Follow me by Email

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Six tips to bring your book out of the doldrums

More than ever before authors are struggling to make sense of what's happening with ebook publishing and keep up.
When do we get time to write after blogging, facebooking, twittering, etc? We're told you can't get seen and your book purchased if you're not socially marketing yourself.  It's never easy but we must find the time.

I've just read Mark Coker's tips and wanted to share them here.

Six Makeover Tips:  How to Bring a Book Back from the Doldrums 

Makeover Tip #1 – Look at your reviews at Smashwords, Apple, B&N and Amazon.  Ignore the reviews from friends and family, they don’t count.  Average them up.  How many stars are you getting out of five?

Reviews of Never Too Far by
Abbi Glines (Apple iBookstore)
Today, when I look at the top 20 bestsellers at the Apple iBookstore, they’re averaging 4 stars.  On other random days I’ve done this test, they averaged 4.5.  The #1 bestselling book today at Apple is Never Too Far by Abbi Glines (distributed by Smashwords), and it averages 4.5 stars.  Some of the representative comments are, “loved this book,” “Amazing,” “couldn’t put it down,” “couldn’t stop reading,” “such a wonderful story,” “cannot wait for book 3!” and, “this book hasn’t been out 24 hours and yet I read it twice already.”  If you want to be a bestseller, good or good enough is not good enough.  

You need to WOW your reader.  It doesn’t matter if you write romance, mystery or non-fiction, if your book doesn’t move the reader to an emotional extreme, your job isn’t done.  Take the case of my novel, Boob Tube.  It averages around 3.5 stars.  That’s not good enough.  We’re not wowing readers.  My wife and I should probably do a major revision if we want better reviews.  Our sales range from 20 to 40 copies a month.  What if after a revision, we averaged 4.5 stars?  Imagine how that would move the needle on sales.

    What if you don’t have reviews? – This is as big of a problem as poor reviews.  If your book has been out for more than three months and it’s not selling well and you don’t have reviews, I’d set the price to free, at least for a limited time.  What do you have to lose?  Readers aren’t finding you anyway.  That’s the decision we came to with Boob Tube.  For the first two years (2008-2009), Boob Tube sold maybe 20 copies.  It had only one or two reviews.  My wife and I decided to set the price to free for six months.  We got 40,000 downloads, a lot of reviews, and even our first fan mail (yay!).  Then we set the price to $2.99 and it started selling.  Without reviews at the retailers, Goodreads, LibraryThing and elsewhere, few readers will take a chance on you.  FREE helps readers take that chance.

Makeover Tip #2 – Redo your Cover Image.  If your book’s reviews are averaging over four stars, yet the book isn’t selling, your cover is probably the problem.  This was the case last year for Smashwords author R.L. Mathewson.  She was earning fabulous “WOW” reviews from readers, yet she was only selling a few copies a day (even still, a few copies a day is way above average for most authors). Read the interview with R.L. here
When she upgraded her cover images, her books immediately took off and hit the N.Y. Times bestseller list.  Great reviews plus a great cover can make all the difference.  A great cover image makes a promise to the reader.  A poor cover image chases potential readers away.  Does your cover make a promise?

Here’s a quick test, and a challenge:  If you were to strip away the title and author name, does the image tell the reader, “this is the book you’re looking for to experience [the feeling of first love for romance; fear for horror; edge of your seat suspense for thrillers; knowledge for a non-fiction how-to; an inspiring story of personal journey for a memoir, etc].”

Is the cover image professional?  Does it look as good or better than the top-10 sellers in your category or genre?  The human brain is programmed to process imagery faster than written words.  When a reader is browsing book listings, they’re looking to have their attention arrested by something that speaks to them.   Everything else is noise.  Don’t be the noise.

Back to my novel.  A couple bestselling Smashwords authors have told me that the cover of Boob Tube doesn't work.  It took me awhile to come around, but I agree with them now.  The image focuses on breasts, which are an obsessive, almost-debilitating focus for the actresses on daytime television soaps.  We explore this in the book.  Yet to the reader, the image sends conflicting messages.  Is this book erotica, or pornography?  No, of course it’s not, but the reader doesn’t know.  Because the image isn’t resonating with the right promise, we’re probably chasing away readers who would otherwise be drawn to the story.

