Welcome to the State of Publishing Issue of the Author Entrepreneurship Magazine

AE-Cover-Spring 2014

This magazine is dedicated to helping authors, especially novelists, create sustainable and successful careers. It’s our gift to you!

Founded by Beth Barany, award-winning novelist, Keynote Speaker, and Author’s Coach.

Learn more about me and why I started this magazine here: http://authorentrepreneurship.com/about/.


If you’re new to our magazine, take a look around. Past issues are here: http://authorentrepreneurship.com/past-issues/.


Letter From The Editor

Unless you’ve been living in a cave far from civilization, you’ve probably noticed that publishing for novelists and nonfiction writers has radically changed in the last few years.

Just in the 7 years I’ve been working with authors, so much has changed. The first book I helped publish in 2008, Writing Romance: The Ultimate Guide on Craft, Creation and Industry Connections, has gone through 3 incarnations, mostly recently as a Kindle book and has resurged as a bestseller in print and digital.

It can be overwhelming keeping up with all the changes happening in the book publishing industry. The good thing is you don’t have to do all the research. There are plenty of resources out there for us.

What I do to stay informed about what’s happening in publishing is read the trades like Publishers Weekly, Publishing Perspectives, and BookBusiness.com. I also belong to several yahoo groups that are both genre specific and one for self-published authors. Lastly, I gather monthly with my local writing chapter of the Romance Writers of America. We always discuss the latest trends. I recommend you find your local writers community or form your own. Meetup.com is a great place to research the in-person writers gatherings in your area.

And because I love Twitter, I recommend checking out the tweets using the hashtag #publishing to get up-to-date news from journalists, bloggers, and authors.

What do you do to stay informed about the current state of publishing?

Beth Barany, Editor & Publisher of the Author Entrepreneur Magazine, Helping Authors Create Successful Careers

Beth Barany, Editor & Publisher of the Author Entrepreneur Magazine, Helping Authors Create Successful Careers

Let’s share our resources.

Together we are strong!

To your success!

Best,

Beth Barany

Editor & Publisher
Author Entrepreneurship Magazine
PS. If you want to write for us, read our guidelines here: http://authorentrepreneurship.com/write-for-us/ and send in your query now.


In this issue:

Featured Article: Interview with Amanda Barbara of Pubslush by Beth Barany

What is Your Publishing Style? By Catharine Bramkamp

Ban Indie Bookstores Before You Ban Amazon By Ezra Barany

Craft A Solid Foundation To Find Purpose in Uncertain Publishing Times by Mary Caelsto

Why Self-Publishing Authors Must Think Like a Publisher by Stacey Aaronson

AE-Cover-Spring 2014

Posted in 13: Spring 2014: State of Publishing

Interview with Amanda Barbara of Pubslush by Beth Barany

PUBSLUSH_logo

This spring I interviewed Amanda Barbara, the Vice President and Cofounder of Pubslush – a new player in the publishing world. Pubslush is a global cross lending and analytics platform to the literary world. They help authors raise money for their book ideas pre-publication, engage their audience and also gain readership and build community.

Beth: So the first question I had was about the current state of publishing from your perspective and maybe say a few words about who you are and why you can have an opinion on the state of publishing.

Amanda: In regards to the question about the state of publishing I think that self-publishing has definitely taken a turn for the positive.

And if you were looking at self-published authors as a way of discovery for traditional publishers in the past year and a half, some of the biggest traditional publishers that I’ve met have all expressed the same type of commonality in the fact that they will be looking at self-published authors who are garnering interest, who are selling copies of their books, and who creating a buzz and know how to use social media and their own marketing tools to sell copies. Those are the authors that they are approaching, especially if they’re first time authors. This is opposed to more the old fashioned model of seeing a first time author who had an agent but hasn’t sold any books. Traditional publishers are not willing to take as much of a risk because there is so much content out there in today’s world — a lot of content that isn’t as high of quality because there’s not as much curation control.

Crowdfunding for the literary world

Crowdfunding for the literary world

We also see sites that are amazing assets to the community such as Wattpad that are giving away free content. However because there’s so much of it, you’re not really sure which is a high quality and which isn’t. But we definitely see this revolution in the publishing industry.

More and more start-ups like myself are trying to change the face of publishing, trying to really bring some new elements into the picture. At Pubslush we’re trying to do more about connecting the reader with the publisher and creating more of a sense of brand loyalty and brand recognition in the process. Often a reader would go to a bookstore and peruse the table when they first walk in of bestselling novels or maybe they search for their favorite author.

Or a cover that seems familiar that they can kind of relate to but they’re not really out there looking for a publisher that they might read overly frequently. That’s not to say every reader – you know I’ve met several readers that are very loyal followers of indie publishers and things like that that basically they go in the stores and look for specific publishers. But that’s not the case all around. So it would be very important as the state of publishing changes and because self publishing is on the rise and so many people can do it themselves and really retain a lot of the control and the rights of their book, it’s important that the publisher is still a huge part of the process.

I don’t think this will ever really go away, and I think they’re super important. But I think being able to bring them back into the equation and having people really align themselves with the publisher will see a great success in the future of the traditional publisher.

Beth: That’s great. What you’re saying actually brings me right into my next question, which is where you see its going. I characterize it as we the authors, we become our own publishers. We have the power. We can define everything, we can control everything, the content to the design to the cover, how we reach our audience. Really the power is in our hands now. That’s also quite challenging for a lot of writers who tend to be, especially fiction writers, who tend to be on the introverted side.

But that aside, I’m just curious how you see in the next six months to a year. I know it’s hard to make predictions or even things you think are coming, even if you don’t know when they’re coming. Where is publishing going? Both for the writers and for the publishers and maybe there’s another category in there. There’s also the people like you and me who help authors.

Amanda: One that you haven’t even mentioned but I think I’m going to touch on first, and then I’ll go back to writers and publishers. I think it’s important to definitely not just discount the change that’s going on in the literary agent community. The agent is someone that’s always been this middleman between the writer and the publisher. I’ve met several agents and agencies that are kind of adopting a new model where they’re being more of this you know basically an agent, a publicist, an assistant, someone that’s the right hand to that writer, whether they’re choosing to self publish or whether they’re choosing to traditionally publish. I think it’s important to have someone that knows the industry and knows the ins and outs.

