December Writers' Forum

December Writers' Forum - Indie Author Advice You Can't MissIn my journey through the steps of independent publishing, refining my writing skills, and completing a successful agent search, I’ve come across some excellent information, tips, tools, and shortcuts that I think would be beneficial to any writer. Once a month, I’ll share the “best of” information and news from the publishing industry as well as feature other authors and writing instructors with tips to share. I am incredibly thankful for the assistance and advice given to me from writing and publishing professionals and am happy pay that forward. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press

January Book Events

Mystery to Me Bookstore, 1863 Monroe Street, Madison

Sunday, January 14th at 2 pm Maddy Hunter launches her newest mystery Say No Moor

Friday, January 19th at 7 pm Doug Moe interviews Nick Petrie about Light it Up

A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham Street, Madison

Wednesday, January 31st at 6 pm Thisbe Nissen talks about her book Our Lady of the Prairie along with Jay Baro Nicorvo author of The Standard Grand

Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer, Milwaukee

Boswell Books and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union, present an evening with Colson Whitehead, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad!  Wednesday, January 31, 7 pm, at UWM Student Union, Wisconsin Room, 2200 E Kenwood Blvd.  For ticketing info click here

Featured Subject

Top 2017 Headlines in Publishing - 5 Things Authors Need to KnowA Look Back on 2017 Publishing Headlines: 5 Issues Raised for Authors

Jane Friedman, as always, gives fabulous advice and insight into the publishing industry. I highly encourage you to read the article on the issues raised for authors in the past 12 months. (Just in case you missed any.)

Here’s a quick takeaway:

  1. Barnes & Noble is in trouble. (Okay, maybe that’s not news.) But this article contains some frank talk from the CEO about Nook and their plans moving forward for smaller stores that they hope will provide a better shopping experience. Additionally, in this section there’s a link to a Nathan Bransford article (What If Barnes & Noble Went Bankrupt?) about the grave impact the closing of B&N would have on trade publishing.
  2. The self-publishing and self-publishing service market shows signs of maturity. If you’ve been following the trends here, you already know that Pronoun recently closed and the market share of CreateSpace keeps growing. Lots of great stats here.
  3. Is Traditional Publishing Losing Its Ability to Launch Block Busters—and How Much Does It Matter?
  4. Ebook Sales Are HUGE! And the self-publishing market by some numbers accounts for 60% of Kindle Unlimited reads.


Pre-Publication Information

Build Your Author Platform with Blogging - Dos & Don'tsYour Author Platform – Blogging

If you’re already blogging or thinking of starting one, you’ve certainly come across the folks that say their making mega bucks off of theirs—and often they want to teach you how to do this, too. (FOR A FEE! HA!!) The temptation to figure out how to have a piece of that pie and monetize a blog is very real, but maybe not the best dream to chase for authors whose main goal is to grow a following for their book-length works.  

Anne R. Allen talks very frankly about her failed effort to monetize her blog and gives ten excellent tips for writers on blogging. My favorite one is #7 – NEVER SACRIFICE YOUR WORK IN PROGRESS FOR YOUR BLOG!

Should You Build an Email List? 

In a related topic to blogging for authors, Tim Grahl gives tips about building your email marketing list. For me this is connected obviously to my blogging because those who are subscribed to my email list receive my blog directly to their email inbox. I find that there are a lot of authors who are resistent to building their own email list. Why did I decide to do this? Simply because I do not want to be solely reliant on social media platforms to reach those people who follow me.  I consider building an email list a good business policy.

Tim Grahl helps dispel five myths about email marketing for authors this article. (I’ve heard nearly every single one of these from other writers . . . and might have held a few of these beliefs in the past myself.) This is worth the read for the serious writer who wants to maintain a direct connection to their followers. 

Why You Need a Writing Group for Author Success!YES, You Do Need a Writing Group

If you’re at the beginning of your writing journey and wondering if you need a critique or writing group to give you feedback, let me tell you in a word -- YES. I don’t know where I’d be without my critique group. The consistent feedback I receive keeps me on track and definitely lets me know when I’ve got some work to do on my current project.

And, in my experience not all writing/critique groups are created equal. I’ve been in some that have been less than productive for me. Sharion Bially of Writer Unboxed gives a well-developed list of what to look for in a group as well as an overview of an amazingly powerful group that has gone on to launch a number of bestselling authors.   

Top Trends in Book Cover Design for 2018

Will you be publishing a book in 2018? You’re going to want to pay attention to Linsey Vontz’ article for The Digital Reader where she analyzes what’s working for different genres. I’m always fascinated by how fast trends in font and image seem to change in cover design. 

Are You Planning a 2018 Book Launch?5 Things to Take Off Your Book Launch List

Now here’s something I know quite a bit about. In addition to launching my own books, I aid other authors with their launches. I immediately clicked on Deanna Cabinian’s article: 5 Things I’m Not Doing to Launch My Book—And What I’m Doing Instead. She gives specific advice on what activities she’s ditching and why. I appreciate her sensible approach to keeping the process of launching a new title manageable and effective. You can’t do everything and must pick and choose which things have the most value.


Your Book Autograph

Your book is out!! YAY! But have you given much thought to how you’re going to sign copies for readers? I know that I didn’t really beforehand, but I’m so glad that Dr. Judith Briles has written an article which talks about your actual signature as well as some fun add-ons to consider when you’re at an event.

If you’ve been at this a while, you’ve probably developed certain go-to items and processes that work for you. I have pens that I like, but I’ve recently graduated to a gorgeous bronze sharpie that works even better. I also ALWAYS carry post-it notes with me to double check the spelling for particularly tricky names before I start signing. And, I have some giveaway goodies I like to tuck in—bookmarks, postcards, and even some Celtic temp tattoos.

Enabling X-Ray for your Ebooks on Amazon

Step-by-Step Instructions for enabling X-Ray on Kindle Books & MoreIf you’re asking yourself what the heck is X-Ray? You are SO not alone. There’s always something new to learn in the indie pub world and this is a great example of staying on top of things. (And to be honest, X-Ray has been around for a while, but it seems that author control of the X-Ray search is the newish thing that has everyone buzzing.) Readers, please correct me if I’m wrong on this!!

X-Ray is (according to KDP) “… a unique Kindle eBook feature that allows readers to learn more about a character, topic, event, place, or any other term, simply by pressing and holding on the word or phrase that interests them.” Okay, so in another word it is indexing without the index. Currently, you can search a word or term in ebooks that allows you to access the web. The difference here is that (as I understand it) you can control where the link takes you and it eliminates a step in the search process.

Melinda Clayton's "how-to" article for Indies Unlimited gives detailed step-by-step instructions on enabling X-Ray on your books. 

I encourage you to read the comments below the article as well. There are some authors who found that Kindle had enabled this feature automatically for their books with poor results. For instance, if you’re writing science fiction you might be creating terms and definitions for things that won’t match up well with the real internet search world.

Creating Diverse Income Streams That Build Your Brand and Your IncomeDiversify Your Income Stream & More Advice for the Indie Author

This article from Michael Larsen comes at the perfect time as we contemplate our goals for 2018. His list of more than 50 IDEAS gives you new ways to use your current knowledge, books, articles, and publishing know-how and adapt it to other income streams. I’ve found at least four things I could try in 2018. How many might work for you?

I hope that these articles helped you on your writing and publishing journey!

Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  



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