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.

Chickadee Prince, a Small Press and Pop-up Bookstore

chickadeeprincelogo3Pop-up stores are fun. Sometimes they’re themed, sometimes they sell unique things, and they often have an urgent, fun atmosphere, since they only plan to stick around for a set amount of time.

Chickadee Prince, a small press based in Brooklyn, is planning on opening up a pop-up bookstore, in addition to publishing new titles. Read on for a great Q&A with founder Steven S. Drachman, who created Chickadee Prince from a bookseller’s perspective. Continue reading

What Indie Authors Can Learn From Other Industries

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

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

As an indie author, it can be fun (and helpful) to learn about what’s going on in other industries. Joe Wikert outlined on DBW what publishers can learn from the podcast model, by offering easy subscriptions (which could arguably be similar to subscribing to blogs or newsletters), delivering content on a regular schedule, and delivering related content to your audience. To me, this could mean working with a network of people to promote each other, the way podcast networks work to help promote multiple podcasts. Recently, I joined a joint author promo mailing list, where about 50 of us each offer a free book for a giveaway, and then we all work to promote the giveaway. The last giveaway we did resulted in a couple thousand entries, and I got a few new people to subscribe to my mailing list.

Authors can also learn from airlines, according to The Bookseller. Airline prices rise and fall depending on the day:

But what if the same seat-pricing model were to be applied to books? A model where the titles would have lower prices on Tuesdays and be more expensive on Fridays. Where the R.R.P. on the back cover becomes as dynamic as a company’s share price. Where we compete to buy books like we do in an EBay auction.

One way to apply this is to heavily discount pre-orders, and slowly raise the price the closer to publication date it gets. Then, the price could continue to fluctuate based on “interest in the author, the genre, the topic, and personalized to the reader’s own interests.”

Indie authors also have a lot in common with independent app developers. One person on Reddit shared how they made over $700k from a premium game and hit #1 in the App Store (and the New Yorker even wrote about it). According to the post, it’s very hard to do as an indie, but what’s important is to release regular updates, cross promote to other games, and ask for reviews.

Another thing authors can learn from is content marketing, which is very similar to writing books. Drift wrote about what they learned growing their website from 200 to 27,000 visitors, and they found that blogging is an investment (so content published a while back can continue to drive traffic, much like the first book in a series can continue to generate interest), quality content is important, as is the amount of effort it takes to promote that content (community sites are great that way, as well as working with influencers), and data can only tell you so much, so it’s better to focus on big picture things in the beginning and not small tweaks.

DBW also advocates content communities, and recommends that authors share research, back stories, databases, and more to allow readers to see what’s behind the scenes and feel part of a community.

Related to content marketing is omnichannel selling. BookMachine shared ten things they learned selling at a conference, including the fact that most people make purchases online and many through their smartphone, knowing their path to purchase is important (so when possible, selling direct may be a good idea), when it comes to making a sale, email is much more effective than social media, social media is helpful for customer service, and things are always changing.

Gumroad’s post, “Nathan Barry’s Lessons Learned Selling $355,759 on Gumroad,” sums up everything nicely. Basically, Nathan recommends being able to contact customers (like in newsletters), pricing based on value, using email to build relationships and launch products, and selling in packages at different values.

What other industries do you follow? Share in the comments!

5 Classic Books That Are Perfect for Halloween

By Copyleft (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Copyleft (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, here are 5 great Halloween-themed books. Sure, most of them are scary, but who can resist Charlie Brown? So here they are, in no particular order.

  1. The Shining by Stephen King: “Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control. As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel – and that too had begun to shine…”
  2. Dracula by Bram Stoker: Count Dracula: “During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.”
  3. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe: An unnamed narrator reads “forgotten lore” by the fire on a dreary night, to forget the death of his love, Lenore.
  4. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving: In 1790 in Tarry Town, New York, Ichabod Crane, a superstitious schoolmasters, competes for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel at a party. As he leaves the party, a Headless Horseman chases him, the ghost of a Hessian fighter who lost his head in the Revolutionary War and now “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head.”
  5. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Shulz: It’s Halloween, and the Peanuts gang are all going trick-or-treating. Except for Linus, who is waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

Bonus!

