Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (2 of 3)

Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (2 of 3)

Sent by Nicole Evelina

Books, Websites and Social Media

Hello and welcome back to this three-part series on resources for self-published/hybrid authors. Last time, we talked about associations and groups working to give great books a “seal of approval.” This time, we’ll look at sources of information that will help you navigate this wacky and ever-changing world of self-publishing.

Books

I advise that anyone thinking of self-publishing do a lot of reading on the subject because it is very different from anything else you’ll ever do. These are books I found to be essential resources:

There are literally thousands of others and I have at least 15 others on my shelf I haven’t read yet. These are a few I’ve heard good things about but can’t personally vouch for:

Websites/Blogs/Mailing lists

Of course, learning never ends in an industry as rapidly-changing as publishing. I recommend subscribing to as many blogs, newsletters and mailing lists as you can. They are free and it’s easy to unsubscribe if you find you don’t like/need one. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly which ones work for you, and which don’t. These are my top 5:

  1. Author Marketing Experts – Penny Sansevieri’s business site. The blog is great information on book marketing.
  2. Joanna Penn– Her blog is well-known to be a top resource for all things indie publishing.
  3. Indies Unlimited – A blog for indies.
  4. Fiction University – Fiction University has a weekly column called The Indie Author series on Thursdays.
  5. Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW) – This is a Yahoo Group for all romance writers, regardless of whether you’re traditional, self, or indie published. No self-promotion is allowed. It’s a great place to find bloggers who have open guest spots.

Social Media

You may have heard that social media doesn’t sell books. To an extent, I think that’s true. You certainly don’t want to be on it all the time only posting “buy my book, buy my book” because you will drive your followers away faster than you can say “sale.” But, social media is a great way to build name recognition, interact with fans, and share news.

    • Twitter – I recommend checking out Indie Author News and World Lit Café, both of which are great for promotion. You’ll have to contact them through their web sites to see exactly what they offer and how much it costs. I have used both for promotion and have found them to be worth investing in.
    • Facebook groups – There are a lot of promo-only Facebook groups and I’ve learned that those don’t actually translate into sales. I recommend Self Publishing Cahoots, ALLI, and Alliance of Self Published Authors for what you can learn from other members and as a place to ask questions. If you write in a specific genre, it would be a good idea to search groups that appeal to those readers.
    • Goodreads – Their smaller ads for those of us on a budget allow you to set the amount you want to spend and they send you daily reports on the number people who viewed your ad and/or added your book to their lists. This is one of the few sites I find where advertising directly leads to sales. Plus, don’t forget that you can do giveaways. They only cost you the price of shipping, so if you do media mail, you’re looking at around $3.00/book domestically. Anyone who has added your book to their shelf (which is an advantage of advertising with them) is automatically notified when you have a giveaway.
    • Pinterest – This is the other site where it pays to advertise. On Pinterest, this is called “promoting a pin.” All you have to do is pin your book from Amazon (or another retailer) to one of your Pinterest boards and then click that you want to promote that pin. Pinterest walks you through setting your price, targeting your audience and setting the type and duration of your campaign. Plus, they send you detailed daily reports of who saw your pin, interacted with it, re-pinned it and clicked on your link. You’d be surprised how many readers (especially women ages 30-45) you can reach with a single promoted pin.
  • Instagram – I haven’t found a way to advertise on Instagram yet that I can measure, but it’s a fun place to share your book covers, quotes from your books, and fun things from daily life. Be on the lookout for monthly challenges that suggest different themes for your pictures each day and be sure to use the hashtag that goes along with it, plus any others that fit what your picture is. Instagram is a great community-building tool.

In the next installment of this series, we’ll conclude by talking about how to get reviews and contests you may wish to enter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at nicole.evelina@att.net.

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

Find Nicole and her writing in these places:

NicoleEvelina.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (1 of 3)

Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (1 of 3)

Sent by Nicole Evelina

Part 1: Associations and “Seal of Approval” Groups

Many prospective self-published or hybrid authors may be afraid to take the leap for fear they will be doing everything alone. As a self-published author, I can tell you that is far from how it has to be. It only takes a little effort on your part to become part of the community, and the rewards are great.

Every self-published/hybrid author should have a strong creative team helping them with things that most writers cannot and should not do themselves: cover art, editing, proofreading, and layout. If you choose to produce your book in audio format, you’ll likely want a professional narrator as well. But this team is only part of the community that can help you succeed.

In this series, I’ll introduce you to resources that I have personally found useful. (No, I’m not getting paid for mentioning any of these companies.) As with everything in life, your mileage may vary, so take this only as my opinion. I advise you to do your own research and do what feels right for you.

This first article will introduce you to associations for indie authors and groups that are trying to showcase the best of the best of self-published writing.

