This one’s for all you writers, new, dreaming-about or established…
I get a lot of Dear Sommer… letters. No, not folks breaking up with me (*sniffle* at least, not yet), but people asking for writing advice, tips, what they should/should not do, and yes, the occasional book or story that they assume I can read and give some detailed notes/advice.
I can’t. Just to get that out there right now. If I read everything sent to me for input by people I don’t know, I’d never get my own work done. So, my first tip is do not send unsolicited work to writers/ editors. Even if they are super nice and/or your favorite writer etc. Because they *are* super nice people and they *will* feel bad, but they still don’t have the time to read unsolicited work from strangers. If they want to read it and help you out, they’ll ask or offer.
The second thing I’d recommend to you is go here. Erotica Readers and Writers Association . Go there, look around, read articles, join up, talk to people (or be a lurker like I was) and check out the Submission calls. And then start writing and submitting. It is the quickest way to become a ‘real writer’. Write something and submit it. Tada! You are a writer.
The last thing I recommend (beyond a lot of your time, hard work and effort) is to get this book. Katie Salidas’s GO PUBLISH YOURSELF!
A recent Dear Sommer… letter prompted me to try and figure a writer’s kit to automatically suggest to writers who wrote to me. I might not have time to read your story/novella/book/super novel, but I don’t like to ignore people if I can help it. I remembered Katie’s book coming out and went to check it out, I asked a few questions, read a few snippets and she ended up sending me my own shiny copy for review. Because she is the nicest ever, that girl.
Anyway, if you ask the man what happens when you suggest a non-fiction book to me—even one that is in a topic I find interesting—he will tell you this: she will roll her eye, yawn, flop about and make general unhappy noises. Why? Because most non-fiction books bore me.
A good example is Dr. Wayne Dyer. I think that Dr. Dyer is a fascinating person. I once caught a talk of his on PBS and watched the whole thing until 2 a.m. even though I had to get up at 6. He is a phenomenal speaker and super funny. So, I borrowed his book from the library to see if I wanted to add it to my collection at home. And…Zzz…
That is the effect most non-fiction has on yours truly. So imagine my surprise and joy when Katie’s book was actually fun and easy to read. Her writing voice for this chunk of valuable information is straight forward, approachable, entertaining and very easy to read. She has everything from “Quick and Dirty Tips” (heh, you know I dig those) to a glossary of helpful words. Useful tricks, smart and savvy advice and a no-nonsense way of approaching self publishing.
“But I don’t want to self-publish,” you say. I say, get the book anyway. Even if you don’t use the self pubbing tips, the marketing tips and insight on all areas of the publishing world from Katie’s perspective make it well worth the price of a paperback or the cost of a Kindle download.
Raving too much? Think it’s because I got a free book out of the deal? Wrong. I get a lot of free books (for which I am supremely grateful. I like to pile them up and roll around on them naked and…ahem. Back to the blog). I’m excited about this book because it’s not only practical but it’s entertaining. And that, my friends, is hard to accomplish. I wish I’d had this book when I tried my first self pub titles. I think it would have been a lot smoother for me and a lot less weeping with my head on the desk that I had ‘broken’ Smashwords and Bookstrand :)
Have I interested you? I sure as hell hope so. If I have here are the particulars. I’ll also be adding the link to Katie’s book to my For Writers page because I think that everyone considering starting a journey as a writer should have a copy in their back pocket. It’s that good.
Now on to the blurb, the excerpts and the links. Remember:
NO unsolicited work to authors/editors
YES to visiting and participating and http://erotica-readers.com
YES to a valuable tool in your arsenal like GO PUBLISH YOURSELF!
Self-Publishing made simple. Get your polished novel ready for Kindle, Nook, or Print in thirty days or less.
Avoid the common stumbling blocks and get on the road to successful self-publishing. This handy dandy guide, filled with insider’s tips and tricks, will unscramble the world of self-publishing into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
What’s in the book?
The Business of Self-Publishing
Basic Costs & Budgeting
Publishing Formats: Epub, Kindle, Smashwords, & Print
Printing and Distribution
Marketing Basics: Platform Building, Book Signings, Blog Tours, etc.
And much more!
