Three Ways To Lose Money Writing And Publishing A Book

December 14, 2014 in Articles, eBook publishing

Writing and publishing a book

Image courtesy of photoXpress.com

Writing a Book

Shocking fact: for those thinking of  writing and publishing a book, it’s never been easier, or cheaper. Word-processors have removed the tedium, printers have moved from molten lead to instant computerised copy, and even publishers (now ruled by accountants) can be by-passed, thanks to the Internet. All you have to do is write the book.

And more shocks: you can do it. Don’t believe those who say it requires years of effort, a degree in English Literature, and hours of bought-in expertise from professionals. A commercial novel of 80,000 words may strike you as daunting before you’ve even written the title down, but at the rate of a thousand words a day – little more than snail’s pace even for a two-finger typist – you are ‘round the world in eighty days’. And take it from me, once you are well into your book, on a good day, you will find the words flowing like there’s no tomorrow as your muse becomes excited by your progress.

Publishing a Book, The Pitfalls and Ways to Lose Money

Now for the bad news. What I’ve summarised above has been written with my optimist’s hat on – a well-worn item that will outlive me, I hope. I don’t have a pessimist’s hat, but through my work offering book editing and publishing advice, I am appalled at the number of individuals and companies who regard the aspiring writer as juicy game to be corralled, groomed, flattered, . . . and then mercilessly bled dry of every penny they own. We writers are often romantics who think the best of people. And when praise is lavished on our work – work that we ourselves are too involved with to be objective about – we tend to weep with relief. And pay, and pay, and pay.

An example: it happened quite a while ago now. A client of mine won first prize in a popular competition for new authors’ work. I’d edited the book. Very little to do; the guy could write. The book is now in print, self-published, and successful (paying its way). Always keen to boast about success indirectly, much subtler than trumpet blowing for oneself, I contacted a London book editing service who claim to help aspiring writers and introduce likely candidates to literary agents and publishers. The owner thanked me profusely for thinking of them. I introduced my author. Four days later they emailed my client offering a range of services, the cheapest of which was more than enough for him to print another 250 copies of his book.

A professional book editor, literary agent or publisher can spot in minutes whether a writer’s work has promise. Within an hour they can spot major failings or indications of commercial appeal.

Trap One. Don’t be fooled by organisations who seek hundreds of pounds from you to evaluate your work. Such evaluations are invariably bloated exercises designed to baffle and bemuse, and relieve you of money. If you need this much help you would be better advised to invest in a writing school course. Good ones can teach you a lot, at competitive rates . . . and advance your writing prospects. Asking a book editor to teach you to write is folly, and expensive.

Trap Two. Beware of any literary agent who either charges you directly or suggests that have your work edited by any specific agency. Reputable literary agents don’t charge, even to read your work.

Trap Three. Avoid all dealings with companies who promote their services offering to help you get published. The majority are bandits; the few who offer a genuine service are branded by the majority and your book will be shunned by the trade. Self-publishing is a prudent course for some writers, but remember, if traditional publishers don’t regard your work as commercially viable they are telling you something: if they can’t work out how to make it pay by attracting enough buyers, you’re highly unlikely to do better alone. Having said that, with the right professional advice, it is possible to order a limited number of copies of your book, at a modest cost, if you are introduced to the right people. You will retain all rights to your work, and reap the net income on all sales.

My advice: contact a few book editing services and ask them how much they charge to help new writers. Professional ones, with ethical standards, will ask for samples of your writing and in many cases undertake some preliminary work at their own expense. If they like what they see, they will then quote, by the hour or page to edit your draft.  General advice and expertise on publishing should not be expensive, if charged for at all.

Book Publishing Resources

  • eBook Publishing Service For Amazon Kindle
    Convert eBooks for Kindle and upload to Amazon in a file format that will be accepted and will work on the Amazon Kindle and in Kindle applications.
  • Ghost Publisher
    The technical aspects of preparing a book for print and getting it published.

