Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Top Three Reasons to Self-Publish

The number of self-published authors (known as indie authors) are creating a revolution as their number and success has continued to grow substantially over the last few years. Indie published books account for 39% of the unit sales for the top 7,000 best selling titles (in Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Romance), according to The 7k Report from Author Earnings by High Howey. This is more than the top 5 publishers combined at 34%. This is creating quite a stir in the publishing world.

I am sure this is leading other authors to ask themselves if they are ready to self-publish their own works. Self-publishing is now mainstream in the literary world. Even though the option to self publish has been around for many years, often authors were hesitant to take what used to be considered a “leap of faith.”  But in today’s technologically advanced world where there are numerous online channels available through which to market and sell and e-readers and tablets within everyone’s reach, it is the perfect time to pursue self-publishing. It’s not only a popular choice today, but for many highly respected authors it is the preferred means to publishing their works. With the removal of the need to fight for shelf space and the ability to market directly to readers, indie authors can be on the same playing field and compete with bestselling authors backed by publishers.

There are clearly some distinct and worthwhile advantages to self-publishing whether you are publishing an electronic version or a print version or both; but we have narrowed it down to the top three reasons you should consider self-publishing.

Time is on Your Side
When you consider how long it takes to get a book published when dealing with a traditional publisher, there is a distinct advantage to self-publishing. In most instances an author is looking at months to years to actual publication when dealing with a traditional publishing company. This is because there are so many different people involved in the process. Self-publishing means that you can set your own timetable to accomplish all the associated tasks such as editing, cover selection and writing that needs to be done to complete your work without having to deal with multiple individuals. This will substantially reduce the time that is needed to get your work published.

You have Ultimate Control
An indie author remains in complete control of their own projects. Traditional publishers have their own agenda and politely force you to do things their way. They are looking out for their own best interest, instead of yours. But when you are solely in charge you can get things done the way you like them. This means that you are committed to your own success and not that of a huge publishing company. You can choose the designs you want or hire a design artist specifically to design your cover. It’s all up to you and you are in control of the entire publishing process when you self-publish. To the indie author this also means that when there is something that you do not like, you have the power to change it. It’s your project and you can do with it what you want – you have the power to succeed.

Indie authors can also expand their sales opportunities without needing approval from a publisher. For example, Babelcube offers an extremely easy way for authors to sell books in new language markets without any upfront cost. Even the book translation is free.

Percentage of the Profits
Indie authors keep a larger share of the sale price of their books. Large publishers typically give 25% of the net revenue to the author. Even though the average self-published book sells for less than a typical one from a traditional publisher, the 7k Report shows that the indie author still ends up with more money at the end of the sale. It shows that indie authors kept 47% of the daily revenue on Amazon paid to authors (again for the top 7,000 best sellers analyzed), while these sales only accounted for 24% of the gross Amazon sales dollars.

Even though you may pay out of pocket for a design artist or even an editor you are ultimately in control of where and how the money is spent and how much ends back up in your own pocket. By self-publishing you remain in control of all the related financial decisions and this translates into more profit for you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Building an Author's Website

Why an Author Needs a Website
As an author, it is very important for you to have your own website. It’s your connection with your readers as well as the press. As a matter of fact, a website is a necessity for today’s author. Think of it like your own platform. It’s one location where you are free to determine how much you want to advertise, entice your readers with exclusive deals and content, and you have the chance to make a real connection with your audience and make a lasting impression. If a blogger wants to schedule an interview with you they are likely going to look for your website to find your contact information. When authors do not have a website they can miss that essential connection with their readers, bloggers, or the press.

What elements should an author’s website contain?
There are several essential elements that should always be on an author’s website. You will need a short bio, which quickly informs readers of facts about you and your writing career. An author’s website should also contain information about your books. It also allows you to make use of social media integration and let your readers know where you are usually the most active online. Use social media share buttons makes it easy for readers to share your information directly from your site. You may also want to include a blog on your site or a link to your blog if it is off site. It is also important to include a way for visitors to subscribe to your blog or email newsletters. A website needs to be designed to share your information with readers and make it easy for them to connect with you. Always include your contact information, even if it is only an email address.