If you’re looking for more great Halloween reads, Goodreads has a few epic reading lists:

Guest Post: 5 Ways to ID the DNA of Your Brand

By James Rosene

By Bdna.gif: Spiffistan derivative work: Jahobr (Bdna.gif) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bdna.gif: Spiffistan derivative work: Jahobr (Bdna.gif) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Branding is one of the first, most important objectives for any professional writer. It’s much more than just a graphic element or logo, it is the base of every reader’s experience. Therefore, you should be able to identify the characteristics and qualities that make you different from every other writer.

In being able to ID the DNA of your brand, you will also:

  • Understand how your readers view you
  • Gain insights on reader’s experiences with your brand
  • Be able to utilize in-depth data to create a strategic plan that improves your branding

Continue reading

Indie Authors: Using Giveaways to Find New Readers and Sell More Books

By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A giveaway is a powerful tool that can help indie authors attract new readers. You can incentivize people to spread the word about your book through social media, sign up for your email list, and garner interest in your other books (which can lead to more sales).

There are at least four big tools authors can use for book giveaways:

Continue reading

Guest Post: A Guide To Successful Youtube Video Marketing

youtube

By Sheena Mathieson 

Sheena Mathieson is a freelance writer who shares some helpful tips on using YouTube.

Videos are used for various purposes – ranging from educational to entertaining. In fact, YouTube was made in order for people online to find videos quickly. Thanks to its search engine and social media system, their vision was made possible. YouTube also offers a new platform for businesses to explore and use to their advantage. However, the success of your videos depends on marketing strategies you employ.

YouTube is a type of social media platform where you can discuss things with other users/channels, and gain reputation via subscribed users in the site. In order for you to get more subscriptions, views, and eventually get sales, what you need is a good video that will explain your business clearly and interestingly. If you want to hire Youtubers and use their channel for your business, you can check their overall YouTube subscribers and views. Continue reading

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.

The Science of Writing and Reading

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

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

It’s been a while since I’ve written any posts related to science on here. There are some really cool articles that have come out, specifically about books. (Hint: Books are good for your health, and can even improve your memory, according to Bustle.)

Reading and Your Brain

According to the Daily Mail, scientists have found that reading a novel can affect your brain for days afterwards. Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia gave people sections of a novel described as a “page turner” to read each day, and then went through a fMRI scan each morning after. They found heightened connectivity in parts of the brain, which may mean that your favorite books could have lasting impacts and possibly actually change your life.

According to Bustle, “According to the fiction feeling hypothesis, narratives with emotional contents invite readers more to be empathic with the protagonists and thus engage the affective empathy network of the brain, the anterior insula and mid-cingulate cortex, than do stories with neutral contents.”

Life Hacker gives some tips on how to read a book in just one day. The gist is to mix it up between ebook, print book, and audiobook, read in intervals, take notes, and find a good spot to do your reading.

And on a related note, Test Tube shared an interesting article explaining why people go deaf when reading. I’ve noticed this a lot with myself, when I’m really into a book, I tend to lose track of everything else around me. According to the article, it’s called “inattentional deafness,” and it means “when our brain is immersed in an intense task, the time it takes the brain to convey information to our consciousness is delayed. This process is known as the P3 Response. The team found that our auditory and visual senses share a limited neural resource. This partially explains how we tend to “zone out” from time to time.”

Writing Good Books

The Telegraph reported on scientists who came up with an algorithm that analyzes books and predicts if they will become bestsellers. A team from Stony Brook University in New York used books from Project Gutenberg and found that their algorithm matched the success of the public domain books 84% of the time. Some insights: books with lots of conjunctions, nouns and verbs did well compared to books with more adverbs.

Teleread reported on Typedrummer, which makes drum sounds out of text. Every letter has a particular sound, and according to the article, “actual sentences yield more complex and actually attractive sounds.”

Content Sharing

The Next Web shared that combining neuroscience and psychology can help us create content that people actually want to share. Emotion often makes people want to share, so it’s important to know why people want to share and what kind of content is shareable. Examples include being entertaining, inspiring, or useful, expressing ourselves, or nurturing our relationships with close friends. In general, positive messages are more likely to be shared, as well as practical information.

Machine learning can help readers find the content/books they’re looking for, according to an article in Digital Book World. A company called “Intellogo is able to recognize ideas and literary concepts, such as the mood of a text or a style of writing, with the software’s algorithms interpreting excerpts from any variety of sources (ebooks, Internet articles, Wikipedia, etc.) and can then connect, predict and recommend content based on user criteria.”