To Schedule or Not to Schedule Posts

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OK, I just did something really awkward. The post that just came through was supposed to be for tomorrow (Friday). But it appears that WordPress timing is on accord with original time. That is, a new day begins when the sun sets. This is historical fact. In the beginning, people did not always have clocks and time zones. They did however have the sun, the moon, and the stars. But I am noticing a trend with WordPress that mimics this same thing in my Stats section. Have anyone else noticed this? If you go into your dashboard when the sun goes down on any given day, you’ll already begin to see the views come in under the next days date in your stats. For instance: The views you are all getting now will fall under April 10th although according to our current measurement of time, April 10th is not here yet (I’m writing this at 8:40pm CST on Apr 9th). I decided to schedule tomorrows post (today for those of you reading in the future hee hee, funny)because I know I will not have the time to manually log on so I scheduled that last post for April 10th. I thought I was being smart by using military time just in case WordPress isn’t on my time zone and so scheduled it for 0:00 hours to reflect 12am. The jokes on me though because I’m seeing likes from a post that’s supposed to come through tomorrow!

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Oh well, maybe I’m just exhibiting my amateur blogging skills and the rest of you are having a good laugh. At least those of you in other countries are enjoying the post on time huh? I would appreciate however some wisdom from some of you blogging veterans though. I plan to schedule posts a lot more in the future and this is just not going to work. Are there any adjustments I need to make in the settings? Right now every thing pretty much falls under my time zone (USA, Central Standard Time). Thanks in advance for anyone who can offer assistance.

Dear Young People, how NOT to use Twitter

File photo of a Twitter logo in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica

Today in Indie Author News, I found some great Twitter Tips. There are tons of Social Media outlets to use for your Self-Publishing business (or any business) but that doesn’t mean all of them will prove effective for you. For some Facebook is more effective, for some Instagram and for others maybe its YouTube. Despite your chosen outlet, we are all seeking to enhance our social media skills to be of service to the online community. So for all of my twitter people out there, I have the perfect link filled with all of the twitter tips you need to get started, but first I have a tip of my own for Young Twitter Users venturing to build businesses:

Tip: Create a separate business account for your business

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Throughout our life we will learn new lessons, take part in new things, and overall become gradually different people. The older we get the more wisdom we will acquire (some of us). Experience will show us far more than words ever could and pain will become a great teacher in our lives. Needless to say, today we may not be the same person we were yesterday. Sure at 18 you probably loved to party and hang out with the home girls (or guys). But the truth is that you won’t always be that person. After turning 25 and witnessing some things you may in fact decide that the party life is just not for you anymore. Perhaps now you’ll desire to start your own business. If so, here’s the thing with social media:

If you’re going to use the same Twitter account for your new business as you used when you were rambling about your drunk friend at the club, I’m not here to judge. It’s just that you should probably take down some of the tweets that are not associated with the business itself. You are using Twitter obviously so that you can make new connections and to network with professionals and non-professionals alike. As a result, you want to project a certain professional image. Of course you have to be yourself, but you also want to be a proper representation of the new direction in your life as well.

It’s not that you want to necessarily be the physical manifestation of the business itself, (then you’ll just be boring. People will feel like they’re talking to a computer), you want to allow people the opportunity to see who you are as a person so you should definitely be yourself (as specified in one of the tips). For example, one thing that I’ve come to learn is this: People often want to feel themselves a part of something. They want to see that what you have to offer is of substance, and that it will be of benefit to their lives in some way. They want to see that you are offering more than just the product itself, or that the product itself offers more than a good price.

For this reason, it’s very important to build persona when networking online (this includes blogging). However, that persona should be a reflection, not just of who you are personally, but also your business sense and skill set. You don’t want the owner of The Best Company Ever to see pictures of you doing something wild and then you lose that connection. This same thing can actually also apply to Facebook most especially. Social Media is not a small thing anymore, it is practically everything. Employers and professionals alike do check out social media pages. I know many young people just don’t want to give the impression of being phony or fake, but that’s beside the point. It’s not about not being who you are, its about being of service to the people, and to therefore navigate both the online and offline community accordingly. You wouldn’t walk into a job interview wearing pajamas, so you probably shouldn’t portray the same nonchalant behavior online either.

Whatever you do, just keep it professional, and keep it you.

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Psst: Also, if you’re switching your personal account to a business account, please also change your Twitter name. SexyChick_5 just isn’t gonna work.

