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).
Social media (like fashion) changes with time, most of us have a Facebook account followed by a Twitter feed, but the switch to predominantly using Instagram happened a while ago, so if you’re not already on this platform too, you could be missing out.
The great thing with Instagram is that it’s very visual, it’s easy to use and very focused towards using with your cellphone, so no matter when and where you are, there’s normally an opportunity to connect with your followers/readers.
So, first thing’s first, if you don’t yet have an account, now is the time to set one up, you can sign up at https://www.instagram.com/ make sure you select a professional looking (and relevant) profile image, also take the time to write a short bio for your profile. If you download the app from either the Google Play or Apple Store, you’ll be able to sign up via the app too.
One – Adding content
Instagram is focused more towards mobile use, so adding images is incredible easy using their app which allows you to take photos from your phone, add filters and then upload. However, if you want to add content that you make on your computer you’ll need to ensure that the size is correct (you don’t want to add a huge panoramic only for it to be hard to view once uploaded.
If you go larger than their recommended sizes Instagram will compress the image, this can make the post look a little blocky in comparison to the original image, so try to stick within their guidelines for the best results.
You can add content to your Instagram page through your PC, but it will normally require the use of a third party app to do so, you could also save the post to any cloud storage and access from you phone to post, or send it directly to your phone to post.
Two – Using Hashtags
When I first started with Instagram I was posting some great content but never using hashtags, the result, no one saw my posts. Hashtags help people (who aren’t following you) find your content, of course they need to be specific to what you’ve posted and more than just one or two of them, however, don’t get carried away, if you use more than thirty you’ll find that the caption for the image gets removed.
Three – Self Promotion?
The golden rule is in not over promoting your book, if your feed is just one long advert then people won’t engage, you should aim to have just 20% of your posts being ads and the other 80% being non advertising. Think of what you like to view when browsing Instagram (or which ever social media site you prefer), is it just the advertising you look at? No, we all quickly scroll through this, your viewers will be just the same.
Four – Engagement
Social media is, well… about being social (the key is kind of in the name), so engage with people, comment on others posts and reply when people comment on yours.
Five – Look for moments to share
There will be millions of opportunities for you to share posts with your followers, now this doesn’t have to be every single meal you eat from now on (please, if you’re not a food writer, don’t share meals, we all eat, we get it). But, if you wander into your local Barnes & Noble and they have your book on display, take a photo and shout about it. Or you may have just completed chapter one of your next novel, an image of you with a big smile sat at your laptop would be great too.
Be creative and have fun, as long as it’s not a stream of constant adverts you’ll have a better chance of connecting with others.
Six – Keep Posting
Try to post something every day if you can, this will keep your feed in the mind of your followers and indicate to Instagram that the account is being actively used.
Also think about when you should post, now this will be different for each author, if your audience is made up of adults in their 30’s (for example) then you might want to post from 7pm onwards when they’re back from work. However, if your audience is mainly teens, then posting earlier when they’re back from school would be better.
If you’re not sure when you should post, look at other authors who publish in the same genre and to the same demographic, you can always copy when they post.
Seven – Ask some questions
An easy way to engage with your followers is to ask them something, what are they reading? What’s the best book or worst book they’ve ever read? What are they planning to read next? The list of questions you can ask is endless, just be creative and engage when your readers respond.
Eight – Advertising
You can pay to advertise your posts which can really help in targeting specific readers, just remember that if you are setting up an ad campaign it will be done through Facebook’s Ad Manager, this will allow you to get very specific with your targeting and also your budget, you can set daily budgets and specify the timeframe for the ad to run.
Nine – Give stuff away
Offering a free copy of your book (especially if it’s signed) is a great way to get followers to like your post and engage with you, you can also offer other prizes to increase the interaction with people who may not currently be following you. There are authors who give away copies of their own books with copies of a famous author’s book too, this way they have a better chance of gaining the attention of the other audience too.
Ten – Test and Monitor your posts
Try different approaches and offers with your posts, with some trial and error you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure that your content looks great, it’s interesting and that it’s not all advertising.
It’s no secret that Amazon is most author’s ‘go-to’ when it come to a platform to sell their books, its reach is massive, and it’s trusted by millions of us for our online shopping, so once your book is published and ready for sale on their platform, is there anything else that we can do to increase sales?
