Lesser Known Pieces Of Editing Advice From 14 Publishing Pros

In the spirit of helping you write the best book possible, we’ve gathered a list of lesser-known editing tips from 14 experienced editors and authors. Between them, these ladies and gents have been through the editing wringer hundreds of times, and house worlds of wisdom we should heed.

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Beth: BZHercules.com, a low-cost editing and consulting service

In short, don’t do it [editing your own work]! It is a huge mistake that can cost an author time and money, as well as cause some embarrassment. Whether the writer is seeking to publish traditionally or to self-publish, there are certain guidelines, rules of grammar, and formatting requirements that are best left to an experienced editor. For example, many of the smaller “boutique” publishers that have popped up on the Internet require use of Chicago Manual of Style formatting for submissions. Many authors do not know what to look for regarding this style (e.g., how to write numbers, titles, and abbreviations, or indent paragraphs) and should use an editor that is familiar with it. The placement of commas is another frequent issue for authors (The serial comma is a killer!), and don’t even get me started on semi-colons (Okay, I will get started—it is necessary punctuation and it cannot just be thrown out of writing because the author doesn’t believe in it! That is punctuation-discrimination at its worst.).

If an author is self-publishing, the risks associated with posting work that is riddled with errors on many of the outlets are actually higher than submitting to publishers. At least the publishers will be discerning. When posting to the DIY outlets, there is a low filter for screening errors until the work is already out there. Often, outlets such as iTunes and Smashwords will ticket submissions that have been reported as containing mistakes, and Kindle will pull them if the “right” complaint is given. Additionally, the reviewers are another source of misery for a self-publishing author who is trying to gain readers. Reviews regarding errors found in books are not always accurate, kind, or specific and giving critics fuel for the fire is never a good idea, possibly damaging an otherwise great piece of work.

My advice, then, is to find an editor with a track record of success. If you are an author who is new to publishing (You are obviously not new to writing, but that does not make your work showroom ready.), then your editor ideally is college-educated in a writing-related field (journalism, English, education, linguistics, communications), open to collaboration, and experienced at navigating through traditional and/or self-publishing (Most editors will provide a free sample edit of a few pages to you; do not, however, ask to see the edited work of others. That is confidential information and if it is provided to you, be wary of the ethics of that editor.). As the author, expect to pay for several passes through your work (one or two isn’t going to be enough if there are thousands of changes needed—although using a couple of editors isn’t a bad idea if they have similar editing philosophies. Again, ask for samples and compare the styles.), be open to criticism, and be cognizant of what you yourself are attempting to put out in the public eye. Every author needs another set of eyes that has an experienced view.

 

Meredith Efken: Fiction Fix-It Shop

Many writers tend to discount the importance of content editing. They focus on copy or line editing, and they either believe they don’t need content help or they fear a content editor will take over the story or change their voice. However, if a story fails, it’s not usually because of a couple of typos but because the story structure itself is weak or because the character development and portrayal doesn’t ring true on an emotional level. The biggest downfalls I see in many stories are:

  1. a lack of understanding of scene structure and a wobbly or disorganized story structure, and
  2. character emotions that are either too shallow or not psychologically accurate for what the character is facing.

A good content/substantive editor should be able to help spot these problems—and do so in a way that enhances the story and your voice. But if you’re not able to hire an editor, at least study some good how-to resources on those topics. My top recs are these: For story structure, Michael Hague at storymastery.com has an excellent seminar called The Hero’s Two Journeys that explains how the outer plot meshes with the character’s inner transformation. For character emotion, Margie Lawson at margielawson.com approaches character emotions from a psychological background and explains how to convey emotions in a fresh and authentic way. For scene structure, take a look at Randy Ingermanson’s article “Writing The Perfect Scene” which draws on the concepts taught by Dwight Swain in his book, Techniques of the Selling Writer.

 

Helen Baggott: Editor

Many writers embark on the editing process and assume it’s all about trimming things down. Often it is, but it’s too easy to edit out a crucial element that causes the plot to crumble. And because you, the writer, have the complete manuscript – warts and all – in your mind, you can’t distinguish between something that is still in the book and something that’s just a memory from a previous version. If you do decide to go for the chop, make sure you look at the bigger picture and resolve any potential issues before moving on.

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C. S. Lakin: Author, Editor

Writers should consider getting a manuscript critique or evaluation before any line editing. Most books have a lot of structural flaws and weak components that the writer can’t see, and it helps to have a professional work with the author to strengthen or fix these weak areas. I always say that getting an edit done on a flawed manuscript is like putting pretty icing on a yucky-tasting cake. The book may look nicely edited, but it’s not going to hold up. So getting that critique done first, at any stage, is so helpful.

