From the Archives: “There is No Such Thing as Free Lunch”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: May 28th, 2012 ]

Have you heard the cliché “There is no such thing as a free lunch”? Everything has a cost, even if it appears to be free. This true for self publishing as well as all other areas of life.

While there are companies who say they publish your book for free, there are still costs to you. For instance, you may have to buy large amounts of merchandise after the book is printed, or you will have to spend vast amounts of time marketing your own book. In addition, a “free” publishing company could harm your reputation has an author if your book is not of professional quality.

Authors who want their books to be taken seriously need to invest in their projects. This means you’ll at least need a good copy editor and possibly an experienced graphic designer. Depending on your skills and goals, you may also require marketing services. Not all self publishing companies offer these extra services.

Authors should invest in their books by choosing a full-service self publishing company that offers a variety of production and marketing services as well as excellent customer service. This will ensure that you have access to skilled professionals who will help make your book a masterpiece.

I’d love to know, what additional services do you plan to use when self publishing your book?

– by Wendy Stetina

free lunch

While a good (almost) five years have ticked by since Wendy first wrote this post, much of what she has said remains true. Yes, you still need to watch for hidden fees tucked into your self-publishing contract. Yes, you still need to guard against paying for any package that leaves big gaps for you to cover, especially if these gaps coincide with a lack of experience or expertise on your part that you can’t hope to redress in time to sell your book effectively. And yes, many of these issues naturally resolve themselves if you take care and exercise sound judgment in choosing the finest self-publishing company you can.

And since you’ve opted to pursue self-publishing, clearly your judgement is a finely-tuned instrument to begin with!

But I think Wendy had another, greater point buried within her original post, all the way back in 2012. The point of reputation. Your reputation is, for all intents and purposes, inseparable from your personal brand. And your personal brand is what, in the end, sells books. In an age where boycotts have been proven an effective means of communities exercising influence over what works of art get funded and produced, an author’s reputation means a lot. A lot. So much, in fact, that it might as well mean everything, because once it’s even faintly tarnished, it’s rather a complete loss.

The natural end of this formula (a + b = c) is that, yes, the self-publishing company you choose is fundamental to either losing or building a stellar reputation. While self-publishing authors and companies don’t have exclusive ownership of this formula (consider the rage boiling over a certain Twitter troll’s contract with Simon & Schuster, for example, which will affect both of their reputations in the long run), the self-publisher lives and operates an awful lot closer to the line of no return.

And several self-publishing companies have mistreated their customers. This is a sad fact, and not at all indicative of the general trend (which we hope we espouse) towards respectful and honest, unilaterally positive treatment … but even one rotten apple in a bushel is enough to inspire caution, isn’t it? (Or maybe a carton instead of a bushel. I cracked open a rotten egg a week ago, and let me tell you, I have struggled to walk through the kitchen ever since. The memory sticks.)

My point is this: listen to reviews from authors who have self-published already. Spend some time sussing out the dark corners of the internet to verify the company of your choice is, in fact, generating the kind of reviews it should be. Don’t pay any attention to general naysayers who give all self-publisher’s the middle finger, but do listen to articles and posts that are company-specific, and rooted in individual experience.

There’s no margin of error when it comes to your reputation and its relationship to your decision of where to take your next self-published book. Take it somewhere where it–and you, and yes, your lunch–will be in safe hands!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

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, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “HUGE MISTAKE: Using ‘Traditional’ Business Cards as a Coach/Speaker”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: February 28th, 2011 ]

You’re an AMAZING speaker. You know how to work the room when you’re in front of an audience. Once your presentation is over, though, you make a HUGE mistake. This one is really big, but no one told you what you were doing wrong: you hand out a business card. That sounds harmless enough, right? Not if you’re a coach or speaker.

A business card can’t portray the true value of a speaker’s knowledge in their field. Last week, I presented at Kathleen Gage’s New Horizon’s Telesummit on the topic “Your Book – Your Business Card”. If you haven’t published a book, you are doing your business (yourself) a great disservice. Think about how easy it will be to attract/retain clients and book speaking gigs if you had a published book

  • Your audience can get to know more about you and your business
  • You can share your expertise with your target customer and others in your field
  • Coaching is intangible. A book allows the client to touch the coach via the book.
  • A well written content rich book will validate the author as an expert. Experts get to charge more.

Okay, I’m sold. I know I need to publish a book to build my business. How can I get started? If you decide to self-publish, it’s not as difficult as you think. There are some companies that offer self-publishing packages for coaches and speakers, including Outskirts Press. Packages like these are designed for busy professionals that are always on the go. If you think self-publishing is right for you be sure to choose a self-publisher that can accommodate your marketing and distribution goals. Truthfully, creating the actual book is the easiest part. Make sure that you are maintaining the rights to your material and that you have control over your retail piece and your trade discount.

Some authors don’t want to pay to publish their books. In cases like these, you may consider going the “traditional” publishing route. Remember that you will be selling your rights to the book, but you will still be responsible for promoting your book after the process is complete. Also, publishing your book this way could take months or even years (if it’s accepted).

