Saturday, September 22, 2018

Guest Post Featuring Shawn Robinson: An Overview of Self-Publishing, Part 5



Note from the RW Team: To give our writers a small hiatus, we are welcoming author Shawn Robinson to do a 5 part series on self-publishing over the months of August and September. We hope that this will prove very useful, especially to the teen/indie authors in our audience. Next week, we'll be back on our regular schedule with our September Wrap-Up. 
In the meantime, please give Shawn a warm welcome!


Alright, we've made it through a lot of information over the course of this conversation on Self-Publishing. I hope you're still with me. Maybe it's been like drinking from a fire-hose. Sure, you get some great water, but you end up losing more than you take in. If so, don't be discouraged.

We're just going to cover a little bit more here and then wrap it up. So let's dive in!


Formatting Your Book

If you've finished your book, you're starting to realize that the document you have sitting before you doesn't look like a book. You're also probably starting to realize that you're not sure how to get it into a format ready for a printer. 

The way you get your book from Microsoft Word or Scrivener or yWriter or something else to a printer is to format your book for printing and save it as a PDF. Since this is a complicated and detailed process, I'll point you to my blog post Setting up Your Book: The Basics where I go into this in a lot more detail. 

When you upload that PDF to Createspace, KDP or Ingram, they take the digital PDF and print it! If you've never done this before, it sounds scary and overwhelming, but it's not as hard as you might think. The first time you do it is a little challenging, but after that, you just copy the file and put your next book into the already formatted file! It only gets easier!

ISBNs

You will need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). If you're not sure what that is, here are the basics: It's a 13 digit number that's used around the world to identify and track your book. Think of it like your book's address. If you don't have an ISBN, book stores and more cannot identify and order your book for sale.

I wrote a series of blogs on ISBNs as there's a lot to know about them, but here's the simple stuff you'll want to know: 

1. Every edition/version of your book needs its own ISBN (paperback, hardcover, ebook, audio book, etc.)

2. ISBNs cost a lot of money for most people (I'm Canadian... we get them for free... sorry)

3. ISBNs are tied to the publisher. My publishing company is called BrainSwell Publishing so all my ISBNs are tied to that company.

4. A lot of companies (Amazon, Vanity Publishers, etc.), will offer to give you an ISBN for free. That is fine if you don't plan on getting your book out there for sale anywhere else. If you're just using Amazon and no one else, go for the free one. Otherwise, it's worth your while to own your own ISBN. If you take the free one from Amazon or somewhere else, they are technically the publisher (regardless of what they say).

5. If you are going to buy your ISBN, you can often buy them in bulk and save a HUGE amount of money. Google, "where do I get an ISBN in..." and add in your country. Bowker sells them in the US, Nelson in the UK, etc.

Concluding Thoughts


All right, we've covered a lot of information. There is a lot more we could cover, of course, such as trim size, creating a cover, details about book setup, book launch teams, launch dates, etc., but we'll need to wrap it up here if we still want to call this an overview. :)

Let me give you a few thoughts just to encourage you to and help you in your writing.

First Thought
Check out some decent writing software like yWriter or Scrivener. They are big helps when it comes to organizing your writing and laying out your book. I use yWriter for my blogging and Scrivener for my fiction writing (I write children's/middle grade novels).

Second Thought
Consider something like NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it runs in November of each year. It's a worldwide challenge to authors to write an entire novel (at least 50k words) in one month. You sign up and encourage one another to keep writing throughout the month.
If you don't want to do this with NaNoWriMo, you can always just get a bunch of friends together and challenge one another to a similar goal. I wrote the third novel in my Arestana series for NaNoWriMo and it ended up around 77k words.

Third Thought
Stick to your guns on your morals and values. One of the challenges you will face as an author is to fill your books with a lot of junk. Authors are often convinced that you can only write quality, properly expressive works if you include a lot of immoral and, what I would deem, inappropriate language and content.

You don't.

Quality writing takes people on a journey through the ideas and concepts in the book. You are not constrained by the expectations of the reader. You are free to write as you please. In my opinion, it takes greater skill and results in higher quality writing to write family appropriate stories than it does to fill your book with immoral language and concepts. Take the high road!

There you have it! A quick overview of the Self-Publishing process! All the best as you continue through this journey, and if I can be a help or encouragement along the way, let me know!

Meet the Orator:
Bio and author picture are sourced from Author website (www.shawnpbrobinson.com). Used with Permission.

I’m a writer, a husband, a father, a Christian, a hiker (or at least I was till some recent health problems), a lover of coffee, a biker (not the cool kind, but the kind that rides around on an old motorcycle and has a blast) and someone who enjoys watching movies with my sons and playing cards with my wife.

I have written (so far) four books. One is a book of short stories, the other three are a series (Arestana series). They are geared to younger readers and I have a blast writing them! You can check out my books here: www.shawnpbrobinson.com/books

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Guest Post Featuring Shawn Robinson: An Overview of Self-Publishing, Part 4


Note from the RW Team: To give our writers a small hiatus, we are welcoming author Shawn Robinson to do a 5 part series on self-publishing over the months of August and September. We hope that this will prove very useful, especially to the teen/indie authors in our audience.  
Please give Shawn a warm welcome!

In this blog post, I want to take a quick look at how to get your book out there to people. We're going to explore a little bit about advertising and writing contests. Both of these can be a lot of work and, at times, be discouraging as it can yield poor results.

