Every author is excited when they complete their first manuscript, after all, there’s been countless hours, days, weeks, months and even years that have gone into its creation, but once the excitement wanes a little, every author then needs to go back and start the process of polishing (and in some cases, being courageous when doing so).
One small step at a time.
The first read through and edit you can certainly do yourself, but don’t try to take on more that one chapter at a time, editing your own book (when done by yourself) should be done in small chunks, if you try to persevere with editing huge sections at a time, you’ll miss elements that should be adjusted and cut corners through fatigue.
Re-read and re-edit
Once you have made edits to the book, go back and re-read what you’ve just edited, and allow time between completing the edit and then reviewing it (publishing a great book is not a sprint to the finishing line, take time, your readers deserve it).
Grammar, more grammar and spelling
This is of course the first thing that every self-editing author looks for, there are software applications like Grammarly and the inbuilt software within Word that will help with fixing those obvious elements that you may have missed the first time around, reading the manuscript again will always help find them.
Does it make sense?
Question what you have read and ask yourself if it makes sense, also, does it actually add something to the book itself (or is it just unnecessary ‘padding’?). How believable are your characters? Will they connect to your readers? What about sentence structure? Is your book made up of lots of very small paragraphs or huge blocks of text? How does it read? Look for crutch words or phrases, these often repeat themselves throughout your manuscript and become annoying to the reader, it’s wise to replace them (time to break open the Thesaurus).
Get it read
Once you have edited your own book, it is highly recommended that you get someone to read it for you, and use someone whose judgement you trust, you want someone who won’t tell you what you want to hear, but give constructive feedback. Most people have friends or know other writers who would be willing to help, you may have to return the favor (but even this is a great learning curve for you too).
Add if you’re still not sure
Once you’ve edited your manuscript as much as you can, it’s time to go to a professional editor. A good editor will be able to tweak your book from something good to something great, their insight and experience is invaluable to you and your book, a professionally well edited book will give your book a great chance of success.
Self-promotion for an indie author is an ongoing commitment that requires a great deal of dedication and diversification to reach (and grow) your audience. There are of course the more traditional ways such as social media, your own website, blog, book launch websites and promotional services to target readers, but have you ever thought about starting your own YouTube channel?
Starting a YouTube channel is a brilliant way of connecting with your readers, and for many, it’s a far more enjoyable way to promote their books along with talking about subjects connected to their style of writing, the subject matter and genre.
But the first thing that you will ask yourself is
“what on earth will I talk about?
This will depend upon what you’ve written, if your book is about travel tips in Europe for example, then hosting a YouTube channel which talks about specific travel advice aimed at those going to Europe would be perfect, you can essentially break elements of the book down into bite-sized chunks, this helps to promote your book and grow an audience.
Non-fiction books at first seem to be the easiest subject matter to turn into a YouTube channel, this is because you have an area of expertise that will be of an interest to a specific group, you can cover all areas of your chosen subject, and again, break down into smaller snippets which allow you to come up with new ideas for videos over and over again.
But, does this mean fiction authors will struggle to gain an audience if starting their own channel?
Of course not, the subject matter will be different to that of non-fiction, but you will have lots to talk about that an audience will love. For example, explaining the process of character development, over coming writer’s block, the publishing process, editing your book, having a book cover designed, where and when you write, software you use, story progression, the list goes on and on.
The next hurdle you may be thinking about is equipment, surly everyone who hosts their own channel has spent thousands on gear, right? Wrong, well, maybe the top YouTubers have but many don’t and their videos still look fantastic.
There are lots of authors who are producing great channels and only use the camera on their smart phone along with strategically placed table lamps for lighting (if you could see most YouTubers ‘studios’ you would be surprised at just how many are being highly creative with what they have and still get great results).
Having your own YouTube channel will help with your own exposure and it can also help with selling more copies of your book, but you will also need to promote your channel through other avenues until you get higher numbers of subscribers and views.
Can I also make some money from my YouTube channel?
Yes, it is possible to make money from your channel, we constantly hear of YouTubers who make millions while hosting a gaming channel from their bedroom studio, but to be fair, these are the extreme and you should always start your channel with the bigger picture in mind, your channel should you’re you to promote your book, but also allow you to connect with your audience and have some fun at the same time, if you are purely trying to make a quick buck, this may not be for you.
But before you start, it is worth checking out some current authors who have their own channels to get some ideas, here are five you should take a look at first and then maybe search for your own favorite author.
The Creative Penn
So, get started and let us know when you’re up and running, we’d love to see what you come up with!
Writing a blurb for the back of your book can be a very time consuming task, we’ve known authors take weeks and even months to write, rewrite, tweak, update, edit and finally publish a burb which is no more than 250 – 300 words.