 

Kristen Weber: Freelance book editor, Co-founder of ShelfPleasure.com

Put your manuscript away for at least a couple of weeks. When you come back to it for editing, change the size of the font. You need to make it look different so you can actually see it. It’s like when a chair in your house accidentally gets moved – you won’t notice it until you trip over it! It is important to present your eyes with something different so you see what’s really there. And then once you think it’s perfect, give it to someone else to read – and they’ll find even more to fix!

 

Chandra Clarke: Editor

As everyone knows, the problem with editing your own work is that you’re too familiar with the material. My best tip for mitigating that is to change both the font type and the font size on the document. If you’re working in a serif font, change it to something sans serif or vice versa, and make it a bit bigger. This will change the way the text looks just enough to make it seem different, and that will force you to focus more on what it actually says, as opposed to what you think it should say.

 

Gary Gibson: Author

One of the best ways to learn how to edit your own writing is to edit someone else’s. I started writing paid critiques of unpublished novels more than five years ago, and I think it did a lot to improve my understanding of my own writing and in the process made me a much better writer. Before that, I’d been an on-off member of a writer’s group in my home city for more than twenty years.
Taking part in a writer’s group can be invaluable, because you have to think about why someone’s story or novel does or doesn’t work. Even better is when you get to tell them what you like or don’t like about their work – and explain why. Doing that gets you thinking about the process, and the how-to of writing, and how to apply it to your own work. It’s a bit like the old saying: if you want to master something, teach it.

Rebecca Horsfall: Author

We’re taught at school that good writing involves using adjectives liberally in our compositions. In truth this is just plain wrong. The use of many adjectives is a sure sign of immature writing. When editing our own work it’s important to notice where we’re peppering our prose with adjectives and prune away all but the essential ones. The same is true of similes; you remember them: “his joints were as creaky as the old barn door,” or “her sudden smile was like the sun appearing from behind a cloud.” Similes almost always seem clunky and immature in prose. Same goes, in fact, for all the elaborate metaphors and figurative language so beloved of our school teachers. The more simple and uncluttered our prose, the more mature it will feel to readers (and publishers!)

Laurence Daren King: Literary Consultant

Set up the word processor for writing a novel, not an essay or letter as seems to be the default. Increase the margin size or font size until you have about eleven words to a line. You will then get a realistic idea of paragraph length. So many authors have paragraphs that are far too long. They think: ‘It’s only three quarters of a page long, I see that in novels all the time’, but they have eighteen or twenty words to a line.

Tania Hershman: Author

Change the page from portrait to landscape and change the font, to try and see your writing with fresh eyes, as if you hadn’t written it.

 

Sam Jordison: Author, Founder of Galley Beggar Press

If you can, cut the first chapter. It’s almost certain to be your worst bit of writing.

 

Fay Sampson: Author

Even after you’ve edited your book to the highest standard you can, get it professionally copy-edited. Writing consultancies like the Writers’ Workshop can put you in touch with an editor who will bring your work up to a professional standard and save you embarrassment later.
If you’re adamant on editing your own work, these professional editing tips will serve you well. After all, having a great story interspersed with mistakes and plot holes is a sure-fire way to have critics pounce, and readers close the book.
What other editing tips do you have? What do you look out for when editing your own book? And what are your most common mistakes?

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)

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. 

Goodreads

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

How Authors Can Beat the Post-Publication Slump

Writers love to read about how famous writers failed before they became famous. Hundreds of articles and anecdotes abound on the Internet about how Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. And about how J.K Rowling was told “not to quit her day job.”

As self publishers, getting past the gate keepers is no longer the problem. For the self-publishing crowd, the biggest hit you can receive to your ego is right after you press that almighty PUBLISH button.

This article is going to deal with that post-pub slump and how to move your focus off your stats and back onto your writing.

You’re Published! So Why Aren’t You Excited?

Getting to the point where you press the publish button is a BIG deal. You’ve probably worked years towards this moment; writing your manuscript, sourcing professional editors, cover designers and formatters. It is a big journey only made possible through hard work and tenacity. The rush of the moment is there and you celebrate in whatever way you like. But then, The Slump may hit hard. This generally happens for the below reasons:

  • You’ve been working your guts out to produce your book and your body collapses from sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Well hello, burnout!
  • You realise you’re a very small fish in a very large pond.
  • You’re suddenly very aware that your difficult self-promoting and marketing journey has only just begun.
  • You start obsessing over your reviews and sale stats.

