From the Archives: “Google misspelled itself: The weight of word choice in self-publishing a book”

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: December 5th, 2010 ]

Scholars and sources claim that William Shakespeare invented as many 1700 in his published and performed writing career. Language is dynamic and words are invented all of the time. Or, in cases like “Google” reinvented through accidentally misspelling the word for the number, googol. When words, specific combinations of words, are used often they can become powerful. They can also become cliché.

An interesting definition of the word cliché from Wikipedia:

“a saying, expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. It is likely to be used pejoratively.”

How many of us where taught to avoid cliché in our writing at all cost? One popular creative writing professor focuses an entire week on the subject.

In print, the French derived word, cliché, came to denote a printing plate used as a cast in moveable type. Commonly used words and phrases were cast into a single mold. The idea was to take a novelty and replicate it easily and inexpensively. The overuse of such came to take on a negative connotation.

But cliché can work for the self-publishing author in marketing your book.

What do words and phrases like these bring to mind?

Change we can believe in
All for one…
Don’t leave home without it…
Google

Even if these are terms you don’t personally buy into, or even agree with, they are indelible. Think of them as the cast plate of the new digital work that come in the form of keywords, tags, Twitter handles, and the list goes on. The can become the brand for your book. And the best part is they are free.

Whether you’re published or just finishing the 1st chapter of your book, start thinking about what makes your work unique, and how cliché may become a key component in your book marketing campaign.

On Clichés

They’re not all bad, are they? After all, there’s nothing quite so appealing as the comfort of familiarity, especially in the midst of unfamiliar territory or while on the hunt for something new to stock the shelves––whether those shelves are in the pantry or the office or the library, this rule will always apply. Even people who self-confess to being “adventurous souls” very rarely try the absolute least familiar item available on the menu; humans are hard-wired to be scientists, and to hone their powers of selection by trial and error.

Try something and hate it, and anything connected to it will automatically become a less likely future choice, even subconsciously. Try something and love it, and anything remotely similar or that shares similar ingredients will strike a congenial subconscious note, making that strange seafood dish you’ve never heard of but that contains coconut and shrimp automatically appealing––or that book you’ve never read, but that uses a similar cover design to Adrian Tchaikovsky or Nnedi Okorafor deeply interesting, even though you’ve never heard of the new author.

This process of learning and developing tastes by trial and error leads to another psychological distillation which at first sounds ominous: confirmation bias. Essentially, confirmation bias comes into play when people want a certain idea to be true, and they end up coaxing themselves into believing it to be true. As Psychology Today puts it, “They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.” Confirmation bias has been blamed for a lot of negative human behavior, including the recent political conversation about “fake news” and the people who do or do not believe the news in question, but it’s not always such a bad thing. It’s the consequence of how humans learn––by trial and error, and learning from not just our personal errors but the errors of others. Oh, that kind of book cover has let me down in the past. Oh, that genre has been a safe choice before! And so on.

Confirmation bias shares the power of clichés on a grand social level––we only believe them to work because we tell ourselves that they work, collectively. But if there’s anything we can learn from human psychology, it’s that these kinds of collective decisions can have powerful, wide-ranging, far-reaching effects. We will use a cliché if we personally or collectively have tested its premise and found it lines up with the universe well. For example, if we’ve “looked a gift horse in the mouth” or known someone who did, and suffered for it, we’re far more likely to use the cliché ourselves in the future––because it lines up with experience.

So:

Experience is the test of whether you should use a certain cliché in your marketing or not. Don’t use a cliché just because it exists and falls easily off of the tongue (and onto your laptop keyboard) … use a cliché because it lines up with the evidence, personally and generally. Readers have phenomenally sensitive “B.S. detectors” (as my father put it once), and they will not forgive you for lapsing into cliché-speak just to drive sales and without verifying the legitimacy of your language usage. As in all things, you want to be true to yourself, to your voice as an author––in marketing as in everything else––and you want to be the most effective, accurate author possible.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 7.25.05 AM

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: “Bestselling Author and the BIG Move to Self-Publishing”

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: November 4th, 2010 ]

Ten years after the success of his debut novel, bestselling author of “Kidnapped,” AJ Davidson, has made the switch to independent self-publishing. With the availability of full-service publishing options on the rise and the high profile moves of established authors to independent publishing, AJ discusses the increasing appeal of this new model for traditionally published authors.

