Category Archives: Publishing

7 Ways To Deal With That Dreaded Bad Review

By Pam Humphrey

In my pre-mom days when I worked as a programmer and tech support at a small company, I shared an office with one other girl.

After an unusually frustrating customer had berated her as she tried to help them over the phone, she hung up near tears. I’ll never forget what she said. “I’m from Oklahoma. I need people to like me.”

She hadn’t caused the customer’s problem. She solved the issue quickly and with kindness. She’d done her best, but he was still rude.

Writers, those that care deeply about the structure and quality of what they write, pour over pages time and again checking for filter words, dropping hints of a theme, arranging story flow, and checking for plot holes. They don’t stop there. They hand their precious words to beta readers who read it and offer advice, point out lulls or areas of confusion, and give encouragement that the story is worth the time.

Over and over. Revise, read, repeat.

At the end of the process, after beta readers, editors, formatters, and cover designers have all done their part, a book is published, sent out into the world to be read.

With all of that hard work, everyone will surely love it. Right? Not so much. Inevitably, someone won’t like it.

7 Ways To Deal With That Dreaded Bad Review

Here are seven things you can do when you get that inevitable bad review.

(You can proceed in any order, but the first is usually first. Skip whichever steps you don’t find necessary, except the last. You CANNOT skip the last step.)

  • Sob. Okay maybe sobbing is a little much, but allow yourself that moment of disappointment. For some that will involve tears, others shout French phrases typically avoided around young children, and some might require a Mexican Coke or an entire chocolate bar.
If you’re trying to please everyone, then you’re not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don’t think, in the long run.”
Viggo Mortensen

No one likes to see that average rating number drop, but it will.

Don’t focus on that number. It is not a measure of your value as a writer. This step is NOT permission for long-term wallowing or putting away your pen. Set a timer, shed your tears, and go on to the next bullet point.

  • Phone a friend. I don’t expect you to actually call someone. I really mean message a writing buddy. Get encouragement. You can talk about your WIP, the fantastic new sentence that popped into your head while you slept, or the dreaded bad review. If your writing buddy has read your book, they can offer perspective. Pro Tip: Cultivate those writing buddy relationships before you need them.

I’m not sure I can stress this point enough. You need support from other writers.

Interacting—commenting on threads, attending Facebook chats and Twitter chats—and beta reading is a good way to connect and build relationships.

  • Reread the bad review. You know you will anyway. It’s best if you wait until you’ve calmed down to make the most of this step. Instead of reading the bad review as a personal attack, scan it for any hint of helpful critique. If a lack of editing or gross errors is noted in the review, you have actionable advice about how to improve.

Not all reviews will have a helpful critique. Reviews, after all, are an opinion of the reader. Reviews like: “This was a total waste of my time.” “This was soooo not my thing.” “Ugh. I just couldn’t.” aren’t helpful to you. Rereading them won’t improve your writing. After you gleaned any useful information, stop reading that review. (This is difficult. I know. Ask me how many times I’ve reread that bad review.)

“You’re never going to please everyone, and if you do, there’s something wrong.”

– Constance Wu

  • Reread your positive reviews. Instead of only reading the bad, make a point to look at the good. If you have nine good reviews and one bad review, maintain perspective.

This is where a close friend or significant other can bring balance to your feelings. When you express disappointment about that bad review and they act surprised, it’s because they think most of your good reviews. You should, too. But, you will not be liked by everyone, even if you are from Oklahoma.

  • Get some context. Has the reviewer only given one five star rating out of all 93,001 books she’s starred on Goodreads? Does she prefer romance, but you wrote horror? Does she prefer dark and twisted, but yours was heart-warming?

Are you left scratching your head as to why she picked up your book at all? Did she rate your favorite book of all time with one star? Tastes in books differ.

  • Get more perspective. Think of your personal top ten list. Have you ever read reviews of those books? Or other well-loved, ageless classics? Go read the bad reviews. All books get bad reviews, eventually.
  • Write. And write. Write some more. Grab your pen or open your laptop and write that next book, or blog post, or poem. Don’t let a bad review gnaw at your self-confidence, hindering your writing. Write, edit, and when you think of that review, put your head down and continue to write. Someone will love what you create. There will always be at least one that won’t.

At the end of the day, the bad reviews bring authenticity to the good and great reviews. Nothing is as good as the infomercials claim. Your job as a writer is to give it your best. Take advantage of opportunities in the writing group, like buddy Tuesday, to find beta readers. Listen to constructive advice from other authors willing to help you. Use helpful critique gleaned from reviews to make the next book or story even better.

