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Voices Silenced: 12 Authors Who Died in 2017

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

The list of notable authors, writers, publishers, and contributors to the written word who passed last year is far longer than anything we could include in one blog post, but let’s take a moment to recognize 12 authors who died in 2017. Please, populate the comments with tributes to those who meant the most to you.

 

Michael Bond, 91
authors who died in 2017 PaddingtonBorn: January 13, 1926, Newbury, UK
Died: June 27, 2017, London, UK

“If you really want something in this world, you’ll never get it by sitting down and waiting. But if you go out and do things there’s no knowing where you’ll end up.” —The Tales of Olga Da Polga

The creator of the Paddington Bear series of books, which were published from 1958-2018 (a new title is due on May 31st of the year), Thomas Michael Bond also created the Olga da Polga (guinea pig) and Monsieur Pamplemousse book series. Bond’s Reflection on the Passing of the Years, written after his 90th birthday, was read in 2016 at a service commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

Image via Shutterstock (editorial use).


Richard Adams, 96
authors who died in 2017 Watership DownBorn: May 9, 1920 in Wash Common, Newbury, Berkshire, England
Died: December 24, 2016 in Oxford, England

“The thinker dies, but his thoughts are beyond the reach of destruction. Men are mortal; but ideas are immortal.”

Richard Adams‘ first and most enduring work is Watership Down, published in 1972, which earned him a Carnegie Medal in 1972 and a Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 1973. Other novels by Adams include Shardik, The Plague Dogs, The Girl in a Swing, Maia, and Traveller.

Image by AndrewRH (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons


Kate Millet, 82
authors who died in 2017 Sexual PoliticsBorn: September 14, 1934, Saint Paul, MN
Died: September 6, 2017, Paris, France

“A sexual revolution begins with the emancipation of women, who are the chief victims of patriarchy, and also with the ending of homosexual oppression.”

A social activist, educator, and feminist author, Kate Millet is best known for her PhD dissertation-turned radical feminist text, Sexual Politics, published in 1970. Millet was also an artist and filmmaker, who authored 10 books between 1970 and 2001. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Image by Linda Wolf (Contact us/Photo submission) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Robert M. Pirsig, 88
authors who died in 2017 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceBorn: September 6, 1928 in Minneapolis, MN
Died: April 24, 2017 in South Berwick, ME

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

A precocious student, Robert Pirsig suffered a nervous breakdown a decade before the 1974 publication of his literary touchstone, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. Upon its publication, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which propelled him to write Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, which was published nearly two decades later.

Image by Ian Glendinning, [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY 2.5, CC BY 2.0 or CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons


William Peter Blatty, 89
authors who died in 2017 The ExorcistBorn: January 7, 1928 in New York City, NY
Died: January 12, 2017 in Bethesda, MD

“Would you like to hear a nice definition of jealousy? It’s the feeling that you get when someone you absolutely detest is having a wonderful time without you.”

A writer and filmmaker, William Peter Blatty is famous for writing the book and screenplay for The Exorcist, published in 1971. He also wrote Legion, a follow-up to The Exorcist, and The Ninth Configuration (also known as Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane). Legion was adapted to film as the Exorcist III, which Blatty directed.

Image by jtblatty (Own work) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


John Ashbery, 90
authors who died in 2017 some treesBorn: July 28, 1927, Rochester, NY
Died: September 3, 2017, Hudson, NY

“I write with experiences in mind, but I don’t write about them, I write out of them.”

A surrealist poet who often stretched the bounds of the movement, John Ashbery was a prominent, controversial, and influential figure throughout his life. He earned 20 (or so) notable awards and fellowships, including a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1976 for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He published over 30 collections of poems between 1953-2016, including Some Trees, in 1956.

Image by David Shankbone [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Judith Jones, 93
authors who died in 2017 The Tenth MuseBorn: March 10, 1924, Vermont
Died: August 2, 2017, Walden, VT

“Cooking demands attention, patience, and, above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks.”

While an author herself, Judith Jones is perhaps most widely recognized for pulling two pivotal (and wildly disparate) books from slush piles of previously rejected works: The Diary of Anne Frank and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Jones’ later work was focused mostly on editing and writing cookbooks.

Image sourced from the cover of The Tenth Muse.


Janusz Glowacki, 78
authors who died in 2017 CindersBorn: September 13, 1938, Poznań, Poland
Died: August 19, 2017, while vacationing in Egypt

A playwright and screenwriter, Polish-born Janusz Glowacki(pronounced YAH-noosh gwo-VATZ-key) turned a trip to London in 1981 into an eight-year exile, which found him relocating to New York City, where he maintained a residence until his death. His list of accolades and awards is lengthy, with Cinders, Hunting Cockroaches, The Fourth Sister, and Antigone in New York considered his most prominent works.