If you are selling a good amount of books and you’re writing more than just one book, it’s nice to have someone that is able to step you through the process and the agent has the experience and will know whether or not you should take route A, route B, keep going straight. I know that’s a sort of silly way to talk about it but it’s really true and I think that they’re definitely still very valuable but I think they’re going to need to adapt and basically broaden the services that they can provide. I think that it’s crucial to be able to adapt in a world that is very social media based, that’s very driven by word of mouth via social media, but still you know it’s important to see what the trends are and be able to advise your author correctly.

I think it’s very important for any writer to realize how important marketing is at all stages. I meet authors all the time that said I spent the last year writing the book and now I’m ready to start marketing the book. And I’ll say well you’re about a year late than where you should be. You need to market yourself and brand. Be an entrepreneur. Start building a following whether it’s through just a Twitter or whether it’s through a blog or whether it’s through genuine connections in your community. Don’t wait until the book is done and you’re ready to hit Amazon or ready to crowd fund for it to realize I have no readers that are interested in reading this book.

Quote from Amanda Barbara, VP at Pubslush

Who is your reader? Find who your target audience is. And this is all work whether you have a traditional publisher or whether you’re self-publishing or whether you’re not sure which route you’re taking. This is something you’re going to need to do as an author individually no matter what. The traditional publisher will want you to come in with an audience already and know that you’re going to sell books. That is super super crucial. There are just so many ways to get your content out there. You need to be willing to possibly lowball your first title and get it into the hand of a lot of readers in hopes that your second and third you can price higher because people really love what you wrote initially.

Or maybe giving some content, the first chapter second chapter for free to get people hooked. You need to think outside of the box as a writer. As I said earlier there’s so much content out there. What’s going to make your content stand out?

Learn more about Pubslush here.

A word about crowdfunding from Amanda: Crowdfunding requires a lot of planning, marketing, and passion, but if successful, it’s an amazing opportunity to lessen financial burden and build your audience while doing so. If you’re thinking about crowdfunding, it’s important to research how to be successful. Learn more about crowdfunding for books and don’t hesitate to ask questions! (Editor’s note: You can learn more about crowdfunding here in this article Amanda wrote for Writer’s Fun Zone, our sister blog on writing for writers.)

ABOUT AMANDA BARBARA

Amanda-Barbara

Amanda Barbara, vice-president at Pubslush

Amanda Barbara is the vice president at Pubslush, a global crowdfunding and marketing platform for the literary world. A philanthropist at heart, she serves on the board of directors for the Pubslush Foundation, which supports children’s literacy initiatives worldwide, and is a founder and director of The Barbara Family Foundation, an organization committed to assisting charities and children in need. Amanda is member of the Young Entrepreneur Council and is an advocate for crowdfunding in the publishing world. She has spoken at various conferences, such as Writer’s Digest, Exceptional Women in Publishing, Crowdfunding East Conference, and the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, and has served as an ambassador and speaker at CONTEC at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Amanda has also contributed to Elite Daily, Yahoo Small Business, and Tech Cocktail.

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Posted in 13: Spring 2014: State of Publishing Tagged with: , ,

The Accidental Entrepreneur: YOU by Larry Jacobson

FINAL FRONT COVER SMALL 1 INCH
Navigating Leadership for Entrepreneurs by Larry Jacobson

Navigating Leadership for Entrepreneurs by Larry Jacobson

You’re an independent author. You have chosen to go this route for several reasons that have been written about in other articles. You know the benefits of being independent. Did you realize that when you hired yourself to be an independent author, you also became an entrepreneur?

Like it or not, this means you’re in charge—of everything.

“No, no, no, I’m just an author, a writer, one who wants my independence,” you say. I understand how you feel. That’s how I felt when I began writing. I just wanted to tell my tale. However, what I found out along the way was a very different story. I had become an entrepreneur again. It wasn’t out of choice, for I too had only the desire to write. I had become the accidental entrepreneur.

If you are an independent author with plans to self-publish, then you too have become an accidental entrepreneur.

That means for this venture, you are CEO, CFO, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, Promotion Director, Bookkeeper, and every other role that’s required to make any business operate. Get used to it because until you reach the point of delegation, the person you see in the mirror is the one who will be handling every aspect of your writing and publishing project. It’s both a blessing and a curse. You don’t have to report to anyone. There are no deadlines except those set by you, and you don’t need someone’s approval to pen what your heart tells you to write.

On the other hand, it’s lonely. Because there’s no one to report to, there’s also no one to provide feedback until you bring someone else into the picture. No deadlines means you could be writing your book for a long time unless you set some sort of time frame for a final product.

And, while you may want to write what your heart tells you, an editor will give feedback that might steer you in a different direction.

Whether you’re handling every aspect of your project or using assistance, you are now thrust into a position of leadership. As a leader, you will face challenges you may not have expected. Rather than be put off by this, embrace the role and learn how to handle it.

I have been an entrepreneur for over 30 years so when I wrote my book, started a publishing company, and organized my own promotion, I knew what I would be facing. Now, as an entrepreneur coach, I see people confronting the very same challenges in a variety of businesses.

In my latest audio program, Navigating Leadership for Entrepreneurs, I’ve identified 11 Keys, which if addressed properly will ensure your success.

In this short article, I can only touch on your upcoming challenges and briefly suggest how to address them.

1. Everybody starts with a dream of what their book will be about, look like, and what level of success they expect. Dreams are great and I recommend dreaming big!

2. However, to achieve your big dreams, you must change those dreams into achievable goals. Each goal has various elements to it that need to be put on paper so they can be continually reviewed. Write down your goals.

3. You’re taking a risk by choosing to go it alone but without risk, there is no reward. So, good for you that you’ve decided to take the risk, now get comfortable with it.

4. Be prepared for changes along the way. The only sure thing in business is that change will always happen. If you expect change to be headed your way, you won’t be surprised when it does.

