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

Author-Entrepreneurship-Winter-2014-issue

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

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.

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

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

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

4 Lessons Learned as Bestseller Birthday Wish Came True by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

Award-winning literature for students-www.gracefullyglobal.com-ad

The following article is reprinted by permission from the author. Thanks Graciela!

***

A couple weeks before Christmas, I spoke with my buds Beth and Ezra Barany. I was considering running a bestseller campaign for Latinnovating on my birthday, but I wasn’t sure there was enough time. I didn’t know the first thing about running such a campaign. We discussed the possibility of having them run the campaign for me in January; Beth assured me I could probably do it myself.

Due to an ongoing, time-sucking situation with my school district, I didn’t think I had enough time to go at it alone. The weekend before my birthday, I decided to go for it! I stayed up until 2 a.m. a couple of night to create my plan and write the content I would use to ask my circles of friends and supporters to help. The result is here: Latinnovating made it all the way to #2 in one of its two categories!

I learned many things in the five days that it took to create, promote, re-promote, re-communicate and monitor this campaign. Here are the top 4 things I want to share with authors considering running a bestseller campaign:

1. Aim high, not low.

The conversations I had with various people who run bestseller campaigns, some who charge $8000 to help an author get on a list, went like this: “We guarantee you’ll break into the Top 100 bestsellers in your book’s category or your money back. Bestseller means anywhere in the top 100 so understand that if you hit #97 you’ll have a bestseller.” So in my mind, that meant that all I was shooting for was #97 or so and I was going to pay $8000 for #97? Those of you who know me know that was a hard thing to accept, being #97 at something has just not been my style. What I learned was that when you run a campaign and engage all your marketing skill, lose the shyness about asking for help, and ask those who support you to really, really support you, amazing things happen. So next time I will aim for #1, not #97 as I was being led to believe.

2. You don’t need to pay a guy $8000 to become an Amazon bestseller. [click to tweet]

This is true unless you do not have the asset listed in #1 on this list. Without the next two things on this list, if you’re serious about running a successful bestseller campaign, you should indeed consider engaging the services of someone who has reached the bestseller rankings before (like Beth and Ezra Barany).

3. There is still no substitute for thorough preparation, asking for help and following up.

48 hours before my birthday/campaign day, I began to send personal emails to friends and supporters. The emails contained prepared text to Tweet and share with their social networks, to post as Facebook messages, etc. I also messaged and called key influencers the day before my campaign days. I let them know in advance what I was planning on doing and asked for their help to spread the word into their networks. So by 8:30 in the morning, on my birthday when I first checked the bestseller lists of my book’s two categories, it was shockingly already at #7! Throughout the day, I posted updates about where it was on the list, and this generated even more interest and sharing, which is why it made it to number #2. By the way, at 11:30 p.m., one of my friends emailed me that he had seen it at #1. I didn’t see it myself but honestly, it doesn’t matter really. Latinnovating is officially a bestseller and that’s what matters.

4. Having invested in email marketing tools and skills was a key success factor in this campaign.

 When I started my content development, publishing and marketing business, one of the first tools I adopted was an established email marketing platform. Why? I’m a girl who likes analysis, measurement and verticalization of content. Like a good little marketer, I made sure to segment my contacts into logical lists: university contacts, endorsers, those profiled in book, those who have purchased the book, students, etc. Having this key business asset in place proved to be a godsend.

As I prepared content for this campaign, for each group I asked for their support in distinctly different ways. This made a huge difference because what I provided for them to share with their own networks was specific to them: in other words, targeted language for specific audiences…marketing messaging defined. I honestly believe this made the biggest difference, because as my friends, family and different groups of supporters jumped in to help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, they used the text exactly as I had prepared it for them. That validated the time I took to create the words THEY would be comfortable and happy to share. This truly made a huge, huge, difference in the end result. I am truly grateful to each and every one of them.

One word of caution, something of which you MUST beware! Monitoring the bestseller rankings becomes an instant addiction. To watch your book baby, your creation, climb (and drop and climb again) on the lists is a special type of high. Thank God for smart phones – I was able to peek at progress on my way to my relaxing afternoon at my favorite spa; it was my birthday after all!

To all friends, family, endorsers, supporters, customers, and stars of Latinnovating, thank you for making my 15th annual 30th birthday wish come true! I could not have done it without you!

