Here I sit and wait on one correction to be made on the back flap of cover for my republished book, Saga of the Ages. It has taken nearly a week to get something done. At least my original publisher was faster, although the books were more expensive online. Golden rule: You get what you pay for. I wanted to reproduce a book that was less expensive and more affordable to readers. I wonder if I invested wisely into republication. There is no way to know until I get results. Are there any other writers or authors out there that have experienced the same thing? Am I just too impatient? It has only been a few weeks if that.
As a retired teacher, I spoke to other retired teachers today. After the luncheon, there was a presentation of authors and then some book signing by authors. I was one of four authors to speak in the area. I went first. Good to do that. People generally remember the first and last speaker. You usually lose your nerve if you have to sit there and think about it.
I thought it went well. I got through the speech. There were some sober moments. An emotional flow of words, mixed in with highs and lows. But the most tortuous part was telling my story of how I got here, how I was inspired and who inspired me through life. My words spoke truth through my tears, my heart and my inner soul. I wear my emotions on my sleeves.
I just got a call from a traditional publisher about radio interviewing. True, I want to get radio interviews scheduled. I do need a way for a publisher to sponsor me. My dilemma is my medical condition, but I would like to start scheduling in the area if I could. If there are any sponsors in the metro-Atlanta area, please contact me. My trouble would be transportation outside the Atlanta area.
I’m starting to feel a little better this week. Going to Augusta to see my neurologist there on April 16. This is my last visit in the study and then every six months thereafter, if I wish to continue seeing Dr. Rivner. I prefer to keep seeing him. He has been a very helpful and knowledgeable source of information when I had no where else to turn.
Back to real life, my home physical therapist is coming tomorrow morning. I delayed occupational therapy this week due to my rigid schedule. Maybe a way to extend my physical therapy. The work over these last few weeks seemed to have help limber me up a little. I’m still stiff, but at least, I can walk across the floor now.
This is the tenth and final week I will be presenting tips to new writers and authors. I hope the ten weekly posts were helpful and something you can come back to. At least, it gives you an idea of what to expect in the publishing world. As reiterated many times, no course or book can teach you everything to learn about publishing. Practical experience and recognition as an author and writer are the best teachers.
A good writer knows how to write. A great writer not only knows how to write well, but will give direction and guidance to others. This advice is offered freely. I don’t proclaim to be an expert; I still have lots to learn too.
Five years of writing and publishing led me down this path. A path I did not choose; it chose me. To wrap up this week, I offer several suggestions:
- Look at alternate publishers before you select a publisher. Do your research beforehand and ask questions. You might find another publisher who does work less expensively than another and/or you get more profits (including royalties) from book sales.
- Remember to get everything you expect in writing before you sign a contract. If not in writing, then it is your word against the publisher or marketer. Once you sign a contract, you are bound to their regulations and procedures. Legally, you usually have 7 to 10 days to cancel the contract.
- Talk to your book consultant if any questions about the publishing process. Usually, they can advise about complimentary copies of your book(s) or marketing services offered. *Note – I find marketing services to be more expensive than publishing sometimes, depending on the service offered, so choose wisely. This seems true for self-publishing, as well as traditional publishing.
- Please note that once you publish a book, you are placed on a calling list. If it gets too annoying, you may want to ask the publisher to be removed from the list. If they say the list came from a website like Amazon, please ask to be connected to their customer service or a manager.
- Continue to market your book(s) online. Social media is a great way to advertise your book(s) online and very affordable. Shout my Book will market your book(s) on social media inexpensively. They will do as many books as you want daily or monthly (at a small fee, of course).
- Keep in contact with other writers. Seek a writer’s group or an organization for writers that meet monthly to discuss their books. This is an excellent opportunity to not only do some advertising, but to get advice from other writers.
- Keep getting your name out there – mail book markers, postcards or business cards to potential interested readers, like family, acquaintances or friends. This can get expensive with postage and takes time; however, it’s gets your name and title of your book(s) out to the mainstream public.
