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Guy Kawasaki Talks About “Artisanal” Publishing

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We always feel lucky when Guy Kawasaki is able to speak at one of our events. This year, Guy sat down with Mark Fidelman at NMX 2013 in Las Vegas to discuss in a keynote entitled “Going Bananas with Guy Kawasaki,” which covered a wide variety of new media topics, including a discussion on publishing in the new media world. Here are some of the highlights from his talk:

“Let the people decide.”

The session began by discussing self publishing, or artisanal publishing as Guy refers to it. After publishing What the Plus himself, he decided to write his newest book, Ape, to discuss the process. Guy used social media for feedback and reviews by sending out the outline, and later his full manuscript draft, for his book to “4 million of my closest friends,” as he referred to his followers. He would never have been able to do so with traditional publishing.

“Traditional publishers would have an aneurism!”

Self-publishing allows you freedom to do things like sending your content to followers before it is published. With self publishing, the writer has complete control over the book from beginning to end, but that also comes with all the responsibility and risk. Remember, Guy has a huge audience, so he’s able to self-publish and try new things while still knowing that he will sell a healthy number of books. If you don’t have this massive following yet, self-publishing might not be as successful for you. However, don’t overlook this as an option, especially due to the freedoms self-publishing affords you.

“Guy’s provided me with such great content all year, the least I can do is buy his $10 book.”

What’s Guy’s personal social media strategy? He compared it to NPR. According to him, they provide “great content 365 days a year,” and once in a while slam you with a phone-a-thon. In Guy’s eyes, they’ve earned the privilege to promote once in a while because of their commitment to quality content throughout the entire year. He applies the same principle to his social media accounts. He provides his followers with quality content so consistently that when he does stop to promote his newest project every now and again, he hopes his followers think, “Guy’s provided me with such great content all year, the least I can do is buy his $10 book.”

Of course, during his keynote, Guy also spoke about a number of other topics as well. Did you know that all of our keynotes have been live-streamed and archived? Head over to NMX University to see our keynotes and additional bonus content live from the show.

About Guy: Guy Kawasaki is the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

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

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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!

Using Crowd-Funding To Make Your Next Project An Enormous Success

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Many times the main struggle for creative people such as writers, indie artist and social activists is to find the tools and resources to get their project properly created, packaged and promoted–whether its a book, an album or a charity event. Beyond that, it becomes even more difficult for a creative person to come up with enough money for proper promotion of their idea or project. Being able to afford a good promoter, marketing rep, publisher or manager depends on your cash flow.

There are many creative people with out-of-the-box ideas who need the funding for a project that they can’t afford within their current budget. Many creatives need an assistant to come along and help them to the next level. Crowd-funding can be that assistant for some. Some of you need to find someone who is going to be the wind beneath you wings to get your idea going.

If you haven’t broken into a stream of easy money yet then you are probably working paycheck to paycheck trying to gather enough money to get a decent video, a publisher for your book, an editor, raise awareness for your social cause, or craft some method to become the next social media star of the moment. Trying to figure out how to create a buzz can be time consuming.

We all know by now that by using blogs, Twitter and Facebook you can create a generally decent buzz for your content or project through friends, family and connections. However, to go beyond the group of people you know or who know about you, tools are necessary to create more ways to access your end goal. Taking your project from creation of the content, to syndication through other channels of promotion, bringing it back to creating revenue can be a costly endeavor.

Get a kick start with crowd-funding. It is a new and unique way to raise money and awareness for your crafty idea, band or project. Crowd-sourcing offers a way to build a buzz and offer perks to fans. Sites like KickStarter, CauseVox, CrowdSpring, IndieGoGo, ChipIn, FanNextDoor, MicroVentures, PeerBackers, RocketHub, ProFounder, of course there is CrowdSource, and a host of others give you opportunities to offer unique perks to fans that support your campaign based upon your project and needs.

This is a unique new way that you can turn casual fans and followers into partners of your enterprise. Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon today. If you don’t have enough out-of-pocket money for a big tour, copy editor, social justice fundraiser or gigantic promotional campaign this is the way you can start raising money and awareness for your project, band or tour.

Crowd-funding takes you beyond just social media networking and enables people to get directly involved in the brand, project or artist they want to see perform, create or release a project. This involvement is showing a lot of potential. Some indie artists, writers and social activists have been able to raise thousands of dollars in weeks and months.

There are a few good sites that provide crowd-funding. Many creative people have begun signing up to start gathering a crowd to fund their projects. This method really brings things back to a grassroots-bottom up level. In this internet age, at times it seems digital media is making the world seem closer and smaller. We are gaining new avenues of accessing and being involved in the creation of content we enjoy and brands we want to see more of.

