Author Learning Center, authors, book selling, Editing, Indie book publishing, self publishing

In this new book on publishing in India, I suggest what is true for authors there applies to authors everywhere.

India book cover

My thoughts on the India publishing market are included in this book, but I think authors all over the world will find my comments helpful

Recently a new book was released titled, Publishers on Publishing: Inside India’s Book Business. and I had the honor and privilege of being interviewed for a chapter in the book. What follows is an excerpt  where I answered specific questions posed by the editor. One of the main things I realized as I went through this process is the world has shrunk for authors. The challenges and opportunities that used to be country specific are now true for almost every author no matter where they are located. That is why it is more critical than ever that authors stay informed through resources like the Author Learning Center.  See if you agree with my answers.

What is the role of self-publishing in publishing world today? Has it changed over the last decade or so?

Self-publishing has created a dramatic shift in power and control of the market. Prior to self-publishing becoming a viable alternative, the power to decide what readers could purchase rested in the hands of agents and publishers. But now, authors who self-publish have a say as to what is available to readers. So the market has more choice than ever before. In addition, authors who believe in their books, can still make them available to readers even though agents and publishers may reject them. Publishing is now democratic.

This revolution started about 15 years ago, but what has changed in the last decade is self-published books are better. More authors are taking more time to write a better book and investing in editing so their book is as good as it can be.  A second trend is Hollywood is now looking at self-published books for ideas. That would not have happened 10 years ago.

The need and the reasons your company has introduced this within Author Services and done so recently? What has been the experience and trends in India?

If you are looking to self-publish, you have three options. The first is Do-it-Yourself (DIY), where you do everything yourself using a platform like Lulu. The second option is what I call General Contractor, where you hire the people to do the work, but you coordinate the activities. The third option is supported self-publishing, which is one company who offers every service you need to get your book done.

Simply put, there are authors who want the convenience of having a one stop shop of professional services available to them. That way they don’t have to depend on their own talents or take the time to search for what they need. They have one phone number to call to get everything they need to get their book complete.

Here is a link to a white paper called The Four Paths to Publishing which gives you even more detail.

As for India, our experience has been similar to other countries around the world. There are a certain set of authors who prefer to work with one company rather than do the work themselves or try to find the resources they need.

How does the economics of self-publishing work, for publishers? How does it compare to traditional publishing?

The main differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing is who makes the investment of money, who controls the content and speed to market. In both cases, authors earn royalties, but traditional publishers have the ultimate say what the final content is and how soon it is made available for readers. Self-publishing requires the author to make the financial investment, but the author is in control of the content and speed to market decisions. Also, in most cases, the author can earn a higher royalty percentage when they self-publish.

What are the services most used? Is it more publishing services or for dissemination?

The services most authors use are book and cover design for both print and e-book. And we make sure those books are available in distribution. Books used to be a planned purchase, but with online purchasing and digital books, books are now a spontaneous purchase. So authors don’t have to make a decision about what distribution or formats they want. We make sure their books are available for readers anywhere and in any format they want to read.

Beyond those services, a number of authors also purchase editing services to make sure their book is as good as it can be.

Marketing services are not as significant for Indian authors because it is a bit more difficult to cover the market with one service.

Why do you think this is the case?

I think design and distribution are the hardest things for authors to do well so we make them available in a very easy way. And if your book is not designed well or available in all formats, you have very little opportunity readers will find it.

You mentioned about how self published books get picked up by publishers for traditional publishing. Could you tell us a bit more about how this happens and why? Please share a specific case study.

There are two primary ways books get found by traditional publishers. First, many traditional publishers operate self-publishing platform. That gives them early visibility into books that are getting early sales momentum. A second way self-published books get discovered is by agents or editors watching lists on Amazon. If they see a book climbing, they will reach out through social media to contact the author.

A great example is the book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, written by Bronnie Ware. Bronnie was a palliative care nurse and began to see themes among the people she was working with near the end of their lives. From that experience she wrote a book. However, she lived outside of any major city in Australia and had no hope of finding an agent or publisher so she self-published with Balboa Press, which is a division of Hay House, a traditional publisher. Her local paper wrote a story. Then The Guardian in the UK picked it up and then it spread like wild on Facebook. Within a month Hay House picked up her book and now it has been translated in 27 languages. Had it not been for self-publishing, Bronnie would have never been published and Hay House would have never seen the book and the world would not have been enriched by her writing.