Well this is where their own Advertising comes in, you can place ads upon their site to promote your own book, depending upon your budget, you can now give your book a boost and reach more readers that simply uploading and hoping for the best.
One – Check eligibility
You will need to ensure that your book meets their requirements for advertising, they have two policies to consider:
Most of it is obvious, but it is still worth taking the time to go through before you proceed.
Two – Getting your page ready
When customers click on your ad they’ll be taken through to a product detail page, here you will need to check to ensure that you have enough detail and that everything is correct too. You should consider a descriptive title along with precise details, use a professional book cover image and ensure that any quotes or claims can be supported.
Three – Creating an Advertising account
First, you’ll need to go to your Amazon Bookshelf and then select the book that you’d like to promote, you’ll see a button on the right which say’s ‘Promote and Advertise’ click on this.
On the next page you’ll see the option for ‘Run an Ad Campaign’, there’s a drop down menu which will allow you to select your chosen country to advertise in, once selected you can continue by clicking on ‘Create an ad campaign’
Four – Choosing your ad type
There are two options here, Sponsored products and Lockscreen Ads,
With Sponsored Products you’ll be able to advertise your eBook and paperback, these are targeted through keywords and will appear with search results on desktops and mobile devices, Amazon currently recommend this as the best way in getting started with advertising with them.
With Lockscreen Ads you can only advertise your eBook, these ads appear on Kindle e-reader devices and Fire Tablet lockscreens, they are very specific in their targeting but again, are limited to those devices and eBook titles.
Five – Creating your ad
If you select Sponsored Products you’ll go through to the next page where you’ll set up your campaign, the complete set up guide for this can be found on Amazon’s site at help page.
Here you’ll set up a campaign name, organize a portfolio for your campaigns, set a daily budget for your advertising, set start and end dates and also specify your target keywords.
With the ad format, you can chose to launch a campaign with or without custom copy, custom copy is worth taking the time to create, but please note, at the time of writing, this is only available though the .com version of their website.
Once you have selected the books you want to advertise, you’ll move on to entering keywords and bidding. Bidding is where Amazon run auctions to determine which ads they’ll show, ones which are selected have to meet Amazon’s minimum criteria, you can view the video below which gives details of bids and advertising.
There is also more info on the strategies and set of bidding at their bidding set up help page.
Six – Previewing your ad
Once everything has been set up, you’ll be able to review and check that everything is how you want it, take your time and ensure that you’re happy with everything before submitting.
Seven – Submitting your ad
Once submitted, your ad will be checked by Amazon with 72 hours, they will check to ensure that the ad meets their requirements. So, before you submit, make sure you check for grammatical errors, that any claims you make about the book are true and that any images you use are appropriate and not offensive to any audience.
Whether you hate it or love it, Twitter is still an influential platform that can be used to tell the world about your new (or existing) book, but if you don’t use it that often or don’t even have an account yet, what should you be doing when it comes to this specific social media channel (if you want it to help in self-promotion as an author).
The likelihood is that if you’re reading this, you are serious about promoting your book and reaching out to a larger audience, so along with other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, Twitter is still a good channel to connect with others.
So, what is the best way of using Twitter and are there things you could be doing right now to make it work better for you? Here are our top eleven tips on getting the most out of it for you as an author.
One – What’s in a name?
This may be a little obvious, but, if you haven’t yet created a Twitter account, make sure you chose a name which is relevant to you and your chosen genre. For example, If you’re an author of historical novels and yet your Twitter handle is @fluffybunny1, you may find that people will make assumptions about your credibility when looking at your page.
If you have an existing and personal Twitter account, you may want to consider opening a new one specifically for you as an author, this will then allow you to align yourself more closely to the genre.
Two – Profile Image
People will make assumptions based upon what they see, so your profile image needs to do you justice, as an author it is better to use a professional photograph of yourself, a good head-shot will give the impression of professionalism from the get-go.
If you don’t want to use a head-shot, do instead use a high-res image of an element that’s tied into your book, it could be a logo or a graphic which is important to the series. But please don’t simply stick with the default image of the egg, you tend to see this used on many fake accounts.
