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

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

Sent by Nicole Evelina

So far in this series we’ve covered associations, groups looking to elevate the best of indie books, and resources such as books, websites/blogs, and social media. Now we’ll tackle two big areas of interest for all writers: how to get more reviews and what contests are open to indie authors. (NOTE: Each of the titles is a link to that site).

Reviews

We all know how important reviews are to selling our books. There are several legitimate services that can help connect you to readers. (Remember, that is what you are paying for here, not for the reviews, which is against Amazon’s TOS and are never guaranteed by these services.)

NetGalley

This one is very pricey if you don’t do it through a group or co-op of some sort, pretty much out of the price range of most indie authors. Check out discounts offered by IBPA and other groups if you’re interested in using NetGalley. I’ve done it once and was not happy with my results (both in terms of numbers and in how mean the reviews were) but others have had great success.

Novel Reviewers

This group is kind of like NetGalley, only smaller. You pay for shelf space for a certain amount of time ranging from $50 for 90 days to $150 for 365 days. Readers are supposed to leave a review, but don’t always and they usually don’t cross list their reviews on Amazon/Goodreads. For me, it was a nice way to get a few more downloads, but not terribly successful.

Choosey Bookworm

They feature books in a newsletter (like Bookbub or Forwordz) or you can ask to be connected to their group of book reviewers for a price based on how many connections you’re looking for. If you do that, you gift your ebook to the reviewers through Amazon and they leave a review. (Not all will, but most do.) I have had more luck with this than Novel Reviews or Netgalley. (Their website is not intuitive. Scroll to bottom and look for “For Authors” under “Resources” at the right.)

Kindle Book Review

They maintain a list of reviewers and allow you to query one at a time to see if they are interested in reading your book. You can also advertise inexpensively/free, and they sponsor the annual Kindle Book Awards.

Night Owl Reviews

It’s free to list your book with them, but there is no guarantee your book will be reviewed. They also offer advertising opportunities at a range of prices and occasionally send swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc.) to people who have signed up to receive it.

Contests

I will admit to being a big fan of contests, but that may be because I’m highly competitive. Regardless of your motivations for entering, contests are a great way to gain notoriety and get your work in front of new readers. Winning gives your book a mark of legitimacy and every contest I’ve won or been a finalist in has brought new opportunities my way. Plus, who doesn’t like being told their work is great?

But you do have to be careful because there are quite a few scammers out there posing as legitimate contests. Rather than naming names since everything is subjective and I could be wrong, I’ll give you this advice: watch out for high entry fees, tons of categories and dig into who really sponsors the contest. Usually if it’s sponsored by a media/marketing company, you want to be wary. Also, you’ll want to look at what you’re getting for your money. If you win, are they giving you an actual medal/trophy/ribbon? Is there a cash prize? Or are you only getting a badge for your web site and a press release? Do they expect you to pay extra for your award? Few benefits for your money are red flags.

That being said, here’s a list of indie awards I believe are worth taking a look at. I’m including their prices (as of the time I made this list) so you can see the range. They are roughly in order of when submissions are due throughout the year.

Chanticleer Reviews

(Full disclosure, I won several contests of theirs in 2015 and am a finalist in 2016)
They do contests in every fiction genre, with prices and deadlines varying by contest

Next Generation Indie Book Awards

(Full disclosure: I won a Gold Medal in the Fantasy Category through them in 2016)
$75/category $50 for additional categories

International Rubery Book Awards

$60/book

Library Journal Indie Ebook Awards

Free to enter, but only they take romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and young adult

CIPA EVVY Awards

One category: members $ 75, non-members $ 95,
Multiple categories: members $ 60/category, non-members $80/category

Foreword Book of the Year Awards

$79 one category /$59 multiple categories

Benjamin Franklin Awards (IBPA)

$95/category

There are also a few that have sparked quite a bit of debate over whether or not they are legitimate. You will find articles on sites like Writer Beware telling you to be cautious about these, but not calling them scams. I’m listing them so you can make up your own mind.

Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY)

$95/category

Reader’s Favorite

Early Bird, $89/Final $108/category

Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards

$99/$75 for each additional category

Also, don’t forget that most genre groups/associations hold their own contests.

I think I’ve pretty much exhausted what I’ve learned during my own crash course on self-publishing. 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

 

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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

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

A crash course in fearless writing

A crash course in fearless writing

Sent by William Kenower

If you’ve ever written and actually enjoyed the experience, if you’ve ever allowed yourself to become lost in the dream of the story you are telling so much that you temporarily forget what time it is, then you have written fearlessly. In fact, writing doesn’t really begin until we forget to be afraid. So the question isn’t whether you can write fearlessly, but whether you can do it on purpose. Here are the three best tools I know for writing fearlessly every day.

The only questions you should ever ask are: “What do I most want to say?” and “Have I said it?”

I ask these questions because I can actually answer them. I will never know anything better than I know what I am most interested in. I will never be able to pay attention to something for longer than that about which I am most curious. My curiosity is the engine that drives my creative vehicle. It is the source of all my excitement, my intelligence, and my surprise. It is also entirely unique to me. There is no one on earth who knows what I most want to say other than me.

And once I know what I want to say, once I know which story I want to tell, or which scene I want to write, only I can know if I have translated it accurately into words on the page. Whatever I most want to say exists in a realm knowable only to me. There isn’t one editor or teacher or critique group member who can tell me if I have accurately translated what I wanted to share because only I know what that is; these other people, however well-intentioned, can only tell me if they like or understand what I’ve written. That is all they actually know.

If I am ever asking some question other than these two, I am not really writing. I am trying to read other people’s minds.

  • If I am asking, “Is it any good?” I am really asking, “Will anyone else like it?”
  • Or if I’m asking, “Is there market for it?” I am really asking, “Will anyone else like it?”
  • And if I am asking, “Is it too literary? Is it not literary enough?” I am really just asking, “Will anyone else like it?”

What anyone else thinks of what I’m writing is none of my business – at least not while I’m writing. While I’m writing, what I think of what I’m writing is my business. I am always afraid when I believe I must answer questions that are unanswerable. And I am always fearless the moment I return to my curiosity to see where it is headed next.

Have Faith

I am defining “faith” as believing in something for which there is no evidence. This shouldn’t be so hard for a writer, really. Every day we sit at our desks and believe in something no one but us can see. In fact, while we’re writing, we believe more in the story we are telling than the chair in which we are sitting. We have to.

We have to believe that our hero wants to save the world even though our hero doesn’t exist anywhere but our imagination. We must believe a daughter yearns for her father’s attention even though neither the father nor the daughter is any more real than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

That’s our job – to believe in what only we can see.

The problem is that we would also like to share these stories with other people, and we have absolutely no evidence that this story – which only we can see – will be of interest to anyone. No one knows how many copies of a book will be sold or if it will win any awards. No one knows which reviewers will like it and which will not. It is a mystery to be answered within the sovereign imaginations of our readers.

The only evidence a writer has that his story is worth telling is that he’s interested in telling it. That’s it. That’s all Shakespeare got and that’s all Hemingway got and that’s all Amy Tan and Stephen King get. Your evidence that your story is worth your attention and worth sharing with others is that you think it’s cool, or funny, or scary, or profound. If that’s reason enough for you to write, if that’s reason enough to commit an hour or two a day to the same story for six months or a year or six years, then you have found the simple secret to all faith – that feeling good is evidence enough that something is worth doing and that life is worth living.

Contrast Is Your Friend

From a pure craft standpoint, contrast is invaluable. Just as a flashlight’s beam is distinct in a dark room and nearly invisible in a brightly lit room, so too is whatever we are trying to share with our readers most perceptible against its opposite. So if you want to write about peace, you must show war; if you want to show forgiveness, you must show judgment; if you want show acceptance, you must show rejection.

