They say that in every person is a book, so if this is the case, why is it only some of us go on to write, edit and publish this book? How many laptops have folders with the beginnings of a manuscript in, always started with the very best of intentions, only to be slowly put on the shelf after a couple of months?
The thing is, we all have great intentions but when the effort becomes too much, so many stop being consistent and gradually stop, the result is a half-finished project/objective, further cementing a belief in our subconscious that somethings are just too difficult.
And the reality is that yes, somethings are hard, but once you make the progress toward your goal a habit, and stick religiously to that habit, irrespective of how challenging the goal may be, you have a far better chance of achieving it and being successful.
Now for me, this goal came with trying to increase fitness levels and get back in shape, so during lockdown I decided I would start running. Using a running machine at first, I would run (slowly) for five minutes, getting off the machine and thinking I was going to pass out afterwards. Each week I increased the length of time and distance and then began to road run alongside the treadmill. Now I compete in charity races, running 5Ks every other day and a 10k at the weekend.
My point being, that at first it was hard, I was sore, tired and could always think of an excuse not to go for a run, but over time I turned the running and exercise into my daily routine, it became a normal part of my day and just something I did without fail, I now look forward to it and keep pushing my goals further each week.
Forming a new habit takes about 30 days, so for that first month you have to dig deep and stick to your goal, for the running, it meant breaking down my exercise into something that was challenging but not unrealistic, if I could realistically exercise for 30 minutes per day, then I did that (ensuring that I took Sat and Sun off to recover). Again, every week I increased the challenge/target for myself, this ensured that I grew, didn’t injure myself and kept motivated.
But wait, what has running got to do with writing a book?
It’s comparable with regards to your goals, targets and plan on how to achieve them, no one starts of thinking ‘I have never run, so next weekend I’ll complete in a marathon’, and it’s just the same with a book, no one (who wants to write a well-crafted book that is) thinks I’ll knock out a 90k word book over the weekend and publish it to critical acclaim on Monday.
Breaking down your end goal into smaller steps has been shown time and time again to be a sure-fire way of being successful, and more importantly, a way of ensuring that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the goal ahead of you.
So, if you have a goal of writing a great book of 90,000 words or so, that is well edited and proofread, be realistic in your timeframe and how much time you will spend on it each week. Keeping in mind that everyone’s lifestyle is very different, and our commitments will dictate how much time we can spend writing. But we can all figure out a daily routine which will fit us as an individual, one that we can stick to, and which will ensure we hit our goal.
For the case of a 90,000 word book, it breaks down to writing 1,731 words per week for a year (or 248 words per day), for most people, this is very realistic and something you can make a routine out of, for others they may be able to achieve this with daily writing over a six month period, and for people with very heavy commitments, completing their target would need to be spread out of 18-24months instead.
Whichever way YOU do it, it should be personal to YOU alone, the main point to remember is that goals are achieved by taking one small step at a time.
So, keep taking those small steps, and change your routine to one which will take you to your goal.
One of the most popular print on demand services today is KDP, being part of Amazon it has a massive distribution and free to upload your book to, which is another reason why so many indie authors chose Kindle Direct Publishing.
However, a common question we get asked is, ‘how do I upload my book to KDP?’, well it’s easier than you may think (and if you’ve done it before, you’ll agree, however, if you haven’t yet uploaded your book, here’s a quick guide which you may find helpful.
First, go to KDP and create your own account, it’s free and doesn’t take long to get up and running.
Once you have an account, each time you log in you’ll arrive at the ‘Bookshelf’ page, here you can create your first book and it will also show you the titles of books which you have already published via KDP.
To create a book, click on the +Create yellow button.
The next page will ask what type of book you are creating, for this example we’ll look at a paperback, so click on the ‘Create Paperback’ button.
Now you’ll get to the part where you’ll enter some details about the book itself.
The first question it asks is about the language of the book, KDP supports 37 different languages for print and a further 7 for eBook alone, you can see the full list here.
Next it will ask for the title and subtitle of the book, KDP does have guidelines on what can and can’t be used for titles, so it is worth taking note prior to settling on a title.
The third option is for a series of books, you don’t have to have the series complete to select this, it can help with readers finding your book, so it you are publishing a series, this should be selected (you can see more on series with KDP here).
