Self-Publishing Myths

Today, I thought I’d talk about some of the common myths I’ve come across in the self-publishing world.

typewriterYou can write a book by yourself.
Selling platforms such as Amazon and Smashwords have given a large number of people the opportunity to publish their books. This has allowed many more writers the chance to showcase their abilities, but as the old saying goes, ‘no man is an island.’ A writer needs to have a team of beta readers and an editor to point out what needs improving or changing. Extra pairs of eyes may see things you have missed, and they can give an impartial opinion on the plot, flow and character development.

Then there’s making your book look as appealing as possible. The general consensus regarding book covers is unless you are a talented graphic artist, then you should seek help with designing a ‘look’ for your book. The interior appearance of a book is also important. Formatting a book for Kindle can be a complicated and frustrating process. Unless you want your readers getting annoyed with chapters starting half way down the Kindle screen, or too many spaces between words, find some help. JJ Marsh and Jane Davis discuss this myth in their blog post ‘Self Publishing Myths – Busted.’

 

partner_logosYou can upload your book and people will find it.
The majority of indie authors upload their books to Amazon, along with other platforms such as Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and KOBO. Just uploading your finished book doesn’t mean it will sell. Yes, the occasional reader may come across it and download it, but that won’t lead to many sales. As I found out, you have to do A LOT of research about book publicity and marketing.

Just because someone, or a company, say they are book publicists, doesn’t mean they do the job well. Unfortunately, there are many ‘publicists’ who receive payment from authors for their marketing services, and then deliver very little in return. Again, research is needed. Drill down into what a potential publicist can provide in terms of visits to your Amazon page and book sales before paying for anything. Ask for recommendations from other authors who have had successful promotions. Who did they use and why? You can find some excellent advice about finding a publicist and working with them in Jane Friedman’s blog post ‘How to Find and Work With a Book Publicist – Successfully.’ Continue reading

The Top 10 Facebook Groups for Indie Authors.

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Facebook is an invaluable resource for indie authors. It enables you to connect to other authors, and to your potential readership. The following 10 Facebook groups are the ones I’ve found to be the most useful for finding help with all things publishing, and for engaging with my readers.

*1 Without doubt, the most useful group I’ve found is THE Book Club. It’s a secret group that currently has 6200+ members. It has a mixture of authors and readers, and everyone is very enthusiastic about books. If you need some advice about writing, book covers, or how to price a book, for example, then you’ll always get some help from other authors. Also, the readers and book bloggers of the group are always happy to spread the word about the books they’ve read – and leave those important reviews on Amazon.

*2 Turning Pages – Book Lovers Group, is a group where authors share news about their books, and where readers can share their opinions and reviews of the books they’ve read. I find this group useful, as it enables me to share news about my writing progress, my book offers, and the publication dates. I’ve also found some great books to read from other members recommendations.

*3 Great Reads UK is a group that focuses on books written by British authors. Authors can promote in the group, as long as they and their books are in the UK, and the promotion is done in a creative way. The readers of the group share their recommendations of books based in the UK. I’ve found this a useful group to be part of as it enables me to discuss my books’ settings/locations, and gather some interest in my writing from people who prefer books set in the UK. Continue reading

Self-Publishing Trends 2016

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I’ve been reading many articles and blog posts in which predictions have been made about what will happen this year in the self-publishing industry, from how books will be sold, to a growing number of self-publishing authors called artisanal authors. Could you be selling your books to a wider market? Will Barnes and Noble have to close down? See what leading experts (in the above image)  think will happen in 2016 in this article from BookWorks.com. 

On The Self Made Writer, Deb Vanasse discusses trends after having a look back on 2015. At the end of the year, print books had a growth in sales due to the appearance of adult colouring books. Big publishers were also charging high prices for kindle versions of their books that led to higher sales of print copies. This year, Debs believes there will be more of a balance between print and digital books, and there’ll be less concern about which format sells the most. You can read more of Deb’s expected trends in the writing and publishing industry here.

