My love of reading comes from my Dad.
My dad loved to read. I remember nights sitting in bed while he would read numerous stories, some of which probably gave me nightmares. Books like Little Pilgrim's Progress, books about history, and one about a boy and his friends that got lost in a cave which I still think about today and get goosebumps.
Garrison Keillor was one of his favorite authors. He read all of Keillor's books and would lay on the floor in the living room at night with the lights off, listening to the radio broadcast by the author, A Prairie Home Companion.
My dad was hit and killed while riding his bicycle when I was 14. Of the many things I learned from him, the love of reading he instilled in me is probably one of my favorites. It is the one thing I hope to pass along to my two children.
A book can give you so much: inspiration, a friend, hope, a new perspective, empathy...
I'd love to know what, or who, inspired your love of reading?
I was recently asked by a colleague how one would go about writing and publishing a book. Here is my story, a few weeks away from the self publication of my first novel.
I've been very curious lately about the book publishing process. What are the steps necessary to getting writing material onto the shelves? With our continued progress on Frantic Froggy and seeing the evolution of the "Reaper" [That's my book, being designed by my super amazing company ApogeeINVENT], it's gotten me itchy to know how all that works and perhaps even apply it myself in the future.
I had those same types of questions myself as I was doing industry researching and connecting with authors for FranticFroggy. That is why I decided to write a book, which became Reaper. It is like learning a language - you never truly learn it until you immerse yourself, and I have learned so much about the process over the past ten months. I'll give you a quick rundown.
Traditional vs Self Publishing
While traditional publishing may offer a small advance and will cover the costs of editing and book design, formatting, and printing, you will also get a very small cut of the royalties. Most traditional authors get around 20% if they are lucky, and this is usually after the publishing company has recouped their investment. The traditional publishing process also requires you to seek an agent (in most cases, their are some rare exceptions where a writer will be accepted without first contracting with an agent), and you will need to create a book proposal, and even show their is an interest in your author brand before a company will consider your work.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, gives you complete control of the process, but you will also need to cover all your own costs. However, a savvy writer will be able to keep their costs down to a minimum. And with services like CreateSpace and Smashwords, and POD (print on demand), your book will appear in almost all the sames places a traditionally published book will appear. Additionally, the average amount a publishing company will spend on marketing is under $800, so most traditionally published authors do all their own marketing, anyway.
The Self Publishing process:
Write your book.
It sounds overwhelming, but once you sit down and start pounding it out, it actually went really fast for me (and this is writing late at night, in the car while picking my daughter up from preschool, and early mornings before the kiddos got up). Sometimes the most difficult part is sitting down and writing that first chapter.
Get some feedback.
They call it "beta readers", and I found a great group on Goodreads that lets you post your book or parts of it and people read it and provide feedback. A word of caution - some of these readers are very cruel and will almost crush your dreams of publishing. You can't please everyone, so it is important to sift through the feedback. And try to find readers that actually like your genre - it helps get more accurate feedback.
Get it edited.
I am a terrible hypocrite. I always tell authors to get their book edited professionally, but I didn't do this. There will probably be some errors in my published book, but I've found the industry to be growing much more forgiving because of the amount of self-published books. I just didn't want to spend the money, but you could probably find a decent editor for $100 - $300. (A developmental edit would probably cost you more, but isn't always necessary.)
Book Cover Design.
While going through the editing process, seek our a book designer or work on designing the cover yourself (I know alot of authors that design their own covers).
Once your book and cover are completed, and you've written a really catchy book description, you can submit it for reviews (you can also do this after it is published). Publisher's Weekly and other independent reviewers will usually review indie writers.
At this time, you might want to consider setting up your marketing. Website, social media sites, whatever type of marketing you feel comfortable doing. I've heard the key to success is building a good mailing list through special offers or Facebook promotions. I haven't tried this out for myself yet.
There some different publishing platforms you can use, but CreateSpace (Amazon) is the most popular. Smashwords doesn't allow extended distribution, and I've found alot of the content on Smashwords to be junk.
It is simple to format and enter your book into CreateSpace; they offer a great step-by-step process and lots of help materials. Once you've entered everything into createspace, you can set your publishing date, choose the type of ISBN you want, select extended distribution (which will allow it to appear on other locations, such as Barnes and Noble.com), and you are now a published author!
Then the real work begins: promoting your book and building your author brand.