Makeover Tip #3 – Is your book priced too high?  When a book is priced too high, it makes the book less affordable to the reader. If you're an unknown author, it makes the reader less willing to take a chance on you.  For readers who could afford it, the high price can makes the book less desirable when there are alternative books of equal quality at less cost.  Last year, when we conducted a comprehensive study of the impact of price on unit downloads and gross sales, we found that lower prices moved more unit sales than higher prices (no surprise there).  We found $1.99 and below underperformed in terms of gross sales (unit sales * price).  We found books priced at $2.99 earned slightly more than books priced over $10.00, yet enjoyed six times as many unit sales.

Dollars in your pocket are nice, but over the long term, the greater number of readers is what will drive your fan base and future sales.  If your book is priced over $5.99, and it’s not selling well, experiment with a lower price and see what impact it has.  There’s one other potential advantage of lower prices:  if the reader feels they received a great read for the price, they may be more likely to give you a positive review, and a positive reviews will lead to more readers.

Makeover tip #4 – Look at your sampling to sales conversion ratio.  The Smashwords store has a little-known feature I think is entirely unique in the ebook retailing world:  We tell you how many partial samples were downloaded.  If you click to your Dashboard, you’ll see a column for book sales and a column for downloads.  The download count is a crude metric, but if you understand how it works, you’ll be able to use it as a relatively good tool.  This data is only for sales and downloads in the Smashwords store.

The download data includes both sample downloads and full book downloads for purchased books.  If a customer or sampler downloads in multiple formats (such as epub and mobi), or downloads multiple times, each time will tick the download count higher.  To make the data cleaner, subtract your paid sales from the download count.  Divide your sales at by the number of downloads.  This will tell you, roughly, what percentage of downloaders actually purchase your book.

When I do the numbers on my priced book, The 10-Minute PR Checklist, I find that approximately 13% of sample downloads lead to sale.  That’s pretty good.  When we last ran the average numbers a couple years ago, we found that site-wide, about 1 in 50 sample downloads led to sale, but when we looked only at books that had actually sold, the number was closer to 1 in 25 (about 4%).  I’ve seen multiple recent bestsellers at Smashwords where the conversion ratio is 50%.  That’s amazing!  Use these numbers as rough guides.  If you have multiple books at Smashwords, you can see how the numbers compare across your list.  Compare with your friends.  If you’ve had 150 sample downloads and zero sales, such as in my Tip 6 example below, it’s fair to say readers are sending you a message.

Makeover Tip #5 – Are you targeting the right audience?  As a writer, you’re never going to satisfy every reader.  That’s okay.  Don’t try.  Readers who love horror novels may not love romance.  Know your target audience, and then make sure your title, book cover, book description, categorization and marketing are all aligned to target that audience with fine-tuned precision.  If you send the wrong messages, you’ll fail to attract the right readers.  Instead, you’ll attract the wrong reader, and the wrong reader will give you poor reviews.  Again, I’ll use my own novel as an example (since I’m not afraid to illustrate my mistakes!).  Early in our novel, a dead body is discovered, so there’s a bit of a mystery about who did it.  It’s a minor plot point, and the book isn’t categorized as mystery.  However, at one time in 2011, our book description played up the mystery surrounding the murder.  For at least one reader, after she read the description she downloaded the book thinking it was a murder mystery.  It’s not.  It’s a book about the dark side of Hollywood celebrity.  

As a result, we disappointed her, and received this one-star review:
“If you want to read about drug use, masochism, naive behavior leading to wrecked lives and truly disgusting eating disorders, this book is for you. If you were looking for a murder mystery, look somewhere else. I got more than 50% into the book and no one was calling the death a murder. So, no investigation, no questions, none of the things that make a book a murder mystery.” 
Following this review, I removed the murder-mystery subplot from the description and focused on the top themes.  So take a fresh look at your description, cover, categorization and marketing and make sure you’re targeting the right reader.  Avoid the temptation to target a broader-than-necessary market.

