Writers' Forum - May 2021





Finding Your Writing Motivation

We all need help with motivation no matter what projects we are hoping to tackle. But I think that creative work and particularly writing, can be knocked off course more easily by the rejection (that comes with submitting one's work) along with the general stress of the world. I’m enjoy a reset of sorts this week at a writing residency in Door County and this article really spoke to me. So for those of you who need a little boost of motivation, Mary Kole’s article might just do the trick: https://kidlit.com/writing-motivation/

How Much Do Authors Earn

It’s possible that this article should not be in such close proximity to the writing motivation article above, but I do think it’s important to discuss the business aspects of writing. I love it so much when there’s a transparent discussion about things like EARNINGS. In "How Much Do Authors Make Per Book," Sarah Nichols (for Book Riot) details specific examples of earnings from advances to royalties (overall and on a per book basis.) Jane Friedman’s article (https://www.janefriedman.com/how-much-do-authors-earn/) is also a must read. She talks about how much incomes can vary based on what you write and how much write and more.

Traditional Publishers Have Figured Out They Need to Curate Relationships with Readers

Technically, that isn’t the headline of the article. The true headline was: The New Holy Grail of Traditional Publishers: Direct-to-Reader Relationships. This seems a bit of a no-brainer to me – that publishing houses would seek to create/curate relationships with the readers/fans of the books they sell. However, that has not ‘traditionally’ been the case. Amazon, of course, is intimately knowledgeable about your book browsing and buying habits and can feed you more of the same at regular intervals. The article by John B. Thompson from the Jane Friedman blog discusses consumer outreach efforts by traditional publishers. I’ve noticed some of these myself and have signed up to receive notifications (directly from the publisher) when one of my fav authors has a new book available. The only question I have truly, one that I often ask when traditional publishers seem to be playing a game of ‘catch up,” is what took you so long?


Bryan Cohen runs one of the best Amazon ad education programs that I’ve found. And the initial program is a free tutorial with tons of video instruction along with a super-supportive Facebook group. You can check out Bryan's website here: http://bryancohen.com/ If you’re interested in learning how to run Amazon ads, keep an eye on the next program date (July) and be sure to sign up for the 5 Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge.

Bryan’s taste for improv in college brought him to Chicago and provided inspiration for his first book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts. He's gone on to publish 40+ books. He's a popular guest on podcasts like The Self-Publishing Show, Six Figure Authors, and The Creative Penn. After co-founding The Sell More Books Show Podcast, Bryan used his copywriting experience to create Best Page Forward, a copywriting agency for authors. He's also the founder of the 5-Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge, a free quarterly community course that's been taken by over 25,000 authors. Bryan's ultimate goal is to be able to help over a thousand authors per day with the exact publishing and marketing advice they need, no matter where they are in their careers. 


Characters: The Emotional Touchstone Readers Crave

Crafting characters that draw a reader into a story and keep them reading is essential to a successful book. Kristen Lamb’s teaches the how (and why) of character relatable characters with many different genre examples here: https://authorkristenlamb.com/2021/05/characters-emotional-touchstone-readers/

3 Key Tactics for Crafting Powerful Scenes

I love Susan DeFreitas’ approach to powerful scene creation—mostly because I needed this advice right now as I edit a book I wrote long, long ago. See if her advice about scene set up, reversals, and turning points is helpful to your writing.

4 Voices that Can Help or Hinder Your Memoir

“The concept of voice in memoir can be complicated,” writes Lisa Cooper Ellison in her post for the Jane Friedman blog. The voice would be that of the author, right? Yes! But we learn it really depends on the type of story the memoirist is conveying to the reader . . . here are the types of voices Ellison explores: The False Prophet, The Wounded One, The Investigator, and The Wise One. If you’re contemplating writing a memoir, definitely give this a read. 