It is important that you weigh the pros and cons of each option and decide which one works for you.

– by Wendy Stetina

Wendy was right–the best advertisement for an author is a book, and the best means of marketing a new book is to start working on the next one. This isn’t to say you won’t have valuable things to add to the conversation about self-publishing if you yourself haven’t finished publishing your book, but as someone interested in indie publishing you probably know better than most the true importance of timing. It’s worth waiting to give that big presentation until after you have some hard copies of your book in hand, even though waiting is agonizing and fun for no one.

We’re talking about the power of tangibles. There’s a lot you can do with the force of your personality alone in terms of capturing an audience and convincing its various members of your sincerity and authenticity … but there will always be at least one person who will lobby a comment during the Q&A session asking how and where to purchase your book.  If you don’t have an answer for that person, your credibility as a presenter tanks.  It may not tank a lot, but any tanking is a bad thing.  On the other hand, if your book is for sale digitally and you can confidently state its retailers, you’ll earn credibility.  The more at home you are with the particulars of your own publishing experience–the date on which your book was or will be published, the retailers where it can be purchased, and your personal website address and social media account handles where your audiences can seek out more information–the more your image as a worthwhile presenter is built and the more your listeners will see you as an author and not just as any old speaker.

When it comes to speaking about self-publishing, there’s real currency in sharing your personal experience.  This is why I’m 100% an advocate of signing yourself up to be a presenter … and just a tad cautious about signing up too soon.  Make it worth your while.  And if you’re absolutely going to be steam-rolled into a presentation before your book is out in print, make your business card an access point to the publication process.  By which I mean: make sure it not only includes your publication date and website information, but make the giving of it an actual incentive to buy.  Incentivization is king!  You might offer a 15% discount to everyone who can provide proof of business card acquisition at online checkout–perhaps each business card is printed with a discount code–or you might use it as the first clue in a series that will lead your presentation listeners on an Easter egg hunt around town to friendly businesses that are promoting your work.  You can get really creative at this point–my suggestions barely scratch the surface!

Just … don’t let your business card be boring.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

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, kellyschuknecht.com.

6 Ways to Keep Up the NanoWriMo Momentum

The first few days of NanoWriMo are now behind you. If you are like most writers, you probably started out enthusiastically and determined to reach your goal, but as the days go by, you may start to lose motivation and focus. You are not alone. If you want to ensure that you finish the first draft during NanoWriMo, consider these six tips.

1. Accept that it won’t be perfect. NanoWriMo more is about writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, but no  one ever said it has to be a perfect, ready to publish novel. This is a first draft, and like all first drafts, it will need work later. Right now, focus on finishing the 50,000 words. You can go back and make changes after the challenge.

2. Set daily goals. It can be overwhelming to think about writing 50,000 words in a month. Instead, focus on how many words you will write each day or during each writing session. This will help you break up the project into manageable steps and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

3. Check out Write or Die. This is great software for self-publishing authors who are struggling to meet their goals. This creative software lets you enter a time or word count goal, and encourages you to accomplish it without letting your inner editor take over. After you’ve meet your goal, you’re praised by the sound of trumpets.

4. Turn off the internet! Email and social media sites are major time-suckers that distract from your writing. During writing sessions, do not let yourself use the internet. If you can’t resist the urge, consider software that blocks the internet during your writing sessions.

5. Set a timer. Instead of focusing on word count, let yourself freely write for a set period of time, but don’t focus on the time. Instead, set a timer and forget about it. Write without interruption until that timer goes off. Then, take a break before writing again.

6. Become a morning person. Writing in the morning is great because the stresses and excitements of the day haven’t taken over yet. Your mind is clearest in the morning, and there are fewer distractions. Some writers like to wake up early and write until their brains get tired. Then, they allow themselves to enjoy the rest of the day however they wish. If you find that you’re having a hard time completing your writing goals because your to-do list grows throughout the day, writing in the morning may be the perfect solution.

I’d love to know, what are you doing to keep the writing momentum going?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and 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, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

Last Minute To-Dos for Self Publishing Authors Participating in NanoWriMo

There are only a few more days until NanoWriMo begins. To help you prepare, I’ve prepared a last minute to-do list for all self-publishing authors participating in NanoWriMo. Check it out below.

  • Read a few pep talks, which are available on the NanoWriMo website. They are sure to give you the motivation you need to succeed.
  • Add a web badge to your website. Not only will you help promote the event, but it is a fun way to let everyone know that you are taking the challenge.
  • Get inspired. Spend some time before the writing begins listening to music, watching strangers, drinking coffee, reading books, or doing any other activity that gets your creative juices flowing.
  • Relax. The next month is going to be hectic, so prepare your mind and body by practicing relaxation techniques such as exercising or meditation.
  • Remind your friends and family. You will need they their support during this process, so remind them of your goals and writing schedule.
  • Have fun. NanoWriMo is a fun process, so just enjoy it.