Makeover Tip #6 – Pride goes before the fall.  It’s tough being a writer.  You pour your heart and soul into your words, and then lay your words bare before the world to judge.  It takes bravery and confidence to publish.   Speaking from personal experience, it’s heartbreaking to receive your first one-star review.  We all get them.  

Over at Amazon, where I have the most reviews, I received this about Boob Tube:
“A total waste of my time. As another reviewer said, the best part was when I decided to stop reading it! If I could give it a minus star, I would.” 
OUCH!  Nothing’s worse than when the reader hates the book so much they don’t even finish it, and then they leave a review like that just to drive the knife deeper.  What if the book got better later?  What if everything started making sense on the next page?  Readers are a fickle bunch.  

To press forward as a writer, we have to decide what we can learn from, and what we can ignore.  Find your strength from your five-star reviews (we have those too!), and carefully find your inspiration about where you might improve from the negative reviews.  I try to learn something from every review, even if I don’t agree with it.  Some writers, after receiving such scathing criticism, might feel inclined to curl up in a fetal position, unpublish their books, and give up.  Never give up!

The opposite response to reader feedback, however, can be equally destructive, and that’s to let pride leave you deaf and dumb to the bread crumb clues your readers are giving you.  If you want to be a successful writer, you have to be willing to listen to the judgment of readers.  Your readers, through their word of mouth, will determine how many other readers you reach.

I think the chat transcript below serves as a good case study in pride (in fact, it was the spark that led me to write this blog post).  The author contacted me on my personal Facebook page.  As much as I try to separate my personal life from my private life - and I discourage Smashwords inquiries over my personal page - at Facebook it’s difficult to divorce the two without coming across as a rude ogre.  If someone messages me, I try to respond.  I omitted his name, country and other details to protect his identity.  I made minor edits for typo fixes or clarity.  Warning: There's not a happy ending.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just had some news that I didn't want to hear about my next thriller from my manuscript assessor. This story is full of padding and the main character's motivations aren't holding together. Oh dear!

I will wait for the manuscript to arrive in the mail before I will pour over her suggestions.

In the meantime here's... 
17 Ways to Make your Character more Memorable: 
  1. Build your plot around the decisions you want your protagonist to make.
  2. Structure your book as a roller-coaster ride. It should be a physical journey that forces you to vicariously experience a series of emotions. Pace it. Give us moments of respite and then throw us back into the action.
  3. Keep it simple. Tell the story. Make sure you have a clear beginning, middle and ending. 
  4. Write from your heart. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Readers will sense if you’re not being genuine. You do not have to know what you are writing about. As Nikki Giovanni says, writers don’t write from experience. They write from empathy.
  5. Start your novel at the end of the backstory you've created. Begin with a breath-taking inciting moment. Something should happen that leads to a revelation of a shocking fact, a surprising insight, or a unique perspective. The protagonist’s status quo must change and he or she needs to act or react. Move your story forward. Don’t look back.
  6. Include only the most important parts of the story. Your novel is a lot like a highlights package of an episode in a person’s life. Cut out the boring bits. Move us from one exciting scene to another. Don’t constantly review your characters’ actions and feelings because nobody cares.
  7. Always remember the end. Where are you taking your characters? You should keep them on the path to that finale. If you don’t, you risk losing your readers along the way.
  8. Use body language. Use simple descriptions with lots of sensory details. Describing through the senses ensures that you show and don't tell.
  9. Remove excess slang and buzzwords from your manuscript. Words that seem so ‘with it’ now, will age your book in one year’s time.
  10. Limit the use of gimmicky viewpoint techniques. Stick to three viewpoints for an 80 000-word novel. It is also a good idea to use a viewpoint that works in the genre and a viewpoint that you are comfortable writing.
  11. Practise techniques to keep your readers on the edge of their seats. How do you keep the suspense going? Make them want to turn the page. You want their full attention.
  12. Check your techniques well in advance. Have you learnt how to write? Have you completed at least one year of daily writing practice? Have you practised writing dialogue so that characters sound different?
  13. Never let your protagonist remain a victim for long in your novel. A powerless protagonist is not a good idea. Most readers feel powerless enough in real life. They want to read about characters who make a difference. Characters who could be them, if they decided to act.
  14. Don’t add unimportant bits and pieces to the plot just to fill in gaps. Rather decide if you need to revise your plot. Is it strong enough? Are your characters motivated enough? Are your characters strong enough?
  15. Give your protagonist and your antagonist story goals. These story goals should be in conflict with each other. Tell a story where your readers can empathise with both your hero and your villain. Make both of them memorable and interesting.
  16. Don’t drag out the ending. Once the question that started the story has been answered, let your characters and your readers get on with their lives.
  17. No matter what, revise and rewrite your manuscript at least three times.
Image result for picture of pen and paper