Check out more twitter tips here:
http://www.indieauthornews.com/2012/07/twitter-tips-for-authors.html

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

Self-Publishing: Just Write

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I’ve heard enough criticism of Indie Authors and self-published books to last a lifetime and for the most part, I agree with them. I believe a lot of self-published books are low in quality. I think the editing and proofreading of some of these books suck, and I think some of the book cover designs are far from eye-catching. But I also believe we are overlooking one major detail:

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Many books that are published by big Publishing Companies have some of these same problems, but no one is going to talk about that because after all, who wants to stand against St. Martin’s Griffin? No one will talk about these poorly written, and sometimes poorly edited books published by some of the most famous Publishing Companies. It is because these books have the reputation of professionalism. They are backed by publishing houses with teams of support systems that Indie Authors simply do not have. Is this an excuse? Of course not. But what I would like to suggest to Indie Authors is this: JUST WRITE.

Self-publishing-300x300Produce a professional product and keep producing. Your content may suck at first but you will never please everyone so just write. Write and invest in the  professional quality material. Identify the readers who like what you write and engage them. Self-Publishing is a slow game. So don’t go into get rich or die trying. I would even suggest you have another career on the side for bills sake and livelihood because it will be awhile before you start making real money from your book sells. This will not only assist you in life outside of writing, but it will help you to invest in your own writing. You should never solely depend on your writing career financially starting out because everybody knows writers do not make much money. Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing, we are not ballers so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by raising the stakes too high. Ambition is great, but this is a slow process in which Indie Authors need continual improvement by producing plenty of books.

 

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It is at this point that you will need to identify your writing goals. What is it you want from self-publishing a book? Is it to make the New York Times Bestsellers list? Is it to entertain your circle of friends only? Why are you self-publishing a book? This is a question only you can answer and depend on what that answer is you will have to take it from there. Your motivation, however, will have to be deeper than making money. I’m not talking about finding god and all that extra stuff. This ain’t church. I’m talking about your personal inspiration because whatever that inspiration is it will have to be the driving force behind your will to keep going. There will be frustration after frustration  in an industry to which, despite failure, you must continue to produce. It’s exciting initially because you’ve published a book, which is a huge accomplishment, Yay!! Go You! But what now?

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You set it up in your mind that the money will start pouring in and it doesn’t happen. That’s because it doesn’t work like that. Not even for writers who traditionally publish. As I’ve stated, a lot of Self-Published books suck for various reasons but don’t let the industry fool you:

Traditionally published books do too.

You think these books are automatic bestsellers? You think they’re striking gold? Nope. That’s the illusion but I’m here to tell you: writers don’t make money. At least not at first. Not Self-Published writers or Traditionally Published writers and you can take that to the bank and cash it.

So what do I propose? Do you throw in the towel? Do you do away with that manuscript? Do you stop here? No. You pass go, collect $200 and use it to keep writing. Whether your aspiration is to publish traditionally or Self-Publish, just write. But dedicate yourself to it. Here are a few tips to help get you started:

– Good Editing / Proofreading

– Nice Book Cover Design (FYI: Most major publishing houses buy multiple stock images from places like Getty images and combine them using Photoshop. Wanna know the secret to that nice book cover? I just told you).

– Formatting

– Easy to Follow Structure

– Jaw dropping opening scene

Keep it simple, keep it professional, and keep it coming. Don’t worry too much about the formalities and all that extra stuff these so called professionals keep telling you because your story probably does suck to them, but that don’t mean it’s not a masterpiece to someone else.

Just keep Writing.

Self-Publishing Book Descriptions

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Passin‘ is not a self-published book, but I would like to use it as an example. I actually borrowed it from the library and intend on returning it soon. Not that it wasn’t a good read, but I wouldn’t purchase it. Here’s why: I enjoy a book that makes my mind play it out in my head like a movie. I want to see the characters develop as real breathing people, I want them to have real issues and problems, and I want to see the story in action, and let’s just say this movie’s a little slow. Not that this book didn’t have all of that, it’s just slow getting to the point I perceived to be the main event (the meeting of the man). So it’s an alright read; I wouldn’t give it 5 stars, though. More like 3 stars. I really am enjoying the read, it’s just that I’m a bit disappointed by what the book description told me and how the story is unfolding (yea, still reading it, I’ll probably move up to 4 stars by the time it’s over, who knows lol). The story is an interesting tale of a young woman passing in the new millennium (2007). Racial passing occurs when a person classified as a member of one racial group is also accepted as a member of a different racial group by passing as that different racial group. (Did I confuse anyone?) So a black woman pretending to be white is an example of passing to keep it simple. But what made me check out the book is this excerpt from the description:

“When a successful African-American businessman thinks Shanika is the white woman of his dreams, her world spins out of control. With her future on the line, she’ll have to go beyond skin-deep to discover what’s really worth reaching for–and the person she truly wants to be.”