- Ask businesses (depending on the type of business) that know you if they would post a flyer of your book on their window. Usually, it is best if you are a customer or they’re acquainted with you.
- In retrospect, see if these businesses would let you market your book(s) through a book signing. You would be surprise. They might say yes.
- Keep hanging in there – never give up. Enjoy the writing process as you write that next “best seller” one day. Simply, just have fun with it.
There are many more suggestions, but I feel it would be too repetitious in words. This project started out as your idea, your creation and your book. It is your baby. When I publish a book, I feel like I have given birth to a new creation.
Please keep in touch and if you have any questions, I am here to help. I may not be able to answer all your questions, but I will attempt to find out the answer for you. In the meantime, have a wonderful week and hope to be reading your best-seller soon.
For new writers, it is an uncertain destiny. You’ve written and published your first book. Where do you go from here? Often, it is soul-searching. Remembering back to when I first began to write books, I was mystified as to which direction to go toward. It wasn’t much longer, that I wrote another book. From then on, I was hooked and started writing my third book shortly afterward.
I would suggest to just enjoy the ride. It is hard work to constantly monitor your book sales, but being well-organized is half the battle. Whatever you do, it is important to stay upbeat and positive in the process. Your door will open oneday. It is also important to never give up! If writing is your passion and you love writing, stick with it, no matter what anybody says. After all, it is your life. Nobody else can live it for you.
Again, as previously mentioned, no course taught me these things. Rather, it was hands-on experience over time. I offer several suggestions for new writers and authors, which I feel may benefit you:
- Seek out other writers and authors both in social media and the community. The more you reach out to others, the more your writing skills are recognized. In this case, a monthly writers’ group would benefit, as they offer advice to new writers.
- Do some self-marketing and advertising. Everywhere I go, from restaurants to social events, I give at least one person my business card. It identifies you as a writer and where to find your book(s) online or publisher.
- Acknowledge that your book(s) will not sell overnight. Rather, it will take time and effort to build up an audience of interested readers.
- Establish yourself in your local community before spanning out to other areas. People will usually purchase something from someone they know or acquainted with, rather than a complete stranger.
- Do not get discouraged. It is easy to find discouragement along the way. Remember that there are thousands of writers competing against you for recognition and notiety.
- Keep your communication lines open. You never want to give all your personal information online. If you have an author’s website, that should give interested readers enough information to purchase your book(s). If using social media, like Twitter, Facebook or Google, set up a paypal or method that readers can purchase your book(s).
- Always look for alternate ways to market your book(s), such as online campaign ads or newspaper ads. You never know when literary agents, publishers and marketers might find interest in your book(s).
- Constantly look out for conferences or meetings in the community. There are some organizations that allow new writers to speak to their members. Contact local organizations to see when their next meeting is. Introduce yourself and that you are a new writer in the local area. You can also check with local bookstores for booksignings.
Next week, I will be wrapping up my weekly postings. I will be discussing how to expand your horizons into other areas of writing. More importantly, how to write and get paid for it.
This is the magic question every writer asks before publishing a book. My introduction to independent publishing started several years ago; a relative and a friend recommended the name of a publisher. Although I was skeptical at first, I contacted a well-known self-publishing company in the summer of 2013. The rest is history. I am a fanatic of self-publishing and know I made the right choice that best fits me. Often, the new writer has a decision to make of which method of publishing is right for him or her. A lot depends on the writer and what he or she is looking for. If you have a time-sensitive manuscript or looking at a particular time period, like to control your own decision-making of your book, then self-publishing might be the right choice for you, If you don’t have an online presence or don’t know how to find and reach readers, dislike social media, or want a publisher to handle marketing your book, then traditional publishing might be the better choice for you. Nether independent or traditional publishing are better than the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages, I believe.