Here are some projects creative individuals have started using crowd-funding for:

  • Media Campaigns
  • Marketing
  • Web and Print Campaigns
  • Promoting
  • Manufacturing
  • Promotional Tours
  • Web-Design
  • Artwork
  • Merchandising
  • Article distribution

If you are looking to build a media campaign, start a social justice project or have your project promoted on a higher level than you can do with your own funds–then crowd-funding is for you.

Editor’s note: To learn more about crowdsourcing, be sure to check out Jeramiah’s session at NMX entitled, Three Very Unique Ways to Build a Massive Community.

Self-Publishing Secrets: Exclusive BlogWorld Interview with Rachel Thompson

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Today, I have a special treat for you all! I got the chance to sit down with Rachel Thompson to talk about her digital publishing success – and she has some awesome advice for anyone considering the self-publishing route. Let’s take a look at what she had to say about finding success on with Kindle publishing and personal branding for authors.

Allison: For readers who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about you and your content creation experience, especially with self-publishing.

Rachel: I started out as many of your readers have – a blogger, back in ’08. I still blog regularly, every Monday. As my posts became more popular as did my presence on social media, I pulled together many of my more popular essays, wrote original material never seen before, and published my first book, a collection of primarily humorous essays titled A Walk In The Snark in January 2011 which reached #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list in September 2011. I released my second original collection titled The Mancode: Exposed and that book hit the Amazon Overall Top 100 within one month as well as #1 on several key lists including Parenting and Families, Marriage, and Relationships.

It sounds like self-publishing has been good to you! Why did you initially decide to go the self-publishing route rather than the traditional route?

To be honest, I was so excited about the thought of putting together my own work with the fabulous help of experienced people in the field of publishing: my editor, a formatter, a graphic designer, another writer who’d helped many other writers go this route – it simply felt the right way to go. I encourage anyone who wants to indie publish to find others who know the way – there are tons of great resources out there now.

So, do you think digital publishing works better in some genres than others or is this something all authors should be exploring?

I think it can work for any genre. I’ve worked with a few authors who are hesitant due to the full-color graphics of their material, but in the end, the work looks amazing. The medium works better than print in most cases from what I’ve seen. I certainly can’t speak for everyone. It’s taken awhile to bring graphic novels to eBook format but many people are thrilled by it.

A lot of authors are intimidated by the digital self-publishing process. What advice can you give for those not technologically savvy?

To me, formatting an eBook is like math. And ‘Hello, writer here!’ So I hire someone amazing to format my books for me. It’s not that expensive and it’s always done correctly. Other authors I know are deeply involved in the formatting of their books and know every symbol and code (again, math). If it’s worth learning to you, learn it. If it’s not, pay someone. Bottom line: make sure your product looks the best it possibly can or you will hear about it.

You have a very strong personal brand. Can you talk a little bit about how that developed and why having such a definitive identity online is important for authors?

Yes, the Queen of Snark, BadRedhead, et al. Branding is key for any author. When I first started writing my Mancode pieces, there seemed to be, oh I don’t know, a somewhat snarky tone to them? People really responded to that and someone (I honestly don’t remember who) nicknamed me the Queen of Snark and it stuck. As anyone in social media or personal branding will tell you, if it ain’t broke…yea, that.

How has social media and blogging played a role in your success on Amazon?

I initially used Facebook like many do, to connect with family and friends. It was in 2010 that I discovered Twitter and learned the ins and outs and how it can be used to promote your brand effectively that I realized the impact it could have on my author platform. I really got into learning Twitter – all the different applications, analytics, ratios – and became the Collective’s resident expert, teaching free webinars monthly and helping thousands of tweeps online every month. Tip: remember content (no links). Twitter is social, social media is social. Link after link? #notsocial

The connection of Twitter to your blog is critical. Always have your Twitter button prominently displayed. People read left to right, top to bottom, so make it visible! Top right placement is best. If we have to search, we won’t find it, give up and you’ve just lost us as a follower. If we can’t RT (retweet) your posts, we become frustrated. You’ve written great content and now we can’t share it? Ack. And join Triberr! It’s the ultimate connection between Twitter and blogging. Your reach will increase dramatically.

As for my personal success, I participating in numerous blog tours, promotions, and did multiple guest posts connected to my blog and others where the sell links always lead back to Amazon. I’ve also been an early adapter of the Amazon KDP Select program. Absolutely, for me, the best move I’ve ever made, career-wise.

Your books have ranked #1 on Amazon in multiple categories. What’s your top tip for an author who wants to replicate that success but are brand new to digital publishing?