And although this text is less than a standard page within your book, it’s importance in sales is so key that it is worth every minute of your time, ensuring that you have a highly polished and effective back page.
The first thing to remember about a blurb is that it does have a job to do, and this is to convince the reader to buy your book.
Keeping this in mind, there are elements within a blurb which you should consider, these will alter depending upon whether the book is a work of fiction or non-fiction, but remembering that either way each is still a sales tool will help.
Here are our tips on perfecting a great blurb for your book.
Blurbs for Fiction
Blurbs for Non-fiction
Book promotion as a self-publishing author is relentless, if you want to make your book a success (and why wouldn’t you?), you will need to keep chipping away at it regularly. The good news is that there are plenty of things that you can do, some may require an investment of funds and others are free, but either way, self-promotion on a consistent basis is the key to success.
So, what can you do to self-promote right now?
Here are our top ideas to get you started.
We have all heard the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover”, the point being that we should look a little deeper than just face value, however, at the same time we know that advertising (and this is what your book cover is) works. The leading brands in every avenue of industry spend a great deal of time and effort in creating advertising that speaks, and most importantly, relates to their audience, that connection is what can help to give the consumer the motivation in selecting their product (pricing is also a factor, but in a market where prices are similar, your advertising is what will make the decision for the buyer).
When you look at the publishing world and especially that of self-publishing, it is clear to see that the online bookshelves are saturated with indie publications. Bowker shows the amount of self-publishing titles have grown from 1.2 million to 1.6 million per year (this equates to over 4300 books being published every day), these numbers are astonishing.
With the massive increase in books being published the competition for any new or existing author is now vast, to think that on the day you publish your book, there will be another 4300+ titles also hitting the online bookstores. If you haven’t considered competition, maybe you should.
Choice is of course great for all of us as consumers, you can be sat in your pjs on the couch and in a second have downloaded a great book to read (I know I do this all the time), but when you scan through Amazon’s book store (making sure that you have narrowed the field a little with ratings and genre), you have an endless choice of books, and the very first thing that will grab your attention will be the cover.
If the cover looks unprofessional, rushed and as though corners have been cut, what do you think people will think of the book’s interior content?
When you go into a supermarket there’s a reason why people don’t buy odd shaped or blemished fruit and vegetables, we assume that if it looks odd then it’s going to be odd on the inside too, the growers and supermarkets know this, which is why everything looks highly manicured. We are all biased based upon the presentation of nearly everything, research shows that we make a lasting opinion of someone new within seven seconds of meeting them, further research indicates that this opinion starts to form within a tenth of a second. The point being, we judge what we view very quickly.
How you present your book will have an effect upon an audience, yes, the ratings will also help, but there are many other books available with five star ratings and great looking covers, so to compete effectively you should ensure that your book’s cover also looks professional and fitting for your chosen genre.
Along with a professional book cover design you should ensure that the title, subtitle, and blurb also hook your reader into wanting to know more about the book. A great title combined with an appealing subtitle will intrigue the reader, these two elements are important in selling the book and should be considered thoroughly before deciding upon. The same goes for the blurb, it has the job of further selling the book (now that they have it in their hands), you can learn more in our article on writing a great blurb.
Remember, we judge so much on first impressions, your book will be no different, so in an age of massive choice, give your book the advantage it deserves.
If you are trying to get your book published through the more traditional means of an established publishing house, you may find it incredibly hard to get it read by an editor if you’re ‘going it alone’. Most publishers rely upon literary agents bringing them manuscripts, these agents will have developed relationships within the publishing world, have specialized within just several specific genres, have their fingers on the pulse of current trends and understand how to best shape a book for an audience.
So, finding and working with a literary agent will give you a massive advantage when publishing your book, it will help in giving a clear path to not only polishing your work to its most professional version, but also with opening doors to the relevant parties who can make it a success.
Understanding you need an agent is one thing, getting one (a good one that is) is another.
The good news is that agents do in fact need authors, without authors they wouldn’t have a job of course, however, most agents get inundated with emails, letters and manuscripts from hundreds of authors every day, so you have a lot of competition even in getting an agent to represent you.
But first, you need to find an agent
You may or may not already know people within the publishing world, so you might want to ask those you do know if they have any contacts or recommendations. However, if you don’t get any luck here, don’t worry, there are other ways to find agents.
Firstly, you could try several publications which are more dedicated towards the publishing industry, books such as Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents, Writer’s Market and/or Guide to Literary Agents both by Robert Lee Brewer are certainly good places to start.