Finding Comp Titles

Recently, I was researching publishers of middle-grade series and noting that some of their submission guidelines required multiple comp titles, not just the one or two you might typically refer to in your query. Gigi Collins’ article for the Good Story Company, "Finding Comp Titles," gives some excellent guidance for beginning this search for comps and then how to use them properly for your submissions to agents or editors. In “How to Find Compelling Comps for Your Book,” Star Wueredmann gives more in-depth advice and resources for searching for comps. I had never before heard of EBSCO’s NoveList system.


Make a Master File for Ebook MetaData

Save yourself the headache of searching for this information and create a file with all of your relevant book metadata. You may ask IS metadata? Here’s the definition from the article by Daniel Parson: “Metadata is the collection of words that computers use to understand and catalog a physical or digital item. This could be anything from a car to a blog post. For authors, your book is the data and your metadata includes its title, author name, genre …” and more. Your book is your data, then metadata is your title, your author name, your book description, your BISAC categories, ISBN, Amazon categories, and keywords. You may even want to include your retailer links in this file. Great time saver, check out the full article HERE

IngramSpark vs. KDP Print: The Great Debate

The first thing I thought of when I saw that title was, “Can’t we have both?” (Which then made me think of the last scene from Trading Places (1983) with Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy, which I’ve placed below for your viewing pleasure.)

All kidding aside, this is an important question that comes up frequently for indie published authors. My advice is that you should, indeed, do both. Publish your paperback for Amazon through KDP Print (do not pick expanded distribution) and then publish the paperback through IngramSpark as well to fulfill the distribution everywhere except for Amazon. Mark Dawson’s podcast walks through the ins and outs of this decision with hybrid author, Sara Rosett. Particularly, they address how IngramSpark “can bridge some pre-order gaps that Amazon doesn’t fill.” Watch the podcast here: https://selfpublishingformula.com/episode-278/


Get Book Reviews: Your Novel Can Always Find New Audiences

Beth Barany’s article for the Book Designer Website has previously been featured in a Writers’ Forum; however, I think it is worth reviewing mainly because I now can offer some feedback on the two services mentioned. I recently used BookSprout for a client’s book launch and had poor results in getting people to sign up to download the free ARC. Now, this may have had something to do with the historical fiction genre not being as popular as say mystery or romance, but the jury is definitely still out on this service. I will try it again for my own books and other authors as it is a FREE service, allowing for 20 ARC sign-ups/reviews before needing to convert to the paid plan. A different author colleague recently used Hidden Gems for her YA release with much better results, getting 40 downloads of her ARC. Now, it’s highly possible that not all of those readers will write reviews, but with Hidden Gems the 40 downloads only cost $85, which is very reasonable. Check out the full article:  https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2020/12/get-book-reviews-your-novel-can-always-find-new-audiences/

How to Sell Full Priced Books with David Gaughran

I love this video! We focus so much on price promotions and discounted books to drive our sales’ numbers, but rarely do we talk about how to sell full-priced books. This is worth the 20-minute watch.

BookBub Ads

I don’t know how many of you have tried BookBub ads, but I definitely encourage you to do so. It’s an excellent platform that allows you to focus your targeting to true comp author audiences along with stellar reporting that gives you results by vendor (Nook/Kobo/Amazon…) as well as my market (UK, CA, US etc..) If you want a beginner’s tutorial, take a look at my BookBub Ad Tutorial first. In “6 BookBub Ads Features You May Not Know About,” you’ll learn about some useful tools and strategies. These were all knew to me, and I can’t wait to make use of them.

Outside the Box Book Marketing Ideas

Author Diana Urban has curated a fascinating list of nontraditional book marketing ideas. See if any of these might work for your books. The one about giving away something rare or special related to your book made me think about how Maggie Stiefvater personalizes books (often with special drawings) for her local bookstore.

5 Ways to Build an Email List for Authors

Clayton Noblit for Written Word Media gives a superior strategy for how to build your email list. I will forever be advising authors that they need to build their own email contact lists (rather than relying on social media followers alone.)

Happy Writing (editing, marketing, and more!) - Valerie  

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