Scrolling further down the page and you’ll come to the edition number, so what is an edition number? KDP lists it as follows:
An edition is a particular version of a book. The edition number tells readers whether the book is an original version or an updated version. If this is the first time you have published this book, enter the numeral 1. If the book was previously published and the version you are publishing contains significant changes, enter the numeral 2 (and so on).
Next, you’ll enter the Author details (note, this cannot be changed once you have published the book)
Under the author is the box for contributors, this gives you options for adding editors, illustrators, forewords, and you can add to this (let people know who designed your book cover).
The Book Description box is well worth taking your time with, here you’ll add a description of the book that Amazon shoppers will read to learn more about it, so it needs to be captivating and focused on your potential reader.
KDP offer a guide on how to write a book description, it’s well worth checking out before your start, so if you need time, go to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘Save as Draft’ button, you can then come back and finish off once you are happy with your book’s description.
Here you have two options for your book, the first is that you own the copyright and hold the necessary publishing rights (as KDP put it: Choose this option if your book is under copyright and you hold the necessary rights for the content being published).
And the second is that your book is Public Domain work, (as KDP put it: Select this option if you are publishing a public domain book. Keep in mind that the duration of copyright varies between countries/regions. So, if your book is in the public domain in one country/region but not another, you must identify your territory rights accordingly.) You can find out more from KDP’s site here
Keywords are what will help readers find your book, there is so much information available and a quick search on YouTube or publishing forums will give you more detail than you’ll ever have time to look at, however, KDP have put together some information on this and their help page for keywords is worth a look before you enter any keywords
You can currently choose two categories for your book, again, this will help readers find your book, so take your time and select the most appropriate ones for your publication.
Here you will select whether your book is appropriate for people under or over the age of 18.
Once you have filled in all of these areas and are ready to move forward, click on the yellow ‘Save and Continue’ button at the bottom of the page.
Here you can either upload your own ISBN or use one of KDP’s free ISBNs, now there are pros and cons to using either, KDP have an article listing everything you may want to know here, so, take your time to decide prior to moving forward.
If you are publishing for the first time many authors will leave this blank, or if you are planning a future launch, you can select the date in this box, KDP have this to say about publication dates:
Your publication date is the date on which your book was first published. You cannot change it after publishing your title. If you leave this blank, KDP will automatically use the date on which your book goes live (i.e. it is available for sale) on Amazon.
Again, another important section for setting up your book, here you’ll let KDP know the size, paper choice and trim selection for your book.
Ink and Paper type - KDP books can be printed in black and white, standard color, or premium color. Standard Color offers a good balance across price and quality, but is not available in the Japan and Australia marketplaces. Premium color provides a more vibrant, crisp color. You can find out more about Paper Type here.
Trim Size – This is the size of the book once it’s been printed and cut to size.
Bleed Settings – This is an area (normally 0.125in) on the outer edges of the book which is trimmed off when the book is cut to size, these areas are not usually required for books which just have text alone, but where you have graphics/art/images which go to the edges of the page, you normally extend them so that when the book is cut, you don’t end up with white lines along the outer edges. You can find out more about bleeds here.
Paperback Cover Finish - here you can choose either matt or gloss for your book cover’s finish, both look great but there are traditional selections for each one, KDP give further details here.
Here you will upload your manuscript of the book, KDP give you several options for upload files, they do recommend you use a PDF, but you can also use DOC, DOCX, HTML or RTF, you can learn more about formatting your book from KDP’s Book Formatting Page.
Next, you’ll either upload your completed book cover or use KDP’s Cover Creator, obviously we are going to recommend you use a professionally made book cover design that has been sized for your book and will be unique for your title.
If your book cover already has a barcode, make sure you check the box to confirm this, if you are using the free ISBN that KDP issues, leave this box unchecked as KDP will add a barcode to the book cover for you.
Book Cover Preview
This is the last of the options on this page, click on the yellow Launch Previewer button and it will get ready to show you a digital preview of your book (this may take a moment or two).
This will now show you a copy of your book and allow you to go page by page through it, if there are any errors it will show you where they are, if you have any, you’ll need to adjust your book and then reupload. So, take your time and go through each page to fully ensure that you are happy prior to moving forward.
Once you are fully satisfied, you can click on the yellow Approve button (bottom right of screen).
This now takes you back to the Paperback Content page, where you can click on the yellow ‘Save and Continue’ button, again, in the bottom right of the screen.
Paperback Rights & Pricing page
Select where you have the rights to distribute your book, you can choose either worldwide or individual territories, you can find out more from KDP about Distribution Rights here
Select where you expect the majority of your book sales to be from.
