5 Horrible Mistakes Self Published Authors Make

Saw this on twitter, thought I’d share. These are some good points:

The Following is by Laurence O’Bryan:

hands pointing towards business man

Self publishing is a golden opportunity. For the first time in history authors can reach readers without going through the traditional publishing system.

But many self published authors are making horrible, beginner-type-mistakes, which will cripple their book sales. Here’s my take on these mistakes:

1. Not getting outside help. Writers can’t generally be editors, cover designers and marketing experts, as well as being writers. Not if they want to do these jobs well. And asking a relative or close friend to do these jobs for you is probably worse than doing it yourself. Your judgement typically goes out the window when someone close to you does something for you. If you won’t spend money on getting experts your sales will be poor. I know there are occasional exceptions to this, but they only prove the rule.

2. Having unrealistic expectations. Most books, up to ten years ago, sold hundreds of copies. Only 1 in 300 traditionally published books, which got good editing, covers and marketing support, became bestsellers in the past. Publishing became a giant game of throw-it-up and see-what-sticks. With printed books it became ever growing and almost criminally wasteful, when you consider the dirty secret that most of the books you see in book stores are destined to be pulped. Now that game is in decline. If you do get editing, covers and marketing right, you might expect reasonable sales, but publishing is always a gamble, so never risk more than you can afford to lose. Great books don’t always sell well. And Print on Demand is way better than ordering books to store in a front room and then a back room – forever.

3. Not building an email list of people who might be willing to read and review your book on Amazon. This is one of the main reasons traditional publishers take so long to publish a book. They often send review copies out to a large group of their reviewers three months in advance of publication. This policy ensures that positive reviews will be posted day one after the book goes up on Amazon. Self-published authors should consider the day a book goes live on Amazon as a soft launch. The day you have five reviews is the day your book gets launched. The day you have ten is when it can hold its head up. The day it has fifty is the day you can expect Amazon’s algorithms to start presenting it to readers near the top of a list of books someone searched for. Congratulations!

4. Not focusing on what makes your book different. Whatever you write, you need to find something unique about your book. That you’ve written a good me-too book, like many others in its genre, is simply not good enough, unless you are happy with poor sales. Sensational writing, words that jump from a page, a heart-stopping plot, and real recipes from your grandmother in a village in Sardinia, where many people live to be 100, are all potentially unique aspects of a book, which will help you find readers.

5. Not believing in yourself. Self-belief is critical to long-term success as a writer, as in many walks of life.  Writing is a profession where those who believe they can and who don’t give up, succeed. Perseverance and a willingness to learn, to edit the whole book again, for the twenty-seventh time, are necessary characteristics for a writer who is determined to become a success. Adopt these characteristics and your path will open up. In the past, it took most writers about ten years to find a publisher, from starting to write. Each year was spent improving, honing, learning. Be prepared for a long journey. If you love being creative with words, don’t give up because the road is hard. Use the journey to prepare for what lies ahead.

Finally, when you have done all of the above, you will know that you can move on. To the next book. And then the one after. Most books lead to another. One of the joys of writing is discovering what else lies inside us, waiting to be born.

Self-Publishing: Do Your Research!

When a writer sits down to write, he does not fully understand the capacity of that in which he seeks to embark. When he runs his fingers across the keyboard, or scribbles his heart into ink, he does not fully realize the power of his actions. Who would have thought a single chapter could change the world? The life of a Self-Publisher does not fully evolve until after the book is done. He does not see the many hats that must be worn in order writerwalksintothat the world may feel his voice, or sniff out his vision. What Self-Publishers are doing today is very powerful. Just by writing one book we are becoming professionals in fields that people have gone years studying in schools. People have invested in years of schooling in that they may understand how to properly market, promote, and format documents and here you understand this thing just by publishing a book alone. If that is not power, I do not know what is.

writers-block21The first book I published was a collection of essays that none of you would probably read. It started as an assignment from my English Professor in College “Does Racism in America Still Exist?” I wrote so much I could not stop writing. I wrote and read, and wrote and read, until the paper became a book, a 3 part  book to be exact. Then I had a brilliant idea: “I’m going to publish it!” When this thought entered my mental space it wasn’t occupied with much else. I didn’t even see it as Self-Publishing in particular. I did not say to myself, “Self, we’re going to Self-Publish a book.” For me it was simply, “I’m going to publish these papers.” And that was the extent of my brilliant idea. I had no intention of sharing it and no other ambition beyond that. In the end, I gave copies to some family members and college buddies but that was it. I was not interested at the time in Self-Publishing nor did I even know what it was. I always wanted to be a published author, but Self-Publishing in particular was not part of the plan. It would be years later before I actually took the concept  seriously and before I understood what it was in it’s full capacity.

