Looking for Something?
Browsing Category

Print

Self-Publishing Stumbling Blocks (and 27 Tools to Get You Back on Your Feet)

Author:

Today, you don’t need to work with an agent or ebooks publishing house to get your book published. In 2011 alone, writers self-published 211,269 books according to Publishing Perspective, and this isn’t counting all of the free ebooks bloggers and marketers offer on their blogs. So if everybody’s doing it, why aren’t you?

Self-publishing might be easy, but doing it well is anything but. If you’ve never self-published a book or even an ebook, you aren’t alone. Despite the benefits, there are several stumbling blocks that can make a self-published book or ebook unsuccessful. The following tools can help you jump these hurdles and publish a book or ebook that you’re proud to offer to your audience, whether you’re doing it for free to promote your blog or you’re selling it to make some money.

Stumbling Block #1: “I don’t have time to write a book right now.”

Here’s a little secret: No one has time to write a book right now. We’re all super busy people, yet somehow thousands of people do manage to write books every year. So it’s not a matter of not having time. It’s about whether or not you want to make time by optimizing your schedule. Here are some great tools that give you the time to write a book:

How are you spending your time? Toggl will tell you. There are lots of time tracking tools out there, but Toggl is one of my favorites. You can track your time on Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Android with Toggl, as well as integrate into programs like Basecamp if you’re managing your writing project elsewhere. Toggl also allows you to budget time for different tasks so you can stay on track throughout the day.

Remember The Milk is an easy-to-use tool to help you manage your to-do list. You could use it to organize your life in general, but also consider making a book-specific list for the tasks you have to complete. “Write a book” sounds large and daunting, but if you chunk it out into smaller pieces, it doesn’t seem so bad after all. Ta-da Lists is a great alternative if you aren’t a fan of Remember The Milk.

Rescue Time is a handy little tool like Toggl that will help you track your time, but the premium version of this app is extremely useful if you want to take your time management a step farther. “Get focused mode” allows you to block distracting websites for a set period of time, you can set up alerts when you’ve spent too much time on a specific website (like Facebook), the tool will track your offline time, and more. All of this comes for a fee of $6 per month (or there is a free version as well).

If you need help staying accountable when it comes to large writing projects, 750 words is right for you. This makes the work into a sort-of game, where you try to accumulate as many points as possible every month. You get points for writing, points for writing more than 750 words (your target goal each day on this site), points for writing contiguous days, etc. It’s a great way to stay motivated. One Page Per Day is a similar tool to help you stay motivated to write every day.

Stumbling Block #2: “I don’t have the skills/talent to write a book.”

Do you have some kind of knowledge that other people might what to know? Or do you have an idea about something and the ability to do research and interviews? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you have the skills/talent it takes to write a book or ebook. Even if you aren’t a good writer, here are some tools to help you turn your thoughts into books:

Maybe your problem isn’t that you’re not a good writer, but rather that you’re trying to write using the wrong tool. If Microsoft Word just isn’t doing it for you, try Scrivener. This program is perfect for creating and editing longer documents, and while it isn’t free, there is a free trial that you can check out before purchasing. Features include a “cork board” for thoughts and reminders, an outlining tool, the ability to create document collections, and more. It even syncs with Dropbox.

If you want to find experts to interview for your stories, check out Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Founded by one of NMX’s speakers, Peter Shankman, this site allows you to put out a request in order to find people who are ready and willing to give you quotes and full interviews for your project. ProfNet is a similar tool.

If you truly don’t want to write your own book, you can use a site like Elance to hire someone to write it for you. You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to several thousands of dollars to write a manuscript, depending on length and subject matter, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. I like Elance because people will bid on your project and you can read profiles and exchange messages to find the best person for the job. Once you have a writer, present them with your notes and ideas (the more, the better), set up some interview time so they can talk to you about your ideas, and let them do their magic. Freelancer.com and oDesk.com are two good Elance alternatives – or just ask for writer recommendations via social media.

Stumbling Block #3: “I can write a book, but I have no idea how to turn a manuscript into a book.”

