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

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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

140 Tools and Resources for Building Your Author Website and/or Blog

By Matthew Bowden www.digitallyrefreshing.com (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/145972) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

By Matthew Bowden http://www.digitallyrefreshing.com (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/145972) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Author websites and blogs are important components to building an author platform. With that in mind, here is a list of resources that can help you set up and optimize your site. Continue reading

Indie Authors: Tips for Writing Characters That Resonate

By Stagg Photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Stagg Photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Characters are an important element of every story. So how do you make sure your story has characters that stand out? That readers find interesting and believable?

Writers in the Storm posted an article about becoming your character, so that you don’t make mistakes like head hop or have multiple viewpoints for one character. The best way to do that is to become your character. That way, Marcy Kennedy explained, we can better remember that we only know our own thoughts and feelings, not someone else’s, we can only experience things within our eye sight or within our ear shot as they happen, and our past and personality determines how we react and interpret things.

According to Marcy, who wrote the book Point of View in Fiction:

Point of view isn’t merely another writing craft technique. Point of view is the foundation upon which all other elements of the writing craft stand—or fall. It’s the opinions and judgments that color everything the reader believes about the world and the story. It’s the voice of the character that becomes as familiar to the reader as their own. It’s what makes the story real, believable, and honest.

A character’s self-sacrifice can also help pull readers in. K.M. Weiland, from Helping Writers Become Authors, said that “Self-sacrifice is the ultimate expression of love—and so, of course, it’s an endlessly powerful story catalyst.”

To make the self-sacrifice even more powerful, K.M. said that you should have a scene earlier in the story that sets up the self-sacrifice, by showing how much your character wants something. Doing that shows the reader that the character is doing something really hard when he or she self-sacrifices.

Another aspect to consider to round out characters is internal dialogue. Writers in the Storm shares in a post that internal dialogue helps show emotion, in addition to helping to pace the story. According to Marcy Kennedy, the most effective internal dialogue is not repeated in actual dialogue or action, it should be used to share important thoughts, and it should be told in the character’s voice, not the author’s. Additionally, internal dialogue should sound like dialogue, so that it sounds natural.

Author Zoo also recommends using juxtaposition, to help show a character’s motivation. Lana Pecherczyk gives two examples of using juxtaposition: as a flashback in a tense scene or in characterization, to make the reader think more about that character.

Last, if you want some advice for how to become an overall better writer, check out McSweeney’s “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do.” Colin Nissan lists tips and explains in a tongue-in-cheek way why those tips are useful. Advice includes writing every day, not procrastinating, reading a lot, and finding a muse (though he cautions, “Beware of muses who promise unrealistic timelines for your projects or who wear wizard clothes”).

Originally published August, 2016

A Look at Self-Publishing Success Stories

Happy New Year! Now is the time to rejuvenate and get motivated for the year. And to help, here are some success stories.

It’s hard to be an indie author. There’s often depressing news about how ebook sales are going down and people are getting tired of digital, or how people are buying coloring books but not ebooks. And sometimes, startups that help hybrid authors shut down, leaving authors stranded.

So it’s nice to hear about the success stories. People who work hard for long periods of time and eventually make it in some way. These are the kinds of stories that keep me going, and give me hope. Plus they always have great takeaways to learn from. Continue reading

Writers Boon, a One-Stop Shop for Authors

The process for publishing has many moving parts. In addition to writing, editing, packaging, and distributing, there’s marketing and different strategies to consider. Writers Boon, a new platform, aims to help authors with everything they need to know when it comes to publishing their books. Read on for an interview with Carol Vorvain, Co-Founder and CEO of Writers Boon.

Continue reading