Recommended: Writer for Hire

If you freelance, you might want to read the latest book by our prolific friend, Kelly James-Enger.

Take a few minutes to read my review on …


Beyond the E-hype

When you write a book, today for the first time, there seems to be an extreme sense of urgency. Not only are people choosing to self-publish to avoid the often fruitless agent/book deal dream, but because time wasted is lost opportunity in today’s fast-moving digital book marketplace, they are often skipping print and going straight to ebooks..

But resist the urge to rush through the writing and production process. You don’t want to publish a book with poor editing, or a bad cover, just to get it on the market while ebook sales are soaring. Ebook sales levels are still a small part of the overall book market. Good writing will last forever, but poor production or obsolete formats will go to the digital dump, just like cassette tapes and previous media fads.

Want a bestseller on Kindle? Do the work

Do the work… That is the take-away message from this article about Mark Edwards’ success with a bestseller on Kindle and iBook:


What advice would you offer to unpublished novelists?

“Firstly, you have to really really want it and believe you have a talent. Writing is hard work, and the universe doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams. It takes a great deal of persistence. Secondly, you need to write stories that people will want to read. Finally, these days you have a choice: try to find an agent and publisher, or self-publish. The second route worked for us but I still think it’s worth pursuing the traditional route first.”

What’s the secret to getting noticed on the Kindle and iBooks charts?

“For iBooks we were lucky because Apple put us on the home page of the Crime and Thrillers category so we got noticed very quickly. With Kindle, it took months of spending hours every day plugging away, using social networks, blogs and doing everything we could to find readers – eventually, if you’re lucky, Amazon pick you up in their algorithms and start to display the book more prominently. But the real secret is to write a great book that people will tell their friends about. Word of mouth is by far the most effective tool.”

Read the full article here on this U.K. site.

Author Marketing: The last hundred hours

In Release Your Writing, I refer to several concepts that continue to generate feedback year after year.

Last week I wrote here about the need to continue promoting your book, for years, not weeks after it launches. In the book, I suggest you do one thing each week and one larger task each month, to keep the book alive. You can read last week’s post for inspiration if you’re currently marketing your book.

Today, lets talk about my concept: “the last hundred hours.” It refers to all the work left to do on your book once you ‘think’ it is is complete.

The Last 100 Hours

When you finally have the text nailed down, and your chapters flow, it still takes about 100 hours for reader feedback, final review and editing, reading cover-to-cover, chasing down citations, and submitting for publication. Even writers with a traditional publisher need that huge time push at the end.

Don’t get scared though. It’s not 100 hours without sleep, just two to three weeks where you won’t watch TV, open the mail or read the newspaper. You will use all your available time for the final push to publication, because you’re so close to being finished, and it feels so good.

Maybe you’re tired of revising, or up against your deadline. This is not the time to rush. Your book has taken shape from a dream to a reality, but the professional editing, formatting and last minute clean up should not be rushed. Even when you think you’re done, print the manuscript, put it in a binder, and read it cover-to-cover, or read it aloud. If you love it, and you know your target audience, your readers will love the book too.

Author Marketing: What’s on your list this month?

In Release Your Writing, I refer to several concepts that continue to generate feedback year after year.

One is the concept of “the last 100 hours” which I’ll post here next week. It refers to all the work left to do on your book once you ‘think’ it is is complete.

The other comes up almost every week in my work with authors. People write a good book, I consult or assist in getting it published, and spend time discussing the marketing involved to keep the book alive. But for a few people, when they reach that point, they think they are “done!”  The reality is, you can’t believe people will buy your book just because it is on Amazon.

So, to reiterate the essential concept from Release Your Writing, here it is again:

“Susan Driscoll (formerly president of iUniverse,)  notes that word-of-mouth, the top-selling factor for most books, takes that long to reach a peak. So don’t plan to sit back and wait for future sales if you’re not actively promoting the book. As the publishing adage goes: “Your book stops selling when you stop selling it.”

“Keep working the web. Do one thing a month, every month, to increase your exposure. Although your book will be on major online retail sites, you can leverage the broad reach of the web by cross listing, and linking to your book in all reviews you post online for colleagues and friends.

“Seek reviews; get in stores online and across the country. Write articles in newsletters, magazines and newspapers to get press. Work your affiliations by joining organizations that will increase your exposure and let you learn from others in your field.”

