October Writers' Forum
In my journey through the steps of independent publishing, refining my writing skills, and most recently completing a successful agent search, I’ve come across some excellent information, tips, tools, and shortcuts that I think would be beneficial to any writer. Once a month, I’ll share the “best of” information and news from the publishing industry as well as feature other authors and writing instructors with tips to share. I am incredibly thankful for the assistance and advice given to me from writing and publishing professionals and am happy pay that forward. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press.
November Book Events in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Book Festival is celebrating its 15th year with a diverse schedule of events featuring authors of every genre from October 27 to November 5 (and additional events all year long.)
Additionally, we are very fortunate in southern/south-central Wisconsin to have indie bookstores with extensive schedules of author/book events. In fact, there are so many in November that I can't fit them all here. Please check out your favorite bookstore's event schedule by clicking below.
Mystery to Me Bookstore, 1863 Monroe Street, Madison
A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham Street, Madison
Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer, Milwaukee
Books & Company, 1039 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc
Alliance of Independent Authors and Indie Author Fringe
If you are an indie author or contemplating taking that plunge, you must familiarize yourself with the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and their online conferences called Indie Author Fringe, which are “fringe” to the major global publishing fairs. ALLi “brings together the most up-to-date self-publishing education and information available and broadcasts it to authors everywhere.”
The recent schedule of online sessions offered in conjunction with the Frankfurt Book Fair included many excellent pre- and post-publication topics. Here are my favorites:
Bookbub Ads for Beginners by Adam Croft (Yes, you can advertise with Bookbub even if you can’t seem to land a daily featured deal.)
There were also plenty of sessions focused on getting started in self-publishing if are weighing your options. Really a treasure trove of information and a great place to start as you’re educating yourself about the indie publishing industry.
Using the Right Images for Your Blog or Social Media
This might seem like the least of your worries as you begin your publishing journey. After all, you’re supposed to be spending your time WRITING. However, you will at some point write a blog and/or curate your brand and message to followers via social media platforms. You’ll be including images in those posts and those Images Matter! You will always have higher engagement if you use images. (Here’s a fabulous article on writerswin.com that gives you the image specs for most social media sites.)
BuildBookBuzzz.com tells us how to pick the right images for our blog posts. My favorite piece of advice is to not be too literal in your choice of images. (This is a mistake that I make somewhat frequently.)
You want to make sure you’re using photos or graphics that are free to use—if you’re not designing your own graphics or using your own photos. You can always purchase images, but there are many free image-sharing sites that might have exactly what you need. Digitalpubbing.com lists 18 sites where you can find photos, BuildBookBuzz.com also lists free stock images sources.
Pricing Your Books
This question always comes up. How do I price my books? I still wonder if I’ve hit the right price point, and after reading this article by author Dean Wesley Smith, I might make some changes. The nice thing about indie publishing is that this is our decision to make. Whether you are a new or established author, this is worth the read.
The Newest Issues and Considerations about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program
More trials and tribulations over at Amazon . . . are you sick of this subject yet? I’m getting a little tired, however, with such a high percentage of the independently published book market being reliant on Amazon, we must stay informed! Most of the problems are stemming from manipulation of the Kindle Unlimited program, which is the subscription service for readers that authors enroll their books into and are paid for the pages read.
The following articles were all written by independent publishing expert and author David Gaughran, who is a wealth of information and writes detailed articles on so many subjects important to succeeding in the indie pub world.
Here’s the quick scoop:
Gaughran first tells us about Amazon’s fake book problem in a detailed article in June—explaining how some bad actors are using clickfarms to manipulate the best seller charts.
He then explains how he decided to take the leap and test his books on Kindle Unlimited in August, using some of their built-in promos like Countdown Deals. (This means his e-books were exclusive to Amazon and couldn’t be available for purchase anywhere else.) Check out the crazy stuff that happened to him in this article: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/the-only-rule-amazon-truly-cares-about/
Then later in August, he provides a summary article about the Kindle experience that is worth a read (even if you aren’t exclusive to Kindle.)
Just last week, Gaughran details the saga of Amazon attacking legit authors but seeming to continue to ignore the scammers, making for a difficult time for a few relatively well-known indie authors in his article: Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives. (The title made me laugh, but really this isn’t funny as it is costing legit authors some serious money.)
Most recently, Gaughran writes a smart analysis of the conundrum indie authors face – whether to embrace Kindle exclusivity or go wide with your marketing strategies.
No matter what strategy you decide on, at least you’ll be up-to-speed as you market your books. I find that David Gaughran is a partner we can trust for solid info!
Independently Published Authors – Libraries Are for You!
I recently spent two days at the Wisconsin Library Association hanging around with some of my favorite people, and I was surprised and pleased by how many librarians asked how they could find well-written independently published books. What a great question! The authors in attendance referred librarians to winning contest lists for indie and small presses and to sites like IndieBRAG that only give a gold medallion to books that meet their high standards. (If you haven't submitted your books for consideration over at IndieBRAG, you should do so immediately. This supportive community provides excellent indie book recognition and advice.)
This reminds me that those of us who have been intrepid enough to publish independently should not shy away from the library market. This article by Amy Collins on the Book Designer website remains relevant more than a year after its initial publication and provides a succinct 9-step list on how to get your books into libraries.
The Evolution of Libraries
Libraries are a hub for so much more than books. Nowhere was this more evident than at last week’s conference . . . Wisconsin like most other states provides exemplary services to patrons well beyond book lending and incorporates new trends and technologies. There’s so much our libraries have to offer. An article I bookmarked a year ago by best-selling author of “The Memory Box” Eva Lesko Natiello recognizes how the ability of libraries to embrace what’s new can only bode well for the independent author.
How to Make the Most of a Professional Book Review
You’ve landed a wonderful review from a professional or editorial book reviewer. Now what? After you’ve done your happy dance around your desk, you need to jump into action to make the most of this praise. The BookBaby blog lists eight things to do with this review. It’s important to make sure it is visible to potential readers and seven of the eight steps address this. However, the most important step might be what you do with a not-so-great review . . . don’t take it personally but definitely see if there’s anything in the reader’s critique that can improve your writing.
As always, I hope that these articles help you on your writing and publishing journey!
Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie