16 New Year’s Resolutions For Writers

When we look back on a year of writing, we can be filled with a feeling of guilt for not having done as much as we set out to do. Or we can be overcome with pride and gratitude for everything we’ve managed to accomplish. But with each new year comes a fresh press of the reset button, enabling us to turn to those things we’ve not yet tackled.

Here are 16 new year resolutions for writers to help you choose yours. Please leave a comment letting me know which you’re taking on, and how you’re going to tackle them. Good luck!

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If you need the text for those:

1. I resolve to call myself a writer
2. I resolve to make time to write
3. I resolve to complete that unfinished work
4. I resolve to write what I feel the calling to write
5. I resolve to read more, and to read more widely
6. I resolve to tell the world about the book I love the most
7. I resolve to find the perfect place to write
8. I resolve to try a new genre
9. I resolve to tell the truth
10. I resolve to break some rules
11. I resolve to overcome my writer’s block
12. I resolve to back-up my writing
13. I resolve to rectify my weaknesses
14. I resolve to tell people about what I’m writing
15. I resolve to publish my work
16. I resolve to be less critical of my writing

Here’s to an incredible 2016!

NaNoWriMo- Dealing With The Aftermath

Congratulations! You survived the month! With the immediate NaNoWriMo challenge out of the way for many the question remaining is what now? This blog is going to give you some options on what to do with your hard written efforts and getting back to a regular writing routine.

The Proof Read and Preliminary Edit

With any luck you now have a draft of a novel, even if it’s just a shadow of one. This is great! You can’t edit a blank page, and one of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it provides you with a building block to start constructing your novel.

The first thing you should do after NaNoWriMo (after a week break from your manuscript) is do a proof read and a basic edit. This is forging your draft into something readable while also shaping it into something that you can really work with. This is a good way to delete what you don’t need, add what you do, expand on events and descriptions, and make note of any plot holes or character building you need to do.

Your mind will automatically pick up the problems you need to fix but it might also surprise you on what you have written. Getting in the NaNoWriMo challenge zone means that you don’t have time to contemplate on whether or not you have written a good sentence or a bad one, so this first read through will allow you to stop and smell the literary roses. You wrote the first draft of a novel in a month, this is a HUGE achievement so celebrate what you like about your draft and fix what you don’t.2349632625_4eba371b56_z

Share If You Care To  

NaNoWriMo champions are legion. If you are lucky enough to have some writing pals or NaNoWriMo group of friends, why not take the opportunity to share your experiences, or even your drafts after an edit, with each other?

Showing your work to anyone can be an intimidating prospect but a fellow NaNoWriMo champion or a beta reader friend can help you move out of the first draft headspace and give you some valuable feedback.

You are still going to be very close to your project so a fresh set of eyes can help you find many of those pesky plot holes. It can also be a fun way of sharing your badly written sentences together over wine and laughs. It’s been a stressful time (especially if you have been juggling NaNoWriMo with a full time job and family) so celebrating your victory with other writers and friends will help with a much needed recharge.

Taking NaNoWriMo Lessons On Board  

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NaNoWriMo is about writing a novel in a month. But more importantly it is about cultivating a writing discipline. Now you know that you can write 1500 words a day. That is an impressive goal to maintain but what about 500 words a day? You had the writing chops to do triple that.

To be a writer you have to write every day. Picking an achievable daily goal goes a long way when working on a project. Setting out to write a novel is an intimidating undertaking. The average novel is about 80,000 words which is enough to unsettle even the most experienced writer. Yet if you are writing 500 words a day that means you will have hit your target in 160 days. Breaking it down to bite size chunks makes it a lot less daunting.

First drafts can often be the hardest and the most enjoyable part of writing a novel. By finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge you have achieved the first step in getting your novel finished. Giving your draft a good proof and edit, gathering feedback from your betas and maintaining your writing muscles will ensure you are well on your way to getting that first draft nailed down.

What lessons did you take away from your NaNoWriMo experience? Would you do it again? 

Three Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is a writer’s version of blood sport. Fifty thousand words in a month, take no prisoners, a first draft heaven where anything goes. The goal is to get a novel together in a month and writers have a tendency to form a love-hate relationship with their manuscript and everything around them. This blog is going to touch on the top three things to do while preparing for NaNo so you get the most of it and not end up a wreck by the end of November.