selfpublishingWhen I first started out, The Self-Publishing Industry was not like it is today. In fact, it wasn’t really an industry at all. Of course, in 2007 Self-Publishing existed, but there was not the same amount of information available to Self-Publishers that there is now. We are in the age of information and in just a few short years Self-Publishing ballooned into a plethora of opportunity for authors. Self-Publishing blogs are going viral and men and women alike are making thousands, some millions, of dollars from the expertise they are able to provide on the topic. Regular, ordinary people are making something of themselves by being a part of what they were told only those with Master Degrees and PhD’s could do. But, to aspiring writers who wish to Self-Publish, I beg of you, please, do your research!

relaxed-writer_1I know we do not live in a fair world, but nothing is more unfair to me than a teenager who decides he or she will write a book and publish it and yet have no idea what is necessary to do this. There is nothing more aggravating than for me to hear a young person say that they are publishing a book, and when I ask them what POD company they are going to choose, or if they are going to purchase their own ISBN number, or their marketing plan, they have no idea what I am asking of them. All of this work, and someone’s kid is just going to write a book because its fun. How can you write a book and not understand the basics of print book formatting? Do you even know what that is? Do you even know what POD stands for? Most importantly, do you know there are tons of resources available to help you to find the answers to these questions? I am not talking about places that require hundreds of dollars of investment; I am talking about places that require only pennies. And if you do not have the penny, there are tons of free resources as well. In fact, you need to make sure that Self-Publishing is even a route you want to take. Self-Publishing is hated enough as is because big publishing houses are not making as much money. People are not forced to Self-Publish, people are choosing  to Self-Publish. The problem however, is that people are not researching this industry and making sure they understand what it means to be a part of it. Mediocrity in Self-Published books is not just because of poor editing, book cover design, etc. No, mediocrity is rooted in writers who do not research their field. This is how poor cover design and poor editing is even born.

But times are changing and the industry is not like it was in 2007. No longer can Self-Publishing be stigmatized as a field of nonprofessionals. With the amount of information out today, a nonprofessional product can only be the fault of the author and the author alone, not the industry in general. Being a Self-Publisher alone does not automatically degrade the quality of work, but the lazy work of the Self-Publisher can. I am not saying I have it all together but please research what you want to be apart of. Today, there is a host of information available to help us to get started or to sharpen our skills. So to those who are currently writing books and are seeking to be a part of the Self-Publishing field for the first time, stay encouraged. And please, I cannot stress this enough, do your research. You’ll be thankful for it in the end. You can start off with something as simple as a Google Search. And because blogs are doing so well these days, a lot of the information you’re looking for can be found right here in the blogosphere. One blogger who is always on her game with research for Self-Publishing is my good friend Colleen Chesebro. Colleen is writing her first book and is always on point with her research. She is a great example of what to do as you are writing. You don’t wait until you are about to publish a book to find out how to do it. Ttake some time out of your day and walk around the neighborhood. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

Guest Feature – Top Five Reasons You Should Be Reading Poetry

by Nickole Brown

(Found this on BookPage, excellent piece on Poetry)

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5. Because it’s unnecessary.

Yes, unnecessary, absolutely so, but only in the way that beauty and truth are unnecessary. Like an elegant armful of cut tulips brought home dripping from the store among all your pragmatic sundries, like my grandmother’s false lashes glued on every morning to her come-sit-your-handsome-ass-down-here wink, like that baked-bread smell of a newborn’s crown.

Poetry may bear witness, but it is rarely the hardy mule carrying news or facts. No, its burden is unquantifiable, and similar to a penny tossed into a fountain, its worth is in the wishing. As William Carlos William wrote, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Put another way, C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. . . . It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

4. Because it’s a throat full of word music.

 
For the poet Patricia Smith, the word was anemone. She was nine years old when her fourth-grade teacher asked her to pronounce it. She writes that she “took a stab and caught it, and / and that one word was uncanny butter on my new tongue.” For the poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar, she loves it when plethora, indolence, damask, or lasciviousness work, in her words, “to stain my tongue, / thicken my saliva.” For me, some days, it’s the word fricative. Other days, it’s ardor, aubade, hydrangea; I’ve held each of those words like a private little bubble of air popping around inside my mouth. Donald Hall calls this “milktongue” and names it as the “deep and primitive pleasure of vowels in the mouth, of assonance and of holds on adjacent long vowels; of consonance, mmmm, and alliteration.”

