Nov 05

Self-Publishing – 3 Perks and 4 Warnings

Self-publihsing tipsIt seems the majority of people are self-publishing. With the limited traditional publishing opportunities, it only makes sense.

In addition to the difficulty in getting a traditional contract there are at least three perks to going Indie.

1. You are in complete control.
2. Getting your book published and available for sales will take a fraction of the time it will take a traditional publisher to get it out into the world.
3. You’ll make a lot more per book sale than through the traditional route.

All seems good, right?

Well, it can be. But, while self-publishing brings the brass ring within the reach of just about everyone, there are some things to watch out for.

Four things to watch out for when self-publishing:

1. You are in complete control.

While this is also a perk, it can be a pitfall. You don’t have the luxury of a publishing house editors, book designers, and illustrators. This means it’s all up to you.

Do you know what’s involved in producing a quality book?

If not, do your research.

You might want to start out with learning how to write if you’re not already a writer. Read books, take classes, do whatever you need to in order to write right. Keep in mind that this includes learning about revisions, editing, and proofing.

While self-publishing is gaining ground by leaps and bounds, there are still those books that are poorly written and published that weigh the arena down.

While writing a quality book is paramount, the book’s design and cover are also crucial.
Some questions to consider might be:

– Do you know what the front matter is?
– Are you qualified to create your own cover?
– What about the back cover design and copy?
– Do you know about interior layout design?
– Do you know how to properly format your book for publishing?
– Do you know how to upload your book to the service that will print it?
– Do you know you need to write a synopsis and description for your book?
– What about effective keywords and categories for your book?

There are more elements involved, but this will get you started.

If it seems overwhelming or is too time consuming get outside help. I recently hired someone on Fiverr to format and upload my book. I debated between publishing with CreateSpace and IngramSpark and ended up going with CreateSpace.

There are plenty of services and freelancers available to help you get your book published.

2. It’s most often not a slam-dunk.

I’ve had a couple of clients approach me saying they want a book that Disney will want to turn into a movie. I laugh to myself because so do I. After I find the humor in it, I tell those clients that there are no guarantees in books.

You must have realistic expectations when self-publishing. The market is flooded with books. It’s true that some books take off, but this is not the norm. Again, be realistic.

The best thing you can do is create a book you can be proud of and learn how to market it. The first part of book marketing is creating an author platform.

For more on this, read my article: What is an Author Platform?

3. You don’t have a hook.

With so many books available and more and more coming on the market each day, you need to find your hook. Simply writing a good book may not be enough. You need to let the reader know why they should buy your book. What makes your book different.

“Sensational writing, words that jump from a page, a heart stopping plot and real recipes from your grandmother in a village in Sardinia, where many people live to be 100, are all potentially unique aspects of a book, which will help you find readers.” (1)

If you don’t think your book has anything unique, take a closer look. Think of an accident witnessed by 10 people. Each one will have a different account of what happened. Even if only somewhat different, there will be differences.

Find the unique element in your book.

4. You’re not familiar with book marketing.

Even if you’re traditionally published, you MUST promote your books.

Book marketing begins with your author platform and the foundation of this platform is your author website.

Along with this, you’ll need to be on social media and you’ll need to create an email list.

While this may all seem like a lot of effort, if you want to make you and your books visible to potential buyers, if you want to sell books, it’s necessary.

If you need help with the first part of your book writing journey, writing the story, I’m a children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. Let me take your story for a spin. Contact me today at kcioffiventrice@gmail.com

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

Reference:
(1) 5 Horrible Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make

Articles on writing for childrenhttp://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2016/07/24/writing-a-book-to-publish-traditionally-or-self-publish/

Self-Publishing: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’

Writing with Clarity

Oct 29

What is an Author Platform and How Do You Build It?

Book Marketing TipsBuilding a writing career can be a long, and at times, difficult road. And, many new authors think writing itself is the tough part, but that’s not really the case.

Writing a story that you intend to publish traditionally or self-publish has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can create an outline as kind of a GPS to get you from point A to point B. There are steadfast rules and tricks to help you complete your writing journey.

There is an end to that particular writing journey.

With book marketing, that’s not the way it works.

