Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 6)

goodbye summer

Summer’s Over … What Next?

Here’s a hard thing for me to contemplate, much less say ….

Sometimes, we have to move on.

And at the end of Summer, as we transition into a new school year and all of the challenges and possibilities which it has to offer, I think we have to consider the reality and visceral truth of this statement.

Sometimes, we have to move on.

There’s no better time to do it, really. Ending something, after all, is often a doorway into starting something new–and we all need a reminder of this every now and again, especially when or if we find ourselves stuck in ruts and looking for a way out.

Oh, don’t get me wrong–everything I’ve said throughout this series ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 ) is still true. If you have the willpower and the resources–and everyone has just a little of each, for sure–then you should definitely keep plugging away at marketing your existing, already-published indie books. You should definitely work on innovating your strategies. You should definitely think forward to the holidays now while you have the chance.

But also … you should probably end a few things. If you’ve been hammering away at the same marketing strategy for a while now with no change in sales prospects, it’s time. If you’ve been chipping away piecemeal at a new manuscript and have lost the joy of working on the project, it’s time. If you have been sending queries out to editors, agents, and traditional publishers and receiving only rejections in reply ….

It’s time.

Ending things–bad habits, dependencies, wish-dreams with no likelihood of fulfillment–is agonizing. I have no illusions about that. And it can be absolutely terrifying to cut off something now without a clear plan in place for the future. But if I’ve discovered anything–and I have some personal news to share in the days to come on this–it’s that sometimes you have to end a thing before you can really, truly, and clearly think about what comes next.

So here are my last thoughts in this series, where we have considered oh-so-many ways to sharpen your marketing strategies and hone your self-promotional skills:

  • Recognizing a thing as incomplete, unproductive, or simply “not working out” and deciding to end it is not the same thing as giving up. It’s giving yourself a new way forward!
  • We all face some tough decisions in the days to come, if the news reports are correct, and we simply can’t afford to entrap ourselves in habitual behaviors if they’re not producing the kind of results we need to see.
  • Y’all, our dear readers, give me constant hope that with a bit of diligence, a lot of pluck, and a community of writers and writing professionals to surround ourselves with, we can find a way forward, together ….
  • Even if it means ending a couple of things now.

What have you been trying for a while that isn’t working out? Is it time to tweak or a time to change tracks entirely?


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the outgoing 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

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 3)

Two weeks ago, I launched a new summer series on self-publishing, particularly as regards publishing and marketing your book during this busy time of year–and how to take advantage of our July theme of freedoms and independence while doing so! And I continued the series last week, with a discussion of unfreedom and what constraints are placed upon us as self-publishing authors also engaged in self-promotion by necessity. How does one market a book effectively, without the reach or access or time-honed skills of a publishing company’s full marketing team? (It’s hard, but not impossible.)

This week, seguewaying off of last week’s discussion, I’m here to talk about the freedoms which are possible when working as a part of a team. Not just any team, either–a team of self-publishing authors! Which I think you will find is something of a different proposition from a marketing team at one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses.

teamwork

But first, let’s dispel the myth of the solo indie author, struggling valiantly against the current of traditional publishing, and vanquishing his or her demons alone, without assistance, and for free. It may in fact be true that some indie authors make a success of themselves this way, just as James Patterson and Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling have made blockbuster success stories out of their lives in traditional publishing … all while conveniently ignoring the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of midlist authors struggling to get by, and required, despite their status as “traditionally published authors” to carry the majority of the promotional burden for their books.

Publishing is hard, no matter which way you go about it–and going solo, either in the publication process or all that comes after, harder still.

But freedom can be a collective achievement. You sacrifice nothing by teaming up with your fellow indie authors to sell your books! You lose none of your dignity, your creative control, your independence–your freedoms–but you gain oh-so-much-indeed! 

We’ve talked about the importance of book readings, book signings, and attending book fairs in promoting your book to new readers–but what if you didn’t have to go it alone? Many of the best readings, signings, and other bookish events I’ve attended have been panels, not singular affairs. Pulling multiple authors into one space, particularly indie authors, lessens the load on each participant while multiplying the event’s outreach. Imagine–even if all that happens is that your fellow readers bring their friends and families along, you’ve reached two or three or four times as many friends and families as you yourself were able to bring! That’s no shabby number.