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 Direction

Writing a book is like being dropped into the wildness, so it’s important to have a map and a compass. Finishing a first draft in a month is a huge and daunting task so it doesn’t matter if you are a plotter or a pantser, having a plan is essential. You are going to want to focus 100% on getting words on the page. Having a rough map will make sure you don’t waffle yourself into a corner and burn out. Here are some quick ideas, whether you are a strict planner or not:

  • Beat sheets– some writers hate these but they can work well to prompt you when you need to put your big events in.
  • Mind maps– grab a pen and create a scribbled mind map even if it’s to get your ideas down.
  • Chapter Plans– these can be as loose or rigid as you like. Try to view them as a suggested route but don’t forget you can move and change stuff about as you go.
  • Notebook– have a notebook designated just for your story. This is a place to jot down ideas, write snippets on the run and keep any research you will need.

Whether you plan chapter by chapter in Scrivener or jot down plot points on a wine stained napkin, you need to know where you want to go before you start. For more ideas and ways to plan go and check out Chuck Wendig’s blog, he offers some great ideas that any writer can adapt.

You Are an Island (in a Chain)

During NaNo your mind needs to be free to focus on your story and roll with all the emotions that go with it. Announcing to your friends and family that you are on a writing challenge will hopefully give them a pre-warning about respecting the space you will need. Writing is a tough, solitary business but remember; meeting up with other writers and NaNoWriMo sufferers can help refresh your mind, bounce feedback off of each other and get you a much needed break away from the keyboard.

It is going to be a busy month so setting extra reminders about birthdays, engagements or bills due dates isn’t a bad idea either. Knowing that everything is covered will free your mind of the mundane so your story can move about freely. Plan to connect so you don’t burn yourself out.

Know Thy Distractions

8583949219_f55657573e_z   Everybody has a weakness or an excuse not to write. Social Media and the ease of checking in while on your computer can seriously cut into your writing time. For 90% of us you have to fight for your writing time and protect it. Don’t waste it on Facebook updates and cat videos. If you have a Social Media weakness it’s a good idea to turn off your wifi before you start. “But I need it to research!”…No, you don’t. The point of NaNo is to write a first draft not a finished copy. If you need research then it should have been done before NaNo started (which is why it’s important to start with a rough plot idea). You can always go back and add the research information into it.

Turn the internet off, everything will be fine, I promise.

The same goes for TV and Netflix, if you know that it’s going to be a distraction, get rid of it. If you have kids or a loud flatmate then maybe head out to a café or for some quiet time at the local library. Libraries usually have quiet rooms you can book if the normal library is too loud. Know what your weaknesses are and prepare for them.

NaNoWriMo can be fun, exciting and productive, but remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Preparing your month by having a novel outlined, planning to step away from the computer to recharge, and minimising your distractions, will ensure you hit your word count and get the most out it.

What Are Your Survival Tips for NaNoWriMo?

Make Your Self-Published Book Look Professionally-Published With These 5 Tips

The goal for any self-published author is not only write an amazing book, but to create a product that can stand out and endure the critical eye of a traditional system.

Your competition are not only other writers but other publishers too. Naturally then, you want to make sure that what you produce is nothing but as good as you can make it. This article will go through five things you must do to ensure your book looks professionally published.

Print Your Manuscript

You might see this as extra time and a waste of paper, but you would be surprised how many additional mistakes you will be able to find. Printing your manuscript out in paperback format (using a recommended type face) will give you the opportunity to view your book in “real life”.

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Reviewing your book this way will allow you to check on things like margins, overall alignment of chapter headings, paragraphs, and words placement (i.e. Are your words getting cut off mid-sentence?). Printing in this format will also get you into mindset of a reader, not a writer. As a reader you will pick up typos, missing words and incorrect word usage than if you were reading off a screen.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Page Numbers
  • Chapter Headings: are they positioned in the same place every time and numbered correctly?
  • Paragraph indentations: are they consistent?
  • Widows and Orphans: single lines at the bottom the page or parts of lines on new pages.
  • That all Notes and Comments from Track Changes are gone.
  • All Subheadings are formatted correctly and consistently.
  • Margins are all the same.

Beta Readers

By this stage your manuscript should have already been looked over by your beta readers, but it’s recommended to give them a copy of the completed manuscript once your formatting has been finalized.

