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by Penny Sansevieri
AME Blog Carnival: Tips and Tricks for Writers and Authors – February 25, 2013
February 25, 2013by: Penny
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Welcome to the February 25, 2013 edition of tips and tricks for writers and authors. We have insights and ideas for writing, and self-publishing, in this issue. We hope you enjoy the tips, and thank you to all of the contributors!

English: Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World cha...

English: Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World championships Athletics in Daegu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Self-Publishing

Jess Lee presents Case Study: Turn a Crappy Cover into a Golden Cover posted at Create Your Own Ebook Cover, saying, “As an indie author, you’ve probably messed about in GIMP or Photoshop to create an ebook cover. Learn the System for Covers that Rock and create an book cover that gathers readers by the handful!”

Writing

Hannah E. Christian presents My Experience With Journaling posted at Hannah E. Christian – Blog.

Chrys Fey presents Your Life Is Your Novel posted at Write With Fey, saying, “Just because you’re writing fiction doesn’t mean you can’t use your real life as inspiration. I do!”

Samir Bharadwaj presents Evolving Your Writing Voice posted at Samir Bharadwaj dot Com, saying, “Finding a unique writing voice which is all your own can be a challenge. Here are some strategies to get you started.”

David Leonhardt presents Before you sign a Ghostwriter contract posted at A Ghost Writers Blog, saying, “You have found a ghostwriter that you want to work with. You are ready to sign a contract. But does the contract cover everything? Here is a quick guide to what you need to know…”

John Schmoll presents Even More Blogging Tips From a Beginner, Part II posted at Frugal Rules, saying, “Running a blog means that I learn something new nearly every week. One of the favorite aspects I enjoy about blogging is the community aspect that you can find in the blogosphere.”

Marisa Wikramanayake presents How to write a book: Part 1: Introduction | Marisa Wikramanayake posted at Marisa Wikramanayake.

Karen M. Rider presents Writing Fiction Ripped From the Headlines posted at Karen M. Rider, saying, “We who write fiction (or aspire to write it between all of life’s other busy moments) can’t be shy about ripping  inspiration right from the headlines. Case in point: The Pistorius Murder Case. Can you imagine the pitch for the book:

“What exactly happened in South Africa the night Oscar Pistorius, an Olympic runner whose lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old, killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the predawn hours of Valentine’s Day? That’s what homicide detective “Joe Detective” is trying to find out until he gets suspended for attempted murder, himself. But Joe just can’t let this one go and keeps working the case while the charges against him get sorted out….”

Pistorius claims he mistook his beloved for an intruder when he shot her through a locked door in a bathroom in his home. Somehow the truth will come out. Meanwhile set your mind to the case like a writer hot for a story using the riveting questions provided by Karen. Who knows — you just might write the book based on the case!”

Joanna Penn presents How to Write More and Create a Daily Writing Habit posted at The Creative Penn, saying, “One of the best ways to sell more books, is to have more product available. For this, you need to write more word count. Here’s how one author is doing it in 2013.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of tips and tricks for writers and authors using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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How Agents Can Survive in the New World of Publishing
February 25, 2013by: ameeditor
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The publishing world is changing and many say that agents have been hit the hardest. Always super innovative, Jason Ashlock talks about what agents can do to survive the changing publishing landscape. Another great talk from Tools of Change!



A Unique and Innovative Look at Publishing
February 25, 2013by: ameeditor
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How can you succeed in this changing publishing climate? Jason Ashlock offers another unique perspective on the changing landscape of publishing and how authors, agents, and especially publishers can survive!



Faking it onto the Bestseller List
February 22, 2013by: ameeditor
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Over the years I’ve heard hundreds (maybe thousands of times): “I want to be on the bestseller list!” Great, I say, that will take a lot of work and a lot of planning and even then, nothing is guaranteed. For years now we’ve seen companies come and go, they buy up books to surge the bestseller lists and get the authors fame. Generally the “hit” to the list is short-lived, hence the nature of buying up your own books or, putting another way, faking it onto the bestseller list.

Look, I’m no Pollyanna, I get that this happens; what I don’t get is why authors still support this. And even more important, how is this allowed to happen? The Wall Street Journal just did a piece on this today, and noted that Amazon refuses to do business with these firms (Yah, Amazon). I would encourage more publishers to follow suit. Only then will we see the end to fake list surging. Oh and by the way, how about we create systems within our bestseller lists that spies these fakers and weeds them from the list? Amazon does with IP addresses, it’s really not that hard.

