7 Essential e-Publishing Tips: A Guest Post by Author M.J. Moores

Standard

What day is it? C’mon! Say it! Say it! It’s Hump Day! Whoo-hoo! And I have a treat to get you through the mid-week hump, a guest post by author, editor M.J. Moores, OCT. Today, she’s going to share with you 7 essential e-publishing tips. Take it from here, M.J.!


It’s hard to imagine being an author today and not having an e-version of your book available for sale. In fact, with ½ of all books sold (on a yearly basis since 2012) being eBooks, that’s a market you don’t want to be left out of. However, I still come across many self-published authors who haven’t taken that next step. And whether you’re just starting into the e-publishing game or you’ve been making your way alone through the quagmire here are 7 essential tips to consider.

ONE – Get to know the players.

Kindle generally claims ½ of all eBook sales and the other half go to a variety of mid-sized and small niche markets: Apple’s iBook, Barnes & Noble’s nook, Google Books, Kobo and many more. Depending on your prowess and comfort with being a small business owner and managing your books, there are 3 standard options to consider: Just going with 1 platform (e.g. Kindle Unlimited); going with 2 or 3 distribution platforms (Kindle Direct & Smashwords or Draft2Digital); or going direct with as many companies as you can (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Google Books, etc.) and then finding 1 or 2 multi-platform distributors to get your book into the smaller niche markets. No one option is the right one and none of them are wrong.

TWO – Do your market research.

Check out what demographic buys where, to hit your optimal sales figures. If you’re writing for the teen or YA market (we all know that adults love YA just as much as teens!) then putting in the time and effort to have a solid presence on WattPad could be a substantial benefit to your e-industry. You need to realize that getting into this business on a wing-and-a-prayer may work some of the time, but more often than not first-timers get discouraged and frustrated when their expectations do not become a reality.

THREE – Make sure your eBook is as nicely formatted as your print book (if you have one).

The ease with which anyone can publish online today often leads to hasty uploads to the marketplace. Either do your research and study the style guide for your chosen distributor(s) or hire a professional to simplify the process. There are a number of authors who offer services like editing and formatting at discounted prices to supplement their income. Chat in writing forums online or ask around at a local writers meeting to see who might “know someone” to help you out. You want your readers to have the best possible experience with your text so that it disappears from the screen and simply becomes alive in the mind.

FOUR – Get yourself a nice cover image.

If you happen to be a graphic artist and you’d like to build a book cover using a design program you’re comfortable with, go for it. You can easily find the dimensions for the cover that your preferred distributor uses and then get creative. If you happen to dabble with graphic design or you’re using a cover page template provided by your distributor (or a 3rd party) then you’ll need to do your research. There are proven complimentary visual elements of style that are necessary for you to understand about the art of cover art and how that differs from print to digital imaging the size of an icon or postage stamp. You also need to know what your target market likes. If your cover looks amateur and doesn’t accurately represent your niche genre then you’re trying to hit a home-run with a Nerf baseball bat at Fenway.

FIVE – Make sure the price is right.

Yes, you have your print book listed at $16.99 but that doesn’t mean you automatically list your eBook for that price. For print you have to consider the cost of physically creating and then shipping your book to your reader. On a 350 page book you’re looking at costs between $8-$12 on average. Immediately take that away from your $16.99 price tag – eBooks are published with the click of a button and sold with one too. Suddenly your book is sitting around $4.99-$6.99 – much more comfortable numbers… but are they your numbers? The facts are that most eBooks gain their highest sales (depending on your genre of course) around the $2.99-$3.99 price bracket. If you’re a relative unknown in your publishing market then the better bet is to start on the lower end. If you’re well-known then go with the mid-range pricing since you already have a solid readership. And if you happen to be Stephen King, go for broke and sit at the high end as you continue to rake in the cash for your literary offerings 😉

SIX – Work the system.