Q: What was the deciding factor for moving to independent publishing?

A: Initially I wasn’t entirely sure if Indie publishing was right for me. The deciding factor was how traditional publishers seem to be narrowing the range of their lists with each passing year. I recently compared 1970s best sellers with the 2010 best sellers and was staggered to realize how many of the chart-topping writers of yesteryear are still there four decades later. Kudos to the authors for consistency, but the dearth of new names is a sad indictment for the publishing world. The smaller presses are more adventurous, but more often than not the marketing will be left to the author, and if that’s the case, then Indie publishing is the way to go.

Q: Now that you manage the marketing independently as well as the publishing, do you find it difficult to switch back and forth between writing and marketing?

A: I have found the change in my writing to be a dramatic one. In the past I was the only one I had to please with a piece of prose. Now I’m much more aware of the readers’ attitudes. As I write I find that I ask myself constantly how the readers would react. This transformation is due largely to the immediacy of Indie publishing. With a traditionally published book there can be years between writing and publication. Your agent might suggest minor changes. It may then take time for the manuscript to be accepted. The publishers will nominate a slot, often a year or more in the future. Libel lawyers may have to cast an eye over it. Copy and proof editors will refine the work. Artwork will be done. By the time the book hit the shops, the writer will have moved on, often immersed in another project. I often felt a sense of detachment from a book by the time it was published.

Q: The list of well-known authors that are moving toward Independent publishing structures continues to grow. Do you think this is opening up possibilities for less established authors or monopolizing what was formerly their only option?

A: I’m optimistic about the future of Indie publishing and would buy shares in Smashwords faster than in Barnes & Noble. The fate of the traditional bookstore will be down to specialization. I doubt if they can continue being all things to all people. We already see some very successful stores concentrating in one or two genres. This genre specialization will develop, and no doubt the giants of the retail industry have a trick or two yet. I expect some form of stratification will enter Indie book publishing.

Perhaps a division between the one book author and the multiple author. Certainly we have seen a rise in the popularity of book series in the last decade and readers do enjoy embarking on journeys with writers they admire. It is anyone’s guess where will this leave the authors of a single text. Bad news for the Harper Lees and Margaret Mitchells.

Q: You give your work away for free. Can you explain your strategy on this?

A: Giving away the occasional free book is an established marketing tool. The first Walter Mosley book I read was a magazine freebie, and I became a huge fan. It’s a great way of increasing consumer awareness. I have had readers read my free e-books, then go buy the paperback. I still have the Mosley book, but I also bought another edition of it.

Q: How relevant is your success with traditional publishing to your reputation as an independent author?

A: Being a traditionally published author who switched to Indie does lend a degree of credibility. But reputations do not sell books. Positive word of mouth is the magic key to high number book sales and the only thing that will generate that is a damned good story. Admittedly the snowball rolling down a hill effect will be faster for a moderately well known author. It would be nice to be still amongst the best sellers in forty years time.

From the Huffington Post, October 29th 2010

So how did that work out, anyway?

Pretty good, actually.

When you visit AJ Davidson’s website now, it’s not a flashy page full of advertisements for his books––it’s a blog, a simple blog hosted by WordPress and packed with useful tidbits of information, including the latest gem from January 17th of 2017:

AJ Davidson has become the second Irish writer to join Radish, the serial fiction platform based on the incredibly successful model used in China and Korea. Paper Ghosts, Davidson’s most downloaded book (1,400,000) will be available in the near future, closely followed by a sequel released on a serial basis.

Can you imagine––almost one and a half million downloads of just one book? Yeah, Davidson may not be making the news the same way (after all, to do so, he’d have to self-advertise and aggressively) but he’s being productive in the way that counts most for an author: sales and distribution.

