National Novel Writing Month: A Perfect Challenge for Self Publishing Authors

If you’ve been considering self publishing but haven’t finished your manuscript yet, I have the perfect challenge to help you achieve your goal: National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo). Beginning November 1, join thousands of other writers who are committing to the same goal: writing a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30. That’s right; by participating in NanoWriMo, you can finish your entire manuscript in a month!

Many authors considering self publishing never take the leap because they procrastinate, over-think the planning process, or fear rejection. The NanoWriMo program forces you to take action and just start writing. By signing up online, you will also have access to forums and meet other authors who are striving to reach the same goal.

Just imagine how great it will feel to not only be able to say you are finally self publishing your finished manuscript, but that you also wrote it in a month! To learn more, visit http://www.nanowrimo.org.

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.

First Call: The 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award

Contests are a great way to gain positive publicity for your book and increase your credibility as an author. One of my favorite awards for self-published authors is The Eric Hoffer Book Award. Here is all of the information you need to enter.

The Eric Hoffer Book Award recognizes excellence in publishing. A single registration gives you six ways to win: by genre, press, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vince Eye, the First Horizon Award, and the Hoffer grand prize. There is a category for every book.

Award/Benefits:

* $2,000 Grand Prize (The Eric Hoffer Award for Books)

* Winner of the Montaigne Medal for the most thought-provoking books

* Winner of the da Vinci Eye for best covers

* Winner of the First Horizon Award for debut authors

* Winner and First Runner-Up awarded for every category

* Honorable Mentions for every category

* Individual Awards for Micro, Small, and Academic Presses, as well as Self-Published Books

* Coverage in The US Review of Books (www.theUSreview.com) and on http://www.HofferAward.com

* Gold Seal Certificates

* Worldwide Exposure

> Categories: Art, Poetry, General Fiction, Commercial Fiction, Children, Young Adult, Culture, Memoir, Business, Reference, Home, Health, Self-Help/Spiritual, Legacy Fiction, Legacy Nonfiction, E-book Fiction, and E-book Nonfiction.

Submission Guidelines:

  •  Entry deadline is January 21, 2013.
  •  Awards are open to academic, independent, small press, and self-published books that were released or copyrighted in the last 2 years, including unique books with small print runs. (Books over 2 years old may enter the Legacy Fiction or Legacy Nonfiction category.)
  • For each entry, submit the book, entry form, and $50 fee (check, money order, or Internet payment receipt) to Hopewell Publications, LLC, PO Box 11, Titusville, NJ 08560. Be certain to specify award category and press type. Registration will be confirmed via e-mail. In May, all entrants will be notified of winners. Submissions must be postmarked by January 21, 2013.
  • Judges may include authors, editors, agents, publishers, book producers, artists, experienced category readers, and health and business professionals. Note: The contest is closed to the staff of Hopewell Publications and previous WNBA winning entries. At the low entrance fee, it is not feasible to provide judge’s critiques for each entry.

To learn more and enter your book, visit  www.HofferAward.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.

4 Ways Self Published Authors Can Improve Their Blogs

One of the best ways to market yourself and your book is blogging. In fact, authors are now expected to have an online presence. Both readers and industry experts, such as agents and publishers, want to see that authors are building a platform online.

For some people, the idea of creating and maintaining a blog seems time-consuming and confusing. Afterall, a blog is only useful if it actually attracts readers and develops relationships. Here are four ways to improve your own blog.

1.) It is a two-way street. Links on other blogs and comments on your posts are two great ways to increase traffic, but you can’t just expect people to share your posts and comment on your page. One of the best ways to encourage interaction is to link to and comment on other bloggers’ posts. This will encourage the blog owner and their readers to check out your page, and they may decide to return the favor. However, make sure you aren’t spamming other bloggers. Only comment if you have something useful and honest to say. Never leave a comment just to include a link to your personal page.