12 steps before you’re ready to publish

My colleague, Stephanie Chandler, author of “BookedUp,” offers a thoughtful post on her blog here.  Her “12 Tasks Every Author Should Tackle Before Publishing a Book” is terrific. The advice includes many of the items I tell clients every week: Start a blog, Find a way to stay visible on social media,etc. But Stephanie goes much farther. She helps you understand how to prepare for a launch, create marketing materials, and really understand the commitment to making your book a success.

Again, Stephanie’s full post is here. Learn more at her site, Authority Publishing. She is a master at author marketing.

BookedUp” is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon.


Catch 22: The value of a good title

The August 2011 issue of Vanity Fair has an excellent article on Joseph Heller and the writing of Catch 22.

Here’s the catch… He named it Catch 18 and (as I tell clients not to do) he grew too fond of that title.

His editor suggested it would be confused with a new Leon Uris book about to be published, Mila 18. Two novels on the market with ’18’ would clash in the market.

The Vanity Fair article reprints a note Heller sent to his editor…

“The name of the book is now CATCH-14. (Forty-eight hours after you resign yourself to the change, you’ll find yourself almost preferring this new number….”

Heller’s young agent weighed in with a better idea, puzzling over the 18, and unaware of the 14, as she was trying to fall asleep. In the morning she phoned Heller. “I’ve got the perfect number. Twenty-two, it’s funnier than eighteen.”

So, even if you love the working title for your book, think about how it will stand up to the market, and make sure it has the strength to last for generations, as Heller’s work does.

Agents embracing ebooks

First, we grassroots writers were publishing ebooks, then the birth of Kindle, Nook and other tablet devices made ebooks the next million-dollar-idea in the industry. Now, a well known agency is helping clients go straight to ebooks, for the right projects:

This from Media Bistro 6/29/11

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management will now help clients explore eBook and print-on-demand options.

The agency founded the service to help “books we believe in and feel passionately about but couldn’t sell.” According to the agency’s site, they have “no intention of becoming e-publishers.” Last year the Wylie Agency created (and then resolved) a public dispute with Random House over the Wylie Agency’s push to make eBooks for clients.

Here’s more from Dystel & Goderich: “what we are going to do is to facilitate e-publishing for those of our clients who decide that they want to go this route, after consultation and strategizing about whether they should try traditional publishing first or perhaps simply set aside the current book and move on to the next. We will charge a 15% commission for our services in helping them project manage everything from choosing a cover artist to working with a copyeditor to uploading their work.  We will continue to negotiate all agreements that may ensue as a result of e-publishing, try to place subsidiary rights where applicable, collect monies and review statements to make sure the author is being paid.” (Via PaidContent)

More from J. Konrath

On his blog, J. Konrath talks about how the rules of publishing have changed. No more book tours, sitting in the sun all day waiting to sell a book to the next person who walks by. We live and work online today. Read his full post here, or take a minute to scan my paraphrased summary of the actions he describes as essential for an author today:

Here are his thoughts. “Again, none of these will guarantee huge sales. And none of them work all the time for all books. But doing these things will help to sell more books than doing nothing at all, and I’ve found them to be the best use of my time,” says Jay

1. Use Your Fans. Send  free advance ebooks to fans or offer a freebie in exchange for an honest review.

2. Social Network. Being active on Twitter and Facebook beats not being active. But remember it is about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell. No one likes ads, or being sold.

3. Change Your Price. I’ve become a fan of putting ebooks on sale. The more books you have available, the easier this is to do without hurting your pocketbook. Keep in mind that you may not see instant results.

4. Write More. The best advertisement for your writing is your writing. The larger your virtual shelf space, the more you’ll be discovered.

5. Diversify and Experiment.  I have no idea why some sell better than others, but I’m continuing to explore new genres and experiment with formats.

6. Use Your Peers. Do guest blogs. Trade back matter excerpts. Review each other. Buy each other. Support one another. We’re all in the same boat, and we all need to row.

IndieReader hypes Top Ten list

IndieReader now promoting self-published bestsellers.

Use it as a way to size up the competition, and look up some of the authors to see how they have been marketing to reach best-seller status. Also note, although we always say non-fiction sells best when self-published, the top seller is fiction:

“Writer John Locke claims the #1 spot on this week’s list with his novel Saving Vegas. Here’s more from the site: “Three of the books on the List were written by the same author, John Locke.  Locke’s book, Saving Rachel, was the first Indie book in history to hit #1 on Amazon/Kindle. In total, he has sold more than 875,000 downloads since January.”

So, your Saturday morning homework is to go figure out how he did that!!

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