Realize your first book isn’t going to be your moneymaker. It’s your name maker. Pricing it above $2.99 will only upset readers and it won’t sell. If you’re in this to make money, think again. If you want to put out a quality product, make your name, and hopefully have people read your story, great. Pay for ads, pulse price at 99cents, do blog tours, work your social media constantly, be nice to people, give away without expectation to receive, and if you don’t know how to do something, hire someone who does.

All while writing your next book.

You are your own boss in digital publishing. Work hard, work smart. It won’t happen quickly (it took me nine months to hit #1 with my first book remember) but only a month with my second. My favorite quote is from my quietly brilliant genius writer friend who came up with the title A Walk In the Snark:

What is the best way to promote your book? Write another.
~ Ryne Douglas Pearson, screenwriter of KNOWING

If you could do it again – go back in time and self-publish your first book again – what would you do differently?

Well, the dreaded deadlines of course. Yea, yea, I know. (Hey, you asked.)

Many people think that just because you’re self-publishing you don’t have deadlines to meet but that’s completely untrue. I had a high-exposure blog tour to enter, my editor had another project to finish, and my formatter was about to throw my job out the window. So if I could have taken another month to add or remove an essay, would I? Perhaps. I did take greater care with the second book, removing those time constraints, other people’s desires and pressures to “get the book done already!” and it was a much more pleasant process.

I’m working on my next book in a similar manner – I don’t believe I need to publish a book every month or so which seems to be popular among many indie writers. I’m not criticizing in any way – it’s important to build up their backlist, absolutely. I’m simply not that prolific!

My next book will be out before summer and I’m quite comfortable with that schedule. I still have a social media consulting business to run, and I’m a wife and mom. My brain is always on, but at some point, even the redhead needs to rest!

I’ve been writing since age ten, and blogging helped me find my way back to my calling. I don’t think I ever could have dreamed people would be reading my books or interviews. I’m grateful for the help people have given me and inspired every day by ideas and words I can’t wait to write.

As long as I have coffee. And Nutella is nice, too.

Thanks for such great advice and information about self-publishing, Rachel! Readers, in addition to checking out her blog and the books listed above, you can also check out Dollars & Sense: The Definitive Guide To Self-Publishing Success, which Rachel cowrote with Carolyn McCray and Amber Scott.

13 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Kindle Publishing

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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: Kindle Publishing

With the announcement of the new Kindle Fire and the price drop on other Kindles, this e-reader is only going to continue to grow in popularity. While I don’t think it’s an iPad killer by any stretch of the imagination, since more and more consumers are purchasing Kindles, bloggers need to be aware of this platform when they self-publish. Today, some brilliant bloggers are talking about Kindle publishing and how this can effect your publishing plans in the future.

The list is small but mighty today! Don’t forget to add your own links in the comments!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

A Radical New Way to Tap the Kindle Economy by Jonathan Fields and Sean Platt

This is like cheating because you’re getting two brilliant bloggers for the price of one! In this video, Jonathan talks to Sean about publishing fiction in a new way on Kindle by using an episodic model rather than a more traditional way of publishing. I seriously love this idea and might need to modify it to use for nonfiction. Check out the video on JonathanFields.com, then follow Jonathan and Sean on Twitter at @jonathanfields and @writerdad respectively.

Amanda Hocking and the 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires by Nathan Bransford

Of all the posts out there about Kindle publishing, I think this one is the best that I’ve seen that is essentially an explanation of the costs associated with publishing and why (or why not) there’s millions to be made on Kindle. It’s a really informative post that can definitely help you determine whether or not you should publish on Kindle and what your pricing should be, even if you’re going a more traditional publishing route. You can find Nathan on Twitter @NathanBransford.

How to Self-Publish on Amazon, Kindle and iBookStore by Dragos Roua

In this post, Dragos goes over everything you need to know as a self-publisher who wants to make their work available on e-readers. He talks about the difference between digital and print so you can make the best decision, along with the process you’ll need to follow to get your work up and going online. Dragos is on Twitter @dragosroua.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about publishing on Kindle? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: Interviews

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

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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

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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.

Self-Published Author Joins ‘Kindle Million Club’

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John Locke has reportedly become the first self-published author to hit the Kindle Million Club – selling over 1 million Kindle books. Locke is the eight author to receive the distinction, joining Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins and Michael Connelly.

Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content, says in a press release, “It’s so exciting that self-publishing has allowed John Locke to achieve a milestone like this. We’re happy to see Kindle Direct Publishing succeeding for both authors and customers and are proud to welcome him to the Kindle Million Club.

Locke himself says that Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete with the rest of the book selling agency. Not only did KDP give me a chance, they helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have.

Locke attributes his success to his $0.99 eBook sales model, having said, “I saw that a self-published book could be offered on Kindle for 99 cents, and still turn a 35 cent profit. I was stunned! I walked around in a daze for, well, days, trying to explain to people what that meant.

