A Quick Look at Coloring Books

By Jenn Gaylor (Southeast Steuben County Library) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jenn Gaylor (Southeast Steuben County Library) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and you know what could make a nice gift? A coloring book!

Seriously, I know it was a huge fad last year (and the year before), but there is something really relaxing about taking colored pencil to paper. In that spirit, here are some resources I’ve found about coloring books (in case you want to make and sell your own, or just color your own):

Coloring Book Trends

Related Trends

Coloring Benefits

Making and Publishing Coloring Books

Examples of Coloring Books

Coloring Book Apps

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Legal Considerations for Authors

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

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

For writers and publishers, there are a lot of interesting things to consider when it comes to the law.

For writers looking to go the traditionally published route, there’s a lot to keep in mind contract-wise, including, according to Kristine Kathryn Rusch, control, fairness, and clout. She explains that you want as much control over your project as possible, though some contracts may not allow for negotiation, so you’ll have to ask yourself if that contract is something you really want. Also, things will not always be fair, but you don’t need clout to negotiate, you just need to get past the idea that you need a certain level of success before you can negotiate and just go for it. The worst thing that can happen is the person you’re negotiating with can say “no.” 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

The Growth of Audiobooks

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

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

A few weeks back, I wrote an essay for LARB about reading in the multimedia age. A big part of the essay focused on audiobooks, which are growing in popularity each year.

According to QZ, audiobooks are growing more than ebooks. MarketWatch wrote that some audiobooks are selling more copies than their print counterparts, and according to The Digital Reader, “audio can outsell print when audio is treated as its original format and not produced as an after thought.” Continue reading

Technology Trends in Publishing

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It seems like as we progress, all digital technologies are slowly converging, and it’s really cool to witness. Joe Wikert wrote on DBW about 2016 trends, which included bots and automation, augmented reality, and vying for attention.  Continue reading

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.

Indie Author Marketing Guide: A Primer to Social Media

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Social media is a big part of indie author marketing strategies these days. But for those just starting out, it may seem daunting. When I first began using social media for platform building, I felt slightly overwhelmed. But now, after lots of practice and just incorporating social media into my daily routine, I’ve come to embrace it. And instead of seeing it like a chore, I see it as another way to connect and interact with people, and I’ve been able to build real relationships through it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. (And if you want guidance on how to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed, read Your Writer Platform’s “Are You Building Your Writer Platform at Gunpoint?“)

Don’t use social media just to sell books

Kristen Lamb’s “Social Media, Book Signings & Why Neither Directly Impact Overall Sales” goes into depth on why this is not a good strategy, but basically you don’t want to spam people/just make noise, and you will not develop any real relationships this way (meaning, you won’t attract real fans).

Rachel Thompson suggests spending more time online finding people who may be willing to review your books, and she gives a list of suggestions in her article “Why ‘Read My Book!’ Doesn’t Work…And What To Do Instead

Focus on one or two platforms first, then build from there

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Google. Youtube. Goodreads. LinkedIn. Tumblr. The list goes on and on. You can be active on all these channels, but it’s probably best to pick one or two and work on growing an audience there first. Every social media channel works a little differently, caters to a different audience, and has savvy users who expect others to use the network a certain way. The Book Designer’s “Do You Make These Online Marketing Mistakes?” offers tips, such as establishing one audience per channel and using landing pages.

Social Media Just for Writers also recommends researching your target market and then choosing your social media platform based on that in “How to Stop Wasting Time and Focus Your Book Marketing.” For advice on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube, read DBW’s “The Book Marketing Social Media Hierarchy: Which Sites to Use for Which Purposes.”

Business Insider broke down the demographics of some of the social media platforms. According to them, the 45- to 54-year-old demographic is growing, “27% of 18 to 29-year-olds in the U.S. use Twitter,” LinkedIn and Google+ are mostly male, Pinterest is mostly women on tablets, and Tumblr is mostly teens and young adults.

Eventually you can expand into other platforms. For a case study on why, read Kate Tilton’s “Why I Use Different Social Media Networks (And You Should Too) by @K8Tilton.”

For help determining which platform is best for you, read these articles:

Strategize how you will build your platform

Erindor Press’s “Platform Building Primer” is a good start, and advocates setting expectations and figuring out the best way to share content, either via blogging, email newsletters, or something else (and you can use social media to promote that content).

The Loneliest Planet shared a post, called “One Writer’s Platform (Part 2) Events and PR,” which goes over techniques of marketing offline (such as doing public readings and lectures) but also adds that it’s worth taping these performances and uploading them to Youtube to share.

Use lots of images/visuals

People tend to engage more with posts, tweets, etc. that are visual. According to Rebekah Radice’s “5 Steps to Get Massive Engagement With Your Visual Content,” “43% of social media users share pictures.” She recommends having consistent colors, using templates, appropriate fonts, and to create infographics, images, and videos.