Remember this: book sales are a marathon, not a sprint. Don't expect to do one bit of advertisement and sell fourteen billion books. Expect to slowly grow your reader base!

Advertising

One of the downsides with Self-Publishing is that you are responsible for all your own advertising. If you publish through a traditional publisher, they do a lot of that work for you because they are interested in selling your book. If you Self-Publish, you do not start with that support.

The challenge is, of course, finding people who are interested in reading your book and convincing them it is worth the read. This isn't easy, but here are a few things to keep in mind:


~ Start with Family and Friends ~

The fun part is that there are some family members and friends who will actually buy multiple copies and share them around. I remember reading an article a while back from an author who shared a funny story about this kind of thing. She had a family member show up one day who told her, "Hey, I bought a copy of your book and I want to get you to sign it, but I left it at home." She replied with, "It's an ebook." He responded back with, "What's an ebook?"

Authors immediately think about how they will sell their books to their mom, their aunt, their friends, their colleagues and so on. While you will sell some to family and friends and more, that's not typically how it ends up playing out.

If you have 500 friends that you are sure will buy your book, expect that 20 will. The other 480 will mean well, but will not get around to it (some will forget, some will "get to it this weekend when they have time," some will be too busy, etc.). I know that sounds like a pessimistic attitude, and I don't mean to be a pessimist (I'm actually a committed optimist). It's just the way it goes.

If you want to sell your book, you'll want to look beyond family and friends. Even if all of them buy a copy, you'll likely want to go beyond that limited number.


~ Social media ~
 
Social media has its ups and downs for advertising your book. It is really great for connecting the world, but you have to keep in mind that everyone is using it. If something starts to work for selling a book, understand that EVERYONE will start to use it, and it will quickly cease to work for the average person.

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more are great for connecting up with large numbers of people, but they have their limits because people are overloaded with information.

For my first book, I tweeted about my book through not only my own account, but also a number of others (paid tweets). Through all this, I probably "reached" somewhere around 400k-500k followers. I'm not sure I received a single sale through any of those tweets. It was a good learning experience.

Social media accomplishes two things. First, it helps to give you a presence on the internet for fans to connect with you. Second, it opens the door for you to accomplish reader-author relationships, which will be discussed in a moment.

~ Paid Advertising ~ 

There are many ways you can pay for advertising. Amazon ads are a decently effective form of advertising, and it's Pay-Per-Click which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

The downside of it is that while you will likely sell books through it, you will have a hard time recouping your advertising costs. So, you might spend $100 in advertising and make $70 in sales. 

There are, perhaps, times when you just want to get your work out there for people to read, but that's not something you can afford long-term. Wait... I don't know your financial situation... that's not something I can afford long-term. Perhaps you can. :)

~ Reader-Author Relationships ~

The big thing you need to do is create fans. You do this by developing relationships with your readers.

A Former Wired editor once explained that all you need is 1000 "super-fans." If you have 1000 fans who are reading everything you write and promoting it to everyone they meet... you're all set.

If you have someone who is keen on your books... don't be afraid to build that relationship with them. It's a fun part of this process. You can develop friends around the world who love to read what you write!

So, if someone contacts you about your book, respond to them! Don't give them your home address or mobile number, but certainly chat through a Facebook Author Page or in the blog comments on your home site.

Contests

There are tons of contests out there for writers to submit a short story or an entire book for judges to get all judgy on it. Also, you can get your books out to people through offering contests.


~ Writing Contests ~

You can enter writing contests with your work and through that become known as an author. And if you are a young writer, there are loads of options for you. As a 42 year old... I'm too old for a lot of the "young writers" contests out there, but if you happen to be younger than me, you might have a shot at that! Google writing contests and see what you find!

If you win a contest, you can advertise, "Winner of the ?? award for best book in the SFRCCPHF genre."

~Self-Hosted Contests ~

You can get your books out to people through offering contests. I'll point out three different avenues of how this can be done.

First, you can make use of Goodreads and their giveaways. They offer a chance for you to set up a contest for people to enter in to get a copy of your book for free! This, unfortunately, can be costly as there is a fee for running one of their contests as well as the cost of your books (if you do print).

Second, Amazon does something similar (US only). You pay for your book and for shipping and Amazon runs the contest for you. You still get your normal royalties for this as well which is great!

Third, you can set up your own contest on your Facebook author page/Twitter account/website. You can then ship through Createspace or Ingram and likely get the book shipped out for about the same price as it would be to buy your book from Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime, then you can send it right from Amazon with free shipping and make a royalty. :)


One Last Thing....

The more books you have, the more books you'll sell. Simple? What I mean is that if you have one book and someone likes it, they will finish the book and move on. If you have ten books in print and they like one of your books, you might find they order a copy of book two in your series and then book three and so on.

Try to write books in a series and try to publish a number of different books! The more books you have, the more books you'll sell!


Meet the Orator:
Bio and author picture are sourced from Author website (www.shawnpbrobinson.com). Used with Permission.

I’m a writer, a husband, a father, a Christian, a hiker (or at least I was till some recent health problems), a lover of coffee, a biker (not the cool kind, but the kind that rides around on an old motorcycle and has a blast) and someone who enjoys watching movies with my sons and playing cards with my wife.

I have written (so far) four books. One is a book of short stories, the other three are a series (Arestana series). They are geared to younger readers and I have a blast writing them! You can check out my books here: www.shawnpbrobinson.com/books