The very first thing you should do after you finish writing a perfect, polished, ready-to-print ebook is hire an editor. Trust me on this one. I constantly find typos even in books published traditionally, so don’t be so arrogant as to think there’s not a single flaw in your manuscript. Even if your draft is typo-free, a fresh set of eyes belonging to someone who is not close to the project will help pick out weird wording, confusing passages and other potential places to tighten your text. Elance and the other sites listed previously can help you find a great editor.

From there, it’s time to design and get your book out there. Here are some tools to help:

Booktype is a tool that helps you collaborate with your editor (or other authors), and then export your book so it’s ready to sell or give away. If you plan on publishing on multiple platforms, Booktype is a great option, since you can correct problems once and have each version update automatically. Booktype makes it easy to format for web, mobile, print, tablets, and e-readers, all at once.

If you like using Word or another format rather than Booktype, don’t worry – you can easily design and convert your book as well. After your manuscript really is ready to go, Calibre is one of the best tools out there to help you format the book correctly for all e-readers. Calibre is free to download and makes the process pretty painless.

Want professional looking graphics in your ebook, all formatted correctly? Learn how to use Adobe InDesign. This program isn’t free, nor is this something you’ll learn to use well in an afternoon, but it’s definitely a great design option for self-publishers. Alternatively, you can hire a graphic designer who knows how to use InDesign well.

Stumbling Block #4: “I have no idea where to sell my book or how to handle sales.”

Okay, so now you really do have the perfect book just waiting for buyers (or downloaders, if you’re giving it away for free). How do you reach the masses? The three major tools for getting your book out there are:

  1. Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon)
  2. Barnes & Noble PubIt
  3. iTunes Connect

If you want to offer print versions of your book as well, I recommend checking out Lulu.com, which allows you to print on demand with no upfront costs. Alternatives to Lulu include Blurb and CreateSpace. There are tons of print-on-demand options for authors beyond these three options, but make sure you do your research so you know exactly what percentage of the profits you’ll see.

It’s also important to track your sales, even if you don’t have to do any work to ship your product. Here are some tools to help you with that task:

This tracking tool for self-published authors allows you to track sales on all major sites. You can compare your sales from month to month or from site to site. This tool is $49.95, but if you’re a blogger and do a review, you can get it for free.

The BookBaby team will actually help you with any number of self-publishing tasks, but the best and most useful, perhaps, is their tracking system. They’ll distribute your book (in ePub format) for you and then you can log in to see your sales across multiple sites and even download reports. Their one-time fee is $99, and then you’ll pay $19 per year after the first year for continued access.

Stumbling Block #5: “Why would anyone care about my book? I’m not a popular best-selling author.”

You don’t have to be a best-selling author to sell lots of copies of your next ebook. You just have to be smart about distribution and promotion. Remember, all best selling authors were once beginners too.

First, it helps if your book has been reviewed, especially on sites like Amazon. You can send your book to your friends to review, but even better is to put your book out there for others to review. Here are some places to find reviewers:

They receive a ton of books for review, and they don’t choose to read all of them. So, it’s the luck of the draw. But if your book is reviewed on this site, you receive a lot of exposure. You can also enter your book for consideration in their contest called Discovery Awards, but be warned that there is an entry fee.

On Ning, the group Book Blogs is home to over 19,000 members, and many of them are extremely active and looking for books to review on their blog. Often, you can work out a deal for them to also leave an honest review on Amazon, especially if you’re willing to send them an extra copy to give away.

You can also leverage others’ audiences, even if you’re not hugely popular yet. You can do this through affiliate programs. If your product is high quality and you offer a generous commission, others will do the selling for you. My favorite affiliate tool for ebooks is E-junkie, with ClickBank being a close second.

No Excuses!

Hopefully, all of these tools will help you resist the urge to make excuses and start writing your next book for self-publishing! If I didn’t cover your biggest self-publishing stumbling block, leave a comment below with your problem. I’ll do my best to recommend some great tools to help you get over that hurdle.

And don’t forget to check out Publishing 101 For Content Creators: From Decision To Market – an upcoming panel at NMX Las Vegas 2013 featuring publishing pros from Grand Central Publishing and Wiley who can answer all of your publishing questions!

