4 Things I Learned while Self-Publishing

TUWcover2#1 Outsource your cover design; however, be mindful about how much you pay. The same person who designed the Kwoted cover also created The Unhappy Wife cover. This time around, she charged $265. This is not what I expected for a simple eBook jpeg. But instead of complaining, I paid her for it and then learned about a site called Fiverr. On Fiverr, you can find anyone to do anything digital for you. By the time I was ready for a cover for the paperback, I simply signed up, listed an ad with these words: I need a 6×9 paperback cover for Lulu specifications, and then narrowed my choices down from international graphic designers. Someone I didn’t know produced the paperback cover in less than 48 hours for $15.00!!!

img_1603#2 Outsource your editor. I started to ask an English major friend to proof and edit The Unhappy Wife, but everything I’d read stated that this should be completed by a paid professional. I used a book called 2015 Guide to Self-Publishing in order to find an editor. The book lists several different editors by state. I vetted a few Florida ones through email in order to determine cost and efficiency. Each one offered a free/sample editing of the first 500-1000 words. Once I emailed the story, I compared editing style, personality and expertise. For example, the editor who charged $700 had a lot of industry knowledge and mentioned book characteristics that I wasn’t familiar with. Another editor who charged significantly less didn’t notice things like number formatting. I decided to go with someone in the middle, Erin Foster Books. She had a great personality, didn’t charge an arm and a leg, and offered two passes (read and edited twice).

#3 Outsource the formatting because it has to be precise. You probably can figure out the formatting yourself, but by the time I’d written a book, revised a book, and edited a book, the last thing I wanted to do was format a book. eBook formatting is so very finicky. It has to do with styles, style changes, making the book reflowable, etc. (big yawn). Paperback versions have to be formatted totally different than eBooks because whatever you send to your distributor is what will be printed, exactly as is. Take it from me; just have someone else do it. In my case, I asked Erin. She was wonderful and both books were published with no issues.

#4 Choose your publisher/distributor wisely. I chose Amazon because it’s the largest retailer of eBooks and authors earn 70% profit, which is the highest in the industry. But because I’m also not a fan of having all of my eggs in one monopoly basket, I chose Lulu.com to publish/distribute the paperback. Again, Lulu is known for paying the largest profit (as long as you sell from their site). This site also offers mass distribution to places like Barnes & Noble. Finally, Lulu prints books that look and feel like traditional books. I’m sure you know what I mean.

If you’re planning to self-publish a book, then I hope this information helps you in some way. If you’ve already self-published a book, then what else would you add? You know I’m all about helping one another!

Drumroll Please…✍🏾️📖🏆

img_2274Remember that contest I told you all about? Well, I won! Initially, I was nervous sitting there listening to all the rules and stipulations about rubrics. When Chris Coward, the president of the Florida Writers Association read my name, I couldn’t believe I’d actually won first place for creative nonfiction.

“The Transition” is the story of how I shifted from bitterness to compassion for my father, while he shifted from life to death due to his cancer diagnosis.

I want to share it here, but cannot because I’ve submitted it for The Binge-Watching Cure, a paid book publication.

Instead of posting it, I want to tell you something I find odd.

In 1983, my mother had a kidney transplant. Consequently, at ten years old, I wrote a book called On the Farm. It was the story of a little boy whose dad had died. The boy had to learn how to take care of the farm and his family. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Patterson submitted it for a citywide competition, sponsored by Gwendolyn Brooks. Remember, I grew up in Chicago so this was a huge deal. My grandmother and I dressed up in church attire and attended. My mother was still in Madison, Wisconsin recovering from her transplant. I didn’t win. But 33 years later, I find it quite strange that I won a competition for a story I wrote about losing my own father.

Today, everything is still surreal. However, if I can say anything to all of you who read my words, it is this: Carpe Diem! That was the 2016 Florida Writers Association’s theme. Seize the Day! Do what you want! Live life and experience it however you see fit. And have faith that everything is working out for your highest good.

3 Reasons the Blogging Community is better than Social Media

Royalty Free Image.
Royalty Free Image

I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now. And one thing has become pretty obvious. The blogging community is not only different than social media, but it is also better.

Here’s why:

Bloggers are readers. Most writers are. I’m willing to bet almost anything that no matter how many WordPress bloggers you have, they read what you write. It’s because they find reading enjoyable. It’s also because they want people to read what they’ve written as well. Social media doesn’t always yield readers. There have been times when I’ve commented on a person’s post, only to realize s/he hadn’t fully read the link themselves.

Bloggers reciprocate activity. If you read, like and comment on their words, then they’ll probably read, like and comment on something that you’ve written too. There’s a shared experience that invites empathy. Writers know the painstaking task of finding just the right phrase to convey just the right message. It can take hours! Consequently, if you took the time to write it, then a blogger will take the time to read it. Seemingly, the quick culture of social media, coupled with an imbalance of newsfeed updates from all several hundred of your social media friends and followers makes it difficult to reciprocate reading/liking activity.

Bloggers post thoughtful comments. Similar to number two, your blogger-followers have probably written, deleted and re-written their comments to express like, love and support for your posts. Sure, some only use the “like” button, but more than not, your blogger-followers have sought thoughtful words to communicate their feelings about your content. Social media friends and followers do not always seem to honor the “thoughtful” part of commenting. Whether it’s the use of text/IM language or the more recent and popular posting of memes as communication, social media comments just don’t seem to be as considerate or attentive.

What did I miss? Do you enjoy social media better than the blogosphere?