Three – Banner Image
Like the profile image, the banner you choose to represent you & your work is important, it should be professional, relevant and clearly showcase your book/s. Obviously we would recommend that you have one designed which includes images of your work along with copy which promotes, but if you don’t want to do this, at least use an image which (again) is relevant and looks professional.
Four – Bio
Your bio should not be something that you throw together quickly, it’s one of the first things that visitors to your profile will read, so it should let them know what to expect from you. Admittedly, you do only have the space for 160 characters, but this doesn’t mean you should waste them, a well-constructed bio along with your profile and banner images should highlight your professionalism as an author.
Five – Followers
One of the most frustrating things of starting a new account will be the lack of followers, this may lead to the temptation in seeking robot followers, these are still a thing (although Twitter is always clamping down on them), but it is easy to gain followers with them and for a fee. The simple answer is….. Don’t, they are fake, they’ll never retweet anything you post and they will make your account look shady.
Gaining real followers takes time, it takes some effort and it will require you connecting with others, but then that’s what social media is there for, to connect with other people. So, take your time, engage with others, like, retweet and comment, and above all, have fun, before you know it your followers will start to grow, and best of all, they’ll be genuine.
Six – Follow others
Find other influential people within your genre and follow them, you’ll find that lots of people will follow you back, but you will also see how they interact with their own followers (which can be really useful).
Seven – Saying thanks
If people retweet content from your page, make sure your say thanks and tag them in the post using their Twitter handle, this may seem like a little be of work, but it really helps to grow relationships and your presence upon the channel.
Eight – Self Promotion
Now the main reason that most professionals use Twitter is to sell something, however, if your page is simply one continuous advert, people will switch off, think of watching a show on TV, you’ll sit through the ads, but they’re not the reason your watching, and if it was 30 mins of pure ads, wouldn’t you just change channels?
So, be sparing with your adverts, post content that you would want to read yourself along with a couple of ads.
Nine – Hashtags
Adding great content to your channel is important, but you want it to be found, and one of the best ways of doing this is in using Hashtags. So if you have written a post about self-publishing, you simply add the tag #selfpublishing to the post, this way anyone looking for posts on self-publishing will have a better chance of finding your post, just make sure you add several tags and keep them specific to your audience.
Ten – Lists
Creating a list in Twitter is a great way of staying connected to other users without having to follow them, you can bunch people together and go back to them when you need to, you’ll also find that most people love being added to one of these too.
Eleven – Use it
The main thing with Twitter (and any other social media channel) is that you’ll get out of it what you put in, if you take the time and effort to connect with others, post content that you find interesting, retweet, like, engage and follow others too, you’ll have fun, make connections and build a platform that will help with your goals as an author.
When we want to buy a product these days we always look for reviews to see how others found it, and a book is no different, a great review can work wonders in helping the unsure reader make the decision to purchase your publication and not another.
Reviews themselves can and should be used in several locations too, when most people think of reviews for a book they think of its Amazon’s sales page, the gold stars and the comments left by people who have already bought the book. But there are other places to use your reviews and (most importantly) several different ways of getting reviews.
Let’s look at how you can get some reviews first.
One – Promote your eBook
Giving your eBook away for free as part of a promotion can be a great way to increase your downloads, the more people who get to read it will eventually lead to an increased chance of reviews. This can work incredibly well if you have a series of books, making the first in the series permanently free will not only help with obtaining reviews, it will also help in selling the other books in the series.
Two – Ask the reader
You will have noticed that in the back of most books you’ll see a call to action for the reader themselves, this is a polite request asking the reader to leave a review online of your book, this works incredibly well in eBooks, here the request gives a link to the book’s sales page, making it incredibly easy for the reader. But even with a printed book, you can still have a page which politely asks the reader to leave a review, it’s best to have this just after the final page of the book, once they’ve read ‘The End’ the next page asks for their review (include a picture of the book and make it stand out).
Three – Use your website & mailing list
Any serious author these days will have a website (if you don’t have one yet, it really is worth considering), your website is your platform to the world and gives you the opportunity to self-promote, inform and engage with your readers. Again, you may need to offer something for free (maybe a chapter of your latest book or even a complete book) in exchange for their email address. Once you build a mailing list you can send out news, promotions and even sneak previews of new books, just make sure you ask for a review in return.