Image by Kontrola (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Brian Aldiss, 92
authors who died in 2017 Supertoys Last All Summer LongBorn: August 18, 1925, Dereham, UK
Died: August 19, 2017, Oxford, UK

“It is comparatively easy to become a writer; staying a writer, resisting formulaic work, generating one’s own creativity – that’s a much tougher matter.”

Recognized mostly for his science-fiction writing, Brian Aldiss authored more than 80 books, 300 short stories, and many volumes of poetry in addition to being recognized as an accomplished visual artist. His short story, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long,” published in 1969, was the basis for 2001’s Kubrick/Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Image: Brian Aldiss at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005. Picture taken by Szymon Sokół.


Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 51
authors who died in 2017 ordinary lifeBorn: April 29, 1965, Chicago, IL
Died: March 13, 2017, Chicago, IL

“It often feels like I’m not so much living for the present as I am busy making memories for the future.” ― The Book of Eleven

The author of more than 30 children’s books, including several that were New York Times best sellers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal also authored Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, a memoir fashioned in the style of an encyclopedia. In addition to that, Rosenthal made short films, worked with WBEZ (NPR Chicago), and was a contributor to the TEDActive conference. She also published essays, including “You May Want to Marry My Husband” in the New York Times 10 days before her untimely death from ovarian cancer.

Image sourced from Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s YouTube page.


Richard Wilbur, 96
authors who died in 2017 Beautiful ChangesBorn: March 1, 1921, New York City, NY
Died: October 14, 2017, Belmont, MA

“Writing poetry is talking to oneself; yet it is a mode of talking to oneself in which the self disappears; and the product’s something that, though it may not be for everybody, is about everybody.”

A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (for poetry in 1957 and 1989), Richard Purdy Wilbur was appointed as the second United States Poet Laureate in 1987 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994, among a long list of awards and achievements. 1947’s The Beautiful Changes, and Other Poems was his first published collection of his poetry, and he published 10 other books of poetry, the last being Anterooms in 2010.

Image sourced from the cover of Let Us Watch by Robert and Mary Bagg


Sue Grafton, 77
authors who died in 2017 A is For AlibiBorn: April 24, 1940, Louisville, KY
Died: December 28, 2017, Santa Barbara, CA

“Thinking is hard work, which is why you don’t see many people doing it.”

Sue Grafton, best known for her “alphabet mysteries,” died one letter short of completing the book series. The first of the series, A Is For Alibiwas published in 1982; the latest, Y Is For Yesterday, was published August 2017, and continued the quest of the series’ female protagonist, private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Grafton got her start in Hollywood, writing screenplays and television scripts. According to her husband, Grafton knew (for years) that the final book in the series would be titled Z Is For Zero, but her battle with cancer prevented her from beginning it.

Image by Mark Coggins from San Francisco (Sue Grafton Uploaded by tripsspace) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Read “Musicians who died in 2017” on the Disc Makers Blog.

 

The Complete Self-Publishing Package: Literally everything you need to publish your book


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Six Social Media Marketing Tips For First-Time Authors

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

If you’re looking for readership and engagement, finishing your book is the first step. These social media marketing tips can help you frame your approach to the process of promoting yourself and your work online.

Rick Snyder is a contributor to the Money Crashers personal finance blog, writing about online publishing, social media, and small business.

If you’ve recently put the finishing touches on your first book, congratulations – it’s a rare accomplishment that not many people can claim. If you thought writing your book was hard, though, brace yourself for the next phase: marketing.

The tremendous changes to the publishing industry have been a double-edged sword: they offer greater opportunities for self-publishing and distribution, but they bring a lot more competition. No book ever sells itself, so you’re going to have to get creative if you want to boost your sales. One way to do it is through effective use of social media. So how do I use social media to promote my book?

Here are six quick social media marketing tips for first-time authors.

1. Create great content

You put in a lot of time and effort to ensure your book is of the highest possible quality, and you’ve got to match that quality and make your social media content stellar. Your audience wants distilled information presented clearly and directly. Since you are now an author, you can claim a degree of expertise in your chosen subject. Use that expertise to make every Facebook post, LinkedIn article, and tweet a high-quality and engaging experience. Provide tips and information your readers won’t find anywhere else, and do it in a concise fashion.

2. Investigate new media

Facebook and Twitter are among the top social media platforms, but that’s not to say you should focus on them to the exclusion of all else. Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine are all good options if you’ve got images or video related to your topic, and Tumblr and Google Plus are excellent content-based social media outlets to consider, as well. Don’t take them all on at once, though. Engage one at a time, with a clear strategy for each, and you can effectively increase your reach.