AJ Davidson
Author Photo

So why revisit this blog post?

It’s because we’re so used to stories of self-publishing authors “gone big,” gone over to traditional publishing after having been scouted by some enterprising soul within that industry. And don’t get us wrong, we love the stories about Andy Weir’s The Martian and Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Cycle as much as anybody––but they’re not the only Cinderella stories out there. We have people like AJ Davidson, too, who defected from traditional publishing to move into the world of indie books because he saw the value in shaking off old modes of thinking. (And yes, there are other authors who defect for other reasons, including neglect or downright mistreatment from their publishing houses and marketing teams.)

The story of self-publishing and who chooses to do it is more rich and varied than we ever could have imagined, in 2010. Some indie authors have risen up who never knew any other way of life and publishing, and some have crossed over in each direction from traditional to indie and vice versa, and some still perceive it as the last haven of the desperate. But the stigma is fading, both as the tools for self-publishing improve each year, and as people begin to realize what many of us have always known: Everyone has something to say worth hearing, and self-publishing is the most effective, affordable, and natural way of saying it.

The news may seem a bit bleak overall just now, with political upheaval across the globe and many people still mired in despair, but there is a ray of hope. It may not be able to touch everything––but maybe it can, at that. The future of self-publishing is secure in people like AJ Davidson and in you, and your stories have a home.

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: “Back to Writing on the Road to Self-Publishing”

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 18th, 2010 ]

Ezines – they are a fast and free opportunity to self publish. Moreover, publishing in ezines can help you get motivated to write your book, and even promote your book after publication.

We’ve discussed the idea of publishing excerpts of your book as individual articles or stories. You can simply locate a website and query that site’s webmaster about publishing your article. Make sure you include your biographical byline, which mentions your book as well.

This is more of the same, but concentrating on ezine publication.

There really are countless ezines in existence now, each with a specific niche or category. And all of them are voraciously hungry for content.

Rather than seeking them out individually, you can place your articles into databases that ezine editors frequent for content. They use your article free of charge, and in exchange, include your biographical byline, which, again, includes information about you and your book.

Here are some to check out:

http://www.ezinearticles.com

http://www.ebooksnbytes.com

http://www.connectionteam.com

http://www.netterweb.com

http://www.ideamarketers.com

http://www.goarticles.com

http://www.knowledge-finder.com

http://www.articlecity.com

Don’t send an article you’ve already published last week. Instead, write another chapter of your book first (since finishing your book the main goal, after all.)

Have fun. Keep writing.

zines e-zines ezines

Well, it’s not 2010 anymore … and what is the state of the zine, much less the state of the e-zine? I haven’t heard as much about these lovely creatures of late as I used to, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a thriving communiting of ziners floating around the interwebs where I can’t see them.

A quick foray around the news feeds I follow turns up, well, actually, quite a lot! This week alone, zines have been featured in local newspapers from coast to coast, as well as a handful of higher-profile national news magazines and online compendiums. The Hudson Valley One hosted an article just last week titled “Revolution in your hands: New Paltz hosts weekend of zine making & reading,” in which I learned a fabulous nugget of information: there is an actual job description called “Zine Librarian” at the Sojourner Truth Library. How cool is that?? (Very cool.) And two weeks ago, eCollege Times hosted an article titled “Print Isn’t Dead: Take a page from local zine queen Charissa Lucille,” and includes an interview with an ASU alum and zine shop owner from Phoenix, Arizona, who dishes on everything from putting together a team of writers to what the future of zines will look like. And late last month, the OC Weekly hosted an article titled “LibroMobile’s Zine Mission,” about a mobile truck (think of a food truck, just stocked with zines and zine-making materials!) powered by the dreams of one enterprising young woman determined to put the materials for creative self-expression into the hands of area teens. And an article from LA Weekly titled “A New Exhibit Traces the Influence of Zines and Books on L.A.’s Art Scene” hints at the long and ongoing legacy of zines on the West Coast as part of the culture-shaping punk aesthetic.

So zines haven’t gone anywhere. What about e-zines?