Four – Beta Test your book
Opting for a ‘soft-launch’ where you only promote the book to a select few is more common than you may realize, the purpose of this is to fine tune the book and get feed-back, some of this feed-back may then be usable for a quote, but it’s really important that you get honest feed-back that you can then act on, the most successful films do this with test audiences and you should do the same with test readers.
These test readers could be part of online authors groups (such as Goodreads), they could be readers who you engage with through your author social media channels or they could be people who are part of your mailing list. This process can take several months to complete, so you should be patient, but it really is worth taking the time to complete, it can really help with the editing, proofing and promotion of your book and really doesn’t cost much to do.
Five – Give your book to people of influence
This could be as simple as sending out free copies to book bloggers in return for a review/quote, you may send a copy to someone you admire and has relevance to your subject and genre. The key is in doing some research, if you are going to send your book to a prominent Blog writer or Vlogger, make sure that they actually review books that are in your own chosen genre.
Six – Use Social Media
Engaging with your audience via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other channels is a great way to self-promote and also get to know those who read your work, the main thing to always keep in mind is that it should not just be about promotion, you do need to have a conversation/interaction with your followers, it should be fun and engaging.
When done correctly, social media is a great platform to ask for reviews and promote free (or discounted) books, but again, just don’t go overboard with non-stop adverts.
Seven – Using paid services?
Yes, you can buy reviews and there are plenty of people on freelance and independent sites who are more than happy to write one for you. But, you do have to consider the ethics and feedback of what you may be about to buy, some services will simply put your book in front of readers who are happy to leave reviews, this is a little better, but if you have a review which when quoted shows where it came from, then your reader may not trust its validity. Given the choice, it may be better to look for more organic reviews first.
Once you have some reviews, where do you place them?
One – Your book cover
A great review is always worth placing upon the cover design of your book, for most books the quote/s are place upon the back page, normally above the main blurb, this is so that the reader is hit with it prior to reading anything else. Depending upon the design and available spacing, you may also want to consider placing a small quote upon the front page too, this works really well if it’s relatively small and of course punchy/positive (remember, it is a sales tool for your book).
Two – Your Book’s Sales Page
When you upload your book to Amazon, it will allow you to add a detailed description about the book itself, in a lot of cases this is where an author will simply copy and paste their book’s blurb. It is of course worth taking your time with this page as this does become a sales tool for your book and should be approached with some serious thought, but along with the description you can of course add a quote, adding this just above the description of the book will add some gravitas to your page and help in the book’s promotion.
Three – Your social media
A quote will also look great when placed upon the social media banners for your author’s profile pages, you’ll normally have a banner which has artwork and your book on, you should consider adding a quote to it too, just don’t over-crowd the banner.
Four – Your Website
You should definitely have your quotes placed throughout your website, make sure that they stand out as quotes and have them upon all of the relevant pages, in most cases the quote will be in a different style font or placed within a quotation box, the website should also give you more room to publish multiple quotes.
Five – In Print
If you are making any promotional materials such as posters, business cards, bookmarks, flyers, t-shirts and other give-a-ways, make sure you include a good quote within the designs, again, this is another great opportunity to sell your book, so use it.
For most authors the dream is to hit it big and spend your days as a full-time writer, so, if you have written and published a book, you’ve certainly made a start towards realizing that dream. But there are other ways to make an income through writing (although you’ll still want to keep working on your next book, I’m sure).
There are plenty of places where you can sell your work and at the same time grow your skills (along with your writing portfolio), here are four areas where you should also be considering if you want to become a full-time writer.
1 – Start a Blog
Now, just like the get-rich-quick articles that I’m sure you may have read, the ones that boldly state ‘Become an overnight millionaire by writing an eBook’ or ‘make $$$$ with your own website’, just writing a blog and sitting back to let the money come rolling in simply doesn’t work. You have to put effort in, and it can certainly be a slow burner, but does this mean that you shouldn’t consider a blog? No, having a blog gives a writer a great platform to highlight/advertise your talents, you will need to self-promote through social media, on-line advertising and even word of mouth, but with time you can grow your visitors. It’s at this point that you can integrate your blog with Google Adsense or use programs such as Clickbank to market products & services which you’ll earn a commission from.