3. Respond to every comment

Always remember the “social” element of social media. Respond to each and every comment, whether positive or negative. Your goal is to develop a conversation and an ongoing relationship with your followers. Even if you’re simply expressing gratitude for someone taking the time to comment, you’re doing yourself, and your book, a big favor.

4. Connect with other authors

Be sure to connect with authors in the realm of your book’s topic or genre. Respond to some of their posts and start to develop a relationship. You can gain exposure this way, and you never know what a fellow author might be able to assist you with.

5. Track your results

You won’t know whether or not your efforts are successful if you don’t track your progress. Use Google Analytics, a free service, to analyze where your web traffic is coming from on at least a monthly basis. Based on those results, adjust your strategy. If Twitter simply isn’t working for you but StumbleUpon is, put more effort into the latter.

6. Offer an inside look to your book

Social media is an interactive format, meaning you should be trying to get your readers involved. Consider providing a link to your website from your social media accounts where a follower can download an inside look at your actual book – the first chapter, for example. It’s a great move that can ultimately improve your sales.

Social media marketing for writers is serious business, and there’s a good bit of work involved if you’re going to get it right. If you start to develop a solid audience and then make a misstep, you’ve just wasted valuable time and energy. Manage your schedule as best you can, giving you more time to devote to your social media marketing and improve your book sales today.

 

Twitter for Authors

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com


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How To Format Your Book Using Microsoft Word on a Mac

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

Here are instructions on how to format your book using Microsoft Word on a Mac. Interior templates are also available on bookbaby.com/templates, where you can download a template for your book’s specific measurements.

US Trade

For a 6″x9″ book, start by changing the paper size and the margins to match the dimensions of a US Trade, 6″ x 9″ book (these instructions are applicable to whatever book trim size you choose).

Start by double-clicking on the ruler at the top of your document and bring up the document formatting window. Click on the “Margins” tab, then the “Page Setup” button. Click on “Paper Size,” then “Manage Custom Sizes.”

Make a new dimension by clicking on the “plus” button, and name it “US Trade.”

The paper size is actually going to be 6.25″ x 9.25″ to accommodate for the image bleed that Microsoft Word does not take into consideration. Image bleed allows images or colors to go to the edge of a page. When you print a book using commercial presses, it is essential to include this extra space beyond the trim line. (For more information, watch our “Image Bleed” tutorial.)

Once it’s set to 6.25″ x 9.25″, adjust the margins. For the top and bottom, set it to 0.44 inches and click “OK.” For the left and right, set it to one inch. You can increase gutter in the middle if you’d like to have a larger space running down where your book is bound.

Make your header and footer 0.5″ or 0.44” to match the top and bottom print margins.

Check “mirror margins” to set your book up like a printed book spread.

Chapters

Next, click the “Layout” tab.

If you would like your chapters to all start on a right-hand page, set each chapter as a new section break, and set those new sections to start on an odd page.

For headers and footers, select the “different odd and even” option if you want to have an author name on one side and the title of the book or chapter name on the other side. Select “different first page” if you don’t want to have your headers at the beginning of each chapter.

Now click “OK” to apply the changes to the whole document.

The page size is now set to U.S. Trade 6″ x 9″ as opposed to the 8.5″ by 11″ you probably started out with.

Basic formatting

Let’s continue with some basic formatting. Turn on “show all non-printing characters” to help you identify what type of breaks you are using.

Assuming you have the text of your book and your chapters defined, you will want to include a title page and a copyright page for the year of publication.

Do not hit the enter button several times to create a new page. Instead, go to “Insert > Break > PageBreak” to define a break in the page.

Now, you can design a title page. Type in your book title and increase the font size. Bring it down to about the middle of your first page.

This will print as our right-side title page when you first open your printed book. (For more information on how a printed book is laid out, please watch our “Book Pagination” tutorial.)

Now, add your copyright information to be on the backside of that title page. That will be on page two, so insert another page break.

Include the publication year and anything else you would like to list. Copyright information is typically down at the bottom of the page.

Next, insert a “Section break” (we recommend the “next odd page”), then highlight the chapter text. Click on the formatting style in the formatting palette or at the top of your document and select “Heading.” Now this will be defined as a “Chapter Heading.”

Go ahead and find where you designated chapter 2 and repeat the same instructions as before: insert a “section break odd page” and mark the chapter text as a “Heading.”

Table of Contents and more

After your Copyright page, insert a “section break.” Then, go to the “Insert” dropdown, select “Table of Contents,” pick a style, and insert it. Now you’ll see a “Table of Contents” list with page numbers.