Whatever e-publishing platform (or distributor) you happen to go with, they will have a means by which you can place your book on sale, do a limited time discount, participate in %-off days or other promotional opportunities. Bottom line – if someone thinks they’re getting a good deal, they’re more likely to buy. This goes across the board with print publishing too, but take advantage of sites where you can list your book for free (because it’s discounted or naturally sits at a certain price range) as there are always bibliophiles on the hunt for a great buy.

SEVEN – Give it away for FREE.

Yes, this is a controversial topic in-and-of itself but hear me out. There are three ways to do this and I’ll guarantee you’ll like at least one of them 😉 The first and most widely practiced is having a “free day” or days for your full-length book. Why go free? The general rule of thumb is that for every 30 books sold you’ll gain 3 reviews. If your book is downloaded 300 times on its free day, then you’re looking at a potential 30 reviews to help hype up and sell more books for a profit. However, there are other ways to get reviews (reaching out to book bloggers one-by-one or paying review services like NetGalley or ChooseyBookworm to make your book available to their network of reader-reviews – this is not the same as paying for reviews, which you should never do) which leads me to option two; free teasers. By making prequel chapters available for free or writing ‘extra’ material that can act as a reference or introductory text of some kind you are providing a hook for potential readers to get to know you, your style and content. Options three is making use of giveaways during your pre-launch and launch days to help spread the word about your new book. Who doesn’t like winning something for free? Goodreads is a great platform to help with this or you could go solo and work with Rafflecopter and run your own giveaway.

Getting into the eBook game might strike you as anything from exciting to nauseating depending on how self-assured you are when branching out and trying something new. Just remember, the writing and publishing community (both on and off line) is here to help you. Yes, we’re all in competition for that almighty buck but ultimately we know that if we can help you succeed there’s a chance for us out there too.


picM.J. Moores began her career as an English teacher in Ontario, Canada. Her love of storytelling and passion for writing has stayed with her since the age of nine. M. J. relishes tales of adventure and journeys of self-realization. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres but speculative fiction remains her all time favourite. M.J. is a regular contributor to Authors Publish Magazine and she runs an Emerging Writers website called Infinite Pathways where she offers editing services and platform building opportunities. Her debut novel Time’s Tempest is currently available in print and e-format.The 2nd book in the series will be coming out early in September!

Connect with MJ on her website, her blog, or on Facebook.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Advertisements

The Choosing and Feeding of Betas: A Guest Post by Amie Gibbons

Standard

Happy Hump Day, everyone! And to help me get over the mid-week hump, Amie Gibbons has provided me a guest post about beta readers that I know you will find extremely helpful, and fun!


The Choosing and Feeding of Betas:

Beta Readers are perhaps the most important part of the editing process. I’m going to say this up front because I’ve made this mistake. Be nice to your betas! They take time out of their busy lives to read your stuff and try to fix it up. Even if it’s a bad review, be nice. If it’s horrible and they just aren’t the right person to be critiquing your work for whatever reason (and that’s a judgment call on your part) you’ve still got to say thanks for your time.

First, I’m going to define what I mean by beta (because I’m a lawyer and that’s just how we roll. A beta is someone who reads the book after it’s done. This isn’t someone who reads through your slightly polished 3rd draft who’s there to catch the grammar mistakes and suggest ways of restructuring a sentence (Though some of them do this, I think of those as Alpha Readers.)

And for the love of the writing gods, Alphas and Betas are not there to read your rough draft. Please never ask someone to critique a rough draft again. For their sanity and yours. (I did that for my brother in law once upon a time and he has not asked me to look at anything of his since.) For more on this: Alpha vs. Beta Readers.

Betas are the people who come in once you’ve done 10 drafts or 20. Once you’ve caught all the spelling and grammar stuff you can, once you’ve worked out the plot holes, steamed up the sex scene, drove the message home (wow, those two shouldn’t be next to each other on the list, and rounded out your characters.

Betas are readers!