This is a guest article from Jonathan Veale writer and author of How to Write a Book or Novel – An Insider’s Guide to Getting Published

If you enjoyed this article you are sure to enjoy the detailed information that Jonathan shares in his book which you can purchase using the link above.

Countdown Deal on Amazon – The Reluctant Killer

November 14, 2014 in Articles, Book promotions

A reluctant heroes story For ONE week only starting the 14th November 2014 you can get The Reluctant Killer for only 99c as part of a countdown deal offered through the Amazon KDP select program on Amazon.com. –  This offer ends Friday 21st November 2014

This is your chance to read this story about one man struggling to survive after he contracts the HIV virus. When he finally thinks he is getting his life back together, a fateful trip to New York sees him fall into the hands of extremists prepared to go to any lengths to gain the release of their comrades held in the Bagram Detention Center in Afghanistan.

They have no regard for human life and demonstrate a brutality unmatched by anything Mark Thorpe has experienced before. He knows he is in another serious battle for his life and determines that he is not prepared to submit without a fight – A Reluctant Killer emerges.

Buy The Reluctant Killer

Or buy it on AMAZON.CO.UK, where you can read the book’s 4 and 5 star reviews, from Sunday 16th November . The book will be available for only 99p in the UK –  this offer ends Saturday 22nd November 2014

 

A Book Marketing Guide – Are You Using Hashtags on Twitter?

November 12, 2014 in Articles, Book Marketing, Book promotions

Twitter & HashtagsI am pretty sure that most people involved in any online marketing, whether that is for books or any other product, will have heard of or even use Twitter. But many will perhaps not be so familiar with the practice of using hashtags on Twitter to ensure their tweets can be found by the people interested in the topic they are tweeting about.

To sum it up, putting a hashtag (#) before a word in a twitter status is a way of identifying the topic being tweeted about. What this means is that when another user searches on Twitter for that subject, they are likely to use the ‘hashtag‘ search term to really home in on the topics of interest.

Just for clarity I should point out that using the # (hashtag) is not an official Twitter function, it was started, allegedly, by a Twitter user who thought that it was a good idea to add some sort of identifier to a keyword (a term people search for) to make it easier to find. And it just took off. So now anyone can create a hashtag and they can try and make it into a Twitter standard. For example if I added #ebookissues to every tweet I posted, people would be able to use that hashtag term to identify any discussions about this website or the tweets posted about this website. The aim of course is make the term go viral and to see it trending on Twitter, in other words to have thousands of people talking about and discussing the topic.

Why would you want to be using hashtags on Twitter As a Writer?

Why is this useful for writers and authors that use Twitter? The answer is twofold:

  • Firstly you can create a hashtag for you as an author, or your book title or your book series. Effectively creating a brand and a way for your readers to find your book related tweets easily. There is work involved in this option and you will need to persevere, but it is certainly possible
  • Secondly you can use established hashtag terms to bring attention to your tweets for the right reasons and to attract the people looking for the books you have published

Using hashtags on TwitterThere will of course be very broad and generic hashtags, as there is for any search term (keyword). But be aware the broader the term the more results there will be and the higher the level of competition against you. So it is often a good idea to be more specific. Using book categories is one step in the right direction but there are other ways as well.

For example if you are writing a book for expats or about expat life, then rather than use the #book option you could use something like #expat or #expatlife. Both these are terms that are predicted by twitter when you are writing a status as shown in the image.

To find the predicted hashtags it is easier to actually be posting in Twitter rather than tweeting from a 3rd party social media share program, this is because the predictive hashtags are rarely available through 3rd party software.

You will also see from the image that there are a combination of capital and lowercase letters, but hashtags are not case sensitive so it doesn’t really matter whether you use capitals or not. It is important however to make sure you use the hashtag at the front of your chosen term and with no spaces in between the words.

For some general guidance on how to use hashtags on Twitter you can review Twitters own advice https://support.twitter.com/articles/49309-using-hashtags-on-twitter

Pinterest-Pin-Image

You will probably find that most Twitter hashtags on book related topics already exist, the list above is anything but exhaustive, it is there only to give you a bit of a head start on what hashtags are available. Using the predictive method described earlier is where you will be able to home in on the specific hashtags available that will describe your particular book. Remembering that it doesn’t necessarily need to be book related, sometimes a location,  an industry or any other relevant topic the book covers may work better for you. Just experiment to see what gives you the most exposure and, even better, sales.