Next, to set your footers, double-click in the area below your text. You’ll see they’re defined as odd and even page footers. Go to “Insert Page Numbers.” Choose to have them all align to the “Outside” or “Centered.” If you have them all aligned to the same side, half of them are will face the gutter and inside of your book. If you have them on the “Inside,” they are ALL going to be on your gutter side.

You can choose whether or not to “Show numbers on the first page” by clicking or unclicking the appropriate box.

Next, double-click above your text to insert a header. If you chose earlier to set it up as different odd and even headers, you can put the “Author Name” on one side and the title of the book on the other.

Go to your “Basic Paragraph” style. After you change your page size from “US Letter” down to US Trade, you might find that your text is too large. Instead of 12 point font, we recommend size 10 or 11. You also might want to decrease or increase the space between your lines. You can set it “single” if you want it to be tight or “double” if you like a lot of space in-between. We recommend 1.5 for a happy medium.

Next is your text alignment: left-align, center-align, right-align, and justified. A lot of books are designed with justified text, but select what fits best for your book.

Steven Spatz: Breaking down barriers

Steven Spatz, BookBaby President, is typically known for his calm and reasoned demeanor around the office. But that didn’t stop him from wielding a sledgehammer to literally and metaphorically break down barriers for independent authors. Literally, in that we’re expanding our BookBaby office to house our growing team and operation. Metaphorically… well, because BookBaby helps break down the barriers for writers to become self-published authors. But you already knew that.


See more how-to videos at the BookBaby YouTube channel.

If you have any other questions, be sure to send us an email at support@bookbaby.com and we’ll get back to you!

This post was excerpted and adapted from How to Format Your Book Using Microsoft Word on a Mac.

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.

 

 


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Book Reviews: The Ultimate Word Of Mouth Promotion

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

When planning your book promotion and marketing, remember this equation: more book reviews equals more sales.

Excerpted from BookBaby’s latest guide, 5 Steps To Self Publishing, Part V of our series addresses why book reviews should be the cornerstone of your book marketing plan.

Book reviews should be the cornerstone of your book marketing plan. Most authors agree that reviews – good or bad – are critical to promoting your book, and here’s why:

    • Readers use them. In a recent Kindle Board survey, over 85% of all Amazon Kindle readers report they rely heavily on book reviews before making an online order.
    • It’s the ultimate WOM (word of mouth) marketing. Friends don’t let friends read bad books. Everyone wants to know about the next great book and no one wants to waste their time on a terrible one.
    • Reviews count heavily in the booksellers’ algorithms. More reviews and sales page views can equal higher ranking, better inventory position, and exposure to more book buyers. Reviews also affect the “If you liked this, then you may like that” book recommendation features on many sites. This is particularly helpful for a debut novel or authors with a smaller following.

Bottom line: More reviews equal more sales for authors and more invested readers. In addition, authors gain exposure to other book review sites, blogging communities, and book clubs.

How to get reviews

The good news: There have never been more book reviewers available to the self-published author. But before you go hunting for reviewers, make sure you’ve got the essentials you’ll need to attract and engage with reviews. At the minimum you should have:

  • Your book (obviously!). Some reviewers prefer digital copies so you should have both eBook file types (.ePub, .mobi), print copies, and even a PDF version. All must have images of your book cover. (Note: Even if you have Print On Demand distribution, you should fulfill the requests from your own supply of books for the personal touch.)
  • Mailing supplies for printed copies. Don’t skimp here – it needs to look and feel professional.
  • A press release about the launch of your book.
  • A cover letter. This should be a short and sweet introduction to you and your book.
  • Author biography. This is a good place to show your qualifications, particularly if you’re a nonfiction author.

How to find and work with reviewers

There are literally thousands of book reviewers and bloggers online, and most of them review books even though they aren’t paid. A quick search online can provide you with plenty of links, directories, and lists. We recommend sites like Midwest Book Review, Indie Reader, and Self-Publishing Review as a starting point.

Just as important as the “who” is the “how” of working with reviewers. Here are some ideas of how to engage and work with these very important people in your literary career:

  • Choose carefully. If you pick the wrong reviewer – one who doesn’t review your genre, for example – it’s a tremendous waste of time. It’s critical to find out what kind of books the reviewer likes to review and only select appropriate reviewers.
  • Meet the requirements. Some want you to just send the printed book. Some review eBooks, many do not. Conforming to their requirements saves both of you time.
  • Send the book on a timely basis. You’ve got their attention – don’t waste even a moment to get your book out to them. Don’t let them lose interest in your book.
  • Follow-up… gently. Stalking or harassing won’t help your cause. The reviewer is very likely doing this in his or her spare time. If you haven’t heard anything after a few weeks, it’s very appropriate to follow up to see if they still intend to write the review.
  • Thank the reviewer. It’s common courtesy, but it also shows you appreciate the time and effort someone else took to help bring your book to the attention of more people. It’s also something they’ll remember when it’s time to review your next book!