Fellow new and aspiring authors: please feel free to contact me if you would like help getting your marketing messaging and operations in place – perhaps you too can run your own bestseller campaign!

ABOUT GRACIELA TISCARENO-SATO

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato is the author of two bestselling books: Good Night Captain Mama (1st first bilingual children’s picture book about women in the military) and green business leadership book Latinnovating, Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them. Graciela is a sought-after speaker and Founder of Gracefully Global Group LLC, a publishing/multicultural marketing firm that showcases positive images from the Latino community. More at www.GracefullyGlobal.com. © 2014 All rights reserved.

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

5 Tips for Turning Your Book into a Bestseller by Vangile Makwakwa

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I write because I get tired of thinking and having this stuff in my head. So it’s just easier to write, which is how I came to write a book.

Since publishing my book, there’re some things I’ve learned that I wish someone had told me before I got started because it could’ve saved me a lot of grief along the way and sold me more book copies sooner.

1) Make sure your readers can find you

One of the reasons that people don’t buy your products is because they can’t find you.

I decided to get a publisher to avoid this very issue. Most book stores won’t even consider your book unless you have a publisher and even if you have a publisher there’s no guarantee that all the stores will always have your book in stock, so it’s up to you to make sure they do.

You can also give people the option to order your book online through your website or on Kindle, Smashwords or Gumroad.

Make it as easy as possible for people to buy your book in all formats. [click to tweet]

2) Marketing is king                

Another reason that people don’t buy our books is because they don’t know us. It’s up to all you as a writer to inform them that you exist.

I got a publisher because I didn’t want to deal with marketing but a few months after my book launch I learned something valuable – my publishers have a million other authors to market, if my book was gonna sell, I’d have to make the effort and start selling myself.

Publishers are great at getting you into the right book stores and on all the must read lists in the media but if you want your book to be successful, you’re going to have to market yourself.

It’s tempting to sometimes leave marketing to someone else, but it’s important for you to be involved in this process because you understand your work it better than anyone.

One way to improve book sales is to do talks and speeches about your book. I do corporate speaking; my publisher also gets me to speak to employees at different book stores so they can sell my book to customers.

3) Share your story

The final reason that people won’t buy your book is because they don’t like you.

That’s cool. Not everyone will like you. So go out and find your tribe — the people who’ll fall in love with you and market you for free.

Focus on branding yourself, especially online.

People rely on Google. The media also relies on Google when making a decision on whether or not to interview you. And trust me you need the media to help you sell your book.

Never under estimate the power of television, radio, or magazines when it comes to branding and selling your book for you.

Having a social media presence that highlights you as a person and connects you to your readers is priceless. Take time to blog, tweet and post something on your Facebook page.

Share your story, because that’s what people and journalists respond to. I can’t tell you how many people email me to say thank you for being honest and sharing my story on my newsletters.

4) Get your book reviewed

People make buying and reading decisions based on other people’s experience, especially online.

The more people that positively review your book, the higher the chances that more people will buy the book.

It’s human nature – we think that if someone read a book and enjoyed it then the book must be good.

I admit, I haven’t been very good with this with my book but I know it’s important. I am actively looking for more book reviews.

5) Persistence leads to success

When I was writing my book, I stopped working, moved to a tiny village in South Africa to live with my mom because I wanted to be surrounded by beauty and silence. (Everyone in the village sleeps at 8 pm and wakes up at 4 am.)

Whenever people would ask my mom what I do for a living, she’d always say, “She says she’s writing a book. We’ll see.”

This is despite the fact that my mom would see me typing on my computer every evening from 6 pm to 6 am but for some reason because I wasn’t producing a finished product every week, it didn’t seem like work to her.

Of course to my mom’s credit, she never once stressed me about the book, she just let me be and only revealed her doubts about the whole process to her friends and clients.

The point is it takes a while for a book to get to the top of the bestseller list and you just have to keep connecting with your audience until you reach the tipping point and see an increase in sales.

***

ABOUT VANGILE MAKWAKWA

Vangile Makwakwa is a renowned author and speaker. Her book Heart, Mind & Money: Using Emotional Intelligence with Money explores 25 different emotions, their evolutionary importance, and impact on financial behavior. You can learn more about Vangile Makwakwa story, mission, and book on her website, www.wealthy-money.com.