Associations

There are several associations out there that self-published, indie and hybrid authors can join to be in community, ask questions and learn from one another. Two of the most reputable are the Independent Book Publishers Association and Alliance of Independent Authors.

Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

IBPA is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. They are also the largest publishing trade association in the US. IBPA welcomes independent publishers, self-published authors, small presses and mid-sized publishers, with rates based on employee size. (Individual members pay $129/year.)

What are you getting for that fee?

  • Significant discounts with dozens of major companies such as Netgalley and Ingramspark
  • Online education/webinars (discounts for members) – two recent topics were working with libraries and how to get your books into Costco/Walmart/Target. They will email you a recording if you can’t attend at the time of the webinar.
  • Access to catalogues seen by readers, librarians, bookstore owners, universities and schools
  • Discounts to trade show/book fairs such as BEA, the Frankfort Book Fair, and the American Library Association Annual Conference. (You can purchase shelf space for your books even if you won’t be there.)
  • Their annual conference: Publishing University
  • Discounted entry fee to the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, which are sponsored by IBPA
  • A monthly e-newsletter and print magazine

Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI)

ALLI is a global nonprofit association for writers who self-publish. They have three membership levels: Associate: $75 (unpublished/student), Author: $99 (self-published), and Professional: $139 (must earn your living as an author-publisher).

Included in your membership are:

  • Daily emails with self publishing advice
  • Frequent guest columns by successful indie authors
  • Weekly online roundup of self-publishing news
  • Every member gets their own author page
  • Access to the member’s showcase where you can share your news (releases, awards, appearances, etc.) with other members
  • Frequent, low-cost workshops
  • A free private Facebook group
  • Free guidebooks for authors on how to sell foreign rights, how to choose a self-pub service and how bookstores can work with indie authors (additional subjects to come)

Where Writers Win, Winner’s Circle

I also want to mention the site Where Writer’s Win which has all kinds of writing/publishing advice. If you join the Winner’s Circle ($65/year, but they offer frequent discounts through IBPA and ALLI), you get access to:

  • Vetted and rated book review sites by genre
  • An interactive map of live book club contacts
  • Linked indie bookstores in every state
  • Calendar of conferences, festivals and contests
  • Free online author marketing tools
  • Discounts on services and conferences
  • Templates and tutorials
  • Section for indie and hybrid publishers
  • Blog directories
  • Media section

Get involved in the writing community

It’s a great idea to become involved in whatever group fits what you write. For example: The Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, The Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Horror Writer’s Association, etc.

These groups not only help you find your tribe and are great for networking; most hold conferences and have newsletters. Some sponsor contests and offer reviews. There may still be a few that don’t allow self-published authors to join, but that is rapidly fading away. Sometimes indies have their own “section,” while some groups no longer make a distinction.

Stamp of Approval

One of the biggest complaints about self-published books is that they inferior to traditionally published works, primarily due to poor editing and bad covers. While that is getting better, there are a handful of groups working to try to develop a way of distinguishing the best of the best, those books that are on par with traditionally published works.

Self-E

This division of Library Journal helps connect indie/small press authors with libraries. Authors around the world can submit their books and libraries across the United States participate by stocking their books. It’s fee to submit your book for consideration. If you’re chosen for Self-E Select, your book is designated as one of the very best indie e-books. You get a badge for your web site, an online Library Journal review and possibly a print review as well. You’ll also be invited to join their ambassador program, which gives you opportunities to speak and spread the word about Self-E.

They also sponsor the annual Library Journal Indie Ebook Awards for romance, sci-fi/fantasy, mystery/thriller, general fiction, and YA books.

Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion

B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. It’s a private group that evaluates books based on a “report card” that is available on their web site. Take it from someone who has been through it, their review process is VERY stringent. (Despite all the awards my first book has won, it didn’t get the Medallion, not even close.) They will only consider one book from an author at time and each submission is $50. There is no guarantee if you submit your book that you will get the B.R.A.G. Medallion, but every author gets a copy of their report card from the reviewers.

In the next installment of this series, I’ll give you some books, websites/blogs, and social media groups that I think are helpful. Then we’ll conclude with the third installment on how to get reviews and contests you may wish to enter.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at nicole.evelina@att.net.

Want more?! Find Part 2 – Books, Website and Social Media here. And Part 3 – Reviews and Contests here!

SPECIAL ADDITION:

Writing Careers: The Business Behind Becoming an Author.

Nothing brings me more joy than receiving an email from a librarian and educator who’s guiding young people toward a life as a writer. Thank you, Barbara Lincoln, for your service and Amelia (and your mom!) for sharing this new resources with us.