They are the people that come in once you think the book is at publishable quality, and give it that last look. They’re basically reviewers.  Does your writing style work, do the characters, does something feel contrived, does the plot move too slow or too fast, is there a gaping plot hole you didn’t catch. They aren’t there to line edit (again, some do at this stage and that’s okay, take the extra pair of eyes) because that’s what Alphas and Editors are for. They are there to tell you if the story works.

They’re going to give you feedback and you’re going to say thank-you. If it was bad, rant to your friends and family and let them coddle your hurt feelings. You get to be hurt, you get to have a drink, down chocolate, maybe cry a little. What you don’t get to do is take it out on your betas.

They don’t like your style/genre/voice/message and they tore your book apart because of it?  Fine, don’t use them again because they aren’t your target audience. Don’t argue (you can nicely ask them to expand and explain so you can fix it), don’t yell at them (even hiding behind the safety of your keyboard) and do say thank-you for taking the time.

This is what I meant when I said feed your betas. That’s the thank-you. You don’t have to “feed them” by giving them more of your work if it’s not their thing. And they probably don’t want to see more if it’s not their thing.

I have one person in my writing group whom we all know can’t read my stuff because she doesn’t like cursing.  Upon seeing a passage of mine, she said it’d be great if I took out the swear words. Yeah, that’s not happening. So if she did critique my stuff, she’d be flagging those down as she went. That’s what I mean by not your target.  Someone who doesn’t believe in sex outside marriage shouldn’t be reading steamy romance novels. Don’t like violence, there goes many bestseller action adventures. Think stories about magic/science that may as well be magic are invoking the devil? That’s tossing out sci-fi and fantasy.

I don’t like excessive gore and violence. So guess what big summer blockbuster I absolutely hated! Would have walked out if I wasn’t taking a friend for his birthday and it was his choice of movie loathhhhhhhed. Mad Max.

I ripped it to shreds. I wanted it scrubbed out of my brain because it was physically painful to sit through that piece of trash. If I went on a rant as to why, we’d be here for another 1000 words. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t their target. I hated it for every reason their target audience loved it.

Genre, subgenre, or type of writing is important when you’re beta hunting. If they like mysteries and urban fantasy, they might like paranormal romance. Then again, they may hate every book in their chosen genres that have romance and stay away from those (clears throat, my mom). Romance readers may hate paranormal romance because it’s usually more gory and action packed.

There are differences within a genre and you first have to find someone who likes your type. A lot of guys don’t like my writing because it’s usually 1st person POV in the head of a woman, it’s too “girly” for them. Doesn’t matter how much stuff I blow up in the book (I love blowing stuff up, *maniacal laugh*) it is still the world through female eyes and that makes it hard for some guys to connect to it.

That’s okay.  Accept right now that your book is not for everyone. You have a target audience, figure out who they are and, well, target them. (Yes, I’m picturing betas in my crosshairs right now 🙂

Now, if the person has some experience in your genre (or even if they don’t) and they critiqued your writing, said it wasn’t quite there, not good descriptions, didn’t have a voice; or if they critiqued the structure/characters like it was too slow, they couldn’t connect to the characters, something didn’t make sense in the plot. Those are things you want to consider listening to.

Now, how do you know when to listen to a beta and when not to? You’ve just got to learn for yourself what makes a good and bad beta for your work and then, yep, there’s that judgment call we talked about. You have to build a relationship with betas, to get a sense of who they are and what they like. That means you’re going to end up using a few who hate your work and trash it. It’s the whole you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs idea.

Wine, chocolate, snuggle with your honey, and move on.

You figure out which betas to listen to first of all by what they say about the work as a piece in your genre. If they normally don’t read that genre/type, red flag. You can tell this pretty easily because they’ll usually tell you.  But sometimes they’ll… er, forget 🙂

If they are giving you advice about your book, saying the genre doesn’t have that, and you know it does because you’ve read it (or think the genre could use a little expanding) probably don’t listen to them. If someone’s saying there’s no room for romance in a mystery/suspense novel, I guess they’ve never heard of a little known author named Lisa Jackson. If, however, someone says the romance doesn’t ring true because it happens so fast with no build up, you may want to listen.

