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

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

spring crocus snow

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

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

house finch spring buds snow

You are not alone. ♣︎

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

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

Self-Publishing News: 2.26.2019

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

And now for the news!

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

Forbes has well and truly been showing up for those amongst its readership who are self-publishing authors lately, and Amy Morin’s recent piece is yet another example of this excellent representation. Morin, whose website describes her as “a psychotherapist turned ‘accidental’ author,” knows the stakes when it comes to building a brand and crafting resources for others, including books. Morin has traditionally published three books domestically to date, but she understands the value to self-published works as well. In fact, her fifth “way” in this article is to publish a book in the manner most suited to your individual circumstance. Writes Morin:

While some people insist a self-published book is the way to go, others say traditional publishing is more profitable. But, publishing isn’t a one-size-fits-all. It depends on your topic.

If you have (a) small niche market, you may need to self-publish. Then, it’s up to you to decide whether to create a $50 manual or a $l.99 eBook.

She also advocates for traditional publication in other circumstances, but it’s heart-warming to see even this traditionally published author showing up for and advocating for self-publishing.

Good e-Reader is another news platform that has routinely showed up for self-publishing authors, and this week’s article by Mercy Pilkington demonstrates their continued support for authors seeking another way. Pilkington opens by describing just how far self-publishing has come, from origins shrouded in stigma and production difficulties to high-quality works offering diverse opportunities for diverse authors. Pilkington’s article is especially concerned with those authors who self-publish with the goal of having their self-published title or future works picked up for traditional publication. She touches on a recent blog post by powerhouse literary agent Anne Tibbets, who warns authors that already-self-published works are not the best candidates for making that transition, and offers this advice to authors wanting to make the leap from self-published to traditional publication:

Tibbets does offer some advice for seeking a traditional publishing deal, but there’s bad news: the advice itself isn’t new. “Write a whole new book that’s completely unrelated to anything you’ve self published, that’s unsold anywhere, unpublished anyplace (even online), and fits into the traditional publishing categories, sub-genres, and word count requirements, and query agents with that novel.”

We might put it another way: If you’ve successfully self-published a book already, the incentive to republish your book traditionally is marginal (you’re already making bank, and a traditional publisher will cut into your profits). Most people who are self-publishing these days are choosing to do so because self-publishing is the only or the best fit for their book anyway. There are plenty of reasons to self-publish, including the narrow selection parameters traditional publishers employ when picking manuscripts which exclude many high-quality works worth reading. And readers know this! One glance at the comments might well indicate that there’s still some negative opinions floating around in the ether, but a second glance will show that there are readers and commenters going to bat for self-publishing, as well:

comments

As in all things, don’t let the haters get you down! Listen to those who know the value to your dreams.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: The Polar Vortex of Marketing (Continued)

Last week, with our fingers frozen stiff inside of our heaviest winter mittens, we leaned into the life-affirming (and self-publishing-lifestyle-affirming) wisdom of self-publishing authors who have seen success, drawing specifically upon a series of articles put out by Goodreads; the first post was titled “Advice for Aspiring Indie Authors by Successful Indie Authors” and I would continue to recommend that you check it out, as well as its sequel, “Indie Authors Share Their Secrets to Creating Successful Self-Publishing Careers,” which features much more lengthy insights from a number of others.

We were hoping that the polar vortex would have been on its merry way by now, but depending on where you live, you may be in for quite a bit more snow throughout the remainder of February.

warning snow

Since the weather hasn’t changed much, we’ll continue in the same vein as my last article two weeks ago, and if you’ll remember, that article ended with a statement and a question:

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

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

If we rephrase that question as how can we get started thinking about how to help other authors find success in self-publishing, the question becomes even more interesting and complex. One way in which authors differ from other entrepreneurs or small business owners is that we are very rarely in competition with each other in any way that affects the pocketbook. If anything, feuding authors tend to drive up each others’ sales, although that’s certainly not a marketing approach that we would counsel anyone to embrace—not when positive collaborative opportunities are so readily available!

[Several years ago, we hosted a “Marketing Master Strokes” article on the subject of “Playing Well With Others,” and it’s well worth revisiting here.]

Even before you reach out to another author to collaborate, there are plenty of ways to learn and benefit from other authors. You’re probably already drawing on quite a few of your own favorites as inspiration for your own work—and the act of writing itself—but you can also learn from other authors by studying how they shape their own brand and public marketing platform. Spend some time on Google acquainting yourself with author websites, Facebook pages and other social media accounts, blogs, newsletters, and their various efforts throughout. Which websites grab your eye? What features do they share? What can you learn from even an ugly website, in terms of what to steer clear of? What was the author’s latest promotion: a sale, a discount, a giveaway, or something else? And what kind of programs and materials did they use to make that happen? How often do they Tweet and post to Facebook, and what kinds of content seem to gain the most responses?