23 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Blog to Book

Author:

Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Blog to Book

If you combine all your blog posts after a year or so of blogging, they’d probably be the length of a book…so why not write a book? At least, that’s the mindset some bloggers have. When you’re niche blogging, you learn an incredible amount of information about a topic and are always on top of news stories in your industry, which definitely qualifies you to write in book (at least, in most cases). Combine that with your already-built-in audience of buyers – i.e., your blog readers – and you’re any publisher’s dream!

Right?

Well, maybe. Finding an agent/editor to take you on might still be a challenge. And you also have the option of self-publishing, a topic we’ve definitely covered before here at BlogWorld. But having a blog is without a doubt one of the routes you can take to becoming a published book author. The below brilliant bloggers can help you out with even more great advice!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

From Blog to Book Deal: How 6 Authors Did It by Brenna Ehrlich

If they did it so can you! Well, at least, that’s the hope. In this post, Brenna talks to six different authors about the varied ways they landed book deals, how they drove traffic to their blogs, and more. The biggest take-away message from this post? Not everyone goes about the blog-to-book thing the same way! In this post, you can find out how popular bloggs like Ben Huh and Pam Slim landed book deals, but keep in mind that your own path might be a little different. From the post:

Ever since roughly 2005, publishers have been looking toward the Internet in order to find new fodder for the printed page, and this year, those literary folk found themselves flush with talent. Everything from Tweets to Twinkies served as inspiration for books, bridging the digital divide to bring your computer screen to your coffee table. So how did they do it? How did these weekend website warriors snag book deals?

After checking out the complete post at Mashable, you can find more from Brenna on her own site,  Stuff Hipsters Hate, or by following her on Twitter @brenna_e.

From Blogger to Book Author: The Four-Step Guide by Jeff Goins

As we’ve seen with the last post, bloggers can take make different routes to becoming published book authors. However, there are four main steps to getting published (for most people at least, and while following these steps doesn’t guarantee you J.K Rowling-like success, it does make it easier for you to get a book deal. In this guest post for Problogger, Jeff Goins talks about his publishing experiences and how you can replicate his success. Writes Jeff,

Recently, I signed a contract with a book publisher. I had always hoped to one day publish a book, but I never thought it would happen in a few months.

What made this possible? In a word: blogging.

After checking out the complete post, you can find more from Jeff at his blog Goins, Writer and on Twitter @jeffgoins.

Please Don’t Blog Your Book: 4 Reasons Why by Jane Friedman

With the success of so many bloggers becoming print authors, those with a dream of getting published are turning to blogs as a why to get a foot in the door. And that’s a great idea…but blogging pieces from your not-yet-published manuscript really isn’t the way to go about doing it. You can get a book deal if you start a blog, but in this post, Jane talks about why it is so important not to “blog your book” – writing a blog and writing a book are two very different animals. Almost all successful book authors who started as bloggers wrote nearly completely new material. Rehashing blog posts into a book just doesn’t work. From the post:

It seems almost silly to have to state it, but blogging (as a form of writing) holds tremendous merit on its own. Writers who ask, “Can I blog to get a book deal?” probably think of the blog as a lesser form of writing, merely a vehicle to something “better.” No. A blog has its own reasons for being, and blogs do not aspire to become books if they are truly written as blogs.

You can find more from Jane on Twitter @janefriedman.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about blog to book? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Week’s Topic: TBD

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Authors: Where Your Blog Lives

Author:
books

It’s a huge consideration!

Last time we discussed why aspiring authors need a blog in order to build a solid social platform  that will sell their books.

Today let’s take a closer look at how to create your very own blog.

There are 2 basic options: Hosted or Self-Hosted

Hosted Blogs:

PROs:

  • Are easy to maintain
  • Are free
  • Are becoming easier to customize

CONs:

  • Less design creativity
  • Less commenting control
  • No advertising allowed on WordPress.com
  • One influential, disgruntled reader could get you banned.

Self-Hosted Blogs:

PROs:

  • Control: You own this virtual “real estate” and get to decide on the infinite variety of     plugins that suits you and change it as much as you like.
  • Money: Yes, you can make money via your blogging efforts if you self-host
  • Commenting: You get more control over this process and can customize it with any number of enticing, community building plugins that will spread the word about your site.
  • Ownership: You’re free to publish whatever photos, videos, and written content your heart desires without the risk of becoming banned because somebody got offended.

