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

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

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