Marketing your book is the roll-up-your-sleeves part of a writing career. It’s the ongoing job of creating and building your online presence, your author platform. And, the rules and tricks of the game are in constant motion, always changing.

While many of the rules may change, there is one constant in your author platform, and that’s visibility.

It should be noted that the definition of an author platform encompasses multiple genres and freelance writers, and even marketers who create and sell information products, so it may vary, depending on who is providing the definition.

But, in regard to your author platform, web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review Jane Friedman notes that editors and agents are “looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.”

So, the bare-bottom basics of an author platform are: visibility, authority, and proven reach.

Breaking Down the Three Basic Elements of an Author Platform

1. Visibility

This is the promotional aspect of marketing. It’s the element of becoming known in your particular niche and building on that presence.

With online marketing strategies and Google’s updates always on the move, the face of creating visibility has changed. Today, visibility is created through ongoing connections and relationships with your target market, your audience.

It’s also about creating engagement on your blog site and your social networks. This means Likes, Follows, Shares, Retweets, Favorites, and so on.

2. Authority

Authority is built through ongoing communication. As an author you need to provide valuable information to your readers. Providing this information on a regular basis establishes you as an authority in your niche.

Another newer factor in the mix is social proof. Numbers speak and boost your authority.

What’s meant by this is the number of social media followers you have and engagement, your website traffic along with visitor engagement.

3. Your Reach

Elements one and two of your author platform help take care of number three, your reach. By using effective marketing strategies to create an online presence, such as building a website and creating your authority through ongoing information/article marketing, your reach is automatically broadened.

Other strategies you can use to further broaden your reach include:

• Social media marketing
• Blogging regularly on your own site
• Guest blogging
• Joint ventures
• Presenting webinars
• Presenting workshops
• Offering ecourses

Today, your author platform is about what you can offer your audience. It’s about creating content that’s engaging and/or valuable enough for others to share. It’s not about what you’re selling.

Providing ongoing ‘wanted or needed’ information builds a relationship. In the marketing arena a general rule of thumb was to offer 80 percent free, valuable information and 20 percent promotion. Now, it’s recommended to offer 90 percent free, valuable information and 10 percent promotion.

It’s this ongoing author/reader relationship that will build your author platform and help sell your books, other products, and services.

Reference:
http://janefriedman.com/2012/03/13/author-platform-definition/

Be a children's writerBeing a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out my 180 page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of WRITING FICTION FOR CHILDREN. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Articles on writing for children

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May 28

The Author Website – Do You Really Need One?

An author website is a mustThe idea of creating a website may seem overwhelming to many who are new to the writing arena. This may cause hesitation in regard to taking the website step.

But, don’t let fear or procrastination get in the way of your online presence. A website is a necessary online marketing tool that is at the foundation of your author platform.

Here are a couple of statistics to demonstrate the need for a website if you have any intention of building an author platform:

According to MarketWatch.com, there are 2.4 Million Google search queries made each minute. And, according to Quora.com, there are around 2 million blog posts published each day. This information is from mid-2016 statistics.

The internet is the place for people to search globally for what they want or need. Having a website allows you to be in on that action.

Your online home.

If you want to create visibility for you and your book, product, or service, a website is the initial spark that will ignite your internet presence. And, it will be the hub or central location where you will let people know who you are and what you have to offer.

To further cement the need for a website, it’s through your website that you will attract readers, get email subscribers, and sell what you’re offering.

An author website is your online home where people can come to visit and get to know you.

It’s a must.

There’s really no way around the fact that you need to create your author platform, and it should be before you are ready to submit your manuscript. This is according to Chuck Sambuchino, in his book “Create Your Writer Platform.”

The reason for this is that now having an author online presence and platform is a factor in whether a publishing house will say YES to your manuscript. And, the first step in creating that author platform is to setup a website.

It’s easy to see that a website is an absolute must. And, it’s not as difficult as you may think to create one. The first step is planning.

Plan Your Way to a Website

As with any project you undertake, the first course of action should be to plan out your course of action. This is usually considered a business plan or writing plan.

Your website is your online calling card or business card. It needs to be as professional as you can get it and it needs to have the necessary elements of an effective site.

So, if you’re not familiar with websites, one of the first steps in your course of action should be to learn about all the elements needed to create an effective website.

As an example, one of the first elements that you’ll need to work on is the domain name.