There are also many websites which will give you the details of agents, sites such http://aaronline.org/, https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ and also https://agentquery.com/default.aspx are three sites which have used by many authors and are certainly worth taking a look at.
Many agents also attend book and literary festivals along with writer’s conferences, these are great environments for authors and are well worth going to (even if you’re not looking for an agent), however, it should give the chance to meet with an agent or listen to a talk given by one, this information is invaluable.
You can also look in books which are in your own genre, many will have details within their acknowledgements section, some will list their agents.
Social media is another way to find agents, it can also help give an understanding of their personalities and which would fit your style of writing best.
Once you have a list of agents who are relevant to your genre, you need to start reaching out to them.
But first things first, before you reach out to anyone, your book has to be finished and highly polished, if you send a manuscript (or chapters of one) which are incomplete, in need of editing and full of typos, your chance of success will be zero.
So, before you do anything, get your book edited, proofread, and refined to its absolute best.
Check each agent you plan to contact to ensure that you are doing so via their preferred method, for example, if they only except applications by email, don’t then send a 500 page manuscript printed on letter sized paper through the mail.
You should then send a query letter, this needs to be professional and be a one page pitch for you and your book, you’ll also need to include a synopsis for your novel which should be no more than one or two pages in length. For non-fiction, these synopses are a little more in-depth and should be more substantial in length.
You should also include a chapter of your book, for fiction it is recommended that you send the first chapter, with nonfiction you can send any.
Please remember that most agents will not accept a full manuscript being sent to them at first, send a query letter with samples, when in doubt, always refer to the agent’s own submission guidelines.
Be prepared for rejection, the best authors in the world have had to deal with this, it is normal, however, if you have sent out hundreds of applications/query letters and you’re still not getting anything back, you may want to go to your editor (or a new one) and get it reevaluated for any additional revisions it may need.
For many authors the current pandemic does nothing to help with creativity, when faced with a stressful situation the mind tends to concentrate on the more pressing issue, so for those who write as well as hold down a full or part time job, it’s understandable that your attention is preoccupied.
So many in our communities have been affected by social distancing and restrictions designed to keep us all safe , we stay within our house, for some of us we work from home, many are waiting for their employers to open back up again, and for some, the frustration of claiming benefit and trying to focus on an uncertain future is all that can be thought of.
However, we still need to give our minds the breaks they deserve, focusing 100% of your time on events that are far from your control will not help your mental health, investing time into something creative is not only a way to use the additional hours you may have, it is a break, a chance to become absorbed in something other than fear and the unknown.
When you apply yourself into something creative, when you truly focus on something which requires the beauty and might of your imagination, you open a door into world where you can focus on something else (even if for a short time).
And we need this relief, a distraction to create and for the briefest of moments let go of the continued news updates, social media rumors and misinformation.
Now is the time to be creative, to start that book you always knew you had inside or finish the one that’s remained saved on your PC for the past two years, it’s time to start painting, to draw, to sculpt, to sing and even dance, whatever your creative preference is, now is the time to embrace it.
For the majority of us the new ‘norm’ is one very different from a month or two ago, most towns, cities and countries are on lock down, those of us who can work from home are doing so, many brave essential workers are risking their health to keep us going and for others, their jobs are either gone or on hold.
This can be considered a scary time, and rightly so.
But whether we like it or not, this is the state of things and we have to adapt under the stressful circumstances. There is help out there and for many people assistance from government is on the way, systems are certainly feeling the pressure (and moving slower than ever before), but our support systems do (and are trying) to help us all.
The main message that we hear time and time again is to stay home and stay safe, quarantining can lose its charm quickly, but it is essential and most of us understand this. However, as hard as it might seem, we have to look for the opportunity for us all in these circumstances, and the one thing that being in quarantine does afford us is time.
Time, whether we are spending it actually talking to the loved ones we’re living with, or using Skype to talk to those who are geographically distant. We have time to read, to listen, to learn something new and to create, we can write, paint, draw, sing, dance and put all of our passions into something which becomes the focus of our fears, frustrations, hopes and dreams.
We now have time to reflect on who we are as individuals, who we are as creatives and who we are to those around us.
This current situation will pass, but we should also use it as an opportunity to come out the other side as better people.
What will you do with the time that you now have?
Now that you have published your book, you may be looking for other ways to market it to a larger audience, this is where many authors have turned to publishing in audio as well as print (and eBook), and the majority of these authors didn’t read/record it either.
It’s worth considering an audio version of your book, more people are subscribing to the likes of Amazon’s Audible and the process itself is a great deal easier than you may have imagined. If you decide to release an audio version, there are two main options you will consider in preparing your book for its audio release.