Well, there are fewer articles than there used to be. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, really. But if you spend much time on the E-Zine Directory (www.ezine-dir.com) you might just find yourself overwhelmed by how many e-zines there are these days. There are e-zines on wine-making and e-zines which are the official newsletters for towns and counties in Alabama. There are e-zines about alternative music and e-zines about spirituality and enlightenment. There are e-zines about feng shui and the paranormal, e-zines about parents of “difficult” children, e-zines about small businesses, and e-zines about voice talent and voice coaching.

In short, there seems to be an e-zine about everything. The content of most e-zines has shifted, however, away from what you might think of as typical “punk” content and the arts/music/literature scene which still dominates the physical zines. E-zines have broadened to become the territory of everyone with something to say ….

And that, as a self-publishing blog dedicated to the freedom of expression, we can get behind.

 

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: “Book Review Leads for the Self Published Author”

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: September 12th, 2008 ]

Getting your book reviewed is an important part of book promotion for the self-published author.

If you are seeking book reviews: BookPleasures.com is a website you may want to investigate. They’ve been known to write book reviews and even interview authors for additional exposure. There is more information on their site at www.bookpleasures.com

Another opportunity exists at http://www.reviewyourbook.com where you can submit your book for a possible free review and listing on their website. There’s no fee (that I could see) and every little bit helps.

If you’ve written a travel log, or a book that fits the description of “travel log” (a memoir involving a foreign locale, for example), you may also want to look into: sketchandtravel.com

Good luck and have fun!

– by Kelly Schuknecht

A lot of time has passed since 2008 when I first posted some go-to reviewing resources to our blog, and while some stalwarts are still in business (including BookPleasures and SketchandTravel) several others are no longer in operation–at least not in any incarnation which would be useful to you, our readers. Hence the line through one of the sites listed above.

There are, however, quite a few new and wonderful resources, many of which remain free, including:

  1. www.ReadersFavorite.com (free!)
  2. www.digitalbooktoday.com (offers a slew of options, some paid, some free)
  3. www.SelfPublishingReview.com (charges a fee, with multiple packages)
  4. www.IndieReader.com (expensive, but offers a “rush” option which is useful)
  5. IndieBRAG at www.bragmedallion.com (charges a small fee, ebooks only)
  6. www.BlueInkReview.com (charges a small fee, but flexible)
  7. www.MidwestBookReview.com (charges a small fee, but gives great exposure)

There are, of course, a thick pile of reviewers who are always willing to review in exchange for free book copies, but these are scattered throughout the internet and in no one place.

Just because a book review is free doesn’t mean it’s the only review you’ll want … or need. So consider your options–all of your options!–and pursue the ones that are both time and cost effective for you!

(And if you have any review websites we’ve missed that you’d like to see posted here, drop me a line!)

book review

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: “Quality and Control in Self-Publishing”

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: November 14th, 2008 ]

A very informative article was recently published outlining one author’s success self-publishing over traditional publishing, most notably in terms of higher net royalties on book sales. In fact, the case study recorded significantly higher royalties on a lower quantity of book sales along that self-publishing route.

The book pricing advantages of self publishing is no stranger to this blog, nor the increasingly successful population of authors who follow that path. But this particular article also mentioned that writers should never have to pay for publishing upfront.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen authors who have been pulled in by that concept, but end up publishing an often poorly produced book sold back to them at highly marked-up costs. (Publishers are businesses and need to make money, after all.) So that model really only puts poorly produced books right back in the hands of authors, not readers.

The successful alternative does involve upfront publishing fees, which opens a direct contract between authors and publishers including quality, professional production on books that are competitively sold in the marketplace, where readers buy books. Make sure your self-publishing choice includes those things like cover design, interior formatting, and full distribution. Also, as I’ve mentioned before – and the significance here is worth the redundancy – make sure your publisher offers pricing flexibility (control) and 100% royalties on book sales.

