What can Book Clubs do for you?

Books of every genre can be promoted at a book club.

Books of every genre can be promoted at a book club.

Many of you may belong to book clubs, others may have utilized their exposure to boost name recognition and sales.

I recently made myself available to book clubs as a speaker and guest. It remains to be seen how profitable this will be (not just in sales made, but in gaining more exposure to future readers), but regardless, I think it will produce some helpful insight in how readers look for books, how they digest them and what they are looking for in a book.

I know, I know, we’re creative types, but business intrudes into our fantasy world, especially if we want to keep creating those fantasies for others to read. So, I feel this is a viable tool to help us research hot topics, see what is “happening” with readers as well as get a little much needed recognition.

Most of all, I would love to hear from others about his or her experiences in dealing with book clubs. Do you feel it is worth the time or effort? What did you find to be the best or the worst experiences?

Thanks for your insight!

Happy reading and writing!
http://bookclubreading.com/against-their-will/

 

Books waiting to be autographed.

Books waiting to be autographed.

I Gave up on Traditional Publishing – Am I Crazy?!

Sales, Sales, Why am I so Stressed?

Sales, Sales, Why am I so Stressed?

More and more authors now agree that traditional publishing is not the same lofty goal and heavenly realm that was held as the ultimate achievement for one wanting to write the great American page-turning book. It no longer guarantees success for the author, or that a published author can sit back and watch her bank account grow daily. With the exception being that known authors get more, most authors on a traditional royalty paying program, especially those first time writers, receive often paltry payment, the sums sometimes as little as cents on the dollar earned. So, what is a new author to do?

Okay, I have to ‘fess up. I’m one of those authors who left “traditional publishing”. Gaining my independence wasn’t entirely stress free, however. I was chided for “daring” to leave the structure of the traditional program. I was told I was crazy to give up guaranteed publication. There was no mention of guaranteed sales, however! And that was the kicker. I had little to no control over the cover, the design or editing. Despite begging for changes and pointing out mistakes, etc., it seemed nothing happened to rectify these things. So, I jumped and made the plunge into the turbulent waters of doing it on my own.

I have control over all aspects of my work, from cover, to fonts, to design, to even how long I keep it in print. I decide how it is released and how it is promoted. Going independent opened up new horizons for me. I began to see the book selling world differently and slowly learned that getting pushed outside one’s comfort zone wasn’t a bad thing. What I was doing was for me and my success, not someone else’s.

Okay, so those are the positives. There were negatives as well. Like so many writers, doing sales was and still is “not my thing”. Talk about intimidation and total paralyzing fear! Help! And, that’s what I got. I selected a company that offered a full range of services that were designed to get authors up on their feet and running toward success. Services covered all aspects of PR campaigns, to websites, and even doing book trailers. These were the items I felt I could use successfully. There are many others offered that I didn’t select. Some authors may not need these extra features. Some don’t need content or copy editing. They are confident in their work and its appearance. Some have relationships with book sellers and can utilize this to set up their own sales strategy. That’s the beauty of it all, use what you need, not what you don’t. One word of caution based on personal experience; don’t be too confident in your work’s appearance, editing or style. After all, we’re the creator and sometimes we’re so emotionally attached we cannot see the faults in our own work. Regardless of experience, get some honest evaluations of your work before going forward into publication.

Regardless of experience, get some honest evaluations of your work before going forward into publication.

For those of us on limited budgets, much can be learned from those who have already traversed this sometimes scary path. Information on what formats are best, to the best prices, to who is reputable can be found all over the net. And that is a good thing. Reading what others have to say about a company, product or service is invaluable. I cannot encourage one enough to do their homework. Check out others’ comments that have used a particular service. Compare packages and prices from company to company. If there are negatives listed, are they ones that would likely impact your project? Even after finding the perfect plan and provider of service for your project, there still is no guarantee there won’t be some hiccups along the way. Just don’t let them distract you from the ultimate goal, sales and recognition of your work.

After getting past this step comes the all important marketing of your product. This is daunting, even for seasoned sales people. I’ve told many others that writing a book and sending it to market is like giving birth to a child and watching him mature and go into the world. It is a personal part of your identity and when it is not received favorably; for whatever reason, it feels personal. Heck, it just plain hurts! Authors have to learn hard lessons in this realm just as others learn hard lessons in the fields they have chosen to pursue. We all have to pull ourselves out of our comfy slippers and flannel robes and go out and face the world and pitch ourselves, uh our work, to strangers.

Although, this is merely a short summary of my experience, I can say, I’m glad I took this route. Are there things I would do differently next time? You bet! Would I do it again? Certainly!

What are your ideas on this subject? What have your experiences been like? What would you do differently next time around? We all have to make hard choices. But, Destiny is in our grasp and we will not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

Yes, I would rather have my head in the sand!

Yes, I would rather have my head in the sand!

Alternatives to Traditional Publishing – Self-Publishing; is it a Dirty Word?

We're not in Kansas anymore!

We’re not in Kansas anymore!

As discussed before, traditional publishing is starting to take a back seat to new alternatives. The old stigma of never paying for publication and the often negative association with the terms “vanity press” causes many authors to avoid these options altogether. But, today is a new day, Things are changing in the world of writing and publishing, in some cases quite rapidly. As new technology grows, changes in attitudes toward these new options are growing as well. Authors now have more opportunities to get their work in the hands of readers. This is truly good news.

Independent and self-publishing platforms are rapidly becoming the new norm for today’s authors. I read an article just last week about a main-stream author who has been writing in excess of 20 years. This person has written numerous books that were published by traditional presses. Even with “success” in the traditional publishing realm, this author felt there were greater opportunities to be had by switching to independent publishing; which this person has done with success.