One – Doing it yourself
Ensure you have a quiet and sound adequate space to record in, you may need to choose your room carefully and set up so that you don’t get poor audio and background noise. You’ll also need a good quality microphone along with the software to be able to record and also edit your sound files.
Other elements you’ll need to keep in mind will be:
Recording your own book by yourself can be done, but, there is a lot to take on board, in many cases (unless you have some sort of experience in recording) it can be a great deal easier to get others involved, it will lead to an easier process and a professional finish.
Two – Getting help from professionals
If you have used KDP to publish your book (and so many authors already have) then using Amazon’s ACX program is the logical step in converting your book into audio.
Here you can get everything you’ll need to have a professional audio book created and then distributed through Audible, Amazon and even iTunes.
The process is broken down into eight steps:
Once your audio book is live and ready to be purchased, you’ll then start with the more familiar role of self-promotion and advertising.
There are of course option services out there who can record your book and distribute it, but ACX is a good option to consider and they really do try to make the process as user friendly as possible.
Currently many people are having to work from home, their places of work doing the right thing (and where possible) ensuring that their team can still be productive, but from a distance. For many authors this may feel like an extension of how you would set your home up for writing, it’s just that now most of us are quarantined and making your home/work life work is vital (if you want to stay productive).
So, what should you consider when spending more time at home and either working or writing your book? Here is our list of what will help any author have a more productive time while working from home.
One – Find a space.
Trying to work in your living room from your sofa sounds great to many, but the reality is that it really doesn’t work, you have more distractions and the temptation to just relax is overwhelming (after all, a living room is normally set up for doing anything but work).
Now, not everyone will be lucky enough to have a home office in their house, so you may have to be creative in choosing a location to work in, if you have a spare bedroom (and a desk with chair) then this could become your work space, if not, then you could use your kitchen table (so many of today’s big business originally started from a kitchen table, so if this is your option, you’re in good company).
Basically you need an area which is as free from distractions as possible, a table to place your pens, paper, tablet or laptop on to and a decent chair which you can sit in for a longer period of time with out getting back ache.
Two – Mindset
If you’ve never worked from home before then you’ll have a clear boundary between your place of work and your house, this can be a good thing, as your home is a place to relax and take a break from the business world, however, now that you are working from home, you need to shift that mindset slightly.
Having a clearly defined area to work in really helps with this, as once you are in that area, technically you’re at ‘work’, but not only this, you should approach the whole situation as if you were in your normal work place, you may not be wearing your usual work clothes, but you should approach it with the same professional attitude.
Three – Scheduling
Working from home requires some structure, without your boss looming over your shoulder the temptation is to work when you feel like it, this may work for some, but it really isn’t the most productive way of planning your day. Having a schedule where you can plan how and when you will spend your working hours is really useful to ensure you get the most out of your day (and also means you’re not working until midnight either).
You can download apps and software which will easily allow you to plan out your day, week and month, but if you don’t want to buy/use new software, you can always set up a planner in either Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers.
When you plan your day you should list the tasks that have to be completed that day and check them off as you complete, this is good in two ways, firstly it ensures that you don’t miss anything important and secondly it helps you when reflecting upon the day that you have actually been productive (when working alone it’s good to feel a sense of achievement, even if it’s from yourself).
Four – Distractions
Distractions are far more prevalent when working from home, social media is only a click away and it is easy to get sucked into watching an hours worth of nonsense on YouTube, so you have to be strict with yourself, switch off all social media and only check a couple of times during your working day. Now this may be a little harder for some, if you use social media for your business then you may have to go on to check and update, but be realistic in your usage.
Five – Breaks
The flip side from working from home is that you tend to find yourself working more hours, you can also miss out on taking a lunch break and instead eat while working. It’s really important that you take the time and schedule a break within your new working day, get up and away from your desk (or kitchen table) and step outside for a moment, of course keep your distance from others, but spending five minutes in the fresh air (even if it is just outside your front door) is really good for clearing the mind.
Try to eat away from your desk and make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Six – Communication
Working remotely will still mean that you have meetings with colleagues, it’s just now they’ll all be conducted online. There are many different applications that can be used for this and your company may have its own preferred application that it will want you to use, the same goes for your email and messengers. So, it may sound obvious, but, making sure these are set up upon your device correctly before you start work will lead to a smoother day (realizing five minutes before an important meeting that your laptop needs to be configured for it to work is not great). Also, for meetings, make sure you are dressed the part and not in a dressing gown.
Seven – End of Day
Once you have completed your work for the day, make sure you close the door on your work space or clear everything off of your kitchen table, it’s good to still have some boundaries between work and home, it helps you to unwind from the day’s work and ensures you can sleep well (so you can still be productive for the following day).
Book cover designers.
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