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This allows you to get one final check-over. It is a far better thing for a trusted beta to spot the mistakes in your final proofs than to release the book into the world for your readers to find: because they will. It can be embarrassing to see reviewers commenting on simple mistakes, and ths can damage your sales.

So make use of your beta readers even in the final stages. The more eyes your work sees, the higher change that any remaining errors, whether grammatical or in your typesetting, will be spotted and corrected.

Blurbs

A blurb is your back cover description. A snippet of story line to get your reader interested. It’s an industry standard that blurbs are 100–180 words in length, so be mindful of how much you are revealing.

Remember, a blurb is not a synopsis. You want to briefly introduce your protagonist and some of what they must overcome. You don’t want to give away the entire plot, nor introduce too many characters. For practice, go to your bookshelves and read the back covers of your favorite books. Try to see how they sparked your interest enough to make the purchase.

Remember Blurbs need:

  • Length: 100–180 words
  • Protagonist: ntroduce them, and create an attachment
  • Tone: this should be the same as in your novel

For more details read our blog on writing the perfect blurb.

Tagline or Testimonial

Finding a suitable tagline can take some brainstorming but it’s worth taking the time to get it right. Your tagline is your ‘hook’ to intrigue people enough to pick your book up and read your blurb.

A testimonial from an author in the same genre as you can also help. It is their stamp of approval and if you’re lucky enough to have such an author interested in your work, you want their praise on the front of your book for all to see. This can help legitimize your work and draw their fan base to yours.

Matte Vs Gloss Covers

There are many schools of thought when it comes to choosing a matte or gloss cover for your final paperback.

Some writers think that gloss paperbacks have a cheap mass market look about them. But depending on your cover design, gloss can actually bring out richer colors in dark designs and reveal more intricate details in the illustration work. Gloss tends to be favorite for non-fiction works as it can enhance cover photographs and is less likely to be handled as much as a paperback.

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Matte covers, on the other hand, provide an aesthetic quality and durability to paperbacks. These covers are less likely to peel if handled extensively and won’t show up fingerprints and scratches.

It’s worth noting, however, that fine illustration work can be hidden and colors won’t be as vibrant with matte covers. Be sure to speak to your designer about your preference so they can adjust the colors accordingly.

Matte covers can compliment the art and provide an added bonus of the sensory experience to book buyers who like soft covers. Once again, it comes down to the personal preference of you, the publisher, but it it’s important to research what is popular in your genre and choose what will compliment your design work.

What Else Can You Do?

As a writer it’s your job to create an intriguing story with memorable characters that readers will enjoy. But as a publisher, it’s as equally important for you to provide the best possible, market-standard product for your potential buyers.

Having a well crafted blurb and an effective tagline or testimonial can hook readers into wanting to read more. Printing your formatted interior before finally choosing effective covers will ensure your book looks great and will appear to both booksellers and customers alike.

What else do you think should be included to ensure a book looks at home sat along side a traditionally published book?

 

Image Credits: Manuscript by Seth Sawyers (Flickr). Reading by Shelly (Flickr)

Gaining And Dealing With Book Reviews For Self-Published Authors

It’s well-known that self-published authors need reviews in order to be successful. These reviews activate algorithms on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, which in turn helps to get your book noticed. They also inform readers on what to expect, while using word-of-mouth marketing to increase your overall reach. Today, we’re going to look at the dos and donts of reviews for self-published authors.

How To Find Book Reviewers 

If you’re lucky enough to have an email list, this is a great way to ask for reviews. In her new release, How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn recommends a soft pitch to your readers with no pressure. Offer them a free digital copy of your book with a prompt to “please leave a review if you enjoyed the book”. Many of the places you can find reviewers can be found on our article about sending out Advanced Reading Copiesbut below is a bullet-point summary:

  • Email List
  • Social Media Pages
  • Kindle Boards/ Online Forums
  • Book Bloggers
  • Other writers

A Note On a Reviewer’s Obligation

 If people have been kind enough to say they will review a book for you, remember that they are in no way obligated to give you a positive review. Most people, especially if you send your book to a book blogger, are specific when they write a review. If they dont like it they will generally tell you why. This is why it’s so impotant to only publish a book you’re proud of. And you have to make sure you’re looking for honest reviews and not simply to have your ego stroked.

