Showing posts with label writer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writer. Show all posts

Thursday, July 5

Mystery Writer Elizabeth S. Craig's Reasons For Self Publishing

Don't worry, Elizabeth isn't saying goodbye to Penguin, but she has decided to write one book expressly for the purpose of publishing it herself. She writes:
It’s baffled me how acrimonious the traditional publishing vs. self-publishing debate has become. Emotions have run high in both camps and it seems to be centered around who’s right and who’s wrong.

I don’t think it matters who’s right and I don’t think it really matters what we choose to do with a particular book. We should probably just write plenty of books and experiment.

I’ve just handed in the fourth book of my Memphis Barbeque series to Penguin.

Now I’m writing a book to self-publish. I’ve self-published two other titles, but one was backlist and one was written for traditional publishing but didn’t sell. This is the first time I’ve written a book for the sole purpose of self-publishing it.

After that, I’ll be working on my 3rd book for the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin.

I couldn’t feel less-conflicted about it. I won’t try to shop the book I’m writing independently—it won’t be sent to my agent. I won’t agonize over the fact that I’m writing books for a traditional publisher and whether that means I’ll miss out on higher royalties.

Actually, it’s a real luxury to have more than one option. What’s a good approach for one book may not be right for another.
Exactly! I especially like this line: We should probably just write plenty of books and experiment. I couldn't agree more.

Read the rest of Elizabeth's article here: The Luxury of Having Options. Her wonderful Twitter feed is here: @elizabethscraig.
Elizabeth Spann Craig writes the Memphis BBQ mysteries (as Riley Adams) & the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin as well as the Myrtle Clover mysteries for Midnight Ink. (Taken from Elizabeth's Twitter bio.)
Cheers, and good writing!

Related reading:
- 5 Points To Ponder Before You Self Publish
- Amazon Award-Winner Regina Sirois & The Problems Of Indie Distribution
- How To Self Publish: An Introduction
- Kobo's Self-Publishing Portal: Report From A Beta Tester

Photo credit: Writers In The Storm Blog

Monday, June 25

How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website

It's time for another series! This time I'm going to discuss how a writer can build a platform, what a platform is and why she/he would want to build one. We're going to start off small, though, so today I'm going to write about why I think every writer needs a website.

How To Build A Platform, Part 1: Why Every Writer Needs A Website

The question of whether a writer needs a website is close to my heart because it's one I struggled with. I now believe that the answer is a resounding "Heck ya!".  And this is coming from someone who went the other way and started off with a blog and no website.

Why did I go with a blog first and plan to develop my website later? Honestly, and perhaps counter-intuitively, it's because I have a background in website development and was tired of building sites--I'd put that life behind me--so I decided, this time, I'd let do all the work.

For the record I love my blog. I mean that. I love it, but it's just not enough. I realize now that I need a website too. (That said, my blog isn't going anywhere, it will always be here at, but my website will be and run off a hosting service. But enough about me.)

a. Why writers need a website and not just a blog
When I first started writing in earnest I began a blog on Blogger. This blog. And, as I said, I love my blog.

Blogger has been very good to me. It has automatically added certain tracking features that, when I took out my free Google Analytics account, showed up and gave me helpful information.

Since I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning--I hadn't even heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)--Blogger helped save me from myself, got me indexed with Google and Bing and whatever other search engines are out there. Also, Blogger gave me a great dashboard and made available many articles about how to make the best use of its features and it pointed me toward a great, free, book on SEO that Google had put out.

In other words, blogger held my hand and helped me get up to speed. And I'm saying that, even so, you will eventually need a website.

b. The difference between a website and a blog
A blog is something that gets updated frequently while a website (which may or may not contain a blog) is more about establishing a permanent presence on the web.

It's your website's domain name (for instance, you'll list on your business cards and your website is where you'll do things like:

- keep information about each of your books,
- have links to where folks can buy your work,
- host a series of articles,
- have a tab for your current promotion or
- host a page that has information about your next book.

Could you do all these things on Blogger? Theoretically, yes. But you wouldn't have the kind of control a content management system like WordPress can give you.

In another post we'll discuss content management systems as well as the pros and cons of using WordPress. Stay tuned!