Or, you might consider partnerships with local businesses, your public library, or events like our annual Cherry Festival as opportunities to build a coalition. Some of the fiercest book advocates are librarians and indie booksellers, yes, but don’t forget about the reach of a clerk at the counter of your local quilt store, or a restaurant with a waiting area! Your self-assembled team of advocates doesn’t have to be made up of the expected literary types; your team should make room for readers of all shapes and tastes, and partners who you normally wouldn’t think of. Once you’ve made contact with someone offline, make sure to make them a part of your online presence as well–either as a part of your social media network, or an email newsletter distribution, or something along those lines!

Lastly, you might consider going in for something like a co-op advertisement, something along the lines of this fabulous offering from Outskirts Press. In this case, you may never actually meet your fellow authors, but you’ll help each other out anyway–financially!–by reducing the cost burden on each contributing author. (And watch OP’s yearly deals, too–they often offer seasonal holiday-specific deals on their co-op ads.)

This is just a couple of examples of the kind of collaborative partnerships which can make your life, as an indie author, so much easier! Dig around online and see what suits you, but remember: you’re only freed if the marketing workload itself is reduced by your partnerships, so commit to projects with tangible and measurable outcomes, and clearly defined contributions.

 


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


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

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 2)

Last week, I launched a new summer series on self-publishing, particularly as regards publishing and marketing your book during this busy time of year–and how to take advantage of our July theme of freedoms and independence while doing so!

Today, I want to talk about the flip side of freedom.

You might call it … UNFREEDOM*.

(*After all, there has to be some sort of language to describe the opposite of ‘freedom’ which isn’t problematically tied to this nation’s long and deeply troubling relationship to captivities of various kinds … right? I’ll make the attempt, while recognizing and honoring the tight spot into which the English language … and the history of American expansion … has put me. Here goes!)

Point: Self-publishing authors are constrained by their circumstances, and therefore limited as marketers of their works. Let’s slow down and look at some of the speed bumps in our way!

independence, bird

Time.

The first constraint you’re likely to hear about when talking with self-publishing authors about their marketing attempts is how difficult it is to find the time to market well! After all, most indie authors aren’t living lives of leisure; they’re working, sometimes multiple jobs, to pay the rent and bring in the groceries. They usually have families; often, young kids and sleepless nights are also on order. In this kind of typical environment, it’s hard enough to find time to sleep much less write much less market your books for sale to the general public! And this problem also often inspires a great deal of self-doubt and frustration, as the marketing goes on.

Why don’t people just buy my book already? Hint: if it were that easy to sell books, traditional publishing houses wouldn’t have dedicated marketing staff, either! As a self-publishing author, you’ve written and signed a contract with yourself to do whatever it takes to become a published author … and that includes signing away a large chunk of your time.

Suggestion #1: Protect your time by slowing down long enough to sort out your priorities, and set a schedule that is both ambitious … and attainable.

Money.

Here’s the other big speed bump, right? If you don’t have the time, energy, skills, or access to do what needs doing in order to market your book, you’re going to have to fork over some cash to make it happen! Of course, how much you spend is going to vary greatly depending on what path you take towards publication; vanity presses often tout their marketing successes, but often prove disappointing in results anyway, and the really good self-publishing companies–with dependable, expert staff who’ve been in the business long enough to give you a really good leg up–cost a pretty penny.

Spending some money is unavoidable. Breaking the bank … is.

Suggestion #2: Guard yourself against both amazement and disappointment by doing your research ahead of time. Don’t trust a company’s own press releases for your data, either! Do your due diligence and check out customer reviews, and as with my suggestion for time, go ahead and slow down long enough to plot out what services you can take care of effectively on your own … and which ones you really need help with!

Energy.

Alright–it’s time to take a deep breath and feel your body for a moment. Are you sitting in a chair? Criss-cross-applesauce on the hardwood floor? Hanging from the rafters? Are you comfortable? Are you feeling … a little … sleepy?

We’ve mentioned this every now and again on SPA, but it’s always worth mentioning again: a person doesn’t wake up each morning with endless energy! Energy is a budgeted resource, and your body has no qualms about letting you know when you’re close to running the tank totally dry. Like, right now, my eyes are burning from having worn contacts all day, my knees are aching from walking in to work, and I can’t stop yawning no matter how hard I try–all of which are signs that I’m about a half hour from keeping the neighbors up with my zzzzs.

As a self-publishing author, you need to pay close attention to your energy level: it comes at a premium, and just like time, once it’s spent you’re done. There’s no writing when tired, and even coffee will only get you so far. Sleep, my friends, is inevitable!