Benefits of a Bad Review

Trolls mouthing-off aside, there are – surprisingly – benefits to receiving a negative review. Some people just wont like your book. You have to accept that. But if more than one person is pointing out bad spelling, or inconsistent plots, then you need to take notice. This kind of dditing is something you can fix relatively easily. If you dont, it could well harm your credibility as a writer and as a publisher. The takeaway is, if you have the power to fix something, fix it.

Etiquette for Reviewers and Authors

If a book blogger or a reviewing company is kind enough to review your book, and you would like to quote that review, make sure you extended them the courtesy of linking it back to their website or social media pages, acknowledging them properly. Also, take the time to thank them in a message or an email. Manners cost nothing, while being polite will mean they will more likely consider reviewing your next book.

What NOT To Do

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A special warning should be issued to all writers in regards to responding to negative reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Amazon. It would seem that every couple of weeks an author goes into public meltdown over a bad review, engaging in a futile online battle with amateur reviewers.

This kind of behaviour will get you noticed for all of wrong reasons. Responding aggressively to a bad review will do nothing but churn the waters. Remember that the reviewers will never look like the bad guy in this situation no matter how abusive of inflammatory their remarks are. The author will always be made to look like a petulant jerk. If you receive a bad review release any anger or disappointment privately. Bad reviews can really suck, but you are a writer and a publisher, you need grow a thick skin to survive. You will never be able to please everyone.

Making The Most Of Your Book Reviews

Reviews can be a great tool to make you feel good about your novel as well as to help you to find where you could be falling down as a writer. Being polite and professional at all times will ensure that you grow your fan base and gain a reputation for being professional.

 For further reading the below titles come highly recommend:

As a reader do you buy books based their reviews or do you ignore them? Which approaches have you used for gaining honest reviews?

Image Credits: ANGRY-ANN by Josh Jansenn (Flickr)

8 Things You Should Know About CreateSpace

There’s a lot of information out there regarding the popularity and ease of Print on Demand publishing. None is more easily accessible than Amazons’s CreateSpace. This article will highlight 8 things you should know about CreateSpace

1. Online Checking- Proofing on a Budget

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After loading all of your files into CreateSpace and their team has checked their compatibility, you have the option to order a paperback proof copy. Proofing is an extremely important step in the publishing journey, but if you’re operating from overseas you might not have the time or the money to order a paperback.

CreateSpace now have the option of an online checking system, as well as the opportunity to download a PDF version. Writers have the chance to review their books in their manuscript layout and ensure all of their formatting, margins, title pages etc. are correct. If they download the PDF, they can spend as much time as they like checking over it.

2. Extended Distribution- A Word of Caution

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CreateSpace has an option to offer your book out for Extended Distribution. This allows online stores, like The Book Depository, and independent booksellers to add your book to their catalogues. This can be a great opportunity for writers; but be careful. This option will drive the price of your book up not only to your retailers but on Amazon as well.

A 500 page novel that’s usually $15 USD can end up costing upward of $30-$40 with your royalties staying relatively low. Often times it is cheaper for independent booksellers to buy directly from you. This allows prices stay low enough that the exchange rate doesn’t dissuade your potential customers.

3. Higher Royalties through the CreateSpace Store

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The Amazon sites offer a lot of exposure for your new book, but as a writer you will earn higher royalties if you direct your readers to buy directly from CreateSpace store. If you’re advertising or adding links on social media, or on your web site, don’t forget to add a link to CreateSpace as well.

4. Shipping Overseas

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CreateSpace is an American Publisher and Distributer so it is important to note that you have to account for shipping times and prices. If you are lucky enough to have an independent bookseller willing to stock your book, make sure that you are adding the shipping costs into your per-book price while negotiating, or charge separately for the freight. If you don’t, you could end up short changing yourself and irritating your supplier.

When preparing a launch make sure you allow 4-6 weeks for your paperbacks to arrive at your door, this way you will not be left apologizing to suppliers and readers if your freight is late.

5. Free Resources

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CreateSpace has excellent free resources and information about all aspects of self-publishing. They have their own blog and forum for their authors to connect, support, and share tips with each other. They also have some great interviews with bestselling CreateSpace authors who speak of their writing journey.

Writing can be a lonely business, so take advantage of the site to gain knowledge, and to network with other authors.