The majority of writers have impressive, yet grim stories of self-doubt that they try and keep hidden. It takes focused courage to put yourself out there, open yourself up to an audience you don’t know, and to receive criticism. This does not mean you have to dwell on it and allow it to cause you to question your writing ability or style.

What Should You Do About It?

First things first; remind yourself of your massive achievement and give yourself a pat on the back. Then consider the following alternatives to slumping:

  • Take a few days to relax, binge watch a favourite tv show or read something you have been waiting for. Let your body rest and catch up (sleep and real food is good.)
  • Create a marketing and promotional plan that fits with your budget (if you don’t already have one). Allocate a few promotional ideas each month. Remember, self-publishing is marathon, not a sprint (more on this in a moment).
  • Only permit yourself to check reviews and stats once a day, maximum. Take a moment to savour the good and the bad, then let it go. There’s more to life than analytics.
  • Get focussed on planning and writing your next project. Don’t just hitch your hopes and dreams to one horse. You are a writer so get writing!

A Reminder About Trad vs Self Frameworks

Before you crawl into your sulking comfort hole with chocolate and whiskey, remember this important fact – self publishing is the art of delayed gratification.

The traditionally published writers receive their royalty cheque with instant gratification and recognition. The traditional marketing platform works to produce and sell as many books as they possibly can in order to cover their investments and the writers royalty cheque. As time passes, the marketing efforts will fade away leaving the author to wait for their 2.5 % royalty cheque to come in (sometimes months or years later depending how well the book went).

The self publishing marketing framework is a different beast. You’re building your business from scratch. More often than not, when you hear about a successful self-publisher, it’s because they have been working at it for 5-7 years, have multiple titles and are now collecting their 70% royalty reward.

How To Keep At It Without Going Crazy

Firstly, try and think of yourself as having two separate creative personas. One is the writer and the other is the publisher. As such you need to consider these things:

  • You must allocate time for writing and time for publishing. Do not cross them over.
  • If you’ve already written a few books, or have some planned, write up a release guide for the next 5 years (or as long as possible).
  • Keep in mind your goal; whether that’s to be no.1 on The New York Times best seller list or to be able to quit your day job, it doesn’t matter.
  • Remind yourself of why you chose to self-publish in the first place. If you aren’t willing to learn about the business and acquire multiple skills (or network to find people with those skills), then it may not be for you.
  • Learn as much as you can about the industry, read about the ones who were successful and find out the marketing techniques they used. Not everything will work for you, but you don’t know until you try.

Publishing is a tough industry whether you’re traditionally- or self-published. As writers we have more options and opportunities than ever before, but self-doubt will always be there. Having goals, being even more guarded with your writing time, and remembering why you wanted to be in the business in the first place will ensure that you are too focussed to give self-doubt the time of day.

What do you do once you press publish? How do you stay focused on you end goal?

Image Credit: Diary Writing by Fredrik Rubensson (Flickr)

3 Things To Get You Writing Everyday

LisaAt times writers feel like gods looking at worlds that no one else can see, words flow out faster than nimble fingers can type and thousands of words can appear out of no where. Then there are the other times when you get the fear as writer Holly Black used to,

“I was scared I was doing something wrong, that I was leading the characters down the wrong path. I was scared of making choices. I had completely lost touch with the part of myself that thought of writing as play.”

This week’s blog is going to suggest three helpful ways to stop the fear and get you back to putting words down on the page.

The Sweet Spot to Stop

The great and often challenging Ernest Hemingway once stated in an article with the Paris Review;

“you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.”

This advice is true for all writers and possibly, if you can cultivate the habit, one of the most valuable pieces of writing advice you will ever receive. If you are writing and you know you are coming up to something exciting, stop for the day. That moment you are itching to keep going is your halt mark. That pick up point is the surest way of knowing a direction to head in next. Let it stew for the night and then when you wake up in the morning you will be so eager to start writing you won’t have time to listen to the voice of doubt.

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Out and About

Writers are observers of life. Sitting numbly staring at a blank screen is disheartening and doesn’t get you any where. Go for a walk, to the library or to your favouring cafe with a notebook and pen and write what you see. Writers have a habit of living behind desks and sometimes you need to get out like Haruki Murakami who swears that,

“Most of what I know about writing fiction I learned by running every day.”

Observing people when they don’t know they are being watched is some of the most interesting character building insights you will ever gain as a writer. It is when the masks are dropped that the characters, like people, reveal who they really are. It may seem counter intuitive and unrelated to the piece you are writing at the time but those observations will get you writing. The change of scenery may just be the thing to recharge your creative batteries and spark new stories.

