In Your Corner: Growing Your Market With Elbow Grease

Over the last several weeks of this summer, I’ve written about the difficulties of both making a fresh start when getting started and having to re-start your marketing plan when something goes south. Both of those involve a lot of work, it’s true, but this week it’s worth reminding everyone (including myself) that the work is worth it.

I wrote recently about my gardens being stripped accidentally. Well, after having a mini-meltdown and lapsing into total self-loathing and disappointment for a few days, I decided to take a couple of baby steps. I did a soil pH test one day, laid down some fresh soil the next. Ordered a couple of packets of wildflowers and bush beans the day after that. Took handfuls and spread them out the following weekend.

Now, things are starting to come up. It may not be the garden I first envisioned, and it may never again look like the original, but it’s still something. And it still makes me happy. It brings me joy.

Just like writing, and marketing, when I see the first signs of success.

gardening

The elbow grease needs to be there. It’s never going to be the easiest thing, marketing. But it also doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you do each day. Line it up after your fifteen minutes of foreign language learning each day (Duolingo is brilliant, isn’t it?), your half-hour walk, and your afternoon smoothie. Making marketing just another part of your routine, something that has a little bit of structure but not so much it interferes with the rest of your day, is critical to it remaining a long-term part of your life.

I should know. I’ve been to the marketing (and the gardening!) doldrums this summer with you. I know what it looks like. And I’m here to remind you: it’s not the end. It’s never the end. It’s just another part of your life, and you get to make it fit with the rest of who you are and what you do. And in the end, you’re going to sell some books simply because you were willing to show up for a few minutes each day and remind the world that you have a brilliant new book out there in the world, and it’s ready to be read.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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: More on Podcasts (Part IV)

A month ago, I started a series on podcasting for self-publishing authors. For more explanations of why podcasting is an important tool for authors, check out the second post in this series, and for my reflections on the nitty-gritty of recording and editing those podcasts check out the third post in this series. This week, I’m back to complete the series with some final thoughts on podcasts and how they relate to self-publishing.

professional microphone

We are not the first blog to point out a connection between self-publishing and podcasting. Even a cursory Google search for the terms “self-publishing” and “podcast” together turns up thousands of relevant hits, including podcasts from self-publishing companies (e.g. the “story studio” Sterling & Stone), podcasts wherein the podcaster interviews famous and/or successful self-publishing authors (e.g. the Self-Publishing School), podcasts by self-publishing authors themselves (e.g. Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula and the Self-Publishing Authors podcast). These are just a few examples of the podcasts themselves, but there are also plenty of blogs who have put together lists of the top ten or so self-publishing related podcasts for you to peruse (we’re particular fans of Kindlepreneur’s list, as it mostly lines up with our own experience and has great rules for inclusion).

The downside of these lists, including our own mentions? You might become convinced that podcasting as a self-publishing author can or ought to only look one way, and that’s to say you might feel pressured to talk about the process of publishing and marketing your book, which may or may not be your comfort zone. Especially if you’re a self-publishing author just getting into the industry and you don’t feel as though you’ve got this polished life to offer up in thirty-minute chunks every month, podcasting the way that the podcasts on these lists do may feel preemptive.

The fact of the matter is, a podcast can look like whatever you want it to look like. And you don’t have to “have it all put together” (in your life or in respect to your publishing experience) in order to get started; many of the best podcasts today started with several extremely messy, experimental episodes as their creators worked out what they wanted the podcasts to be. You can use your podcast to read excerpts. You can use it to talk about your experience as it happens, warts and all. You can use it to talk about other self-published books, or engage with other self-publishing authors. Keeping a seed planted at the back of your mind that the podcast is another extension of your marketing strategy, do all the things you want to do and don’t wait to get started! That’s always the hardest part, isn’t it?

We hope you do decide to experiment with podcasting, and if you do, we’d love to boost your voice. Pop a link to your podcast in our comments, and we’ll happily make a mention on our blog!

You are not alone. ♣︎


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: More on Podcasts (Part III)

Several weeks ago, I started a series on podcasting for self-publishing authors. For more explanations of why podcasting is an important tool for authors, check out last week’s post. I’m back this week to talk about the nitty-gritty of recording and editing those podcasts!

professional microphone

Generally speaking, there are very few requirements for putting together a fairly decent podcast, and most of the platforms are free. (Or, they only start charging fees after a certain number of podcasts have been uploaded. I’ll touch on distribution platforms and their fees in my next post on the subject.)