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Author Interview with Karen Long

 

Karen Long

 

Today I’d like welcome crime fiction author, Karen Long, to the blog. Karen is the author of the Eleanor Raven series. The Safe Word and The Vault are both available on Amazon. When she’s not writing, Karen is kept busy caring for birds including crows, ravens and rooks.

 

 

 

What was the first thing you wrote that made you think ‘I could be good at this’?
My first novel was titled, ‘Zinnia Buckle and the Queen’s Conjuror’. It is set in 1888 and is a YA novel about a girl who discovers she has the ability to slip through time and across death’s threshold.  When manipulated by her employer’s spiritual guide to enter Limbo she accidentally releases an ancient creature that spreads pestilence and death in Victorian England. The book sits on my shelf gathering dust, as it has done for the past ten years. I’m not sure that it’s any good, as I’ve never had it read by anyone but myself but it did prove to me that I could structure and execute a story. If I hadn’t written ‘Zinnia’ I couldn’t have written the Eleanor Raven books.

Karen Long Book 1What do you wish you had been told about writing/publishing before you started?That the buck stops with you! Don’t expect anyone else to pick up typos or bad grammar. I was slack on ‘The Safe Word’ but learned to be much tighter on ‘The Vault’. Also, don’t assume anyone is going to be promoting your work. Get on Twitter and Facebook, do the talks, buy and distribute the flyers and the advertising space. It’s your job. I really did think naively that a mysterious ‘someone’ would do it all.

Who or what has been the biggest inspiration to your writing?
Mainly the enormous discrepancy between my earnings and my husband’s. That sounds flippant but writing gives me substance as an individual. In terms of inspiration on the writing front I find newspaper articles the biggest supplier of ideas and ‘what ifs?’. Continue reading

Interview with mystery author Mike Billington

Mike Billington

 

Today I’d like to welcome mystery and historical fiction author Mike Billington to the blog. Mike is a Vietnam veteran and was a journalist for 50 years before writing fiction. He has 7 books published and is working on 2 more. Thank you Mike for taking part in this interview.

 

 

If you had to pick one, which event that you’ve reported on has been the most influential on your fiction?
That’s a hard question to answer because over the course of nearly 50 years as a reporter I covered a wide variety of stories and many of them had a real impact on me and my writing. I covered the Love Canal environmental disaster, for example, and learned a lot about how ordinary people can rise to great heights when their families are threatened. I spent time living undercover with white-power extremists and learned a lot about how irrational fear can drive people to commit outrageous acts. I think, however, that if I had to choose one event I’d say it was a series of stories that two other reporters and I did on police abuse of the Florida contraband forfeiture law. We started on the project one Sunday night when a guy walked into the newsroom and told us that the police had stolen his boat.

The contraband forfeiture law allows police to confiscate money, property, airplanes, boats, cars and personal possessions from people who are not charged with a crime. To get their stuff back they are forced to sue the police and to win their lawsuits they must prove they are innocent of wrongdoing. That’s a complete perversion of the American concept of justice; it’s also both expensive and time consuming. Over the course of our investigation we learned that cops were taking boats, for example, and using them to go fishing, hold parties, etc. They were taking classic cars and driving them for personal use and they confiscated billions of dollars which they used to buy new equipment and, in one case, to install lights at a church playground. The law was supposed to stop drug lords from using their wealth to hire slick lawyers to beat criminal charges but it was never really used to do that. What is was used for primarily was to, in essence, steal from the public with complete impunity. Of the hundreds of cases we reviewed, not a single “drug lord” had his house or other property confiscated. That project taught me a lot about how both the police bureaucracy and the political system really work and how innocent people can be severely impacted by bad laws. It also taught me how readily societies willingly surrender their rights in exchange for what they consider “security.” That series has had a big influence on the topics I pursue in my novels and how I write them. Continue reading