Build Book Buzz recommends creating different types of images, including picture quotes, tipographics, and infographics. For tips on how to actually create these images, read Social Media Just For Writer’s “Writers: Use Visuals to Market Your Books.”

Make use of social media tools

Here’s a list of resources, along with helpful tips and links to additional tools:

Keep up to date on new platforms and tools

Lastly, the social media landscape is constantly changing, so it’s good to stay up to date. One example of a relatively new tool/platform is Aerbook, which according to PW turns social media into a virtual bookstore. Earlier this year, Social Media Just for Writers wrote about how indie authors can use Aerbook, which allows you to share previews and even sell ebooks on social media networks, as well as see analytics on your shares.

According to the article, there are three product plans to choose from:

Aerbook Retail is free, no credit card required. It gives you the social look inside the book, email capture popups within the sample, stats on how the book is used, and the ability to share the link and also get web page widgets that launch the Aerbook. This plan lets you sell the book directly through Aerbook, and our service earns 15% of the purchase price after credit card fees are deducted.

Aerbook Plus gives you everything Aerbook Retail delivers, plus lets you add links to other retailers, like Amazon, iBooks, or even your own purchase page. Aerbook Plus is $49 per year.

Aerbook Flyer includes everything above, but there’s no direct sale through Aerbook’s commerce service. You’ll add links to other retailers. Flyer also lets you do book giveaways, and includes 500 directly delivered, complete books annually. Flyer is $99 per year.

Got any social media tips? Please share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published September 2015, as part of the Indie Author Marketing Guide series.

The Making of a Successful Ebook: An Interview with Geoff Jones, Author of The Dinosaur Four

dinosaur_fourYou may remember Geoff Jones, author of the thriller The Dinosaur Four, from my last post where I happily reviewed his book. Geoff is so awesome that I had to interview him twice. The first time was for the podcast I make with my husband, I Know Dino, where we of course discussed the amazing dinosaurs in his book, and the second time, Geoff very graciously let me pick his brain and ask him a ton of questions about his work as an indie author. Geoff has 501 customer reviews on Amazon with an average of 4-stars, and he successfully sells his book in ebook, paperback, and audio formats, so you can see how I may have gotten carried away.

Anyway, Geoff, being the great guy that he is, kindly answered all my questions and shared all the secrets to his success. Read on for my interview with him. Continue reading

A Roundup of History Lessons: Book Blurbs, Fairy Tales, Ebooks, and More

By Nikolai Ushin (1898–1942) (Lpamyatniki.narod.ru) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nikolai Ushin (1898–1942) (Lpamyatniki.narod.ru) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s always fun to think about how things came to be. A couple weeks ago, I shared a bunch of links that looks at the present and predicts future trends. I think that understanding the past also helps us to better understand the present and look towards the future.

With that in mind, there have been some interesting stories going around the interwebs lately that talk about the past. Continue reading

Indie Authors: Organization and Writing Tips

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 11.54.05 PMAs an indie author treating writing as a business, it’s important to stay on top of deadlines and to always work on improving your craft.

Organizing Your Time

To that end, Duolit has provided a helpful free monthly planner for authors. The idea is that to-do lists can be too daunting, and if you schedule activities in your calendar you will actually get more done. The planner has you choose a focus for the month. For example, building a website, writing, planning promotions, etc.

Of course, writing (arguably) the most important activity you can do as an indie author. So you want to make sure you spend some time each day writing. Monica Leonelle gives some great advice on how to write more. In addition to using dictation software, she advocates making a small to-do list for the day (so it can complement your calendar), where you fill in things to do for a two hour chunk of the day, three 25-minute sessions, and five five-minute tasks. I haven’t tried this method yet, but I can see how it would be satisfying to do.

Shelley Hitz also advocates scheduling your writing time as a way to improve.

Improving Your Writing

Yes, the more you write, the better your writing will become. But it’s also good to figure out what makes writing good, and how you can improve your skills. Forbes recommends three books that will help with just that, including The Sense of Style and The Getaway Car. Sounds intriguing, especially for books on writing.

Writing flash fiction can also improve your writing as a whole, according to Kate Tilton. This is because in flash fiction, you have to make every word count.

According to Brain Pickings, great storytellers must have three qualities: magic, story, and lesson. And R.S. Mollison-Read wrote about two other essential writer skills: imagination and analysis.

Live Write Thrive provides a 10-item checklist of questions to ask about your story. Questions include character reactions, what the conflict is, and what the point of the scene is.

And The Book Designer talks about joining writer groups to help you write, and also promote your book. The article also provides a long list of groups you can join.

And last, if you’re looking for some inspiration, Writers Unplugged shares 21 quotes for novelists. Here’s my favorite:

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” ~ Beatrix Potter