I know I know, how woman of me, but who doesn’t love, love? Anywho, it’s not a bad story so far, but what’s disappointing is my assumption that the meat of the story would surround this event. But halfway through the book, there’s no mention of this African American man. The story is pretty much just about Shanika’s, I’m sorry Nicole’s, struggles with “racial” (I don’t really believe in a race but for the sake of clarity) identity and her inner conflictions about living a lie (and her hatred of self…my 2 cents). In fact, we don’t meet Mr. Right until close to the end of the book. I’m probably just being picky, but I really did borrow the book to specifically see how this relationship was going to evolve. I’m not finished with the book so I may be doing a part 2 of this same post about how I judged a book by its descriptive cover, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

The point is that this inspired a post about how important book descriptions are to books, especially self-published books. We have talked about book cover designs, a little bit of editing, and even common sense reasons to self-publish. Now let us talk about the content of the book, starting with the description.

When a reader decides to buy a book, one of the first things that strike them is the book cover, the sample, and of course they’ve got to read those reviews. But another important element that plays a role in the buying experience is the book synopsis, summary, or description. If you think this is something I pulled out of my hat, just visit your nearest library or bookstore. You’ll see people scrolling through aisles and turning over the backs of books. Some of them flip through the pages and may even begin to read the first paragraph just to see if it grabs their attention.

The good thing is that if the description of your book has little to nothing to do with what the book is actually about, no one will know until after they buy the book and after they read it. The bad thing is that if they give a bad review, they’ll be your first and only customer. The truth is that book descriptions play a big role in book buying, and as I always say, it’s a good idea to produce your books the way you buy them. If a striking book cover makes you go for the bait then you should also have a book cover design that is also striking. Likewise, if reading the synopsis of a book is what makes you buy, then as an author you want to make sure your book description is also just as fantastic. “If your book description doesn’t grab them and make them feel ‘the need – the need to read’ then you’ve just lost a customer….” (Mark Edwards).

(For the record, Karen’s description was pretty good and achieved the desired effect, it made me pick it up and check it out which means I would have probably picked it up and bought it, so that’s not my complaint since I’m sure her book sells are doing better than mine. My complaint is just about the accuracy of her description of what’s actually in the book, but I digress).

A good summary will give readers just enough information about your book to get them excited about reading the whole thing. For this reason, it should be clear, brief, and simply breathtaking.

Below are 7 ways to improve on book descriptions by Mark Edwards as featured on the blog Catherine Caffeinated

(there are actually 11 but these are the ones I thought worth excerpting far as importance is concerned, 7 is a perfect number after all…isn’t it?):

1. Make it clear. Your potential reader needs to know with a quick skim read what kind of book this is, what it’s about and what the story is. The story is the most important element here – if you’ve written an erotic romance that will give Fifty Shades a run for its money, make sure people know that. Though remember, it’s the relationship at the heart of Fifty Shades that made it such a smash. You need to get that across in a very lucid way.

2. The first line is the most important. If you don’t get the first line right, they won’t read on (this applies to the book itself too). Your first line needs to encapsulate the whole book. It needs to draw people in, hit them where it feels good and make the hairs on the back of their neck stand up. Not easy – but worth spending time on.

3. Don’t be boring. The moment your potential reader feels bored, they’re gone, clicking on to the next book on the also-bought bar. Every line has to be compelling and move the story on. Just like your book, in fact.

4. Make them laugh, cry, cower. It’s all about emotions. How is your book going to make people feel? Is it heartbreaking or hilarious? Chilling or hotter than Angelina Jolie sunbathing in Death Valley? Again, look at the words most used in your genre. They are clichés for a reason. They work.

5. Use testimonials. If you have some quotes from well-known writers or experts, use them. These are generally best in a block rather than scattered through the text. If you’ve got a quote from your Auntie Maureen, you might as well use that too. Just don’t reference her as your auntie.

6. Make your characters live. As well as the story, it’s vital to get a good sense of your characters across – and, most importantly, their big problem. What terrible dilemma do they have to resolve? What personal demon do they need to conquer? You need characters and problems people will identify with – but they have to be big problems. Having a broken dishwasher just isn’t exciting enough.

7. Make the reader desperate to know what happens. You have to end your description with a cliffhanger. You need to lead the reader to the point where they are so curious that, were they a cat, it would kill them. Make sure you don’t give too much away. Be intriguing. Make them feel like Anastasia when Christian tells her he’s about to show her something really new and exciting. Make them go ‘Holy crap!’”