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

Interview with Bestselling Author, Tina Folsom: Her Secrets to Success By Beth Barany

Lawful Lover by Tina Folsom-ad

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 Tina’s update. Bella’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.

Beth: Is there anything else you would add to – or reprioritize — the four points of 1. The cover is everything; 2. Know your readers expectations 3. Market to your specific niche; 4. Good writing.

Tina: The four points are still valid, however, branding has become even more important these days so that your books stand out. [click to tweet] Tweet: Branding has become even more important these days so that your books stand out by @Tina_Folsom at @authrentreprenr http://ctt.ec/O3gPd+ With so much competition these days, it’s vital that the cover represents both you and your books well. And is recognizable. It has to look good both in thumbnail and regular size – and, particularly if you write series, the reader has to recognize by the cover that your book belongs to a particular series, and to you as the author. 

Beth: Thanks, Tina! And what defines being a bestseller and being a success for you?

Tina: Certainly, hitting the lists is one thing. I had the fortune to hit the New York Times and the USA Today bestseller lists, and I’m very grateful for this. But that’s not everything. A bestseller for me is also an author who consistently sells a good number of books, even if she never hits the list. If she can make a decent living from selling books, for me she’s successful. I flew under the radar for a very long time, without anybody in the industry knowing my name, yet I was pulling in a high six figure income at the time. There are plenty of people like me, who sell consistently, but for a long time never hit any list and never show up on anybody’s radar.

Beth: That’s quite exciting. Do you have any more advice for those first getting published?

Tina: Be patient. It’s a long road to success. You’ll probably not make it on the first book. You might need five before you succeed. You might not make it in the market you’re targeting. A book might not sell very well in the US, but might take off in another country. For example, a contemporary romance I published in English in the US did okay, but didn’t sell hugely. I translated it into German and sold boatloads of copies! You just never know where and when you’ll hit it. Just stick with it.

Beth: Thank you, Tina!

***

ABOUT TINA FOLSOM

Tina Folsom was born in Germany and has been living in English speaking countries for over 20 years, the last 11 of them in San Francisco, where she’s married to an American. In 2008 she wrote her first romance and never looked back. She’s always loved vampires and decided that vampire and paranormal romance was her calling. She now has 15 novels in English and several in other languages (Spanish, German, and French) and continues to write, as well as have her existing novels translated. More about Tina at http://tinawritesromance.com/. © 2014 All rights reserved.

Lawful Lover by Tina Folsom-ad

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

Strategies for Being a Bestseller from a Do-It-Yourself Publisher by Vince Stead

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vince-stead-adOne of the best book seminars I ever attended talked about how to make your book become a best seller. The strategy shared was totally different than would I thought it would be.

The company was suggesting different ways to make your book hit the top 100, or bestselling list, of any major platform, like the New York Times, or Amazon and others.

The idea was that if you could target all of your advertising, and social media, and everything else you can come up with, to target a certain date, then your book would become a bestseller. They suggest that Tuesday is the best day to launch a new book Tweet: They suggest that Tuesday is the best day to launch a new book @VinceStead at @authrentreprenr http://ctt.ec/w_VY6+[click to tweet], because the goal is to get your book to hit above the 100 mark, even if it is just for a very short time. 

If it hits say number 99 at 4am, then you get to use that title of “Bestselling Author” for the rest of your life. You can plaster that all over the cover of your next new books. O course you need to have good book content as well. In the seminar, they emphasized that mediocre books can make it, but the best-written book in the world won’t make it without some sort of advertising behind it. That makes sense, so it drove me in a different direction really.

My name is Vince Stead, and I’m a self-published author, and do-it-yourself publisher with over 200 titles published. I’ve had one book published by a small publisher. I have paid $400 each to have four of my books self-published for me. I have over 200 titles all self-published in the last several years that I built a good business around, all self-published and self-advertised, on nince of the free largest platforms around, like Amazon, B&N, the iBookstore and more. They are in paperback, digital, and now also audio. At this writing I have 144 of them available in audio with the help of six great narrators that record them for me. The narrators are part time radio hosts, voice over actors, and the such, most with their own home recording studios.

One of our best moves was when we started doing all of our books in audio. They really sell much better than I ever thought they would, which means I sure wish I would of started much sooner, but we are doing extremely well with them now, so it’s never too late!