“You can’t please everyone, and you can’t make everyone like you.”

– Katie Couric

Now, please, set a timer and write. Someone is waiting to read what you write, and you may not even know them, yet.

(Quotes sourced from Brainyquote.com)


Pamela Humphrey is the author of Researching Ramirez: On the Trail of the Jesus Ramirez Family, a family history of her great great grandfather’s family, and The Blue Rebozo, a fictional account of her great grand aunt’s life. Her latest book, Finding Claire, is a mix of mystery, genealogy, and romance. She is currently writing the next book in the Hill Country Secrets series. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who enjoys many creative outlets: sewing, paper-crafting, jewelry-making, practicing her bass guitar, reading, and conversing with imaginary characters (what most call writing). She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, sons, black cats, and leopard gecko. Check out Pamela’s website at http://www.phreypress.com 

Follow her on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/phreypress  Facebook http://www.facebook.com/phreypress Interested in her books? They’re available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Humphrey/e/B018D5UKLWFinding Claire is also available from other eBook retailers. https://www.books2read.com/u/bP1LLY

Why This Self-Published Author Loves Traditional Publishing

by Jane Steen, 10 Minute Novelist, self-published author

I self-published my first novel in 2012, and since then I’ve published two more full-length novels and a short story.

Despite the attitude of some writers (and, alas, some readers) that self-publishing is a second-best solution, I couldn’t be happier.

I love the flexibility and freedom to write what I like. I relish my control over my rights and decision-making. I love getting my income monthly. In short, I’m the happy sort of self-publisher who’s not the least bit interested in getting a traditional publishing deal or being represented by an agent. I have self-published and I’m glad I did. 

Why This Self-Published Author Loves Traditional Publishing by Jane Steen

And yet, I’m still a big fan of the traditional publishing industry. Here’s why:

– I think many writers need the traditional framework. Being a career indie involves so much more than just perfecting your writing skills. Yes, you have to be a good writer—and you have to be passionately interested in the process of producing a quality book in various formats, climb the learning curve of marketing, be ready to learn about rights and legal issues, and think like a small business owner. If one of those skill sets is lacking and you can’t afford to hire top tier professionals to do the job for you, sooner or later your career is going to stall or fail. I believe that’s why so many successful self-published authors end up in the traditional environment. And you can’t ignore the desire for the feeling of validation being picked up by an agent or publisher brings. It’s not something I happen to worry about, but I totally understand it in other writers. I want writers to thrive in whatever way works for them.

– The legacy. Traditional publishing gave us nearly all my favorite authors and largely shaped today’s book world. The industry established best practices and standards that are still useful for indies. Its deep pockets and tight hold on the hearts and minds of many influencers may irritate some indies, but to me that framework is a valuable asset. Savvy self-publishers are in this for the long haul, and are willing to use all the footholds the traditional industry is unwittingly providing to further their career. We may feel sometimes that we’re on the outside looking in, but we need to remember that for most readers, authors are authors. All we need is good writing skills, high standards, and patience (and maybe a tiny bit of luck).

– Bookstores! There are many reasons why bricks-and-mortar bookstore sales don’t really work for self-publishers, and I can live quite happily without seeing my books in the window of Barnes & Noble. But as a reader, I just love visiting bookstores, and try to buy at least some of my books in the real world. Bookstores, if done properly, sustain and encourage a culture of reading, and what author can object to that?

– Libraries! Like bookstores, libraries are part of an ecosystem that’s closely tied into traditional publishing. It’s true that librarians are probably a little more aware than bookstore owners of the value of self-publishing as part of that ecosystem, and some libraries are even becoming publishing centers themselves. But like bookstores, they’re part of a reading culture that we should be encouraging and sustaining. We need people to be readers.

“Savvy self-publishers are in this for the long haul, and are willing to use all the footholds the traditional industry is unwittingly providing to further their career.”  — Jane Steen, 10 Minute Novelist

– Agents, editors, and other bookish people. Most of them are passionate advocates for good writing, and I love them for that. Quite a few of them now work with and for the better self-publishers, and there’s no reason why those relationships shouldn’t continue to develop and deepen over time. Which doesn’t mean I’m saying agents and editors should be supporting self-publishers as some kind of literary duty. Like all businesspeople, agents and editors should and do pursue their own business interests. But their love of good writing and good book business must inevitably draw them closer to the better indies over time.