Likewise, often the best way to know what we like is when we encounter something we don’t like. If you read a novel and you hate the ending, instead of griping to your husband or writing group about what poor choices the author made, think about how you would have ended it. Your frustration is pointing you toward something you wish to explore, but which has remained unexplored. That discomfort will only grow until it is released on the page.

Finally, the guidance system upon which you so depend to write from day to day speaks entirely in the contrast between the effortlessness of the right word, and the effort of the almost-right word. It speaks in the contrast between the fearlessness of asking yourself what you are most interested in, and the discomfort we have named fear that always comes when we wonder what other people will think of what we write. We must have both experiences for our guidance system to work. Without what we call fear, we would have nothing to guide us back to what we love.

William Kenower is the author of Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion, a Featured Blogger for the Huffington Post Books section, and is the Editor-in-Chief of Author magazine, an online magazine for writers and dedicated readers. He writes a popular daily blog for the magazine about the intersection of writing and our daily lives, and has interviewed hundreds of writers of every genre. He also hosts the online radio program Author2Author where every week he and a different guest discuss the books we write and the lives we lead.

 

Find Bill and his writing in these other places, too:

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

A horrible warning to young(er) writers

A horrible warning to young(er) writers

Sent by Jeanette Hubbard

When you get to be my age you can suddenly be overcome with an uncontrollable urge to preach to younger women about the pitfalls of life. I’ve discovered that this is seldom appreciated; they roll their eyes or simply let them glaze over in boredom. I’m resigned to the fact that since I cannot be a good example, then I must content myself with being a Horrible Warning.

Don’t wait to start writing till you’re in your 60’s. It can be done, I think I’m proof of that, but it is so much harder. I’m one of those people who always wanted to be a writer. I was even in the undergraduate writer’s workshop at the University of Iowa. It was not a good experience for me. It was a particularly snarky group and I came away with the feeling I was a bad writer.

What I didn’t realize then was that I was probably never going to be a ‘literary’ writer, but I could be a damn good writer in other genres.

I went decades with great stories circulating in my brain but never being written or completed. It took a divorce, a crushing recession and loss of my job to get me to finally sit my butt down and finish a novel. I was so proud when I completed my 110,000 word thriller. It had a vile serial killer with the same name as my ex. It was cathartic and I had finished something! But I never polished it or tried to submit it to anyone.

I tell people that my first published book was a palate cleanser from the nasty thriller. I discovered that I am happier when I write funny. So here is advice number one: write what you enjoy. It may not be what you read all the time, but you must get pleasure out of your writing or you won’t do it.

Now I was sitting on a completed manuscript and I didn’t know what to do with it. I had never joined any writing groups, gone to any conferences, or become friends with any other aspiring writers. I had no network to help me find the things I would need to be a success. So I joined a couple of writing groups, I went to conferences and learned more about the craft of writing. I explored social media read blogs about the art of promoting myself and my work. I joined the community of writers.

But the important piece about this is, don’t run around shouting, “Buy my book. Read my book. Review my book.” That comes later, and in small doses.

You actually have to make human connections with people. And surprise, these people are not snarky. They are generous, funny, intelligent and damn I wish I had done this decades ago.

Many of my new friends will never read my book, some who do, might not like it. That’s fine. But they will still support me and offer me advice when I ask for it.

 

Jeanette Hubbard was brought up in Iowa to be a very good girl. Then she moved to Portland, Oregon, the city that prides itself on weird. She has utilized her degree in English from the University of Iowa in a variety of jobs, including driving a school bus, selling car insurance, and growing, (and sometimes killing), plants at her wholesale nursery west of Portland.

She now lives with her Border collie Buddy, Mitten the monster cat, her roommate’s two demented small dogs, a miniature horse and two chickens in a small house in SE Portland. Actually, the horse and chickens live in the backyard. Finding humor in the absurdity of life, and the world around her, has enabled her to survive the tribulations that life has thrown at her. She loves writing about people who blunder from one crazy situation to another. She draws on her own experience of saying wildly inappropriate things to one and all to help develop her plots and characters.

Find Jeanette and her writing in these places:

JeanetteHubbard.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter — Pinterest

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