All of these questions can be answered just by surveying what material is already out there. It’s worthwhile narrowing your focus to look at authors who have  similar resources to you, or writing in the same genre; doing so will make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and ensuring that these authors’ marketing strategies are manageable.

But then … once you’ve finished your web sleuthing … it’s time to make a personal connection. As you’re conducting your web search, keep a record of the names and contact information for authors whose work and marketing strategies you admire. Once you’ve got a handful, it’s time to reach out! Put together a letter to each one which expresses, simply and straightforwardly, what it is you admire about their work and what you’d like to do with them. Would you like to, as our “Marketing Master Strokes” article put it, pair up with another author or multiple authors to host a book discussion or workshop together? Would you like to gather several other authors together and apply to run a booth at a local book fair, or a panel at a “con” (convention)? Would you like to conduct interviews with other authors and share them on each other’s websites, providing insight into the authorial process? Or would you like to perhaps co-write short stories or novellas together, to be distributed as giveaways or free to the public online?

In my opinion, interviews and blog “round-ups” are the most fun and enlightening, and not only do they help drive traffic to your website or blog, but they also may just provide some important insights that you will make good use of in the future!

The letter doesn’t have to be long. It could, in fact, be a three-to-six sentence email. The main thing to remember, etiquette-wise, is that many self-publishing authors who post their contact details online get lots of spam, so make sure your letter or email doesn’t look and feel like the dreaded “form” or “spam” letter. And you should never push back if someone says “no,” because there are far too many awesome possible collaborations out there to be disappointed by one “no,” and also because you really do want to find those authors whose work and style meshes nicely with yours naturally and without too much scheduling gymnastics. A simple:

“Hi, I’m [insert name here], and I recently self-published a book on [insert half-sentence premise here]. I was really impressed by your recent blog post on [insert subject here], and I was wondering if you might be interested in doing a quick interview exchange which we could both post to our blogs. You can find out more about my book at [insert link] to see if a collaboration feels right to you. I wish you much success in all that you do! Sincerely, [insert name here].” Or at least, that’s the kind of email I’d write!

If you have already collaborated with other authors, good on you! That’s awesome! We’d love to hear from you about how you went about making those connections, and how the process ended up working out. Just drop us a line in the comments section, below!

winter snow reading

You are not alone. ♣︎

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

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

In Your Corner: The Polar Vortex of Marketing

 

winter storm cat book

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

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

hugh howey quote

colleen hoover quote

and …

andy weir quote

 

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

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

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

More on that next week!

You are not alone. ♣︎

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

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

Self-Publishing News: 12.11.2018

December banner with fir branches.

And now for the news!

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

Forbes continues to keep us in rich and useful content this year with the latest contribution from Brandon Stapper of the Forbes Agency Council. Stapper, the “CEO of Nonstop Signs & Graphics, which has risen from humble beginnings to become a printing powerhouse” (according to the article) offers up three suggestions to those looking to break out into what he calls “thought leadership”–essentially, getting ahead of the curve in business through nuanced and effective brand management tied to future thinking of the highest order. Stapper’s first suggestion? Publish an ebook to boost your credibility in talking about industry-specific expertise.

Many readers will be most familiar with self-publishing as a vector for publishing fiction and memoir, but nonfiction books about specific niche industries are a rising star and market force. “Having a published e-book (even if you’ve published it yourself) signifies that you really know what you’re talking about,” writes Stapper. “Writing your thoughts on a particular aspect of your industry or a couple hundred pages on a how-to can easily establish you as an expert within your field. And people trust experts and are more inclined to follow them and even purchase their products.” It’s not a challenge to be undertaken lightly, he advises, but the potential benefits may just prove rewarding enough to make it a worthwhile venture.

In this week’s Post-Journal, Michael Zabrodsky breaks down the ins and outs of self-publishing versus taking the traditional publishing route in the “Write Now” podcast–an audio clip of which you can listen to at the link, where an extended written version is also available. If you’re at that tipping point where you’re still considering your options and you have a manuscript in hand, this episode of the “Write Now” podcast may just provide you with the information you need to make a decision. It’s worth noting that Zabrodsky, who self-published an ebook himself, makes note of but does not allow his personal decisions to influence the information he shares. This podcast makes for a straightforward look at what options are available, and the main questions you need to ask before moving forward. “It’s that easy,” he writes, but also: “It’s that hard.” He’s definitely onto something there!