– Marketing dollars. Big publishing has lots of those, and it spends them on advertising books. When people read books, they generally want to read more books, and sometimes those books are written by indies. As long as large publishers are still able to get people excited about reading as opposed to watching TV or playing video games, they’re doing all self-publishers a favor. And a portion of those marketing dollars goes into bookstores in the form of co-op arrangements, and I want bookstores to thrive, as explained above (even if I’m not at all sure that co-op arrangements are ethical—but they’re a longstanding practice that’s unlikely to disappear).

Hybrid authors. Traditional publishing is a good training ground for authors who have self-published either as a way to supplement their income, or because they’ve realized that the indie model will work better for them. The only reason I’d be tempted to accept a traditional contract would be to learn that side of the industry from the inside, and work with editors and other professionals I might not be able to afford as a self-publisher. Given the right circumstances, that just might be worth paying for—and I would consider the loss of my rights and potential income a payment. Hybrid authors also have a perspective and a level of knowledge that those of us who’ve never tried for a trad contract can and should learn from. 

So I honestly don’t care if the traditional publishing industry isn’t welcoming us indies with open arms.

Like all indies, I would like to see a more accepting book world, but I accept that change is going to happen very slowly. In the meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy all that the traditional industry has to offer me, and I rejoice at every positive item of publishing news.

O traditional publishing industry, may you live forever.


Historical Romance Author Jane Steen
Historical Romance Author Jane Steen

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.
Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.
Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in East Sussex, UK. Her book, House of Closed Doors can be found here. 

Top 10 Reasons Why Reciprocal Reviews Are Unethical

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

This has the potential of being my most controversial post yet.

And I like controversy about as much as I like snooty  moms asking me personal questions about the decisions I made in the raising of my children.

But I believe that reciprocal reviews for authors are unethical, unprofessional and unnecessary. 

Unfortunately, the idea of “you review my book and I’ll review yours” is a common one among writers, especially self-published writers who are just starting out. The necessity of good reviews and the belief that reviews alone will generate sales is a faulty one. So this behavior of reciprocating favorable reviews can nudge an author into a tempting but ethically slippery situation. My friend Jane Steen, who has written a great deal about ethical behavior for authors, has this to say about reciprocal reviews. But below, I have my take on the issue.

Top 10 Reasons Why Reciprocal Reviews Are Unethical by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

But  I believe that reciprocal reviews have the potential of being unethical simply because any quid pro quo arrangement could be intentionally tainted, possibly inaccurate and maybe even dishonest.

1. On their own, individual reviews don’t make a huge difference. Let’s be honest. While it helpful to have some reviews on Amazon.com, it’s like throwing a bucket of water on the house fire. You’re doing something but it won’t be enough. It is far better to have an accumulation of them, from actual readers, all with a variety of opinions about your story. Too many five star reviews is just as suspicious as no reviews at all.

2. Someone in a reciprocal arrangement is getting the short end of the stick. You hand me over your copy of  Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses‘and you yank a copy of Falling For Your Madness out of my hands and the idea, you say, is that we both write a review.So then I read Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses and I discover a lot of problems. I may find tons of spelling and grammatical errors. I may also discover the work is derivative or sloppy or badly formatted or kinda dumb. You give my book a solid 4 star review. But it would be a stretch to give yours two. So you come out with a loss. Unless I lie and give you a four or five star review, which goes against my conscience.  At that point the loss is mine. This idea of reciprocity sounds even, but it’s not. Not by a long shot.

3. Reciprocal reviews do not build up trust, do not strengthen friendships, rarely improve one’s writing — they just boost numbers. What if the case is reversed and I give your Princess Zombie book five stars and you give my FFYM two? Wouldn’t my feelings get hurt? Wouldn’t I avoid asking you in the future? If we both lie, just to make each other comfortable, we’re not doing either of us any favors.

No one is going to stop you from soliciting reciprocal reviews from your writer friends.

It’s likely you can collect a few dozen and no one will notice.

But in the long run, your reputation could be at stake.

4. Art is subjective. The whole 1-5 star system is not a very good one. I once got a two star review because the reader thought that I didn’t give enough attention to the suffering mother as she gave birth in my story. (Oh, and you better believe I wanted to respond to that!) This imperfect system already has too much corruption and too many people who take advantage of it. Reserve your reviews for books that you read, not books that someone is making you read.  That way you can enjoy the subjectivity of our art and be free to leave the reviews you want to about it.