Pricing, Royalty and Distribution
Here you’ll select the price of your book for where it’s being sold and the royalties you will get in return, KDP have two options for royalties of either 35% or 70%, KDP also have a useful guide on pricing that is worth taking a look at. It is also worth looking at what other books within your genre are doing with regards to price, getting that sweet spot for price can sometimes feel a little trial and error when first publishing, so do your research first.
Terms and Conditions
You confirm that you agree to them once you click on the publish your paperback book button
Request Printed Proofs
In the green bordered box, click on the Request printed proofs of this book link, this will allow you to order a copy of your book prior to publishing, this is worth doing so you can get the chance to read a printed version of the book prior to going live, it’s amazing how many additional edits to the manuscript you find when reading a printed version.
Once you are happy with everything, click on the yellow button ‘Publish your paperback book’.
This will take you back to the bookshelf page and let you know that your book is in review with KDP, this process normally takes around 72 hours (or less), KDP usually emails you to let you know once it’s live, but it’s worth logging back in and checking.
Sometimes you need a little help, and self-publishing a book is no different, yes it can certainly be done from scratch without any prior experience, and many indie authors do this, but there are plenty of courses (free and paid) which will help you on your journey to publishing your own book and save you a great deal of time and stress in the process.
But where do you look for courses on self-publishing?
Well, one of the first places can always be via a company where you may end up publishing you book with (in fairness, it’s in their own interest to have knowledgeable authors using their services).
One of the biggest names in self-publishing is IngramSpark, they have a massive distribution and have been helping authors since 2013, so they know a thing or two about the industry. What’s more, they have their own online Academy which offers several free online courses to help you become a more successful and professional published author.
Their Academy is free to join and certainly worth using, even if you don’t publish with Ingram, they can certainly teachyou a few things which will help on your publishing journey.
Not just for idly wasting time, YouTube has a massive selection of channels aimed at self-publishing authors, some of these are great a will really help you get to grips with publishing and promoting your book. Now, because there is so much to choose from, here are a couple of channels you may want to check out first:
Self-publishing with Dale – Self Publishing School – Lulu Press – Amazon KDP
Again, all of these channels are free and offer countless hours of lessons and videos to help you become a highly successful author.
This is an online academy which offers thousands of courses created by experts within their own fields, from learning how to code to self-publishing a book successfully, they offer everything you could want when it comes to learning how to publish.
They do offer some of their courses for free, with the paid lessons ranging in price from $10 to $200 depending upon the course, what’s great is the review system and feedback, you can get a very good idea if the course is right for you prior to signing up.
You can see some of our hand selected courses for Udemy here
Here you can learn from the very best within the writing world, from Neil Gaiman, R.L Stine, Malcolm Gladwell, Margaret Atwood and even Dan Brown. Their courses come as a 30 day subscription which is currently just $15, once subscribed you can also take advantage of all of the other masterclasses they offer (again, all from the biggest names within each individual area).
However, this service seems to be more about developing your craft as a writer and author, so it may be good to use in conjunction with some of the other courses specifically aimed at the publishing side of things. But all the same, it’s great value and gives you insights from the most successful authors in the world. Find out more from their website here Masterclass.
With the internet at your fingertips, you have access to an endless amount of information on how to publish, promote and sell your book to an audience, the only thing you need to do is start.
Now that you’ve finished your draft manuscript, and maybe done some edits, you’ll need to get it proofread, and please don’t skip this part, feedback prior to going to print will really help with your book’s impression and reviews that it may receive.
So, how do you get your book proofread?
For many self-publishing authors this is the first option, but you have to be careful, when you are so close the manuscript you can fail to see where errors are. So, if you do decide to proofread your own book, wait, give it a couple of weeks leaving it completely alone. You need to take a break away from it so that you can return with a fresher pair of eyes and be more objective in its review.
Consider printing it first.
As crazy as it might seem, we tend to read things differently upon the screen in comparison to that on the printed page (we have also been told the same from countless authors). Once you have done your first proofread, upload and order a proof copy of your book and then go through the printed copy, you’ll be genuinely surprised at the issues you missed.
In last week’s blog post, we looked at software which will help authors with editing, grammar and spelling (and many of these are free), now, this won’t tell you whether your book makes sense or is something that the public will go wild for, but it will help you in finding any issues that can easily be missed when reviewing your own work.