And all of this begs the question: whatever happened to believing in your book? Whatever happened to some good ol’ marketing muscle? Yes, we’d Faking itall love to see our books hit the bestseller list, but if you bought your way there it’s sort of a hollow victory, no? In the end, I believe that if the book didn’t get on the list by its own merit, it will never do as well as it would if, let’s say, it actually earned the right to be there.

Yes, I know we often live in a world of fake, but I’d rather leave the fakers to the reality shows and handbags. Please keep fake out of publishing.

 

 

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Best of the Web Book Marketing Tips for the Week of February 18, 2013
February 22, 2013by: Penny
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Looking for some book marketing inspiration and ideas? Here’s a roundup of some of the best book marketing Tweets from the past week, courtesy of bloggers, marketers, authors and others. The topics include ways to use Pinterest for your book, how authors use Kickstarter to raise funds for their books, social media advice you can ignore, and much more. Best of luck with your marketing and publishing efforts!

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* 30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore

HubSpot debunks some of the social media “best practices” that in reality are not good practices at all:

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34180/30-terrible-pieces-of-social-media-advice-you-should-ignore

* Excellent Tools for Authors and Writers Recommended by Guy Kawasaki

Every author asks the questions: Do I do it on my own or do I seek a publisher? If I do it on my own, what are the costs? Where can I get money? What can I expect to make? Which way would be best? How is book marketing done? Here’s what author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki says:

http://rockstarradionetwork.com/podcasts/yourguidetobookpublishing/

* Choose Your Own Adventure: Authors Turn to Kickstarter to Fund Their Stories

Many self-published authors use Kickstarter to raise money to publish their books. Here’s what these authors learned:

http://pandodaily.com/2013/02/18/choose-your-own-adventure-authors-turn-to-kickstarter-to-fund-their-stories/

* 5 Ways Brands Can Use Twitter’s Vine App

Vine lets users add six-second videos to their Tweets. Here are some ways you can use it for your own marketing:

http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/ways-brands-twitter-s-vine-app/239775/

* Pinterest for Novelists: Inspiration, Book Design and Book Trailers

Learn how you can use Pinterest to benefit your book:

http://beyondthemargins.com/2013/01/pinterest-for-novelists-inspiration-book-design-and-book-trailers/

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You Can Be an Expert (even if you’ve written fiction!)
February 22, 2013by: ameeditor
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You hear it all the time, “You need to be an expert!” For Non-fiction authors that’s pretty easy, but what about fiction? Eve offers some cool ideas. Check out this great video with Eve Bridburg of Grub Street Reads from Tools of Change for Publishing



Stuck in Social Media Overwhelm?
February 21, 2013by: ameeditor
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If you feel like you’re stuck in social media overwhelm here are some ideas about what you can do. Do you need to do it all? Will it hurt book sales if you aren’t? Check out this great video with Eve Bridburg of Grub Street Reads from Tools of Change for Publishing.



Why Book Sales is a Terrible Goal
February 20, 2013by: ameeditor
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If the goal for your book success is sales, you may want to think again. In this video Eve Bridburg of Grub Street Reads talks about why good goals are crucial to a book’s success. From Tools of Change for Publishing.



A Recap from Tools of Change for Publishing!
February 19, 2013by: ameeditor
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Big ideas in publishing!

Last week I was at Tools of Change for Publishing in New York which was a jam-packed conference full of some great insights. Just like we did for our Digital Book World post (http://www.amarketingexpert.com/the-evolving-world-of-publishing-what-authors-must-know-to-succeed/), I’ve compiled a list of some of the best and most insightful tweets.

 

72 hours of YouTube video uploaded per minute to YouTube

What a number, right? YouTube is where it’s at. If you haven’t explored having your own YouTube channel I really think you should. It’s a great way to share information with your readers and engage with them on a whole different level.

@eve_grubstreet says book sales are a terrible goal to shoot for in book marketing success. YAH! Excellent statement.

Instead Eve suggested that authors look at other, measurable goals such as speaking gigs, followers on Facebook, Twitter, and other goals that aren’t social media related such as a number of reviews. When was the last time you said, “I want to get X number of reviews for my book.” Focusing on something like getting reviews is akin to getting exposure and building fans. You build your platform one fan at a time, you build sales the same way.

Free works for book sales, give the consumer something to show there’s value. You must show value.

If you want your consumer to value you and to buy your book, you must first show them that there is value. These days this is especially true given how many books are published each day, and with the surge of eBooks everyone is vying for readers’ attention. One way to get it is to show value, you can do that through free content.