Suggestion #3: Build some select mindfulness-based practices into your daily writing routine. Check in with your body when you sit down in your chair. Are you actually feeling good and comfortable–and energetic? If your body is screaming “NO MORE! I CHANGED THIRTY DIAPERS TODAY!” then it may be time to back off, allow yourself to get some sleep, eat the right kind of meal, and do a thing which brings you joy. Make a promise to yourself to come back the next day in a better frame of mind and body, and I guarantee you’ll produce better work–work you can be proud of!

Skills.

Look … we’re not all born with a Wacom tablet or a Master of Business in our hands! It’s okay if you don’t know how to set up social media accounts … THIRTY DIFFERENT WAYS … or how to design your own book cover, including blurb, ISBN, LOC numbers, and so on and so forth.

Knowing what your skill set is, and how best to take advantage of what you already know how to do, is absolutely imperative! So, too, is knowing where your skill set runs out, and therefore when you ought to turn to established and verifiable experts–such as those employed at various self-publishing companies, or working on a freelance basis.

Suggestion #4: Before you sit down to submit your book for publication, sit down and sketch out all of the different little processes which go into making a book, from start to finish. EVERY SINGLE ONE. (There ought to be at least thirty!) Only then can you come back and say–“Ah, yes, I can easily take care of those, but not anything to do with Goodreads giveways or writing a press release!” Listing everything will feed straight back into allocating where you spend your time, money, and energy … so make sure you get it right before the wheels are in motion and momentum is pulling you in another direction!

Access.

Last but certainly not least, one of the most oft-mentioned barriers to self-publishing–an unfreedom–is the strictures placed upon indie authors by those with the knowledge and access to make things happen. Indie authors are often left out in the cold, with no recourse but to generate their own networks and influences from scratch … which, yes, can work but often doesn’t. Meanwhile, traditional publishing houses–who have, by the way, refused to evolve to fit the changed world around their signature markets!–snigger behind their hands and offer little or no help at all … because, I assume, they don’t want the competition.

Oh, if only you could imagine all the wonderful ways we might help each other!

But what a pipe dream. Traditional publishing houses have good reasons (from a business point of view) to try and uphold their monopolies by restricting access and denying support to indie authors looking to break out. I’m talking about everything from email lists of potential customers who they hold in reserve, contracts denying their authors from collaborating with self-publishing authors, and so on.

Access is a big problem for indie authors. If you don’t know who to get in touch with to get this certain thing done, it doesn’t get done.

Suggestion #5: Don’t despair. As I’ve mentioned, some authors have made it! There are some existing networks and resources in place to help you … but just don’t expect to find easy access to knowledge and the means to act upon that knowledge within more “mainstream” or “traditional” circles. I mean, take us for example. We’re here for you–every week!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


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: “5 Tips to Improve Your Writing this Summer”

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: June 15th, 2015 ]

Summer is the perfect time to work on your writing projects and start the self-publishing process. Each week this month, I will offer advice to help you achieve your writing goals this summer. Be sure to check out the last two posts: Kick Off Summer with Self-Publishing and Self-Publishing Authors, Take A Vacation.

This week I’ll share five writing tips to help you achieve your writing goals this season:

1. Read, read, and read some more.

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on your reading wish list and reread some of your favorites. As you sit by the pool or lounge on the beach, be sure to have a stack of books with you. Read a variety of materials over the summer — books in your genre, classic books, books you normally wouldn’t read, newspapers, magazines, even children’s books. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your craft and find inspiration.

2. Browse Pinterest.

Now, you might be thinking that Pinterest is just a way to avoid actually writing, but it can be a great resource for writers. You can use it to collect inspiration for your stories as well as promote yourself and your work. The key is to be strategic in how you spend your time when on the website.

3. Practice writing.

While it’s important to work on your writing project, it’s always fun and smart to take time to just work on the craft of writing. Read a book or blog about improving your craft. Do short writing prompts. Join a writing group. Try writing something in a different genre. All of this “playing” can improve and inspire your writing projects.

4. Try something new.

Novelty is important for writers because the best characters and stories are often inspired by simply living life. This summer take time to try new things. Go to a new restaurant. Visit a museum. Go to a sporting event. Take a class. It doesn’t matter what it is. It just has to be something you’ve never done before.

5. Create a writing space.

Where you work impacts your productivity and creativity. While everyone’s ideal work space is different, it is important to set up an area in your home, or find a place you can go to, that helps you get in the mood to write. Make it clutter free. Hang quotes or photos that are inspirational. Have all of the materials you need in one place. Play some inspiring music.

I’d love to know, what are your doing this summer to improve your writing?

We’ve talked a bit recently (more recently than 2015!) about preparing for the upcoming summer, and I’m back today to synthesize past, present, and future–wait, that sounds a little too grand a statement. But, well, in a sense it’s accurate.