Don’t make rookie mistakes. Learn from an insider!
Katie Salidas is an author with several successful self-published titles. Each of her titles was created in the DIY (Do It Yourself) style, without the aid of author service companies. Through trial and error she has gained the knowhow to successfully publish print and ebooks. Go Publish Yourself! has that knowledge assembled into an easy-to-use format, packed with no-nonsense tips and quick and dirty tricks, so you can take your novel to the next level.
So, what are you waiting for? Go Publish Yourself!
Excerpt: Book Signings
When I mention the words “book signing,” you’re probably thinking about that last book signing you attended for a big-name author. There were probably people lined up around the corner to see the author and get their books signed.
Sounds pretty exciting, right? I bet you’re just imagining that happening to you someday. And maybe someday it will. Always keep a positive outlook.
However, for 95% of authors this isn’t the case. Sorry, but it must be said.
That doesn’t mean you need to get depressed and feel like your dreams of stardom have been dashed. It just means a slight reevaluation of the situation and a more realistic expectation of what will happen.
We indie authors have to work a bit harder for our fans. Let’s face it, we have to work a bit harder for everything in this business. But we do it because we love it.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a successful signing. Even if you don’t think you have a single fan yet, you can still have a great book signing.
First things first. Change your idea of what a book signing is. Forget the screaming fans and lines out and around the bookstore. Let’s be realistic here.
As an indie, a book signing is not a place for your adoring fans to come and find you. Sure, you might have a few friends stop by, your family might come to support you, but everyone else who stops by (for the most part) will be “new” to you.
Think of this as a way to create fans.
If you’re at a bookstore, this is an opportunity to put your book in front of potential new readers. They are there looking for a new book to read. And guess what, you just happen to have a new book!
If you’re attending a book fair, this is an opportunity to reach out to other booklovers. They are there because they love books. And you are there because you love to write them. It’s a match made in heaven.
If you’re part of a “local authors” event put on by a library or any other book-related organization, this is an opportunity to reach out to your peers and maybe their readers as well. Everyone attending these events has a similar goal in mind to you, “sharing published work.” Writers are also readers. Share, share, share.
Any of these events are places to build fans. If your book is available in print, you should be on the lookout for places to do book signings. Check with your local library, indie and big box book stores, and even smaller venues if you can find them. I once did a book signing at a neighborhood block party. It was out of the ordinary, sure, but I sold a few books. It was great.
So, once you’ve scheduled a book signing, what do you do next? How do you handle the event?
Let’s start with the setup. You want your area to be perfect.
1) Have a nice presentation display. If you have a banner or framed book covers, even better. Make your table look nice and inviting. Bring a bowl of candy for people to munch on. Use a nice color-coordinated tablecloth to make your area stand out.
2) Have plenty of books on display. Bring more books than you need.
3) Have freebies like bookmarks, postcards, business cards, etc. People like free things, and if your book and information is on these free things, it will have more of an impact. People may not buy today, but they might use your bookmark and later decide to give you a try. With that said, make sure that your bookmarks and other freebies have something on them that tells where your book can be found.
4) Bring lots of markers and pens. You never want to be caught without a way to sign your book, right? Also, guard these like a hawk. I had all of my metallic sharpie markers stolen from my table when I walked away for a second to speak with the event coordinator. It’s silly what people will steal these days.
5) Bring lots of water, but no snacks. Drinks are fine (non-alcoholic). You want to stay hydrated. But you don’t want a mouth full of crumbs when someone approaches your table to talk to you. Book signings are usually no more than a few hours. Eat before you get there and hold off on snacking until it’s over.
Now we move on to the next part.
1) Look your best! Dress to impress. Go out and get your hair and nails done. Splurge on a mani/pedi. It will make you feel more confident, which will in turn make you look more approachable. Let’s face it, when we look good we feel good. And you will want your spirits high when you go into that book signing.
2) Bring a wing-man (or woman). Bring a friend. Not only can they help you pass the time during a dry spell, but they can also help take pictures, watch the table during potty breaks, etc. A friend brings extra energy to a signing, and if you’re anything like me (introvert is my middle name), they can also be your book’s wing-man (or woman). Just like the wing-man at a bar, these friends can help talk up your book and make you seem like a superstar author. I can tell you all day long how great my book is, and you’ll probably shrug it off. But, when another reader says it’s great, you might stop and listen.