So what is the difference between independent and traditional publishing? Traditional Publishing offers the author a contract to print, publish and sell your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the book sales. The publisher handles the marketing, distribution and warehousing for your book. In the traditional method of publishing, there is no expense to the author – mainstream publishers make a profit from the book sales.
- The publisher assumes all expenses for your book, including publishing, distribution and marketing services.
- The author receives royalties from the book sales.
- The publisher will be responsible for selling your book to bookstores and other retailers.
- The author gives the publisher the right to publish his or her book.
- The publisher makes a profit from book sales.
- The author gives some control of the publishing process to the publisher.
- Traditional publishing may be very time-consuming and a lengthy process.
Through traditional publishing, it is highly recommended that the author find a literary agent. Before you do anything, you need to identify the category of your book. If writing non-fiction, a book proposal is needed with three sample chapters and a synopsis of each chapter. If writing fiction, a completed manuscript is needed. Next, you need to send a query letter to potential literary agents. Be sure to mention the synopsis of your book, the chapter summary, the market or audience of your book and a description (bio) of yourself.
Self-Publishing requires the author to invest his or her own money to produce, market, distribute and warehouse his or her book. The majority of work falls on the author’s shoulders and he or she pays for all the expenses. The author controls when the book is published, retains all rights to the book and receive 100% of the profits.
- The author controls when the book is published, distributed and marketed.
- The author retains all rights to the book.
- The author receives 100% of the profits from book sales, plus royalties.
- Self-publishing may be more cost-effective than other publishing models.
- The author pays all expenses for publishing, distributing and marketing the book.
- All printing costs are paid by the author.
- The author is mostly responsibility for selling to bookstores and other retailers.
- This may require a huge time commitment by the author.
As I have emphasized every week, always do your homework and research before starting any project. This shows that you are knowledgeable about the subject and know at least some of what you are discussing. I have listed some resources that might help new authors and writers get started:
- Authorhouse Publishers, Inc. Author Learning Center for Self-Publishers, Bloomington, IN.
- Brewer, Robert Lee. 2011 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition, F & W Media, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, 2010. Email: WritersMarket.com
- Larsen, Michael. How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th Edition Ebook, accessed June 8, 2018.
- Reedsy, How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps, accessed June 12, 2018. Email: https://reedsy.com
- Writers Digest Shop, How to Publish a Book: An Overview of Traditional & Self-Publishing, accessed June 8, 2018.
- Writer’s Market: Where & How to Sell What you Write, 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, accessed June 8, 2018.
Next week, I will be discussing how to sell yourself (brand) as a new writer and author. You need to be recognized locally throughout the community as an author. It is a competitive world out there, but do not get discouraged. Determination and perseverance are the keys to attaining success and maintaining it. Most importantly, you need to relax and enjoy the writing process along the way.
Whether it took weeks, months or even years to publish that long-awaited book, you spent long hours writing at the computer and sleepless nights to finish your book. Your days and time were filled with writing, proofreading, revising and correcting the final manuscript before submission to the publisher. What comes next? It usually takes two to three weeks to publish, depending on the publisher. This is a good time for you to look at marketing strategies to advertise your book(s). If you are well ahead of the game, you may have already planned a marketing strategy or a few before your book is published. If you are a sharp-shooter, you know the complexity of marketing strategies and planning beforehand.
Social media and online websites help, but more is needed. Blogging is also an excellent way to network and connect to the outside world. A good place to start is by word of mouth. Family members and friends will be interested, simply as they are connected to you. It is a good idea to give a few books away as gifts. This gives others an incentive to find interest in your book(s); it gives them a free invitation. If you are new to the publishing world and unfamiliar with marketing strategies, there are a variety of routes you can take. My suggestion is to ask the publisher if they offer a marketing service. If they do, they can advise which package best fits your needs. There are some other suggestions:
- There is great importance in connecting to the community and local residents. Advertising through book signings and sales at local book stores. This can include speaking at groups or organizations about your book(s). The more you get out in your community, the more you are recognized. Hence, the more readers you attain to increase book sales, your main focus at this point.
