Indie Authors: Where Do You Get Your Industry News?

Courtesy of Stefano Corso, via Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Stefano Corso, via Wikimedia Commons

As an indie authorpreneur, it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends, not only in self-publishing, but in the publishing industry as a whole.

Here are some sites and blogs that I read regularly. Some of them cover the publishing industry, including news, book deals, and job moves. Others give updates on the indie world, such as Amazon algorithm changes or hot book genre trends. And some speculate on the future of publishing, and how digital affects the way books are made and consumer. I’ve found them all useful and often fascinating:

I’ve also set up Google alerts for the keywords “book publishing”, “digital publishing”, “ebooks” and “self publishing.” Come to think of it, I should probably add another one for “indie authors.” I get these alerts once a week (I used to get them daily, but found that to be too overwhelming).

As for my list, I get most articles delivered to my inbox, which I scan in the mornings. If something looks particularly interesting, I bookmark it to read more thoroughly later.

This is definitely not a complete list–there are so many helpful sites out there. Where do you go to get your news?

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared February 2016.

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Indie Authors: An Overview of Book Reviews

By Ramchand Bruce Phagoo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ramchand Bruce Phagoo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sure, we all know that getting authentic reviews, and ideally that are 4- and 5-stars, is a key component to a book’s success. In fact, you need a certain number of 4-star reviews just to be considered for a BookBub promotion.

Because of this, there are tons of resources online that give indie authors advice on how to find reviewers and contact them. Funds for Writers and eNovel Authors at Work gives some tips, such as keeping in mind that not everyone who initially agrees to review your book will do so (possibly due to time constraints or other factors in their life). It’s also important to keep in mind that it takes time to get your book reviewed.

As Jackie Weger at eNovel Authors at Work puts it:

Book reviews are NOT instant. One must wait for the reader to read the dang book. Patience is required.  All reviewers have a TBR stack ahead of you. There is a protocol for approaching reviewers. In your email: Greet the reviewer by name. State your name and the name of your book and offer a one line tag. DO NOT send your book cold turkey. ASK FIRST. Or follow the instruction on the blog to submit your book for review.

Another approach is to go the book club circuit route, as talked about on Book Works. This also takes time, since you will need to reach out to small, niche groups. The upside is you’ll probably find a small group of people who not only love reading, but probably like your book (if you find a group who likes your genre).

And then there are paid reviews. This means paying a fee for a professional book reviewer or organization to give an honest review. These services tend to give credibility to a book, but can be expensive (running in the hundreds of dollars). MediaShift has a great Q&A post with Blue Ink Review.

However, sometimes reviews are not always accurate. Christina Larmer on Huffington Post writes how sometimes reviews are incorrect, such as a review of one of her books that talks about missing pages, even though there are no missing pages. Yet, she couldn’t get the review removed, which may be misleading to potential readers. She ends her piece with a request for reviewers to “Keep it real”:

Just be sure to make it honest and believable, and it will not only pass muster with the Powers That Be, you will be doing your fellow readers a good service. Because each genuine review you write gives other potential readers a chance to understand a little about the book and whether it’s worth investing in. Then they can go in, eyes wide open, before they press ‘download’.

What are your experiences with getting book reviews? Please share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared July 2016.

Indie Authors: Book Promotion Tools and Tips

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

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

Marketing is a crucial part of book publishing. If no one knows your book is out there, how can you expect people to read it?

With that in mind, here’s a compilation of tips and tools that can help you with your book promotion efforts. Continue reading

Indie Authors: Getting Your Book Discovered

By Santjo2011 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Santjo2011 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

With hundreds of thousands of new books being published each year, it’s hard for indie authors to stand out.

One strategy I’ve written about before is going permafree, meaning you set one book in a series to permanently free, as a way to entice readers to buy the rest of the books in the series.

To add fodder to that idea, M. Louisa Locke writes about how using the permafree strategy freed up more of her time for actually writing (instead of working to constantly promote all her books). And Bacon and Books shares their experience with giving away books for free, at least temporarily.

If you’re looking to promote your book (whether you’re having a sale, offering it for free, or making it permafree), here a few websites you can try:

Additionally, check out my post, “7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers.”

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared April 2016.

Indie Authors: An Overview of Book Distribution Options

By Zufrieden (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Zufrieden (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to selling books, most people think of Amazon and Kindle. Although Amazon may be the biggest ebook distributor, it’s not the only option for indie authors. Continue reading

Indie Authors: Self-Editing Before Getting Your Manuscript Edited

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

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

Editing is an important step to publishing, both indie and traditional. A book that is poorly edited can be a big turn off to readers. Bridget McKenna gives an example in her post, “Why I Didn’t Keep Reading Your Book, Part 2“:

Your opening sentence demonstrated that you don’t know the difference between “number,” which is used to describe things that can be counted, such as fenceposts and birds, and “amount,” which is used to describe something functionally impossible to count, like water or sand. So “a large amount of birds” flapping around the very first line of your book didn’t fill me with a sense of promise for your writing or a lot of respect for your editor. I’ll never know whether you told a good story—what I found in the few pages convinced me you couldn’t write well enough for the quality of the story to make a difference to me.

