Writers' Forum - June 2018

Featured Articles:June Writers' Forum - Publishing News and Writing Craft Tips You Need to Know

850 Words Added to Dictionary

What Amazon is Doing about Book Stuffing and Fake Reviews

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 July!

A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham Street, MadisonShop your independent bookstores!

Books & Company, 1039 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc

Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer, Milwaukee

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



New WORDS!!!

There are now 850 more words we can officially use in our writing thanks to a recent addition to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (Now, I know that it hasn’t stopped us from using some of these words before, but now you can do so without your most fastidious editor telling you that mansplaining, dumpster fire, glamping, and subtweet aren’t words.)

Amazon Takes on Book Stuffing

Are you sick of me bringing up articles about Amazon? I’m kind of sick of it. The problem is that most indie pub book revenue comes from Amazon, so we need to know what’s going on. After all, this is our business because this IS our business.

If you’ve never heard the term book stuffing, basically it is padding the length of your book by adding on many (many, many) pages to the main story. Why would anyone do this? It inflates their page reads for Kindle Unlimited payouts. It’s a way to scam the pay-per-page-read system. So, this only refers to Kindle books not print. Why does this matter to you? Because the Kindle Unlimited system has a maximum pool of dollars each month. When an author does this, they take away dollars from the pool of honest authors who do not pad the length of their books. Amazon is attempting to take this on with new regulations, but already there’s a loophole being utilized by the most epic of book stuffers. If you want to know more, David Gaughran has a very informative article.

Amazon takes on book stuffing and fake reviews!

Amazon Policy on Fake Reviews

Amazon is (or has been as you may have noticed) cracking down on fake reviews. The problem here is that legit reviews are getting caught up in the overzealous attempt to patrol reviews. If you want to walk through Amazon’s review policies check out the article from Iola on the Christian Editing website.


Authors Guild Gives Help with Amazon Complaints

The Authors’ Guild is giving authors an assist if they have problems with Amazon. They’re acting as a clearing house for issues with a more direct line to resolve issues. If you’re running into a brick wall with your communications with Amazon over a problem with our book selling, maybe they can help. See the full description of their system here.


Writing Dialogue – Part One

Writing educator Trace Kathryn provides us with excellent writing exercises to improve our dialogue in her tutorial the Art of Dialogue. These are fun ways to remind yourself what good dialogue writing is all about and how to achieve it. (This is part one in her two-part series . . . watch for more next month.)

Keyword Basics

If you’ve ever been confused on all the ways you can use keywords to best position your book, this article by Dave Chesson is a quick read to guide you in the right direction. This is an overview, but it can lead you to more in-depth articles where you need the assistance. For instance, there’s an entire art to picking your seven Kindle keywords that can position your title in sub-genre categories, improving your findability with readers.


Are you at the jumping off point with a new book or planning for one soon? This is a nice reviewer list from Judith Briles to get you started on the editorial review process. (And if you wished you’d done a better job of it and your book has been out a while, this list still has reviewer that work for you!)

Creating a Book Trailer that Sells Books

I am not sure if my book trailer actually resulted in the sale of books, but it was a lot of fun to create. BookBaby has tips on creating a book trailer that should sell copies! If you’re curious, here’s my book trailer for Circle of Nine: Beltany. It cost about $250 to make—and that was to secure the rights to the images/video clips.


KDP Print vs CreateSpace

I briefly discussed KDP Print vs CreateSpace in this January’s Writers’ Forum. David Wogahn at Author Imprints and Kristina Adams at Writers Cookbook are both comparing KPD Print to CreateSpace with updated information in separate articles. IMPORTANT UPDATE: Previously, KDP Print did not offer author wholesale copies—which was a HUGE drawback for profitability. I understand that you can now purchase wholesale author copies! In my opinion, this makes KDP Print a much more viable option. Please let me know if you’re successfully using KDP Print!

Search Engine Optimization for Authors - and more author marketing helpWebsite Analytics (Don’t Grab the Tylenol YET!)

Yes, you need to know what’s happening with the traffic to your website. It truly isn’t difficult to understand, especially with Tyler Doornbos’ easy-to-follow description on the BookWorks’ website. This is something you should be thinking about when you set up your website (before your book is released.) However, it’s not too late to go back if you haven’t spent any time on this prior to now.

And for further tech-minded reading, take a look at the article on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Authors by Dave Chesson. This is part one. . . I’ll keep an eye out for part two and make sure to post that as well.



Free or not to free?

This is an ongoing debate about whether you give away copies of your book to build reviews and readership. Frances Caballo walks us through the argument’s pros and cons but ultimately comes down on the side that occasional free promotions can be beneficial. For my purposes, I agree that a free promo for the first book in my series can yield good results in getting readers interested in the rest of the series (which they purchase.)

Selling Books in Odd Places

Where is the strangest place you’ve ever sold your books? (I seriously want to know the answer to that.) I laughed when I saw this article by Kathy Rowe “Selling Books in Odd Places . . . Farmers’ Markets”. I’ve DONE that! I was set up between the Amish baker and the dilly bean guy and surprisingly sold 9 books in 3 hours. (By the way, I made friends with both of my farmers’ market neighbors. The dilly bean guy even bought a book. Although, the Amish baker said that she doesn’t read books that are about unreal things. Clearly, the paranormal witchy magic in my book wasn’t going to work for her.)

Rowe admits that with her “real” job as a farmer this isn’t that big of a stretch. Her article is a fun read as we head into the 4th of July holiday. Maybe it will give you some inspiration on unusual places where you can sell books.

Selling Books in Unusual Places - Author Help and Advice









Updating Your Book (Without Losing Your Reviews)

Do you need to make major updates to a book already in print? Are you afraid that you might lose your reviews as you create this updated copy? Never fear, Joel Friedlander is here with a step-by-step article on how to update a book and keep your reviews intact.

What Do You Know?

Has writing your books made you an expert in a certain topic or multiple topics? I’m guessing that’s a possibility. I know that the research areas related to my books have led to a plethora of knowledge on different topics and, at current count, one nonfiction book proposal. And, what’s even better, is that I love talking about these topics. Joan Stewart on The Book Designer website provides a clear path for making the most of the knowledge you’ve gained. Don’t miss out on the chance to turn your expertise into speakers’ fees!!


What I initially described as a two-part series from Chris Wells on the do’s and don’ts of pitching traditional media in the May Writers’ Forum, is actually a THREE-PART series. The third article deals with the 7 Deadly Blunders that you can make when approaching traditional media outlets. The good news is Wells gives you the best ways to AVOID these blunders rather than merely describing what they are.

Wells goes on to share even more tips by giving us 3 online tools that can help us target and refine our media pitch!

Social Media advice for Authors - Indie Publishing advice and news you need to know








Social Media Wrap Up

If you’re short on time and looking for a quick tutorial on where to start with social media, Kimberley Grabas' article fits a tight summer schedule and puts you on the right path.

And because social media isn’t everything and we need to be building our own contact lists, I’m including (yet another) article about growing your author email list. Yes, you need to do this! Nate Hoffelder gives us 7 Essential Tools that can make it easier to get people to sign up.


Have a safe and fun 4th of July Holiday Week! I'm taking the time off and will be back with a new article July 11th when Kristin Oakley joins us to talk about critique partners and beta readers!

And, as always, Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  


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