Update: For more articles on how to build a platform, click here: Building A Writer's Platform


Other articles you might like:
- How To Start A Blog
- How To Format A Word Document For Amazon's KDP Publishing Program
- 7 Tips On How To Get Your Guest Post Accepted

Photo credit: "NY" by Missi under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

"How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.

How To Become A Full Time Indie Author

How To Become A Full Time Indie Author
I can't believe I've never heard of Lindsay Buroker before. Even now I don't know much about her, but I do know three things:

1) She's an indie author
2) She sells enough books as an indie that she's able to write full time
3) She gives awesome advice about how to become a full time indie author

I'd go so far as to say that anyone who follows the advice Lindsay has given is guaranteed to sell more books. Of course, milage will vary. You might not be able to quit your day-job, but her advice to indie authors is along the lines of, "look both ways before you cross the street". You could ignore it, but I wouldn't advise it.

Here is Lindsay's advice:

1. Don't just write novel length stories, write shorter ones too

This allows you to publish more in the same amount of time, and the more you get your name out in front of readers, the better. Especially in the beginning. Lindsay writes:
... I’ve never been in the Amazon Top 100 (or in the Top 1000 for more than a couple of days), and I’m not particularly visible even in my sub-categories (epic fantasy/historical fantasy) in the Kindle Store. You don’t have to be an uber seller to make a living, though you have to, of course, have characters and/or plots that capture people’s imaginations and turn them into fans (not everyone has to like your books but enough people do so that you get good reviews and you word-of-mouth “advertising” from readers). If you have ten books priced at $4.99, and they sell 200 copies a month, you’re earning over $6,000 a month.

I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s easy to write ten books or sell 200 copies a month of a title (I would have rolled my eyes at such a comment 16 months ago), but, right now, the numbers tell us that making a living as an indie author is a lot more doable than making a living as a traditionally published author (where the per-book cut is a lot smaller). If you’re mid-list as an indie, and you have a stable of books that are doing moderately well, you’ve got it made in the short-term. If… you’re building your tribe along the way, you ought to have it made in the long-term too (more on that below).

 2. Use the power of free to promote your books

Lindsay writes:
I’ve tried a lot when it comes to online promotion, everything from guest posts to book blog tours to contests to paid advertising, and nothing compares with having a free ebook in the major stores. Not only will people simply find it on their own, but it’s so much easier to promote something that’s free. If you do buy advertising (and I do from time to time), it’ll be the difference between selling 25 copies and getting 5,000 downloads (i.e. 5,000 new people exposed to your work), because people live in hope that they’ll find something good amongst the free offerings.

I’ve heard authors argue that most people who download free ebooks just collect them, like shiny pebbles on the beach, and that they never even bother to check them out. I say B.S. to that. I’d bet money that most people try the books they download; it’s just that they find most of them don’t pique their interest. Maybe they’ll download 50 or 100 ebooks and only find one where they want to read the whole thing. That’s fine. That just means you have to make sure your story is entertaining enough to be The One.

3. Make your stories part of a series

I'm a sucker for a good series, and I know I'm not the only one. Even if one, or perhaps two, of the books in the series aren't great, chances are I'll stick with it if I have hope things will improve. In other words, series help develop dedicated fans, people who are going to be with you for the long haul. Lindsay writes:

I should mention here that, while giving away a free ebook can be huge, it’s key that the story be part of a series, or at least strongly related to the book(s) you’re trying to sell.

I just don’t see people having the same sorts of results when their free novel or short story isn’t related to the rest of their work. Oh, it might help a little, but not the way a Book 1 that ends on a cliffhanger will. (My first book admittedly doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it does have a teaser epilogue to let folks know that there’s a lot more to come.)

4. Form a tribe

You don't have to be everything to everyone, concentrate on forming close connections with a small group. Like ripples on a lake, your influence will spread.

Lindsay suggests cultivating 10,000 fans rather than 1,000 because if you write two books a year and sell each for $5.00 on Amazon then you'll make 70,000 dollars a year. That's gross income, so you'll have to pay tax and I'm sure you'll have many writing-related expenses (website, newsletter, advertising, etc.) but that's a decent wage. Lindsay writes:
Early on, I stumbled across Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” article. If you’re an indie anything, it’s a great read.