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part III)

fall autumn book

Several weeks back, we began this series by introducing the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, we discovered, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we continue to run semi-officially with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the next post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special. Last time, we looked into the guiding question of “what’s next?” Which, as it turns out, is taking your existing habits and tweaking them to better serve your marketing goals–in a sustainable fashion that won’t undercut your existing routines and interests.

What comes after “what’s next?”

Next comes the holiday-specific part! Now that you’ve eked out some additional sustainable habits (that will continue working in your favor year-round, of course!) it’s time to think about what little bits of “extra” you can fit in around the holidays that support your ongoing marketing strategy and also take advantage of all those little things you can only do around the holidays.

Thanksgiving

To hit upon some high points we keep returning to year after year on this blog:

Thanksgiving is a time for doing, every bit as much as it is about giving and receiving. After all, the whole “giving and receiving” thing gets a real workout around Christmas. And in a smaller sense, at Halloween and even Veteran’s Day, when we give thanks to our servicemen and women—very important in its own way, but not the only mode of being to inhabit as a self-publishing author.

Thanksgiving is a time for activity, for wrapping up all the things that have been left unfinished at other times of year—a time for completion, for stepping back and looking at the whole and then by golly sitting down and filling in the holes. The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t just to give and receive thanks; the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to get ‘er done. To see yourself and your book and your marketing campaign and your social media strategy through the rough patches that inevitably accumulate on the leading edge of the end of the year. It’s not, contrary to legend, a time to sit around and kick up your feet and wait for good things to happen (or, more appropriately, to pop out of the oven and onto your dinner plate). Delicious as a fresh-baked cobbler is, it’s not quite the point.

If we wanted to look all the way back to the Quakers and the First Thanksgiving—and let’s face it, like it or not Thanksgiving is a time rife with nostalgia and historic musings—we should be honest about what it was like for them. They only celebrated because the gifted foods and skills given them by the local tribes kept them from starvation—and then, only just. The Quakers almost starved. Many of them did starve. It was not a time of plenty; it was a time for surviving, and for acknowledging those who helped them to survive. The time for celebration isn’t after everything is done and the harvest is in; the time for celebration is now, when the struggle and the busy-ness and the insanity is at its height. Tap into that spirit and, in the spirit too of the diagramming and recording we’ve done since our previous post, start brainstorming the ways you can merge celebration with marketing. Will throwing an event at the local library do that for you? Will putting up posters around town? Hosting a discount or giveaway on your blog and book sale page? Think of those strategies which you can put together quickly, easily, and without adding undue stress at a busy time. We’ll be back next week with more thoughts on specific events, tips, and tricks you can use that fit the bill for simple and stress-free!

These holidays, I hope you know that we here at Self Publishing Advisor are a part of your network, a resource to enable your resilience. We’re here for you this Thanksgiving season, to help you get it done–and to help you celebrate your wonderful book!

fall autumn book blanket coffee

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

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.

 

Self-Published Book Review: “An Inky Summer”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

an inky summer by fred and cheryl lowman

cipa evvy merit

An Inky Summer

by Fred and Cheryl Lowman

ISBN: 9781478777434

Synopsis*:

When 12 year old Freddie discovers Inky, an American crow, sitting on the fence near the back steps of his house, it is the beginning of An Inky Summer. Read this true story and laugh as this crafty and intelligent corvid upsets neighbors and relatives with his antics.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

A Wonderful True Story!

A delightful book! This book will not only be enjoyed by children, but by the adults who read it to them. The story will make you smile, laugh, and maybe even cry. It takes you back to a simpler time when kids didn’t have all the electronics in their lives. You will never look at a crow in the same way after reading this story. They are truly a very intelligent creature that we should learn more about. Also the illustrator, Dan Carsten, did an excellent job in bringing the story to life with his vibrant drawings. A must read for all ages!!!

– reviewed by Crowman on Amazon

Other Reviews

A Special Encounter to Enjoy.

A wonderful remembrance that is recalled and shared with the reader. It create’s our own wish to have an “encounter” with a creature to recall. It is a heart warming story that expresses much honesty and joy in the what may be if we are accepting. This story sparks the imagination and is made that much more special knowing it is a “true story”.
Well done!

– reviewed by Boppa on Amazon

Great Read!

I just loved this book. It really captured a perfect time in a young boy’s life. I was drawn in right away, and it made me want an “Inky” crow as a pet for myself. I learned a lot about crows. In the past, I would just see them as large, black birds; and now I am looking for individual personalities when I see them. The illustrations are wonderful and brought the book to life. A perfect read!

– reviewed by Gail V. on Amazon

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tuesday book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor

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