Guest Post: Where to Find the Best New Authors; 5 Online Writing Communities To Explore

By Allison Phillips

The environment is changing for authors. What once was thought to be a solitary pursuit is evolving into an interactive process with the introduction of new technology. As we move from the printed page to the screen, it invites readers and writers to engage and share the experience through online writing communities. Writers now have access to networks that offer critique, feedback, and support to one another. This collaborative approach helps to beat writer’s block, get inspired, and obtain a fresh perspective.

Take the bestselling novel 50 Shades of Grey, fan fiction based on Twilight, and written in progress on a public fan-fiction website; it gathered fans and feedback over time before being formally published.

While online writing communities benefit writers by giving them the freedom to share their work, it benefits readers by allowing them to uncover a whole new world of storytellers. No longer are readers restricted to the bookstore in search of something captivating but can now visit a site to explore new writing styles, working plots and engage with a potential bestseller.

Here are some writing communities that readers can explore: Continue reading

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Editing Tips and Resources for Authors

By Ernest-Mtl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ernest-Mtl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to editing your book, authors have a lot of options. The first step is to self-edit. This can help cut down on costs later when you start working with a professional editor (which I highly recommend doing).

Jane Friedman has a great post on how to write a book in three drafts. There’s the messy draft, which is a first draft and often unorganized. Then there’s the method draft, which outlines the messy draft and starts the rewriting process. And last is the polished draft, where you start asking people for constructive feedback from beta readers.

After getting feedback, you can go back and take a look at your paragraphs. Joseph Blake Parker offers six tips on how to write strong paragraphs. Basically, you want to know what kind of paragraph you’re using (descriptive, action, dialogue, etc.), determine paragraph lengths depending on whether you want to slow a scene down or have an action-packed scene, and use important words only one time per paragraph.

Next you can use tools, such as Grammarly or the Hemingway app, to help clean up your manuscript. There’s also After the Deadline, an open-source plugin/extension/add-on/etc. that uses AI and natural language processing to find errors and offer suggestions.

Last, you can hire a professional editor to make your book even better. Some places you can go to find an editor include NY Book Editors, Sandstone Editing, and BookBaby.

After all that, you can choose to either self publish your book or to try and go the traditional route. If you want to go the traditional route, Writer’s Digest has a guide to literary agents, where you can learn more about agents, and get tips on how to query and submit.

An Interview with Richard Billings, Founder of Leafless

leafless-whiteThe publishing industry is full of opportunity. Today, publishing startup Leafless, a digital distribution platform and publisher, is launching (after rebranding). Leafless aims to solve the problem of authors paying for reviews and honest reviews disappearing from sites like Amazon. Through Leafless, authors can give copies of ebooks to readers for reviews, and popular books on the site can be distributed globally, in order to collect data for agents and publishers to see and choose whether or not to publish a Leafless book traditionally. Leafless also plans to traditionally publish select titles under its own imprint.

Leafless was part of Ingram Content Group’s 1440 publishing accelerator. I got the chance to ask the founder of Leafless, Richard Billings, a few questions about his new platform and what it means for indie authors.

S.R.: What inspired the creation of Leafless?

R.B.: I began as an amateur writer, writing poems and short stories. After some good feedback and encouragement, I decided to write a novel. I spent two weeks clicking away on the keyboard only to come up with two chapters. I decided that if I was going to spend a year of my life writing a book, I should probably take a look at how the publishing industry works. It didn’t take long to find out that most manuscripts submitted to traditional publishers are rejected. When researching the self-publishing industry, I found many authors setting their prices high but providing very few, if any, reviews for me to base my decision on.

S.R.: How can Leafless help indie authors?

R.B.: Our initial offering only tackled pricing and reviews. We tried to circumvent the traditional market by only selling ebooks on our own site in a self-published-only model. We continued to talk with authors and were continuing to find that although many were happy for the opportunity to have their books read, many still wanted to be traditionally published, but didn’t have the connections to publishers and agents. We also began speaking with publishers and agents who said that they were buried under slush piles and needed a way to filter through the noise to find good content. At Leafless we give authors the opportunity to be discovered by traditional publishers and agents without the mess and rejection of submitting manuscripts to disparate publishers and agents.

S.R.: How many authors and readers is Leafless currently working with?