The gist is that you don’t have to be a mega seller. You just need X number of true fans (people who love your stuff and will buy everything you put out), and you’re assured that you can make a living at your art, so long as you to continue to produce quality material.

Lindsay's tips for acquiring 10,000 true fans

a. Place links in the afterword to each of your books. 

Links to your:
- Twitter account
- Facebook account
- Blog
- Newletter

b. Use Facebook to interact with your readers. 

This is your place to be more personal; interact with your fans, post links to things like interviews, to scenes you liked but were cut from your book, to contests you're running, to discounts or giveaways.

Obviously that advice is working for Lindsay, but I've never gotten into the Facebook experience. I love Twitter. Really. It's simple to use and it allows me to connect with folks I never would have otherwise been able to. Also, I don't have to worry whether I've written too little or too much; the 140 character limit is genius!

That said, authors do need a place to let down there hair and be more personal, which is why I'm in the (painful!) process of setting up my own website.

c. If your fans do something like start a fan forum or website, plug it! 

Mention it in the occasional tweet, or when you're chattering on Facebook.

If my fans did something like this I'd do backflips and name my children after them. Just sayin'.

d. Go the extra step to help create a community. 

Lindsay gives the example of installing a plug-in that allows nested comments. (You might need to be running WordPress.)

Great idea! Anything to help foster a community. It's interesting, though, that Seth Godin, one of the folks who helped spread the idea of developing a community, a tribe, doesn't have comments on his blog. Of course Seth has a large and rabidly devoted community, so that choice has obviously worked out for him, but still. I thought it was interesting.

e. Do goofy things just to please your fans. 

For instance, Lindsay's latest contest asks fans to design funky hats. The winner will receive signed copies of her book and the hat will appear in the next book in that series.

Awesome idea! As Lindsay notes, not many writers do this, but I love it when writers have a contest of some sort where the prize is that the winner will have a character named after them in the next book.

Well, that's it! I hope something Lindsay said will help. I encourage everyone to read her article here: What Does It Take to Become a Full-Time Indie Author?

Photo credit: Empty Nest

Thanks to the Passive Voice Blog for posting a link to Lindsay's article.

Related reading:
- The Vandal's 10 Ways To Promote Your Book
- The Most Common Mistakes In Writing: A Series
- 10 Reasons Why Stories Get Rejected

Photo credit: "color bricks" by Luz Adriana Villa A. under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Friday, June 8

Stephen King on Ray Bradbury: The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away.

The tributes to Ray Bradbury keep coming.
Stephen King:
The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty.

Neil Gaiman:
I'm writing something now. But I wanted to put this up. I wrote it a couple of years ago as an introduction to the PS edition of The Machineries of Joy and it was reprinted in the Times. If you want to quote me, you can take anything you like from this, and add that he was kind, and gentle, and always filled with enthusiasm, and that the landscape of the world we live in would have been diminished if we had not had him in our world.

And that I am so glad that I knew him.
- Ray Bradbury

Last week, at dinner, a friend told me that when he was a boy of 11 or 12 he met Ray Bradbury. When Bradbury found out that he wanted to be a writer, he invited him to his office and spent half a day telling him the important stuff: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Every day. Whether you feel like it or not. That you can't write one book and stop. That it's work, but the best kind of work. My friend grew up to be a writer, the kind who writes and supports himself through writing.

Ray Bradbury was the kind of person who would give half a day to a kid who wanted to be a writer when he grew up.
- Ray Bradbury: In Memoriam and In Green Town Illinois

Stephen Spielberg
He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career. ... He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal.

President Obama
His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world.  But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values.  There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing.
Read more homages here: Spielberg, Lindelof, Stephen King and Others Remember Ray Bradbury

Thursday, May 31

Promote Your Books In iBooks

I had read Bob Mayer's blog, Write It Forward, for a number of years before I took one of his workshops and I have to say, if you ever have the chance to see Bob speak in person, do it! You won't be sorry.

It's one thing to read posts about the publishing industry and quite another to have an animated author recount stories of his adventures in publishing, first as an author and then as a publisher. Although I loved his lecture what I found most helpful were his answers to questions posed by my peers.