Understand your own knowledge.
Remember, it is impossible to know everything, but luckily there are those who know how to proofread that have created courses for you to learn the best techniques from. Online services such as Udemy have a seemingly limitless selection of courses aimed at anyone trying to learn something new. They also have a good selection of courses aimed at how to proofread (over 200 to choose from), a small selection of them are free, but most are around $15.
So, before you try to ‘wing it’, check out the courses, they could save you a great deal of time and give you a far better result when complete.
Enlist friends and family
This is by far the most popular option for so many authors, but be careful, those closest to us tend to be less critical with feedback, of course, this comes from a place of love, but it doesn’t help with polishing your book.
When getting people you know to read your book, tell them explicitly not to pull any punches and that this is a first draft, you want to make them feel comfortable when they give you their opinion that you won’t take it as an insult and become defensive, after all, they are doing you a favor, and I’m sure you still want to keep them as a friend.
When friends and family read your work, they’ll hopefully find those errors you may have missed, but they’ll also normally give you an opinion on the book too, this can be great for editing purposes, again, as long as they are comfortable in giving you that feedback.
Get a professional to do it
This is the more costly approach, but it is the better option for most authors, getting a professional proofreader can cost anywhere between $10 per hour to $100 per hour, the large range denotes experience and the level of expertise that you are buying.
Don’t forget why you’re doing it.
Proofreading your book ensures that your manuscript is professional and is received by its audience in that manner too, people are quick to point out issues in reviews on Amazon, so your completed book needs to be free of basic errors and make sense when being read.
It is time consuming, but so was writing it.
Editing software has come a long way over the years. From the early days of just letting you know when you made a spelling mistake, it can now help you shape a paragraph into something that will read more professionally and give you an edge with your writing skills. This isn’t to say that you won’t still benefit from having a professional editor give your book the once over, but it will save you from a great number of edits, and if you are doing everything by yourself, it can stop basic mistakes in grammar from slipping through.
The good news is that there are some great options for authors when choosing some editing software. Here are five options that you might want to consider.
One – QuillBot
Quillbot is a free online grammar checker, here you can copy and paste sections of writing into its online page, it will highlight errors and give solutions which can be applied quickly and with just one click.
However, when writing a manuscript this option will not be that practical, so they also have extensions for Word and Doc, this allows you to edit as you go.
The online site has options for paraphrasing sentences and summarizing them, which may come in handy when writing your book’s blog.
A free site which offers a lot to the author, Quillbot is worth a look.
Two – Scrivener
Since its launch in 2007, Scrivener has gone on to become the most popular option for authors, allowing you to construct your book and offering lots of tools aimed at authors.
However, it works best when integrated with other software such as Prowritingaid which will help with your grammar and editing.
Scrivener is a great option and certainly gives an author helpful tools for all stages of writing and also comes with some free templates, but it can take a while to get to grips with using it and is more costly than most writing software options.
Three – ProWritingAid
Another incredibly popular editing software option, with more features than others, ProWritingAid integrates with more writing software than any other and with their premium service they have no word count or size limitations.
They do offer a free version of the service, but it limits the review to 500 words, for most authors the premium is by far the better option and is priced at $79 for a year’s subscription.
A reliable and precise tool for authors, ProWritingAid is trusted by many self-publishing authors to polish their manuscripts as they go.
Four – Grammarly
Grammarly has to be the most popular checker available right now, easy to download and integrates nicely into Word, you can easily adjust your writing as you go. It also integrates with your email and social media (basically anywhere you write on your computer), ensuring that your grammar is correct at all times.
Grammarly is free but does offer premium options which (as you may already expect) can be better for authors, offering more in the way of editing tools, you can upload documents to be checked, but there are some limitations, it seems to be better when you have the extension within your writing software.
Five – Hemmingway
Hemmingway is a free online writing app (you can download it for both Windows and Mac for a one off payment of $19.99), although it’s considered a bit more basic when alongside some of the other writing apps available, it is very straightforward and will certainly help you in improving your writing skills.
It works by highlighting sections of your writing with different colors, these indicate any changes that you should consider making to the areas to make the sentence more powerful.
The general consensus is that for a free app it will help your writing greatly and comes with tools to help you adjust your manuscript in ways which will improve its structure, it may not be the most powerful app available, but for free, it’s still very good.