Free content for fiction authors works as well, think novellas, short stories, etc.

What a great idea for free content! Fiction authors are always telling me that if they have to give something away, they aren’t sure how to do it or what to offer. These are some great tips! Also, check out the video on this topic here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_oTn0m6cdI&feature=share&list=UUkB2oHqfvggcrpRPi2ps_Gg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5J5vgwKhTY&feature=share&list=UUkB2oHqfvggcrpRPi2ps_Gg

@robeagar says that he has seen that “free doesn’t cannibalize sales, it amplifies sales.”

This is a very true statement though sometimes it’s hard to get authors on board with this. The numbers, however, always prove this is true. Time and time again the free promotions you do for your book (on KDP or elsewhere) help to ramp up sales numbers. Additionally, giving away free content in the form of reports, excerpts, novellas, etc. helps boost sales considerably.

Keep your fans engaged between book releases with free content fans can share via socmed

Another great idea and very true. In fact, in a later program led by Good Reads they did a survey of readers who said they’d rather read serialized novels from an author they love rather than wait months for the entire book. Another good way to keep free content going is on your blog, so blogging in character if you’ve written fiction, or perhaps doing short vignettes of their adventures outside of the book is a good way to keep readers engaged. I know this is much tougher for fiction, which is why I give some fiction examples here. Remember that you want your reader to respond to your book, you can do that by giving them stories that involve them in your character’s lives on an ongoing basis.

@RobEagar YOU may not be the best person to answer the reader’s question, “What’s in it for me?”

This is so true, that’s another reason why free works so well. By giving free you let the reader determine what’s in it for them. You may not always find that every piece of free content leads to a sale, but you’ll have many more sales because of it. Here are two examples for non-fiction authors:

Success stories let readers explain WIIFM – success stories speak for themselves

This is a fun project that you non-fiction authors should tackle. So, your book is out there and it’s (hopefully) changing lives and helping your readers, right? Great, then get their testimonials about this. People love success stories.

Some great insight on the new role of the agent: “If every indie #author is not to go it alone” he/she needs radical advocate in digital age @jasonashlock

1)     Assisted self-publishing (with the oversight of someone who knows the industry)

2)     Marketing help

Jason Ashlock gave a fantastic presentation about what it means to be an agent in this new world. You can see the videos posted here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5HTPME5yJg&list=UUkB2oHqfvggcrpRPi2ps_Gg&index=2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-Dn8Bo5fSY&list=UUkB2oHqfvggcrpRPi2ps_Gg&index=1

Essentially he talked about the shifting sands of publishing and how agents can not just survive, but thrive in this new world. He gave the example of Hugh Howey’s agent here:

@JasonAshlock Forms of “radical mediation” include “assisted self-publishing.” EG: Kristin Nelson / @HughHowey

You haven’t really put your book out there unless you’ve gotten a negative review. AMEN. @scottandjames 

Totally true. Often authors become obsessed with the bad reviews, it’s all part of the game. Not everyone will love you book, that’s just how it is.

“We don’t want someone hiding inside @RandomHouse or @Penguin deciding what author is good.”

And more to Jason’s point about what agents can do to bring great content into the world: do you really want to leave future books in the hands of the big six? There are a ton of great writers out there who should be published and would likely get overlooked by the major houses. Agents can not only help facilitate their success, but also help them get their books to market twice as quickly as they would if they waited for a traditional deal.

Questions that should no longer be asked: “Are these relationships on social media, like, REAL relationships?”

This was another big statement that came out of the day, there should be no distinction because your social media peeps and your non-social media peeps are all real relationships. You should be engaging and dialoging with them. Treat your social media tribe this way and you’ll be surprised at how significantly your base grows.

Classic author mistake: overestimate own editing skills. More than just spell checking! Truth courtesy of @sanderssays.

Totally true. Get a good editor. End of story.

@amandahavard Really brilliant. Her characters connect with people. People like people. Are you listening fiction folks?

This was some great advice for fiction authors. If you’re wondering how to connect with your readers, don’t. Let your fiction characters connect with them instead. I mentioned this in a post above, too. Let your readers connect with your fictional characters, it’s a terrific way to build loyalty. It’s amazing to me how many writers don’t do this. Look at ten fiction authors’ sites and I challenge you to find more than one who gives their characters voice there.

@Bookgal: #toccon Talking about the importance of personal engagement with readers. @amandahavard. brilliant.

