Soul Pursuits

Official Blog of Visionary Author Lianne Downey

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Writing the next "Law of Attraction"? Ten Tips for Publishing Your Book – Part 3

Posted on September 24, 2011

Now that you’ve digested Parts 1 and 2, let’s talk about marketing any kind of book, paper or electronic. I think the above covers the whole subject of book cover design very well. Make sure it’s an eye-catcher, whether you hire a pro or do it yourself! (And that it looks good as a tiny thumbnail.) I chose this example, by the way, because it totally relates to something I say later on. Honest!

 Then we’ll discuss ways to turn your paper book (or your Word files) into an ebook. And it’s time to get a little metaphysical with Tip #10.

Lastly, I’ve got a bonus treat for you: a series of fun-but-wise videos from my author friend Kathleen Pickering and her friend Traci Hall: step by step video advice for aspiring novelists.

6. As I already mentioned, you must always rely on yourself for marketing your book—even if you’ve been published by a “traditional” publisher!

This is a fact to digest and remember as soon as possible. Spend some time determining who your readership will be, and figure out how you’ll reach them. Where can they be found? What methods are available for getting your message to them? This is not easy, but essential. Make plans!

If I’d been more accurate at defining Cosmic Dancer‘s readership in advance, I would have saved a lot of starts and restarts, and the cost and effort of a new cover design shortly after its release.

Unwisely, I’d worked my assumed readership parameters into the original subtitle (“A Reincarnation Fantasy for Young Adults and Older Souls”). I was probably too enamored of my “Older Souls” designation to realize I’d just limited my audience. I also assumed my readers would be female. Wrong!

It turned out that a lot of people who loved the book were guys, and fans were old, young, and those of middling age. Some were declared atheists, some Christians, and some were, well, everything else! I was apparently right about “older souls” liking the book, but I should have remembered that they come in all guises. So we’ve come up with a more neutral subtitle, “An Interdimensional Fantasy,” and lifted all the limitations I’d inadvertently tacked on.

If you can define your audience early in the writing and publishing process, you’ll have a jump start on marketing, whether you’re selling the book directly to readers via self-publishing, or trying to hook the interest of an agent or publishing house.

Once published, definitely take advantage of every new Amazon gimmick for promoting your book. I’m still catching up, months later, plus they’re always adding new features. I haven’t uploaded videos yet, but I do have this blog is linked to my Author Page. Check it out. 

Online, you’ll find dozens upon dozens of blogs and websites full of advice and tools for marketing your books. Keep exploring, keep connecting. Facebook, of course. But also look into sites such as www.goodreads.com and www.librarything.com. Consider doing blog tours, and find as many blogs and traditional reviewers as you can to review your book.

Don’t worry; you won’t run out of ways to promote your book(s). I’ve barely touched on the subject because so much is written about it elsewhere. Just let your imagination go to work. And remember that it will always be YOUR job, no matter who publishes you.

And now I need to go take my own advice! 🙂

But first, Ebooks:

8. When you get ready to hire an ebook conversion specialist for your beautifully designed POD book, contact me and I’ll give you a referral.

Think you can do this yourself? Well, a lot of people do. So go for it! I was going to do my own, but I realized my time was too valuable to learn all the programming ins and outs. Best decision I ever made!

Smashwords.com is a good place to start looking for ebook advice and distribution options. They’re very impressive for do-it-yourselfers. If I hadn’t gone the full-fledged publisher route, or if I wanted to publish ebooks only, I’d be looking at their site too.

But I’m so extremely grateful to my conversion specialist who has transformed my painstakingly typeset InDesign files into Kindle and .epub formats. Worth every penny! Thank you, Amit! 

I am now testing Ingram’s CoreSource fulfillment services for global ebook distribution.Cosmic Dancer is already available in the Kindle store, but is also available in the .epub (Adobe Digital Editions) format in the U.S. and globally. I’ll add a comment here when I have more experience with them.
9. If you’re planning to publish an ebook only—or first—and you are going to work with Microsoft Word files (versus having your book professionally typeset in InDesign or Quark), definitely visit the Smashwords website and read their style guides.