5. Reciprocal Reviews turn a gift into an act of commerce. We give our heart and souls into our work for our readers. If we’re lucky, our readers respond to our art with their reviews, recommendations, follows or other examples of reader love. A reciprocal review, by someone that has already agreed to a favorable report, cheapens the act of art itself.

6. Reciprocal reviews tell yourself and the world that you don’t have the means to earn success through your own merit. Why do we even publish if we’re going to manipulate the system? Personally, I want to be known as a great writer. I want it to be because of my skills, my craftsmanship, my own hard work. If I depend on the manipulations of others to become great, then the victories will be far emptier.

And believe me, I’ve got far better things to do than check on you. 

But that doesn’t make it right nor fair.

7.  Reciprocal reviews are like gift exchanges at Christmas. The best gifts are those that you give. They’re the ones that you’ve thought about, that you’ve worked for, that you’ve discovered is the perfect gift for someone you love.  So not only do you give the gift, you give the meaning and affection behind the gift. But if you give a gift because you have to, then you think about equal values and “what if she gives me something nicer” and the whole reason that you give gifts in the first place, out of love and affection, is completely squashed.

8. The goal of reciprocal reviews is fairness. Fairness is a poor marketing strategy. Generosity, however, is an excellent one. Seth Godin in his book, Linchpin, said, “Stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating art that matters. Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people. Then, and only then, will you have achieved your potential.” I believe this. I’d like to stop looking to the people around me to judge what is expected of me, like a reciprocal review. Instead, I want to look for ways to be generous and not expect anything. I believe this is the way to grow long term relationships which is far better than one review.

9. Reciprocal Reviews are based on fear. If I had you a copy of Falling For Your Madness, my fingers are crossed that you’ll like it. I’ll hope that the comments you make in your review are worth the effort it took to read the book. Hope is too positive of a word. I”ll probably be very anxious and fretful — hoping that my review of your book is fair enough. I may even go so far to count words.  If you bought it, I’ve already received my compensation. I’ll stand firm in the quality of the book and not be afraid of what you’ll say in your review. I have enough to stress out about in my life, thank you very much.

There is no such thing as an Author Ethics police. This is all the more reason to govern ourselves in the most excellent way to get reviews. 

10. Reciprocal Reviews are unethical if they hide facts from the readers. The act of hiding anything looks bad. If you avoid reciprocal reviews then you don’t have to worry about Amazon.com or anyone else connecting one of your readers with a review you left. I know that I don’t want any hint of impropriety linked to my name. I’d rather pass on your offer of reciprocity than risk an accusation of wrongdoing or misleading readers in the future.

Sales are great, good reviews are good too.

But our character and reputation lasts much longer.

Say no to reciprocal reviews and put yourself in the best possible light. 

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Everybody wants their blog to be noticed.

But in reality, that’s a little tricky. According to Tumblr stats, there are 375 million on Tumblr alone, that’s one for every person living in the United States. That stat doesn’t count WordPress and other blogging platforms. Writers are constantly encouraged to blog more, but getting noticed is becoming more and more difficult.

How do you get more traffic to your blog? Follow the meme #MondayBlogs!

The#MondayBlogs idea is brilliant. On Mondays, anybody who wants to can post a link to their blog and those who follow that hashtag, on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, can find new blogs to read and new writers to enjoy. In theory, those who participate read each others’ blogs, RT and favorite the heck out of them so that the whole world can discover this new talent. I have found dozens of new readers this way and I love doing this.

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

How Can I Get More RTs On Twitter?

I would LOVE to RT and favorite everyone who participates in #MondayBlogs on Twitter, but honestly, often the headlines or tweets that contain the link are so lifeless and dull that I’m not the least bit interested in them. I’d like to suggest, with a few changes in the tweets, all of us could see good results. I’ve listed a few things I’ve noticed (and things I try to implement) —and I’ve written some over-the-top silly blog title headlines to get the point across.

1. It’s All In The Headline

Consider your #MondayBlogs Tweet as a headline of the original post. The more concise and clear, the better. “My Thoughts on Dyeing” is terrible. Be specific. “Why I Dread Coloring My Hair This Summer” is much clearer and much more interesting. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Who” “What” “Why” or “How” and fill in the rest!

2. Follow Headline Rules, like Capitalize Each Important First Letter

This makes your tweet look more grown-up and polished. Tweets like “five ways to get your cat to sing” are wimpy and indifferent and I certainly wouldn’t be interested. But “Five Ways To Get Your Cat To Sing” at least looks like you’re trying.

