Tuesday, May 24, 2011

10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing

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Today’s authors have started to catch on to the fact that they no longer have to depend on and pay a third-party publisher to do the work that they can do themselves by self-publishing. Self-publishing is no piece of cake, but these books have all the potential to be best sellers and major moneymakers just like their commercially-published counterparts. Whether you’re sold on having endless artistic freedom or complete control over your work, self-publishing is a rewarding task and terrific option for authors who are willing to put in the extra effort. Here are 10 things you need to know about self-publishing:

  1. You Need to Pick a Niche: It’s important to pick a well-defined niche for your book to guide you during the writing process and help determine your target audience. Niche books tend to do best, so it’s generally a good idea to write what about what you know and steer away from personal journals, emotional rants or niche topics that no one has heard of. Also, think about what your audience wants to read and what’s missing from your chosen niche. Once you determine this important information, you can better address the needs of your readers and niche market, as well as make a name for yourself.
  2. Study Your Competition: Before you self-publish, it’s important to study, analyze and keep up with your competition. If you haven’t picked a niche for your book yet, but have a couple genres in mind, start your investigation by looking closely at these types of books and authors to compare and contrast. If you do your homework and stay on top of your competitors’ latest works, you’ll be able to bring something fresh and new to the table and hopefully stand out from the others.
  3. You Are Your Own Editor: It’s important to remember that self-published authors are on their own for editing, unless you hire a professional editor, which can get expensive, fast. Proofreading and revising your own work is all part of the self-publishing process and is necessary to maintain full creative control of your book. If you’re taking the self-editing challenge, be sure to utilize the numerous editing resources available online, and try to get a second set of eyes to take a look.
  4. Make Your Title Memorable: In order to stand out among the rest, you’ve got to make your book title unique and memorable. This is true for any book – self-published or not. A short, clever title is always preferable, but it should still be clear and relevant to your book.
  5. Self-Publishing Includes Self-Promotion: If you don’t have a publishing company and literary agent to market your book for you, you’d better be ready to do it yourself. Self-published authors have to put themselves out there and take an aggressive approach to marketing if they actually want to sell their books. This includes promoting the book online, organizing book signings and sending complimentary review copies to newspapers and magazines. Essentially, you should eat, sleep and breathe your book so others will care about it as much as you.
  6. Praise and Criticism Should Happen Naturally: As tempting as it is to ask friends and family to write positive reviews for you, whether they’ve read your book or not, authors should overcome this urge and let praise and criticism happen naturally. Fake or forced reviews are easy to spot, and it won’t help your image one bit. So, sit back and let unbiased readers praise your work or rip it to shreds. After all, isn’t criticism better than no attention at all?
  7. A Literary Agent Isn’t Necessary: As much help as literary agents can be, they aren’t necessary for selling good books. If you’re dead set on self-publishing and reaping the benefits on your own, you probably don’t have much need or desire for a literary agent who works in mainstream publishing. Having an agent often defeats the purpose and personal benefits of self-publishing because you’ll no longer have 100 percent control over your work.
  8. Self-Published Authors Can Still Win Awards: Forget what you’ve heard before – self-published authors can win awards too! Every year, there are several writing contests to enter and awards to be given for superb self-published work, including short stories, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and many other genres. Credibility, a strong readership and strategic marketing will help you achieve your goals and reach the award-winning level.
  9. Know Your Audience: An essential part of writing and successful self-publishing is knowing your audience. Since self-published books generally cater to a smaller niche market, you have to consider your audience from the project’s conception, publication and marketing stages. One way of knowing your audience is to study the demographics, interests and needs of readers within your chosen niche. If you’ve self-published work in the past, get in touch with your readers and deeply consider their comments, concerns and questions when writing your new book.
  10. Send Out Review Copies: One of the best ways to establish credibility and garner attention for your hard work is to send out review copies to as many people and publications as possible. If your budget allows it, you can snail mail printed complimentary review copies of your book to newspaper, magazine and journal reviewers, as well as publishing companies, bookstores and anyone who sparks an interest in your writing.

