Tag Archives: self-publishing

So you want to start your own small press?

Over on Quora, an anonymous reader asked me to answer the question, “How should I go about starting a small, independent press?

This question was asked by someone who was already publishing his or her own work, but who was considering expanding beyond that to publishing others’ books.

This got me thinking. Thinking a lot. Probably way more than the poster wanted. If you don’t want to read all of what I came up with, the TL;DR version is down at the bottom.

Here’s what I had to say:

Continue reading So you want to start your own small press?

Authors: 6 Reasons You Have to Be on Goodreads

Books by telmo32 (flickr.com)This past Saturday at BAIPA, I led a roundtable about the reasons that every independent author and publisher (as well as every “dependent” author) needed to have an active presence on Goodreads.com. It was one of three roundtable sessions at the time, and I assumed that most BAIPA folks (who are pretty savvy) would already know most of what I had to say. I was surprised to find that not only did they not, but they were very hungry to hear about the world’s largest book review site

Because they all found the material I presented to be helpful, I thought I’d share my major points here. This is why you have to be on Goodreads: Continue reading Authors: 6 Reasons You Have to Be on Goodreads

How can I promote my book for free?

Bookstore by Natalia Romay; used through a Creative Commons LicenseEvery author wants to know how to get the word out about his or her book — and most are frightened that it’s going to cost an arm and a leg. To be honest, the most effective marketing that an author can do doesn’t involve paying money. Just lots and lots of time and effort. So not free, really, but no-cost, at least!

Before you hire a publicist or start looking at paid ads on Facebook, Goodreads, Google Adwords, Bing, Twitter, etc., be sure that you have done everything that you can to let the appropriate people know about your book. Contact all of your friends and family, obviously, and encourage them to share the information about your book with everyone they know. Send well-crafted, focussed press releases to newspapers, magazines, and radio stations that might be interested in your subject. Continue reading How can I promote my book for free?

How Much Money Can a Self-Publisher Make?

More retro clipart at http://www.clipartof.com/Here’s a question I’ve been asked a number of times: What’s the average income from self-publishing a book?

My answer isn’t necessarily a terribly helpful one. It truly depends one what you mean by average — do you mean the total amount earned by the number of authors (the mean), or do you mean the amount that the average KDP author/publisher earns (the median)? Continue reading How Much Money Can a Self-Publisher Make?

1 Thing That SHOULDN'T Go at the Front of Your Ebook

InterrobangSo I’ve written about what you should put at the back of your ebook. Over on LinkedIn, Denise Wakeman raised the issue, sparking an excellent discussion. (She suggested a great possibility that I hadn’t thought of: an opt-in link for your newsletter/mailing list.)

The discussion then turned to what should go at the front of an ebook.

You know those pages at the front of a print book that get lowercase roman numerals instead of regular arabic page numbers — the boring stuff that you usually flip through so you can start reading? That’s called the book’s front matter.

Now, tradition has set the front matter of print books fairly rigidly for a while now. According to my trusty Chicago Manual of Style, it runs something like this, with each item given a separate page or section: half-title page, series title or frontispiece, title page, copyright page, dedication, epigraph, table of contents (TOC), list of illustrations, list of tables, foreword, preface, acknowledgements, introduction (unless it’s part of the body of the book). Then you get, you know, the book. (Except for the title page and copyright page, these are all optional, by the way.)

In an ebook, where navigation can be non-linear, we often move some of the less essential, bulkier bits (i.e., TOC, lists of illustrations and tables) to the back, trusting that the reader will be able to find them easily using the Contents button. (I often link to the appropriate entry in the list of illustrations from the image’s caption.) The half-title page (the one often signed by authors and gift-givers) has been jettisoned. Not too many ebook signings.

You’ll notice, however, that there’s a commonly used section that’s missing from that list, and it became a major topic of debate in the LinkedIn discussion: blurbs. Continue reading 1 Thing That SHOULDN'T Go at the Front of Your Ebook

1 Thing That SHOULDN’T Go at the Front of Your Ebook

InterrobangSo I’ve written about what you should put at the back of your ebook. Over on LinkedIn, Denise Wakeman raised the issue, sparking an excellent discussion. (She suggested a great possibility that I hadn’t thought of: an opt-in link for your newsletter/mailing list.)

The discussion then turned to what should go at the front of an ebook.

You know those pages at the front of a print book that get lowercase roman numerals instead of regular arabic page numbers — the boring stuff that you usually flip through so you can start reading? That’s called the book’s front matter.

Now, tradition has set the front matter of print books fairly rigidly for a while now. According to my trusty Chicago Manual of Style, it runs something like this, with each item given a separate page or section: half-title page, series title or frontispiece, title page, copyright page, dedication, epigraph, table of contents (TOC), list of illustrations, list of tables, foreword, preface, acknowledgements, introduction (unless it’s part of the body of the book). Then you get, you know, the book. (Except for the title page and copyright page, these are all optional, by the way.)

In an ebook, where navigation can be non-linear, we often move some of the less essential, bulkier bits (i.e., TOC, lists of illustrations and tables) to the back, trusting that the reader will be able to find them easily using the Contents button. (I often link to the appropriate entry in the list of illustrations from the image’s caption.) The half-title page (the one often signed by authors and gift-givers) has been jettisoned. Not too many ebook signings.

