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.
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
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
- “Adult coloring books hit best-seller lists” on Times Daily
- “Adult Coloring Explosion” on Web Junction
- “Against all odds, print books are on the rise again in the US” on Quartz
- “This woman is making a fortune selling coloring books for adults” on Business Insider
- “Coloring Books For Adults Take Off At NYC Public Library Branches” on CBS New York
- “Are Grown-Up Coloring Books the Future of Publishing?” on Flavorwire
- “Coloring Books, Children’s Boost Quarto 2015 Results” on Publisher’s Weekly
- “Dover, Others, Cash in on Adult Coloring” on Library Journal
- “Hottest trend in publishing is adult coloring books” on New York Post
- “Indie Author Finds Niche with ‘Geek Cookbook'” on Book Life
- “Sourcebooks Strikes Gold with Personalized Adult Coloring Books” on Digital Book World
- “The Coloring Craze: Adult Coloring Books, 2015” on Publisher’s Weekly
- “The Adult Coloring Book Boom Continues” on Publisher’s Weekly
- “Coloring Books For Adults Stay Hot” on Publisher’s Weekly
- “An adult coloring book publisher explains the appeal of adult coloring books” on Fusion
- “The King of Coloring Books” on Publisher’s Weekly
- “Sticker Books for Grown-Ups: Inside a Publishing Incubator” on Wall Street Journal
- “Toy Fair 2016: The Adult Publishing Coloring Craze Hits the Toy Industry” on Publisher’s Weekly
- “The Zen of Adult Coloring Books” on The Atlantic
- “The Therapeutic Science Of Adult Coloring Books: How This Childhood Pastime Helps Adults Relieve Stress” on Medical Daily
- “Try Meditative Coloring to Help Ease Stress and Anxiety” on Lifehacker
- “Adult Coloring Books Turned Me Into a Child” on Thrillist
Making and Publishing Coloring Books
- “How to Make a Coloring Book” on Instructables
- “How To Self-Publish An Adult Coloring Book” on GoodeReader
- “Meet The Woman Who Sold A Million Copies Of Her Coloring Books For Adults” on Buzzfeed
- “Adult Coloring Books: How to Get Started Publishing and Selling Adult Coloring Books” on Inquisitr
Examples of Coloring Books
- “13 Ways You Can Make Coloring Books A Part Of Your Adult Life (NSFW)” on Huffington Post
- Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns
- Amazing Animals: A Stress Management Coloring Book For Adults
- Swear word coloring book
- Detailed Designs and Beautiful Patterns
- Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book
- Adult Coloring Books on Amazon
Coloring Book Apps
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
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.
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
The 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.
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:
- “Instagram: Should You Be On It?” on Indies Unlimited
- “How Tumblr Turned a Book Into a Bestseller” on GoodeReader
- “Pinterest Unveils Buyable Pins, A Way To Purchase Things Directly Within Pinterest” on TechCrunch
- “Pinterest Update: More Ways Authors Can Use Pinterest!” on Writers Win
- “Indie Author Marketing Guide: Pinterest” on Musings and Marvels
- “How I Made it to the Front Page of BuzzFeed Twice, and How You Can Too” on Matthew Barby
- “Surprising News in Social Media – And a Twitter Tip” on Social Media Just for Writers
- “Indie Author Marketing Guide: Twitter” on Musings and Marvels
- “Guest Post: 8 Secrets to Increase Your Twitter Followers” on Musings and Marvels
- “Guest Post: What Everybody Ought To Know About Facebook Account Management” on Musings and Marvels
- “Guest Post: Want to Step Up Your Facebook?” on Musings and Marvels
- “Indie Author Marketing Guide: Goodreads” on Musings and Marvels
- “Indie Author Marketing Guide: LinkedIn” on Musings and Marvels
- “Indie Author Marketing Guide: Google Plus” on Musings and Marvels
- “Which Social Media and Marketing Tools Are Publishers Actually Using Successfully” on DBW
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:
- Kate Tilton Social Media Resources
- Kate Tilton Authors on Instagram
- Kate Tilton Book Bloggers on Instagram
- Social Media Examiner
- Magnolia Media Network
- Books Go Social
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.
You 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