6 Book Marketing Insights from Priscilla Goudreau-Santos

After I self-published Kwoted, it didn’t take me long to realize how much I’d underestimated the importance of marketing. As a result, I’ve spent a year researching different aspects of book marketing that might be helpful whether you plan to self-publish or go the traditional route. The following advice is based on an interview with publicist, Priscilla Goudreau-Santos. She has worked in communications for many years and has an extensive, well-rounded background in public relations, journalism, and marketing within diverse industries.

KEG:   What are the benefits of hiring a book-marketing publicist?

PGS:   One of the advantages of working with a publicist is that he or she can offer you needed exposure to media. Your publicist has the expertise to develop a list of media and bookstores that are best for you—saving time and energy. Publicists will also make the media calls for you. Although it’s necessary to make an investment in publicity, in the long run it’s much less expensive than traditional advertising and more credible. It also saves you time so you can focus on writing.

KEG:   What are the top three things you believe a good publicist provides to his or her client?

PGS:   When you interview potential publicists, ask them if they will regularly update you on their progress and provide you with information such as media lists, a schedule of media outreach, follow-up results, and any other outreach they may do for you. An experienced book publicist can be a valuable, effective partner who will offer education and direction, and can increase your book’s visibility in a very crowded, noisy field.

KEG:   What are some mistakes that you see self-published authors making when marketing themselves and/or their books?

PGS:   Oftentimes, authors don’t start with a plan. The first step is to determine your goals and expectations. Your book publicist is a resource and guide through all the myriad media outlets, but you are critical to your book’s success. Is your goal to sell a certain number of books? Or, is it to gain recognition of a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? The next step for authors is to start their marketing campaign well in advance of publication. I suggest that they learn as much as they can about publicity and marketing well in advance of their book’s publication date. A good resource is their publisher’s publicist or marketing manager. Once an author has determined her goals and expectations, and thoughtfully plotted a three- or six-month strategy, he or she can decide whether working with a publicist makes sense.

KEG:   Now that social media is a part of everyone’s lives, what do you see as the most important step in a social media campaign?

PGS:   Consistency. Use the channels that are most familiar to you and your fans. And, those that fit your demographic e.g. women ages 25-55. For example, if Facebook is a good tool in reaching your fans – one that you use frequently — this is a good place to start. If there are others that work well with your book topic such as Pinterest, use those in lieu of these or in addition to your preferred social media.

KEG:   How much should someone expect to pay for a publicist?

PGS:   The answer to that varies by which publicist and program you choose. I believe an effective campaign will vary from about $1,500 to $10,000 and might reach $15,000 depending on the scope of your marketing program and the results you hope to achieve.

KEG:   Is there anything else you’d like to add?

PGS:   As an author, remember that you’re in it for the long haul. Develop a campaign that reflects your values, is comfortable for you to implement, and that is sustainable over time. If you create a website or blog, make sure that you post to it regularly and that you include information that’s interesting to your readers apart from your book. Do this with your social media as well. The goal for all your online and traditional media is communication, and developing a following is all about being interesting. Thoughtful, funny and informational posts will go a long way in building loyalty.

prsicilla

Priscilla Goudreau-Santos specializes in book and author publicity. She owns Charlotte-based PR firm Priscilla Goudreau Public Relations & Marketing, http://www.priscillagoudreaupr.com, and is a partner in the author online platform, AllAbouttheAuthors.com. She serves authors and clients within diverse industries throughout the southeast including real estate and health care. You can reach her at 904-371-7751 or via email at priscillagoudreausantos@gmail.com.

3 Ways to Engage with Bloggers

You’ve probably heard that a major part of blogging is not only providing interesting content, but also engaging with other bloggers. But if you’re like me, then sometimes interacting can feel like a part-time job. If you’re also like me, then you already have a full-time job where you make money and another job called “parent” and “spouse.” However, I’m sure you recognize that it’s worth it to invest time to those who support your art.

But how?

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#1: Wait for someone to follow, like or comment. I average approximately 30-40 interactions per day. When a WordPress blogger follows, likes or comments, then I read one of their recent posts and do the same. If I’m not already following, then I check out his or her “About” page and browse around. Most of the time, I find something I like, unless it’s a blog about nuclear physics or something. In that case, I read a post, like and comment, and keep it moving. It takes me about two hours a day. You might be wondering where I find two hours a day. The answer is that I don’t watch Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy or the show about the zombies. Instead, I choose to engage with people who genuinely support me and it’s well worth it.

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#2: Keep a Twitter blogger list. Many bloggers link their WordPress sites to Twitter. So one of the first things I do when I first follow them is search for their page, follow, and then add them to my WordPress Blogger list. The list serves as a filter. I spend about twenty minutes checking Twitter each day. One day I may read the first ten writers. Another day, I may read every other person’s. Either way, it helps me to see the people who haven’t followed, liked or commented on my articles. I squeeze in Twitter time while I’m standing in a long line or waiting at a doctor’s office. If you choose to use this method, then also be sure to like, re-tweet, and add hashtags to posts that you want everyone else to see. It’s the name of the Twitter game.

#3: Check my WordPress reader. This is my least favorite. I check my reader once a month. Like many of you, I use the filter “Blogs I follow.” From there, I can catch up on bloggers I’ve added through WordPress, but not email. Other times I search for topics that match my own categories, such as “quotes” or “inspiration.” This ensures that I follow people who will want to engage with similar content. I’ve found quite a few blogs using this system.

I know it’s hard to keep up with FB, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and also WordPress, so I hope these tips help. How do you blog? What do you do to keep up? Please let us know so we can all become more efficient 🙂