I have a group of writers that help me. A few relatives and me come up with story plots for fun, and the writers write most of the stories that we pay them to write. We put the books together and up for sale. We use Copyscape and another program to make sure all content is original. I read every book as I enjoy reading immensely. I could never write over 200 books myself, but I learned it’s a numbers game, so the more titles you have up for sale, the more you sell for sure. 

Some of the funny little things is when I think a good title will do really well, and it’s low selling book, and a book you think will not sell that many copies each month does way better then you expected. It’s really like gambling in a way. You never know what the public will like. These days our stuff is sold around the world, with the United States, Canada and the UK containing the majority of buyers, but all those other smaller countries, like Japan and Italy, for example, have good sales too. The UK is not far behind the United States for sales, at least for my little book business anyway.

Keep writing, try different things, and above all, don’t give up.

***

vince-stead-author-photoABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vince Stead joined the Navy when he was 18 and liked it very much. He spent 4 years on shore duty at an air squadron, and 4 years at sea duty, where he was stationed on a submarine tender, the USS Proteus, and a destroyer, the USS David R. Ray, and a short stint on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier. While on the destroyer, the ship would escort Kuwaiti oil tankers full of oil destined for America, out to sea so they would not get attacked. They would put an American flag on their ship, and the destroyer Vince was stationed on would escort them out to sea and safety so everyone back in America. More at http://www.fun2readbooks.com. © 2014 All rights reserved.

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

Ingredients for a Bestseller: A Just for Fun Step-by-Step Guide for Writers who Otherwise Wouldn’t Cook a Thing by Catharine Bramkamp

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Market in Laos-imageWhat are the basic ingredients in a bestselling book? [click to tweet] Tweet: What are the basic ingredients in a bestselling book? by @cbramkamp at @authrentreprenr http://ctt.ec/u20XG+

Organic Ingredients

For both a fiction bestseller as well as a non-fiction bestseller, you need authentic ingredients, not big general ideas of what the finished product will look like. You want to fill the bowl with ideas you can touch and taste.

Did you research your subject? Is this an original idea? What can you say about your topic that has not been said before? Are you creating something that’s half-baked or a full flavorful taste treat?

Spice It Up

Give your readers new ideas and new twists on a traditional recipe. What do they expect? Now surprise them.

Mix In Stories 

One thing that all bestsellers have in common: stories. We learn through stories. We come for the stories and we keep reading a book because of stories.

What are your examples? Who tried what you are suggesting? What were the results? What are the triumphs and failures?

Stick To The Recipe

Bestsellers are focused. No one drapes sashimi over a pan of enchiladas.

One Idea Per Book Please 

Should you find that you are off track or discussing something completely different, set that interesting culinary variation aside to rise into another book.

Keep working with your strong theme, the book may be a bit shorter, but it will have more impact.

Fold In Your Platform  

You’ll need to discuss, promote and talk endlessly about this book — even more if it succeeds. So what do you want to discuss? Do you care about what you’ve written so much that you can go on and on and someone you love very much must ask you to shut up?

That’s the subject for your book. That’s the subject that will make it a bestseller. Passion will keep you going throughout the book creation and well past its publication.

The Slow Book Movement

We can publish our work in minutes, but that doesn’t mean we should. Write the book. Think about the book. Take a minute to breath, walk around, and allow the whole project to sit and cool a minute before serving.

Don’t Store In An Air-Tight Container

Make sure you’ve taken into account trends, readers, and the outside world while developing your bestseller. Don’t think it’s fabulous because you and only you have read it and of course, approve. Send out the work. Find Beta Readers and listen to their feedback.

Offer A Taste

Those great Beta Readers? Send them the first chapter of the book for free, in exchange ask them to review the book. If they say – whoa, bestseller for sure, then you have a winner. If your book gives them a stomach ache, re-think.

It only takes a huge portion of passion, slaving over a hot keyboard and endless tastes, but it can be done. Just follow the instructions. Cook and serve!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catharine Bramkamp is a writer, podcaster for Newbie Writers Podcast, and blogger at the Newbie Writers Guide. Ask for the first chapter of her upcoming time travel novel, Future Girls at bramkamp@yahoo.com. Get the future now. © 2014 All rights reserved.

