August Writers' Forum


CreateSpace Says Goodbye &The 2018 August Writers' Forum --The Publishing News You Need to Know

Critical of Vanity Press? How Big Publishing is Cashing In

Now in its second year, 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. For readers, there are links to southern Wisconsin bookstores to preview their upcoming events. I’ve been an independently published author since 2014 and provide this information to assist others in the way that generous writers assisted me when I was at the beginning of my indie pub journey. 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!

Get to your local bookstore. There are cool things happening there all through the month of September!

A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham Street, Madison

Books & Company, 1039 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc

Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer, Milwaukee

Squeee . . . Ellen Hopkins, one of my most-favorite YA Authors, will be in Milwaukee on September 11 at Boswell Books. 

InkLink Books, 2890 East Main Street, East Troy

The Little Read Book, 1406 W. State Street, Wauwatosa 

Mystery to Me Bookstore, 1863 Monroe Street, Madison

Tribeca Gallery & Café, 1318 S. 1st Street, Milwaukee and 401 E. Main Street, Watertown


The Writing Was on the Wall . . . KPD Print to Absorb CreateSpace

Both David Gaughran and Amy Collins have been writing about the likelihood of CreateSpace being absorbed by the print division of Kindle Amazon closing CreateSpace - Moving Authors to KDP PrintDirect Publishing. I first started following this story when CreateSpace eliminated their author services division. I wrote about that in the January Forum this year.  KDP Print has been ironing out some of the early kinks in their system. So while the proverbial ink was barely dry on the most recent articles on this expected upcoming shift, CreateSpace/KDP Print made the announcement. CreateSpace authors will receive communication from them in the coming weeks about the automatic migration of titles over to KDP Print. But if you want to get a head start on that, check out the instructions in David Gaughran’s article. The upside to this is that if you already utilize the KDP dashboard for your Kindle books, all of your titles both print and digital will be in one place for sales reports etc… I am going to proactively move my titles over the weekend. I will report back as to how that went and whether I encountered any glitches.

Critical of Vanity Press? How Big Publishing is Cashing In on Indie Authors

If you’re an indie published author, you have definitely encountered the disdain of at least someone over the process and likely the term “vanity press” has been thrown around. There are many companies out there offering services to the indie author looking for the best way to publish and it can be very difficult to discern which are predatory and which are legitimate. David Gaughran walks through how some of the companies craft a “veneer of legitimacy” and are often partnered with or are a subsidiary of a big publisher. Further complicating the ability for a new author to discern who is legit, many of the predatory companies have media partnerships that make them appear very reputable.

As a watchdog on this issue, David Gaughran points out a new HarperCollins Vanity Press called Elm Hill Books. One thing is certain, you cannot be too careful with your research when looking for author services. My main take-away here is that it is fascinating to me that the big five publishers while swimming in superiority over indie publishing have no qualms about creating divisions that specifically cater to the indie author. WHY? Because there’s money to be made.  


The Loft – Minneapolis

If you live in the Minneapolis area and have easy access to The Loft, I am jealous. The loft has some fabulously interesting upcoming events for writers and readers. One conference that I’m very interested in attending is “Word Play: A Book Party in the Heart of Minneapolis” May 11-12, 2019.” See if there’s anything of interest to you on their website:

Possibly closer to home for some of you . . . the Wisconsin Writers Association Fall Conference is September 21 & 22. There's still time to register. 

Writing on Vacation -- or Maybe Not?










Getting Away to Write and Writing While You’re Away

If an expensive writing retreat isn’t in your budget, Angelic Rodgers tells us how she crafted a do-it-yourself five-day writing retreat. See if her methods might work for you!

I always mean to write while I’m on vacation and sometimes I scribble a few things here and there, but personally, I find it cumbersome to make specific writing plans for both me and my companions while traveling. That’s why I was drawn to the article by the Publication Coach & Gray-Grant Communications. The first question they ask is whether it is more important to take time off or to write on this particular vacation. I like the idea of feeding your brain with travel experiences, free from any writing deadlines or expectations. See if their pros and cons approach works for your vacation writing decision.