3. As Tempted As You Might Be, Don’t Say “New Blog Post”

 Duh. We know. Just leave us a link. We can figure it out. Whenever I see this, I conclude that the writer is unimaginative or stuck in 1999 or both.

Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs
Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs

4. Put As Much Thought Into The Headline As You Did Into The Post Itself

Use vibrant verbs. Keep it Short. Pretend for a minute that it isn’t a blog post, but a magazine article and these first few words are on the cover of Cosmo. (It would be best, though to keep it rated G, unlike Cosmo). “Top Ten Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy” is a little long, but it’s clear. I could have also gone with “Your Blog Title Sucks. So Fix It!” But I’m trying to be helpful. And nice.

5. Use Numbers

I asked someone a few weeks ago what their biggest pet peeve on Twitter was and they answered that seeing this: “Eight Ways To Use Your Crock Pot for Cleaning” and “Top Ten Toothbrushes for Dogs”  — the numbers in the title seemed to be too much. A pet peeve? Really? Folks, this is good headline writing. If you can quantify the contents of your blog post into a list and then use that list in the title, you’ve got something interesting. This is exactly why I write all my blog posts in Top 10 lists. My blog posts have structure, continuity and all I have to come  up with are ten points and I’m done.

6. Exaggerate A Little

“Folding Chair Options That Will Change Your Life Forever” Well of course, it won’t exactly change my life, but the exaggeration might compel me to at least click the link and see what the fuss is about. I love the fact that Twitter is so casual, you can get away with a little exaggeration and hyperbole and it may make you all the more charming.

7. Be Funny

 Now not everyone can do this well. But if you can use humor in your headlines or tweets do it! Humor is powerful. If you can get a smirk or a chuckle or a LOL out of someone, you’ve won half the battle. If you can be funny consistently, then you are building a reputation for wit and comedy that can bring readers to you.

8. Sell You, Not Your Book

 As tempting as it is to say, “My Romantic Comedy for Ninjas is $.99 today” for #MondayBlogs. Please don’t do it. I personally find this off-putting. We all have books to sell. Instead, tell me something about you, something you’re struggling with, something that demonstrates how much we have common. Then, after I get to know you, and discover how awesome you are, I’ll be happy to buy your book and maybe even interview you here about it!

9. Study Other Headlines

Spend twenty minutes and read all the headlines in your magazines and newspapers. See if you can make your blog titles just as pithy and pointed as those writers did. There is a REASON why headlines are designed the way that they are and professional writers are trained to capture readers’ attention. Learn from them. If you call yourself a pro, then act like it!

10. Consider the Blog Post Itself

If your having trouble writing a headline for your 1500 words on your writing angst, then there may be a reason. Keep your blog posts simple and to the point, then you’ll see that the titles are much easier to write.

Learn From The Experts

And do a little research on your own! Here is a fascinating article on Forbes about headline writing. And another list of very practical suggestions from author Jeff Goins.

And a whole honkin’ bunch of articles from Copyblogger. Really, after all this information, there’s no reason why your headlines need to suck.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Do you have any suggestions to add?

There Has Never Been a Better Time In History to be a Writer

But the downside to that is that we are competing against each other for readers. We must be willing to  be our very best with every tweet, every status update, every blog post. Don’t get lazy with things like this. Put your best foot, uh, I mean tweet forward and see what happens.

Top 10 Things To Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As A Jane Austen Heroine Chose A Husband

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a good story must be in want of a publisher.

It’s the age old story. You have so many hopes and dreams. You have all these wonderful stories to tell. You know that it will take an attachment, a proposal and perhaps a big commitment to make you moderately rich and a teensy bit famous. So you, the perfect Lizzie Bennet, who will only writes for love, not necessarily £10,000 a year, will be happy just to attach yourself with a publisher who respects you.

Fortunately for you, your access to publishers on the internet is an inviting a prospect as a town full of regimental soldiers to a 16-yearold girl. But if you don’t have a benefactor such as the much lauded Lady Catherine de Burgh, or your family’s connections are little more than a barrister uncle in Cheapside, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own.

Never fear. This list will give you some guidance.

Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As  Jane Austen Heroine Choose A Husband

Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As Jane Austen Heroine Choose A Husband

 

  1. You’ll attract folks like you. If you want the best, then be the best.  Before you start looking for a publisher, make your story the best it can be. I know, you’ve been working on it for a long time and it really is good. It’s not silly like Lydia or Kitty’s, and it’s not quite as good as Jane’s (but she’s being courted by the Big Six.) Your first responsibility as a writer is to write well. Take your time. Learn from the greats. If you are going to take your writing seriously and you want to attract publishers who take writing seriously, then push yourself to the most excellent level. If you want to make a fast buck, then you’ll attract publishers who want to do the same. Don’t know where to get advice? Start with hanging out at my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, which was named by Writers Digest as one of the top 101 sites for writers for advice. 