NEWBIE WRITERS

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

The Behind-the-Scenes Ingredients for Being a Bestselling Successful Self-Published Author by Stacey Aaronson

one-page-ad-2014

one-page-ad-2014When we think of bestsellers, we tend to think of content—the kind that moves, entertains, teaches, or inspires us to action or to be better human beings. And it goes without saying that excellent content is vital to claiming a bestselling title. The attention-grabbing material that readers will actually buy and love is what drives the market, no matter the genre, so all great books must begin with outstanding content.

With that as the foundation, traditionally published books go through many rounds of thoughtful, professional editing; have the benefit of a knowledgeable book cover designer who understands the book’s audience and creatively captures the content in the cover art; and employs an expert in customized interior layout, savvy to industry standards and the “magic” that is utilized to reflect the content beautifully and appropriately. This investment equates to thousands of dollars on the part of the publisher to ensure the book is as polished and credible as possible for the marketplace.

So what about self-published titles?

The truth is, current self-publishing platforms—such as CreateSpace and Ingram Spark—have made publishing a book available to just about anyone. This is wonderful, except that the majority of authors don’t acknowledge—or perhaps somehow don’t realize—that putting a book into the marketplace on their own, without the same quality attention a publishing house would give it, is a huge mistake. Publishing a book is one thing; publishing a book of excellence that has the potential to reach bestseller status is another entirely—one that requires investment in the skill and talent of professionals.

It is my sincere wish to see every writer realize his or her dream of becoming a bestselling published author—but it’s my personal mission to help authors do it right, because producing an inferior book does nothing for readers, for the literary community, or for the author’s credibility, whether in fiction or non-fiction. You never hear people say, “It’s my dream to publish a substandard book that will garner negative reviews and look like it was done by an amateur,” right? Yet, I see it over and over again, and it breaks my heart every time.

Quality editing, cover design, and interior layout are fields of specialty like any other that someone trains for and hones over time. A good writer is no more a professional editor or designer than a good cook is capable of running a five-star restaurant. It is therefore imperative that “self-publishing” cease meaning “do it all myself” when it comes to the crucial elements of book production. As a writer, no one expects you to possess the expertise of editing and design; you certainly don’t need that kind of pressure!

It’s for this reason that I offer with love:

The Top 10 Things Every Self-Publishing Author Must Know About Producing a Potential Bestseller Tweet: 10 Things Every Self-Publishing Author Must Know @ Producing a Bestseller by @staceyaaronson at @authrentreprenr http://ctt.ec/8ffAy+ (click to tweet)

1. Do Your Market Research

Whatever your genre, you MUST know what books already exist on your subject matter or in your particular niche category—after all, you want to write a book that readers are drawn to because it stands out on its own, not one that someone else has already written, and perhaps better than you! Make sure that no matter your genre, your book stands out and can be marketed with distinction so that readers will choose yours. Then, take the time to write it with as much excellence as you can.

2. Build a Platform at Least 6 Months Before Your Book Launch

While one of the perks of self-publishing is that it’s faster than traditional publishing, it’s vital to understand that it typically takes a minimum of six months to produce a top-notch book once the manuscript is complete, and that crucial time period should be used not only to polish and design your book, but also to build your platform. If you get too focused on writing, editing, designing, and proofreading, you might overlook or not realize that building a platform and creating buzz is vital to your book’s potential sales. You don’t want to find yourself with a beautiful book in your hands and no one to sell it to!

3. Hire a Professional Editor

I know how hard it is to let a professional editor chop, dice, slice, and otherwise alter your writing; believe me, I do. But the number one complaint by readers of self-published books is that they “clearly weren’t well edited.” I don’t want this happening to you! Brilliant editing, which you and your book deserve in sizable helpings, is the single biggest, and most vital investment you’ll make in your book’s stellar production. Why would you want to publish anything substandard? Your name on the cover should carry a heaping dollop of pride for what’s inside.

4. Hire a Professional Cover Designer

While cousin Charlie might be a great graphic designer who owes you a favor, or you clearly have the ability to upload a photo and choose a trite font in one of those do-it-yourself book cover options through a self-pub company, neither of these (or select other equally non-recommended choices) will likely result in a professional cover that rivals the likes of a traditional house publication. Why? Because book cover design is an art. What’s more, it’s strategic. A great deal of research, thought, and consideration of your material and your particular target market goes into professional book cover design. Even more, it’s the first impression of your book, whether online or in person, and is the make-or-break of people taking the next step to see what’s inside. And I KNOW you want readers to open your book!