6. Marketing Packages

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CreateSpace offer a variety of services and resources, but their Marketing Packages (helping to market your book on their platform) aren’t really offering any information you can’t find yourself elsewhere. They offer a basic biography, description and keywords based on information you provide: they don’t actually read your book.

Do your research and write copy yourself that’s going to be just as effective. After all, keywords and descriptions are largely trial and error. Sometimes you’ll have to rewrite both a few times to find what’s going to work best. To learn how to write a great book description, check out our article here. Save your money and put it into cost-per-click advertising, where it’ll likely be more useful.

7. Royalties

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Like its Kindle Direct counterpart, CreatSpace will only pay your royalties in $100 blocks. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, they’ll send you a cheque through the mailing system. This can be frustrating for some writers, so know that you could have a few months to wait before you see any royalties coming in.

8. Book Descriptions and Amazon Author

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CreateSpace and KDP both give you a product description to complete that will appear on your Amazon product page. If you are using Amazon Author (and you should be) and you happen to change your book description on the Author book page, it will automatically override whatever description you have put into CreateSpace.

To be sure that your changes are correct on all pages, make sure that you update all platforms with the same one. You don’t want your ebook description to be different to your paperback – it will look sloppy and unprofessional.

CreateSpace is a great platform to get your paperback into the hands of your readers and onto shelves but it’s important to know the hidden pro’s and con’s before pressing publish.

What other great tips do you have for using CreateSpace?

 

Image Credits: Editing for the 2nd edition of How To Love Your Job or Find A New One by Joanna Penn (Flickr), Distributed Religion by The Art Gallery of Knoxville (Flickr), B767 by Bernal Saborio (Flickr), Free Daddy and His Little Shadow Girls at The Skate Park Creative Commons by Pink Sherbert Photography (Flickr), Design Blog Sociale – 23 June 2008 – Vitamin Packaging by Robert Ferrell D by SocialIsBetter (Flick), Money by PicturesOfMoney (Flickr), I accidentally brought money to a book sale. by Brittany Stevens (Flickr).

How To Run a Successful Goodreads Ad Campaign

Goodreads is a revolutionary platform for book-lovers to meet, write reviews, and connect with their favorite authors. On top of this, their Cost-per-Click Advertising system is an excellent, cost-effective way to find your readers and drive sales. This article offers some helpful tips on how to run a successful Goodreads campaign, while getting discovered by people who love your genre.

Before you begin.

Make sure that you’re fully set up as an Author in Goodreads, and that each of your books are available before you even look into Marketing.

Using your Goodreads account, you can login to their advertising site here. 

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The above image is what you can expect to see when setting up your campaign. Find your book by searching for its ISBN. This will double check that you’re advertising the right novel.

It’s a pretty straightforward system, but there are few things that will help you make the most of it. First, decide how much you are willing to spend on your overall campaign, and how much you are willing to spend per click, then consider doing the following:

Running a Successful Campaign

1. Schedule Two or More Ads At The Same Time

Unlike its cousin Amazon Marketing, you can use the same budget split across multiple ads in Goodreads. That means you can pay $30 for a campaign which has several ads running considerably. This is a great technique to to target different audiences and track which group performs the best. It also widens your net considerably, giving your ads far wider reach for the same cost. It’s also usefult to know that while Amazon has a $100 minimum campaign fee, but Goodreads does not!. So, it’s a pretty good marketing option for authors that don’t have the biggest budget set aside for marketing.

2. Target Multiple Authors for One Half of Your Ads

Take the time to research the bestsellers in your genre. Using a websites like Amazon can be extremely good for researching what is selling, and to what audience. Make note of the bestsellers’ names and their book titles.

While setting up your Targeting on your Goodreads campaign, take advantage of this bestseller list and make sure to include these authors’ names. Your ad will be targeted at their readers, and will hopefully gain you some readers of your own.

In saying that, however, don’t mislead your readers. If you haven’t written something like the next Go Set A Watchman, don’t advertise that you have. Readers will call you on your dishonesty, and like most online platforms it can turn nasty.

3. Target Multiple Genres for the Second Half of Your Ads

Make sure you know where your genre sits, and use Goodreads to target people who read those genres. If your book is Young Adult Romantic Fantasy, you can add all of that in one ad target, or you can split them up. If, like the Divergent series, your Young Adult book can appeal to adult readers as well, don’t forget to target the Sci Fi Dystopian Fiction audience as well as Young Adult.