You’ll notice, however, that there’s a commonly used section that’s missing from that list, and it became a major topic of debate in the LinkedIn discussion: blurbs. Continue reading 1 Thing That SHOULDN’T Go at the Front of Your Ebook

Advice for the Self-Publisher

Last week, I gave an interview to Inkspokes, a website dedicated to independent authors and their readers.  The interviewer, Nelson Suit, who is one of the editors at Inkspokes, asked me a number of questions about my own experiences as an author who published his own work, but then asked me — as both a writer and a publisher of others’ writing — what would be my advice for folks who were looking at self-publishing. Well, a lot of people who are smarter than I am have given thought to that subject, but after considering the question for a bit, here’s what I came up with:

DK: My two biggest pieces of advice will both seem a bit heretical.

The first is that self-publishing doesn’t mean that you have do everything yourself — or that you should. The chairman of Penguin/Random House doesn’t copyedit every book, nor does he try to design his own covers. He’s your competition. Budget in the time and (if you can) the money to outsource the parts of the work of publishing that you really can’t (or as I said shouldn’t) handle yourself.

The places where you will really serve yourself best by finding someone else to help out? Highly technical processes like print layout and cover design. It’s possible to create your own ebooks if your work is narrative and doesn’t include much in the way of complicated formatting or images.

stillpoint-shlomo

You should absolutely have editors at each of the three stages of editing — development (before the “final” draft is finished); copyediting (after you’re done developing the book but before you’ve had it laid out); and proofreading (after layout/conversion and just before publication). Do you have to hire professionals? I’m not unbiased, I recognize, but I highly recommend it.

Continue reading Advice for the Self-Publisher

Smidget for Smashwords (and MS Word)

My post on how to add social media and review links to your ebook has remained one of my most popular — no surprise, when every author and publisher (and author/publisher) is trying to make it as easy as possible for readers to share what they think about the book!

Someone asked recently if it were possible to use the same technique in a Microsoft Word document that was going to be uploaded to Smashwords and put through the dreaded Meatgrinder. The answer, of course, is yes!

Here’s how you do it:

The first thing you need to do is find images for the buttons. In most cases, the stores/social media companies have such icons available for the purpose on their sites. In my case, my own site (like just about every site out there) has a line of such icons across the bottom of every article; I right-clicked on each icon (that’s control-click on a Mac) and selected Save Image as…, downloading each of the icons to my computer as an image file — in each case either a JPEG file or a PNG file, either of which will work in an ebook.

The larger Amazon and Goodreads images I found on their websites. You could just do a web search for “Amazon icon” or “Goodreads icon” and find the ones that you want. (If you’re uploading to Smashwords, however, don’t include the Amazon icon and link — they’ll kick the book back to you. The only links they’ll allow are back to your own page or to Smashwords.)

To get them into your Word document, go to the Insert menu, and select Photo and then Picture from File…. (I’m using Word for Mac 2011 — I believe it’s the same in most versions of Word created in the last decade.) Find the image files wherever you downloaded them to, and hit the Insert button. The images will now be loaded into your Word doc.

You can play around with formatting them however you like — in a single row, in a tower, in a pyramid, whatever.

Now select each image one by one. The easiest way to do that is to place the cursor down right next to the image, then hold down the Shift key and the left or right arrow key. The icon will now be highlighted (on my computer, it turns bright yellow). Now go up to Insert menu again and select Hyperlink… (or hit Command-k on a Mac or control-k on a Windows computer). Take the hyperlink for that site that you’ve created using the directions I gave above, and then paste them into the field provided in the dialog box and (once again) hit the Insert button. Voilà! You should have a working link.

Now try clicking on the link you’ve just created. Does it behave the way that it should, creating a dialog to post a Tweet, update or review? If not, double-check the code and make sure that everything is as it should be. (The sites all occasionally change their code, and so some of these links may not be workable in a year or five — but they all work now.)

Repeat that for each of the icons, and you should have a working widget. Upload to Smashwords, and watch the book start to sell itself.

Six things you should be including in your ebook (and probably aren't)

Or, How to Use Your Ebooks as Your Best Marketing Platform

Last month I came up with a flash of inspiration: a way to use ebooks to market themselves. After trying it out on a number of my own ebooks, I wrote a post for Joel Friedlander’s wonderful resource for independent publishers, TheBookDesigner.com.

That post sparked a lot of interest and so I knew I wanted to share it here as well. (Since a number of folks have asked: yes, I will help you do this if you’d like. The directions here should be easy to follow — for someone comfortable getting in under the HTML hood of an ebook. Not everyone is, however, and so I can provide assistance.

I’ve created a service to add these buttons to your ebook; head on over to our new order page for Smidget — the social media widget for ebooks!

Quick: who—aside from you, your immediate family, and your dog—are the people most excited about your book, most ready to talk about it with their friends, and best equipped to talk about your book’s virtues? Anyone?

Well, there are lots of possible answers for each of those questions, but when it comes to identifying the whole bunch, I’d bet it’s a group that you haven’t thought much about: The people who have just finished the last page.

Think about it. If someone has actually finished your book, they’re committed to it. They’re interested in what you have had to say, and it’s fresh in their minds. They are your ideal advocates, your perfect evangelists for generating more excitement about your work and making sure that people hear about it. So what are you doing to harness that potential?

Most self-publishers don’t do much of anything. Maybe they put a bio at the back, and, possibly a link to their web page. Commercial publishers don’t do a whole lot more—they’ll put a list of similar titles the reader might be interested in, and, if they’re very twenty-first century, they’ll hyperlink those titles to the appropriate pages on their site.

Those are all really, really good ideas, and a great way to make the next sale. Is that enough? No, no, no.

What are you going to do to make sure that this title finds its audience? How are you going to harness that band of potential sales reps who’ve just finished your book and really want to talk with someone about it? I was thinking about this recently, and realized that the answer was pretty simple, when you remember that an ebook is simply a specialized web page. You do something like this: Continue reading Six things you should be including in your ebook (and probably aren't)