- Speaking at radio stations about your book(s). A drawback is that some people feel uncomfortable speaking publicly. A confident speaker will sell more than the shy speaker lacking in enthusiasm and articulation.
- Look at online campaign ads. Amazon and Ingram offer website ads. Ask your publisher if they have that particular marketing service. They are familiar with the marketing procedures of contacting various websites, not known to the general public.
- Place an ad in a local flyer or newspaper. The cost will depend on how much space you want. Ask for weekly or monthly discounts. Photos of the writer/author and book(s) are recommended.
- Send an article to the local newspaper about yourself, your writing experience and publications. Send a photo of yourself with the article. This can be done inexpensively.
- Look at magazine ads to advertise your book(s). You can buy space in a Writers’ Magazine. The cost usually depends on whether you select a full page or half a page. This includes the writer’s biography and publications.
- There are annual book fairs. Ask your publisher if they have a list of book fairs around the country. The Miami Book Fair in the springtime offers an opportunity for new or unknown writers/authors to display their books on their racks.
- There are social media packages available; however, you can advertise for free on most social media websites, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
- If you already have an author’s website, you can connect your blog to the website. Also included is information about the author, excerpts from the book(s) and price of each book. Ask your publisher if they can assist you with this marketing service.
- Some publishers may offer an international package, whereby your book is placed on their racks during their annual book fairs. There are drawbacks, however. If you are unable to travel, you have no way to monitor sales unless your book consultant monitors it for you. In addition, it is quite costly to advertise internationally.
- There are online videos of authors talking about their book(s). This gives the author a chance to market and advertise. Ask your publisher if they offer this marketing service.
- Media, meaning public television. This is very expensive and above most of writers/authors’ salaries. Unless you are a well-established or famous writer, this is probably the last alternative. Most media advertising starts at several thousand up and based on time (minutes or seconds).
Five years ago, I had no idea of marketing strategies, other than advertising online. I admit that writing was an easy process for me; yet, marketing was another thing. I had no concept of a marketing strategy to advertise my books. As I became more familiar with the publishing world, I gathered information on different marketing strategies and advertising. I can’t say one is better over the other. They are all good avenues to pursue. You may explore some marketing strategies before exploring others.
An important concept is to be recognized as an accomplished writer in your community. Book sales will increase as you gather more experience and knowledge. The old saying, “it is not what you know, but who you know” has some truth to it. You not only learn a valuable skill, you might find writing as a successful career. There are different fields of writing: screenwriting, free-lance, creative, poetic, literature, educational, self-help, general and research. The list goes on and on. The most important concept is to enjoy the writing process along the way and be happy of your accomplishments.
I stand in correction about copyright law (thanks Ray) from the discussion last week. Even though traditional publishers do take some control of your book, they do not take over copyrights. Rather, it is the creation itself. For example, if you post online on your blog, it is considered published. It should not be reproduced (copied) unless given permission by the writer. A similar concept with a published written work or a book. Once published, it is considered copyrights of the writer/author and can not be reproduced. It is the monetary gains in courtrooms that intensify the legal battles of what is considered “copyrights” or not.
I will discuss traditional vs. independent publishing in oncoming weeks. Frankly, I feel there are pros and cons of each one. My personal preference is self-publishing; however, I do not advocate one over the other. For now, I will stick to what I know firsthand: the process of writing and getting your book published.
We have discussed naming your book and creating the plot (storyline) in prior weeks. However, there are certain things to determine before writing the manuscript. There are two parts of writing your manuscript: the initial draft and the final draft. Most publishers will send guidelines for preparing and submitting your manuscript. If you have questions, please contact the publishing consultant assigned to your book. There are some guidelines I feel may be helpful in preparing your manuscript:
- The first thing is to consider what type genre (history, self-help, inspirational, religious, poetry or general, etc) your book is about. Is it fictional (story, novel) or nonfictional (autobiography, true facts or true story)? Who will be your audience and what age range do you want to reach?