CONs:

  • Are more trouble to maintain
  • Involve cost ($150 – $5000, on average)
  • All the choices can be overwhelming and incite analysis paralysis!

NOTE: There are many blogging platforms, but I’m going to stick with WordPress and Blogger for this series because it’s they’re easiest to use and most popular platforms worldwide.

This is the second in a series of posts targeted at helping aspiring authors to get published by building an awesome blog that will serve as the foundation for their social platform. Are you a writer or do you know one? Please share! This series will put writers on the fast track to getting published.

Are you an aspiring author or have you already published a book? Please share your best advice and experiences down below.

Why Authors Need a Blog

Author:
books

You might be asking yourself: With all the research, outlining, book proposals, actual book writing, and then revisions, why on earth should I spend my precious time blogging?

Because you want to sell your book.

It’s been said that 7 out every 10 Americans want to publish a book. If this number includes you then you’ve got to build a solid social platform that will appeal to publishers. Even if you plan on publishing independently, you’re going to need a thriving social platform that’s been built over time. As I’ve been dipping my toe into the giant ocean of authors and publishers for the Literally Social podcast, I’m discovering a common theme: successful, influential, best-selling authors all have a strong, multi-faceted social media platform that’s been built over time. Blogging is the foundation for that platform.

But why do I need a blog?

Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr,  and TypePad are all great social networks. They all function as micro-blogs, too. There are 2 major problems with trying to build your social platform on these light-weight social webs, however:

1.  Social Networks don’t belong to you. If any one of them changes their terms of service, or goes virtually extinct, your influence there can become extremely limited.

2.  Social Networks aren’t extensive enough to give people a real idea of who you are or what you write about. People want to get to know authors today more than ever. And they want to know what drives writers and where they get their inspiration. Social networks only provide a fleeting glimpse into who you are and what your writing is all about.  Blogs give you an opportunity to share all your posts, an about page, a media kit, testimonials, and more.

Next time we’ll discuss your best options. And it won’t hurt or be expensive. I promise. ;)

Are you an aspiring author or have you already published a book? Please share your best advice and experiences down below.

Have friends, colleagues, or clients who are looking to get published? Please share this first in a series of posts to save them innumerable hours and frustration as they work on building their social platforms.

Was May 1 a Traditional Publishing Fail?

Author:

Here on the BlogWorld blog, I already wrote a bit about how social media is changing the face of historical moments. I know that a number of people found out about Osama bin Laden’s death via Twitter or Facebook, and even though I live in Washington, D.C., I opted to stay in and chat with friends online instead of partying on the streets, like so many chose to do in this and other cities across the United States. I think it’s really interesting to see how people all over the world are still talking about this historical event – and social media makes that possible.

I think there’s a deeper question here for those of us in the publishing industry – was the announcement of bin Laden’s death a fail for traditional media?

Yes. And no. At least, in my opinion.

How Traditional Publishing Failed

Before newspapers or magazines around the world even had time to yell “Stop the presses!” new media sources were deep in the analysis and reporting of this story. I’m a Twitter girl more than I am a Facebook girl, but both exploded with the news, with bloggers everywhere feverishly typing to post on the topic. Some of the interesting things I and other members of the BlogWorld team noticed:

  • Someone posted Osama bin Laden is DEAD as a page on Facebook a long time ago, asserting that the terrorist was never going to be found because he was dead. I’m not sure how popular that page was in the past, but as of right now, it has over 466,000 likes and TONS of comments, pictures, etc.
  • A man who lived in the neighborhood unknowing live tweeted the whole thing. At the time, he had no clue what was going on, but he happened to be awake and on Twitter, so now we have a first-person account of what was happening from someone who was really there.
  • Osama bin Laden’s Wikipedia page was updated before President Obama even spoke. Someone added a death date as May first, then someone else edited it to say that his death “was announced on May 1,” since there were rumors flying around that he had been dead for several days.