Shut Up and Write

“Writing is contagious madness, a lot of the times. Even when it sucks, you wanna do it. And that, I think, is one of the things that separates the Aspiring Not-Really-Writers from the Really Real Writers — the latter group writes even when it’s hard, even when the motivation is a dry well,” says writer Chuck Wendig, and he is dead on.

Writers write. It is hard work and the people that are serious about it know that it is a skill that takes many hours to master. Writing is a muscle that needs to be worked every day even when it hurts and there is a million other things demanding your attention. Setting realistic daily word counts, slowly increasing them as you meet your target, is the ONLY way to get things written. As writers we have to carve out time, shut the door, set a goal and stick to it.

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The ultimate goal of a writer is to keep at it every day, to defeat the fear of the blank page altogether. Leaving stories at interesting points, getting out and watching the world around you will always help but at the end of the day only putting in the hours of hard work it will get it done.

 

 

What gets you writing in the day? What have you found that inspires you when you are stuck?

How Audio Books Work for Self-Published Authors

imagesFor thousands of years man has huddled by campfires, bards have recited in halls and children have clustered around grandmothers for the purpose of listening to a good story. It is comforting to know some rituals are so ingrained into the human psyche that even though story telling may change its media it never loses its appeal. In this blog we are going to talk about the audio book resurgence, how to get your book audio, how much it will cost you and how beneficial it can be.

Audio Revolution

An article in the NY Times last year stated, “In the first eight months of this year, (audio book) sales were up 28 percent over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers.” Audio books aren’t considered an unprofitable extra to print but a medium now standing in its own right. Audio books are not limited in their audiences. People struggling with reading, or have difficulties such as dyslexia, can now take part in the joy of books. Commuters can catch up on their novels on their way home, grab their Kindle when they arrive and pick up where they left off. Author Max Brooks, stated in an interview with the Wall Street journal, “It’s one of the few times in history that technology has reinvigorated an art form rather than crushing it. Now, because there is such demand and the production value is so inexpensive, it opens the door for more creative storytelling.” So how do self-publishers get onboard?

 Where to get it done?

The strongest audio platform on the market is ACX, a subsidiary of Amazon. ACX is not restricted to Amazon’s Audible store so it can be sold through other avenues such as iTunes.

acxLogoNarrating Yourself

Like other self publishing platforms ACX gives you the option of narrating your own book. Doing the narration yourself provides the opportunity to tell your book in your own voice. You have the added benefit of not having to hire a narrator, or share royalties. ACX provides free Video Lessons and Resources detailing what equipment and software you will need in order to produce an appropriate submission. This equipment, if you don’t already own it, can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. The risk is you might not end up with something professional sounding at the end of it and its important to remember like ebooks and print books, audio books have a high set of standards.

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Hire a Producer or a Narrator

  • Create a Profile including a description of your book and the type of narrator you would think best suits it. You will also post a small excerpt of your book so potential narrators can use it as audition script.
  • Post your book profile so narrators and producers can view your work to see if they are interested. Alternatively you can do your own casting call, listen to sample narrations posted by actors and then send them an invite to audition. Audio artist Elizabeth Klett shares some great advice here on what to look for in a good narrator.
  • Decide on a producer and make an Offer. The first way you can make a deal on ACX, is to send a producer a Production Offer Page where you have the option to pay a fee (the minimum you can offer is $300 per finished hour) or you can agree to a Royalty Share deal.

Sell your Rights to a Producer

Producers can buy your rights from you for a royalty share or outright depending on the details of the offer and how you choose to negotiate.

Read the Offer and Acceptance Procedures before you make any offers as it is an official and binding agreement.  

Royalties

  • Depending on distribution deals made, the Rights Holders earn 40% royalties of all books sold through Audible, Amazon and iTunes. ACX also have a Bounty Program so every time some one joins Audible and purchases your book first you will receive an extra $50 on top of royalties.

Pricing

  • You can’t choose your pricing on ACX. Prices are calculated based on the length of your book, please click here for a price per hours breakdown.

Territories

  • Currently ACX is only available to UK and US writers but you can email ACX about the terms and conditions of becoming an International Partner . You can use a service such as Ebookit who will distribute through ACX for you for a fee. The good news is with the Australian Audible Store going live in January this year, ACX is bound to follow to maximise their demand for local authors.

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Other Options

Infinity Publishing– audio book service but will only do books up to 11,000 words.

CD Baby– a subsidiary of Book Baby. You need your own recording to load up however and it is a more music focused site.

As with book publishing it’s vital to know what you want and how much you are willing to spend when creating your audio book. The audio book market is expanding, providing indie authors a chance to deliver their works and reach audiences in creative and engaging ways.

 

Do you listen to Audio Books? Are they here to stay or just another fad?