Another big red flag to look out for and to use to rule out betas is if someone fundamentally disagrees with some ideology you are (or they think you are) promoting in your book.

I had one guy trash a short story because the MC had a gun on her. He couldn’t figure out why a “normal girl” would just happen to have a gun on her at all times because “only cops and criminals” did that. Hahahahaha. Someone who’s fundamentally anti-gun probably won’t like my books because my characters are usually armed (shout out to Oleg Volk, my gun expert), either with guns or magic.

Somebody who’s homophobic isn’t going to like my character who’s gay and lives with his bf. And if a character is bi?  Ohhhhh, gods save you. (Random aside, why do homophobes, or even people who claim they’re not, have a bigger issue with bi than with gay people?  What is that? Then we could go into why do they have a problem with gay people to begin with and we’d never get out of here 🙂

Yes, there are people out there who will tell you you are terrible at something because they don’t like your views (I have a Professor who’s getting written into a book and killed off for this 😉 and they want to shut you up before you can get your views out there.

You also figure out what betas to listen to by numbers.  One big reason you can’t just have one or two betas.  You’ve got to have enough people who can critique your stuff in your genre that you can compare their answers. If one person said the characters were flat and another said they were so well rounded she’s using what you did to flesh out her own characters, I say average them out. If someone says it’s too slow and another says it’s too fast, again, probably average them out.

But if you have a few saying basically the same thing isn’t working, it’s probably a good idea to listen.

In the end, it’s your book, it’s your baby. And books don’t get written by committee.  It’s your call. All the betas are doing is telling you what they as an individual reader thinks. Other readers may feel differently.

So, to summarize, you want to find multiple betas in your genre, who like and/or understand your voice, and who won’t hate the whole thing just because there’s something in there they are fundamentally against.

For a few awesome posts on beta readers, critique groups, reviews, when to listen to them and when not to, check out:

The Catching and Feeding of Betas (From which I stole the name of this post 🙂

The Demon Up Close, Novel Workshop Addendum

Don’t fear the one star

The better angels of our writing

Happy Writing!


unnamed

Meet Amie Gibbons!

Amie GIbbons: Is a lawyer and urban fantasy writer/author wannabe. She started writing in college, produced four books and many stories, all at various stages of completeness and needing to be edited. She took an unplanned hiatus from writing when she went to law school and all of her brain power got consumed by cases, statutes, exams, and partying (if you think law students are boring and don’t know how to throw a good party, you’ve never met a law student in Nashville). She’s finally writing again!

Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Happy Hump Day!

Be Our Guest!

Standard

Okay, you guys know, as a nerd, I couldn’t resist referencing my favorite Disney movie when requesting guest bloggers for my site, but in all seriousness, I am seeking guest bloggers for the months of July, August, and September.

Because of my hectic work schedule, my mom’s illness, and my novel’s fast-approaching deadline, I will not be able to maintain my strict blogging schedule without some help. So, I am inviting bloggers to share their quality content on my site.

Interested? Here are some reasons to guest blog:

  • Gain exposure to 300+ new readers
  • Help out a fellow blogger
  • Have fun!

Now are you interested? If you are, I’m seeking posts related to:

  • Writing
  • Publishing
  • Editing
  • Marketing
  • Fantasy
  • Humor
  • Fantasy films
  • Books
  • Nerd stuff in general

If you’re still interested, send an e-mail to kyliebetzner@gmail.com with the words “Guest Blog” in the regarding line. Feel free to send the post with the e-mail.

Please include the following with your guest post:

  • Picture
  • Brief bio
  • Links to your blog and/or other social media site

Thank you in advance for your participation. Please be my guest!