Recently KDP took the long-awaited step of offering hardbacks as an option to their print on demand authors, they had trialed it with a large group of beta authors (we were creating covers for them some time ago) and with an obvious success, they rolled the option out to every KDP author.
The hardbacks on offer are case wraps, which are hardbacks using a front and back board with the cover wrapped around the edges of the boards and glued in place, they offer another option for the author and one which many are utilizing with the launch of their own books.
But getting a book cover design ready to use with their new hardback service is a little different to that of the existing paperbacks, but not too different.
The first thing that we noticed when KDP rolled out this new option was the change to their template page, if you don’t already know, KDP gave you a couple of options when preparing a book cover design, they gave details of the thickness of each page (for both cream and white paper), you could then multiply by your page count to figure out the spine width, then add on the front and back page along with the trim areas. Or you could download one of their custom templates, this you could use to build your book cover on top of.
The only thing with their templates is that they went up in batches of ten pages, in some cases this could lead to slight misalignment when looking at where the front page met the edge of the spine, in fairness it was very small, but it was still frustrating.
There new template page now works for both paperback and hardback designs, it also asks for more information from the author and also creates the final template down to the specific page number (and not rounded up to the nearest ten).
The image below shows the new page.
When you go to the print cover calculator page, the first option it asks for is the binding type, you can either select ‘Hardback’ or ‘Paperback’, next is the interior, for most authors the selection will be black & white (unless of course you are printing a book which will have images or illustrations in).
Moving on to paper type, this is the paper color that the book’s interior will be, as a rule, fiction tends to be on cream and non-fiction on white (but this is not set in stone). Please note that if you are printing a color book, you can only have white paper for the interior.
A new option they have added for the template is the page-turn direction, depending upon the language that your book is going to be printed in, you can have the option for books which read from right to left.
Next is the measurement for the book, giving you the option of both inches and millimeters, although when you download the final template, it will give you the dimensions in both.
The last dropdown option is for the trim size of the book, now currently KDP are offering five different sizes for their hardbacks, these are:
5.5 x 8.5 in - 6 x 9 in - 6.14 x 9.21 in
7 x 10 in - 8.25 x 11 in
Given time they may extend these to include other trim sizes, but for the moment it’s a good selection and offers the most common sizes for self-published printed books.
The final option in the form is for the book’s page count, enter this and then hit the yellow ‘calculate dimensions’ button.
The next screen will show you the dimensions for the book cover along with the location of trim areas and safe areas for the elements of your design.
You can now click on the ‘Download Template’ button to download the PDF which you can then use to build your book cover design upon. Once downloaded, it’s still worth keeping the screen up, as this will give you the exact dimensions for each element as reference.
The template can be opened up in Photoshop and then prepared for use as your book cover’s base, the red areas are parts of the book where nothing essential should be placed, so elements such as text, logos or important imagery/artwork should not go within these areas. The white areas are where the essential parts of the design will go, again, logos, text and important artwork needs to stay within these areas.
The red areas to the left and right of the spine are larger than that of a paperback, these areas are the hinges of the book and join the boards to the book’s spine, you’ll also see the outer edges of the cover are a lot larger too, this area is the wrap and gets folded around the boards when gluing the cover to the actual book, it’s still important to have the artwork of the book to fill these areas, but note that it will be wrapped around the edges and most of it will be out of sight.
So, in review, the new hardback option for authors is a great addition to KDP’s current services, the new templates are more precise than before (which is great from a design perspective), but the next question we have to ask ourselves, when will they be printing dust jackets?
Guest post by Alison Clarke from Juni Learning
Kids are some of the most creative people on the planet. You take their unbound optimism and imagination with an endless amount of energy, and kids can write up some really quirky ideas. However, it doesn’t hurt to give kids a bit of a head start with some creative writing prompts to get their mind palace brimming with great ideas. Today, let’s talk about some of those ideas, as well some other ways to get your kids to be better writers.
Before we get to the writing prompts, there are some basic pointers you should give your child to direct their writing. Don’t be too strict though, at this age especially. It’s better to let them run wild, then fix stuff up afterward.
Don’t criticize a child’s writing or just go “oh, that’s cute!”. Engage with the child and their work, because kids love answering questions. Well, maybe some don’t, but it doesn’t hurt to ask anyway. One of the best ways to boost creativity is through simple but effective questions like “why is this character like this” or “why did that happen to that” because it enables kids to think critically about the narratives they put on the page. Plus, it’s just fun.