R.B.: With our previous offering we worked with nearly 300 authors from around the world. We of course hope to see many of those authors convert to the new site. We will also be actively seeking new authors in the coming months.

S.R.: Through Leafless, authors can give copies of their ebooks to readers, and then readers can nominate books for publication. How many votes does it take for a book to be published?

R.B.: Books submitted to the site will remain as ‘Galleys’ for readers to read and provide feedback. Readers can read as many of these as they like, but will have a limited number of ‘Nominations’ that they can use towards books they’d like to see published. A nomination will require that the reader to write at least 250 words about why they’d like to see the book published. After 10 nominations, authors will be offered a global distribution contract as a self-published title. We will apply our pricing model and provide limited marketing towards these books.

S.R.: And how does the publication process work?

R.B.: During the self-publishing stage, after nomination, we collect pricing, sales, demographics, and other important data which we then make available for subscribed publishers and agents. Publishers/agents can use this data to make informed decisions about which authors they’d like to make a contract offer to. The offers take place through our site where we either act as the agent in the case of a direct to publisher agreement, or as a split-commission in the case of an agent agreement. As part of our process, once a book is picked up for traditional publication, those 10 that initially nominated it will receive a signed copy from the author.

S.R.: Are reviews that readers write only available on Leafless or will they be published elsewhere?

R.B.: We still looking into it, but our goal is to disseminate reviews gathered through our process to as many retailers and review sites as possible.

S.R.: Leafless will also be publishing books the traditional way. How many books does Leafless plan to publish per year, and what does Leafless look for in a potential book?

R.B.: Leafless will publish books that appeal to us as a brand. We will probably publish only one book per month under the Leafless imprint. Our authors will receive all of the bells and whistles of traditional publishing, including editing, cover design, marketing, and our contract is based on the Authors Guild fair-contract recommendations. Our goal is to provide a service between authors and publishers. Our publishers would get a right-of-first-refusal for any books we decide to take one. We don’t want to compete with our publishers.

S.R.: How can authors submit their work for consideration?

R.B.: We will, as in the past, provide an easy to use submission process. We are partnered with Pressbooks.com to provide simple eBook creation tools. Submission into the Galley section is free and under no contract other that our normal Terms of Service.

You can learn more about Leafless here.

Taking Stock of Industries Related to Book Publishing and How That Relates to the Future

media

Book publishers can learn a lot from their media counterparts. As the world becomes more connected, the lines between these industries is getting blurred. Keeping on top of trends then can be really helpful, in terms of getting ideas of what can be done and what to expect in the future. Here are a few headlines from other forms of media that can help inform people in book publishing:

Music

Movies, TV, Video

Comics

Games

Education

News, Blogs

Ads

Content

Design

Monetization

Startups, Niche

All this connectedness, combined with lower barriers to entry, have made it easier than ever for people to start their own startups. Not all are successful, but they are all interesting.

Apps

Books

Book Publishers

Book Publishing

Book Recommendations

Lessons

Niche

Tech

Future, Trends

After taking a look at other industries, as well as new companies in the book industry, it’s interesting to read about trends and predictions for the future.

Authors

Design

Marketing

News

Predictions

Research

Ebooks

Last, it’s fun to see all the pieces starting to come together in the form of ebooks. There’s a lot of interesting developments in the EPUB world.

Writing and Sounds

By Luis Lima89989 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Luis Lima89989 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to writing, people don’t always think about the sounds that are involved. But sound is one of the senses you can write about and explore, in both fiction and non-fiction.

Live Write Thrive has a great post on sounds in novels, called “The Sound of … Sound in Novels.” It describes different types of sounds, such as natural sounds, which are part of the environment, expressive sounds, which may be amplified to help show a situation, surreal sounds, which are imagined, and emblematic sounds, which can draw focus to a particular moment. These types of sounds can be found in films, but writers can also make use of sounds, as symbols, as characterization, or even to show movement.

Writers can now add actual sounds to their work, or at least to ebooks. Using the platform Booktrack, authors can add soundtracks to their ebooks.

According to Booktrack’s website, Booktrack synchronizes music, effects, and ambient sounds to text to make reading a more immersive experience.