5. You will have many decisions to make along the way to self-publishing. From font to cover design, from editor to printer, from e-book to printed to audible, page numbers on the right or center, and the list goes on and on of decisions you’ll have to make before your book becomes a real product. I highly recommend that you set priorities on what is important to you regarding time frames, budgets, and your vision of a finished product.

6. Every entrepreneur experiences fear and you are no exception. Expect it, recognize it, and make it work for you. Fear is simply nature’s way of making you focus on the task at hand. It sharpens your senses and makes you more alert. It gives you strength that can be used to meet deadlines, deal with change, and laser-focus your energy. Embrace it and make it work for you.

7. Don’t be deterred because you don’t know what you’re doing with respect to being an author. You don’t have to be an expert to begin something, you can learn along the way. And there’s help. There are forums, Facebook groups, and excellent coaches like Beth to help you along the way.

8. Stick with it. Perseverance is a trait that is best learned from practice. Create a writing schedule, and a checklist of all the tasks that need doing. Follow forums, ask questions, and use the tools that are available to you. Invest in your education from reading books to listening to audio to following blogs, and hiring a coach. Dedicate yourself to the success of your project.

9. Let your passion guide you. Don’t let fear or any other obstacle stand in the way of your achievement. Your passion is far stronger than your fears or discomfort.

10. You are an entrepreneur and that means you are a leader. Much of my focus is on you learning to lead yourself. But you will also be leading others. From your editor to printer, from designer to proofer, you must lead with certainty, kindness, good intention, and clarity. In other words, don’t yell at your designer because they used a font you didn’t like, if you didn’t clarify your desires in the first place.

11. And lastly, remember that you chose this role. You elected to go independent. You may not have known that you also became an accidental entrepreneur and that meant being a leader. But now you know.

11 Keys on Navigating Leadership for Authors by Larry Jacobson

11 Keys on Navigating Leadership for Authors by Larry Jacobson

You can now proudly announce that you are indeed an entrepreneur and a leader. When you choose to embrace this idea, you will more successfully lead yourself and others. And you are now free to unleash your entrepreneurial spirit!

The Boy Behind the Gate by Larry Jacobson

For superb advice on dealing with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, you can download Navigating Leadership for Entrepreneurs—11 Proven Keys to Unstoppable Success here. Larry is also available for personal coaching and you can read more about that here.

Motivational Speaker • Entrepreneur Coach • Award Winning Author

Inspiring Unstoppable Performance!

(510) 500-4566
Posted in 14: Write for Your Heart vs. Write for the Market Tagged with: , , , , ,

What is Your Publishing Style? By Catharine Bramkamp

NEWBIE WRITERS AD

Books

Publishing is fraught with options.

During any writing or publishing conference, most of us brave that short walk past the long corridor of tantalizing publishing options offered by companies with beautiful brochures, lovely sales people and dubious sales.

The problem with options is that now we can get anything we want, the result is we don’t know at all what we want. How to chose? What to do? The good news is that now you can match the way you publish your book more closely with what you really want from your book. To know what publishing option is best for you, begin with the goals for your book.

Ask this question: “I am publishing my book for:

A.   Prestige

B.   Art

C.   Personal satisfaction

D.   Relationships and platform reach

E.   Money

With this simple answer in mind, here is your publishing style:

A.   If you answered Prestige, you may want to consider a traditional publisher like Pearson or Random House.  Traditional (known also as Legacy publishing, but don’t say that to a traditional publisher, it really annoys them) works best for authors who have:

  • An agent
  • A strong desire to see the book on library and bookstore shelves.
  • A book that is the result of six years of work
  • A high tolerance for lack of control in editing, book cover design and store shelving.
  • An idea that can tolerate the wait of up to two years between the finished manuscript and publication.

B.   If you answered Art, you may want to consider an Indie or Boutique publisher like Damnation, Eternal or Rainstrom Press. Indie publishers work best for authors who:

  • Have already figured out no one is getting much of an advance nowadays, so no advance is just fine.
  • Desire a more personal relationship with the publisher.
  • Want to work with a small organization .
  • Need input on the publishing, editing and book cover art
.
  • Know it’s important for the book to have strong categorization so it’s easy for readers to find.
  • Are able and happy to help with promotion.
  • Are willing to work hard to sell books.

C.   If you answered Personal Satisfaction, you may want to consider an Fully Assisted publishing option like She Writes, 3L Publishing or Authority Publishing. Fully Assisted publishers work best for authors who:

  • Are willing to go through a vetting process. There is some prestige in having your book accepted by a fully assisted publisher
  • Want help with all aspects of the publishing process, but also want to have some say in the outcome.
  • Always wanted to produce a book that is beautiful.
  • Want to produce primarily a hard copy book.
  • Don’t mind paying for the book’s publication.
  • Are okay with making a small amount of money on a book-by-book basis.
  • Are willing to do the footwork to put books into bookstores.

D.   If you answered Relationship and Platform reach, you may want to consider an DIY Distributor like CreateSpace or Lulu. DIY publication works best for authors who:

  • Wrote a non-fiction book.
  • Are very concerned about retaining copy rights.
  • Have a strong social media presence.
  • Are focused on being an artisan publisher, and want to control all aspects of their book.
  • Have connections to get the cover/editing/book design work done pretty easily.
  • Need another production company to take over distribution.
  • Believe in just-in-time inventory.
  • Only want to create a few books for the family (like a family history).

E.   If you answered Money, e-books are for you. KDP Direct, Smashwords, and a host of paid options will help get your book into the most flexible format for e-readers. Electronic publishing works best for authors who:

  • Want to make the most money possible on a per book basis.
  • Are comfortable with online programs and formatting processes.
  • Have killer social media skills.
  • Already have a great book cover. (Yes, this is important for e-books).
  • Write more than one book a year
.
  • Only need a handful of hard copy books, or aren’t worried about owning a hard copy at all.
  • Focused on all the possibilities of Internet marketing.
  • Love the new and cutting edge.

Authors typically sell about 200 copies of their books.  With the right publishing outlet, you’ll be able to buck that trend and sell many more. Good luck!