3. Because it fosters community.

 
Robert Pinsky knew this when he started the Favorite Poem Project when he was U.S. Poet Laureate—people love to share poems that speak to them. And not just poets, either, but postal workers and dental technicians and racecar enthusiasts, too. Almost everyone carries a poem with them, even if only a scratch of a line or two deep in memory, and reading poetry can place you squarely in the chorus of people hungry to share those lines. Consider, for example, a casual late-night post I made on Facebook last February, making a request of the Internet for poems of joy and happiness. Within hours, over sixty comments magically arrived in my feed, recommending poem after poem. . . poems by Naomi Shihab Nye and William Loran Smith and Robert Hass, among many others. I read them all, and suddenly, I was much less alone; my dreary winter was flooded bright.

2. Because it welcomes what’s inexpressible.

 
I’ll confess: it was fiction I studied in graduate school. But when I finished my program, I found the cohesiveness required of a novel to be false and hardly conducive to the fragmented, often discontinuous memories I carried. When I wrote my first book, Sister, I needed the white space between poems to hold the silence between the remaining shards of my childhood. With Fanny Says, I needed a form that would allow me to mosaic together a portrait of my grandmother with only the miscellaneous bits of truth I had without having to fudge the connective tissue between them. You see, poetry doesn’t demand explanations. In fact, most poems avoid them, often reaching for questions over answers. Now, this doesn’t mean poetry is necessarily difficult to understand, no. It means that it simply makes room for things that are difficult to understand. John Keats called this negative capability, as poetry is “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” To me, this acceptance of what cannot be explained is one of the best reasons to read poetry.

1. Because it calls for a life of awareness.

 
People often assume poetry exists in the realm of thought, lost in philosophical inquiry and romantic meanderings. And most early attempts at writing poetry fail because of this, or worse, because beginning writers travel those easy, hard-wired paths in the brain geared towards survival, which are inundated with years of advertisements, televised plots, and habitual speech. But poetry demands awareness, a raw, muscular devotion to paying attention. You have to live in your body, you have to listen hard to the quiet ticking of both your life and those around you. Like an anthropologist, you have to take down good notes. Poems require a writer to write from all the senses. As Eudora Welty said, “Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way, all over again.” To me, poetry can make even the most quotidian of things—a tomato on the counter, a housefly batting against the window, your bent reflection in a steel mixing bowl—something extraordinary. Poetry notices things. It scrubs your life free of clichés and easy answers, and the best poems make everyday life strange and new. Poetry requires you to be awake to write it, and reading effective poetry is a second kind of awakening.

Self-Publishing – DIY Promo Tools

free_resources5With the ever growing sea of Self-Published books, it is easy to throw up one’s hands under the pressure. One of the most challenging aspects of the process is finances. Many Self-Publishers do not have the money to invest. However, with Self-Publishing being the desired avenue for most authors, it has become an industry of itself and as such, there are tons of avenues out there we can follow to ensure a professional product. There’s Fiverr for example, where one can purchase a book cover design for as low as 5-$10. There is low cost editing options and even people willing to do free book reviews. Below are 15 DIY tools to help Self-Publishers to promote their books for next to nothing by Tony Levelle. I don’t believe you’ll have to use them all or that they will all work for you, but I think this is a good start for anyone looking to Self-Publish: I intend on using some of these bullet points myself and so I just thought I’d share them:

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No matter what kind of book you’ve written (or plan to write) there are many ways to reach your audience. Each of the DIY tools listed here is low or no-cost, and each of them works in its own way. One or more may be perfect for you.

1. Start Early
The most powerful and essential steps you can take toward promoting your book begin long before the actual writing of the book. Three years before the book is published–if you can–start building a network of supporters and reviewers. Keep track of everyone you meet as you research and write the book. Pay special attention to, and make notes about, those who demonstrate a genuine enthusiasm for you and your project.

As the project evolves, keep in touch with these people. You might send them an occasional email or keep in touch via a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook.

For significant milestones–the signing of your book contract, the completion of the manuscript, the arrival of the galley proofs, and the arrival of the finished books–you might bring key people together for a house party. At the house party, you could read short excerpts from your book and answer questions about the project.