 

"That is enough, child. Let the other ladies have a chance to EXHIBIT!"
“That is enough, child. Let the other ladies have a chance to EXHIBIT!”

2. Get the right kind of feedback from those knowledgeable in the industry. They will push you to excellence and the right connections. Your story is level headed. It  has a liveliness to it,  it’s been tempered by your exposure to great literature and you’ve been told, more than once, that it has “fine eyes.” But the best advice will come from critique groups, beta readers, editors or experienced writers who know the business and can honestly show you where to improve. You need to listen to them and improve your story in the very best way you can. You also never know who knows who. It does pay to be connected. I recommend Scribophile as a great resource. 10 Minute Novelists has a group there. Check them out. Ask for Sara Marschand. She’s awesome!

3. You understand your own goals for publication. Some writers have Rosings Park ambitions. Some will be content with Longbourne. (Forget Purvis Lodge. The attics there are dreadful!) If you don’t know what you want, then it will make choosing a publisher all the more difficult. This is what I did: I tried to find books, both fiction and non-fiction, that were similar to mine in content. I looked at who published them and who represented them. I asked myself if I wanted my books to be lumped together with these kinds of books. If I did, then it was from this list of publishers and agents that I would do research. If I didn’t, then I kept looking until I found books that were a better match. Writer’s Market is a great resource for writer willing to do the research. Get the book! 

Oh, Mr. Collins! You are such a charmer!
Oh, Mr. Collins! You are such a charmer!

4. You have a full understanding that an entire industry has been created to take advantage of desperate authors. And along comes your first contact with a publisher. He is tall, dark, handsome (okay maybe not in reality, but go with me, this is fun!) He is a mercenary. He may not be interested in art. He may not be interested in your long term goals. He may just want to cash in from your hard work. Legitimate publishers, who have good reputations, are, in this current economic climate, not likely to initiate relationships with writers. They don’t have to. They’re turning manuscripts away constantly.  It’s the less than trustworthy who are Googling authors and trying to sign anyone. Anyone. What to do? Go to Preditors and Editors and look for the names of reputable and notorious publishers, agents and editors. This is like Consumer Reports for writers. You’ll be really glad this site warned you about that Wickham!

5. If the publisher that contacted you is a start-up with few past authors, you need to be careful.  This should be a red flag. If you are their first client, or one of the first, it’s not likely that they have the credentials or the power or the skills to make you famous or even sold. Get names of anyone associated with them and send a few emails. Ask this, “I understand you worked with Wickham House for your book on gambling. Was that a positive experience for you?

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 11.54.16 AM

6. You should get a third party to look over a contract or legal document. If this potential publisher wants you to sign something, it is in your best interest to ask a lot of questions. Find a lawyer that specializes in contracts, or ask an agent to look something over for you. You don’t have to sign with an agent to sign a contract, but if you should be fully informed in what you’re signing. This is not one of those moments when I agree to the terms and conditions should be your knee-jerk reaction. And if your potential publisher doesn’t have a contract to sign, that means they’re depending on verbal agreements. This should be a red flag for you. A reputable publisher will be happy to provide you a contract, make adjustments, be patient with you while you get someone to look over it, and calm your nerves.

7.Make sure that they have professional editors working for them. Get names. Ask for specifics. Just because they say they’ll handle the editing, doesn’t mean that they will. You would hate it if your ARC was full of spelling and punctuation errors. It would be as embarrassing as having your petticoat six inches deep in mud. Need to find an editor? This is a list of reputable editors who would be happy to help you prepare your manuscript for publication. Check them out. 

8. Make sure that they have professional graphic designers working for them. Ask what happens if you don’t like the cover. Ask other authors if they liked their covers. Ask for them to show you all of the covers that they have been responsible for in the past. If you don’t like what you see, you may want to rethink this relationship.

9. Know the difference between a self-publishing house, an indie house and a vanity press. More importantly know what kind of publishing house you are working with. Check out this article that explains what a vanity press is and why you sign up with on, you just may regret it. 

Jane: "Oh Lizzie! The deepest love! And  . . . I can totally see up your nose!"
Jane: “Oh Lizzie! The deepest love! And . . . I can totally see up your nose!”