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catharine Bramkamp, author. Photo by Deanne FitzmauriceCatharine Bramkamp just launched a new podcast, Publishing Tips: Ten minutes on the Tried, True and Terrible. Check it out on iTunes and NewbieWriters.com

Newbie Writers

Posted in 13: Spring 2014: State of Publishing Tagged with: , , , , ,

Ban Indie Bookstores Before You Ban Amazon By Ezra Barany

The-Torah-Codes BY EZRA BARANY
The-Torah-Codes BY EZRA BARANY

The Torah Codes by Ezra Barany

Has this happened to you?

You’re chatting about selling your book on Amazon and the people you talk to react to the word “Amazon” as though you mentioned the Devil. They want to ban Amazon. Well I’d rather ban indie bookstores before banning Amazon.

I’ve heard that people hate how Amazon is putting local bookstores out of business. On the other hand, I’ve also heard an author say that if local bookstores want to compete with Amazon, they should start being friendly to the authors, not just to the customers. Why do people hate Amazon so much? What do you say to those people?

I decided to find out once and for all why people hate Amazon. After doing a tree-friendly (aka online) search for the horrible truth about Amazon, I was able to narrow the issues down. Here are the three top myths why you should avoid making your books available on Amazon.

Myth #1: Amazon is destroying the reading culture

At indie bookstores there are author readings, places to lounge and read on a cold day, and friendly interactions with the booksellers. If all the indie bookstores close, we will have lost that entire reading culture.

And if that were true, I’d agree. But Amazon isn’t destroying any reading culture. If nothing else, people are buying more books than ever because of Amazon’s low prices. When someone has a budget of, say, $20 a month to spend on books, they can buy up to twenty ebooks on Amazon, compared to only two or three paperbacks in bookstores. If we define the reading culture as interacting with booksellers and attending author readings, then we’re missing the most important part of what our reading culture is: reading books. Amazon is not destroying any reading culture.

Myth #2: Amazon is stealing customers

Selling books is an indie bookstore’s bread and butter. If Amazon keeps selling their books at lower prices than indie bookstores, no one will buy books from bookstores anymore. How are indie bookstores expected to compete? They can’t lower their prices because they have all sorts of costs to cover just to break even.

But the problem with this argument is that indie bookstores have a clientele Amazon will never have. The typical patron of the bookstore is someone who likes to browse through the books. If they see something that looks good, they can buy it and have the physical book in their hands right away. When it comes to Amazon, I personally have never gone to their website just to browse through their books. I only go when I have a specific book in mind. Maybe after I put the book in the shopping cart, I look at others, but I never go to Amazon with the expressed purpose of browsing through all their books. I don’t know anyone who does.

And Amazon will likely never be able to hand the physical copy of the book to the buyer immediately. Either the customer has to wait for the book to come in the mail, or they have to get a downloadable version of the book. Anyone who enjoys reading downloadable books is not an indie bookstore’s clientele, anyhow, so Amazon is not stealing those customers. Yes, maybe those individuals were once people who read physical books, but as technology changes, the definition of who the target market is for brick and mortar bookstores also changes.

Okay, so Amazon may have the best prices. Indie bookstores should then realize that their clientele no longer includes bargain hunters. They can work more towards presenting their store as a classy establishment for those interested in indulging themselves. The whole “We’re expensive, but you’re worth it” attitude. I’ve seen “Gourmet Peanuts” that cost three times as much as Planters. And people actually buy that stuff! They like the feeling of luxury. I’ve also seen plenty of specialized indie bookstores. Jewish bookstores, LGBT bookstores, those are the ones that know their clientele well. The store becomes not just a place to buy books, but a place to meet like-minded people in person. As long as indie-bookstores understand who their current market is, they’ll see that their clientele are for the most part not the same people as those who buy books from Amazon.

Myth #3: Amazon doesn’t support local authors

Indie bookstores are capable of helping out authors by giving them exposure via author readings. Amazon has never given authors the opportunity to hold readings, even online readings.

While that’s true, I have a personal beef with indie bookstores. Financially, they are so hard-up for income that the local bookstores I’ve tried to get my book placed in have a consignment system that ultimately has me pay to get in their bookstores. The percentage they offer me is less than the price it costs me to make the book. Amazon has been the best thing for my book sales.

For my physical book, I’ve set it up so that Amazon takes only 20% of the retail price for the physical book. It costs 60% of the retail price to make the book (because it’s print-on-demand; bulk printing is much cheaper but then you have to store all the boxes of books somewhere). That leaves me with 20% of the sale. Most local bookstores require 40%-60% of the retail price. If local bookstores really want to help local authors, they need to allow the author to profit from the sale.

Amazon has also been great at helping my book be discovered and sold. The Torah Codes (the ebook version) has been on the bestsellers list for Jewish fiction books since December, 2011. Additionally, my book is associated with others via Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” feature, and there are many customer reviews so people can see if my book is something they’d be interested in reading. Indie bookstores don’t have super-niched genre-specific bestselling lists, they don’t have a way to let their shoppers know that anyone who enjoyed reading The Da Vinci Code would also like The Torah Codes, and since the bookseller is likely not someone who has read my book, I doubt she’d ever be able to recommend it.

I honestly don’t see what’s wrong with Amazon. They’re more a threat to companies like Best Buy than to indie bookstores. For all those people who love the experience of feeling luxurious, meeting like-minded readers in person, attending author readings, chatting with the booksellers, and lounging with a good book in a comfortable store — and there are many of such people — Amazon is not tailored for those readers and those readers will always choose the indie bookstore. As long as the indie bookstores are clear on who their market is, they will always be in business. And the way Amazon helps authors so much, I’d sooner ban indie bookstores than ban Amazon.

You now have my permission to stuff my email box with rants.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ezra Barany - Graphic Designer

Ezra Barany, Graphic Designer

Book marketing mentor, Ezra Barany is the author of the award-winning bestseller, The Torah Codes. Contact Ezra now to begin the conversation on how he can help you. You can connect with Ezra via Facebook, Twitter, contact him through this blog, or by email: EZRA at THETORAHCODES dot COM.