Sunday, October 05, 2014

This great interview I found on the BBC website:

PD James's 10 tips for writing novels

PD James

Related Stories

Although she didn't publish her first novel until she was 42, Phyllis Dorothy James had been writing since childhood.
Now a celebrated crime writer, she has penned more than 20 books, including The Children Of Men, and the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series.
At the age of 93, she says she wants to write just one more detective novel.
Here are her top 10 tips for being an author.

1. You must be born to write

You can't teach someone to know how to use words effectively and beautifully. You can help people who can write to write more effectively and you can probably teach people a lot of little tips for writing a novel, but I don't think somebody who cannot write and does not care for words can ever be made into a writer. It just is not possible.
Nobody could make me into a musician. Somebody might be able to teach me how to play the piano reasonably well after a lot of effort, but they can't make a musician out of me and you cannot make a writer, I do feel that very profoundly.

2. Write about what you know

You absolutely should write about what you know. There are all sorts of small things that you should store up and use, nothing is lost to a writer. You have to learn to stand outside of yourself. All experience, whether it is painful or whether it is happy is somehow stored up and sooner or later it's used.
I love situations where people are thrown together in unwelcome proximity. where all kinds of reprehensible emotions can bubble up. I think you must write what you feel you want to write because then the book is genuine and that comes through.
I believe that someone who can write, who has a feeling for words and knows how to use them will find a publisher. Because after all, publishers do still need to find new writers. We all get old and we die and that's that and there have to be successors.

3. Find your own routine

I think all we writers are different. It's interesting, isn't it, how different we are?
Some people have to have the room, the pen and others do everything on a computer. I write by hand and I can write more or less anywhere as long as I've got a comfortable chair, a table, an unlimited amount of biros to write with and lined paper to write on. And then the next day when my PA comes, which she does at 10 o'clock, then I've got quite a lot to dictate to her and she puts it on to the computer, prints it out and I do the first revision.
In a sense, therefore, I revise as I go. It's important to get up early - before London really wakes and the telephone calls begin and the emails pile up. This is the best time for me, the time of quiet in the morning,

4. Be aware that the business is changing

Goodness gracious, how the world of publishing has changed! It is much easier now to produce a manuscript with all the modern technology. It is probably a greater advantage now, more than ever before, to have an agent between you and the publisher.
Everything has changed and it's really quite astonishing, because people can self-publish now. I would once have thought that that was rather a self-defeating way of doing it but actually publishers do look at what is self-published and there are examples of people picking up very lucrative deals.

5. Read, write and don't daydream!

To write well, I advise people to read widely. See how people who are successful and good get their results, but don't copy them. And then you've got to write! We learn to write by writing, not by just facing an empty page and dreaming of the wonderful success we are going to have. I don't think it matters much what you use as practice, it might be a short story, it might be the beginning of a novel, or it might just be something for the local magazine, but you must write and try and improve your writing all the time. Don't think about it or talk about it, get the words down.

6. Enjoy your own company

It is undoubtedly a lonely career, but I suspect that people who find it terribly lonely are not writers. I think if you are a writer you realise how valuable the time is when you are absolutely alone with your characters in complete peace. I think it is a necessary loneliness for most writers - they wouldn't want to be always in the middle of everything having a wonderful life. I've never felt lonely as a writer, not really, but I know people do.