He is now the internationally bestselling author of nine novels including “Vegas Moon,” “Wish List,” “A Girl Like You,” “Follow the Stone,” “Don’t Poke the Bear!” and the New York Times bestselling eBook, “Saving Rachel.” Locke is also the author of the marketing book for self-published authors: “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months.”

Self-Pub Author Tells Readers To “F*** Off!” (or, How NOT to Respond to Reviews)

Author:

With the ease and relatively low cost of today’s self-publishing tools, many authors are going this route rather than going through the much longer process of finding an agent and traditional publisher. It can be extremely lucrative, and even if you don’t make tons of sales, at least you gave it a shot, right?

While lots of awesome authors choose to self-publish, it sometimes gets a bad rap because for every amazing find, there are dozens or maybe even hundreds of books that were…well…self-published for a reason. Sometimes, you can’t find a publisher to take you on because the market is flooded or they just aren’t willing to take a chance on you for whatever reason. But often, publishers turn down proposals because the writing is bad. So, if you’re going to take a chance and purchase a self-published book, it makes sense to read as many reviews as  possible.

A lot of self-published authors are finding success because they go on virtual book tours or offer up their books to be reviewed on book blogs. When you send out your book to reviewers, it’s nerve-wracking. I know; I’ve done it. Thankfully, I didn’t have any scathing reviews of my ebook, but I did get some criticism. No matter how awesome your book, few reviews are 100% sunshine and unicorns. The same is true of even a blog post – not everyone who reads is going to be a fan.

You deal with it. You cry, maybe, if you have to. You learn from it and move on.

What you don’t do is respond like Jacqueline Howett, author of The Greek Seaman. After getting a luke-warm review from BigAl’s Books and Pals, she freaked out. It wasn’t even a bad review – the writer had both good and bad things to say. The bad comments he had were mostly about the fact that he found several grammatical errors, along with a number of confusingly-structured sentences.

I invite you to click on that link now to read the comments. Seriously, I couldn’t believe them. It all starts with this gem:

“You obviously didn’t read the second clean copy I requested you download that was also reformatted, so this is a very unfair review. My Amazon readers/reviewers give it 5 stars and 4 stars and they say they really enjoyed The Greek Seaman and thought it was well written. Maybe its just my style and being English is what you don’t get. Sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea, but I think I will stick to my five star and four star reviews thanks.”

Let’s not even talk about the grammatical errors in the comment itself. She then proceeds to copy and paste a few good reviews from Amazon as individual comments.

It gets better. In subsequent comments, she accuses the reviewer of not downloading the correct copy, being “discusting [sic] and unprofessional,” and leaving anonymous negative comments about the book. She goes on to tell other commenters “stay out of it” and then, my favorite part, she leaves a few comments that simply say, “F*** off!” (Without the stars, on Al’s site, it’s uncensored).

Woah.

The sad part is, without her rants, this review might very well disappeared into the chasm of the Internet. I checked a few of the other posts on this site at random, and it looks like he averages two or three comments per review. Maybe ten at most. On the review of Jacqueline Howett’s book? Over 300 (and counting). He actually gave the plot a good review, so without her crazy comments, some people might have actually bought it on his recommendation. After all, we all make errors when writing, and if you self-publish you might not be able to afford a good editor. To me, it’s more important that the plot is good, and I think a lot of other readers feel similarly. But Jacqueline’s response? No way will I ever read this book.

The reviewer, in my opinion, has handled this with grace. He responded to her accusations and then said that he would not be commenting on the matter any further. I found that overall, he was extremely fair in allowing people with a variety of opinions to post comments.

You’ll notice that I haven’t posted a link to Jacqueline’s website or book on Amazon in this post. That’s by design. While I do think that this is an interesting new media case study and we can all learn from it, I personally do not want to in any way support this author’s work. I’m sure that she is seeing some sales because people are curious as to just how bad her book is, but I don’t want to encourage that. Even if her book is amazing, there are a lot of great authors out there who treat their readers with respect. Use your buying power to support them instead.

Without the community’s support, a writer is nothing. Remember that. It’s something that I think all of us should keep in mind, whether we’re writing ebooks, traditional books, or even blog posts. Community is everything.

For the record, I checked out the reviews on Amazon as well, just because I was curious as to whether or not Al’s review really was unfair. Of the 92 reviews posted, 10 are 5-star…and 72 are one-star. Of the 5-star reviews, a number of them are making fun of the double entendre title and several comment on the fact that the grammar/spelling is bad even though the story is good.

Also, hat tip to my roommate, who told me this was going on.

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.

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