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Posted in 13: Spring 2014: State of Publishing Tagged with: , , , ,

Craft A Solid Foundation To Find Purpose in Uncertain Publishing Times by Mary Caelsto

Four Squares
Potter-from-stockphotoexchange

Create. Explore. Play.

One of the greatest opportunities, and challenges, in today’s publishing world is the fact than an author can write his or her own ticket to a writing career that works. When I first started writing, the goal was to be picked up by a “New York” publisher, and even back then if the agent you were pursuing wasn’t in New York, then you just weren’t aiming high enough. All of publishing resided in New York City, and to a large extent that was true. However little did we know that the Internet age would expand beyond Genie, Compuserve forums, and AOL to something that is so enmeshed with our lives that it’s hard to live without.

The state of publishing is an oft-asked question. In general most professionals agree there’s never been a better time to be in publishing. The growth and acceptance of independent publishing (self-publishing) as well as small digital-first houses alongside the established print-first publishers means that an author can choose the career path that makes sense.

Yet, authors in this enviable position also find themselves pulled in several different directions. Well-meaning author friends and professionals tell them that they should do this or write that if they want to “make it big,” leaving authors to wonder what went wrong when riches don’t materialize for them.

Four Squares: Passion, Agony, Ecstasy, Purpose

Four Squares: Passion, Agony, Ecstasy, Purpose

A Solid Foundation With The Four Squares

A solid foundation keeps an author from feeling pulled in numerous directions. And yet, building this foundation can be some of the most difficult work an author can face. The act of writing and editing, while tough at times, comes to authors naturally. After all, it’s what we do—we write books. The work of building a foundation and crafting our careers seems outside that scope.

And yet it isn’t. In my four-squares program I talk about the four cornerstones of a solid foundation and how to build on this to create a solid career that will withstand the “should have” and “you need to” that authors face on a daily basis.

When it comes to navigating the ups and downs of publishing, there are two squares authors will rely on more than others: passion and purpose, because—let’s be honest—if an author doesn’t know why they’re writing what they write and love what they do, then the rest of it becomes rather meaningless.

Authors feel as if they’re “stuck” in a genre or with a publisher that isn’t serving their needs. Readers realize they’re getting books that are phoned-in because an author thought they should write something.

How can they help?

The primary things authors ask me is: How to know if they’re doing the right things, and, if they are focused where they should be. The cornerstone of purpose addresses this. For most of us, we write what we write regardless of genre because we enjoy reading it. We also have a mission.

For me, my writing career began with a need to craft stories like the ones that took me out of my ordinary life and gave me refuge during a turbulent time. I wanted to create an escape for my readers, a place where magic happens, and where there is a happy ending. I turned to romance, and to a lesser extent science fiction and fantasy, to create these stories. The need to craft a reading experience for my readers is a purpose. You will find, if you don’t already know, your purpose as an author.

This means sitting down and thinking about the hard question: Why do you do what you do? There has to be a reason behind it. Writing is such an intensely personal thing to do; we don’t randomly choose topics, even if it seems so at the time. Make that why your purpose. Then, focus everything you do around that why. Use the reason as a way to evaluate new publishers, marketing opportunities, anything that comes to you as part of your growing publishing career.

Passion will keep you doing what you’re doing. If you are interested and excited about your chosen genre of writing, then you will read, research, and write in that genre. It will have you interacting with fans, thinking of new ways to reach them, and will help you create buzz around your books.

Bringing it Back to the State of Publishing

As writers, one of the most powerful things you can do is to have cornerstones of passion and purpose. When the next hair-on-fire article comes along telling you about the death of this or the explosive growth that’s going to happen with publishing, you can return to your passion and purpose and ask the most important question: Is it for me? When you do, you’ll be tapping into something deep and powerful that will keep you writing, and publishing, no matter what others tell you about the state of publishing, because you can answer that question for yourself.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Castelo

Mary Castelo

Mary Calesto lives in the Ozarks with her partner and a menagerie of animals, including two spoiled horses, an opinionated parrot, a wiggly puppy, an office bunny, and the not-so-itty-bitty kitty committee. She has written romance for over ten years under a few different pen names. These days, she spends time with her own writing (romance, nonfiction, and fantasy) and also uses her lengthy experience in publishing to coach authors as The Muse Charmer (www.musecharmer.com). Her goal is to show authors the power of the four squares of publishing to monopolize on their passion and purpose. She has free offers (and e-books) on her website dealing with this topic and other publishing related matters.

Stay Inspired: Daily Writing Inspiration: Keep Writing! A free resource. Sign up today!

Stay Inspired: Daily Writing Inspiration: Keep Writing! A free resource. Sign up today!

Posted in 13: Spring 2014: State of Publishing Tagged with: , , , ,

Why Self-Publishing Authors Must Think Like a Publisher by Stacey Aaronson

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Stacey Aaronson-The Book Doctor

Stacey Aaronson-The Book Doctor

After working with over twenty independent authors over the past two years as their editor, book designer, and publishing partner, one glaring issue has come to light: 

The majority of self-publishing authors don’t realize that they can’t merely think like a writer; they must think like a publisher—if, that is, they want to be successful.

The thing is, it’s not easy for writers to shift into this mode of thinking—and I would venture to guess that most writers don’t even know they should be thinking this way.

As a writer myself, I confess I didn’t consider the publisher’s mentality until I became a book production professional in the indie publishing realm, so I know firsthand how foreign it can seem.

But here’s the unsavory truth: the various self-publishing portals that have opened the door for would-be authors to get a book into readers’ hands are great, but many writers are running to upload all degrees of manuscripts—from the languishing and rejected, to the unedited and poorly designed—without honoring the legacy of traditional publishing. In short, thousands of substandard books are entering the literary marketplace because a multitude of writers are sadly stuck not only in ego mode, but in the belief that producing a book is somehow not a craft and an art. If we don’t want to destroy the reputation of books altogether, this mindset has to change.

The problem is, we as writers are so often wooed by the romance of seeing our name in print, or of having a book to sell in the back of the room at a conference, that we’re not thinking about the reader. What we actually want—credibility on some level—isn’t fulfilled by our actions. Why?