Mashable wrote that Booktrack “debuted as an iOS app focused on professional authors like Salman Rushdie; a total of 40 titles sold more than 250,000 downloads,” but then pivoted in 2013 to become a platform where “writers can embed songs from a catalogue of 20,000 licensed audio files, adding mood music, ambient audio and sound effects to play in tune with story lines, paced to a user’s reading speed.”

The Booktrack website has a special section for authors, which explains what Booktrack can do for them:

Authors and publishers can easily create their own Booktrack by choreographing their stories to Booktrack’s extensive library of over 20,000 free-to-use music and ambient audio tracks. The Booktrack library is rapidly expanding with our users who have already created more than 12,000 short stories and novels in 30 different languages. Booktrack has nearly 2.5 million readers in 150 different countries looking for stories like yours.

As long as you own the rights to the text, or the story is public domain, you can create a soundtrack for the book and publish it.

Booktrack has also expanded to offer services to classrooms, to help boost creativity and retention.

To learn more about the process of creating a soundtrack for your ebook on Booktrack, read “How to Create Your First Booktrack (and Get 2,000 New Readers)” on Jane Friedman’s site. It’s a guest post by Laurence MacNaughton, detailing the process. Basically, you upload your text and choose sounds. See also “Create a Booktrack (Soundtrack for Books)” on Worderella.

Have you ever used sounds to enhance your story? Please share in the comments!

Guest Post: Want to Step Up Your Facebook?

By Sheena Mathieson – Freelancer

Facebook is such a big platform that has helped out so many indie authors. Here are some more tips on Facebook fan pages, from guest author Sheena Mathieson.

Today, the world meets on a platform and that social platform is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s child has brought us closer and knitted us into the same web of ties. In this web of interconnected humans, do you want to be that entrepreneur or blogger who explores Facebook marketing strategies to serve creations to the world around?

Well, then you have come to the right place.

The categories for which you can set up a Facebook Fan Page.

The categories for which you can set up a Facebook Fan Page.

Why should you step up your Facebook fan page?

If you want to develop a concise Facebook marketing strategy or publicize your content, then you have set up a Facebook Fan Page. These are the reasons:

  1. A good place to network and share one’s thoughts.

Sometimes you might want to share quick links or thoughts with other people. By using a fan page, not only can a celebrity take their musings to their fans, but product developers can also take their thoughts to their prospective customers. A writer can share the gist of his content to the internet-usership, artists can display their creations to the world; all of these without having them come to your site or shop.

A fan page is like a virtual ground where people can have discussions and interactions, where they can share links and foster connections. Once they know what you are about and they like it, your business or blog will begin to grow at a much higher rate.

  1. Access to a greater number of people.

Facebook limits your friends’ count at around 5,000 but a fan page allows you to get as many likes as you desire. Your networking skills are expanded and with such an expansion, your thoughts and ideas can reach faster and further to the people out there.

It is simple to have a Facebook fan page, but to wait for its impact isn’t. It needs hard work in the form of daily upgrades. A successful fan page doesn’t attract success very easily – you need a plan and a spark to help you get there. Take these few important Facebook tips – it needs a well laid content plan, posts that can be food for thought or surprising news to the ones visiting your page, and daily tending so that it doesn’t rust away.

What are the benefits of stepping up a Facebook fan page?

Well, it is a simple thing – a personal profile of a market entrepreneur or blog writer doesn’t provide him or her a market or unlimited readership. Fan pages that publicize your business or work can be a cherry on the top for your Facebook marketing strategy. Personal profiles, however are just meant for one thing – personal connections. Not public ones, right?

So, here are a few benefits of your Fan Page:

  1. You get great access to advertising – Through your Facebook fan page, you can create ads for a targeted audience and end up not spending much money in the process. You can reach out to the friends of your fans through promoting posts and marketing your products/content well.
  2. You can schedule your content within Facebook – You can schedule your content according to the way you want and bring back older content as reminders for your audience.
The icon for scheduling your content. (Picture courtesy: http://www.jonloomer.com/2012/05/31/facebook-page-schedule-posts/)

The icon for scheduling your content. (Picture courtesy: http://www.jonloomer.com/2012/05/31/facebook-page-schedule-posts/)

  1. You can gather more followers– As a part of most Facebook Tips; you can gather more followers from friends of your fans and a community outside that of Facebook. You can achieve this through newsletters and contests.
  1. You can get insights from the new Insights tool – The new Insights tool on Facebook gives a detailed analysis on what is happening to your page – the number of people who have liked your post, the number of people who have access and much more.