With the role of publishers changing to become more for dissemination and visibility rather than for editorial and production, what impact would this have on the self-publishing landscape?

Self-publishing will continue to evolve and create more services that enable authors to make more readers aware of their books.

How do publishers remain relevant in an arena where self publishing and purchase of bespoke services becomes easier? Future of traditional publishing v/s self publishing?

Publishers are like movie studios. There are some books that would benefit from the expertise and experience of a traditional publisher, just like some movies need the resources of a big studio to make the project come to life. So as long as there are books like that, traditional publishers will always have a role. As for the future, I think traditional publishers will publish fewer books, but they will be bigger books. Just like we see with movie studios. Self-publishing will continue to grow as more titles are made available in the market so readers will have more choice than ever before. That will be a good thing because more authors who can impact people with their writing will have that opportunity. Also, self-publishers will offer more resources to authors such as The Author Learning Center (www.authorlearningcenter.com) to help authors produce better books and get to their goal.

 

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Author Learning Center, authors, book marketing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

7 Things Every Writer Needs to Become an Author (Part 2)

This is the second part of the post I wrote as a guest blogger on Lulu.com. If you want to know the first three in the list you can read those here.   

#4 Advice along the way

The fourth thing you’re going to need as you work toward your goal of publishing is advice. As I suggested, a plan is like GPS, and if you think about it, GPS gives you instructions along the way to make sure you reach your goal.

Turn left.

Take this exit.

Recalculating.

The right information at the right time assures you will reach your destination. The same thing is true on your publishing journey. You will come to points where expert advice and encouragement will keep you on the right track and help you keep moving forward.

Writing and publishing and marketing are learned skills, so finding people and resources that can serve as the voice in your GPS is vital. Identify people and sources you can trust and listen to them. Seek out a small, trusted few rather than the opinion of the masses.

There are websites where you can seek out the opinion of the crowd, but I question how valuable that type of feedback can be. You could put your manuscript out there and have a hundred people comment. Fifty of them may think it’s great and fifty may think it’s terrible, but that doesn’t really help you. So find a small, trusted group rather than the unvetted crowd.

Now, you can accomplish this a number of different ways. Depending on what community you’re in, there might be local writing groups you can join. The Author Learning Center also gives you that opportunity to get feedback through your Author Circle if you have a book project. No matter how you do it, just don’t try to take this journey alone.

#5 Persistence

The fifth thing you need to become an author is persistence. As the saying goes, it takes years to become an overnight success so persistence is really, really important. You will meet challenges and even face discouragement and rejection along the way, but you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you have something important to share with others. In fact, throughout history there are numerous of examples of well-known and successful authors being rejected multiple times before they were published.

Take L. M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables for example. Her series of books has been a must read for young people for decades. It’s inspired by her own story growing up on Prince Edward Island. A number of years ago, I had a chance to visit the place where Anne of Green Gables was set.

In fact, Canada has turned the site into a national park. I was extremely impressed with how they created an experience for visitors, but one thing that really struck me was in her biography. She said she would have never been published had the post office not been in her uncle’s home where she lived.

The reason why is because back then you would send a manuscript to a publisher, and if the publisher declined, they would send it back wrapped up in brown paper and tied in string. So Montgomery said that if she would have had to go into town and walk down the street holding that package, she would have been very embarrassed. However because the package came back to her uncle’s house, it gave her the courage to continue to send it out. Eventually a publisher picked up her books, and since then, they have gone on to sell millions of copies around the world.

She was persistent and it paid off.

More recent examples include Lisa Genova, Louise Hay, and James Patterson. Lisa wrote a book called Still Alice but could not find a publisher who was interested so she self-published with iUniverse. It was subsequently discovered by Simon and Schuster, who picked it up and it became a best seller and eventually a movie for which Julianne Moore won an Oscar. Lisa’s persistence was demonstrated in that she self-published even when no publisher wanted it.