Book Distribution

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve encountered authors who have no idea how to go about publishing their books—meaning which services should they use for the printing and distribution of both their hard copies and eBooks. Here’s a quick list from Darcy Pattison to aid you if you are at this decision point. Personally, I can vouch for Draft2Digital for eBook distribution. I’ve been very happy with their services.

Is Perfection an Art . . . or Author Sabotage?

Judith Briles writes the “perfect” article about the pursuit of perfection and whether it is a procrastination technique of sorts. We’ve all been in a tinkering loop at some point. Take a moment to read the article and see if it helps you avoid this pitfall.

Synopsis Writing: 12 reasons to learn how to write a brilliant synopsis

No one loves synopsis writing – we tolerate it (at best.) But it is essential for many, many reasons—and according to Lisa Poisso, there are 12 reasons to learn how to write a brilliant synopsis. You can do it.

Website Tips -- More for Authors










Yes, I’m a broken record. I apologize. But dang it all . . . of all things you put out there digitally, make sure your website is in good shape. Here are the best author website articles I read this month:

Glenn Miller (at Career Authors) tells us “5 Things Every Site Needs”. Great place to start if you’re just building your website. 

Glenna Collet (at Book Design Made Simple) has a longer article that talks about WHY you need a website and what costs are involved. She has click-throughs on how to get started and notes on whether you can do it yourself or hire a design service.

And your website will definitely include your biography. Dave Chesson walks us through crafting a “compelling author bio that turns casual readers into committed fans of your brand.” Seriously, worth reading! 

Time your book release for the holidays!Timing Your Book Release for the Holidays

Loved this article by Seven Spatz! If you’re being smart about timing your book to release to capture holiday sales, here’s an excellent timeline to follow. It starts with when you need to have your book completed. HINT: You have until Labor Day to do that, so quit reading this and get back to your story.

Nonfiction Writers: Choosing Book Index Software

Up until this year, I hadn’t really considered writing nonfiction. Now, with one nonfiction book proposal complete, I’m paying more attention to the nonfiction book writing world. If you write nonfiction, you already know the importance of book indexing. Birds of a Feather Press walks through the many tools available to the author to do this properly (and less painfully.)  

The latest manuscript editing tips and tricks.










Just last week, Amanda Zieba guest blogged about her editing process. This is a common topic, because it is such an important part of the writing process. The following five articles caught my eye this month.

Karen Conlin (Editor-at-Large for BookWorks) coaches us through the difficult process of accepting criticism, which she sees frequently as she works to polish clients’ manuscripts.

Deanna Cabinian discusses unique editing tricks like editing your novel backwards, color coding, and using excel.

The Christian Editing Services blog addresses both the length and cost of the editing process for novel-length works. The answer is that it depends on the type of editing and the state of the manuscript. This is a very up-front article about costs and the time investment editors make to properly edit a novel.

Louise Harnby continues the discussion on the costs of editing and proofreading in her article. Although, she gives her costs in £s and not dollars. The current US dollar to British pound exchange rate is $1.30 . . . so when reading this article, add approximately 1/3 to the hourly rates to convert to dollars. 

Avoiding the Passive Voice

One of my editing steps is to search out passive verb usage. (My entire editing process can be found here.) And did you know that you can set your word software to give you a percentage of passive sentences during your grammar/spell check process? Passive sentence construction is one of author Deborah Jay’s pet peeves. See her examples on how to get rid of the pesky passive verb problem.


Mentoring Tomorrow’s Writers and Readers by Mark Coker

If the name Mark Coker isn’t immediately recognizable to you, it should be. He’s the founder of Smashwords. Recently, he wrote an article for Publishers Weekly about book readership and came to the conclusion, that as authors or industry professionals we need to work on creating new readers. He tells us about a pilot program he created at the high school level . . . great story. (If you’re an author who works with students, this is a must read.)

How to reach young readers - Authors Grow Your Audience









Generation X, Y, and Z . . . how to reach them

Are you writing for the new adult, young adult, or children’s markets? This article focuses on key attributes of each of these three generations and how to reach them based on their social media usage and preferences.

Author Platform

Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner defines platform for both fiction and nonfiction writers. This is a good walk through for anyone who is just starting out. Great tutorial for nonfiction writers, too. 