I’ve heard it advised to put your manuscript through their rigorous style adjustments before attempting any sort of conversion into ebook formats, then start with the .epub format, and work toward the Kindle format.

As you may have seen from reading ebooks yourself, a lot of glitchy things happen when words are put into the formats necessary to create an ebook. This is why I hired a programmer to produce my ebooks. I’ve read some books in which random paragraphs appeared in different colors or fonts. All sorts of things can mush together, or fly around the pages. I still find ebooks a little bit scary!

But as I said, I don’t have direct experience with Smashwords, so please let me know if I’m wrong about them.

* * * *
I do hope these tips help you! And it’s true, I am no longer in the book editing business and I do not have time to read anyone’s manuscript or coach them about publishing on a one-to-one basis. Don’t be offended if I’ve sent you to read this blog post. It pains my inner cheerleader to turn anyone away, but I’ve even turned down family members!

In fact, I stretched to make time for writing this. But I will be happy to respond to any comments or questions you post below. I do love to encourage people. But now my own writing and publishing efforts are taking every drop of my energy, inspiration, vision, and time. Whew! Which reminds me to give you one last bit of advice:

10. Do NOT venture into this sort of project if you are not willing to spend years nurturing it.

I think books are even worse than children (tch, found this out too late, didn’t I?)! Children grow up and move away, right? But books are dependent on you forever.

They are energy creations that carry a part of you with them always—a living, changing, vibrating part. As you resonate, so do they, and people are either attracted to your book or repelled from it by what you carry within your consciousness on any given day—forever. I personally believe this stays true even after you’ve left your body behind and graduated to another dimension!

Oh, and books are very demanding creatures! More than you ever imagined they could be … in ways you never dreamed.

So be careful what you write, and how you treat it. It’s going to be a part of you for a long, long time. But if this is your passion, then you really have no choice. Roll up your sleeves and get to work! You can hire helpers along the way, but no one else can ever take your place as Creator of your book, with all the responsibilities that entails, infinitely and eternally.

And now, a treat to remind us that writing and publishing can actually be fun! This is from author Kathleen Pickering and her author-friend, Traci Hall. I thoroughly enjoyed this little series of videos, and learned a few tips for my next book! Thank you, ladies! I especially liked those feather boas and the cabana boy! 😉
(You think I’m kidding? Watch this:)
http://kathleenpickering.com/I_WANNA_BE_A_WRITER.html

Tch, those Romance Writers do know how to have fun. Best writing convention I ever attended! Oh wait, it was the only one … and Fabio was there. Ahhh, yes … I remember being on the tiny hotel elevator with a writer friend when all the Fabio look-alike contestants piled on in their, ahem, “costumes” …

Happy publishing, friends!  

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Writing the next "Law of Attraction"? Ten Tips for Publishing Your Book – Part 2

Posted on September 23, 2011

For Part 2 of my friendly discussion about how to publish a book in today’s crazy market, let’s talk about self-publishing options. And here, we’re talking about paper books:

4. If you have the money and the crazy idea that you want to print a few thousand paper copies of your book up front, using an offset printing contractor, renting storage space, and hiring shipping and distribution partners, I will say this: Don’t do it.

If you don’t believe me, describe your plans and reasoning below and I’ll respond. There are a few very rare exceptions, but otherwise, this move would be even more foolish than it was a decade ago! Spend your money hiring professional cover and book content designers instead.

5. Print-on-demand (POD) publishing is, in my humble opinion, the only reasonable choice in today’s book marketplace if financial return is even a small factor in your decision.

POD or Print on Demand means that, when a reader orders a book through any means, one copy is printed and shipped directly to the retailer (Amazon, for instance) who then supplies it to the customer (the reader). Or it is shipped directly to the reader, if ordered directly from the publisher (your website, for instance). This means very low upfront costs for the publisher, no storage expense, and no wasted trees from returned books. It’s the environmentally responsible way to publish.

We’re very proud to say that our company, Cosmic Visionary Music & Books “Saves trees, one book at a time.”™

If you choose the POD route, and you’re not keen on running a full-fledged publishing company, look into Create Space and Lulu.com. They’ll provide you with all the guidance and missing pieces you’ll need, things you probably never dreamed could be required in order to get a book into the marketplace. They explain it better than I can in this limited space. Do I have personal experience with them? No. But I do know that many authors are happy with them, and that Create Space is owned by Amazon.