Because as writers, we too often focus on what will benefit us as writers (being able to say we’re published, cutting corners on production to save money, putting “author” next to our name on social media), while publishers care about what will benefit the reader (excellent writing and editing, polished and professional cover and interior design, an established audience who’ll receive a tangible reward in reading the book, sales that reflect the book’s overall high quality). There’s a huge difference between the two.

So how does a writer make the switch?

I’m currently working on something extra special for writers to address this exact topic in detail (please visit www.savvyauthormastery.com for a free, chock-full-of-secrets video you won’t want to miss!), but until the entire program is ready for the world in early summer, here’s a terrific way to get you started.

Simply think about it this way: Does a publisher ever agree to partner on a book because they can’t wait to grant the writer’s wish of having a published book to show off? Certainly not. They only accept manuscripts they believe have a strong benefit for or interest to readers, as well as a clear audience, and will therefore make a profit. Do they likewise skimp on editing and book design because they don’t believe those elements are necessary? Of course not; quite the contrary. But authors don’t see a bill for the thousands of dollars publishing houses invest in their book; they simply get their (typically) small advance and then wait months or even years to receive a single royalty check.

Writers, on the other hand, often forget that the goal of writing a book shouldn’t be self-serving, but rather audience serving.

Publishing a book is almost always a risk for a publishing house, one they make every effort to prove a good one. They do so by vetting the material, ensuring there’s an audience, and making the proper investment in the material; self-publishing authors must do the same. You must likewise read voraciously and write regularly to hone your craft. After all, your name is on the cover, and that should mean as much to you and your reputation as what having “Random House” on a cover means to the publishing house.

Now while a discussion on the details of exploring your book’s audience and subject matter and building a platform as an author is way beyond the scope of this post, what I can offer you is this crucial piece of advice:

Before you ever put your fingers to the keyboard, you must establish why you’re writing the book.

Make an honest list of the reasons. If you realize the benefits are all about you as a writer and neglect to be focused on the reader, you won’t have a book to create until you do some serious homework to discover why a reader will be inspired/be guided/learn/be entertained/become better for buying and reading your book. What’s more, you have to explore how your book will stand out in its genre against those already in existence; you don’t want to write a book that’s been written, perhaps better than the one you endeavor to write. You must ensure that your book will have unique selling points and clear benefits for the reader that will make it irresistible. Once you do that, you’ll be well on your way to thinking like a publisher, which is when a marketable and profitable book—and credible published author—will be born.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stacey Aaronson3

Stacey Aaronson

Stacey Aaronson is a professional book doctor who takes self-publishing authors by the hand and transforms their manuscript into the book they’ve dreamed of—from impeccable editing and proofreading to engaging, audience-targeted cover and professional interior design—rivaling or exceeding a traditional house publication. She has been a trusted book production partner for some of the most accomplished coaches, educators, entrepreneurs, and writers of inspirational non-fiction and memoir. She also assists non-fiction writers with developing their ideas into a sound book structure with clear goals. In addition, Stacey writes a monthly newsletter for writers and is the author of the blog “The Self-Publishing Scoop,” where she dispenses regular guidance on all aspects of independent publishing. More at: www.thebookdoctorisin.com.

The Book Doctor Is In

The Book Doctor Is In

Posted in 13: Spring 2014: State of Publishing Tagged with: , , , ,

Welcome to the New Years 2014 issue of the Author Entrepreneurship Magazine blog

New Years 2014 issue of the Author Entrepreneurship Magazine blog

If you’re new to our magazine, take a look around. Past issues are here. This is our 12th issue!

Info about our Spring 2014 *free* Fiction Writers Online Intensive is here.

Scroll down or check out our side bar to see our advertisers, including our featured supporter, Bestseller in a Weekend for Fiction Writers.

We’re here to help authors, especially novelists, to have successful and sustainable careers.

Founded by Beth Barany, award-winning novelist, Keynote Speaker, and Author’s Coach, learn more about me and why I started this magazine here.

Letter From The Editor

In all my years writing and publishing fiction and nonfiction books — a total of 6 years and 8 books — I have learned that what makes a bestseller is nebulous and not necessarily long-lasting. I don’t mean to be negative; as authors we can’t control what readers do, but we can control what we write and that we write. Several of my books have been bestsellers on Amazon in their category for about a minute, and other books have sold well but never showed up on any list. Many of the authors I’ve interviewed, including Bella Andre and Tina Folsom featured in this issue, report making great sales before showing up on any bestsellers lists.

What exactly is being a bestselling author or having a book that is a bestseller? Well, that depends, but over all it means that your book sells better than other books in a certain time or place. On Amazon, the bestsellers lists are calculated every hour. On other lists like  The New York TimesUSA Today, and the Wall St. Journal, the bestsellers listings are created based on how many books have sold in a given week, what the season is, where the books are sold, and what the competition is. (More on how bestsellers lists are created are here in an article I wrote on my blog, the Writer’s Fun Zone, in 2010.)

If you’re determined to be a bestseller, just know what you’re up to. Get educated and read the articles in the issue, as well as whatever else you can get your hands on. An educated author can set goals appropriate to their career as it is. To me that’s success!

And Happy New Year! May 2014 be the year you achieve your goals and dreams and have the success you desire.

Beth Barany, Editor & Publisher of the Author Entrepreneur Magazine, Helping Authors Create Successful CareersBest,

Beth Barany

Editor & Publisher
Author Entrepreneurship Magazine

PS. Our Spring 2014 theme is “The State of Publishing” due out mid-April 2014. If you want to write for us, read our guidelines here and send in your query now. Articles are due Feb. 28, 2014.

***

I hope you enjoy learning from our peers in these 9 articles. In this issue, you’ll discover:

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Posted in 12: New Year 2014-Ingredients of a Bestseller Tagged with: , ,

Interview with Bestselling Author, Bella Andre: Her Secrets to Success By Beth Barany

It Must Be Your Love by Bella Andre_FinalCover_217x318

In 2010, I wrote an article called “Self-Published Authors Find Success on the Kindle” where I interviewed romance authors, Tina Folsom and Bella Andre on their tips for success. In this issue of Author Entrepreneurship Magazine on “Ingredients of a Bestseller,” I re-interviewed Tina and Bella to get an update three and a half years later and to learn if anything has changed in their recipe for success.