The recipe is simple, the ingredients few:

  • something with a decent microphone
  • a robust Internet connection for conducting interviews without lag
  • a software program to allow Voice Over IP (VOIP) conversations for the same
  • a software program to record and edit your audio

That’s really, truly, about it. And if you’re not interested in conducting interviews as a part of your podcast (although I highly recommend it as a way to alert other authors to your work, and to make your podcast feel more collaborative), then you don’t even need to worry so much about the Internet connectivity or the VOIP software. If you do go that direction, and you don’t already have Internet at home, you can probably reserve a study room at your local public library and use their wifi. (Some libraries even have recording studios you can book for free!) I recommend using something like Skype or Google Hangouts for the VOIP software, as they’re both free, and there are other, higher-quality services which you can pay for if it becomes important to your podcast.

The microphone is also negotiable! I have friends who have invested in high-quality standalone mics that plug into their laptops, but I’ve always found that my laptop microphone is decent enough at recording that I don’t need to worry about quality. When I’m traveling, I use a little handheld, battery-operated digital recorder that I bought used on Amazon a decade ago for other reasons (mainly, I had my best writing ideas while driving, and I kept forgetting them by the time I got to my destination, so I picked up the recorder to make recording them easy; I don’t recommend writing while driving). But really, the simplest option is usually the best, and the option you’re most familiar with.

The software you use for recording and editing is by far the most important component of this recipe! As with the VOIP software, there are lots of great options which you can download and use for free; I recommend Audacity, which is robust enough to do all the things you’ll need it for, and used by enough other people that there are lots of “how-to” videos online to explain the more obscure details, like how to reduce background noise and merge two audio files together. Audacity is free, and while it’s not pretty, it gets the job done if you take some time to familiarize yourself with how it looks and feels. I don’t recommend downloading programs from the Internet if you’re not one hundred percent sure you’re getting the right thing and from a reliable, virus-free source, so chat with your local Technology Specialist Librarian or other tech-savvy individual before choosing a program and a source to download it from. If you’re just not comfortable with downloads at all, take a look at the audio editing software programs available for purchase through Amazon; there are lots of options, some of them affordable.

For those of you already deep into the podcasting process, what do you use to record your podcasts?

You are not alone. ♣︎


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: More on Podcasts (Part II)

Last week, I started a new series on the merits of podcasting. This week, I’d like to dive in a little deeper….

professional microphone

Podcasts are wonderful. I don’t know how much you know about them, but I spend a fair bit of every day listening to these wonderful recordings which are streamed via a number of apps and websites–SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and more–and saved to my phone by default. They cover an endless variety of subjects, but the ones I mostly listen to have to do with science, technology, film and television, books and book reviews, and gardening. There are knitting podcasts, social justice podcasts, music podcasts, and cute animals doing cute things podcasts.

Having even tried my hand in the past at podcasting myself, I can say with confidence that with a little time and effort, this is something almost anyone with a computer and a built-in microphone can do. Audacity remains the best and most widely-available software in which to record, edit, and otherwise “mix” your audio tracks, but a component of the whole process which has evolved somewhat in recent years is the importance of social networking to a podcast’s success. Just look at how well the Nerdette podcast has done in engaging fans on Twitter, Goodreads, and elsewhere! Science Friday has a great and constantly updated website!

I highly recommend spending a little time exploring the notion, at least. Done well and thoroughly socially networked, podcasts can have enormous reach. And they are also a lot of fun! You don’t have to limit yourself to talking about your book, although that’s certainly an option; you might as well discuss any interesting thing you love.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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: Can you use podcasts to promote your book?

Short answer? Absolutely!

podcast

If you haven’t already heard about podcasts, these are recorded sessions of either music or spoken audio. Podcasts that focus on books are perfect because they are already written (so you aren’t making something up at the same time you record) and they are either entertaining or educational (or both).

Recording a podcast of your self-published book is a great way to promote it. Once your podcast is recorded, you can upload it to popular sites like iTunes and reach a whole new audience.

Scribl is a relatively easy way to start creating a podcast for your book. You will find helpful instructions for what you need in the way of hardware and software to make your first recording. They also allow you to upload your files to their site for free, but once you have your podcast file (usually an mp3 file) don’t forget to upload it to other popular sites, too.  You can conduct a search on Google to find sites where you can upload your podcast, and you can submit your podcast feed URL to the iTunes Store here.