- Consider the font style and pica format. Some publishers prefer the standard New Times script and 12 pica in Word Document. These should be included in their general guidelines.
- Indentations are determined whether you want the standard 5 or 3-tab indentation. Also, if single or double-spaced between lines and paragraphs. You may also do 1.5 spacing. Again, that will depend on the type of book you are writing. Poetry, for example, will have a different format and/or sequence of writing.
- I find writing chapters individually before combining chapters is easier to go back to correct and revise. There may be portions of your manuscript you may want to rewrite. Always read through each chapter to check if script sounds smooth and flowing. If not, you may have to revise or rewrite.
- Do not number your pages beforehand. The publisher will number as the length of the book will be longer with additional appendages. This includes the Table of Contents Page also – do not number pages before submitting.
- The very first page should include the Title Page, which includes the title of the book and the name of the author or pen name. You want to write Acknowledgments to give credit to those who helped in publication of your book. Dedications are optional, but may be included.
- Formats may vary with each writer, but I find an Introduction or Prologue useful. The Introduction can be short, but enough detail about the book. The Prologue or Chapter One should be more descriptive and give explicit details.
- Forewords usually go along well with proven writers/authors. Yet, someone who is familiar with your written work may write a Foreword or a Blurb for your book. I submit a Blurb on the back cover for this purpose. Adding an author’s photograph is nice too, where readers will recognize you.
- Always reference where you are getting information for your book. These can include References, Notes or Bibliography at the back of your book.
- End with an Epilogue explaining the conclusion or related to your book. For example, if writing a historical novel, write something concerning that era or the story you have written.
- At the very back of the book, you many want to include an About The Author page. This will include your biography, your writing experience and other publications (if applicable).
- If nothing else, always go through the initial draft with a fine-tooth comb. Some spell-checkers will not correct all spelling or punctuation errors. This includes grammar errors too. Please note that if you are self-publishing, the publisher is not interested in correcting your manuscript, unless you have paid for professional editing.
Next week, I will finish with submitting your final draft to the publisher. This is an important step, as once you approve and submit your final draft, no more changes can be made without a charge.
Please respond with any comments or feedback. Remember, any opinions or statements posted, are just opinions. I do not feel that any responses are wrong, just different in thought or opinion.
Last week, we looked at naming your book. The title is an important part in marketing and advertising your book. In addition, to promoting your book over the network. Each part is one step closer to creating your book and producing a finished product. This week, we will start by creating your plot, also called a storyline. A plot is simply the series of main events or sequence of events in the story. I believe there are two major issues defined: what you want to happen in the story and what you want to get across to readers. More so, it is the actual experience of writing that gives knowledge and better writing with each additional book written. I start out each story with two main questions: what do I want the reader to see (messages written between the lines) and how do I carry over the plot to present the characters in the story? While there are no definite guidelines written in concrete, it is wise to be prepared. I have added some suggestions in which to start your plot:
- It is important to start out describing to readers basic descriptions, such as events, location, surroundings or time period. You don’t need to be too wordy or obsessive with words; however, be rather explicit.
- Begin with either an Introduction or a Prologue describing where the story is taking place, main character(s), dates or time period, etc. This will initially describe what you are conveying to your readers. What are you trying to tell them? For example, if writing a historical novel, you may want to include some historical events as well.
- The Prologue or Chapter One can lead the storyline into the book. The emphasis here is on guiding the plot into an easier written manuscript. Often, that starts the rest of the story and makes the manuscript flow easier. The manuscript is the initial script you are writing for your book or novel. I will be discussing finalizing your manuscript in later weeks.
- Write down important dates, locations, events or names in the story to refer back to. If you have a photographic memory, you may be okay in this area.
- There are times you may want to use what I call fillers. These are parts of a script or a chapter that aren’t in sequence, but are used later on in the manuscript. For example, if using a trial scene in your book, you may want to write the scene beforehand and go back later to add it to a chapter.
