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It’s Up to You to Get Noticed (Before You Self Publish #5)

If you want to self publish, you will have to work to get noticed. Here we are at last, on the final point of this blog series “Before You Self Publish.” So far we’ve talking about the importance of thinking like a CEO, the danger of releasing a book too soon, the value of print, and the importance of the cover. Now let’s think about how to get that book in readers’ hands. Yep, if we’re going to talk about self publishing, we need to talk about the M word: Marketing. It’s not a bad word. Really. Marketing is the collection of things that you do in order to build positive name recognition for you and your work. It’s not a bad word, but it is one with a bad reputation. Many writers who self publish act as if the hard work will be done once the book is written and […]

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Readers Judge Books By Their Covers (Before You Self Publish, Part 4)

We’re continuing the Before You Self Publish series. Don’t miss Part 1, Think Like a CEO; Part 2, Don’t Publish Too Soon; and Part 3, Publish in Print. Long before I worked in book publishing, a friend introduced me to a twist on the classic cliché: If you can’t judge a book by its cover, then someone’s not doing their job. First impressions matter, especially in books, where readers have so many options. A person browsing in a bookstore (either physical or online) looks at the book cover and decides in less than 8 seconds if it’s appealing to them. If so, and ONLY if so, they’ll pick up the book, turn it over and read the back cover copy (or, if they’re online, read the product description). If THAT’S not interesting to them, the reader moves on without ever opening the book to see the writing itself. Says one popular […]

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Unless You Write Romance, Publish in Print (Before You Self Publish 3)

We’re continuing our series of 5 Things Self Publishers Need to Know with a super-simplified look at production and distribution (and a reminder that you have choices). Once you learn to think like a CEO and recommit to writing a GREAT book, it’s time to get practical about how to get your work out there. Which leads me to this: The benefits of having both print and electronic versions of a book almost always outweigh the additional costs. When I teach classes about the publishing process, I’ve noticed that many attendees start out assuming that if they self publish their work, they can only make it available as an ebook. They think this even if they, personally, are not ebook readers, have never bought an ebook, and don’t have a strategy for how to sell ebooks. Why? Partly, it’s because the new Self-Publishing Era (SPE?) really took off because of ebooks. Electronic files cost […]

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The Problem of Releasing Too Soon (Before You Self Publish, Part 2)

We’ve all heard the amazing opportunities of self publishing: direct access to readers, total control over the work, and the potential of a long-term income stream. And those are all true. But the challenges are real, too, which is why we’re spending 5 weeks looking at Things Writers Must Know Before You Self Publish. The first thing was “Think Like a CEO.” Here’s the second, and it’s equally important: Almost every self-published book is released too soon. This one breaks my heart, but it happens all the time. If you’ve spent any time reading other writer’s self published books, you’ve probably noticed it, too: a lot of books are good: there’s a decent story or helpful information. There’s plenty of passion for the content. But the books aren’t great. Maybe it’s a flaw as blatant as poor grammar and spelling mistakes. Or maybe you can put your finger on what’s wrong. […]

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Before You Self Publish, Part 1: Think Like a CEO

We’ve all heard the success stories. The writers who rejected the rejection letters, took their futures into their own hands, and self published their books. The ones who shot to the top of the bestseller charts. Fame, fortune, and Hollywood movies followed. Well hey. You’ve written a book. Is this self publishing thing for you? Not long ago, I gave a talk about the 5 Things Writers Must Know Before They Self Publish. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take apart all five suggestions. Let’s start with the biggest one, and the hardest for some writers to get their heads around:   Publishing is a business, and a self-publishing author is the CEO of that business. Writing is a craft. Writing a book takes the focus and dedication of an artist. It’s personal, just you and the page in front of you, for months and years at a time. But […]

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The Top 20 Articles of 2016 for Aspiring Authors

This has become a bit of a tradition: every December since, well, 2015, I’ve looked back at the year and compiled a “best of” summary of the Top 20 articles, news, and resources for writers who are working toward publication. Making the jump from writer to published author means entering a whole new world of business, and it’s important to do your homework and understand the landscape. The Trends This year, as I went back through my tweets and notes, two things became clear: It was a hard year to pay attention to publishing. National and international news took precedence. Maybe because of all the crazy stuff happening in the rest of the world, it was not a big year of publishing changes. (Anyone want to dispute that? Am I forgetting some major change of policy, player, or approach here?) Self publishing is still growing, filling all of the corners […]

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Choosing Higher Ground: Release Day!

Publishing can be a long, slow process, but there’s nothing like the feeling of holding a book in your hand and thinking I made this! Two years ago, the head of a small publishing company I’ve done some marketing work for approached me with a new project. He’d heard a local business leader speak at a Rotary Club event (of all things) and was blown away by how much the man’s message resonated. There was a book there, the publisher was sure of it. The business leader agreed, but he was busy running a company and launching a think tank and changing the world, and didn’t have time to organize his thoughts and ideas into chapters. They needed a collaborator.* Within five minutes of my first phone call with Mike Weisman, I was sold. After forty years as the head of an award-winning advertising agency, he’d observed hundreds of businesses […]

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How to Hire an Editor (Editing Series, Part 3)

If your goal is to publish your book, you’re going to need an editor at some point. If you’re self publishing, this should be obvious. After all, who else will stand between you and your readers and make sure that you’re putting your best self forward? Who else will help you see the holes, the errors, and the missing pieces of your manuscript? None of us are perfect judges of our own work. (I was reminded of this today, when an acquaintance posted a heartfelt reminder on social media to “Proof read what you have written…Chances are you spelt things incorrectly.”) But remember, it’s not enough to make sure that there are no typos. You also need to have a compelling story, a logical outline, and a clear connection to our readers…all of the things a developmental editor provides. If you’re pitching your book to an agent or a publisher, you’re not […]

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8 Tips for Working With Beta Readers (Editing Series, Part 2)

“The self edited author is as foolish as the self medicated patient.” – Guy Kawasaki, APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) For many writers, finding the right editor is the first real challenge they face in their journey toward publication. So far, your words have been entirely yours. But now it’s time to send those words out into the world. Are they ready? Are YOU ready? To be sure, you’ll need an editor…probably more than one. You should not be the only person who has seen your material when you start pitching or selling it. Getting good editorial feedback (and learning from it) is the most important thing you can do to make your book a success. Whether you are planning to self publish or find a literary agent and/or traditional publisher, the old cliché is true: you only have one chance to make a first impression. Don’t blow it by missing […]

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What Does a Developmental Editor Do? (Editing Series, Part 1)

Every now and then, someone sends me one of those social media memes that say something clever like “I am silently judging your grammar” or “I can’t be freinds with someone who has typos.” Usually I smile and say thanks. Sometimes, though, I stop to explain that I’m not that kind of editor. I don’t fix people’s spelling, and I’m not really interested in your dangling participles. “So, then, what do you do, exactly?” “I’m a developmental editor.” And then I get a lot of blank looks. Most people know that a copy editor goes in and marks up text and fixes grammar. Copy editors and proofreaders correct obvious (and not so obvious) mistakes.** They use those big red pencils. (Well, not really anymore, but Track Changes has the same visual effect.) Developmental editing is fuzzier. What does a writer actually get out of a dev edit? Well, a lot, actually.   What Is Developmental Editing? […]

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  • It’s Up to You to Get Noticed (Before You Self Publish #5)
    If you want to self publish, you will have to work to get noticed. Here we are at last, on the final point of this blog series “Before You Self Publish.” So far we’ve talking about the importance of thinking like a CEO, the danger of releasing a book too soon, the value of print, and the importance of the...
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