Okay, so you’ve got your table, you’ve dressed to impress, and you’ve brought your wingman; now what? Time to sign some books, right?
Now comes the hard part. Remember what I said above? This isn’t going to be a line-out-the-door kind of event.
Now you have to work. Reach out and make some fans. The people passing by your table probably have no clue who you are. They might stop to take a second glance at your book. I’m sure you have a spectacular cover! So how do you approach them?
“Hey, buy my book!”
You may be ready to scream to the rafters about how awesome it is, but avoid the hard sell. No one likes it. It makes you seem like a used car salesman, and nobody likes them (my apologies to any used car salespeople out there).
Approach people in the same manner you would want to be approached. Do you want someone shoving a book in your hands and telling you to buy it? Probably not.
If they’ve stopped by, they might have an interest. So approach on that point. Greet them with a smile. Always smile. Ask them how they’re doing. How’s their day going? Ask them what genre they read. What was the last book they read? Who is their favorite author?
People love talking about themselves. Get them talking about the book-related subjects that interest them. They will hopefully warm up a little. Through chatting with people, you build rapport. You’re no longer some random name on a book cover. You’re a real person. Hey, maybe even a cool person.
At this point, you might be able to make a connection to their interest and your book. Ease into it; don’t just shove it into their faces. Toss out some info on your book, how you were inspired to write it, etc.
A lot of advice on the Internet says, hand people a book to give them ownership of it. People are more willing to buy once it’s in their hands. I say, take this advice with a grain of salt. Shoving a book in someone’s hands makes me go back to the car salesman analogy. “C’mon, let’s take her for a spin. You’ll love it.”
Tread carefully here. That’s all I’m saying. You can certainly pick up a copy of your book and show it to them. But don’t just shove it into their hands with the hopes they’ll buy it. Remember you’re trying to build a fan base here, as well as selling books. Offer it to them and see if they’ll take it. If not, maybe suggest they take a bookmark or post card, something to remember you by.
Is every person who stops by your table a sale? Potentially, yes, but in reality, no. Many will chat with you, maybe take a bookmark or business card, maybe a piece of candy, and walk away. That’s okay.
The point is you reached out to a person who didn’t know who you were, and didn’t know anything about your book. You’ve planted a seed that might eventually turn into a sale. Be sure to remind them, if they’re walking away, that you’re available on ebooks as well. I make it a point to always mention my Kindle, Nook, Sony, and Kobo availability at the end.
A successful signing is not always about selling hundreds of books, though that would be nice. It’s considered a success if you sell as few as two books. That’s right, I said two books.
The real success is in reaching people. Telling people you’re out there. They may not buy today, but there is a chance, if you’ve made a connection, that they’ll buy sometime down the road.
Excerpt: Why Are You Self-publishing?
The first thing you need to consider, when looking at self-publishing, is what you want out of it. Why are you publishing, and what are your goals?
Are you doing this simply to hold your book printed and bound, in your hand? Are you looking to establish yourself as an indie author? Are you looking for fame and fortune? Is this a one-time book or a series you’re working on? Are you expecting millions?
Let me break your heart for a minute. (Remember: I promised the good, the bad, and the ugly. I won’t lie to you.)
Self-publishing is not the fast track to easy money!
I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about HP Mallory, Amanda Hocking, J. A. Konrath, and the list goes on. Please don’t let the recent news about indie authors “selling millions” fool you. Just like with traditional publishing, the “millionaire authors” are more the exception than the rule. Self-publishing does not guarantee riches. For all of the authors you have heard about, there are thousands of others that you haven’t.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, don’t let those facts discourage you. You can make a living wage from your writing, but you’ll have to put in the effort. This is why you need to go into this with a clear head and know your goals.
It can take years to establish yourself in the market. For some, “overnight success” takes ten years. You have to be willing to accept that and do all you can to soldier through the rough patches.
Before you take any steps toward creating your book, sit down and have a real heart-to-heart about what you want and what your realistic goals are.