Other links that will help you down the road of podcasting include:
audacity.sourceforge.net
blogtalkradio.com

If you find that you have more questions, don’t worry! I’ll be delving more into podcasts over the coming weeks.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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: What does a self-publishing author need to know about ghostwriting?

ghostwriter ghostwriting

How is your content coming? Do you have a protagonist stuck in a loss of direction or buried in a dissipating story arc? Are you an industry leader in green building with every resource save time to pen your own book? Have you developed years of research on a story that needs to be told but lack the composition experience to make it as successful as possible?

We want to hear what you have to say.

Perhaps its time to consider ghostwriting.

Ghostwriting functions as a collaborative writing effort between a principal author and contracted ghostwriter to develop content ranging in scope from a preliminary idea or outline to nearly completed manuscript.

Having existed in the publishing industry for generations, ghostwriting is finding a relatively new niche in the growing self-published base of printed work. For self-publishing authors, ghostwriters can fulfill the role of acquisitions editor, content developer, and partner. But counter to the the traditional publishing model, the self-publishing author will remain in the driver’s seat through the process with their ghostwriter, working to develop direction based on the best interest of the author. Should you decide to work with a ghostwriter, you will retain creative control over every step of your work.

Ghostwriters can be contracted independently, and a handful of self-publishing options now provide them in-house and often at lower rates, including the company I work for. I encourage you to explore these options, and consider your current needs. If those needs include the refrain “if only there were more hours in the day!” and you have room in your budget, it may be time to invest in your own official, expert backup.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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: What is so important about editing?

edit editing red pen

Whether you are a self-publishing fiction author, online social network professional, or compulsive blogger, errors in your writing can be a source of discredit, if even implicitly. For example, an industry professional recently noted an example where an author titled an article, “What is your worse fear?

As can often happen, comments exploded following it’s publication. English majors came out of the woodwork to argue usage and the article gained the author attention, but perhaps not the kind intended. Comments didn’t pertain to content, but instead focused on whether or not the author was proficient with the English language. That’s not, in general, what authors want others to take away from their work.

While publishing online has many benefits, technology often allows us instantaneous revision. Book publishing, including self-publishing, is much more permanent. It really is worthwhile to make sure your writing is bomb-proof. Below are five tips you can employ to drastically decrease the chance of mistakes finding their way into your business writing, whether it be a proposal, a website, or a newsletter.

1 – Use an editor

The most common mistakes are minor, such as misspellings or incorrect use of punctuation. Other common errors are incorrect word use (their, they’re, there; or worse, worst, borscht, etc.). A professional editor is adept at noticing and correcting these kinds of mistakes. Your book will reach many human hands; use a human editor.

2 – Get a second, even third, set of eyes

Since you are overly familiar with your own work you are much more likely to miss obvious mistakes because your mind already knows what it is supposed to say, rather than what it actually reads.  So even if you opt away from a professional editor, which most good self-publishing services provide, anyone who reviews your writing will find mistakes you invariably miss. When someone else reads your work, they have no preconceived notions about your writing. At the same time, human behavior will often motivate them to find fault. Use that to your advantage. In addition to finding mistakes, other people may offer constructive criticism to improve your writing overall. Take nothing personally.

3 – Revisit

Do you wait long enough after writing something to begin editing it? Many writers edit their work as they write it. Not only does this slow down the creative process, it increases the chance that your mind will ignore blatant errors in deference to your intentions. Once your brain thinks a paragraph is free from errors, it tends to overlook any new errors that are introduced during the rewriting process. Put your writing away for several hours, days, or weeks (depending upon your deadlines) and revisit it later. After some time away from your work, you will be more likely to read the words as they appear on the page, not as you envisioned them in your mind. The mind is error-free, the page is not.

4 – Read Backwards

Reading your material backwards makes it seem entirely different and fools your mind into ignoring the intention and only concentrating on the reality. Furthermore, your critical view of the writing at its most technical level will not be corrupted by the flowing exposition you have massaged into sparkling prose. When you read your manuscript backwards, it becomes a collection of words. Without contextual meaning, the brain has nothing to focus upon other than the words themselves. Mistakes literally jump off the page.

5 – Read Out Loud

When you read words aloud, your brain must slow down and concentrate on the material. How fast can you read: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog? Now, how fast can you read it out loud? It takes at least twice as long, and those precious milliseconds sometimes make all the difference between a typo that is missed, and one that is caught and corrected. As a popular Internet posting informed us as far back as 2003, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wtihuot any porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. But try raednig tihs out luod and see how far you get. An extra bonus for reading your material out loud is that you may discover stumbling blocks like awkward sentence structure and choppy dialogue. Strong business writing is not only dependent on error-free prose; it must be crisp and clear.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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.