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

Find Nicole and her writing in these places:

NicoleEvelina.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

How becoming a writer helped me ‘grow up’

How becoming a writer helped me ‘grow up’

Sent by Sharon E. Anderson

Like most writers, I knew from a very young age that this was my calling. I knew the world didn’t make any sense and I had something to say about it. And like a child who dreams of being an astronaut or a ballet dancer, I soon found out that becoming an author wasn’t easy. It is difficult to put words on the page. Oh, I put a lot of words on the page, but they weren’t good words. They were seasoned with rhetoric and banal attempts to be wise and clever. It seemed that I knew my work was bad, and so I kept it private – for years.

When I finally grew brave enough, I joined a critique group and for the first time I was faced with pointed criticism of my work.

Sometimes, because I’m a real baby when it comes to stuff like this, it would take me a week to get over an especially heavy-handed critique. Just in time to make it to the next critique meeting.

But then, over the years, something shifted in me. I began going to conferences, taking classes here and there, and hearing the phrase, “Kill your babies.” It refers to those brilliant passages we write that don’t fit anywhere. We want them to, but they don’t serve the story and we have to let them go. I started to see that emotional distance is the first step in being able to receive and accept criticism on any level – from the lowly critique group, to an agent, to a publisher.

I finally figured out that even though it can be painful, there is much to be gained by reading an informative rejection letter, or a poignant professional review.

A few months ago something shifted again. I started writing non-fiction essays and strange as it may seem, I don’t feel like I have a lot invested in any critique I receive from my editors. Maybe it’s because I’m not creating the characters on the page. I don’t know, but I when I look over my edits from my non-fiction people as well as my fiction people, it’s just another job I get to do to make the piece fit. This is a good place to be. Less emotional. Less drama. More professional. It feels good. I guess you can say the baby has grown up!

Sharon Anderson writes paranormal romantic comedy novels, short stories, and non-fiction articles. Her short story, Stone God’s Wife won first place in a regional contest, and she’s been published in the online magazine, ParentMap.com. She lives in Skagit Valley with her amazing husband, two brilliant children, a sweetheart of a dog, two cats, a small grouping of fish, and a sketchy guinea pig.

 

Find Sharon and her work in these places:

SharonAnderson.com — Amazon.com — Amazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

Writers write. It’s that simple.

Writers write. It’s that simple.

Sent by Charlene Groome

You are a writer.
You love putting pen to paper or fingers to keys.
You’ve been dabbling with words, but haven’t finished what you set off wanting to do.
What’s stopping you from writing what you’ve been dreaming of doing?

Whether you want to write short stories, screenplays or get that novel written, the biggest burden we all face is time. It’s an issue for many of us, but if you can carve out a half-hour a day, you are that much closer to getting that project completed.

Make no excuses. Find a coffee shop, your front porch, kitchen table or sit in your car as you wait for your children to get out of school. Whichever the place, decide on a location — a comfortable, non-distracting place to extract your emotions.

No matter what kind of writer you are, it’s important to have a goal. Figure out what you want to write and follow the steps to get there. Whether it’s a journal entry, an article for a publication or short story, write what you desire. Once it’s on the page, you can take steps to edit it for print.

Like following a workout regime or creating a new eating plan, you need to have a schedule in place. Once you develop a habit, it will come naturally for you to plug in that time.

Reaching your weekly goals will take you one step closer to achieving your big goal.

It took me years to publish traditionally, but looking back, I reached my goals because I took the time to learn, practice and communicate with writing professionals. I was, and still am a sponge for learning the craft. I thrive on meeting other writers and socializing at conferences.

Writing is a solitary profession and meeting others who have the same goals and aspirations, will challenge you and push you to the next level. I encourage you to join writers groups and associate with people who are reaching for the same dream.

Also, write what you want to read and write because it makes you happy.
I wrote my first novel, His Game, Her Rules because it was a book I wanted to read. The heroine is a professional athlete who is challenged by the opposite sex.
I believed in my story and was hopeful someone else would love it, too.

Whatever your writing muse, continue to dabble on those pages and most of all, enjoy it. Because ultimately, that’s why you’re doing it, right?

 

I am the author of the Warriors’ hockey romance series. I write about sexy heroes who play overtime with the women they love. I live on the West Coast of British Columbia with my husband and three children. I’m dependent on coffee, love playing ice hockey and enjoy the outdoors.

Learn more about Charlene and her writing in these places:

CharleneGroome.com — Amazon.com — Amazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

How a simple connection can spark a movement

How a simple connection can spark a movement

Sent by Shari Stauch

When I first decided to narrow my marketing focus to work with clients with whom I shared a passion – authors – I had no idea what that would look like as a business model. It turned out to be the best decision I could have ever made. I enjoyed the work; and clients enjoyed learning how to promote their words via author websites and social media, reaching out to reviewers and book clubs.