Choosing a domain name is serious business. It needs to be searchable, convey what the site is about, and relate to what you’re offering. It should be part of your platform, your brand. And, if at all possible, it should have your keyword in it.

Other elements of an effective website include: optimization, specific pages, posting fresh content regularly, an opt-in, and a lead magnet (freebie) to entice visitors to take action.

While a website is a necessity, it also needs to be effective. The saying, “if you build it they will come,” doesn’t cut it in the internet world. Your site needs to attract visitors, be engaging / informative, be reader friendly, and convert. It needs to be planned out and optimized.

Sources:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/one-chart-shows-everything-that-happens-on-the-internet-in-just-one-minute-2016-04-26
https://www.quora.com/How-many-blog-posts-are-written-every-day

Writing for children tipsTraditional Book Publishing – Contract to Sales to Career
The Front Matter – Before the Story Text Begins
Balance in Fiction Writing – The Major Elements

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Simple steps to creating your own website.

Nov 06

Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic

Traditional Publishing and Book MarketingBest sellers happen to unknown authors. Getting on the New York Times Best Seller list happens. Breakout books happen to new authors.

But . . .

Yes, of course, there’s a ‘but.’ Statistically speaking, about 80% or more of all books don’t succeed.

Every new author needs to enter the publishing arena with open eyes. She needs to be realistic as to what’s required of her and what her chances are.

So, how do you help increase your chances of getting your book to succeed? How do you create a successful writing career, even if you don’t have a breakout book?

3 of the Most Important Tips to Effective Author Platform Building and Book Marketing

Whether you landed a book contract or not (if you’re self-publishing these three tips are just as important, if not more so):

1. You absolutely need an author website. And, it needs to be optimized.

Optimization means having the right domain name, the right website title and subtitle, using keywords, optimizing your blog posts, creating the ‘right’ web pages, using optimized images, and so on.

Another key optimization trick is to keep your website simple: easy to read, easy to navigate, and uncluttered.

If you want to learn how to create an optimized website, or if you already have one but need to optimize it, you should check out this e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:

Create Your WordPress Website Today
No code, no technical stuff, no fuss

You can get your website up and running in one day or take five days. It’s got one-on-one with the instructor and video training.

2. You need an understanding of how to market you book.

According to the February 2013 issue of The Writer, “The slam-dunk team” article explains, “Publishing houses want a business partner, someone who’s going to work hard from the get-go, tirelessly promoting, working connections, and never saying no to an opportunity.”

Do you know how to blog effectively? Do you know about creating a subscriber list and using email marketing for more sales? Do you know how to work social media marketing to increase website traffic, boost authority, and boost sales?

These marketing strategies are all part of an optimized author/writer platform – they’re considered inbound marketing. While it’s all must-know-stuff, it can be easy to do.

There are lots of online opportunities to learn these skills. One super-effective and super-reasonable tool is this 4-week e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:
Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost with Inbound Marketing

3. Put your website and new found knowledge to work.

It’s true there is much involved in building your platform and book marketing, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second-nature. Think of it like a puzzle. You have to put the pieces together before you get the results you want.

Have an optimized author website; create an Amazon Author Page; get book reviews; blog your way to traffic; use email marketing to promote new releases; and use social media marketing to widen your marketing reach.

Give your publisher what she wants: A book marketing savvy author.

4. This is a bonus tip:

According to just about all expert book marketers, including Chuck Sambuchino and Jane Friedman, you need to have all your marketing strategies in place before you even start submitting to book publishers or literary agents.

So, if you’re writing a book or you’re in the submissions process, be sure to get your author platform and book marketing strategies in place.

Be able to tell a publisher or agent that, YES – you can help market your book.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing for Children – 4 Simple Tips
The Outline Method of Writing (Are You an Outliner?)
The Book Summary – Five Must-Know Components

Oct 30

The Author Platform – It Should Have Been Started Yesterday

Book Marketing TipsDid you ever hear the expression, “a stitch in time saves nine?”

Whether you’re an author or freelance writer, that’s how you need to think of your writing platform. Get it started first, as the foundation of your business. It’s much more effective than trying to play catch-up.

If you’re an author, your platform needs to be in place before you hit the submissions road (if you’re going the traditional route). And, it certainly needs to be in place before you self-publish.