Need help with writing, editing, publishing, or book marketing?  thepublishingguru(at)gmail.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unanticipated Job Loss

Painfully Obvious by mliu92

Greg Messel’s The Illusion of Certainty illuminates for readers the false comfort into which the early 2000s lulled us, leaving us totally unprepared for the uncertainty we saw in the last few years of the decade.  Through the story of Marc and his project team, Messel illustrates the devastating effects that the end of this illusion brought, as the delusion of continued prosperity came to a sudden halt when they lost their jobs. For many readers, this is reminiscent of the day that they unexpectedly lost their jobs, or perhaps reflects the lives of their spouses, friends, and family members, as so many Americans have been touched by the unemployment crisis of the recession in some way.

A few months after the news of the economic crisis hit in September, Marc is informed via videoconference that his team has been “excessed,” leaving him unemployed and leaving him as the bearer of bad news to his team.  Although they had often spoken to one another about “how thankful they were to have good jobs and not be unemployed,” their luck finally ran out.

As Marc’s team is busy, “scurrying around and working hard as usual… smiling and laughing with co-workers and clients,” he dreads being the one to deliver the news of their unemployment to them, knowing that “In a few moments he had to open the door and wipe the smiles off of their faces.”  As he is forced to inform them that their jobs have been “excessed,” each of the team members must face the grim reality of unemployment, and what that means in each of their lives.

Each of Marc’s team members has their own unique problems for the timing of the news; “Everyone was being caught in an awkward spot when the music stopped and there were no chairs available.”  Samantha and her husband had just booked a trip to Europe, Jerry’s wife is expecting a baby, and Andrea and her husband had just purchased a home. Many readers will recall similar situations when their music stopped and there were no chairs available for them, leaving them without employment.  

Just as Marc’s team operated under the illusion of certainty that the good luck and prosperous jobs would continue forever, buying expensive homes and booking expensive trips, so did the rest of society.  The Illusion of Certainty highlights many of the economic problems that burden our society and reflects many of the emotions, trials, and tribulations that we went through as a nation after the beginning of the recession.  

Greg Messel becomes a voice for the socioeconomic crisis through an artistic representation of its effects, and his work serves as a reminder for readers to stay vigilant and not to become too certain in our future, our fates, and ourselves.  www.gregmessel.com

Need help with writing, publishing, or book marketing? thepublishingguru(at)gmail.com

Monday, May 9, 2011

Overcoming Writing Obstacles

L.A. Kuehlke has been a writer for most of her life. Even as a child, her friends would listen to her stories at recess. “I’ve had stories all my life, inside of me, just begging to be told,” Kuehlke explains. Her favorite memory is watching Little House on the Prairie and wanting to grow up to be just like Laura Ingalls Wilder—and she did.

Kuehlke is a teacher and a writer living in New Jersey, in a quiet suburban town not unlike her main character, Miranda Reid, and is inspired by people who have a genuine heart for others, and who want to make a positive impact in this world. She is moved by the works of Charlotte Bronte and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Kuehlke re-reads these works often for their depth of character and rich description of time and place.

Like many writers, the obstacle of time is always a factor, from teaching full-time to managing the daily routine of life—Kuehlke has found a system that works for her. “I spend each day writing, even if it’s for only thirty minutes so that my momentum isn’t lost,” she adds.

Kuehlke’s characters have many unique gifts, yet she feels she doesn’t possess any of these. However, just as a portrait painter always leaves a little of him/herself in a painting, she says, “My life experiences always find their way into what I write, one way or another. Though my life has not paralleled those of my characters exactly, people who know me personally will see little pieces of me reflected in each of my characters.”

The publication of Pursuit represents the realization of a life-long dream for Kuehlke and, while she had many people who believed in her along the way, there were also those that dismissed her ideas. “Overcoming their negativity and staying true to what I believe in was definitely a challenge.”

With her focus on and dedication to her craft, readers everywhere will be sure to enjoy Pursuit—the latest novel from L.A. Kuehlke.
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