Important Things to Consider when Building an Author’s Website
Even though it is understood that having a website is essential for marketing purposes and for connecting with readers, it can still be difficult to figure out what details should be included. In one way, you can think about your website in the same way you develop your books. The medium is a little different, but the goal is still the same. You want to provide rich content that will enhance the reader’s experience and engage them with your material. The design and the content are the two essential elements that will provide visitors with a positive experience. But before you get that far, it’s important to determine the purpose of the site and the means by which you want to connect with your audience. Here are some things you will want to consider:

  • Your message – what do you want to share with your readers?
  • Your purpose – what do you want your website to encompass? Is it about you and your message? Do you want to focus on a community of readers and allow user comments? Do you want a site built solely around one book? Will it be a site that integrates your brand and promotes new books that you self-publish or sell through a traditional publisher?
  • Your goal – do you want the site to be your online business card or portfolio? Will you use it for publicity or promotion? Will it be a means of generating income? Do you want to build an audience for your next self-published book(s)? Or do you just want to collect feedback?
These are just a few of the questions that you will want to answer before you begin to create your site’s content and design. The features included on your site are what will be used to connect with your audience; therefore it is important to know what you want to achieve with your author’s site before you get started.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tips for Writing an Author's Biography

Why is having an author's bio important?
A bio is a short summary of your writing career, passions, training, personal accomplishments and credentials.  The information it contains is similar to the contents of your resume, only in sentence form. It is increasingly important for all authors to have a short bio written up as it can serve many purposes. A bio is a short version of your professional life and can be used to accompany many different types of works including your blog posts, books and press releases. It summarizes your ambitions and life works and gives the reader a short synopsis of your passions and career highlights and abilities. It’s a quick way for others to get a glimpse of who you really are. An author's bio gives a reader, blogger, or media reporter a quick glimpse at your accomplishments as an author.

What should an author's bio contain?
When writing a bio it is important to keep it short and simple. Think of it as if you are summing up your life’s work in a few short sentences. This means you want to hit just the highlights and most notable accomplishments.  A well structured bio should contain your credentials, both formal and informal; your specific area(s) of expertise, and any recognitions or accomplishments that are notable. For example, you can list any of your works that have been published, writer's awards you've received or if your writings have been included in an anthology or collection. By sharing your expertise you demonstrate your leadership ability in your particular field and by highlighting your accomplishments you establish a rapport and a certain level of trust with the media or reader.

What are the mechanics of writing an author's bio?
Any bio should include the author's name in the first sentence so that the reader knows exactly what they are reading. Think of it as if you are introducing yourself to the reader. In order to make a bio sound like it is written objectively, they are written in third person. Instead of saying, “I live in Spain and I speak four languages” you might say, “Jean lives in Spain and she is fluent in four languages.” Although it is a professional write up it is acceptable to add some personality by including something interesting that is unrelated, but you think others might care about such as hobbies or interests. This can give a bio a little bit more of a personal touch and let the reader see you as a “real” person. The bio should include your contact information with a link to your email or social media site. 

Do authors need more than one bio?
It is a good idea to have three different author bios of varying lengths. A micro, short and long bio can all serve different purposes for the author. Various professionals may request different lengths so it is a good idea to have all three lengths on hand. A micro bio is usually just one sentence which encapsulates your professional profile. This may be perfect to put on your author's profile on social media or professional sites such as LinkedIn.  A short bio is usually only about one paragraph in length and covers all the essentials; this should be approximately 100 words. Think of it like your opportunity to make a good first impression. A longer bio is up to a page in length and sums up your professional life completely. This might be included in the flap of your print books or e-books to let your readers know more about you and your works.