The above warning remains however; select only the genres that your book actually falls in. Don’t try and sell something as Historical Romance if it’s Horror.

4. Try Multiple Taglines

Use multiple taglines for each advertisement. Mix it up because some people won’t necessary click on a title if you add that its only 99c, while others will, for example. Using a question such as, “Will Lassie Reach Tommy in time?” can intrigue readers to want to know more.

Taglines are great, and each audience will have something that will attract them specifically. Have fun with it, and see what makes readers click.

5. Promote Give Aways

Ads are a great way to promote your Goodreads Giveaways. This will give you double the exposure you would normally receive from a normal giveaway. If you are a new author, giveaways can help you receive reviews, as well as encourage people to talk about your book. Don’t forget to advertise your those giveaways on your social media pages, too!

6. Use a Call to Action

Use a call-to-action (CTA) on your ad such as “Add to Your Shelf.” When readers add a book to their shelf, for instance,  this action is displayed on their own profile, to all of their followers and sometimes to their Facebook timeline, too. This spreads the ad further than the one platform, and also encourages friends to discuss new books they have found with each other.

7. Clever Linking

You have the option in your ads to link to your book’s Goodreads page or any outside website. The above advice of splitting half your ads to link to its Goodreads page and the other half to your Amazon page can work to achieve two different ends. First, linking to a Goodreads page will help create a viral effect of adding books to shelves and sharing with friends and on Facebook. Second,  if you link to your Amazon page, this is more likely to result in an immediate purchase.

As you can see, Goodreads is a great advertising tool that lacks some of the restrictions of other Cost-Per-Click advertising (especially Amazon). Using the above tips will help readers find your work, while offering you value for your marketing budget, and hopefully driving higher sales.

For a more detailed explanation about setting up and running your Goodreads campaign, this is a useful video to watch:

What’s your favorite thing about Goodreads? What inspires you to click? Have you tried Goodreads advertising yourself?

 

 

What Are Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs), And How Do They work?

ARC is a commonly used acronym in the publishing industry that stands for Advanced Reading Copy. Here, we’ll go into some more detail about ARCs and why they can be a useful marketing tool for self publishers.

What are they?

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Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) are a preview of a writers upcoming release. ARCs are not always perfect copy, and they usually have a variant of the final cover, and are stamped with wording identifying it as an advanced copy.

They may also differ from the final published work if any additional editing is needed prior to publication. In general, ARCs will be sent out by publishers to reviewers, critics, magazines etc. before the launch date.

When should they get sent out?

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Three to six months used to be the official lead time for ARCs to be sent out by publishers. Yet thanks to e-reader technology, the distribution of ARCs has become a lot easier and less expensive.

Ideally as a writer you want to give your readers a chance to read your work and hopefully put together a review. This means a 6-8 week lead time is a good period. Don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be a perfect copy, or include a final cover, but it at least has to be edited.

These advanced readers will not only be able to offer you genuine feedback, but you’ll also come across as a a professional who really knows what they’re doing in the publishing world.

How do you find advance readers?

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If you’re lucky enough to already have an email list, this is generally a good place to start. These are the people that are already interested in your work and would jump at the chance to read a new book before everyone else.

If you don’t have an email list, put the call out on your social media pages. People love free stuff and, like your email list, if they are following your social media, they are (hopefully) interested in your writing.

Another option is to ask other writer friends to offer you feedback in exchange for reviewing their work in future. If you’re using Kindle Boards or other forums you could advertise with a new post, but don’t be offended if people are too busy working on their own books!

Benefits of ARCs for independent publishers

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ARCs can provide authors with valuable feedback for the work they wish to release. Remember, reader feedback is different from the feedback you’ll receive from an editor.

Readers will be able to tell you how they connected with your protagonist (or didn’t) and will be the first to tell you their emotional response to it. Sometimes people just won’t like your story, but if the feedback is consistent with a problem such as grammar or spelling, this is something you need to adjust before your final release.

Reviews received from ARCs also generate interest on sites such as Good Reads and Amazon. So, having some ready before your official launch date can help to drive sales. A good technique is to make your new release free on its first day to allow Advanced Readers to download a final version, adding the important Verified Purchase label for when they lodge their reviews.

