April Writers' Forum 2019


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 2

Choosing BOTH Amazon KDP and IngramSpark for Print-on-Demand Titles

The April  2019 Writers' Forum -- All the writing craft hints and indie publishing tips you need to know.


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 2

Lee Foster writes a summary about the world of publishing in its current state for The Book Designer website. This article is a quick look (based on his print book) at how publishing best practices continue to evolve. In Part 2, he focuses on an author’s website, social media, promotional activities, and marketing. Read the whole article: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2019/04/book-publishing-are-you-keeping-up-part-2/

Why We Chose Both IngramSpark and Amazon KDP for Print-on-Demand in 2019

It has been the general independent publishing advice for a while now to create both KDP Print and IngramSpark print copies of your book. The ins and outs of why this works well for expanded distribution and gives you the most flexibility (including the potential to be shelved at bookstores with minimal hassle) is worth the read. (Article from Mary Bonneville at BonFX website.)


Are you in the Writing Doldrums?Are you in the writing doldrums? Here's how to set sail with your next project.

Apparently, some of us are, because there were three separate articles this month on how to get OUT of the writing doldrums. I like “9 Weird Ways to Beat Writers’ Block” from literary agent Hope Bolinger for Writers’ Digest. This list has some interesting ways to change things up a bit (including treating yourself) to spur on some extra creative writing time. Fun read.

Mary Kole of kidlit.com has some words of wisdom on writing motivation no matter where you are in your process that I really liked.

And the Publication Coach website gives us “21 ways I get out of the writing doldrums.” These are what I’d consider micro-fixes for the point in the day when you’re ready to give up and looking for just a little more energy to finish the day strong.

Naming Your Characters

I gravitate to articles and posts about naming characters, because I think it is one of the most creative parts of writing. (I mean, in real life depending on how many kids you have, you only get to name a few people in your whole life.) I co-wrote a blog post last year about character naming with Kristin Oakley. You can read that here. 

This month I found the best website for researching first names. Behind the Name gives you the etymology and history of just about every first name you can think of. Have fun!

What’s in a Name? Naming Characters in Historical Fantasy” by Juliet Marillier for the Writer Unboxed website will help any of us with a setting in real historical time stay true to our world building by picking the era appropriate names for our cast of characters.

Additionally, a resource I came across for Historical Fantasy Writers, was this fab article by Jonathan Crowe from the Tor imprint about mapping your fictional world. (Who doesn’t love a good map?)

Creating a map for your fictional world.

Syntax in Poetry and Poetic Voice in Rhyming Picture Books

Mary Kole from KidLit.com gives good advice on the complexity of creating proper syntax and rhyme to write good picture book text. Even though I write novels, this is great advice if you ever aspire to pen a story for the younger set or even if you’re just trying to improve your skill at creating smooth flowing rhyming poetry.

Resources for Children’s Book Writers

Love this list of resources compiled by the Kotobee blog, see the full list at: “Children’s and YA Authors: Don’t Miss These 13 Resources.”

Why You Need CIP Data on Your Book

Glenna Collett on the Book Design Made Simple Website discusses why your book needs Cataloging-in-publication (CIP) data. I thought this was very interesting to learn as I had gotten the preassigned control number from the Library of Congress for my titles and assume it was enough. This article explains why you might want to go to the extra step to aid librarians with properly cataloging your title.

Writing Back Cover/Jacket Flap Copy

The Happy Guy Writing Services talks through how to write both a non-fiction back cover blurb and a fiction blurb that will help you sell your books. There’s a four step formula for each of these that’s worth reading through, but in brief, for fiction it’s 1) the backstory 2) a problem to solve 3) a new, surprise problem 4) an overall appraisal of the book. Obviously, non-fiction has a different formula. The Non-fiction Authors’ Association has good advice for writing your back cover copy as well with “How to Write Sales Copy for the Back of Your Nonfiction Book.”

Print vs. eBook (Both or just one?)

I’m sure most of us are aware that there are a number of publishing companies that distribute eBooks only and never create a print version of the titles they sell. Many indie pub authors also go this route, particularly in the romance category where voracious readers are used to picking up multiple copies per week to read on their e-reader. Indies Unlimited discusses whether you need a print book in “Must You Publish a Print Book.”

Also this month, The Book Designer website featured an article about “Why Print Is the Future (and Always Was) for Some Books” by Douglas Bonneville. He walks through the journey he took to make his print book on fonts (he’s a graphic designer) a reality and why that print book was so important. (NOTE: This is also a great exploration of different indie publishing services that the used.)

eBook Distribution - Comparison of 5 Companies.

Comparison of Five eBook Distribution Companies

And just in time to help you make the best decision about which eBook distribution company you might use, Carla King writes a wonderful comparison article for the Bookworks website. “Comparing the 5 Most Popular eBook Distribution Companies” takes a good look at Draft2Digital, IngramSpark, PublishDrive, Smashwords, and StreetLib. She talks about fees, customer support, where they distribute, and more. I use Draft2Digital and have been very happy with them, so if any of you have questions about their services, I’m happy to answer questions.


Book Launch Checklist: A Marketing Timeline for Authors

Author Debbie Macomber wrote a guest post on the BookBub blog with this very helpful timeline/checklist beginning six months prior to a book’s release. Even though she is a well-known, best-selling author she writes that “it’s important to supplement your publisher’s marketing campaigns with your own promotions so your lovingly crafted words reach as many readers as possible.” These tips are great for the indie pub author, too.