I hope that helps. Have fun and keep writing…

– by Karl Schroeder

Well, Karl’s not wrong. He wasn’t wrong all the way back in 2008–nine years ago!–and he’s not wrong now. (Of course, this will come as no surprise to those of you who have read some of his backlist posts for Self Publishing Advisor.) Quality is determined by many independent and interrelated factors, and one of the most important of those factors is control. Control of the artistic process, the publishing process, and the distribution process too. Lose your access to influence any of these three steps, and you’re at risk of spending money you didn’t anticipate on processes over which you have very limited control.

quality infographic

I love this infographic from Empathy Lab, because even though they specialize in e-commerce and responsive web design–subjects only tangentially relevant to our interests–they have spent years putting together quality infographics representing ways in which to both qualify and quantify their systems and products. Here, they’ve created an infographic by which any business might measure quality, based on a flexible framework which incorporates everything from inputs, outputs, values, and employees.

While this may not be the most finely-tuned visual for self-publishing, specifically, many of the principles here helpfully capture the spirit of what Karl first wrote in 2008: You must first decide what your priorities are, and how quality is both a product of and a shaping influence upon, what you do. Only then can you decide how much money to invest, and where to invest it, in the self-publishing process. A hint: For most of us, it’s going to be some sort of up-front cost which gives us access to premium publishing services and full royalties, full creative control, and full authority on what happens to our books–because this is your brand, after all.

Take a moment to let Karl’s words sink in, and spend a little time with Empathy Labs’ infographic. See if you can sketch out some thoughts on how your own book and publishing experience is coming together–and let us know how that’s going! We’d love to hear from you and be a resource for you.

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: “Book Marketing: Magazine Reviews”

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: April 2nd, 2010 ]

The following list comes compliments of ForeWord magazine in the interest of helping you secure reviews with not only their magazine, but all magazines you pursue.

1. Become familiar with the magazine
2. Read the submission guidelines for each magazine before submitting your book for review
3. Create a good cover letter
4. Include a sales sheet (ask your self-publisher or publishing rep).
5. Follow-up

The best way to familiarize yourself with a magazine you want to review your book is to read the magazine first.

You can usually find submission guidelines for magazines on the magazine’s website.

When sending your book out for review, always include your contact information so the reviewer can get in touch with you if necessary. This should be a part of your cover letter. You can also politely request that a reviewer notify you when/if they review your book (but realize that many may choose not to do this).

 

Is the day of the magazine editorial dead?

What about magazine reviews?

magazine magazines rack

No. No they’re not.

At least, so say the print magazines themselves–and yes, they have  a vested interest in trying to impress their shareholders as much as possible, but when everyone from CNN Money to the New York Post to Wired Magazine lines up to say it’s not so, ti’s time to listen to what they have to say. (It’s worth noting that these periodicals are often at odds over ethics disputes and general worldview, so for them to agree is something magical. And also, it’s far more in their interest to say they’re doing well despite industry trends than to state that everyone’s doing well. They want people to defect to be their subscribers, after all. That’s just marketing.)

And we’re here about marketing, too.

So how does knowing print’s not dead help you market your book?

First of all, it opens up untold numbers of possibilities that the average author might not think of for ad placement and reviews. Facebook, sure. A local radio station, sure. But a print magazine or journal? “I thought those were dead,” you might as well have said. But they’re not. They’re not dead. In fact, they’re thriving–so long as they reach a dedicated niche audience.

Secondly, print magazines and journals have a vested interest, too, in upholding the work of talented authors in a way that a local newspaper may not. Newspapers are looking for news, while magazines and journals are looking for talent. If you have it, and you reach out to the right ones, you might very well find yourself being scouted for additional pieces, or find yourself pushing against an open door as far as promoting your book goes.

So don’t give up on magazines. Well, maybe give up on some. Do your research, and dig around a little bit to see what your ideal reader is picking up at Barnes & Noble or their local indie bookstore or subscribing to digitally. Instead of firing scattershot into a great void and hoping to land some hits, you should spend your time and energy firing precise, surgical volleys at market niches which will both welcome you and connect you with more of those ideal readers.

Long live paper!

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: “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.