Amanda Havard told a story of a friend of hers who engages with every single reader who writes her. For example, this author posts to Wattpad and every time there is a comment posted, she logs on and writes them back. Each person receives a response. Personal engagement is key and yes, she sold a ton of books.

@dslessing: @amandahavard has character to reader relationship, not just author to reader. Love it.

I’m addressing this a couple of times in this post because I feel it’s important and it’s also pretty key to our fiction readers because they often struggle for ways to promote their books. Connecting reader to character is a great way to not just engage your readers outside of the book, but also keep them interested and coming back for more.

@Porter_Anderson: #ARDay #TOCcon Marketing Panel: @MarkLeslie: “The authors who aren’t willing to invest in themselves are the ones who are going to fail.”

Such a true statement. So often we see authors who don’t want to invest or want to take shortcuts. It just doesn’t work. Do the work. End of story.

@mef “By 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile app downloads from app stores annually.”

Pretty astounding number, no? It’s amazing how fast this market segment is growing. If you’ve been thinking about doing something for mobile, maybe now is the time…

@mef To make sure your consumers find you, be sure you’re easy to find and easy to buy. Convenience is key.

Whatever you do, make it easy. Part of why Amazon got so big so fast (and you’ll see this happens with pretty much anything they launch) is they know how to make it easy. Simple, seamless, if your reader has to work for it I can almost guarantee you they won’t.

Love @goodreads survey on where readers find books – #1 is personal or friend recommendation. Readers have the power to push a book.

Yes! This was great insight and something that I am a big fan of pushing: readers have the power. Your readers can make or break a book, your book – so make sure you are connecting with them, responding to their posts and really engaging with them. So important.

What’s at the end of your book? Don’t just end the book, give them engagement. What’s on your final page? Excellent point!

This was a really incredible piece of insight. Think about it. With eBooks more interactive, why not add a final page that lets the reader interact with you. Even print books should have this. Readers want engagement and if they loved your book, they’ll want more. Give it to them!

Would readers be interested in reading a book in serial format instead of waiting six months for a complete book, 49% say yes!

This was a fantastic piece of advice. Clearly, readers want content and it’s up to us (ah-hem, writers) to keep producing good, solid content!

@Porter_Anderson: @Immersedition: “Wherever people are talking about books…is a really great place for them to be talking about you.”

What does this mean? It means that you need to reach readers where they hang out, places like Goodreads, Library Thing, Wattpad, etc. are all fantastic resources. Wait, you haven’t heard of Wattpad? Check it out, it’s another fantastic place to share your stories: www.wattpad.com

@Porter_Anderson: Oren Teicher of @ABABook is wrapping now. “Yes, bookstores are closing…but new stores are opening…sales better than before.”

There was a session with the head of ABA (American Booksellers Association) and he talked about bookstores and the rumors that they’re going away (hey, I heard this, too). He said that new stores are opening all the time (mostly indie stores) and that independent stores are working hard to come up with super innovative ways to stay relevant. YAH! Go indies!

Great insight. #1 tool for building influencers on social media: connect w/people you genuinely like. Bingo. Queue head-slapping.

This was sort of a “duh” moment but such a great statement. So often we connect with people because we think we should. So we follow them but we don’t really like them. Yes, many of us do this all the time. Follow people you like and really want to engage with. Not only will it be easier to promote but more fun, too.

Before you reach out to people, make sure your own house is in order. Ah-hem, your website.

So often authors jump on social media and start promoting without realizing that they need to make sure their house in order first. Would you invite people over to your home if it was in disarray? Likely not. Nor should you invite people to your website if it’s not in order, and by in order I mean it has a blog (and you’re using it), and you know the site is converting visitors into something (a sale, a sign up, etc.). Don’t invite your readers to a messy house.

#toccon Interesting discussion around passion we feel for books. Passion isn’t a good biz model and can get in the way of success.  Agree?

This was sort of an interesting statement – I mean passion is great but passion isn’t a good business model and we all need to keep our business hats on while we are promoting our books. So, while passion drives us (and it should) there’s nothing like good, solid business sense to keep us moving forward.



How Fiction Authors Can Create Free Content
February 19, 2013by: ameeditor
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It’s one thing when non-fiction authors have to create free content, generally it’s pretty easy. But fiction authors have more challenges. What kind of free content should they create? What would that look like? Check out this great video from Tools of Change for Publishing, packed with tips and some great ideas for creating fab, free content!





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