2.) Be efficient. One of the keys to improving traffic is regularly updating content. However, most people don’t have time to update their blogs daily. You can save time and work more efficiently if you schedule your blogs. This way, you can write several posts at one time, but they will each publish on a separate day. Most blogging websites have this feature.

3.) Be professional. Always, always, always proofread your posts. If you aren’t good at grammar, pay someone else to proofread your posts. Readers want to read blogs by professionals not amateurs.

4.) Be patient. Great blogs don’t happen over night. It takes time to attract followers, build relationships, and figure out your personal style and voice. As long as you keep trying, you will continue to see your blog grow.

I’d love to know, what is your secret to creating a great blog?

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.

4 Ways to Find a Great Ghostwriter

A great ghostwriter can help make your dreams of self-publishing a book come true. Whether you are too busy to finish your book project or need the assist of someone with excellent writing skills, you need to find a ghostwriter who is experienced and trained but who also meshes well with your personality.

When interviewing ghostwriters, be sure to ask about their education and work background as well as writing projects they have completed. Don’t be turned off by a writer who hasn’t completed a book exactly like your project because hopefully, your book is a one-of-a-kind idea. Instead, look for a writer with excellent writing and organizational skills. Having some background knowledge in your subject may also be a good idea, but most writers are magnificent researchers and enjoy learning about new topics.

Even more important than the writer’s background is the writer’s personality. When interviewing ghostwriters, ask about their work habits and expectations. Think of hiring a ghostwriter as dating someone new. You will be spending a lot of time working with this person, so you want to make sure you connect with the writer. There is no perfect way to determine if a ghostwriter is a good fit for you and your project. You just need to trust your gut.

So where do you find the perfect ghostwriter? Here are four places to look.

1.) Ask for references – If you know other authors who have used a ghostwriter, ask for references. They will be more than happy to share their experiences with you. This is a great way to find a writer who will do a great job because you can often trust other writer’s opinions.

2.) Check out your self-publishing company – Some self-publishing companies offer ghostwriting services. They will match you up with a ghostwriter that meets your needs. This is another great way to ensure you are hiring a reputable writer because self-publishing companies will only use writers they trust to produce great work.

3.) Search the web – If you go to your favorite search engine and type in “ghostwriter for hire” or other related keywords, you will find links to various writers’ websites. If you choose to go this route, be sure to thoroughly research the writer. Just because they have a website doesn’t mean they are qualified to do the job.

4.) Post a job ad – There are plenty of websites that allow you to post a listing looking for a writer. Be sure to include as many details about the project as possible and explain your expectations. One great place to begin is the Association of Ghostwriters.

I’d love to know, where did you find your ghostwriter?

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 Published Authors Can Improve Blog Traffic

By now you know that self-published authors must have an online presence. One of the best ways to build your online platform and promote yourself and your book is blogging. However, a blog is only useful if you are regularly attracting your target readers. Your goal is not to simply post a certain number of blogs per week but to also build an audience and increase the traffic to your blog. Here are a few ways to improve your blog traffic.

1. Study the numbers.

Most blogging programs monitor how many people visit your blog and what content they view. Often it also tells you how the readers found your blog. For instance, if someone discovered your blog by searching the key words “self published” and “children’s book author,” that is important information. You want to pay attention to what keywords are bringing in readers and what content readers are viewing. This will help you further target your audience and will tell you if you are attracting the right readers.

2. The key is new, useful content.

If you want to improve your blog traffic, you MUST regularly post new, useful content. People expect blogs to updated almost daily, and they want to read information that helps or interests them in some way. When choosing blog topics, ask yourself, “Why would my audience read this?” If your audience won’t find it helpful or interesting, don’t post it.

3. Tone down the keywords.

Yes, keywords are important because you want your blog to appear in search engine results. However, you also want your blog to sound genuine. Readers hate when blogs are crammed with keywords. They can tell when you tried to stuff as many keywords as possible into your posts. Keep the writing natural, and the keywords will happen on their own. It is also useful to use synonyms for keywords. Remember how your English teachers told you to expand your vocabulary and never use the same word multiple times in a paragraph or sentence? The same is true for blogging. Readers still expect good writing.