2 – Are you an expert?
There are countless online magazines (both large and small) that publish many new articles each and every day, these magazines are always on the look out for experts who can share their knowledge within a certain area. So, if you have specific skills in one or two areas (or even more), look for the magazines that serve that interest and write to them. If the area of your interest is very niche, then that’s great, with most of the mainstream bases already being covered (over and over again), it makes it a little easier to stand out in a field where there are currently less knowledgeable writers.
3 – Write for other people’s/business’s blogs and websites
If you run a website you’ll already know that content is king, having a site which offers quality content (relating to your area of interest/business) is so important to ensure that SEO is being taken care of and that you offer information of value to your readers. However, for many small businesses this is another job on an already long list of things which need to be completed, so, lots of businesses out-source their blog writing, social media and content creation for their site. This of course is great news for you, even if you’re not an ‘expert’ within their specific field, you just need to be able to do some in-depth research (using multiple references).
4 – Freelance on gig sites
With the phrase ‘side-hustle’ being so widely used and understood, we now live in an age where people juggle multiple ways of creating income for themselves and their families, there are many Freelancer websites where you can advertise your services as a writer and make money. There is a lot to this subject and to find out even more, you may want to check out this great article on being a Freelancer https://www.websiteplanet.com/blog/ultimate-guide-to-being-a-freelancer/
You can certainly make money through writing (and not just with a book), many writers have great careers (and in an areas which they are truly passionate about), but it does take work and effort, the more effort that you can put in to your career in writing, the more you'll get back out again.
When you open up any book, you’ll notice that a couple of pages in will normally be the copyright page, now, most of us will completely overlook this and go straight to the table of contents, introduction or chapter one, but as a writer this is something that you should be familiar with and definitely have within your own book.
So, what goes into this page and what details should go there?
Well for most books there are standard details which you should include, this can differ between non-fiction and fiction (and again with memoirs too), but you should give some thought to and ensure you have the details ready when preparing your manuscript for publication.
Here are some of the standard elements
that you should consider:
One – Copyright
The first line of detail normally is quite simply letting your reader know that you have the copyright to the book, this normally reads quite simply as:
Copyright © Your Name Here, 2020
It shows the word ‘Copyright’ the copyright symbol, your name and then the year of publication.
Two – All Rights Reserved
This part of the page indicates that the copyright holder reserves all rights to reproduce the book or elements within the book. You can simply place the words ‘All rights reserved’ or expand upon it, as below:
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form either by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
Three – Disclaimer
This element is proving popular with most authors and again, is something you should also consider, here are some basic examples, but we would recommend seeking legal advice before you add yours to your book:
For fiction books, the disclaimer looks similar to the following: This is a work of fiction. Characters, Names, incidents and locations are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is completely coincidental.
For Non-fiction books the disclaimer looks similar to the following: The publisher and author are providing this book and its contents on an “as is” basis and make no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to this book or its contents. The publisher and the author disclaim all such representations and warranties. In addition, the publisher and the author assume no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any other inconsistencies herein.
Again, we would advise seeking further legal advice regarding your disclaimer, for example, a disclaimer for a book on new age thinking will be very different from that used in a book about fitness and diets.
Four – Edition
Here you should state which edition this specific copy of the book is and the year of publication
Five – Credits
Here is where you acknowledge the people and services that helped to produce your book, you’ll also need to have certain copyright notices placed here too, these will be for any copyrighted images, artwork, illustrations, excerpts from other material and forewords etc.
Six – ISBN & LCCN
Your ISBN (International Standard Book Number) should be printed next followed by the LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) should you have a LCCN.
Seven – Publisher details
Here is where you’ll add the details of who published your book, if your self-publishing (even if you’re using KDP or Ingram Spark) this will be your details, please note that you don’t necessarily have to place your address here if you don’t want to.
Eight – Website and contact details
At the very bottom of the notice you should use the space for your author website and contact email (it’s worth keeping social media addresses to your bio and not on the copyright page).