Final tip

Be honest and don’t mislead your Advanced Readers about what your book is about. The last thing you want are for people who love romance to get a horror story that they will hate. You want people who understand and enjoy the genre you are writing. They will be able to identify holes within your story that unfamiliar readers may not notice.

Offer your Advanced Readers a free copy of your final work, by using Free Day technique or emailing it out to them. This is a thank you for their help and will hopefully encourage them to rleave you an (honest) review in the future.

What are your personal experience with distributing ARCS? What do you look for as an Advanced Reader?

 

Image Credits: Reading by Moyan Brenn, Calendar* by Dafne Cholet, Reading by Pedro Ribeiro Simões,  black & white Glasses & Book – exhausting read by photosteve101

The Top 5 To-Dos Of Successful Self-Published Authors

Today we are going to discuss the Top 5 things you need to do in order to work smarter and become a successful self-published author. There is a school of thought out there, an incorrect one, that says choosing the self published road is the ‘easy’ way to get a book out there and claim you are a WRITER. For those who are self publishing, and who are taking it seriously, you know that there is nothing easy about it.

The self publishing success stories you hear about- those in the Joanna Penn, Hugh Howie and Mark Dawson categories- you will find common habits and themes that ensured their success. They wrote amazing books because they also got into a strict routine that worked for them and they stuck to it. These are 5 things that will help you kick self-publishing ass:

200Back It Up

Okay, this one should be a no brainer in any business, and yet every writer has experienced it. My big number is 10,000 words but I know others who have lost 250k+. Writers live on their computers, we pour hours of love and blood into our works. The rule: Have one back up locally, and one back up off base (in case your house burns down).

With all of the Dropboxs, iClouds, USB hard drives and multiple server technology there is no excuse not to save your work in a secure location. If you are sticking to a writing goal everyday (as you should be) than the very last thing you want to have to do is fall to weeping in front of an IT guru when he tells you that your hard drive could not be saved.

Take the time, back it up so that you don’t have to do it all again.

Recommended back up platforms for writers:

Writing Time Is Sacred

Life is busy for everyone. Talk to any wanna-be-writer and the first excuse they will give you is “I would write but I just don’t seem to have the time.” If you want to be a writer you actually have to write. You have to carve out a space in the day that is for writing alone. Even if you sit there for an hour staring blankly at the screen you make that time yours. Know when your commitments are and when your optimal writing time is. Get up an hour earlier in the morning if you know you have stuff to do after work, utilise your lunch breaks, your commute home, the hour you get after you put the kids to bed. No excuses. Life will always be busy, there will always be something else that needs to be done. Find your time, dig your heels in and claim it for your writing everyday.

Block It Out

Once you have selected that time for writing, you have to block life’s distractions out. I use the Pomodoro method- work in 25 minute blocks with 5 minute breaks between. It’s been said that our attention spans can last around 2 hours. So 4 ‘pomodoro’s’ and then a half hour break. Because I have a dire Facebook habit, I use a Chrome plugin called Strict Workflow which blocks websites from me for 25 minutes- but only the ones choose. So if I need to research Wikipedia I won’t put that down.

This may mean turning your wifi off so you don’t check Facebook, getting your partner to take the kids for their daily walk to the park or closing the door to your flatmates and partner. The world has no place in your writing. Be selfish, use ear plugs or noise reducing headphones, whatever it takes for you to block it out and focus at the task at hand. You only have a certain amount of time allocated to writing don’t let yourself be distracted, the new episode of Game of Thrones can wait (ha ha).
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Read

To quote urban-fantasy writer Lev Grossman,

Read everything. If you haven’t read everything, you’ll never be able to write anything.”

He is hardly the first writer to present this sentiment because it is a universal truth, good readers make great writers. Reading as a writer feeds us, , you start to see the tricks and when you don’t see them immediately you go back and disseminate in order to find it. It is harder to pull a writer into a world without them turning over every rock. It is in the rock turning that we learn about our own writing and where it is lacking. Struggling with world building? Try Tolkien, the master world builder. Writing clever crime? Read Sherlock Holmes. Know what is out there and feed your own creativity, your work will thank you for it.