5. Hire a Professional Skilled in Interior Book Layout & Design

I know it might seem easy to set some margins, pick out a readable font, and format the interior of a book, but I have news for you: It’s not—not by a long shot, in fact. Industry-standard book layout and design employs a myriad of rules, secrets, special customization, and waving of a magic wand that only a professional book designer can achieve for you. Trust me, Microsoft Word is great for typing up your manuscript, but it’s NOT conducive to creating your beautiful, impeccable book interior. Trying to perform this task on your own will only hurt your book, and good gracious, you’ve come this far, why ruin it now?

6. Allow for a Minimum of Three Rounds of Professional Proofreading

Wait! Isn’t this part of editing? Well, yes and no. Once your manuscript has been polished to perfection between you and your editor over time, and your professional book designer (who, like me, may also be your editor) has created your exemplary interior layout, proofreading and cross-checking a printed “galley” or “proof” copy—multiple times—is essential. You don’t want to come this far (yet again) and then have your readers find typos, inconsistencies, or glaring errors in your final book.

7. Employ a Professional Writer to Assist with Crafting Marketing/Book-Related Materials

I know this may sound counterintuitive—you’re a writer, after all. But your written book-related materials have a strategy behind them that you may not actually understand or even know about. This isn’t a criticism of you, believe me, it’s just the reality of the book world. Your book’s title, subtitle, and various descriptions must appropriately engage your audience, and it’s often the biggest challenge for authors to boil down their work into a few paragraphs, or into a title or subtitle that really grabs, so consult with someone who can help you make this content shine.

8. Compare Providers to Find the Best One(s) for YOU

Self-Publishing is overwhelming because let’s face it, you have to wear a lot of hats. And one of those is in interviewing and choosing the person or team of people who will bring your labor of love to beautiful fruition. If you’re not smart about the way you go about it, or about the questions you ask, you may not have the potential bestseller you’ve dreamed of, and I don’t want that to happen to you!

9. Ask the Right Questions

I know how overwhelming it is to know what to ask the various providers and self-publishing companies; most of you are likely flummoxed by trying to navigate this crazy highway, especially if it’s new to you. I don’t want you wasting money and time, nor do I want to see you frustrated and disappointed! Think about everything you want or need to know that’s important to you and write it down before you embark on your publishing journey. Now use this list as a basis for your questions as you investigate and interview companies and contractors.

10. Embrace the Mindset of “Do It Well or Not at All”

You know that nasty reputation self-published books get? Well, they don’t get it because of the absence of a traditional publishing house logo on their spine or back cover; rather, they incur negativity because of how the book was produced. The truth is, most readers don’t pay attention to the name of the publisher. Reviewers, yes; bookstores, yes, but not the majority of readers. What they care about is content, professionally polished words encased in a cover worthy of its impeccable and appropriately designed interior. In short, they want to be moved, inspired, educated … and they want to do so without tripping over typos, ambling through awkward writing, or being disappointed by deficient design, all of which result in the overwhelming assumption that the author has no credibility.

Bottom line: Your self-published book deserves the same investment and attention that it would receive from a traditional house—it’s rare that a book can become a bestseller without them. Alongside the foundation of excellent content that’s sure to move, teach, inspire, or entertain your target audience in a way that distinguishes you in your niche, your dedication to the ten guidelines above is sure to put you on the path to reaching bestselling author status!

***

ABOUT 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. www.thebookdoctorisin.com c. 2014 All rights reserved.

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

The Way Out of Limbo by Julia Roberts

The Reluctant Marketer-ad

Let’s say you’ve done it. Your bestseller is written. Maybe it’s even taken up by an agent and sold to a publisher. Or maybe it’s still in your drawer. Either way, you’re in that limbo phase – when your book is on its way to becoming public. This is when you feel every variety of pain, anxiety, joy, excitement, pride, nausea, fear, doubt and awe known to humans.

In this limbo, you can channel J.K. Rowling, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, or Jane Austen when their first books were yet to be embraced by loving audiences. In order to have any chance of continuing to share their exalted experiences, however, you’ll need to do more than sway and swoon in an uneasy soup of emotion.

It’s time to promote your book. And that is true whether or not you have a publisher and a publicist. Promotion and Marketing are as much an ingredient of a bestseller as talent and prose.