This post was excerpted and adapted from 5 Steps To Self Publishing: All the essential information you need to go from manuscript to marketplace. Download your free copy today.

 

Find your way to self-publishing success in just 5 easy steps with this 62-page book. Yours absolutely free.

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.

 

 


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When Do You Know Your Book Is Done?

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

Most authors probably wish they had a gauge of some kind to stick into the pages to tell them when their book is done. It’s not just new, inexperienced writers who have that wish. Most published authors I’ve posed the question to say the same thing: it’s hard to know when to put down the virtual pen.

This post was edited and adapted from The End. Now What?! 6 Steps To Take Your Manuscript To Marketplace In 6 Weeks.

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.

—Truman Capote

Now that’s what I call starting your writing journey off with a bang! But Capote was only expressing the thoughts of many authors who feel a sense of tangible loss when their book is done. The prospect of this sudden void in their lives has led to far too many books being “overcooked.”

I’ve used that metaphor deliberately to help illustrate my point. When I venture into the kitchen to create something for the family, my kids often laugh at the slavish way I follow each and every line on the recipe. Most importantly, I pay close attention to the instructions that tell you when the food is actually “done.”

Want that steak medium rare? I’ve got a little thermometer gauge that tells me when it’s reached 155 degrees. Are the brownies done yet? Stick a toothpick in. If it comes out clean – they’re ready.

Most authors probably wish they had a gauge of some kind to stick into the pages to tell them when their book is done. It’s not just new, inexperienced writers who have that wish. Most published authors I’ve posed the question to say the same thing: it’s hard to know when to put down the virtual pen. It’s human nature to want to constantly improve and tinker with your work. Most authors say if allowed to pick up their work again six months after finishing, they’ll find more than a few things to change beyond some simple typo fixes.

Some signs pointing to the finish line

We’re trying to get your book in shape for the editing it richly deserves – and frankly needs. This post isn’t about fixing those typos or repairing sentence structure. It’s about making sure your book is telling the story you want told, in the way you want it told, and in a way that can make sense to thousands of potential readers. For that to happen, you as the author need to be ready to put down the pen. Here are some toothpicks and thermometers to help you gauge the doneness of your book.

From red to white

One BookBaby author I interviewed uses color to illustrate the progress of his books. After what he calls his “last draft,” he prints out the pages and does some serious self-editing. He uses a bright red sharpie and lays into the pages. After a first ruthless edit, he says the pages look like they’re hemorrhaging, a sea of red. A draft later it’s just a few red slashes. Finally, he says, he’s looking at pages with only the occasional slashes of red. He says to see the progress before his eyes is a satisfying way to know that the book is finally turning into the story he intended to tell.

So obvious. So boring! Authors tell me how sick they get of their precious book. They get to a point where they know more about the plot and story line of their fictional characters than real life family and colleagues. Of course you should – these are the people you’ve been living with for the past weeks and months. Long ago when you embarked on this book project, you thought your plot was marvelous. It still is! You have the curse of knowing where the story leads and ends.

The truth is, the jokes in your story ARE hilarious, as good as the first time you typed them. The plot IS spellbinding; the twists and turns are sure to please. The information I’m relaying here IS solid, professional self-publishing advice. We writers are just bored, which is a sure sign that it’s time to move on.

Change for change’s sake

Look at the last few edits you’ve made to your book. Did you improve it, or did you just change it? You’re not adding value to your book at this point. You’re not making it more interesting or richer or even more readable. You’re delaying the inevitable. There comes a point when the longer you revise, the less return you’re going to get for your effort. You’ve reached a point of diminishing return.

A new story

Every writer has ideas for that next book, or more likely books. Maybe there have been big changes in your life and you’re not in the same emotional place as you were when you started writing. Whatever the reason, your enthusiasm for this current project may be waning. For you to simply say, “I don’t feel like writing this story anymore” is an important sign you can’t ignore. When you lose interest in the book, you’ll stop caring. Your reader will know – who hasn’t read a book where it felt like the writer just lost interest in the project and wrapped it up in an all too fast and unsatisfying manner?

You’re about to enter into a new relationship – actually multiple relationships – with your readers. The reader has entered into the relationship with optimism and interest in your prose. You’re obligated to honor your commitment to entertaining, informing, and delighting your new BFFs. They’re very excited about reading your book. If you aren’t as excited about adding any more to the story, it’s a sure sign that you’re actually damaging your book rather than enhancing it.