Check in with your Writer World

Writing is a solitary business. We are natural introverts but occasionally checking in with the real world can help refresh you and pull you out of a writing slump. Some writer’s really thrive in writing groups and for others they are the most destructive force. Writers need other writers. These are your people, your tribe, they understand your struggles, the one’s that won’t get offended when you bring out a notebook and pen at dinner. Writers brain storm you out of writers block, pour wine as you complain about character’s and plot holes and are the best resource when dealing with writer related questions. They give constructive feedback and encouragement when you need it most.

There is no secret formula for success in self-publishing. It is a job that takes a lot of work and commitment. The writer’s that have ‘made it’ are multitasking, writing entrepreneurial machines. What works for them may not work for you, but the things that all writer’s must do, the things that will give you a solid foundation in order to become successful, are the simple things. Tangible, every day things that have exponential returns.

So remember:

  1. Back up your work so you don’t lose it
  2. Carve out a writing time that is yours (and stick to it)
  3. Block out all the world’s distractions
  4. Reading is a writer’s water so drink deeply from multiple wells, and
  5. Make sure you touch base with other writers so that you don’t end up hanging around your gloomy writing cave like a starved, wordsmith Golum.

What are some of your tips to keep you writing focused?  

 

 

 

How to write the perfect Amazon Book Description

Amazon is a powerful tool in the self publishers shed so it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make it work for you. Knowing how to market your work properly in this huge book paradise can get you noticed by your target audience and drive your sales higher. Today we are going to talk about the importance of the Book Description on your Amazon page and how to get your book to sell.

 What It’s NotNo No

The term ‘Book Description’ can be very misleading in what it’s actually asking for. It isn’t meant to be a comprehensive layout of your book, with all your cast of characters and exactly what happens. You don’t want to lay down a full synopsis where you tell the potential reader all of your highlights. Giving away too much of the story will annoy readers and end up turning them off purchasing it.

 What It Is

The best way to think of Amazon Book Descriptions is to consider it in the terms of an enhanced paperback cover blurb. You are writing advertising copy to attract interest and excitement in shoppers. The goal is to intrigue, entice and convince customers that they simply must know more.

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How to Lay Out Your Amazon Book Description

There are many good marketing resources geared towards the perfect Book Description but all agree that the following layout, in genre focused variations, works the most effectively:

  1. Jump onto Amazon’s #100 Best Sellers in your genre and study how their book descriptions have been assembled. Like cover design there will be a distinct difference in how your genre is marketed compared to all the others. Study them, pick up tips and tailor your description to these specifications.
  1.  If you have won any awards or accolades put them first in your description e.g. New York Times Best Seller, No.1 Amazon Best Seller. If you do not have any awards you can always start with a positive quote from a reviewer. NOT YOUR MUM. Someone who is a professional reviewer such as Kirkus Reviews or Self Publishing Review.

A good review can go a long way in establishing your credibility as a writer and publisher.

  1. The first line of your description is the most important. Try to think of it as your sales hook. Don’t be nervous about referencing other well known authors here. If you wrote a book about a young pre-adolescent boy who learns magic it doesn’t do any harm to compare it to J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter or Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci.
  1. Your book description should cover these points:
    • Don’t be vague or boring
    • Keep it simple– don’t go into too much detail
    • Don’t give your story or plot lines away
    • Introduce the character in a single line
    • Focus on your characters, and their goals
    • Short, punchy, emotive sentences.
    • Deliver the conflict, make the reader beg to see if it is resolved.
  1.  Always leave the reader wanting more. Closing with particular questions is a good way to leave a description open ended. e.g. “Will Lassie get help in time? Or will little Tommy be left alone in the dark forever?” You can also use this as a tagline on your front cover to catch a reader’s attention.

These are but a few helpful ideas to get your thoughts of your own Book Description flowing. It can be painful and time consuming activity but it’s worth taking the time to get it right as this section is the first example of your writing that readers will encounter. You need to get them interested!

Writing Book Descriptions isn’t an exact science, there is no magic formula that will work every time, but using them as a marketing tool can help attract your readers. The most important thing to remember? You can always rewrite and change it up until you find what works for you and your story!

For more information on crafting Book Descriptions the below is some helpful links and testimonials:

http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/10/05/the-11-ingredients-of-a-sizzling-book-description/

http://thefutureofink.com/kindle-books-sales-tool/

https://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1462

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2011/best-practices-for-amazon-ebook-sales/

What have you found works well in a Books Description? As a reader and consumer what turns you off about Book Descriptions when you are shopping?