- Sometimes, I find writing the ending or conclusion first is easier, then going back afterward to write the rest of the manuscript. It is a guideline to what I want to say and where I want the plot to go. There are exceptions to this. If you are a very organized person, you probably can write from beginning to ending in sequence with no trouble.
- Write the story with little or no other distractions. If you are prone to distractions, write at a time that best suits you. If you are a morning person, write solely in the morning. If you are an afternoon or evening person, adjust your time accordingly to write. Turn the apps, radio, stereo, dvd player, headphones and television off. There shouldn’t be any other noise in the room, except your fingers working at the keyboard.
- Allow yourself time to finish the story. As I mentioned last week, there is no maximum time to complete your book. I would say three to six months is a reasonable time to complete it. Allow more time if having professional editing done or an illustrator for children’s books. If you are good with the English language and proficient in writing, you are probably okay with self-editing instead.
Next week, I will be discussing general guidelines used by the publisher. I can only go by independent publishing. Traditional publishing would be a different ballgame. It is time-consuming and you do sign over copyrights of your written work(s). Self-publishing allows more control of your book.
I love the responses and feedback I have received so far. Please keep the posts coming. That is the difference between an average and a good writer. A great writer will share her/his experiences with others in order for them to learn. These were things I learned along the way – thus, no one taught me these or no course was sought on writing. It took five years and will probably take several more years to learn everything in the writing process. Hopefully, these tips will make it a little easier for new authors and writers.
So you have an idea and want to put it into words. If you are considering writing a new book, everyone has to start somewhere. There is one problem. You haven’t decided on what you will call your new book. The title of your book should reflect what it is about. For example, if you are writing a book of poetry, present a title that reflects the emphasis of the poems written. If you are writing a novel, consider several facets of the book: main character(s), plot, time element (or era), location or an event. If writing an self-help book, select a title that features the main topic. The same concept goes for historical books; choose a time element (or era) or topic the readers will want to read. Even well-established authors have problems putting a name to their new written work. Some writers struggle with this process; however, there are some points to remember:
- If writing a sequel, follow the pattern. Relate your sequel to your first publication in sequence. I find it easier to focus the title on main characters, events, plots, locations or periods of time. Pick a title that will be catchy to the readers’ eyes and easy to interpret throughout your book. You want an attention grabber. For example, if writing a series of novels on the American Revolution, give titles of the colonial themes in that particular era.
- Don’t get caught up on selecting multiple titles. That only causes frustration and delays. Try to limit to two or three titles and decide which one would best fit your book. I find that usually my first choice (not always) is the best.
- Be confident in your choice of titles. Even accomplished writers sometimes dislike the title(s) of previous books. I found this to be true in one of my books. Remember, once published, it is very difficult and often impossible to go back and change the title without spending a bunch of money. In addition, to make any changes to a published work, printing is stopped temporarily until all of the changes are made. This means you will lose money on book sales during that time.
- Enjoy the writing process. Once you name your book, stick with it and write your manuscript. Usually, three months is a reasonable time. Sometimes there are exceptions. If there are interruptions, like personal illness, health issues, family matters or such, it make take longer. There is no maximum length of time to finish your manuscript, no matter what the publisher tells you.
- Avoid super long titles, if at all possible. I’ve seen some books with up to ten words, while others have one word as titles. If you find it difficult to name your book, try splitting it up into a main title and a subtitle. Readers look at very long titles as too complicated to read. They may avoid buying the book and bypass it online or at the bookstore. You need an eye catcher, but not a long pending title.
- The most important point is to not select a title that has already been published by another writer or author. If you find a similar title, change the wording a bit. A good way is to search online websites. Amazon is a good place to start. There are others, such as Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, Ingram and Smashwords (an online website for English-speaking writers and authors).
I’m sure I’ve missed a few points along the way. Please add your comments or feedback. I would love to hear from you all.