A Few Facebook Tips:

  1. Run a contest on Facebook to reach out to more people as they give you access to emails through enticing prizes.
  1. Promote your fan page by setting up a Facebook page elsewhere online or through email notifications.
  1. Try to make the most out of your Facebook Insights tool.
  1. Generate access to apps that can add purpose and traffic to your page. For example, the Social RSS app helps you to draw on your blog’s RSS feed.
  1. The Insights tool can be of immense help in stepping up Facebook fan page.

image3

This is a simple list. Be creative so you can devise ingenious Facebook marketing strategies to allow Facebook step up fan page. Just draw on and develop from experience and experimentation; and in case you need help, you have these Facebook tips to fall back on!

image4Sheena Mathieson understands the essence of making excellent content that suits the needs of every business, especially when it comes online marketing. She can spice up your marketing campaign with the content she makes and then incorporate Buy Real Marketing services.

Indie Authors: Blogging

Blogging is great for writers. If nothing else, blogging can be a way to practice writing, often in shorter chunks (at least compared to a book).

Blogging is not for everyone, and it took me a long time to even get in the habit of blogging. But now that I’ve established a routine, I really enjoy coming up with new content, or sharing links I’ve found valuable over the years. I love doing research, and blogging allows me to turn a lot of my research into something concrete, and hopefully useful.

For authors, there are a lot of ways to approach blogging. According to Anne R. Allen, blogs can grow with your career as a writer. It helps you develop your writing, build a platform and help make yourself enticing to agents and publishers, and introduce new work to readers.

Of course you can use your blog to help with content marketing for your books. Book Promotion shares a lot of great tips for how to blog and use social media to forge connections with readers. You can also use your blog to ask questions and get feedback.

You can also use your blog to write a book, as Nina Amir advocates. For people who do NaBoBlogMo (blog a book in a month) she offers a list of 31 things to do after you’ve blogged the book and want to sell it as a book. One interesting point is she recommends writing about 20% additional content, to add value to the book.

Blogs can also be a revenue source, especially if you have a large following. Rafflecopter shares their experience about partnering with bloggers via advertising to help maximize their reach.

One last thing to consider is how many blogs you want to maintain. The Book Designer outlines strategies for authors who want one site or multiple sites. Sites can include book sales pages, articles, and more.

Do you blog? If so, please share your experiences in the comments! What works? How do you get in the habit of blogging? What do you write about?

Readers and Writers: Library News

Libraries are an important part of the book publishing world, and it’s been a while since I mentioned them in a post, so here’s a collection of links to library news, services, and more. Continue reading

Indie Authors: It’s All About the List

Marketing is a huge, integral part of indie publishing, but it doesn’t have to be hard. There are a lot of different pieces, but one of the most effective and longest lasting is building an email list.

The email list has a few different names. Mailing list, subscribers, sign-ups, newsletter. But it all boils down to the same thing: it’s a list that people have willingly signed up for, because they are interested in what you have to say. That means the people on an email list are an indie author’s target market, which, as any internet marketer will tell you, is incredibly valuable.  Continue reading

The Ins and Outs of Blogging as a Professional Writer

Blogging is one of the best ways to build a platform, both as a book author and as a freelance writer. I plan on posting more about the specifics of being a freelancer, now having done it for a while, but blogging seems a good place to start, since it applies to both types of writers.

There are a lot of benefits to blogging, especially if you do it regularly. In the past few years that I’ve been blogging I have

  • improved my writing skills
  • learned how to beat writer’s block
  • started an email list
  • earned some income
  • gotten other publishing opportunities/writing jobs
  • met some wonderful people
  • read some amazing books
  • built up a small social media following

It’s taken a while to get to this point, especially since I did not commit to blogging regularly until recently, and I feel like I’m on the verge of being able to turn this into something that earns some steady income (I’ve only just started monetizing).

For other people who may be in the same boat as me, or even those are just starting or thinking of starting a blog, here’s a collection of tips I’ve stumbled across to help take things to the next level. Continue reading