Business grew and as it did, the majority of my clientele happened to be women. As it grew more, this clientele further defined itself as a dynamic group of savvy women who, unbeknownst to each other, were exposing deeper issues in their writing, issues that would resonate with the masses…

One author began blogging about animal rights, another about parents dealing with the loss of a child. Another completed a novel that shines a light on the darkness of male-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace. One published a memoir about coming into her own freedom of expression through dance, something that had been denied her in childhood. Yet another is aiding in the charge to end sex trafficking. And the list goes on…

Not only was I loving my job, I was learning about so many important issues, and the influence these women were having, each in their own way striving to make our world better, just by speaking and writing and putting themselves out there.

Another of my long-standing clients, an amazing female author, Rosemary James, is co-founder of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society in New Orleans. Attending her conference one year (the fabulous Words & Music: A Literary Feast in New Orleans), I was hooked. I’ve been to every conference since, soaking up the infused energy of the world’s greatest authors, editors and agents. Words & Music had become my shared passion, and so naturally I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, and encourage everyone who had an interest in words to attend.

And so I did. I suggested to several clients, including writers in Florida, California, Tennessee, New York and South Carolina, that they make the trip to New Orleans, both to support the great work Rosemary was doing for authors and to avail themselves of the opportunity to meet agents, editors, and some of the best writers producing work in this century. It would be a chance for them to network, but also to be inspired, so important for writers when writing is such a solitary art form.

When seven of them readily agreed to give it a go, I was excited for them. But that excitement quickly turned to anxiety. Would they have a good time? Would I be held accountable to make sure they had a good time? I had a lot to do there; would they feel less than cared for if I weren’t paying each enough attention? In short, what was I thinking?

Well, despite all my great experiences working with women, I greatly underestimated the power of women supporting women.

By the end of the first day, I’d introduced each to the others. By the end of the second day they were sharing schedules and drinks and comparing critiques. On the third day we had dinner together and the women dubbed themselves “Seven Strong” with a hearty toast… each vowing to connect through their writing in the days and weeks to come.

Since that conference, those proud members of the “Seven Strong” have forged bonds of steel. We enjoyed a retreat at one’s vacation home in Folly Beach, and another at one’s cabin in Tahoe. Many of us have attended conferences and festivals together from deep in Florida to way up in the Pacific Northwest. In between they spend time on the phone and by email, through lunches and road trips, to connect with each other, critique each other’s work, brainstorm their marketing efforts, and encourage and nurture each other as writers, as influencers, and as women.

I’m as proud as any mother hen could be, but I can’t take the credit… It’s really all about that power that surges through women when we’re helping each other. Women supporting women isn’t just a concept; we are a FORCE… and one to be reckoned with!

Creator of Where Writers Win, Shari Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing, and PR for thirty years. She is the principal author of the WWW blog, and works with authors and publishers around the country, helping them market themselves and their work to find more readers and sell more books. Where Writers Win’s innovative Winner Circle offers access to vetted book reviewers, live and virtual book clubs, and other curated resources developed specifically for authors, publishers and book publicists.

 

Find Shari and her writing in these places:

Where Writers Win — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter — Pinterest

The power of asking ‘What if…’

The power of asking ‘What if…’

Sent by Wendy Delaney

When I get together to brainstorm story ideas with other writers it’s only a matter of time until one of us says, “what if….”

I’ve heard some outlandishly brilliant suggestions that begin with those two words. More times than not these suggestions come not from the author who created the characters under discussion, but from one of the other writers lending her brain power.

It’s not difficult to understand why this is the case. When you’re not the stake-holder, when you’re there simply to offer up suggestions, there is no fear of making a wrong decision. Your creativity is invited to come out and play the “what if” game in a fear-free environment. So what if some of these outlandish ideas don’t fly. Take fear (of failure, of trying something new/different, of criticism, etc.) out of the mix and your creativity is given the invitation to soar.

Eliminating fear is easier said than done, especially for new writers. Having been there, I totally get that. So, I’d like to offer a suggestion:

Don’t let fear hold you back. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

Work on your craft, take classes, talk with other writers, read work by authors you admire – what if you did all these things? What if you took a shot at your writing goals? Could you finish your first book (novella or short story) a year from now?

Imagine what could happen if you followed through on a “what if.”

Seattle-based Wendy Delaney writes fun-filled cozy mysteries and is the award-winning author of the Working Stiffs Mystery series. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Mystery Writers of America, she’s a Food Network addict and pastry chef wannabe. When Wendy’s not killing off story people she can be found on her treadmill, working off the calories from her latest culinary adventure.

Find Wendy and her writing in these places:

WendyDelaney.com — Amazon.comAmazon.caGoodreads — Facebook — Twitter

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