I recommend using the digital marketing techniques Apogee uses to promote your book: website, blog, social media, building a list using a free offer, and Amazon 99 cent promotions that you submit to sites like readfree.ly or Read Cheaply. You can do book signing events or book trade shows, but it can be difficult to recoup your expenses.
I hope you found this useful. If you have specific questions, please ask!
Free editing? Yes, you heard right. I am going to be giving away one free edit, a proofread or line edit, each month.
Why would I give away my editing services? Just like authors use free books to promote their brand, I am using free edits to build my referral network and grow my brand as an editor.
Just head over to my editing services page to learn more about my editing services and read some testimonials of the authors I've worked with.
Have questions or want to be entered for a free edit? Fill out the contact form or just tell me in the comments below!
How to use Twitter to promote your book and author brand.
There are so many options for authors to promote their books online. It can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Authors today need to be not only a great writer, but a great promoter too. Twitter can be a useful tool for authors because it is simple, accessible, free, and doesn’t require too much time commitment.
How can you make the most of Twitter for your book marketing?
1. Follow other authors.
Find and connect with other authors, particularly in your genre. Not only can you learn from their actions, you can also gain a larger following for your own account. Many authors are great about following back. Just remember that many Twitter users follow hundreds if not thousands of other accounts. This makes it basically impossible for users to read every Tweet. You need to stand out by using hashtags, interacting with other users, and posting multimedia.
2. Promote other authors.
Indie authors are a great community. They understand that by promoting one another, it greatly increases the audience of each individual.
“Be the friend you want to have” is one of my favorite quotes. This applies especially well to social media marketing. If you want others to connect and talk about your posts, you need to interact with them first. Be sure you are replying to other tweets, retweeting others’ content, or favorite other posts.
3. Be interesting – don’t just promote yourself.
Most users won’t be interested in numerous posts that just promote your own book or your author website. Be sure your posts are providing value to your followers. This means posting links to funny or interesting blogs (it would be best if it was YOUR blog!). Post quotes or inspirational messages. Use humor. Just be sure to intersperse your promotional posts with other types of content.
4. Write a catchy author bio.
Many Twitter users are going to read your bio before following you. A catchy bio is one great way to stand out. How can you make your bio catchy?
Use humor or something that makes you unique. Be sure to include a high-quality image of yourself (or your book). Then include any important hashtags to help others find you. Don’t forget to add a link to your website or where they can purchase your book.
5. Respond to your followers.
The best way to make your followers feel important is by responding to their direct messages or tweets mentioning you as soon as possible. We use social media to make a connection, and readers and other authors want to feel like they matter to you. Never let a question or comment go unanswered; these are valuable opportunities to connect and create important relationships and a positive feeling towards your author brand.
6. Use the right author hashtags.
Hashtags help you connect with authors tells all those other Tweeters what kind of content you are posting. Hashtags are the best way to get your posts noticed by a broader audience. Here are some of the top hashtags authors need to know from Social Caffeine:
To Connect With Readers
To Promote To Readers
To Discuss The Writing Process
To Discuss Genres
To Announce Book Launches
To Discuss Indie Publishing
7. Don’t give up.
Just like any other type of promotion, it takes time to build a brand on Twitter. Keep posting, interacting, and following others. Over time, your following will grow.
Do you use Twitter? What have you found to be useful?
I'm wondering how other book lovers pick the next book to read. Where do you look for great books? Any kind of great new book - new romance, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, horror, suspense... I have my patterns of finding new books to read, but I can't help but wonder if I'm missing some great way, some secret, to discovering new and thrilling reads.
I read bestsellers. I'll buy pretty much anything by Elizabeth Hoyt, Dean Koontz, Lisa Kleypas, Jayne Ann Krentz. But I really love to discover new, emerging authors. The best places I've found for this are sites like ReadFree.ly, which sends daily / weekly digest email with great promotions (like free!) by indie authors. It includes a summary, the price, and the cover. I usually load up my Kindle when I have a chance to open and read these digest emails with the great book deals.
I love Goodreads. It has so many ways to connect and interact with readers and authors. However, there is a little bit of a disconnect for me between putting a book on my shelf and actually buying. For some reason, that extra step is a barrier. And I find it more difficult to take a chance on a new author when the book is a little more pricey.
I love browsing at books stores, big brands like Barnes and Noble and independent books stores (although these are becoming more difficult to find).
LifeHack posted 17 Ways to Find Good Books, and some I agree with, others I want to try (like Book Seer or WhichBook).
How do you find your next favorite books? Do you have a website you use, or do you depend on friends' recommendations? Please share your tips and thoughts in the comments.