Let Them Read It Aloud
It’s a great idea to have kids recite their stories to you out loud. Not only does it train their communication skills, but it’s also a brilliant way to bring their characters to life. Having your child act out dialogue gives them a better feel for how their story is going and whether or not they are happy with the characters as they are. Not to mention, it’s an interactive way to engage with your child’s story.
Lead and Guide As Necessary
As many online courses on storytelling will tell you, it’s important to keep the writer’s vision as close to their personal flair as possible. Let them lead the story, and guide them through any speedbumps. However, never railroad them into telling a story that you want to see. More than anything, a child needs to appreciate the happiness in completing a work of their own that they can proudly claim as theirs.
There are a ton of creative writing prompts, and the limit goes well past the sky and into outer space. However, if you’re having a bit of trouble settling on a writing idea, here are some of our own suggestions to get you started:
And so many, many more. These are only to get you started, but here are some more tips if you want to make your own original prompts.
Pull From Your Experiences
Prompts from your personal experience are an effective way to get prompts onto paper. After all, if it’s something that you’ve already gone through, it’s just a matter of recontextualizing it to fit a new cast of characters in a different setting. That’s how so many stories, as fantastical as they may get, always feature heroes that the reader can relate with.
Write Prompts Regularly
Whenever your child has a prompt idea, quickly write it down for the future. Prompts aren’t just one and done, they could really start forming a story once seen together. Prompts that might not work on their own could be greatly improved when combined with another. Not to mention, keeping track of your prompts lets you avoid repeating any and feeling burnout.
If you haven’t used Goodreads yet, it’s certainly worth looking at especially for authors, originally founded in 2006 and then launched in 2007 with an approximate 650,000 members, it was bought by Amazon in 2013 and has grown to over 120 million members to date.
Goodreads has become the largest site for connecting readers with the books they’ll love, giving recommendations and book reviews (which is what they’ve become known for), it’s also a great place to follow your favorite author and is free to use, you can even sign in using your Amazon account where you’ll see the books you’ve purchased.
There are a lot of features offered to the user, lists and groups you can join and even an ‘Ask the Author’ feature where you can submit questions (although these tend to be the bigger names within the publishing world).
But for most authors, it’s not so much about using the service as a reader, but as an author, so what do Goodreads have for you?
Goodreads have the ‘Goodreads Author Program’, it’s free to join and as long as you have an internet connection and a book that’s published (or about to be) you can create your own author profile page, then once your profile page has been verified by Goodreads, you’ll get their official badge which you can use to direct your own readers back to your Goodreads page.
Having your own Goodreads profile page will help you to tell readers more about you as an author, engage with your readers, promote your books with giveaways, advertising your book and it also gives access to some of their own marketing tools.
The Giveaways allow you to offer copies of your book for free to winning readers who enter your giveaway, it’s a good way of raising your book’s profile but you would still need to actively promote this via your own website or social media channels as well.
Having your own author page also gives you the blog feature, this is a great way of connecting with your readers and allows you to write as you would in a personal blog, the aim is in forming a connection and allowing your readers to get to know you as an author, remember, people buy from people they like.
Another great feature of Goodreads are their many lists, these are created by countless other authors and readers, you can vote on your favorite books and add yours to the relevant lists too, it’s worth noting that in some specific genres and categories, these lists can become incredibly long, so look for the niche ones as well, here you may have an easier job of standing out.
There are also quizzes and trivia pages where you can create your own, most of these quizzes are on best-selling books of course, but it still links back to your author page and as such can help in raising your profile.
Chargeable advertising on Goodreads is an option for authors, but the feedback from those who have used it is a mixed bag, some have had results and others lost money, Goodreads did stop its self-service for advertising recently and if you want to find out more you will need to apply for advertising for your book directly with them from your author’s page (so it’s not the most transparent when you compare it to other options), but with over 120 million members, it's worth considering.
Overall, Goodreads is a great place for readers and authors alike, if you’re not on there yet, you should be. Paying for advertising is still an option you may want to look into, but even if you don’t go with paid ads, you should definitely use the tools available for free and engage with your readers here on one of the world's largest platforms.
It’s been a long journey, countless hours of writing followed by edits, rewrites, more edits, further rewrites, formatting, cover design and finally… (drum roll please)… your book is now available to purchase on Amazon.
So, what now?