If you’re doing this to have a few copies to share with friends and family (and that is just fine), then I’d suggest going the vanity publishing route via author service companies. Places like iUniverse or Trafford will take your manuscript (your completed story in a word-processed format) and perform all the tasks necessary (editing, interior layout, cover art, etc.) to turn it into a printed and bound book. They’ll give you exactly what you’re looking for: a bright, shiny new book with your name on it!
Quick & Dirty Tip!
Remember that service-based publishing companies make their money by doing it all for you. They will charge you for that easy book creation, and it won’t be cheap. This is not the option to take if you want to make money from your work.
If you’re in this to truly become an indie author, then you need to treat your book like a business venture.
You might want to consider setting yourself up as a DBA (Doing Business As) or an LLC (Limited Liability Company). Creating a separate entity for your publishing venture will offer you some additional options when it comes to printing. Some companies will not work with individual authors (Lightning Source, a major printer and distributor, for example). That is not to say that you have to create a company for your publishing venture; it is just an option that can make things a little easier. We will not be going into the details of creating an LLC or DBA; that is beyond the scope of this book. I do, however, strongly suggest that you look into this option. Pick up a book or two at your local library.
In essence, that’s exactly what self-publishing is: a business venture. Your business is the creation of a product: your book(s). You’re putting this product out into the market with the hopes of making money from it. You have to take all the financial risk in this venture with no guarantee of a return on your investment.
Self-publishing is not for everyone. You need to go into this with a clear head and the willingness to give it your all. If you can’t do this, then you might want to reevaluate your goals. If you can do this, however, then you’ll reap the benefits of all that hard work and create a product that can eventually earn you a profit.
Common Misconceptions of Self-publishing
Because self-publishing is still in the early stages of being recognized as a viable platform, there are still old misconceptions being thrown around. These are used to scare potential indie authors away from taking that leap into the market.
“You’ll be lucky to sell 200 copies.”
This was the first thing I was told when I decided to self-publish my first novel Immortalis Carpe Noctem. It scared me, as it was meant to. But after talking with other indie authors and looking at the sales rankings on Kindle and other online platforms, I realized that this was completely untrue. A well-plotted book that has been edited and has good cover art sells just as well as its traditionally published counterpart. In fact, Immortalis Carpe Noctem sold more than 200 copies (print and ebooks combined) within the first couple of months of publication. It sold more than ten-thousand copies in its first year, and the number rises every day.
As you can see, the quote above is wrong; however, there is a seed of information there that you should take from it. No book will sell without help. I didn’t just place my book online and hope for sales. To start, I made sure the book was edited, two times, and then gave it a beautiful cover. Those two items are essential to the potential success of your book. Beyond that, to get Immortalis Carpe Noctem to move, I had to market it. Getting the book online to vendors is just part of the process. Do not think that hitting “submit” will be the final step in your publishing journey. That is only the starting point. We’ll discuss marketing in later chapters.
“Self-publishing will ruin your chances of ever being traditionally published.”
Another thing I was told when I decided to self-publish was that it would ruin my chances to ever be traditionally published. That idea is the old style of thinking. Many authors today whose books show great promise are being targeted by literary agents. Instead of the author querying an agent and then waiting months for a response, the agents—after seeing excellent sales—are contacting authors directly to offer representation for things such as print rights, foreign rights, and movie options. In essence, the indie market is becoming a sort of slush pile for these agents.
Now, as with all things, there still is some truth to take from this quote. Only the books that are selling well will attract literary agents. If you are dabbling with both self-publishing and still considering the traditional route, I’d recommend not bragging about your “publishing achievements” if your book has not shown continuous positive sales. Remember that it takes time to build an audience, and you cannot expect overnight success. If you are straddling the fence between these two methods of publishing, keep them separate until you have something that is really worth bragging about.
“Only friends and family will buy your books.”
This quote makes me laugh every time I hear it. In actuality, your friends and family will expect you to give them the book you publish for free. As they see it, they helped and supported you, so the least you can do is give them a free book.
And that’s just fine. Give them a free copy. You’re not marketing to them. As an indie author, you want strangers to buy your book. Focus all of your marketing efforts on building a platform and getting to know new readers. Those are the people you want to connect with and turn into fans.
Signed copies at Rising Sign Books