This is Bella’s update. Tina’s update is here.

In the 2010 article, there were four points that Bella Andre and Tina Folsom shared that focus about how both authors found sales success. In summary, they were:

  • Firstly: How important the cover was to their success; how the cover has to really fit their genre and the readers’ expectations and how authors need to spend time designing a good cover.
  • The second was to know your reader expectations, that is to have a clear understanding of what your readers want.
  • The third was the market to your specific niche, and to go where your readers are.
  • And the fourth tip was that good writing was important, no matter if you’re self-published, traditionally published.

This time I wanted to know if Bella had any other tips that she could share with beginning writers or people who are just starting out in their publishing career that are important to being a successful author. She offered us her new re-organized top three tips, plus some extras.

WRITE YOUR NEXT BOOK

Bella: It’s funny actually having you read those back… I think the most important thing, actually, is obviously writing a good book. We’ll just put that as the foundation of everything. Just to keep writing and writing.

The people who have not only had success, but have been able to maintain their success and build their success, are consistently putting out new work.

I prioritize first the new work-in-progress and make sure that I’m sticking to my calendar of releases over everything — over answering emails or having meetings or making covers. Everything. Because what I’ve found in the last three and a half years is that the number one thing that will always build your audience and build you fan base and make readers really connect with you is the next book. It’s always about the new book.

Even as I’m releasing a book. If I’m in a release week, then I’m 100 to 200 pages into the next one already, writing it.

Not only is that the most important thing, it’s also the number one thing that I see most people drop. So as soon as they put a book out, and especially if they have any success with that book, then they lose themselves [in marketing]. It’s very easy to do… [There’s] Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, marketing, promotions… getting the word out.

In every one of those instances, I have seen the career crash and burn a year later.

That’s great that you’re getting the word out about your one book, but that one book’s sales are eventually going to dip. It’s just the nature of the beast. And [sales will] come back later at some point because that’s also the nature.

The only way you’re going to build a real fan base – the only way you’re going to have career longevity and consistent income from this is to get the next book out. And it has to be better than the book that came before it.

BUILD YOUR NEWSLETTER LIST

Bella: Then you’re going to get the next book out and it’s going to be better than the one that came before it. My corollary to this is: you’ve got to build that newsletter list.

You have to build a list of people so that when you put out that next book, you’ll send them a note. I only do it when I release a book. I don’t do it once a month. I don’t have a certain date. If I put a book out, that’s the only time you’ll ever hear from me.

That’s when you say, “Good news! Guess what. The new book is out and here’s what it’s about and here’s where you can pick it up.”

WRITE A CONNECTED SERIES

Bella: The other thing I would say – the third big thing I would say – not everybody does this, but it’s worked really well for me, is write in a connected series [click to tweet] because when you’re building that reader base, it’s frankly easier to keep people interested if they know what they’re going to be interested in. Writing a standalone [novel] is fine. I’ve seen people have great success with standalones, but I’ve seen more people have success – including myself – with books that are all connected.

That would be my new top three!

SUCCESS

I then asked Bella about her own definition of success.

She said, “I think the ultimate definition of success right now is to really embrace that time where I’m writing the book and really letting myself sink into it while still running a really big business.”

I also asked Bella how she kept her focus on her writing while running her very successful business of being a multinational bestselling author and wondered if she had tips for us because we all struggle with finding time to write.

TIPS ON BEING ABLE TO FIND THE TIME TO WRITE 

Bella: I can’t tell you how many people come to me and say, “Oh, if only I had your extreme focus. If only I could figure out how to balance it all like you do.” And I say, “Wow. You have no idea what it looks like behind the veil here.”

I wrote a Nanowrimo pep talk. (Editor’s note: Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month: http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/bella-andre.) I was basically shared how in the last two and a half years I’ve written and released 10 books in my Sullivan Series.

Here’s the reality of what that looks like, which is procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate. Take care of my to-do list, do all my business stuff, do more business stuff, think about starting the book. Oh, I can’t quite start the book. I have all this business stuff to take care of. Wish I was starting the book. Plan on starting the book. Don’t start the book.

Then finally, it gets to the point where I’ve got to start that book. I get to the point – and it’s with almost every single book that I’ve worked on in the last three and a half years  – I finally get to the point where feel, “Enough is enough. I’m making myself miserable. It doesn’t matter if you have all this important business stuff to do. Who cares? You’re not going to quit. You’re going to write your book.”

It is a fairly consistent cycle with me. And I have to tell you, the week where they promoted the pep talk heavily I heard from countless writers who said, “Oh, my God. This is right where I am right now. This is just what I needed to hear. This is what I do every time. It’s so nice to hear that you go through that.”

Because it looks so effortless when you just look at it: “Oh, wow. Ten books in two and a half years? She must be superwoman.”

Once I focus, I’m superwoman. But I have these periods between every book where I’m all over the place.

ON THE VALUE OF MEDITATION

Bella: I’ve embraced meditation again at this stage in my life because I find that if I meditate right before I write, it actually helps me focus. It’s not a long meditation. It’s [about] fifteen minutes.

But, it helps me… slows my heart rate. It just kind of gets rid of all the stuff on the fringes of my mind so that I can think. I think it just settles me down. As writers there’s a lot going on all the time. For anybody there’s a lot going on.

The fact is once I’m writing I always feel better, but you have to be able to get yourself to that point where you’re writing. You have to be able to stop, get at the computer or voice recorder, or whatever it is you’re using, and actually start working on that book.

I think that can be one of the hardest things. Meditation for me is sort of a cue, another helpful cue to help that begin.

Bella, Thank you so much for taking the time to share your tips for success with us!

***

ABOUT BELLA ANDRE

Bella Andre is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of  “The Sullivans” series. Having sold more than 2.5 million books, Bella Andre’s novels have appeared on Top 5 lists at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. After signing a groundbreaking 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella’s Sullivan series is being released in paperback in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia through 2013 and 2014. More at www.BellaAndre.com. © 2014 All rights reserved.