10. Don’t be desperate. Beginning writers think that having the word “published author” is like a halo of legitimacy. In some ways it is, but waiting to get published with a reputable, trustworthy publisher is far better than rushing into a relationship that you’ll want to get out of in a few months. Take your time. Do your homework. Someday I’ll use your book to teach your ten children how to play their instruments very ill.

Because you want so badly to be published, you’re not much different from the sad situation that all young women of the Regency Era were in.

You want to be published! That’s been the goal all along! Your mother has four other writers in the house who need to marry well because if they don’t the estate will be entailed away to Harper Collins! (Oops, sorry. I got carried away!) But trust me, you don’t to sign up with the first soldier that comes along. 

 

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You do have choices. While being published is a great accomplishment, it’s not the only opportunity for writers. So before you sign, take the time to really get to know your publisher and do your research.

And your ending will be a happy one.

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Learning From The Independent Publishing Experience: A Guest Post By Jude Knight

What have you learned from this experience?

The headline is a quote from the man I adore: “What have you learned from this experience?” (Not, incidentally, what you want to hear when you’ve just bumped your toe or broken your heart. But I love you, darling.)

Six months ago last month, I published my first historical romance, a novella. I’ve since published a novel, am about to publish another one, and will have another novel and a novella out by my 1st anniversary as an independent publisher.

I still have a great deal to learn, but here are my top five lessons from this first venture into the wild and wonderful world of Indie.

Independent Publishing From the Writers of 10 MInute Novelists

Lesson 1: We do better together than apart

Since joining various Facebook groups for historical romantic fiction, I’ve ‘met’ many wonderful authors. My to-read list has expanded at an alarming rate, but I’ve also been privileged to share their insights, tidbits from their research, and their encouragement as I’ve dipped my toes into the indie publishing water.  I’ve also joined a collaborative of regency romance writers, the Bluestocking Belles.

Without the retweeting and sharing of my friends, far fewer people would have heard of my books. And I am keen to return the service whenever I can. Readers are not a scarce resource to be hoarded; an enthusiastic reader will devour the books of many authors. When we share, when we support one another, we grow a larger market to benefit us all.

Lesson 2: 20 December is a terrible date to launch a new book

The 1st; maybe the 10th; maybe the 30th. But I launched my first book on the 20th.

The 20th was a really, really, bad idea, and very nearly did me in. So many competing demands. We have a habit of giving the grandchildren a craft day, and this year we did two (one full Saturday for the older children, and one for the younger). I work full-time in commercial publishing, and 30 years of experience should have taught me that clients pile on the deadlines in the three weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Zealand summer holidays. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on Christmas shopping and baking.

I did all my own editing, cover design, proofreading, formatting, marketing, and so on. The week leading up to 20 December was insane, and the next week, as I publicised the book, even crazier. And that week included Christmas Day.

Let’s not do that again, okay?

Lesson 3: Don’t leave the cover till the last week

I’ve done a lot of research on covers, and looked at hundreds trying to work out what I like and what I don’t. I downloaded Pixelmator for the Mac, and my PRH transferred across a heap of fonts from the ancient version of InDesign on our old publishing company’s computer. We experimented with fonts till we found some we liked. But – with final tweaks on the image — the cover I actually used wasn’t completely ready until 12 December, just a couple of days before I uploaded to Smashwords and Amazon.

More pressure than I needed. In future, my covers will be done before the book goes on preorder

Lesson 4: Distribution takes time – preorder is the way to go

I uploaded the first book on 16 December my time. The book began to be downloaded from Smashwords straight away. Somehow, I’d managed not to take that into my calculations, but hey — a download is a download, right? It took several days to filter through to the resellers from Smashwords. Apple finally started showing the book on 27 December, and didn’t really pick up speed for several days.

Amazon started selling immediately, too, but didn’t really begin to move until they made it free (see Ask for what you want, next).

Putting Farewell to Kindness up for preorder five weeks before release definitely lightened my stress load. And Baron for Becky went up nearly three months in advance.

Lesson 5: Ask for what you want; it’s less stressful than waiting

Ask for reviews. Ask for ratings. People can say ‘no’. But you lose nothing by asking. One thing I asked for was a free listing on Amazon. I was giving the novella away to give people a taste of my writing style, but Amazon insisted on a price of 99c.

I’d been told that Amazon would price match, and that I should ask people to request price matching. So I did. And nothing happened. I read discussions on forums where authors talked about how hard it was to get price matching. But then I thought ‘why not ask’?