Louise Hay is another example. Louise founded the publisher Hay House when she was sixty years old. Sadly, Louise passed away in late 2017, but she has left a significant legacy in the life of people. She decided she had something to share that could really help people and largely helped create the category of Self Help. No publisher at the time would produce her books, so she first self-published and then started the company that continues on to this day.

Finally another great example of persistence is James Patterson. He’s arguably one of the more famous authors we have today, but many people don’t know he was actually rejected by thirty-one publishers.

He shared the details in an interview. “I worked my way through college. I had lots of night shifts, so I started reading like crazy. Then I started writing, and I found that I loved it. When I was twenty-six I wrote my first mystery, The Thomas Berryman Number, and it was turned down by, I don’t know, thirty-one publishers. Then it won the Edgar for the best first novel. Go figure.”

In each of these examples the authors believed in their work, and they were persistent. Now I don’t know if you are the next Lisa Genova or James Patterson; however, if you are not persistent and you don’t believe in your work, it will be tough for you to reach your goals.

#6 Accountability

A sixth thing every writer needs to become an author is accountability. This is an important one because without accountability most things don’t get done. John Di Lemme suggests, “Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.”

In fact, the likelihood that you will transform your desires into reality increases tremendously if you share your written goals with a friend who believes in your ability to succeed. One author calls it having “a partner in believing.” I think that is such a great phrase because that’s what you need—someone who believes in your idea as much as you do.

Someone who believes you have something to say or share that is worth preserving and telling.

That’s why, along with persistence, you need to be accountable and you need someone to keep you accountable. That way when you get discouraged or stuck, there is someone to help you stay focused on your milestones and goals.

#7 Encouragement

Writing a book takes time and can also include periods of self-doubt or discouragement. That’s why you need someone to help you stay motivated when you may be ready to give up.

Even prolific authors like Stan Lee needed encouragement. Stan started Marvel Comics and has helped create some of the most well-known superheroes. At one point before he had made a name for himself, he was ready to give up. Like most salaried employees, he had bills and a mortgage, but at age forty writing action scenes became unfulfilling, and he wanted to quit. His wife told him to create a script that he found meaningful, and the rest is history.

So do not ever underestimate a well-timed word of encouragement. We all need them.

Information alone is not enough.

This truly is the best time to be an author because there is more opportunity to get published and more information for authors than ever before. But information alone is not enough to help you get to your goal. You need these seven things to transition from just writing to publishing:

  1. an idea
  2. a deadline
  3. a plan,
  4. timely, expert advice
  5. persistence,
  6. accountability
  7. encouragement

A GPS for your publishing journey

If you are looking for an easy way to have these elements available at your fingertips, I invite you to visit the Author Learning Center. There you will find a unique combination of expert advice, author-inspired tools, and a community to help you reach your publishing goals. www.authorlearningcenter.com

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Author Learning Center, authors, book marketing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

7 Things Every Writer Needs to Become an Author (Part 1)

This is reposted from the Lulu.com blog where I was a guest blogger. Part 2 is coming soon.

ALC-icon

The ALC is a GPS for your publishing journey.

Researchers have estimated that 200 million people have an idea for a book, and yet most aspiring authors never get published. Why is that? That’s because having an idea for a book is easy. Starting to write a book is easy. Finishing the book is a much more difficult task. Not to mention marketing the book once it’s finished. So what does it take to turn a writer into an author? From my personal and professional experience, plus conversations with thousands of aspiring and accomplished authors, I have identified seven key things writers need if they are going to reach their publishing goals.

 

#1 An idea

Having an idea may seem obvious, but there is a big difference between an idea and a well-thought-out idea. The idea is the foundation for the book, yet many writers don’t take the time to really think about their ideas.

The five key elements of a great story

If you are writing a fiction book, there are five key elements of a great story you need to make sure are part of your book.