Put your book to the test

It’s always good to get some second and third opinions on your book, just as long as they’re not people you spend the holidays with. You should pretty much ignore the comments and less-than-critical critiques from your close friends and family. Beware the praises or critiques of your great-aunt Edna. Few friends or family members can honestly offer you objective feedback. If they CAN, count yourself lucky and listen to what they have to say.

In most cases, you’d be better off joining a local writers group. The authors in these groups can provide tremendous feedback, inspire new ideas, and give great moral support. Writing is often a very solitary pursuit and these groups can be your lifeline at times. Digest their commentary, be surprised at their insights and your blind spots, dust yourself off, and revise if necessary.

Read your book like it’s brand new

You’ve spent hundreds of hours looking bleary-eyed at the characters on a screen. Take it offline for another look. Find yourself a bright highlighter and sit down to read it through as though you’re a reader. Whenever you find an awkward phrase or a sentence – or whenever you want to change or fix something – make a mark and move on. Do not stop to do an edit. Once you get to the end you can go back to your file, start at the last page and work backward, making changes and corrections.

Print a second hard copy, but this time change the font to something visually quite different. If you work in Times New Roman, try printing in Calibri. You’ll see it looks very different and you may be surprised by how many new typos and errors you manage to catch.

Last comes first

On the next run-through, read your manuscript backwards – not word for word, but a chapter at a time. Read the last chapter, then the next to last, and so on until you reach the first. This serves to take things out of context for you and you won’t be as likely to skim over what you expect to be there. It might feel uncomfortable, but it works.

Read it. Write it. Speak it.

When my kids were slogging through high school, I used to tell them, “The best way to master a subject is to learn by the power of three. Read the material, write notes, then speak it out loud.” So get some throat lozenges and find a quiet room. Reading your book aloud can help you “see” it fresh and let you more easily identify awkward phrases or sentences.

Be the reader

The last trick of the trade I’ll share with you is courtesy of Dani Shapiro, the critically acclaimed author of Slow Motion and Devotion. She has also written for magazines such as The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Vogue; and ELLE. Shapiro helped put things into context during her keynote address at a recent Writer’s Digest Conference as she described the simple process of sending an email. When you’re composing the note, the words and thoughts express a certain position or point of view. Everything looks right and so you hit “Send.”

As the electrons fly through the ether, you see it: that obvious typo. The one you looked right past 10 times as the author. But what really happened is that the minute you hit the send button you read the message as a completely different person: the recipient.

This is the approach she takes when taking that last critical examination of her book. She actually reads the book as if she’s someone else. She’ll read chapters as if she’s a kindly caring person on one day. On another she reads it as an angry critical person. From the readings of these and other personas, Shapiro is satisfied that her diverse audience is ready to read her next book.

Time’s up. Pens down. You’ve got a deadline.

Maybe the best test of all that your book is done has nothing to do with the words on the page. Maybe it’s the ticking of a clock. As I sit here typing this on a Sunday morning, I’ve put myself into a self-imposed deadline to have this finished by tonight. Time’s up. Got to bake some brownies.

Download your FREE copy of The End. Now What?! 6 Steps To Take Your Manuscript To Marketplace In 6 Weeks today.

book is done

 

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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Budget enough time and patience for your book promotion

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This article courtesy of BookBaby.

book promotion promoting your bookWhat are the most important elements of book promotion? Here’s my five-part answer!

It’s THE question. The one I’m always asked, whether I’m speaking at author conferences or doing webinars. It’s top of mind for all those would-be authors who are itching to give self publishing a try. Though phrased a little differently each time, it goes something like this:

What’s most important when it comes to book promotion?

My response is always the same – a five-part answer. The first four parts are, quite frankly, pretty predictable. The last one might come as a bit of a surprise.

Here are all of the must-haves:

  • You wrote your best book. Hopefully it’s a great book. But it’s your best effort and you can’t ask for anything more.
  • Your manuscript was edited by a professional. Not by your sister, the part-time English teacher. Your book deserves to be edited by a pro who has devoted her lifetime to the unique craft of book editing.
  • Your book cover is eye-catching and appropriate for you genre. It requires the talents of a graphic artist who specializes in book design. The fastest way to condemn a book to the bottom of the heap is to give it an amateur-looking cover.
  • Your book is being widely distributed. That means creating an eBook, print books and print-on-demand distribution. Maximum eyeballs, and that’s not just Amazon!

Like I said – it’s pretty much the standard stuff you read everywhere. And finally there’s this:

  • You’ve factored time into the equation. Publishing requires patience. Many of the mistakes a novice author makes revolve around time. Either they rush into the marketplace, or they give up too quickly.