Steamfeed has a list of grammar mistakes to watch out for, so as to keep your readers happy. Examples include it’s v. its, affect and effect, and quotation marks. Continue reading

Indie Authors: Editing Tips to Attract Readers and Save Money

By Digital-Designs (Red Pen, Yellow Pen....) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Digital-Designs (Red Pen, Yellow Pen….) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

No first draft is perfect. That’s why editing is such an important step in the writing and publishing process.

There are a few types of editing:

  • Developmental editing
  • Line editing
  • Proofreading

In a nutshell, developmental editing looks at the big picture of a story, and makes sure the tone is consistent and things make sense. Line editing is more granular, and looks at improving sentences and paragraphs. And proofreading is the last step, making sure everything is grammatically correct.

IngramSpark has an article with nine common questions and answers about editing, if you’d like to read more. Some things to keep in mind are that you, as the author, do not need to blindly accept whatever changes an editor recommends, editors specialize in genres so you want to work with editors who have worked in your genre, and using a style guide is important.

There are a lot of things that indie authors can do on their own, but editing should not be one of them. That said, most of my budget for my self-published books goes to editors, and it can be on the expensive side. To help save some money upfront, it’s good to go through a few rounds of revisions, by either going through a checklist yourself, or asking for feedback from beta readers, or both.

If you’re looking for some help in this area, it may be worth considering joining an author collective or co-op. According to Jane Friedman, “Typically, author collectives are groups of writers who meet for the purposes of workshops, education, and networking. Some require members to pay yearly fees, and some, like the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, have a board that arranges events and provides services to the community.” The article goes on to recommend author collectives and give tips on how to start your own.

If you want to try doing a round of edits yourself first, BookBub offers a list of 12 editing mistakes that authors often make, which can be a good starting point. The first thing is the common adage, “Show, don’t tell.” However, also keep in mind that you don’t want to over describe things to slow down the pace. Also make sure you have believable conflicts, a consistent point of view, and good grammer.

On that note, HubSpot has a list of 10 edits that will improve your writing. A lot of the tips apply more to copywriters, but copywriting is important for indie authors too (think book blurbs). Tips include, making sure your benefits stand out (great for non-fiction books), using active voice, removing adverbs, and keeping paragraphs short. Most of these tips can apply to creative writers as well.

Last, many authors write informative blogs where they share their writing process and other helpful tips. Writer’s Write has a list of their favorite author blogs, as well as group blogs, blog directories, and other blog resources.

Happy writing and editing!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared June 2016.

Indie Authors: Tips for Filing Taxes

Photo by Ken Teegardin, www.SeniorLiving.Org, Flickr

Photo by Ken Teegardin, http://www.SeniorLiving.Org, Flickr

As an indie author, it’s important to think of yourself as a business. Taxes for 2016 are almost due, so here are some tips that can help you file.

The first step is to gather all tax-related documents. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • W2s
  • 1009s
  • Donations
  • Receipts
  • Student loans

Having all your documents in one place will make it easier to file, and you’re less likely to accidentally miss anything. You can use these documents to help you itemize your deductions. Continue reading

A Look at Amazon: Timeline and Indie Author News

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Amazon, but as usual, I’ve been collecting links. Here are some items that explain what Amazon has been up to (you may notice it covers a wide range of topics, which is fitting, since Amazon covers so many industries now): Continue reading

Tips for Recording and Publishing Your Own Audiobooks

By Heinrich Böll Stiftung from Berlin, Deutschland (Konferenzeindrücke) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Heinrich Böll Stiftung from Berlin, Deutschland (Konferenzeindrücke) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s no secret that audiobooks are growing in popularity, and are becoming part of the self-publishing process. An op-ed in the New York Times wrote about the benefits of listening to stories:

I listen the way I read books as a child, as if I were there watching. The author becomes more transparent, the characters more real.

According to Copyblogger, having an audiobook gives you more credibility as an author.

Publisher’s Weekly recently reported on the rise of audiobook sales, and how that’s changing the industry. More publishers are producing audiobooks, and there’s been some innovation, such as “multivoiced recordings, short-form content, bonus audio-only material added to audiobooks, adaptations of such print formats as graphic novels, and more original content created for audio.” BookMachine talks about mixing short stories with full cast and narrated audio fiction, “where the magic of its stories were brought to life through links to audio dramas that could be change and be added to.”

It’s exciting to think of the possibilities, but if you’re just starting out, how do you make and sell your own audiobooks? Here are some things to consider. Continue reading