2. Contribute to Web Forums
Every field has at least one or two forums that people interested in your subject know and read. Find and join these forums.

Contribute to them freely. Give advice and reach out. Offer to help others. Put a link to your blog or website in your signature line. When you have a book contract and/or a book title, add the title to your signature line.

3. Start a Blog
Early in the process of researching and thinking about your book, start a blog. Add 120-130 words each day of helpful, inspirational information on issues in your field, which are related to the subjects in your book. Aim to create a genuinely useful body of knowledge over the following 12 months.

4. Write a Remarkable Book
Set out to write a remarkable book. If your book is not remarkable, keep working on it until it is. Give the manuscript to ten friends and ask for honest feedback. Find a brilliant editor (you can find such an editor at EFA) and pay him or her to edit your manuscript. Revise. Repeat. Don’t stop until your reviewers start saying things like: “I loved it! This book is amazing!”

A remarkable book will generate word-of-mouth publicity. One person will read it, and recommend it to his or her friends. They will recommend it to their friends. This is the best publicity you can get.

5. Cultivate a Positive Attitude about Book Promotion
Think of book promotion as storytelling. The story you are telling is why you wrote your book, how it can help others, and how the world will benefit from your book. If you can develop a positive attitude about book promotion, people will pick up on it, and tune in immediately. Some writers resent the chore of marketing. Their attitude seems to be, “I’m a writer. Marketing is the publisher’s job. Promoting my own book shouldn’t be my responsibility.”

Unfortunately–unless you are Stephen King or Malcolm Gladwell–the publisher probably won’t have the budget to market your book. If you don’t promote your book, no one else will.

6. Create a Media Kit
Your media kit should include:
* Professionally printed business cards with the book cover on one side and your contact information on the other side. Do not try to print them on your home printer. This is a time to invest in your product and yourself, not save money.

* A headshot by a professional photographer or a talented amateur. It should be well lit, with a neutral background. Your eyes should sparkle.

* A 100 – 150-word biography. The main purpose of the biography is to tell a reader why you are uniquely qualified to have written this particular book.

* A ‘one-sheet’ for the book: a single piece of paper with a glossy print of the book cover on one side and a one-page description of the book on the other side. Be sure to include a few short blurbs and recommendations from colleagues and friends in the description.

7. Create a Book Pitch
Consider writing at least three sales pitches for your book: 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds. When someone asks what the book is about, give them the 10-second pitch. If the person responds with interest, have a longer pitch ready! Practice your pitches on friends until they tell you the pitches work.

8. Build a Website
As publication day approaches, build a full website. The website should include:

* A book blog, in which you write updates, corrections, errata and respond to reader comments and suggestions. This book blog may become the basis for the second edition of your book.
* Sample chapters from your book
* A link to the Amazon page for your book, so people can buy the book online
* Your media kit (see step 5)
* Book reviews and blurbs.
* Your schedule of appearances, including bookstores, speaking engagements, and conferences
* Contact information.

9. Get Book Reviews from Individuals
Six months (nine if possible) before the book is due to appear in bookstores, start asking people for reviews and blurbs. Send reviewers a printed galley proof of your book. If you don’t yet have printed galley proofs, send a PDF containing the first two chapters, a table of contents and your bio.

Don’t be afraid to approach the ‘biggest names’ in your field. (This is important.) Ask for both reviews and blurbs. Busy people may only have time to write a few sentences. A word about PDFs: check with your publisher about their policies on review copies. Many publishers will NOT allow you to send out a PDF copy of the entire book. They are afraid the book will be stolen.

10. Write Articles
Every field has eZines, websites, and magazines that advocate or deal with the subject of your book. Find them. Once you know where they are, look through them and figure out which ones talk to the audience for your book. Contact those sites or publications and pitch articles that will be of interest to their readers. Schedule articles to appear around the time your book will appear in bookstores and on Amazon. For example, if your book is going to appear in bookstores and on Amazon in mid-June, schedule your articles to appear in July, August, and September. Remember to pitch articles early, because many magazines and eZines have a 3-6 month lead time. Mention your book title somewhere in the article. In online articles, link the book title to its Amazon page so readers can click over and buy the book.

11. Get Book Reviews from eZines and Magazines
Ask websites, eZines and magazines in your field to review your book. Some websites or eZines may offer to trade, to review your book if you write an article for them. For example, earlier this year I contacted Writers Store and offered to write an article about what I learned while promoting my most recent books: Producing With Passion and Digital Video Secrets. This article is the result of that contact.