7. Choose a good setting

Something always sparks off a novel, of course. With me, it's always the setting. I think I have a strong response to what I think of as the 'spirit of a place'. I remember I was looking for an idea in East Anglia and standing on a very lonely stretch of beach. I shut my eyes and listened to the sound of the waves breaking over the pebble shore. Then I opened them and turned from looking at the dangerous and cold North Sea to look up and there, overshadowing this lonely stretch of beach was the great, empty, huge white outline of Sizewell nuclear power station. In that moment I knew I had a novel. It was called Devices and Desires.

8. Never go anywhere without a notebook

Never go anywhere without a notebook because you can see a face that will be exactly the right face for one of your characters, you can see place and think of the perfect words to describe it. I do that when I'm writing, I think it's a sensible thing for writers to do.
I've written little bits of my next novel, things that have occurred to me. I've got the setting already. I've got the title, I've got most of the plot and I shall start some serious writing of it next month, I think.

9. Never talk about a book before it is finished

I never talk about a book before it is finished and I never show it to anybody until it is finished and I don't show it to anybody even then, except for my publisher and my agent. Then there is this awful time until they phone.
I'm usually pretty confident by the time I've sent it in but I have those moments when I think, 'well I sent it to them on Friday, by Saturday night they should be ringing up to say how wonderful it is!'
I'm always aware that people might have preferences and think that one book is better than another.

10. Know when to stop

I am lucky to have written as many books as I have, really, and it has been a joy. With old age, it becomes very difficult. It takes longer for the inspiration to come, but the thing about being a writer is that you need to write.
What I am working on now will be another detective story, it does seem important to write one more. I think it is very important to know when to stop.
Some writers, particularly of detective fiction, have published books that they should not have published. I don't think my publisher would let me do that and I don't think my children would like me to. I hope I would know myself whether a book was worth publishing. I think while I am alive, I shall write. There will be a time to stop writing but that will probably be when I come to a stop, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Amazon is to launch a New Platform for authors.

I came across this in Digital Reader. I'm not sure if I will try this route but I will watch it with interest given that traditional publishers forgot that their customer wasn't the bookseller but the reader. Their source of income wasn't provided by themselves but by the author they represent.


Amazon to Launch New Crowd Source Platform, Now Recruiting KDP Authors

8579276979_e78536971b_b[1]Here’s a new publishing program from Amazon which is so new that it doesn’t yet have a launch day, URL, or even a name.
Late last week Amazon started sending out emails to KDP authors, informing them of a new program which Amazon plans to launch soon. According to the email, which was forwarded to me by author Angela Kulig and by Amazon’s pr dept, when the new program launches authors will be welcomed to submit their unpublished book to what I would describe as a crowd sourcing program. 
Details are still scarce, but the email did say that it will work like this:
  1. Authors will be asked to submit their complete, never-before-published book and cover.
  2. After a few days, we will post the first pages of each book on a new website for readers to preview and nominate their favorites.
  3. Books with the most nominations will be reviewed by our team for potential publication.
I’ve confirmed the new program with Amazon pr spokesperson Susan Stockman, who told me that this program will be neither KDP nor Amazon Publishing, but something new. Unfortunately the program is so new that she was unable to provide much additional information.
Edit: If you would like to sign up to be notified when this program launches, Amazon has started a mailing list.
She was, however, able to confirm the contract terms mentioned in the email. Note what it says about the print and digital rights:
  • Guaranteed advance & competitive royalties: You will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue.
  • Focused formats: We acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. You retain all other rights, including print.
  • 5-year renewable terms, $5,000 in royalties: If your book doesn’t earn $5,000 in royalties during your initial 5-year contract term, and any 5-year renewal term after that, you can choose to stop publishing with us.
  • Easy reversions: After two years, your rights in any format or language that remains unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request – no questions asked.
  • Early downloads & reviews: One week prior to release date, everyone who nominated your book will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.
  • Featured Amazon marketing: Your book will be enrolled into the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Kindle Unlimited as well as be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions.
Amazon isn’t the first publisher to try crowd-sourcing (in fact, a couple have launched similar programs in the past couple years) but if and when this program launches they will certainly be the most visible.
What do you think of the program?
I’ll confess; as a non-author I am reserving my opinion in order to let the experts way in.
For example, glancing through the KDP discussion forum where I first found this story, I can see that a couple authors have already expressed interest in this program:
Most of us, however, are not selling as well as we would like. For example, in a good month I may move fifty books, more during promotions. My titles have good editorial and customer reviews (and NOT by friends and relatives, either), and I’d like to think they are worth reading. I know one can’t put much stock in opinions of people one knows, but when people I haven’t seen in years have gotten in touch to tell me how much they enjoyed one of the books, I have to think that means something. All of that said, the books haven’t exactly caught fire. I could just be deceiving myself, but I’ve always felt being able to market to just the right audience could cause them to catch fire. For me, this kind of offer sounds tempting because of Amazon’s ability to market effectively on their own site. Anyway, the relative ease with which the rights revert to me if I don’t get the results I expect would reduce any risk involved.
I’d be all over it with a stand-alone just to generate more name exposure, which could lead to sales of my other books.
What do you think?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Win some lose some but which way is best? Kindle Unlimited??