Also don’t fall into the trap of simply stuffing lots of hashtags into a single tweet, you only have 140 characters so use them wisely to grab the attention of your audience and always remember you are writing for humans not search engines.

It is also worth noting that the #standard has now been adopted by other social media sites, Facebook, Google+ and several other major players have jumped onto this particular bandwagon. So don’t be shy about using your chosen hashtag term across all your social media sites that utilise them.

So all that there is left to say now is:

Twitter with HashtagsTwitter with HashtagsHAPPY TWEETING

Should You Be Honest When Writing Fiction?

October 18, 2014 in Articles, Writing & Publishing

Writing honestly works. Think of the stand up comedian and note how the most successful really only tell you what you already know. It is the recognition of  something you see in everyday life, caricatured, that is funny. Writing is no different, connect with the reader and they will want to read more.

Honesty When WritingWhat Has Honesty Got to Do With Writing Fiction?

What a strange thought, I hear you say. What has honesty to do with invented, fictional characters, places and events? Actually more than you imagine.

Literary critics delight in using words and phrases that turn the milk and bore the pants off ordinary folk (but then most critics can’t write fiction well enough to make a living). They chunter on about ‘voice’ and ‘point of view’ but rarely mention the one feature that makes prose stand out from the page – honesty. Writers of humour – rare beasts – do it; the guffaw is the response that means ‘Got you. I know what you mean.’ We laugh because we recognise the truth of the unique observation these wits have written.

When writers ‘release the brakes’ and express precisely what they are thinking the impact is stronger. No equivocation: ‘That dog stinks.’ Not, ‘That dog has an unpleasant odour,’ or ‘that dog’s scent wouldn’t sell well at Harrods’. In polite company few would shout out the word ‘stink’; but fictional prose isn’t polite company. You and your reader are intimately connected – unless the work is being read out aloud for some unearthly reason!

How to Write Fiction Honestly

When writing fiction, prudent authors rarely name their characters after people they know, or locate the action in places they are fond of. Why? Because the mind plays tricks when in ‘muse mode’ and tends to pull punches rather than hit out when recognising friends and places. In other words it is deceiving itself, and in turn, you, and your readers. I can write more bitingly about a hockey player in Manchester than a golfer in London because hockey and Manchester are foreign countries to me. London and golf, however, are too close for comfort.

New writers often sprinkle their prose with a surfeit of adverbs and adjectives. What they are doing is being polite, well behaved, cautious even, not wishing to rock the boat. Now this is fine for behaviour in company; few like the idiot who shouts out ‘Cobblers!’ in the middle of a convention of bishops. But in fiction, if you want to make an impact, cause a stir, be remembered, is it really wise to behave like a wimp? No, it’s counter-productive.

Leave nouns and verbs alone and they will sing off the page. Clothe them with qualifying adverbs and adjectives and they will lose their impact and have a deadly effect on the pace of your story – and it is the story that matters, which should always ‘get on with it’.

A few examples. ‘The plane landed at Heathrow.’ Not bad, but unless you travelled by helicopter – or are a bird – you could just say ‘we landed at Heathrow. Short and to the point; all that’s needed, unless the action of your novel revolves around the plane and Heathrow. But do new novelists exercise such restraint. Oh dear me, no. For them the plane is more than plane, it becomes a twin-jetted, silver-winged Boeing; it doesn’t land, it gently touches down and Heathrow isn’t enough, it has arrived at London’s invariably busy primary airport, Heathrow.