If you’re a freelance writer, you need to have an effective website and marketing strategies in place before you offer your services online.

To reinforce this thought, let me tell you about my father. He was in construction – he built homes. The first thing that gets done, after the blueprints are drawn, is digging for the foundation. Then the foundation is created. Then the house is built on top of the foundation.

It’s the same when building an online platform. Getting a website is the digging part; the added content and optimization of the website is the foundation of your platform.

Still not sure if the need for an online platform (and website) is essential?

Let’s go over what three heavy-hitters in the book writing world have to say:

1. Jane Friedman, Virginia Quarterly Review online and digital content instructor

In a video interview with Orna Ross of Alliance of Independent Authors, The Business of Money, Writing & Publishing, Friedman said, “having your own website is Step 0 in your book marketing efforts.” (1)

2. Chuck Sambuchino, Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents

In his book, “Create Your Writer Platform,” Sambuchino emphasized, “If you don’t have a proven ability to promote your work and sell books, editors won’t even consider your idea, no matter how clever or timely it may be.”

3. Guy Kawasaki, author of a number of marketing books, including APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book)

In an article at PBS.org, Kawasaki explained, “The bottom line is that authors need to think of their book as a business — one that generates revenues and costs. It’s also one that the world doesn’t owe you success and sales. If you embrace the perspective of an entrepreneur with a new product, you’ll be on the right track to success as a writer.” (2)

There you have it. Three heavy-hitters in the writing and book marketing arena all contend that authors must have an online platform.

If you haven’t started your writing platform yet, get started today. If you have one in place, make sure it’s optimized.

References:

(1) http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2013/12/jane-friedman-talks-book-marketing-with.html
(2) http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/09/guy-kawasakis-6-entrepreneurial-tips-for-authors/

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Aug 14

The Author Website – Keep it Simple and to the Point

Creating an author websiteAs an instructor of online classes that teach how to create and build an author online presence, of all the lessons, the most popular one, and the one that sparks the most questions, is how to create an effective author website.

While some marketers still lean toward the effectiveness of long copy, especially for sales pages, some heavy hitters like Mike Volpe of Hubspot.com say, simple works best. And, as time passes, this ‘simple’ strategy is gaining more and more ground.

Why is this so?

The answer is time.

Have you landed on pages, especially sales pages that go on, and on, and on? I have and it’s actually kind of annoys me. If it’s a product I’m interested in I’ll scroll down, skimming, looking for highlights and the price in particular.

Have you scrolled down these pages and not been able to find the price?

As crazy as it sounds, there are landing pages out there that you have to click on the BUY button to find out how much the product you’re interested in costs. This takes additional time. And, it makes the potential customers feel like she has to jump through hoops to get the product.

You and everyone else are strapped for time today. We live in a faster and faster and faster world, a world that never sleeps. This causes us to work more and more and at a faster and faster pace.

According to the latest statistics, you have around FIVE seconds to grab a visitor, to convince or motivate him to pause long enough to move past the title and read your first and, hopefully, your second paragraph.

Time matters. Give the reader what she wants up front. And, what does she want?

The visitor to your site wants to know who you are and what you have to offer. Again, give the reader what she wants.

Keep your site simple, easy to read, and with a clear and simple call- to-action. And, if you have a product or service for sale, make the cost visible. Don’t make your landing page a Hide and Seek game. The visitor won’t appreciate it.

Okay, now that that you have the reasons for keeping your site simple and your call-to-action simple, here is one reason marketers may use the Hide and Seek strategy.

There is a marketing philosophy that uses a succession of Yeses to trigger the mind of the potential client or customer. It’s to motivate him, to say YES to the offer. According to pro marketer Clay Collins, this is considered ‘micro commitments’ or the YES ladder. Each time the visitor responds to the request, the conversion possibility increases.

While this might be a useful strategy for high-end products, for lower-end products, like your books or products under $50, this strategy could back-fire, especially with time factored in the equation. It’s not a good thing to make visitors jump through hoops to get the information they need.

So, bottom-line, keep your author website simple and to the point.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)
Ingredients for a Perfect Picture Book
Writing a Book – To Traditionally Publish or To Self-Publish

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700