4. Edit! Edit! Edit!

Everything you put online represents you as an author. If you want to be taking seriously and be viewed as a professional, all of your online work must  be professional. Never post a blog without proofreading it. Remember all of the grammar and writing tips your English teachers have taught you. While there is more flexibility in online writing, readers still expect the work to be professional. If grammar and spelling are not your strengths, hire a professional to proofread your posts.

5. Share links.

The power of social media is unbelievable. Bloggers get more traffic from social media than search engine results. Always share links to your posts on your social media pages. Also encourage your followers to share your links. (Retweeting a fellow blogger’s links is a great way to earn brownie points.) However, don’t use social media solely to promote your blog. Followers like to build genuine relationships with the companies and people they follow, and they don’t use social media to constantly be sold to.

Building a great blog requires time and skills. If you aren’t able to commit to maintaining a great blog, you can hire someone to help. There are plenty of professionals who can write, edit, and manage your posts. Just because you are the author of the blog doesn’t mean you have to do all the work alone.

I’d love to know, what have you done to improve your blog traffic?

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 Name Grammar Tips for Self Published Writers

I usually write about general topics related to editing rather than offering advice on specific on grammar issues. I highly recommend all self-published writers invest in hiring a professional editor to assist them with their books, but I also think that writers should be well-educated on writing, spelling, and grammar. After all, your editor will greatly appreciate a manuscript that is already professionally written.

One of the most common mistakes I see is the misuse of the plural and possessive “s” with last names. This is because almost every mailbox you see or Christmas card you receive is incorrect. Here are some examples on how to properly use the plural and possessive “s” with last names.

If it is strictly plural, do not use an apostrophe.

Ex. We ate dinner with Craig Wilson and the rest of the Wilsons.

Ex. I went shopping with Jill Jones to buy presents for the rest of the Joneses.

Ex. Paul English said all of the Englishes love Christmas.

If it is plural and possessive, it needs an apostrophe.

Ex. We ate at the Wilsons’ house.

Ex. We rode in the Englishes’ car.

If the name ends in an s, the plural possessive for book style is to add an apostrophe and an s.

Ex. The Jones’s house is painted white.

To show possession with singular names, simply add an apostrophe and an s.

Ex. Mike Wilson’s dad is a legend.

I’d love to know, what grammar issue is the most confusing to you? Please comment below.

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.

The Difference Between AP and Chicago Style

In order for your book to appear professional, you must maintain a consistent style throughout your manuscript. When I say “style,” I am referring to elements such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation. There are several different styles used by various types of publications, but the two most common are AP and Chicago. Which style you follow depends on what you are writing. For instance, AP is often used by newspapers while Chicago is preferred by book publishers. Here is a breakdown of just a few of the differences between AP and Chicago style.

Since AP style is often used by newspapers, there is an emphasis on saving space and time. For instance, AP style requires you to spell out numbers one through nine and to use numerals thereafter. Chicago, on the other hand, has you spell out numbers one through ninety-nine. Another major difference is the use of the serial comma: AP style does not use the serial comma while Chicago style does. Of course, many publications also create in-house style guides that make exceptions to the preferred style manual. For instance, if a publication uses AP style but wishes to use the serial comma, it can add this exception to its in-house style guide.

Since there are so many differences between AP and Chicago style, it is best to focus on learning the style you plan to use. There is no need to learn all of the other styles if you aren’t using them. Also, it is beneficial to hire a copyeditor to check for style consistencies. Copyeditors are highly skilled in a specific or numerous styles, and they have been trained to look for various errors that are common in manuscripts. Even the best writers can benefit from the eye of a good copyeditor.

I’d love to know, which style do you prefer: Chicago or AP?

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.