12. Get 20 Amazon Reviews
Amazon reviews are amazingly effective. Everyone from book buyers to publishers reads them. Your goal is to get at least 20 reviews. Contact everyone you know and ask each of them if they would give your book an honest review. Let them know it can be brief. If they agree, send them either a galley proof, a promotional copy of the book, or a PDF containing a table of contents, two sample chapters, and your bio. Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers are another source of high-value reviews. Find the reviewers who deal with books in your area. Write to them. Tell them you have written a book they might be interested in, and that you’d appreciate a review. If they respond, send them a galley proof or a promotional copy of your book.

 

13. Get Mentioned in email Blasts
Look for organizations in your field that send large-volume emails. Try to get your book reviewed in their email or newsletter. When the number of people receiving the emails is 100,000 or more it’s sometimes referred to as an email blast.

 

14. Speak at Conferences
As a published author, you have the qualifications necessary to speak at conferences. Contact conference organizers at least 6 months in advance. At first, you may have to register and pay a fee to speak. Later, when you become better known, conferences may seek you out, and may even pay you to speak.

 

You should be prepared to give a 45-minute presentation. A useful way to structure a 45-minute presentation is to speak for 30 minutes, and take questions from the floor for the last 15 minutes. Plan to take a few minutes after your speech to circulate with the audience. Have a table in the back of the room where you or someone on your team sells books.

 

15. Make and Post Online Videos
Make a few 5 minute videos (or a series of videos) of yourself talking about key issues in your field. Put the book title and URL on the bottom of the video screen and in the credits.

Post your videos on several of the many video sharing sites including sites like blip.tv, jump cut, our media, Vimeo, vSocial and YouTube. Embed the video clips on your website.
Plan on following your promotion plan–perhaps an hour a day–for at least a year. Resolve to do something every day on promotion. Remember – follow-up and persistence are the keys to success.

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I hope this list has been of help to you. In addition, if you’re a Self-Publisher and you are interested in letting me read a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review, please send me an email and I will give you the details. I will read your book for free and offer my opinion. Why am I doing this? Because as a Self-Publisher I know how tight finances can be and that every little bit helps. I have some time to read and would love to see what you have to offer.

Email: ahouseofpoetry@gmail.com

Dear Writers, A Quote Worth Remembering

“By writing and publishing your book, you have the potential to touch many readers. The possibilities are endless of how your story can positively affect others, whether it’s an entire town or just one person. It’s through stories that we connect to others. So keep writing, you never know how your message could change someone’s life.” – Nicola Gibbs

www.theliterarykorner.com
http://www.theliterarykorner.com

Self-Publishing Questions?

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Do you have Self-Publishing or Poetry Questions for The PBS Blog?

Send me your emails at ahouseofpoetry@gmail.com and I will answer them live on my blog. Be sure to send me your contact information so we know where to find you. In the meantime, let’s take a look at our first question:

“As a Self-Publisher, do you think it’s worth it to try to get your books into the bookstores?”

In my opinion, No.

Put it this way: A Self-Publisher is a manufacturer. Bookstores are retailers. In the end I suppose it’s about one’s individual definition of success, but in truth, brick and mortars like Wal-Mart may get you the attention you need and the popularity, but you make more money distributing your books yourself even if its by way of POD publishing. You may not exactly be “making it rain”, but you have the potential to receive a royalty check for the number of books you sold. And naturally, the more books you produce, the more money you have the potential to make. You’ll get royalties from every book every month depending on which ones sold and how many of them sold the month prior. My advice is to simply skip the bookstore thing because everything is online. Just write and do some online self-promotion. There is however an offline community. But they can be driven to your electronic shelves in a number of ways (radio interviews, local newspapers, book signings, speaking events, etc.). Another way to consider, is to try to get your books into the libraries and into the  Schools  instead of the book stores. I say Library not necessarily for the money. I say the library because although everything is online, the offline community is still very much active in the libraries. Not only are computers available, but they have access to hundreds of books freely with a Library card and they can request your book if they know that it exists. That’s the focus I’m on now per offline promotion, among other things, visiting the libraries and following the protocol necessary to get into the system. As well as communicating with your local schools and getting into their systems. Again, you may not make a lot of money but the word of mouth on your new hot masterpiece will sell itself. You’ll get your book into the hands of the people and that is where you want it to be.