Here's another article I had to share. Each author needs to decide which way is best for them. To join KU or not to join. It's never easy. Because we don't have a time machine. There will be some losers and some winners. What we do know from amazon statistics is that romance, erotica and thrillers are the best sellers. Then it makes sense that these writers, if they jump the right way (not sure which way that is) will be winners as the readers who buy the most books buy within these genres.

"To all my fellow writers and self-publishers out there…

Some of you may be aware that Amazon launched its “All you can read for one low monthly fee” program in July of this year (2014). Essentially, you can now download and read as many ebooks as you like from Amazon’s Kindle platform for only $9.99 a month.

While this is great for readers, many Kindle-based authors were on the fence about this new program. After all, for those of us who rely on sales of our books to do pesky things like pay the rent, what would a program like this do to our bottom line?

Well, after about a month and a half of KU (that’s shorthand for Kindle Unlimited, to those of you not hip to my jive), I can certainly see some patterns emerging when it comes to my own work. But before I get into this any further, here are the basics of the KU program:
Only books enrolled in the KDP Select program are offered to KU users. All books outside of KDP Select must still be purchased, even if you subscribe to KU.
Authors get paid from the Kindle Online Lending Library (KOLL) fund. Essentially, all books downloaded by KU customers are treated like “rentals.”
Authors only get paid from KU downloads if the end user reads 10% of the book. (Apparently, Kindle has a way of tracking this.)

Since its inception, many authors have noticed there has been a definite change in their KDP stats. Personally, I’ve noticed sales have gone down slightly, while rentals have gone WAY up. Like, way, WAY up. As in, I barely got any rentals before KU, and ever since KU launched, I’m getting a butt-ton (it’s a word) of rentals on a daily basis.

So here are my recommendations for taking advantage of Kindle Unlimited, from what I know so far…
Use extended enrollment in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited for all Erotica, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Short Stories, & Children’s Books.
Keep books short – 10-20 pages (or roughly 4k-8k words).
Break books up into serialized content if they are in KU-heavy niches.
Use KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited for book series, but consider keeping one-offs or stand-alone novels outside of the Select program if you are in KU friendly genres.
Use KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited for the first book in a series, with the rest of the series outside the Select program and sold around $2.99-$4.99, using $0.99 sales to entice readers to buy. "

To read more:

New developments in the world of publishing - the "bookeen"


I just came across this on The Guardian blog and had to share:

The big short – why Amazon's Kindle Singles are the future

All hail the 'bookeen', a new format that's perfect for short stories, novellas and essays
Stephen King
Stephen King holds aloft a special pink Kindle given to him by Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
New formats in literature are rare, and disruptive. They usually accompany a change in technology. Amazon was the first big player to realise that digitisation would allow for a new literary format. In January 2011, it quietly launched a substore on its US website to sell something it called a Kindle Single: Compelling Ideas Expressed At Their Natural Length, as a press release headline blandly put it.
"Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, Kindle Singles are editorially curated and showcase writing from both new and established voices – from bestselling novelists and journalists to previously unpublished writers."
To read more: 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