Good luck to all of the self-publishing authors who are participating in NanoWriMo. I can’t wait to see your books in print!

I’d love to know, what is on your last minute to-do list?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and 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, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

5 Online Tasks for Self Publishing Authors to Complete Before NanoWriMo

There is a little more than a week until NanoWriMo begins! If you’re like many self publishing authors, you’ve been spending the month of October preparing for the challenge. You’ve probably started brainstorming and outline and cleaning off your desk, but there are a few online tasks that you should complete before the official beginning of NanoWriMo. Here is your to-do list.

1) Make sure you are registered.

Before you start all the fun tasks below, make sure you are registered for the event. You can do so by visiting NanoWriMo.org. This will ensure that you have access to all the benefits and resources the challenge has to offer.

2) Create social media pages.

Social media is a great way to market yourself and your book, and many readers, agents, and publishers expect you to take advantage of this marketing tool. You could create social media pages for yourself, your book, or your characters. Be creative, and have fun with social media. This is also a great time to start a blog.

3) Connect with other authors.

Of the greatest benefits of  NanoWriMo is the opportunity to connect with other authors. They can encourage and support you during this project. You can connect with authors by visiting the NanoWriMo website as well as by searching social media sites for people who are participating.

4) Download some music.

Music is a great way to become inspired. Download a few songs that you can listen to when you need some inspiration. Listen to songs that your characters would be interested, or search for music that reminds you of your setting or plot.

5) Play on Pinterest.

Pinterest is a great way to find inspiration as well as promote your book. Create boards for your characters, setting, or plot. Be creative, and have fun with this. What outfits would your character wear? What food would your character eat?

I’d love to know, what are you doing to prepare for NanoWriMo?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and 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, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

Contest for Self Publishing Authors: 2013 Global Ebook Awards

Contests are one of the best ways for self-publishing authors to promote their book and improve their credibility. If you want to increase your book’s exposure and prove that you are an accomplished writer, check out the 2013 Global Ebook Awards. This contest does more than just offer an award sticker to put on your book’s cover; it is truly a great way to market your book and self.

By entering your ebook, you will receive the following benefits:

• An official Nominee “sticker” on your ebook cover, website, Amazon page, and promotion materials

• A free listing in Publishing Poynters Marketplace, offering copies of your book for reviews on prestigious ebook dealers’ sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and others

• The Global Ebook Awards comes with a six-step publicity program. Each week, they show you how to publicize your ebook.

• Media coverage for your book and you

• Winners and finalists will be listed on the official Global Ebook Awards site.

• Winners and finalists are eligible to receive Global Ebook Award certificates attesting to their honor.

• Winners will be announced to the media in news releases.

• Discounts on video trailers for YouTube, Amazon, and your website

• Discounts on other services for authors and publishers

• And much more…

To be eligible, your book must have been released anytime in 2011, 2012, or 2013. The application deadline is March 12, 2013, but it is recommended that you submit your ebook as soon as possible.

To learn more, visit http://globalebookawards.com/.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and 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, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

Five Ways Self Publishing Authors Can Prepare for NanoWriMo

There is a little less than a month until the official start of National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo), but you can begin preparing now. While you can’t officially start writing the manuscript until November 1st, there is plenty of work you can do ahead of time to make the most of the month ahead. Here are five ways self publishing authors can prepare for NanoWriMo.

1) Brainstorm! It is never too early to start thinking of ideas. Carry around a notebook and jot down ideas whenever they come to you. Listen to people’s conversations to pick up fun quote ideas. Observe strangers to help you create interesting characters. Read books and watch movies to generate unique plot ideas. The more ideas you come with now, the easier it will be to write your novel in a month.

2) Get organized. Once you have a good sense of your plot, characters, setting, and conflict, you can begin outlining your story. The more detailed your outline is the more helpful it may be when you sit down to write your manuscript. This is especially important for self publishing authors participating in NanoWriMo because they are on a tight deadline. You will want to focus on writing rather organizing once you begin the challenge.

3) Prepare your writing area. This task will also save you time in the future. Gear up for the big challenge by cleaning out the clutter, purchasing any supplies, and designating a space that will be your official writing area. Don’t worry if you don’t have an entire office to dedicate to the task. All you need is paper, pens, a computer, a flash drive, and possibly a few reference materials such as a dictionary.

4) Set your goals. The keys to succeeding in the NanoWriMo challenge are goal setting and time management. If you want to write a 50,000 word book in a month, you need to figure out how many pages you will write each day or week and when you will write those pages. Choose a schedule that is realistic and achievable.

5) Enlist some help. Tell your friends and family about your goals so they can help you achieve them. Writing a novel in a month will be time-consuming, so you may need your spouse to cook dinners or ask your in-laws to watch the children. Just because writing is often an independent craft doesn’t mean you have to tackle this challenge alone.

I’d love to know, what are you doing to prepare for NanoWriMo?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and 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, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.