These are all things that aren’t possible with traditional print media. With a newspaper or magazine or even a static news website, there’s no feedback, no discussion, no life and movement to the story. Traditional media is not about conversation; it is about presenting the facts…and although those facts are important, without room for conversation, they’re not as attractive of an option to most people.

And then there’s the issue of speed.

This announcement was made on Sunday night, well after many people were actually in bed already. At the BlogWorld HQ, Rick picked up both the NY Times and the LA Times – NY made no mention of bin Laden’s death, while LA did. On the East Coast, it must have been just too late to reprint the morning paper.

Did your morning paper cover the story?

This is a problem that doesn’t effect new media. Blogs and social media accounts can be updated around the clock, and while some sites might not have had a story posted right away, they certainly didn’t publish for 24+ hours without addressing the news of his death. That’s essentially what happened with the NY Times though – it was over a day later until they printed a story.

How New Media Failed

As much as I love new media, the kinks aren’t completely worked out yet and perhaps never will be. There was a LOT of misinformation floating around – it would start as speculation or a joke and escalate until people thought it was the truth. Kinda like a massive game of telephone. That’s often a problem with new media – with thousands of people blogging about a topic or posting about a topic on their social media accounts, you’re bound to get one or two that don’t check their sources.

Not that you’d do that ever. You’re a good blogger, just like me. You and I never make mistakes.

Traditional print media? Well, they make mistakes too sometimes, but they have entire fact-checking departments. Plus, they have time to craft their stories, so they aren’t in a rush to spew out as much information, correct or otherwise, as quickly as possible so that they can be one of the first with breaking news.

Amber Naslund said something on Twitter that night that I thought was really interesting (and true, in my opinion):

@AmberCadabra: Dudes. Social media didn’t “win” to break the news. This isn’t a race. I’d rather have a prez that’s methodical and sure, thanks.

I agree, because while I can be as terribly impatient as the next person, I would hate for the president to get the facts wrong. Speed isn’t always the best.

So did new media win? Did traditional forms of publishing fail? Is this another nail in the coffin for newspapers and magazines? I’m not sure – but it certainly is interesting to see the evolution, isn’t it?

E-Book Author Signs $2 Million Deal in Traditional Publishing Sale

Author:

You may not have heard of Amanda Hocking – but as a YA author, I certainly have! The 26-year-old author has seen amazing success as a self-publisher of her young adult series. And now she’s about to enter the traditional publishing world.

Hocking began self-publishing her books last year through online retailers, after she reportedly attempted to shop them to traditional publishers without success. In ten months she sold over 900k digital copies of her books.

But now she’s decided she wants to try her hand at traditional publishing and just last week St. Martin’s Press won the rights to publish four books in a brand new series – for over $2 million.

So what’s her reasoning? If she’s doing so well in the e-book space, why does Hocking want to lose a significant portion of her sales?

I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc,” Hocking said on her blog. “Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.

Hocking admits that it’s difficult and time consuming, and even with her success as an e-book author she stands up for traditional publishing. She writes, “This is literally years of work you’re seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.

I think this is an important point to make for those authors interested in jumping into the e-book arena. You can’t just write a book, throw it online, and expect it to do well.

You have to be the publisher. You have to edit your book, market your book, and sell your book (or pay someone to do it). Because your book won’t be visible on display at the bookstore or the library. You’ll be buried in a list of other e-books, so you have to differentiate yourself by contacting book bloggers for reviews, using social media to connect with readers, and much much more. This can be time consuming. Very time consuming as Hocking points out. But it may be lucrative. As Nathan Bransford blogged today – if you don’t have a huge publishing house to back you – it may make more sense monetarily to go with e-book self-publishing.

So in this time when e-books are starting to significantly increase in sales and exposure – an author has to decide if she wants to spend her time writing or publishing. That may be the most important decision.

What’s New on the NMX Blog:

bp 1 NEW MEDIA EXPO PRESENTS THE 4th ANNUAL IAWTV AWARDS SHOW

NEW MEDIA EXPO PRESENTS THE 4th ANNUAL IAWTV AWARDS SHOW The International Academy of Web Television...

Learn About NMX

NEW TWITTER HASHTAG: #NMX

Recent Comments