Marketing is its own creative contribution to the glory of your work.  Tweet: Marketing is its own creative contribution to the glory of your work. by @HeyJuliaRoberts at http://ctt.ec/6rE1q+ @authrentreprenr (click to tweet this)

There’s significant research into the creative personality, and many scientists draw a distinction between the “highly creative” and “creative” (which might be attributed to her publisher and publicist, whose hard work and great ideas helped keep that book on shelves, in front-of-store displays and top of mind for the audience). Let’s parse this difference between highly creative and creative personalities.

Highly creative people are observed to be: sensitive, not motivated by money, idealistic, altruistic, perfectionist, non-conforming, able to fantasize, imaginative, ingenious, original, curious, severely critical, energetic, flexible, persistent and fluent. They perceive the world differently and have a sense of destiny, a need to be different, a sense of humor, a need for truth.

Not all of these traits apply to all highly creative people, but stop a moment and check off all the traits you see in yourself.

Now let’s look at how those same traits might betray you when it comes time to participate in the marketing of your book.

  • Your altruism might lead you to want to give it away – you just want it to be read.
  • Your vivid imagination might keep you in the soup of dismay during limbo – right when you need to be proactively helping your book get up on its feet.
  • Your inner voice might be severely critical, which can make it difficult to try new things – like promotion.
  • Your need for truth might disdain what you might consider a “marketing truth.”
  • Your need to feel different might make marketing feel like you’re being packaged and sold like a commodity.
  • Your originality might prevent you from using known strategies and tactics for marketing your novel.

As unnatural as it might feel to step away from the creative mode of writing your book, living and loving your book, it is a necessary transition.

To the best of your ability, you must step out of the limbo or drama, fear, exaltation and ego.


Your best move is to put on another hat, and bring your whole creative self to the marketing table.

It is another person who lurks within you who is able – in fact probably super able – to self-market. Besides which, it’s part of your job, just as it’s part of the actor’s job to do the talk shows when a movie debuts.

Getting deeply into character and portraying that character with integrity and humanity is a kind of creativity that’s different than showing up on the Today show and promoting.

Fortunately, those two different kinds of creativity are separated in their lives by time. They have time to switch hats, square their shoulders and go out and promote that movie. Just as you do.

Risk taker is also a trait of a highly creative person.

Article.diagram.Julia.RobertsThe biggest obstacle to allowing yourself to promote your book to become a bestseller is the very personality that empowered you to write about an imagined world with a truth and ideal you wanted to share.

  • So how can you reengage your creativity in a very different way?
  • How can your originality work in your favor and not work against you?
  • How can you realize the bestselling status that you feel you and your book deserve?

You have the talents, the originality to be a breakout, and the creative skills to make amazing marketing, but you have to pull out of the limbo, and the emotional soup and disdain you’ve created for yourself and make it. Make it happen.

You might need help reentering the creative process with this product in mind – a marketing plan. You might even be bad at it at first. Or, you might find you like it a lot more than the miasma of doubt and fear that you live in during that time of limbo.

This is the map of the creative process. I call it Deliberate Creativity, and it is based on 60 years of scientific research and observation. It can help you find your way, especially when you’re creating something that is entirely new to you. Or when you’re making up something that you don’t yet see the “fun” in. Or when you feel resistant, reluctant and maybe even resentful about having to create a marketing platform.

Self-marketing is how creators make money so they can continue to do what they love for a living. Deliberate Creativity is the way that reluctant marketers can reengage their native creativity and have fun with their marketing.

As much as marketing is an ingredient of a bestseller, creative engagement is the way out of limbo.

***

ABOUT JULIA ROBERTS

Julia Roberts is a twice-published author (Motherhood to Otherhood, Running Press, and RV There Yet? BookSurge), a creative process expert and certified creativity coach. She helps writers in times of turmoil – like block, vulnerability, career shift and of course, self-marketing. Find her at www.decodingcreativity.com where you can get her free e-book, Live a Fully Expressed Life. © 2014 All rights reserved.

Get help in a group of highly creative people led by Julia Roberts, certified creativity coach and creative process expert. Overcome your resistance to marketing and create a plan that’s all YOU. Reengage your creativity to market your work, your way. New classes starting February 11, 2014. Read more at The Reluctant Marketer: www.decodingcreativity.com.

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