Going the independent route for authors offers a sense of control over the project. Depending on the company and the package of services the author acquires, the levels of control may vary. Still, authors have a say in most every step of the process. If you have strong opinions on a cover design, how the book should be formatted, or even as to which color the ink should be, these are options where the author is in charge. The book size, the paper used for printing and word length can be chosen by an author. Another area of control is the timetable. How quickly an author wants to release a book can be tweaked, depending on the author’s schedule, and other factors. Pricing is another area of input. Some companies leave it entirely to the author what to charge; others “suggest” a price and others give a minimum price which reflects costs and the author can determine how much mark-up is needed.

For those independent spirits out there, this path seems like an ideal approach to get one’s work in the hands of the public. However, for all the positives, there can be negatives. These can be minimized or avoided if the author does the homework and considers all potential variables that will affect how successful the results are. The costs involved are not just financial, but personal as well. Writers who choke and stammer with fear at the thought of speaking to a literary group or book club must realize they will have to do things outside their comfort zones. If you’d rather cower in a corner with green gills and streams of sweat running down your temples than hand out book marks at a writer’s convention and tell others about your work, you may have trouble getting significant sales with this method of publishing. Those with marketing savvy most likely will find the sales pitch a bit easier to swallow. But, even for those with marketing backgrounds, the process can be daunting. Let’s face it, we authors are much more comfortable sitting in front of a laptop screen than standing before a crowd of strangers telling them why they should read our books.

Some of the bigger independent publishing companies have figured this out. They’ve capitalized on the demand for help in marketing and put together various packages to help authors promote and sell their work. This can be a great way to go for some authors, but not all. Not every one of us has thousands of dollars to spend on marketing and we must make our money count!

Authors are creative and this evidence shows in some of the ways they devise to attract attention to their books. Anything from email “signatures” with links to their book, to social media campaigns that offer something unusual in exchange for a review or other promotional considerations; the sky really is the only limit.

Finding success with independent publishing requires commitment, determination and a “failure is not an option” mentality. We have to come out of our comfort zones, shove those bookmarks in readers’ faces, “brag” about our work and never be afraid to tell others that we’re an author, a published author! Yes, I include myself in that demographic! I’m the one over there, huddled in a corner, a nice shade of green creeping up my throat and sweat running down my temples as I hear my name being announced as the next speaker at a literary event. How bad do you want it? That’s the question. As for me, I carry extra bottles of TUMS in my pocket. After all I’ve shoveled down my throat, I think I should buy some stock in the company, but I’m not giving up. Neither should you! In this new world of publishing I think Dorothy said it best, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!”

Next time I’ll discuss some of the companies offering publishing packages and give my two cents worth on what an author should look for when considering these options.

A Better Way to Publish – maybe?

Authors are not limited in their choices; we can choose the process that works best for us.

Authors are not limited in their choices; we can choose the process that works best for us.

 

Last time I wrote about the downfalls of traditional publishing. This time I want to begin to look at some alternatives to the traditional model.

Anyone who is serious about their writing most likely has had some experience in attempting to gain a publishing contract. If not, then the author probably most likely, has had other relevant experience in entering writing contests, or attending writing conferences and even networking with others to find an agent or publisher who might be interested in their work.

I followed this same path of frustration. Oh, not that I didn’t learn a lot along the way. I made some good contacts, garnered various tips and tricks to try, but possibly more importantly, I learned how to approach and adapt other methods to gain publication.

When I first started writing and had a completed product to sell, I was told absolutely to go the traditional route. And I did. Eventually, it seemed the best I could do was to go with a small, start-up, independent publisher. They were a royalty-paying group, but were small, with no resources to help promote the books they listed and the authors were pressured to devise their own marketing and promotional campaigns.

You may or may not be a marketing guru, but I am not. This was all strange to me and I struggled with the entire process. But hey, I could say I was published. And, I did sell a few books and get some royalty checks. I knew, however, that this was not my ultimate goal and that to get to the place I wanted my work to be, I had to step out and be responsible for my own destiny and not wait for a publisher to make it for me.

As I researched the topic, speaking with other writers, looking at different types of publishers, and reading the latest articles on how the industry was moving forward, I saw the changes moving forward in the publishing world. The independent model, the self-publishing programs and other similar types of opportunities for authors were beginning to grow, and not just grow, but take off astronomically. What great news for authors!

With opened eyes, I realized that my first experience with a publisher had prepared me to accept the new norm, that I would have to do things on my own initiative. I began to hear the success stories of unknown authors doing some creative things and coming up winners in the market.

Currently, I am out in this new book-selling world. The verdict is still out, but at this point, I can encourage every writer to look past his or her boundaries of what you are willing or able to do to get your work out there. If you can do that, you can succeed in publishing and selling your work. Don’t doubt yourself or what you have produced. If you feel uncertain about your work and its value, then get some professional help with critiquing, editing, or even a content edit. There are well-qualified people out there who can assist in this process, and if you get the right person, it is well worth any money spent.

So many things to think about, I know. Next time I’ll discuss more on this topic of where to find the right people to assist you in the process, some things you can do to garner the support and enthusiasm of others, and even what to look for when looking to publish independently or self-publish. Meanwhile, dig deep into your writing heart and ask yourself, is my work worth it? Even if it is not as complete as you or a reader would like, it can be determined if it is worthy of pursuit. If you want it bad enough, it is worth whatever it takes short of robbing a bank, to get your work in the reading public’s hands. So pat your back and start typing!