The Indie Writer Book Launch Guide

The IndieReader website is posting a three-part Book Launch Guide that covers everything from book reviews to in-store events to book trailers and social media promotions. Part 1 on Book Reviews, includes a good look at professional reviews, book bloggers, and social media reviews. Part 2 covers ARC readers, indie bookstore appearances, advertising and book trailers, new release promotions, and book blog tours. Part 3 will be out next week (I’ll feature it in the May Writers’ Forum). That installment covers updating your website, updating the backmatter of your other books, author social media outreach, and a nifty post-publication date to-do list. (Can’t wait to see what’ on that list.)


KDP Piracy Victims May Be Eligible for Compensation

The Alliance of Independent Authors offers a succinct analysis of the terms of agreement with KDP that might allow an author to receive compensation if they can prove that someone else (who has no claim to their book content) has made money by pirating their book. Interesting read.

eBook Piracy - KDP Bad Actors and What One Best Selling Author is DoingIf you missed it, Nora Roberts penned an awesome response to those plagiarizing her work on KDP. I think I only posted this over on my Facebook page. Here’s the link to her full article: http://fallintothestory.com/not-a-rant-but-a-promise/

It helps to know the full story of her saga with Janet Dailey’s plagiarism of her books many years ago. Yes, Janet Dailey. Good grief, right?? Here’s a link to that article. http://fallintothestory.com/plagiarism-then-and-now/

The UK Guardian wrote an article about the whole mess: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/mar/28/plagiarism-book-stuffing-clickfarms-the-rotten-side-of-self-publishing

David Gaughran has been the watchdog against the book farms that manipulate the KDP system and has a lot to say about their shady practices, too.

Author Platform

David Gaughran writes a comprehensive article about How to Build an Author Platform that includes a definition of what an author platform is and which parts are the best use of your time. He touches on the idea that an excellent author platform can boost sales, but doesn’t include the actual advertising as part of your platform as that lives under the marketing umbrella. However, the Nonfiction Authors’ Association goes a step further and talks about how paid marketing/advertising services can boost both your platform (followers/visibility) and boost sales at the same time.

Do you Write Series? You Need a Series Page!

Indie Unimited walks through what your series page is on Amazon and the steps to properly set up your series details inside Kindle Direct Publishing to make sure that all the books in your series are properly identified as being part of a series. Read what to do here.

How to Sell Books in 2019

David Gaughran’s April installment of "How to Sell Books in 2019" covers many details . . . including price promotions and advertising on Amazon, BookBub, and Facebook advertising.

Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast: How Good Copywriting Skills Sell More Books

If you haven’t headed into the land of Amazon, Bookbub, or Facebook ads, you might not realize that you don’t simply rely on your book description to sell ads. First, your book description is far too long to work as punchy copy to catch the eye of someone scrolling down a computer screen. You have to be innovative and smart with your copywriting. This episode of the Smarty Pants Book Marketing podcast gives great guidance on writing the best copy for effective ads.

5 Ways to Market Your Audiobook without Ads & More from the Writers' Forum

Five Ways to Market Your Audiobook without Ads

Jessica Kaye writes a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog with five smart ways you can gain traction for your audiobook without spending money on ads. Whether you’ve recently entered or have been in the audiobook market for years, I think you’ll find this helpful.

Email Reader Magnets: How to set up automated delivery of free content.

Often to entice followers to subscribe to a blog or email newsletter, authors will offer a bit of free content. Delivering that content doesn’t have to be complicated. Rachel Collins gives step-by-step instructions for a number of different services that can deliver free content for you. I recently set up a multi-part system for an author via MailChimp and it wasn’t difficult.


Instagram for Authors:

Frances Caballo’s has written a series of incredibly helpful articles for authors on how to use Instagram. I’ve posted one or two of these before but here they are in one place. I need to do a better job with my Instagram account! Maybe you do, too?

New to Instagram? Here’s How to Start Plus 9 Tips for AuthorsInstagram for Authors and more indie pub information you need to know.

Everything Authors Want to Know About Instagram

Instagram Account Lagging? Start Using Instagram Stories

How to Use and Share Instagram Videos and IGTV

Get to Know These Instagram Apps

7 Simple Secrets to Totally Rock Your Instagram Account



This weekend!! UntitledTown Book & Author Festival – Green Bay, WI – April 26-28, 2019

This festival is free for attendees. Check out the fabulous sessions you could attend!

LakeFly Writers Conference – Oshkosh, WI – May 10 & 11, 2019  There’s still time to register!

Happy Writing, Valerie

The Writers' Forum is a compilation of the month’s important publishing news and helpful writing information for authors, particularly those independently publishing their books. As an independently published author who is now agented, I provide this information to assist others in the way that generous writers assisted me when I was at the beginning of my publishing adventure. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press. I'd love to use my skills to guide you through the steps of independent publishing!


Wow Valerie, this is a packed with tons of info! Thank you for compiling it. I'll be bookmarking it for review because this is my writing time and I know I'll go down a rabbit hole with all these great links to check out. Have a great time at Untitled Town, Brenda

Thanks, Brenda. The last thing I want to do is to interrupt your writing time! There was so much great info this month. I like that there is something for writers at every stage of their adventure! Happy writing, Valerie

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