Well, unless you are a well-established author, simply uploading your book to KDP, IngramSpark, B&N etc. does not guarantee you any sales, once your book is published, the next stage in your journey as an author has just begun, this is the marketing and self-promotion stage.
If this is your first book (and in many cases, even if it’s your tenth), marketing a book can seem like a confusing uphill struggle, it’s easy to spend lots on advertising and many hours on social media shouting about your book to anyone who will listen.
So, what can you do to self-promote? Here are our tips on marketing a book as an indie author.
One – Social Media
An obvious place to start, but it is an important one. With social media the channels themselves may come and go in popularity (just look at the rise of TikTok and the slow decline that Facebook is currently going through), but these platforms are a great way to engage with potential readers, and also offer incredibly precise advertising options for running ads.
Firstly, with social media, make sure that you have dedicated pages/profiles as an author, try to keep away from using your own personal pages so that you can project a professional image across all of these channels. Also, make sure that they have some consistency, use the same profile image and banners, if you need inspiration, take a look at your favorite authors or check out some of these banner designs that will give you a good idea.
The key part of social media is in being social, engage with others and be polite (being a troll just makes you look like a moron in front of your audience), post often but don’t bombard your followers with only advertising, share things that you and your audience will find interesting and engaging.
Most social media is about the long term, it takes awhile to build up a genuine audience (and please, do NOT buy followers, they really don’t help).
Two – Social Media Advertising
Now that you have your social media channels set up, start to advertise with them. Channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer frighteningly precise advertising options, here you can set your budgets and target exactly who you would like your ads shown to.
If you are going to spend money on advertising your book this way, make sure that your ad looks professional and has a clear call to action, some of these ads you can create yourself on your home PC, but if you are not sure, many designers can create an effective and eye-catching banner ad for $30 - $50.
Three – Amazon
Amazon allows you to advertise your own products on their website, they have a pay per click service which will allow you to put your book in front of its intended audience, we have an article showing you how to set up an ad account with them and how to advertise with Amazon which is well worth checking out.
Four – An Author’s website
With the popularity of build-your-own website services, having your own website has never been easier, you don’t need to know anything about coding and most services are ‘drag and drop’, so designing your own site is a great deal easier than you may have imagined.
The key thing about having your own site is that it’s yours, so, you won’t get kicked off, or lose commission when a policy gets changed, you can sell your books directly, engage with your readers and build an email/subscriber list for future advertising.
But, in order to make a website successful you will have to put some work into it, SEO (search engine optimization) is something that will always be ongoing and require some dedication on your part, this is if you want people to find your site. The main things to remember, is to write great content which is relevant to your audience and update your site on a regular basis.
If you want to know more about setting up your own author website, we have an article on websites you should take a look at.
Five – Get reviews for your book
Whenever we look to buy something online, we inevitably look at the amount of stars it’s given when we weigh up the option of purchasing it, a low review and we’re more inclined to move on, a higher review and with more people contributing to it and it’s in our basket.
This goes for buying books, and every good author understands this too, the more good reviews you can get, the better your chances of making further sales, so getting your book rated is important. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do, from giving out free eBook versions to sending paperback editions to influential people, with some creativity you can get the reviews needed to make your book shine to an audience. We have listed lots of these options in this article on reviews which will help.
Six – Goodreads
Most authors know about or use Goodreads, it’s a website dedicated to showing what you are reading, reviewing books and to help others find books that they will love. So as an author this is a perfect channel to connect with your readers, gain reviews and advertising your book directly to people who are specifically looking for something to read.
Seven – Guest post & Blog
Another way to reach an audience is to guest post on other websites within a subject/topic relevant to yourself, this could be a horror fiction site if this is your own genre for example. Reach out to the website you’re interested in and simply ask, be polite and follow their guidelines for submission, most people/businesses who run a website are happy to have guest posts from time to time (as long as it fits and is professional).
Eight – Be a podcast guest
Podcasts are massive and cover every genre, sub-genre and niche you could possibly think of, and they normally need great guests to talk to, so why not contact one to talk about your genre or niche as an author? They normally have a strong presence on social media along with their own websites, so getting in touch with a relevant podcaster is easier than you might have thought, just be polite and try to offer them something that would be relevant to their audience.
Nine – Use book promotional sites
There are plenty of these out on the internet and are still worth engaging in, I’m not too sure about spending a fortune on these but even if you don’t, there are plenty of free options which are worth using all the same, we have a list websites to promote your book you may find helpful.