If you want your fiction to hit submission editors, or even better…. a paying public, between the eyes, cut the waffle. Tell it as it is. Be brutal with your prose. Reserve your colouring-in for picture books. In your fiction, tell your story with words that focus on the plot and the those aspects of your characters that drive the book onwards. When your child is about to stick its fingers in the barbecue, how many words do you use – if you are ten foot away? One, two, ten? I bet just the one. His or her name, at the top of your voice. No waffle. Just an honest, animal call to catch the attention. Do that with your prose, and your readers will thank you. But often they won’t know why.

photo credit: Harpersbizarre via photopin cc

How to Write A BookHow to Write a Book or Novel by Jonathan Veale

This is an article by Jonathan Veale the author of How to Write a Book or Novel. Jonathan has worked as a professional editor and has successfully published several books. If you like his style and want to know more then his book on the subject of writing is where you need to be.

It is a concise, no nonsense account of what you should and shouldn’t do when writing a book with some great insider tips on the best way to get your book published, whether that is taking the traditional publisher route or if you prefer to be an independent author and publisher.

Still not sure? Then you can find out more about Jonathan and his books on his author page.

The First Rule of Marketing – Never Give Up

October 2, 2014 in Articles, Book Marketing, Book promotions

virtual book shelvesHow many authors put true blood, sweat and tears into writing their books. Hours of research, editing and re-editing, proofreading and formatting. Finally their book is ready to publish and then it is all systems go.

Friends and family are enlisted to help promote the book, reviews are sought and provided (hopefully of the verified purchaser variety) and some initial sales are made. Then the ideas run out, the social media buzz goes quiet and what looked like a promising start seems to wither on the vine……sales stop altogether. Months go by and there isn’t a single sale.

So what do you do now, Give Up?

For a hard copy book sitting on the  shelves of book stores, this would have been the death knell, the books would be removed from the shelves to make room for more popular varieties, books that are actually selling. Even publishers and bookstores need to make a living and a book that is not selling does not turn a profit – they have to go.

Traditional publishing is where books, printed in large quantities at equally large cost, must either sell or become door stops. Also if the demand for these books has waned, a commercial decision has to made about whether a further print run is likely to result in a profit or it is simply time to take them out of print.

But that is not the case for ebooks or print on demand, there is no physical stock to carry or to take prime spot on a bookshelf. These books sit on a virtual bookshelf that is of unlimited size and are always, as they say analogically…..in print.

Authors and publishers of ebooks and print on demand books have a huge advantage over traditional publishing for this reason and that is why you must never give up promoting books that are still available in digital format or can be printed on a one off basis at reasonable cost.

It has to be said, the best chance you have of taking a book to best seller status, with Amazon in particular,  is in it’s early days after initial publication, getting a second or third wind underway is always more difficult. But not impossible.

Marketing ebooks successfully is about having a marketing plan, one that takes into account the initial launch and then, equally importantly, ongoing and long term promotion.

Initial Considerations for Marketing eBooks Successfully

eBooks are like any other products that need to be sold, they have to appeal to a specific market and be visible to that market. So how do you do that exactly?

First of all, whether you are writing a reference or a fictional book, you need to think about exactly who will want to read your book. In many ways that is easier to do for reference books, because you are writing about a topic of specific interest and if you do it well, so that you answer questions and solve problems, then there is a good chance with enough visibility that people will buy those books, especially in a highly sought after topic.

Fiction is a little more difficult because they are made up stories, but they still need to be approached in the same way. For example, if you are writing for children, young adults, lovers of horror or action adventure. The book should be written to appeal to those audiences and not alienate them in any way. For example you cannot write a children’s book and then include some explicit sexual content, a bit of an extreme example admittedly but used to make the point. Mistakes of this type will mean you cannot market to your intended audience. So when you are writing a book, stay true to the theme, if it is intended for young adults or is in a specific genre try and make sure it meets that objective for the entire book.

Identifying Search Keywords

The second aspect of book marketing is about visibility, or being found by your target audience. Here there is a need to consider a little bit of search engine science i.e. it is necessary to think about how people search for books on the Internet, even on sites like Amazon or Kobo.

One of the simplest ways to find a book is to search using specific words. In search engine world, these are called keywords (or sometimes tags). It is always a good idea to identify keywords that people use to search for books that are relevant to your book. One way to do that is to make a list of keywords that you think are relevant to your book and then go to an Amazon site and start to type those words into the search box. Below there is an example of how Amazon use predictive text, based on previous searches, to try and lead you to the product you are searching for.

