Chances are that you haven’t, since the program was phased out soon after Kelly’s original post in 2008 (one of her earliest!). It’s worth checking in on the original post just to see how far Amazon’s sales algorithms and promotions have come; back in 2008, this post was so popular it almost broke our analytics, but these days for obvious reasons it’s a quiet corner of the blog. If there’s a moral to be learned here, it’s that the only constant in the age of the internet is change, and Amazon is no exception–and one of our missions, as self-publishing authors tasked with marketing our own books, is to adapt to those changes and try to get ahead of the curve … if we can. That’s one of the reasons we write this blog!

Last but not least (for today, that is), we bring you one of the blog’s highest-performing posts of all time. As with her post on tips and tricks for finding errors in your writing, Kelly’s suggestions in using your first chapter to boost book sales has a serious and ongoing following–because the information is still useful and valid. And yes, Kelly did an update of this post too (in 2016), and it too is a high-performer (statistically speaking). In her original, Kelly walked us through how to use Amazon, email, and even Craigslist to host the first chapter of your book and gain those “preview purchasers,” browsers who are unwilling to commit to a purchase unless they have a chance to look inside first. In her update, she touches on using social media as well as the Kindle app, two of the most popular ways to discover new material these days. We have the feeling that this blog will have a very long-term following, indeed–and we definitely recommend that you check it out (old and new) and leave us your own feedback. This is a post that ought to constantly evolve to fit the times!


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 week to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: Start Thinking About Holiday Marketing … NOW!

Remember our “Ringing in the Holidays” post series from late last year? Wouldn’t it have been oh-so-much easier to execute the perfect holiday book sales plan if you’d started just that little bit earlier in the year? Well, I’m here today with a reminder as you start to look down the barrel of yet another end-of-year holiday frenzy: it’s time now! If you want to put your holidays in order, you have to start thinking about your marketing plan today. Yes, in August. If not July!

So let’s make a plan!

First stop: Who’s your audience? You’ll be able to plan an effective strategy only if you know who your ideal readers are–or who their parents with the pocketbooks and credit cards are, in the case of children’s books–and where to reach them, either online and in terms of raising awareness about your book, or in person through events and a campaign that they can conveniently connect to.

Second stop: What’s your format? If your book is digital, then giveaways are a must. An absolute must! There are also some great freebies–free chapters, free peeks, etc–that you can do by integrating your material into your website, social media, and so on. Make sure you give your website a facelift if you haven’t in a while–you want to be ready for the holidays, not just responding to them when they happen!

If your book is print, then yes–giveaways are still a must! But also book signings, book readings, and perhaps even workshops and teaching opportunities. The more ways–and the more creative ways–you can put your book into the hand of a potential buyer, the higher your chances of actually getting that buyer to pull out the pocketbook! Print books offer a great opportunity to distribute shiny merch like bookmarks, postcards, and so on to readers–even when your book may not be present or being sold! Think of the places people pick up their merch–banks, hotels, libraries, restaurant waiting areas–and partner with local businesses to see about featuring your book in these places.

Third stop: Get a move on! By the time those holidays roll around–whether Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas–it’s already too late to put together a comprehensive plan to reach new readers at that time. You really have to think ahead! Which is why we’re here. We’ve been there. If we’re honest with ourselves, we still are there. We know what it’s like–but here’s a guarantee: if you plan ahead, you will sell more books than if you don’t.

Sure, we can take it easy on ourselves, and feed ourselves the same line we did last year: “Oh, but there’s always next year.” And it’s true, for most of us. There will be more time to perfect our methods. But for this book, and this year, there isn’t a moment to waste–and it really would be a shame to push back our perfect holiday season another year simply because we let ourselves off of the hook today. Because for as many wonderful and eloquent “New Year’s Resolutions” posts we put up here on Self Publishing Advisor that we really do intend to keep, there’s always something that gets away from us. So we keep at it. Better todays mean better tomorrows mean a strategically stress-free Fall and Winter 2017!

But don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m anywhere near perfect. All we can ask is that we get a little bit better every go-around, right?

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.