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.

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Sep 17

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

Writing FictionBefore I get into whether secondary characters are important or not, what is a secondary character?

A secondary character is any character in the story aside from the protagonist (main character) and the antagonist (villain or force in opposition to the protagonist).

Just a side note here, an antagonist doesn’t have to be a character. It can be an internal emotional or mental problem. Or, it can be an external force, such as a category 4 hurricane that the protagonist must prepare for or fight to survive.

It’s important to mention also that there are two categories or ‘subclasses’ of secondary characters:

1. The supporting character.

A supporting character is a substantial part of your story. She or he is part of the protagonist’s life and is usually there throughout the story helping move the story forward.

An example of this is Chen from “Walking Through Walls”. Wang is the protagonist and Chen is his best friend. Wang bounces many of his problems off Chen and Chen advises him. Chen is the voice of reason and calm while Wang ‘wants what he wants’ and is impatient.

This friendship is an essential part of the story. It’s part of what makes Wang choose one course of action over another in the end.

Sometimes supporting characters can have their own subplot. Using “Walking Through Walls” again, Chen was chosen by his village to become an Eternal apprentice. His village was invaded by neighboring warriors and his younger sister was abducted.

Supporting characters can be a catalyst for the direction the story takes.

Chen’s backstory also plays a part in the direction Wang takes in his character arc.

Along with this, supporting characters are essential to a book series.

Think of just about any series on TV (old or new): The Big Bang Theory; Superman; NCIS; Castle; The X-Files; even the MythBusters. You expect to see the supporting cast. You’d be disappointed if you didn’t.

2. The minor character.

A minor character is someone who may make a brief appearance in the story or is there in the background throughout. They give the story more authenticity and dimension. There will most likely be various minor characters throughout a book.

For example, in “Walking Through Walls” Wang and Chen are in an apprenticeship with other students. These students help create a dimensional world for the story. But, while they exist and are mentioned here and there, they aren’t essential to the story.

A great example of a minor character is the taxi driver, Sylvester, from the 1947 movie, “The Bishop’s Wife”. Sylvester was only in a couple of scenes, but he was memorable while adding nothing more than humor to those particular scenes.

Summing it Up

Getting back to the title question of whether supporting characters are important to stories, they are. They are an essential part of every story.

Sources:
http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall10/kane_amanda/character_types.htm
http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/how-to-write-effective-supporting-characters
http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/what-is-a-minor-character-understanding-the-minor-characters-role

Be a children's writer

Being 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 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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