So putting it all together, here is an example
of how a copyright page can look:
Copyright © John Smith, 2020
This is a work of fiction. Characters, Names, incidents and locations are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is completely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form either by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
First Paperback Edition Feb 2020
Book Design by JD&J Design
Foreword by Jennifer Roberts
ISBN: 978-1-1234-5678-9 (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-9876-4321-9 (eBook)
Library of Congress Control Number: 00000000000
Published by JD&J Publishing,
123 Book Street,
Novel Town, FL 32100
The way in which we both read and write books has changed so much over the past 25 years, for those who write, the landscape has shifted and the tools now available for you to be able to create is growing very quickly. This is not to say that writers don’t use pen and paper and there may be some who still use a typewriter, but on the whole, we have adapted to new technology and embraced the new options it has given us.
And this leads on to our obsession with cell phones, we have them with us at all times and use them for more and more tasks, so why not use them to help with your writing and publishing?
Now we know that most of you won’t want to try and write a 90,000 word book upon your phone, I’m sure after an hour of typing, your hands would cramp up and you’ll wonder why you ever started! But there are apps out there (many of which are free) that you can download and use to help with your journey as an author.
Here are ten apps that you might find useful:
This App allows you to capture and write ideas down wherever you are, the app has been designed to be simple and easy to use without the fuss of standard word-processing software (which doesn’t always transfer that well to a cell phone).
This app is a story and idea generator created to help you focus towards your next book/short story, it uses a wheel which gives three random ideas for you to think about with your writing, these individual ideas have been carefully chosen to challenge creatively and get the best from each writer.
Is a free app for Apple users (both phone, tablet and even watch), it gives you options to put your saved documents in to categories, it gives details on word counts and even the time you’ve spent writing, it allows you to create small documents and up to novel sized works.
Completely free and currently without ads too, it gives you the tools to plot, outline and organize your story, you can schedule goals with dates for when a specific word count is due. It will allow you to back up to Google drive and also create templates for you to use.
This is a plain text editor which keeps things very simple (as you’re using a smaller device to write with), again, this app can sync to your cloud storage (such as Google drive, Dropbox and OneDrive) keeping everything backed up for you. They offer a free version, but the paid app gives more for the author.
This great app will temporarily block everything on your phone, so if you are easily distracted when trying to write, this is a must.
White Noise Generator
With this app you can slip on your headphones and let the noise of the outside world slip away as you write, you can mix their chosen sounds to your own preference, choosing from the sound of rain, wind, ocean, night, forest and many others.
The leading free English dictionary for Android, this app also offers a thesaurus and you can search for words using your voice, they offer a paid version which will give advice and tips on grammar, a rhyming dictionary, idioms, phrases and more.
This works throughout your cellphone/tablet and ensures what you’re writing looks great, it also works with swipe typing (if you use this), it’s used by millions of people and integrates smoothly with your other apps.
If you’re struggling with writer’s block, this app could be for you, Calm offers guided meditation sessions for countless situations, it gets you to relax and leave stress behind, they have a free version of the app, but of course you will get more services for the paid one.
The beginning of a new year always makes us think of resolutions and goals for the next twelve months, for many this will involve diets and maybe the search for a new job, but for an author (or those who want to become authors) it fills us with the inspiration that this should be the year of publication.
They say that we all have a book within us, so what’s stopping you from completing yours?
But the key in starting any resolution or goal is in keeping the momentum and making it past a very enthusiastic first week, as with those who take up a new form of exercise, the first couple of weeks is full on, then you tire, lose interest and go back to sitting on the sofa watching TV.
So, trying to complete your book in a month (unless you absolutely have to) is not always the best idea, overburdening yourself when you may well have a full-time job or others to take care of is a fast track to failure. And this is important to remember when you have other priorities, if you can’t write full time, don’t try to.
This is all about setting realistic goals for yourself, there is a great method of goal setting with the acronym of SMART it stands for Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic and Timed, this standard of goal setting is used within the business world and is done so for a reason….. It works!
But how would a SMART goal look for an author? Below we have a great example that you might want to consider for yourself.