Okay, back to business! Yesterday Jen Talty, co-creator of Cool Gus Publishing and frequent contributor to Write It Forward, posted about how to promote books in iBooks, a subject I knew nothing about. Rather than me natter on about what she said, I'm just going to let her tell you.
One of the questions I’m constantly asked when I present workshops on Indie Publishing is: How do we promote in iBooks? or How do we increase sales in iBooks? Its not an easy question to answer. One of the things I’m working on today for Cool Gus Publishing is to add links in our website to where our eBooks are available on other sites. We believe this is a good service for our customers and some people just want that easy “one-click” from Amazon or prefer to buy from Barnes and Noble, supporting the bookstore.

But working inside of iBooks is all together a different bird simply because its contained in iTunes.

Recently, Apple sent us a couple of PDF’s about how to promote and market using some of their tools. We got this email because we use iTunesConnect to load our books directly to the iBookstore. Here are a couple of things I think are useful and are not that difficult to use.

The Book Widget. You can actually do this for other products as well.

From Apple: “With Widget Builder, you can easily add interactive widgets to your website or blog. These widgets allow users to explore books and more from the iBookstore and iTunes.”

Go here to see builder.

Basically, you find the books you want, add them to your widget and then copy the code and put it where you want in your website.
For the rest of Jen's informative article, click here: Promoting your book in iBooks


Tuesday, May 1

Mur Lafferty: How to Podcast

Here are some terrific tips how-to tips on podcasting from Mur Lafferty, a finalist for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.
Mur Lafferty is an author and podcaster, creator of the podcasts I Should Be Writing and the Angry Robot Books podcast.

She is the editor of Escape Pod, the premier SF podcast magazine. She has written for the gaming magazine Knights of the Dinner Table, Games Quarterly, Suicide Girls, and Anime Insider. She is also the editor of the new Worldbuilder project for Angry Robot Books.

Called the "podcast SF doyenne" by Cory Doctorow, Lafferty has been bringing award-winning commentary and SF to the podcasting sphere since 2004.

Based in Durham, NC, She enjoys running, kung fu (Northern Shaolin five animals style), Skyrim, tabletop games, and the Durham Bulls.
- Writertopia, Profile of Mur Lafferty
Without further ado, here are Mur Lafferty's tips, taken from Jim C. Hines's interview with the author:

 6) You run or work with several different podcasting sites (Escape Pod, I Should Be Writing, Princess Scientist’s Book Club, and the Angry Robot Books Podcast), and have podcast at least one of your novels as well. What is it that draws you to podcasting?

I was drawn to podcasting in the beginning, 2004, when it was a new medium - that excited me. I wanted to play with all the new ways of storytelling. I didn’t need NPR to publish essays, I didn’t need the BBC or a US radio station to do an audio drama, and I didn’t need a publisher to make an audiobook. I was able to build an audience for my work well before I got a book deal. Podcasting has been instrumental for building my career, when I never expected it to.

7) For anyone who might want to get into podcasting, what resources would you recommend, and what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about doing a successful podcast?

Microphone: Start small. A  $20 mic from the store will do just fine.

Software: Windows - Audacity is free. Mac - Garageband is free. (Aside - Audacity is also available for the Mac, but crashed a lot for me, so I got Amadeus Pro, which is quite affordable and much like a stable Audacity.)

Host: - The first podcast host, designed to handle the greater demands of large audio and video files.

Other resources: Tricks of the Podcasting Masters, by Lafferty/Walch (Come on, I had to!), Podcasting for Dummies, by Morris/Terra

Advice: Interact with your listeners. Give them a place to contact/follow you and respond to them; when your voice is in peoples’ ears, it creates an intimacy not found in providing text.
-- Cambell Interview: MurLafferty

Thanks to a friend who, very kindly, sent me a link to Mur Lafferty's interview.

Related Articles:
Joanna Pen: How to Podcast
Podcasting on the iPad
How to record an audiobook at home

Campbell Interview: Mur Lafferty
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists
  Jim C. Hines

Photo credit: Podible Paradise

"Mur Lafferty: How to Podcast," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.