- 50 Tension Techniques
- About Kristi Holl
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- How to Take Charge of Your Writing Life
- Three Reasons Your Writing Life Isn’t Working–and What To Do
- What’s Hindering You?
- Putting Your Writing First by Using Accountability
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- Habits: Anchors for the Writer’s Life
- What Fear is Holding You Back?
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December 2, 2011
This week in the “Destressing the Writing Life” workshop, we talked about information overload–how much valuable information is available on the Internet–and the pressure we feel because there’s no time to read and absorb it all.
To that end, I hope my recommendations once a week help you sift through the wonderful (often free) material out there. To that end, here’s my Friday offering.
Take all weekend to read them, if you like. Do NOT stress over getting them all read right now!
- How do you know if you’re “called to write”?
- Why does this writer choose NOT to self-publish?
- Here are five steps to developing more discipline!
- Can you soften the uncertainty that comes with writing?
- Here’s a fabulous checklist for critiquing your own work or someone else’s.
May 27, 2011
Some terrific reading is waiting for you this weekend! The articles below from around the Web will give you writing and marketing help, help you see through the current publishing confusion, and even show you ways to get your kids to read through the summer.
“Is Publishing Turning into the Wild West?” The publishing world has changed radically in the last couple of years, thanks to those pesky e-books. Do the old rules still apply? Does chaos rule? Or are there ways to survive and thrive in the new environment? [Terrific article here by Randy Ingermanson, plus interesting comments.]
“A Dozen Ways to Get Your Child to Read Over the Summer and Have Fun Doing It!” Every year student assessments show that when kids take a break from school over the summer and they don’t read or have any reading instruction during that time, their reading skills are adversely affected. But this doesn’t HAVE to happen. Encouraging children to read during the summer will not only sustain their current reading achievement, it will also contribute to their success in reading proficiency. [Here you'll find suggestions for early primary grades, middle grades, and teens.]
“6 Query Tips from a Publishing Insider” To help you write a query letter (or submission letter) so that an agent will give your manuscript the time of day here are the top 3 Do’s and Don’ts from our head Acquisitions Editor. [The first tip was even a surprise to me, although just last week I sent a proposal to a publisher and got an email suggesting that I add more marketing stuff-even though this publisher has published nine of my previous books! She said there was also talk of adding a marketing clause in new author contracts.]
“Twitter-patted” Twittering gave the world a fast way to communicate and also a new tool for marketing. Marketing with only a few words takes planning and focus. [Read this article for a brilliant way to plan and write your Tweets while you are working on your book/story/article/ebook to be released later.]
“Ways to Improve Your Writing Style” Newer authors struggle with writing technique, and long time writers still find elements in writing that are their nemesis. Being aware of problem areas in your writing can help you move ahead as a writer when you focus on them and find ways to improve those techniques. Here are a few tips on become a better writer. [Gail Gaymer Martin's blog posts are meaty and almost a mini-workshop. Don't stop with this post, but go through her whole Writing Fiction Right blog site.]
“Tidbits” from Writer Beware! This article is FULL of information and links to longer articles, discussing topics like the new trend of agents-turned-publishers and how to interpret the numbers when you read that print-on-demand epublishing is out-stripping sales of paper books.
January 28, 2011
As long-time readers of my blog know, I’ve given warnings over the years about self-publishing. I’ve seen so many new writers get “taken” by going this route.
They’ve been charged unbelievable amounts of money to have their books printed by a “publisher.” Then they’re left with a garage full of books they can’t get into book stores. They list them on Amazon.com, hoping this will do the trick, but no one knows them or knows to look for the book. Without a proven track record of some kind, it is nearly impossible to sell self-published books.
Where’s Your Audience?
Your track record might be in a professional area associated with your day job. For example, let’s say you give more than a dozen speeches every year on a particular topic (health, financing, etc.) and you have the credentials to back it up (you’re a doctor or MBA, for example.)
If you have a built-in audience (those who come to your talks), then a self-published print book (on your topic) might sell very well. In cases like this, a self-published book where you get to keep all the profits is a smart idea. However, unless you have a built-in repeat audience, you’ll also be stuck with boxes of unsold books you’ve already paid for.
Enter e-books on the publishing scene…
Years ago, when they were first being talked about, I gave e-books a try. The print book many of you have of Writer’s First Aid started as an e-book and was later picked up by the ICL Bookstore and issued in a paper edition. That was a good deal for me–e-books didn’t sell all that well ten years ago.
But last year I decided to stick my toes in the water again with the two e-booklets I created (50 Tension Techniques and Writing Mysteries for Young People.) I did no advertising except telling you about them on this blog. They have made a good little chunk of money without me doing anything. I have been pleasantly surprised.
So last year when Amazon.com said that more than half their income came from selling Kindle e-books, I took notice. I already had the built-in audience (thousands of blog subscribers), and I knew how to do the e-books (how to work with Amazon and Clickbank, how to get ISBN numbers, etc.)