This is what you want to complete, for most authors it will be the obvious of wanting to write a book and then have it published (either through traditional means or by yourself and print on demand). Set your Specific along the lines of ‘I want to publish a book on ………….’.
This is how you’ll acknowledge if you’ve completed the goal or not, your measurement here will be a target of having a book of no less than 60,000 words (or however many words you want as a minimum), having this book edited, formatted, proofed, a book cover designed, advertising created and published. This section should be of elements that you either complete to achieve your goal or don’t to miss it, setting tangible measurements puts things into black & white, you either complete them or you do not, making it very clear on what needs to be done.
Having a goal which is achievable is so important, there is nothing worse than setting an unsustainable target, if you overburden yourself you will burnout and your goal will not be achieved. So be realistic, if you can manage to write for just 30 mins per day then commit to that (or to a time frame to honestly suits YOU), it may take a little longer to write your book but you will get there.
This is similar to the Achievable target, you should look at the goal your setting and honestly ask yourself if it achievable for YOU, yes you should definitely push yourself and be optimistic, but if you set a target of writing eight books in one year that will all make the New York Times Best Sellers list you may be setting yourself up to fail, so set clear goals that (with focus and work) you have a chance of achieving.
Set yourself a deadline for your book, you don’t have to tell anyone else (although if you do it will increase your chance of completing it), but set a specific date when your book will be complete, now you may set this date for when the draft is ready and this is fine, just set a date and then stick to it.
Setting SMART objectives do work, we use them ourselves and have done for many years, so why not give them a go and let us know what your goals for 2020 will be.
Following on from last week’s post on publishing eBooks, this week we continue with the spotlight on the more traditional printed book. Here we have a list of five of the most popular self-publishing services that offer indie authors a route to publication in paperback (and in some cases hardback too).
One - KDP
KDP – Top of the list in terms of popularity, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to sell both your eBook and paperback to Amazon, if you select their Expanded distribution then it opens your book up to other distributers and makes it available to buy in many other locations (although, many bookstores tend to purchase books from other locations to KDP’s higher margins for them). KDP is free to use and offers royalties of up to 70%, they offer their own free ISBN for books, but you should really consider buying your own (if you want to be taken seriously within by the publishing industry).
Two - Ingram Spark
Ingram Spark – The second most popular self-publishing service that we design for, they offer more in the way of printed options for authors, along with paperback they offer hardback (dustjacket) and hardback case laminate. From a production aspect their books always great once printed and tend to have a higher quality feel to them (in comparison to some other self-publishing services). Ingram is the largest book distribution company and one of the largest self-publishing services within the US, so you should give them a look, they do have a small set up fee and you will need your own ISBN, but their quality and distribution make them a great choice.
Three - Lulu
Lulu – Another big name within the self-publishing world, they offer a great many services to help the indie author along with self-help guides that are worth looking at (even if you don’t print with them). They don’t offer the range of trim sizes that both KDP and Ingram offer, but they cover the most popular sizes (which is great for the majority of authors). Their service is free to use and their distribution is global, distributing through Amazon, B&N, Lulu and retailers through the Ingram Spark channels.
Four - Blurb
Blurb – Offering self-publication in traditional printed trade books, eBooks, magazines and even photo books, Blurb offers printed options for paperback, dustjacket and case laminate. Their distribution is through their own Blurb bookstore along with selling your book on Amazon and in over 39,000 stores using Ingram Spark’s distribution channels too.
Five - BookBaby
Bookbaby – Along with eBook publication BookBaby publishes printed books too, they also offer lots in the way of advice and resources for authors. Their publication services for print currently break down into two print on demand options, the first is $299 and makes your book available through Amazon, Powell’s Books, Books-A-Million, B&N, Ingram Spark’s distribution channels along with many other distributors giving your book lots of options to be purchased. Their other option (currently $99) places the focus more on their own bookstore, it still comes with great control and their royalties are at 50% of your retail price.
There are of course many other services out there, but we wanted to bring a list of the top five publishing companies we use and design for when creating a book for an author, it has to be said that the most popular service used by authors has always been KDP (formerly Createspace) and then Ingram Spark, both of these companies are ones that you should consider, but do take a look at the others, they still of great options for the indie author which will make your book available to as many readers as possible.
Book cover designers.