Publishing experts like to say, “Publishing is a marathon and not a sprint.” I buy into that, but I like this better: “Good books don’t have an expiration date.” Authors need to realize that overnight sensations are rare. Patience and persistence are essential to a great book marketing plan for self-published authors.

Here are the five ways that you can put time on your side:

1. Publish when YOU are ready.
Of course that means taking the proper time to finish your best manuscript. But it also means you need to allow time for editing (3-6 weeks) and creating a great cover design (2-4 weeks). But there should be a limit to your patience when it comes to picking your publishing path.

First-time authors who want to be traditionally published  should expect 18 to 24 months to pass before their book is on the market. And that’s if they’re successful in finding both an agent and publisher – no sure thing. But if you choose to self publish, it takes only a fraction of that time, in some cases as few as six weeks. An easy choice, don’t you think?

2. Make pre-sales your priority.
A lot of authors miss out on the single most important marketing time period for their eBooks and print on demand books: Pre-sales periods on Amazon and Barnes &Noble. Pre-sales are when books are listed for sale in advance of the official release date. Customers can read sample teasers and place orders (and their credit cards aren’t charged until the release date!)

Pre-sales time frames have tons of benefits, but not all of them are apparent to first-time authors.

  • Collecting these pre-release sales can provide you a better chance of making the best seller lists on many retailers, including iBooks, B&N, and Kobo. (It does not influence Amazon charts).
  • Having a future release date means you can orchestrate the availability of your book, and use this launch date as a centerpiece of some marketing efforts.
  • Behind the scenes, pre-sales activity has a huge effect on your positioning on retailers such as Amazon. Their algorithms measure activity on your selling pages – the more page views, traffic, and sales during that period mean your eBook could come up higher in searches and other referral methods. With print on demand, Amazon will take a more aggressive inventory position based on strong customer activity.

3. Let me be the first to say it: Book Launch, Book Smaunch. It’s not all that.
This goes against a lot of popular book marketing thinking today. What’s the real value of a book launch? It really depends on who you are. If you are an established author with a built-in audience, a book launch can be a powerful selling starting point. But what about the typical self-published author searching for those alpha readers?

I understand that your book launches might be a nice personal milestone or accomplishment to commemorate that first book. Am I advising against having a book launch? Certainly not. But I advise you to put this opportunity to good use:

  • Use the opportunity to interact with your readers – even if only a few – as well as other authors. Get close to them – they can be a tremendous resource.
  • Measure each and every one of your marketing efforts surrounding the event. Try to learn what works and what doesn’t.
  • Don’t get stressed out if your launch doesn’t sell hundreds of books. I’ll tell you right now – it most likely won’t, but that doesn’t mean your book will fail. Don’t let this deter you from future efforts.

4. Take your time when marketing.
Lord knows there are no shortage of book marketing opportunities — getting reviews, going on “blog tours,” sending press releases, posting on all the social media platforms. And don’t forget spending time on Goodreads.

For most authors it can be completely overwhelming to do it all. So don’t. That’s my advice. Focus on one channel at a time. This month you can work on your Twitter campaign, follow the right people, add new followers. Then next month you can devote to Goodreads, and so on. If you buy into the concept of book publishing being a marathon, these short-term marketing targets are like the shorter legs of that long race.

5. When is it time to give up? Never!
A great, and very recent example of how persistence can pay off is the amazing story of The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep. Most folks have heard the story of the self-published book that suddenly shot up the New York Times Best Seller list in late August. Written by Swedish psychologist Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin, the book attracted the attention of all the major traditional publishers, resulting in a reported seven-figure contract for future titles.

And now for the rest of the story. Ehrlin originally published the book in 2013 (with BookBaby) as an eBook. He posted very modest sales from the launch all the way through 2014. This lack of early success didn’t slow his enthusiasm for the book, and he had it converted into five languages and gave away over 45,000 eBooks! Ehrlin called in to the BookBaby customer service team quite often for advice and encouragement. He completely believed in his project and never stopped promoting it.

Later, Ehrlin created a printed book version and added Print On Demand distribution, with modest sales through 2015. Suddenly last summer, his sales started to climb. All of those free eBooks had created tremendous word-of-mouth marketing. A few stories appeared in European newspapers, and the story soon spread across the globe of his unique parenting techniques.

The moral to this story: After three plus years of hard work and effort, this “overnight sensation” was really anything but. Ehrlin used his marketing time wisely and he’s now reaping the rewards.

In the words of French dramatist Jean Racine: “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.” The key to your best book promotional effort could be revealed tomorrow, next week, or maybe next month. Be patient and give your book every chance it deserves to succeed.

Image via ShutterStock.com.