A plagiarist - nightmare - don't let it be you

I read a disturbing article by John Doppler. We writers must be extra careful sending copies of our manuscript out for reviews to people we only know via an internet name. Convicted plagiarist Tiffanie Ruston not only stole Rachel Ann Nunes' christian story, she inserted sex scenes and promoted it as her own work. Then she used sock puppets to leave one star reviews for Rachel. To read more, click on the link below:

This person is a plagiarist. Tiffanie Rushton, a Utah schoolteacher.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mistakes to avoid when self-publishing

There are a few things that separate successful self-published authors and the could-have-beens. If you want your book to succeed, avoid these common mistakes.

1. Formatting

There are specific requirements for properly formatting your book. Authors who try to do the formatting themselves may be disappointed with how their book turns out. To ensure your book is formatted properly, either enlist the help of your self-publishing company or look online to find tips if you are proficient in Word formatting. Even if you're an average Word user it's not that hard anymore. After you upload your book, use the preview option to check for errors before you launch. Even if you upload your book and find errors later, you can download the HTML version and upload it again when you corrected it. If your book has a number of pictures then you'll have to zip the file before you upload. Click on the 'paragraph character' which looks like an upside down music note. Found in the 'quick toolbar' at the top. Then use the 'control + F' option in Word to find and replace. Click on 'more' then 'special' tabs to find all the extra 'paragraph characters' that shouldn't be there and so on.
A few links to help you:

2. Front Cover

You may be tempted to save money by using a template cover. Your cover is your first selling point. Despite the cliché 'Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,' most readers do! You want a unique, professionally designed cover that captures the essence of your book and encourages readers to buy it. You can find perfectly good professional cover designers online that don't charge the earth.
Tip: Trawl through Kindle ebooks to find the covers in the genre that you are writing and that you like. This way when you approach a designer they will have a better idea of what you want. If you can find a photo you would like to use (royalty free) then do so. This saves them time and you money.

3. Editing

Another area authors often try to save money is editing. They think that self-editing is the best option, but even the best writers can’t rely on self-editing. It’s just not possible to catch all of the mistakes and issues when you are so attached to the project. Always have a professional editor review your manuscript before publishing to ensure your book is the best it can be. Too many mistakes can be costly to your reputation as a professional author. I would suggest you go to and find an editor there to suit your budget. It takes time for the editor to review your book so ensure you have factored this into your schedule.
Tip: don't pick the one with the best resume as that can be misleading because it may not fit your style. Instead ask them to send you an unedited and edited sample of their work (same pages). Some may offer to look at a 2 or 3 pages of your manuscript.

4. Back Cover

Paperback: The back cover is just as important as the front cover! Do not rush through this step. The back cover helps hook the reader and plays a role in online search results. A professional copywriter and editor can help make your back cover and blurb great.

5. Time

Do not rush! It is far better to get your book out there when you've spent the time revising your manuscript. I've seen books that I know were rushed and it turns readers away from considering your next book. Those one star reviews hurt you and kill sales. That said, you do need to have a realistic but flexible timeline.

If you think that one book is enough then think again. The successful authors know it is important to get it as good as they can before they launch. These authors know that launching their first book is only part of the journey. As soon as they have one out there, they get busy writing the next one and so on.

Enjoy the journey because if you don't then there's no point writing. It's not an easy road to travel but it can be a rewarding one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dean Koontz on writing that bestselling novel

Here's another article I felt was worth posting here:

Tip 4

Minimalist writing, in the tradition of Hemingway, has been taught for so many decades that much of what is published these days lacks character and color. Metaphor, simile, all kinds of figures of speech have evaporated from much modern fiction, and many new writers have no interest in using the language in vivid and inventive ways. Hemingway was a stylistic genius, and his approach worked for him, in part because there were layers of meaning under the apparently simple words. Geniuses are rare; therefore, most minimalist writers end up with brisk and simple language that is barely a first layer and that has nothing under it. Dare to love the language, if minimum prose feels flat to you. Some readers won't get it; many will not only get it but delight  in it.


Dean Koontz - more tips on writing that novel