I especially loved the fact that publishing e-books costs almost nothing, you can promote and publicize online for free most places, and your percentage of profit is good, even after Amazon takes their 30% cut for Kindles and Clickbank takes their cut. In these economic times, I’m looking for ways to make more money with the writing, just like most authors.
That’s why More Writer’s First Aid is coming out as an e-book in .pdf and Kindle and for the iPad and a few other formats.
Factors in Success
Should you try this? Maybe, if…
- you feel you have a built-in audience already, or you’re willing to take the time to build such an audience first
- you have excellent writing, editing, and copyediting skills (I’ve worked as writer, editor and copyeditor over the years) or you’re willing to pay for such services
- you can do Internet marketing, or you are willing to learn how
If all these things apply, then you may want to try e-books. My 34 children’s books are all print editions (although I see that many of them have Kindle editions now too.) I have been slower to try these new formats, so I’ll have to let you know how it goes.
For those interested in learning more about this, here are some links:
August 30, 2010
E-books have exploded lately. Now that about half the books sold on Amazon.com are e-books, it’s time to take them seriously.
Since it may highly impact your own writing future–especially if you hope to make a living at writing–I’d encourage you to check out these articles:
“The Future of Publishing” by Randy Ingermanson is a good overview of the rise of e-books and what the next few years are going to mean, especially for fiction writers.
“The High Cost of Self-Promotion” and how author Jon Konrath was able to go back to writing full-time because of e-books.
“It’s All Hard Work” by Sherryl Clark–with e-book cautions for the new writer breaking into print–and advice on how published authors can make e-books work for them.
The More Things Change…
What do you think about all the news about e-books? Do you personally read a lot of e-books? Do your children read e-books? Would you buy more e-books if the readers were less expensive?
Give me your opinions on this!
May 7, 2010
A question from a blog reader asked, “Would you consider using a newly formed publishing company? What questions should a writer ask a new publisher to ensure they are getting appropriate care for their book?”
I’ve had one experience with a newly formed publisher–which I’ll write about below–but first let me mention a blog post on this subject on Writer Beware! The post is two years old, and due to the economy, it is even MORE true today than it was when posted. I hope you’ll read the entire post, but this is the bottom line summary:
“So unless you are absolutely, 100% positive that the publisher is staffed by people with substantial publishing experience–and maybe even then–it’s a good idea to wait until a new publisher has been in business for at least a year, and has published a number of books, before submitting. Not only does this assure you that the publisher can take books all the way through the production process, it lets you evaluate important things like physical and editorial quality, how the books are distributed, and how they are marketed. It also allows time for complaints, if there are any, to accumulate.
Tempting as it may be to join the rush to get in on the ground floor when a new publisher opens its doors, watching and waiting is a much better strategy.”
My Own Experience
My first mystery series fifteen years ago was my only experience with a brand new publisher. The man who started it had great credentials, and we met when speaking on a panel at a writer’s conference. It was professional from beginning to end, although his advance was a lot smaller than I was used to.
The first two books came out on time, but the sales were pretty low. (Thankfully I had had several mysteries published by that time because the “editor” I got knew nothing about mysteries and was an unpublished aspiring writer.) The third mystery ran into one snag after another, but since that happens sometimes, I wasn’t worried. I knew he was working on other books too and accepted the explanations for delays.
One Eye-Opening Day
I had several school visits approaching and needed copies of the third book, so when I had to be in his city for something else, I decided to just stop by the publishing house and pick up the books, as he’d said they were finished and boxed up.
When I finally located the address, I felt surely it must be wrong. It wasn’t in the business area of town–it was a residence. His home. No one answered the door, so I walked around the back and peeked in the window of the basement.
There were stacks of books and piles of papers everywhere. Evidently this was the publishing “house.” Literally! And it turned out that this man was the entire “staff” and he was out of money. Any books sold would be up to me. (This was prior Internet marketing, so I was stuck with the books and no way other than school visits to sell them.)
Needless to say, I wished I had asked a lot more questions early in the process. The books weren’t reviewed and fell through the cracks.
Questions to Ask
If you are still considering submitting to a newly formed company, ask them:
- How many titles are you publishing this year?
- If there are published titles already, buy one or two and read them. (Look for quality of editing, typos, quality of art work, etc.)
- Contact other authors who have published with them. Ask about editing, sales, art work, whether the publisher answers their emails, etc. Thanks to the Internet and Facebook and Twitter, you can find almost anyone online.
- What constitutes your staff? (You may find that the publisher is also the editor, layout designer, promoter, sales rep, publicist, and delivery man.) If these jobs are “hired out,” who does these jobs? Are they qualified?
Google the new company too and check for complaints in blogs and message boards.
I know several writers who have signed with new publishers over the last few years. Every time, it’s been a dismal, frustrating experience–and resulting in so few sales.
If you don’t ask these questions before you query, at least get answers you’re happy with before you sign ANYTHING. As the blog title says, writer beware!