Dan Blank also addresses author platform with his article “Conduct an Audit of your Author Platform”. This is a super-smart way to make sure you’re doing all the things you need to be doing to reach your intended/ideal audience. 

Marketing Books Under a Pen Name

Smart Authors Lab addresses the tricky business of marketing a book you’ve written under a pen name. (Obviously, personal appearances are off the list.) If you write in contrasting literary categories and have chosen to use a pen name for one genre of your work, this article is for you.

New(ish) Video Feature on Amazon Product Pages

Did you know that you can add a video to Amazon product pages? Ellen L. Buikema details the process of video upload on the Indies Unlimited website. You may have a book trailer or a short interview you might like to post. You can post these things on your Author Central page at Amazon, but this is a nice feature to put something right on the product page in video form.

Using your Reviews and Review ExcerptsGetting the Most out of Your Reviews!

You’ve gotten a fabulous review – now what? Carolyn Howard-Johnson details the best practices to get the most out of a review. I can guarantee there are some ideas here you haven’t thought of yet.

And more about Amazon Reviews from Author Terry Whalin who addresses the ongoing effort to get reviews and why benchmarks of a certain number of reviews on Amazon matter. 

Should you Rerelease a Revised Version of Your Book?

One of my favorite book marketing experts Penny Sansevieri talks about the options an author has for rereleasing a book title and the reasons that you might do this. If you think your title needs a reboot, take the time to read her tips. 

Stop Doing These 10 Things on Social Media (right now!)








10 Things You Should Stop Doing on Social Media . . . Immediately!

The BookBaby Blog knows how to catch your attention with this list of ten things you shouldn't do on social media. I agree completely with all ten of these. My favorite is number two – oversharing. Most people do not want to know what you had for breakfast; however, there are exceptions . . . for instance if your breakfast looks like the picture below, you are allowed to share the photo (in my opinion). 








Niche Marketing – did you write a book with a very specific audience in mind?

BookWorks teaches you how to embrace the unique marketing potential of books that have the ability to attract a niche market. You can be successful if you work to cultivate these special audiences. 


If you are just beginning your book marketing journey, Russell Phillips writes a very short Introduction to Book Marketing on the Author Help website. This is a great place to start with a checklist of things to do.

If you’ve moved beyond the marketing basics and are ready to delve into Facebook & Instagram marketing, Kimberley Grabas gives 5 Actionable Tips for Advertising Your Books on Facebook & Instagram.

And finally, if you aren’t certain you want to manage an advertising campaign yourself on Amazon, BooksGoSocial is a well-respected author assistance website that can manage these ads for you. Even if you decide their services are not for you, their advice for crafting effective Amazon ads is free.

Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  




Wow, Val, such good information and so much of it! I don't know where to start!
One question for you. Have you had Draft2Digital create an ebook for you? If yes, did you have any say in the design?
Okay - 2 questions. Why D2D vs Smashwords?
THanks for all the great info - as always!

Hi Christine,
Great questions. I was initially drawn to Draft2Digital because of their ease of set up. You simply use an epub directly from your formatting program. (My understanding of Smashwords is that the formatting can get more complicated.) At Draft2Digital I could use the epub from the Jutoh program with no further adjustments. (Please correct me here as I may be making assumptions based off of what other authors have said about complexities at Smashwords that were frustrating) Second, I've noticed that ebooks distributed by Smashwords often indicate Smashwords on the publication information page and I was trying to avoid overbranding myself as an indie pub author. Third, they distribute to just as many (if not more) ebook sales' sites. (I don't use them for Kindle as I upload directly to my own KDP account there.)
Finally, the Draft2Digital customer service is fabulous. For instance, I was a finalist for a Kindle Book Award -- the word "kindle" in my book's metadata (description) got my book flagged by the enforcement robots at iBooks/Apple. They didn't want to distribute it until I had removed the offending "kindle" word. The customer service rep at Draft2Digital went to bat for me and explained to them how it was an award listing and not a sales promo for Kindle or a link to purchase. (I can't say if Smashwords would have been just a great because I haven't used them, but maybe you can weigh in with your experience there.)

Thanks, Val

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