Posted in 12: New Year 2014-Ingredients of a Bestseller Tagged with: , , , ,

Four Ways to Become a Bestselling Author by Ezra Barany

The-Torah-Codes BY EZRA BARANY copy

A lot of fiction authors think writing a powerful story is all that’s necessary to become a bestselling author. The truth is that while making your story a powerful one is important, it’s not what sells your books. There are tons of great novels out there, and few of them are bestsellers. In this article, I’ll provide you with four ideas on how to turn your story into bestselling material.

Think Backwards

The best way to figure out how to sell more books is to consider how your readers buy books. Do they base their book-buying habits off of reviews in newspapers? Do they go to bookstores and browse the shelves of their favorite genre to see which books catch their eye?

From all the people I’ve talked to and all the research I’ve examined, most people buy books based off of referrals from friends or acquaintances. If true, then your goal is to get your readers to talk about your book.

In my opinion, word-of-mouth is the best way to make more book sales. [click to tweet]

The Million-Dollar Question

The question I often like to ask authors is this: How can you write your story in such a way that will guarantee your readers will tell their friends and family about your book?

I have two strategies that work for me, but the reality is my techniques don’t work for everyone, including my beautiful bride Beth. So I reached out to authors to see if there were other ways and, thankfully, there are.

Here are the four ways I’ve discovered on how to get your readers to talk about your book.

#1: Controversy: Example: The Da Vinci Code

I call this the “Dan Brown Factor.” Though his craft of writing is not my favorite, I still love reading his books because he often writes on controversial topics. Anyone who reads a controversial book will usually hate it or love it. They’ll say, “That book really opened my eyes, you should read it,” or “That book was the worst book I ever read. Don’t read it.” Either way, they’ll tell their friends about it and will likely get them curious.

You have to be careful, though. If you choose this method to get more readers, the best way is to do it is to dispel a myth people want dispelled and back it up with real facts.

For example, saying God exists won’t impress your readers. Showing indisputable scientific proof of God’s existence, as I did in my thriller The Torah Codes, raises enough eyebrows for the readers to tell their friends to read the book. The myth I dispelled was: “There is no God.” The Torah Codes has been a bestseller on Amazon.com since December 2011. So if you can change a person’s viewpoint or outlook with your story, I’d say you’ve got a winner.

By the way, be clear on what is and what isn’t controversial. Human trafficking is not controversial. Everyone thinks that’s wrong. On the other hand, if you show indisputable proof that planes cannot demolish towers without breaking the laws of physics, then that is controversial.

Prompt: How can you dispel a myth people want dispelled and back it up with real facts?

#2: A Major Twist: Example: The Sixth Sense

When I think of movies like The Crying Game and The Sixth Sense, I think of how I’d like to see them at least twice. Why? Because the surprise twist makes me want to see how the new information fits with the earlier scenes. Such surprises when well done and not annoying (like “It was all a dream”) will get your readers eager to tell their friends about your book. Your readers will want to see if their friends catch the surprise twist before it’s revealed in the story. I used this technique for one of my books written under a pen name. In the reviews, several of the readers talk about how much they enjoyed the surprise ending. A major twist in your story can do the job of getting your readers eager to share your book with their friends.

Prompt: What major twist can you put in the ending of your story?

#3: Insight: Example: Amadeus

Discovering the truth about celebrities and careers can be fascinating. Just when we think we know who Norma Jeane Mortenson (Marilyn Monroe) or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were, films or biographies can reveal unexpected aspects of their lives. Similarly, discovering what it means to be a special agent in the FBI or a fireman in New York can also surprise us. When we find out just how many unsung heroes there are in our nation, we often want to share our discovery with our friends.

Prompt: What insight can you provide to your readers?

#4: Inspiration: Example: Pay It Forward

When a book or movie inspires us to act, it has essentially changed our lives. We alter our routine to spend the time necessary on whatever task the book or movie inspired us to perform. In the movie Pay It Forward, we witnessed random acts of kindness, which have the required payment of performing random acts of kindness to others. The idea of everyone lending a hand to strangers is heartwarming. After Beth and I saw the film, we encouraged everyone we knew to see the film.

Prompt: What call to action can you include in your story?

Write a Series of What People Want

These four tips – controversy, a major twist, an insight, and inspiration – aren’t the only ways to create bestsellers. In fact, when interviewing a few major self-published authors (in fiction and nonfiction), I discovered the real key to success is putting out a series of books. But the books won’t sell unless you write what people want to read.

Most authors will write the story they wish to tell, which is not necessarily a story people wish to read. A few marketing-minded writers I know will first determine what readers desperately want before writing a single word. I’ve found that such a method can destroy the pleasure of writing. Instead, find the sweet spot.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Here’s how:

  1. Decide what kind of stories you want to write.
  2. Of those story types, determine which ones readers want to read most. You can figure out what readers want by noticing how popular similar books are.
  3. Once you’ve determined the genre or story type to write, develop a series. Many authors seem to have success after the fifth book.

As a random example, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fifth book ever written was The Return of the King, the last book in The Lord of the Rings series. After The Return of the King was published in 1955, Tolkien’s books became popular in the 1960s.

If you can create controversy, slip in a major twist in the plot, provide new insight into celebrities and careers, or inspire the reader to act, you’re likely to get your readers talking about your books to their friends. Word-of-mouth sells books best.

***

ABOUT EZRA BARANY

Ezra Barany - Graphic Designer

Ezra Barany, Graphic Designer

After learning about codes in the Bible, Ezra Barany produced his bestselling award-winning thriller, THE TORAH CODES. Ezra has helped several of his clients become bestselling authors with his unique method of finding the right title for one’s book. A former physics teacher, Ezra lives in Oakland with his beloved wife and two cats working on a sequel, THE 36 RIGHTEOUS, A SERIAL KILLER’S HIT LIST. Ezra, not the cats. © 2014 All rights reserved.

The-Torah-Codes BY EZRA BARANY copy

Posted in 12: New Year 2014-Ingredients of a Bestseller Tagged with: , , , ,

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