  1. An inciting action—This is the action near the beginning that kicks off the story. A dead body is found or a car chase ensues or two people kiss. Something needs to set the story in motion.
  2. A protagonist—This is often the main character who you want readers to cheer for and care about.
  3. An antagonist—This is the person who is working against the protagonist and putting up obstacles or making it difficult for the protagonist to accomplish whatever is set before him or her.
  4. A conflict or challenge—This is whatever must be overcome for the protagonist to succeed. What happens if your protagonist doesn’t stop the asteroid from hitting the earth? What happens if someone takes over the world and inserts a virus into computers? What happens if the murderer isn’t caught? Too often, writers start out with a really good idea, but they don’t draw the reader in by making it clear what’s at stake. It sounds simple, but surprisingly many writers don’t make this easy to spot when this is what typically propels the story forward and gives context to the characters.
  5. A resolution—A story without closure isn’t really a story. Readers don’t want to be left hanging. So even if you are writing a series, you want to provide a satisfying ending. All good stories do.

Both traditional publishers and Hollywood executives look for these elements in a story, which is why you will see them in most successful books and movies. However, what I have found is most first-time authors are missing one or more of these key elements in their stories so the book fails to satisfy. I encourage you to take a hard look at your book and ask yourself if you have these elements clearly defined. If not, make sure you add them to your story. It seems like a short list, but it is critical if you are writing a fiction book.

What about a nonfiction book?

If you’re writing a nonfiction book, you still need to have a framework, but it is different from a fiction book. One big question you want to ask yourself is how will readers be impacted by reading the book?

  1. What outcome can I expect after I read your book?—Will I quit smoking? Will I be a better parent? Will I invest my money more wisely? Will I lose weight? Will I have better health? There is any number of outcomes that can come from reading a nonfiction book, but you need to be clear what your book offers.
  2. Are you going to give me a process that is repeatable?—Just because something worked for you doesn’t mean I will find it interesting if there is nothing I can apply from your experience. So you need to consider how others can use what you have learned. Give readers a process they can implement.
  3. Are you simply going to inspire me?—If you’re writing a memoir, yours might be a story that inspires and motivates a reader. That can be the power of a true story, but if that is your goal, do consider how you tell the story. A series of facts is not nearly as interesting as a book that includes the five elements of a great story—even if it is a memoir. Just because it happened chronologically doesn’t mean you have to tell the story in that order or even include every detail.
  4. Serve them PIE—As you start to develop your chapters, think about structuring them around the acronym PIE, which stands for Principal, Illustration, and Example. In other words, as you begin to write, try to include the principal you want to convey, but then couple that with an illustration of how it might work. Finally, offer an example of someone who has applied the principal in a real-world setting. This simple, proven structure can help readers more easily grasp the key points you are trying to make.

With an idea established for your book, you can start doing the real work of creating your book; the writing, editing, and developing.

#2 A deadline

The second thing that every writer needs to become an author is a deadline.

You must pick a date when you want to hold a copy of your book. With no deadline, you will probably never have a book.

If you work with a traditional publisher, they will set a date for you because your publisher or your editor will give you a deadline for when you need to turn in your manuscript. If you are self-publishing, you need to set that date for yourself because, without it, you most likely will never get to your goal. So make sure that you set a date when you want to hold a copy of your book.

And writing that date down makes a difference. Research shows you become 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down on a regular basis. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, studied the art and science of goal-setting, and she concluded those who wrote down their goals achieved them at a significantly higher rate than those who did not.

If you want to increase the odds of becoming an author, set a deadline for finishing your book and write it down.

#3 A plan

You’ve got an idea and you’ve set yourself a deadline to complete that idea. How do you take steps to meet that deadline? A plan of course.

A plan is like GPS. Once you set your destination, you need a path with the steps to get to your goal. It’s also helpful to have milestones along the way to mark your progress. Think of the milestones a mini-deadlines.

If you are a writer and you want to become an author, these are some key milestones you want to mark on your journey.

  • manuscript complete
  • editing complete
  • submission for production
  • design
  • final revisions
  • printing

With the proper support and information, you can achieve these interim goals, and most importantly, celebrate success along the way. The key to remember is no date, no book; no plan, no book. In short, without a date and a plan, it is very unlikely you will get your goal.

Stay Tuned…

We’ll be back with the four remaining pieces to transforming yourself into an author, along with Keith’s conclusion!

 

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