Ten – Enter competitions
One thing about the literary world is that there are plenty of competitions for authors, the great things about these is that if you win something, you normally get a badge/seal to add to the cover of your book and it gets promoted via the competition’s website and social media channels too.
However, you will need a thick skin and patience, there are a lot of other authors doing the same thing as you, so keep at it and keep sending your book off to competitions.
Doing anything creative is (and should always be) a pure joy to the person who is engaged in it, and for those of us working in a creative field such as writing or book cover design, it makes the project you’re working on that much more enjoyable.
But creativity, to some degree, is like a muscle, the more you use it, the better/stronger it becomes. So, the key in growing your creativity is in using it more, sound easy right?
Okay, but what about those who suffer from writer’s block? They are trying to use their creativity but harder they try the further away it seems to get, sitting at a laptop for hours without anything to show is no fun.
However, there are things you can do to try and get your creative flow back and beat blocks you may have, here are some ideas that can help.
1 – Relax
The worst thing about any block is focusing on it, the more you think of how much you can’t do something the more stress you place upon yourself and the less likely you are to be able to overcome it. So, if you are not feeling creative right now, don’t panic, take a break from it and get some distance from the process, if you need to put it to one side for a couple of days, do just that.
2 – Relax even more
Say the word meditation and many people think of monks with shaved heads, sitting in the Lotus position, saying ‘ohmmmnnn’ repeatedly, and all while sat on a mountain top in Tibet, but for most people who do meditate this is very far from reality.
Meditation is something that anyone can do and has proven benefits to both health and creativity, it helps to relax, destress and boost your creativity, you don’t have to spend hours each day doing it (as little as 15 mins per day will help) and there are no side-effects.
Even if you are skeptical, try it for a week and be open, there are no costs involved and it really doesn't take up much of your time either, the hardest part is in sitting still for a while and trying to clear your mind of any thought, as I said, it’s really not that taxing.
However, if you have never done it before, here’s a very simple guide.
Only start to meditate when it is completely safe for you to do so, when it is, either sit or lie down and completely relax your body, next, focus on your breathing, count to four on each inward breath and then count to four on each breath out, the focus should be on your breathing (this is done in order for you to clear your mind), keep focusing on you breathing and when a thought does pop in to your mind (as it will), acknowledge it and simply let it go, then refocus on your breathing once more. It’s best to start of meditating for 5 mins, then gradually work up to 10min, 15min, 30min (start off slowly as this should not feel like a chore). If it helps, you can also find lots of guided meditations on YouTube that are really helpful too.
3 – Read and get inspired
If you are trying to write a new book and a block is hampering you, read more of what you love (and make sure it’s from great authors), when you read well written books, you’ll find that they help with inspiration. It’s the same with art and design, look at your favorite artists/designers and lose yourself in their work, you will usually find inspiration.
4 – Get moving
Writing and most forms of art are created while sat down, or at least not moving very much at all, however, when you get your blood pumping and increase your rate of breathing, the rush of blood through your body helps to stimulate your brain and thinking process. If you are looking for a quick boost, getting some exercise really helps.
5 – Go for a walk
Not as energetic as running or most form of cardio, but a walk can have a massive impact for the better with your creativity. Even if it’s just a quick walk around your block or to the nearest park, it helps to clear the mind and refocus you. Personally, I find walking anywhere there is a lot of nature around me a huge boost to my creativity.
6 – Just create anything
For some, the hardest part is starting, so just start, it doesn't have to be good, you just need to do something. If you are writing, commit to a day or session where you just write anything that comes to mind, you won’t use it, but you’ll just write something. The same goes for anything artistic too, just create without intent to use, you’ll be surprised at how liberating it truly is.
7 – Grab your headphones
Music has given so much inspiration to so many people, it connects to something deep within us and helps to bring out that creativity we’re looking for. So, find the tracks that mean something to you and turn the volume up!
8 – Look with fresh eyes
One thing that artists do is in looking for the art within any given scene, so, right now look around the room you’re in and find the art, it could be the way the light is coming in through a window, or the way a lamp is positioned on a table, the options are truly endless, but only if you take time to look and be creative with the way you take in the scene.
If you are writing, then grab a dictionary or any other book, flick randomly through the pages and then stop, pick any random word or sentence and write something with it. The more you do this, the stronger your creative thinking becomes, it’s also amazing at just how much art and inspiration has been right in front of your eyes.
Book cover designers.
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