Do these points still hold true? Yes they do. And while there are other tips which might improve your writing this summer (in particular, you might swap out hopping on Pinterest for hopping on any other visual or social media platform), there is nothing to replace the more basic precept of expanding your taste and range (by reading), gathering information and inspiration (by browsing online), practicing, experimenting, and protecting your writing process (by protecting your writing space … and time).

if there was one “tip” I would add to my list this spring, as we transition into planning for summer, it’s this: Struggle. And don’t fight it … outsmart it. As Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird, writing is as much a process of foundering as it is of succeeding, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. She writes:

“But how?” my students ask. “How do you actually do it?”
You sit down, I say. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on the computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”

Listen to those “other voices” this spring and summer. There will always be distractions and things competing with your desire or ability to write, but the fact that they exist does not make you a failure, the same way that actually being impeded by them doesn’t make you a failure. You will find your way through the thicket, and you’ll do it at your own pace and with the unique imagination which makes your work stand apart.

summer reading

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.

5 Ways to Promote Your Book in August

Summer is almost over and temperatures are scorching!  During the shuffle of end-of-summer vacations and back to school preparations, don’t forget to keep promoting your book whenever you can.  Here are five easy ways to promote your book this month:

  1. Book Lover’s Day is August 9th.  Check your newspaper for local events.  If you can’t find any, consider planning something at your local library.  Perhaps a reading from a local author?
  2. Create a Book Video to promote your book.  Upload it to YouTube and then share it on all of our social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google+).  For more ideas on book video marketing, read these five ways to use videos in your book marketing efforts.
  3. If your book was published in 2010 or 2011, enter it into the USA “Best Book” Awards by August 31st.
  4. Back to school time!  If your book is educational, contact schools/teachers about using your book in their class this year or contact  local bookstores who may feature educational fare around this time of year.  If you have written a Children’s book, contact local elementary school teachers to inquire about coming in to read your book to their class.
  5. It’s never too early to plan ahead.  Start planning your fall and winter promotional schedule now.  Consider school and holiday events (Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) that might present an opportunity for you to promote your book and register for them now, order the promotional materials you will need (such as business cards, bookmarks, posters, etc.), and begin stocking up on copies of your book to give away during the holidays.

DISCUSSION: How are you planning to promote YOUR book this month?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

5 Ways to Promote Your Book in July

Summer is here and temperatures are high!  While you’re sitting by the pool or at the beach, don’t forget about the importance of marketing your book.  Here are five ideas for promoting your book this month:

  1. Fourth of July.  If your book is about America, patriotism, US government or a similar topic, you may have lots of opportunities to promote your book to people over this holiday weekend.  Get involved in a local parade or book fair.  Check your newspaper for local events.
  2. Speaking of local, do you have a niche book?  Think about local shops whose clientele might be interested in your book.  Can you put a copy in their waiting area?  Would they be interested in selling copies in their shop?  Prepare a pitch and contact them.  You’ll never know until you ask.
  3. Going on vacation this month?  Be sure to carry business cards with you at all times so you can hand them out when you meet new people and have an opportunity to mention your book.
  4. Create a Facebook Page for your book.  You can do this in 6 easy steps.
  5. Start thinking about the Beijing and Frankfurt Book Fairs coming up.  Now is the time to register.

DISCUSSION: How are you planning to promote YOUR book this month?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

5 Ways to Promote Your Book in June

Summer has begun, but don’t forget to do something every day to promote your book!  Here are five ideas for promoting a book in June:

  1. Flag Day is June14th.  From now until July 4th it’s a perfect time to promote books about America, patriotism, US government or similar topics.
  2. Set up a Twitter account and start networking.  Learn about which hashtags to use and watch in this post: 10 Twitter Hashtags for Self-Publishing Book Marketing.
  3. The Annual Conference of the American Library Association (ALA) is taking place June 23-28 in New Orleans.  To learn more about the ALA, visit www.ala.org.
  4. Father’s Day is June 19th.  If your book is about parenting, fatherhood, family or a related topic, now is a good time to promote your book as a Father’s Day gift idea.
  5. Write a pitch letter to a radio or television producer following these tips: 1) Keep your letter short.  2) Include a “hook” to grab their attention. 3) Use bullet points. 4) Tell the producer what’s in it for them. 5) Be available to respond to his/her interest immediately.  Find contact information for your local radio stations here: http://www.radio-locator.com/

DISCUSSION: How are you planning to promote YOUR book in June?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.