6. However, if you want to become a full-time publisher and either do it all yourself, or hire editorial, typesetting, and ebook conversion professionals, you’ll want to work directly with Lightning Source (LSI), a subsidiary of Ingram Content Group. 

LSI offers superior quality in the print-on-demand field, as well as the best distribution available for an independent publisher. But they will not provide coaching, hand-holding, editing, or instruction. They work with print-ready files only, but they are best in the field at what they do. They’ll connect you globally with your potential readers, too. You must bring to the table all the editorial and business skills needed, whether you learn everything yourself or hire it done, and do all marketing yourself (see #6).

If you’re on Linked In (and you should be), here’s a long discussion that will give you some insights into working with LSI: http://tinyurl.com/3k8bo4l

Caution: A few years ago, POD costs were high and quality was low. If you work with LSI and have your book professionally designed and typeset, the quality is now very high and today’s costs are far lower, in the U.S.anyway. However, we’ve seen some inferior quality POD books coming from author-service companies, many with extremely poor editing or none at all, so that’s something to consider when choosing your publishing partners. Ask for samples, hire professional editors and designers (see tip #1), and choose the best paper and cover stock.


COMING IN PART 3: Tips & Links for Ebooks and Book Marketing, plus a series of fun videos to help aspiring novelists tackle the writing tasks.

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Writing the next "Law of Attraction"? Ten Tips for Publishing Your Book – Part 1

Posted on September 14, 2011

These days everyone’s becoming an author. Heck, you’re all publishing all the time anyway (Facebook, et al), so you might as well write a whole book, right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple. But the publishing industry is heaving huge sighs of change and they’re echoing out to the public ear. Many people are beginning to think that now’s the time to produce and publish that book they’ve always wanted to write and now they’ll actually make money at it!Perhaps.
This blog post is for all those who know something of my editorial background* and have been asking me for advice about writing & publishing.

Joseph** asked me to write it, and practically dictated the contents for me. JHe had this clever list of resources for you, with explanations for who needed what. I sooo wish I had recorded him explaining it to me over lunch! I can’t get him to a keyboard once he’s done with his paid workday, so I’m going to do my best to be as brilliant as he was.
Truly, the publishing business is currently a messy new work in progress, and I’m no expert, but here’s my seasoned advice and opinion, in three parts. Note I said “opinion.” This is my disclaimer. I do not promise you riches or success if you take my advice (or if you don’t). These opinions are based on my experience and observation; yours may differ. So do not bet your publishing life on my words, but take them in, do your research, and make your own choices. Today, Tips 1 through 3.
1. If you’ve written a draft and you need an editorial partner, no matter where you live, I recommend contacting the San Diego Professional Editor’s Network (SD/PEN)
I am a proud former member. This organization has survived many changes in the industry and keeps its members informed and up-to-date in their editing skills. Their website contains a directory of member-editors, complete with contact information. San Diegois home to hundreds of authors, maybe thousands! So the collective editorial skills here are top-notch. Matter of fact, it might be the only organization like it in the country. That was true when I was a member, anyway.
And trust me, you DO need an editor, a professional editor, no matter who you are or what you’ve written. SD/PEN’s website explains the different levels of editorial work required throughout the book production cycle, from early “developmental editing,” when you’re just deciding how to put the book into a marketable form, to the final proofreading before it goes off to print or ebook distribution.
And yes, ebooks also need editing and quality design and expert technical conversion. Or you’ll fall into that messy heap of slap-dash, gonna-get-rich efforts to jump on the ebook bandwagon now cluttering the Internet. Ugh. Your book deserves better!
2. Still thinking you might find an agent and then you’ll be picked up by a publisher, who will then edit your work and give you a nice advance and a respectable share of the profits? Sigh. Once upon a time this fairy tale may have been true, but it has not been so for a long number of years.
Okay, I’ll admit at least a part of this tale happened to my sister and one of my clients. But my sister somehow tapped into a mysterious part of the universe that landed her an agent who EDITED for her—who then left the business shortly after this un-agently, unheard-of behavior. And sister and fortunate client, who was granted an astounding advance by similarly mysterious forces in the universe, both ran into trouble with publishers and agents further down the road.
But now, publishers and agents are feeling the collapse of their former palaces of print. Advances are drying up. Profits are plummeting, except in the ebook realm. What agents and publishers will become and what they will do in the future, everyone is trying to figure out and no one knows for sure. Best wishes to you if you go this route! It will be strange and difficult, I’m sure. Please read a lot of publishing news as you embark on this journey, okay?
Here are some good resources, but the Internet is full of blogs and news on the subject:

In fact, if you’re reading this blog, then you’re a person who needs to read these resources regularly, and join LinkedIn and sign up for groups related to publishing. I do hope you’ve already established your Facebook presence?

3. I’ve recently been encouraged by a thread on LinkedIn to define the difference between someone for whom traditional publishing is the right choice, and the determined soul who prefers to self-publish. It all depends on what you want from your publishing experience: Ego strokes? Or money?

If you want the validation of being “chosen” by a publishing house, then go for it. That is a perfectly valid quest. It might be the whole reason you’ve undertaken this project, to boost something about your self-esteem and confidence that cannot be otherwise boosted. No one can fault that objective! We all love that.

For such an author, the traditional publishing house might represent something hallowed, or authoritarian (a teacher? a parent? an important arbiter of taste or status? something unfinished from a past lifetime?), and the quest to gain its approval is vitally important. We all, at some time or another, seek out such things, such proof, such reinforcement.

I do not denigrate anyone who chooses this as their goal; far from it! I just want you to recognize that’s your goal, and learn as much as you can about what you will and will not receive from this experience. Know what you’re going after. Hence, I’ve posted links to resources that will help to educate you about the traditional publishing industry, and the alternatives now available in the 21st century. Plus, some of you may wind up in the hands of a traditional publisher, even if you begin as a do-it-yourselfer. So it’s wise to learn as much as you can about the old ways.

If, however, you want to make some money from your book, and have more control over how that is done and a larger share of your book’s profits, then you’ll probably choose self-publishing. Only a rare few authors are going to earn extraordinary advances from traditional publishers (and there’s always time for that in the future), and it’s even more rare to earn back your advance and begin collecting royalties, after your publisher deducts all “expenses” and other things that only your accountant would understand. And those royalties will be small—from 10 to 12% for paper books.

Some publishers are beginning to offer 25% royalties on electronic books. As a comparison, Amazon currently offers self-publishing authors a 70% royalty option on Kindle editions.

But won’t a publisher provide more marketing, an in-house sales force, book tours, and promotions? you ask.

Ahh, dear friends, that is a dream that has evaporated. Only if your name begins with “Stephen King” or “James Patterson.” You’ll be relying on yourself to do your own marketing and promotions, whether self-published or traditionally published, except you’ll find it a lot easier to do when you have full control over details, such as having books available on the day of your special event. Please, do your research and prove me wrong if you can. Post your experiences in the comments section! Please.

 

My self-published books (Cosmic Dancer and The Liberator) are currently printed in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, and soon Brazil, if today’s announcement by my printing partner proves true. They sell online via all Amazon sites, and from other vendors I don’t even recognize, in countries I didn’t know I’d be selling in. They can be acquired via the Espresso Book Machine, and globally in .epub and Kindle formats. Now it’s merely up to me to send people to all these places to buy them, and the Internet makes global marketing possible.

You can do this too.

COMING IN PARTS 2 & 3: Where & How to Self-Publish, Create Ebooks, and Market Your Work

Footnotes:

* My credentials: Two published novels, former book editor, and author of a zillion articles for major newspapers & magazines, plus short stories, with two nonfiction books in the pipeline and more fiction on the way. Oh, and co-owner of Cosmic Visionary Music & Books, powered by my psychic transceiving abilities. Seriously.
** My husband: publishing, transceiving, and dance partner; CFO of CVMB; former book editor; gourmet chef; and occasional co-author.
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