All About the Authors

Helping edit, publish, and market your book.

Category: self-publishing (page 2 of 2)

Ghostwriters – Not Just for the Infamous

You might know about ghostwriters from when a famous reality star has her fifteen minutes of fame, and is asked to write a book about her life. Remember Snookie? The naked guy from 51eHkxgZWNL._SX413_BO1,204,203,200_Survivor? A Real Housewife? Most of these people are not writers.57cadcd00ab945ecb4d1722a3518c132.1500

 

How about the football star who is the winning quarterback in the Superbowl? Everyone wants to know his story, how he went from scrawny eight year old to multi-talented (and super-model-esque) to seemingly invincible hero.

Or, you may have heard that when a politician is running for office, he signs a deal to write a feel good story about his all-American upbringing hi51DV+gcn-6L._AA160_s rags to riches tale, his manifesto of how he wants to make America right again. Most politicians are not writers, or they simply don’t have the time to sit down and write it.

What these scenarios have in common is that the “author” needs to hire a ghostwriter. But ghostwriters aren’t just for the famous (or infamous). A lot of my clients are doctors, psychologists, retired professional athletes, nutritionists, people who have overcome adversity and have a tale to tell, or people who have a great idea that they want to share. Many are speakers and businessmen and women who want to share their ideas in book form, and leave the listeners at conferences where they speak a lasting reminder of their day with them.51HvjG7mukL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Many people on the speakers’ circuit actually need a book in order to get bookings. Businesses and charities who book speakers like to have books as a give-away (ensuring sales) and it gives the speaker cache that they are published authors.

So many dream of writing a book, but do not have the time or ability. Enter the ghost-writer. We come from various backgrounds, but many of us come from either journalism, or have always been authors, or are former book publishing editors, like me. We work in a variety of ways, but generally we spend time interviewing the author, read their papers, listen to their speeches. We try to capture the voice and the vision of the author and turn it into the best it can be.

To find out more about the costs of a ghost-writer, the time you need to spend with the ghost-writers, and tricky topics like who gets credit and where, become a subscribing member, and watch my video, which will post this week.

The Worst Advice We’ve Heard About Book Publicity

megaphone-kid-cropped1You must do a book tour

Ask a handful of published authors or better yet, go to a local book signing and discover why book tours aren’t a must for most authors. Unless you have an established following or are part of a larger group such as a YA panel, a book signing may be a bust. Bookstores depend on authors to bring in a crowd and often underestimate attendance.  I represented a Nashville author who wanted help arranging his book launch. The large-chain bookstore underestimated attendance and had to ask him to bring an extra box of books for the signing. If not for his personal following and our combined publicity efforts, he might be like the majority of authors who show up to only a handful of dedicated fans.

Why bother with a social media campaign?

Today’s industry standard includes a social media campaign. I know, I know, you’re a writer not a Facebook positor of trivialities or a “Tweeter” of the banal. But, believe me when I say that publishing contracts are sometimes awarded to those who have built a large fan base proving that people are interested in them and what they have to say. Start with social media that you like and that makes sense for you. Make sure you’re targeting your audience – Facebook is known to be popular with women, Google+ with men. Today’s book publicity is fueled by social media. Try it – you might like it.

Media outreach isn’t important

Let’s face it – it’s hard to sell yourself. Everyone (or almost everyone) has trouble with self-promotion. But if you’re self-published or even if you aren’t, media outreach is a crucial part of standing out in your community and in the larger book world. Not only should you seek stories about yourself and your book or books but also the crucial reviews that can help launch you onto a larger platform.

You have to be on Oprah to achieve success

This is a famous battle cry for wanna be top-selling authors. The gold stamp of approval is being endorsed by Oprah and it is, of course. It’s just really, really hard to achieve and an unrealistic goal for a beginning or modestly successful author. Yes, it’s important to reach for the stars but keep your feet on the ground, too. Look for media opportunities in your local community or groups. Branch out from there with targeted outreach to media in ever widening circles and don’t give up. It’s usually just when you want to quit that you get that exciting phone call from a journalist or radio show host who is interested in interviewing you.

Garner book reviews by badgering reviewers

Reviewers are people, too, and usually very busy people. Treat these contacts with respect similarly to journalists who have limited time to find out about you unless you and your book are interesting to them. Find out if the reviewer covers your genre and work to develop a relationship with him or her. Send a personalized email asking if he would like a copy of your book (and in what format) and then follow-up. It’s a waste of a good book if you send it to a reviewer who isn’t interested or just doesn’t have time.