 

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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The First Word from BookBaby

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completing a book

The First Word

Guest post by Steven Spatz
President, BookBaby

Every journey starts with the first step. Every story starts with the first word. Then it’s just a matter of completing a book.

When I wrote my first book, The End – Now What? – 6 Steps To Take Your Manuscript To The Market Place In Six Weeks, I didn’t have any kind of plan or blueprint to guide my journey to completing a book. I pretty much just relied on my home grown “ation” strategy.

What’s my “ation” strategy? I’m glad you asked.

  • It has to start with inspiration. Creating the content that interests me – and hopefully potential reader.
  • The job of writing takes perspiration. It’s work – damn hard work at times.
  • I recognize that I’ll have periods of exasperation when I’m just sick and tired of that whole damn thing and I take (brief) breaks from the process.
  • Ultimately it requires determination. Keep your eyes on the prize.

The result was a 50,000 word nonfiction book cranked out in fits and starts over an eight month period. I learned a lot about the book writing process during that experience. I’ve learned even more from talking to BookBaby authors about how they covered their own journeys. This time around I’ll be better equipped to do the job.

Here are some of the writing tips and ideas I’ve collected over the last year:

Location, location, location.
Find your writing place. Sure it’s possible to be creative anywhere – sitting on the subway or standing in a line – but for the long haul and more consistent creativity, your best work will come out in a space where you regularly write. That primes you to get into the right frame of mind as soon as you sit down. Or maybe it’s more than one place. I have three: a secluded corner in a local library and two different coffee houses. Set aside a particular place that you do nothing but write or create and you can jump start your creativity.

What time is good for you?
Even more important than “where” is “when.” For me it’s probably going to involve getting up 45 minutes earlier and writing a few paragraphs before work. Forcing yourself to write at 5 am isn’t the solution for everyone. It works for me because I have nothing else to divert my attention in those early dawn hours. There are all types of writers – after-hours writers, lunch break writers, mini-block writers, etc. Track your time and energy for a week or two to find what’s best for you – and then block out that time on your calendar as an appointment with yourself.

Add interval training to your writing
Some writers I know incorporate these short sprints into their writing routine. Here’s how: Use a simple kitchen timer to force yourself to just flat out write. Set it for five minutes to write as much as you can. You’ll likely censor yourself less if you can just write whatever comes naturally and edit later. It’s not about quality during this brief burst of keystrokes. Give yourself permission to write a few lousy paragraphs or pages. You’ll have plenty of time to go back and edit later.

Read if you’re not writing
Like many writers, I feel inspired when I’m playing the part of reader. Instead of turning on the TV when you’re on a break from writing, spend your time reading the work of others. The more “I wish I had written that” pieces you come across, the better your work will be and the more motivated you may be to produce something worthwhile. Some authors find other arts to be inspiring – paintings, movies, photography, and so on. Soak up all the creativity you can when you’re not actively writing.

Don’t break the chain
His television show was “about nothing,” yet legendary comic Jerry Seinfeld’s method for success is very much something – and visual. Each January, he hangs a large year-at-a-glance calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new material, he earned the right to draw a big red “X” over that day. Drawing those Xs got to be pretty fun and rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs. The idea was to never break that chain. This simple pleasure can turn into a surprisingly powerful motivator.

Never miss twice
If you don’t have the luxury of Seinfeld’s free time, you can give yourself a very small cushion and still be successful. Let’s say you have your new routines and habits in place, your alarm set to signal your writing time… But one day you wake up and simply don’t feel like writing.

So don’t. We all slip up now and again. Don’t beat yourself up, but also don’t slip twice in a row. It’s inevitable you’re going to miss a writing session, but use the “never miss twice” mindset to get back on track.

Be flexible
Your writing schedule might change – often. Life events will throw wrenches in your plans, but you can plan a new schedule. And then stick to that.

Write or die
If all else fails, you can always resort to using the app WriteOrDie, With a tagline of “Putting the prod into productivity,” this program is absolutely diabolical!

Here’s how it works: First, you configure your writing period, word goal, and your preferred punishment should your fingers stop typing. Once the setup is complete, you’ll need to type continuously; otherwise there will be consequences, in varying levels.

  • The gentle mode is quite forgiving. When you pause your writing for a set period of time, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • In normal mode, if you pause, you will be played a very unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • For the true author-masochist, there’s Kamikaze Mode: You must keep writing or your work will un-write itself. Simply disappear from the beginning of the passage! Talk about writing with a gun to your head!

As for my own system, I have one more of my “ation” strategies to think about: The exhilaration of finally finishing that book!


Steven Spatz, President of BookBaby

Steven Spatz is an author, marketer, and the President of BookBaby.


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