Writing in the Present Tense: A Guest Post By Author Charles E. Yallowitz

Standard
ZMyvtXQ1

Author Charles Yallowitz

Thank goodness it’s finally Friday! Am I right? And thank goodness for guest bloggers. After an entire week of laying sick in bed, I would have been hard-pressed to produce an interesting blog post with any content whatsoever. So, lucky for you, I’ve invited Charles E. Yallowitz, author of the fantasy adventure series Legends of Windemere to guest post on my blog today. This time he’ll be speaking about ‘Present Tense Writing.’ And just so you know, I’ve sealed all the exits and windows, so you can’t run away. Haha! Just kidding, you’ll enjoy this.

The reason I asked him to speak on this topic was because his series is written in Third Person Present Tense. What does this mean?  That he’s insane? How about I let Charles take it from here:


This style means that you are watching events unfold as they occur through your own eyes instead of the eyes of a chosen character. In other words, you’re reading a TV show or movie, which is surprisingly jarring to many people. Why is that?  Because nearly everything we read growing up is done in Past Tense a.k.a. events that already happened.

I actually have a theory on why this is. Writing was originally used to document historical events, which established past tense as the norm. Fiction began as the telling of fake events and has steadily dropped the illusion of ever being real. Yet, it had to hold onto that Past Tense style back in the day and many of the classics are like this. We’re taught to read on this, so it becomes ingrained in our minds that this is what a book is. Some people don’t get caught here due to other Present Tense mediums like video games, TV, movies, and comic books. Seriously, all of my friends that love comic books have never noticed my ‘unique’ style while everyone else has needed to get used to it.

And you can get used to Present Tense reading. Back when I published my first book, my friend and his wife were listening to The Hunger Games audiobook. That’s another Present Tense story. No problem for either of them. Then they each started reading my book. My friend has been subjected to my style since high school, so this was ‘just how Charlie writes’. Not even a blink. His wife had never read any of my stuff and she kept saying something wasn’t quite right about it. This woman is incredibly smart too, so hearing this made me wonder about how our brains are programmed to handle Past Tense better than Present Tense. Yet we can still train ourselves to enjoy both without a problem.

prodigy-cover-final

Watch the story unfold in the present tense!

Now there really isn’t any trick to writing this way. Like reading it, you practice and it becomes second nature. You’ll slip a few times, but you’d do the same with Past Tense too. There are also some tools that don’t transfer very well like flashbacks. Foreshadowing, action, and dialogue are my three big toys to help with the story. Though there are threats too. Since every character is being seen at their present time, the narrative exposition to explain the world and some of the systems throws off the rhythm. For example, Nyx the Caster just appeared and now is the time to tell people how magic works. If a narrator explains then it’s an info dump and you get the sense that the characters are sitting ‘off camera’ by the food table. So you need to have someone ask about magic and then have another explain. It’s still an info dump, but you get the feeling that even the heroes are learning. Not a perfect system, but what really is?

Keep in mind that I’m only talking about my style, which works for my books. Every author needs to find what feels comfortable for them. It usually takes time to hone a personal style and such a thing is always changing. Honestly, I chose Present Tense by accident when a teacher said I had to pick one. Then nobody really pointed out the ‘issue’ until I published my first book. By then it was too late. Personally, I think that’s the best path because you want your writing to be natural. Copying somebody else can make your writing stiff and robotic. This is another reason why it’s fun to experiment with novellas, short stories, and anything that you might not even publish. As far as Present Tense goes, never hurts to try for writing and you just need to go in with an open mind when reading. If you keep thinking that the book is ‘wrong’ then you’ll never adapt and see the story that’s simply being told in a way that isn’t very common. One friend who used to only read Past Tense has told me that getting used to the other side opened up a lot of new books for him. Then again, I’ve had people tell me that I couldn’t write my way out of an open field, so what do I know?


Thanks, Charles for stopping by and entertaining everyone while I recover from my cold. **Cough, cough** and thank you to everyone who took the time to enjoy it. I think he made a lot of good points that definitely has me rethinking the whole past versus present tense debate. If you enjoyed his wit and reason–or lack thereof–please follow him on Twitter and WordPress. Don’t forget to check out his books on Amazon!

As always, have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! TGIF!