Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaNoWriMo...Start your engines!

It's here!  Write a story in a month is finally here! 

Who else is super pumped?

Ok, I'm going to be helping you out as much as I can.  I'll be writing my own book, something I've been working on for a few months but haven't gotten past the research phase.  Also, I joined a support group through My Book Therapy, which is a great website for budding authors.  They'll be emailing tips and encouragement throughout the month.

So let's get started with some "how to" pointers:

1.  Map out the basics.  I've written tons of stories, short stories, scribbles and nonsense but I always start with a basic idea of where I'm going.  I don't always know the details but I have a general idea of where my characters are heading.  That sink or swim moment is called the "black moment", it's when their darkest fears are becoming reality and it's good to have a general idea of what this moment will look like.  All scenes lead to this.

2.  Time Management.  Ok, if you're really organized, map out how many words you're aiming for, figure out how long it takes to write 1500 or 3000 words (average length for a short or longer chapter) then you can tell how many hours it will take for you finish the book.  Set aside the hours and get writing.  If you aren't organized, make sure you write everyday, or at least every week day.  Keep an eye on the calendar and aim for 25,000 by mid month, just to stay on track.

3.  No editing.  No going back.  That's right, shut off your internal editor, shut off your self doubt and just write.  Don't worry about grammar, passive voice, verb choice, just write.  Also, if you come up with a new idea mid-story, go with it.  Don't go back and edit the past to fit that story line.  You may end up coming up with a different story thread later and then you'd end up editing twice.  If you're mid-story and you discover a turn in plot, just make a note and start writing the new plot idea.  You'll edit everything later.

Ok, these are three tips to get you started.  Don't forget to have fun!

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to market and sell a self-published book

So you've finished your masterpiece.  You've poured countless hours into your work, drank so many cups of coffee that you're going to be shaking for weeks to come, ignored phone calls, banished yourself from facebook, all in your quest for writing excellence.

And now you're done!  You've self-published and celebrated your success!

But how do you get the book from your hands into the hands of readers?

The first thing you should be aware of, and I've mentioned it before, is that no one is going to care that you wrote a book.  I don't mean to burst your bubble, but it's a truth that you simply must accept in order to start selling your story.  Now-a-days, anyone can be an author, so you writing a book isn't as impressive as it once could have been.  Now how does this info help you?  You need to make yourself special, marketable.  You need to give readers a reason to read your book.

1.  Develop your platform.  A platform, while defined a few different ways, is basically your ability to sell books based on who you are, the personal or professional connects you have, and the social media outlets you use.  This takes time so don't worry if you're at the starting line.

2.  Develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  If you're in business (which you are as an author), you'll recognize this term.  A USP is what sets you apart, what makes you different than the thousands of other romance, suspense, or fantasy authors.  For example, Susan May Warren was a Russian missionary and many of her books have some connection to Russia.  This is something unique to her brand of books.  Your USP may be something to do with your characters, or perhaps your themes, but it should be something that attracts readers and sets you apart from everyone else.  By having a USP, you'll be able to funnel your marketing strategy to those uniquely interested in what you have to say.

3.  Make appearances.  Remember how you used to want to be a writer because it's a solitary profession?  Remember daydreaming about sitting in a room, just you and your computer, writing the next great American novel?  Well, as you know, writing isn't what it used to be and if you're a self-published author, you need to get your name out there.  This means, YOU need to get out there.  This goes back to your developing your platform and USP.  For example, if you are a Christian writer, a member of a church and your USP deals with broken characters overcoming some sort of unique specific obstacle, start researching various religious organizations that welcome speakers.  Make yourself known.

4.  Don't sell your book.  Wait, what??  Ok, hear me out.  When it comes to self-publishing, a common mistake and one I've made is consistently trying to get people to buy your book.  "Hey, I wrote a book.  You should check it out!"  "Hey, Christmas is coming up and my book is 10% off!  *wink wink*  *nudge nudge*"  Nope, not going to work.  After all, when you walk into a car dealership and suddenly get swarmed by sales associates, does that really put you in the mood to buy a car?  Don't sell your book.  Sell your personality, your ideas, your unique characteristics and views.  Do #3, and don't mention your book until the end.  Just tell your story, how you became an author, what you can offer others trying to get started on their own path.  Then, people will be curious about you and check out your writing.

5.  Make a movie trailer.  This is becoming popular and while I still haven't gotten around to doing it, I would recommend giving it a try. 

6.  Get someone to review your book.  This is tough.  Really tough, but start on Goodreads and search for someone willing to read and review your work.  You can also google people who will read self-published books, but just make sure that you submit to someone who reads your genre.  Also, make sure you present yourself in a professional manner.  On a side note, the reviewer is probably going to want a free copy of your story *sigh*. 

This is your starting point to marketing and getting your self-published book sold.  Along the way, you'll come up with other strategies but the main idea is to get yourself out there and put in the work.  Good luck!

Friday, October 18, 2013

National Write a Book in a Month!

Who else is super pumped about November being National Write a Book in a Month?  I've actually never done this before.  Shocking, I know but I'm doing it this year.  I signed up with in order to stay on task, get helpful tips, and possibly even win some cool prizes.
So who wants to be a superhero and sign up with me?  We can do this!  If you do sign up, feel free to leave a comment so we can support each other on our month long journey!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Vintage Books. Ebooks.

I'm a sucker for vintage books.  The feel of their rough paper, the yellowing of their pages, even the smell appeals to me, draws me in, makes me want to take them home and put them on a top shelve to be admired. 

Today I want antiquing, something I do every now and then, just to browse.  I came across a plethora of vintage books by authors I didn't recognize, but I sudden felt the urge to take each of those books home.  I only bought one, which is good for my wallet, but as I browsed a sadness came over me.  These books, the history they have, the stories they tell not only on the pages but in their creases, scribbles, and rips, belong to someone. The stories they contain were important enough for someone to write down and now they've come into my hands.  I'm holding someone's dream, someone's work.  To me, that's pretty special.  But the sadness came when I realized that one day there may not be vintage books to admire.  One day, vintage books will be endangered.

Ebooks.  Don't get me wrong, I love ebooks.  I love the convenience, I love being able to hold tons of books in my hand at one time through my Kindle.  I love the price of ebooks.  As an author, I really love how easy it is to publish and ebook in comparison to traditional paper publication.  Ebooks can be written, edited, submitted to Amazon and published with extreme efficiency and pretty impressive speed.  Paper books need to be approved, then a proof copy needs to be sent and reviewed, then you get your paper books and whoops you see an error.  In order to fix an error on a paper book you have to start the whole process of publication over, including getting another proof book, whereas on the ebook you can simply upload the new version.  Much easier. 

The problem is I love them both.  I love ebooks and paper books.  I know that ebooks are our future, and I'm excited about all the possibilities of this, but I'm still slightly saddened that paper books will lose their appeal.  It's really just the book nerd in me talking :)

Is anyone else torn?  Which do you prefer?  Paper or Ebook?