Marketing Ebooks

You don’t know how many people type the specific search terms listed, but you do know they are real searches that have been entered previously. So if you can find the best ones i.e. the ones highly relevant to your book, you can list them ready for potential use confident in the knowledge that people are using those terms to look for products. I say products because the searches relates to all of Amazon not just books, so just be sure you are selecting book related terms.

The second part of this exercise is to find out how much competition you are up against. So when you have your list of keyword phrases you should go back to Amazon and find out how many search results the keywords return.

Successful book promotion You can see from the result for the search term ‘The Whistleblower Affair’ that there are 49 results for that term.

Why is that important?

It is important because that is the number of books you are competing against for that specific search term or keyword phrase. What you should be trying to do is to find a mix of low to medium competition, especially for a new book. In other words you want to be more visible in the search results and a way to ensure that is not to be competing against too many other books.

Clearly as you make more sales, get more reviews and achieve more success for your book, your sales rank will increase and then you can consider going up against more competition. But until then it is better to operate in the low to medium competition arena.

A further aspect of this exercise is ensuring that your book is associated with a search term or keyword phrase. There are a couple of ways for doing that. The first is to use an allocated ‘search keyword’. Amazon allow you to add seven search keywords to your book details when you add it to the bookshelf. When you do this you will always be returned for that search keyword in the search results, although the critical aspect… is in what position?

This, as previously alluded to, will depend on the competition you are up against. Both in terms of how many but also in terms of sales rank. Amazon like to push books that are selling to the forefront, for obvious reasons the better sales rank books will be returned first. So the fewer books you are competing against the more likely it is you will be listed in a more visible search position.

The second way to get your book associated with a search term is to use those search terms in titles, headings and descriptions. There is no guarantee with this method, but it is a way to get your book listed beyond the seven allocated ‘search keywords’. Don’t be tempted just to stuff keywords into your descriptions and titles however, because you still want to appeal to a human audience and not alienate the people who actually buy the books. Just use this technique if it can be done naturally and, even better, provide you with an attention grabbing title or description.

Choosing Categories

Amazon allows independent publishers to select 2 categories from their large list of available categories. This is another key area for gaining much needed visibility. The best way of gaining a good position in a category is by being specific rather than adopting general categories. As with ‘search keywords’ you need to consider what is relevant to your book and how much competition you are up against. The reasons are once again to try and ensure you get that critical level of visibility where enough people actually see your book and are hopefully drawn into making a purchase.

romance competition Take ‘Romance’ as a category for example, you can see here that there are 170,462 books in the romance category. That is a lot of competition and unless your book is a top best seller it is unlikely that it will ever be given the light of day if this category is chosen.

romance-military-competition Military romance on the other hand immediately brings the competition level down to a more reasonable 3,186 books in competition. Still a big number but at least a half chance, if you get some sales, of being visible and there are other categories with even less competition. But remember you book does need to fit under the category chosen, so go for the at least one category that is relevant with the least amount of competition and select another that is possibly even more relevant but has more competition. That way you get a good mix for advancing the number of potential sales and for ensuring you gain at least some visibility.

Also don’t constrain yourself to fiction only, if your book is relevant to a non-fiction topic and that looks like a better opportunity, give it a try. If it doesn’t produce any sales you can always change it after a reasonable trial period.

Why this is important, for Amazon anyway, is that you may be able to achieve  the much coveted top 100 listing, that gives your book higher standing and extra visibility through being included in list promotions for Amazon’s best sellers.amazon-best-sellers

If your sales are flagging or have dried up completely it is not too late to go back to basics and if you haven’t performed these exercises then why not do it now? You may just stumble on some way of sparking sales, even if it means a new title, description or choice of search keywords and categories. It really is never too late to get these basics right.

More information on successful book marketing can be found in these articles:

 

photo credit: Zenobia Gonsalves via photopin cc

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