So I emailed Amazon, told them that the novella was free at Apple and Barnes & Noble, that my strategy was to give it away free to publicise the next few books, and that — if they price matched — we’d both benefit in the long term. Within 24 hours, it was free on Amazon to US purchasers, and that slowly spread to their other stores.

So ask. People just might say ‘yes’.


Jude KnightJude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

 Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is also sitting on a couple of bestseller lists. It is number one in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

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Top 10 Signs You Aren’t Ready To Market Your Book

 

 

 "An author should always be prepared to talk about their books, but timing is everything. You may not be ready to market."

For the last two-ish years, I’ve had books to sell. I’ve learned a lot about, but certainly not everything, about marketing.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I think a good marketing author is always prepared to talk about their books, but timing is everything. You may not be ready to market.

These are the top 10 signs you need to put your marketing plan on hold for a little while.

1. Your book may not be that good. Do not assume that because you got it on paper that it deserves to have readers. If you have put shoddy work on the marketplace you are being disrespectful of writers, of the art of writing and readers everywhere. Go do what it takes to make it excellent. Need editing help? Check out this page we’ve created to connect you with some amazing editors from around the world.

2. You haven’t made a marketing plan. A plan includes thoughtful strategies on targeting your market, connections with local resources, guest blogs, and many other things. A good marketing plan spans months, not days. A good marketing plan has measurable goals. A good marketing plan is something that you work on a regular basis.

3. You aren’t interested in people. Many sensitive writer types are reclusive J.D. Salinger wannabes who never leave there house and think checking Facebook is enough social interaction for a decade. I get that. But if you want to sell then you’re going to have to get out of the house and talk to people. Readers want a connection to writers. You’ll need to make an effort. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t be surprised that your cats’ Amazon reviews of your book are the only ones you get.

4. You’ve targeted the wrong market. Marketing means finding the right people who are interested in your product and selling it to them. Many newbie writers just think people who read are a good target market. Um, no. A good market is specific. The market for my book Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day are busy people, usually educated and middle class or higher, who are creative. Many times they are stay-at-home moms who want to write around their home and child responsibilities. This market is different from the market for Falling For Your Madness. Because I kind of understand who would like my book, I need to make the effort to find them.

Top 10 Signs You Aren't Ready To Market Your Book

5. You haven’t done any research. Just like nearly everything else we do in this process, you need to learn how to market effectively. You need to take the time to use Twitter and Facebook well. You need to talk to other writers. You need to know what local resources can help you.

6. You’re not good at reading emotional cues. While I’m always prepared to talk about my books and sell my books and connect to readers, it’s not always appropriate for me to do so. If I’m so focused on me that I neglect the others’ around me, then I’m just noisy and I’ll turn off more people than I”ll ever sell to.

7. You have a cheap and amateurish cover. I think that the cover art for self-published books is one of the greatest indicators of blind spots in this industry. Get many opinions before you decide. Trust professionals. Ask artists and designers for help. Let go of your vision and let them play around with it. Study graphic design, even for a little bit, and try to understand why some art works and some make us want to poke our eyes out with a fork.

8. You think that one book is all it takes. If you’ve written something and had no training, no advice or no coaching, then it’s likely that it’s not any good. Best selling writers are those who have labored over their craft for decades. Don’t be so arrogant to think that because you can write a sentence that you can tell a great story and respect the art form of novel writing.

To have your name attached to something of inferior quality insults your hard work and the readers who read it" -- Katharine Grubb, Write A Novel in 10 Minutes A Day

9. You think you’ll make real money. I had a writing friend tell me recently: “She wants to leave her job this summer. She wants to know how long it takes to write a book and how soon will she be getting a livable wage from it.” We both picked up ourselves off the floor from laughing. Most self-published books by unknown authors sell less than 100 copies. Here’s an article by Chuck Wendig that should be a reality check for you about the financial success of self-published authors. Sadly, it’s likely the only check you’ll get.

10. You don’t have much confidence in yourself. This is a tough one to get over, but if your book is amazing and your cover art is gorgeous and you’ve edited it perfectly, you can’t sell a copy unless you believe in you. People are attracted to confidence. Readers will be more interested in you if you hold your head up high. I’ve seen how amazing this is and I’ve conquered a lot of fear in my life. I know that believing in yourself works miracles.

Marketing should be a long-term, thoughtful process. Take the time to do it right and you’ll be more pleased with the results. 

Have you ever marketed at the wrong time? What lessons did you learn from it?