Book publicity isn’t selling

As an author, especially a self-published author, you are an entrepreneur with a product to sell. What you need to do is become comfortable with the process. Whether you’re promoting your book through social media, media outreach, with a book tour or signing, or by giving talks in your community and at conferences, you’re selling. And, the best part is that it’s something that you’re passionate about. Get out there and have fun!

 

When Do You Know You Need an Editor?

You’ve spent IMG_2233months, perhaps years, writing your manuscript. You’re revised, rewritten, edited, heard criticism from your writers’ group and beta readers. Isn’t your book done? Can’t you send it off to publishers now? How can you tell if you need to hire a professional editor?

One sign of needing an editor is if you feel that the manuscript is “the best I can do.” That’s not the same as knowing it’s great and really a wonderful novel. If you think, “It’s okay, but I don’t know how else to improve it,” that’s a big sign that a professional editor can be of help.

Another sign is if you think it is wonderful but… there’s that one little thing. Maybe it’s a plot hole you’re hoping readers will ignore, or a character you know just isn’t gelling or a climactic scene that falls flat. All of these are issues an editor can help with.

Is the book too long? If you’re considering trying to get a contract with one of the big traditional publishers, your manuscript must be a certain length. If it’s falling short, an editor can suggest more content that she thinks is missing from the plot. But we find the opposite problem to be true for most novelists: the book is running thousands of words long, and the author has tried but can’t find any more cuts to make from the book. A professional editor is not wedded to your each and every word: we are wedded to making the best, most compelling story, and if there is extraneous material, we can find it and excise it.

And of course if you’re planning to self-publish, you definitely need an outside editor. After all, you’ll be missing out on the advice from both a literary agent and a publishing house editor that you would have gotten in the traditional route. But there’s no reason that means you have to put out a book that’s flawed. Independent editors are here to fill that gap. You might not know what it is you need help with—after all everyone has their blind spots—but editors can help with so many concerns, big and small. A fresh pair of eyes can notice things you overlooked or had always planned in your head to include but forgot to actually type in.

After all this book will be out in the world with your name on it. Do you want it to be anything less than perfect?

 

Building your fan base means more readers!

writing-with-pen-3Where are you in your author journey? Did you know that marketing your book begins about the same time as writing your book or at least one year to six months before launch? Many authors are faced with this conundrum: if no one knows who you are, how will they buy your book? Traditional publishers also look to their authors to develop a following on their own. And, having an established following may be part of why an author is chosen for publication.

My name is Priscila Goudreau-Santos and I’m a Publicist and Marketing Specialist now living in Charlotte, NC.  I also specialize in book and author publicity. My background includes working as a journalist, public relations specialist and communications expert for a number of clients. I started my own business in 1996 and since then have been approached by many authors — both published and yet-to-be published writers who are asking for help in getting the word out about themselves and their books. How do you begin crafting your message and marketing strategy? It’s all about building your fan base…including social media networking, websites, blogs, and traditional press releases and media contacts.

First of all, how do you brand yourself? How do people find you or see you as different from others.  Set yourself apart from other authors by asking these questions:

  • How am I unique?
  • Why did I write my book?
  • Who is my market (including age group, gender and preferences)?

These are just some of the questions you should ask to find out who is your target and how do you reach them.

Next, formulate a marketing plan targeted to your audience. It sounds overwhelming task but it’s a lot easier to do it in steps. This centers around your Author Platform or (brand or position) where you chose your key message: religion, conservation, healthcare, intrigue, Sci-Fi, etc. What are you trying to say?

Then, make sure that you do what marketers of products do best by branding your image or message with colors or photos. If you use the same color, picture and message in all of your marketing and publicity, your fans will begin to recognize you. In the Carolinas, when you see a black panther with bright blue trim, do you think of the Carolina Panthers? And, the catch phrase says it all: Two States. One Team.

Next, choose the way that you’d like people to connect with you by choosing to create a website or blog. There are different websites that allow you to create your own website free of charge such as Wix.com or WordPress.com or you can hire a professional to help with the technical and creative aspects. You’ll want your vision to portray you and your book in a unique way that you like. If you like it, chances are your followers will like it, too.

Then, use this platform to launch social media that will further connect with your followers. It’s all about connections. Again, choose ones that you like and use and that your followers use. Using all the tools in the toolbox, start to think ahead to using traditional media like press releases, social media and other elements and how they all work together. For example, if you send out a press release announcing your book launch, make sure that you make this announcement on your social media as well. There’s so much competition for everyone’s attention that you have to repeat your message often and on as many channels as possible.

Be creative and have fun. Use videos to set your campaign apart that you can post on your website, in your blog or send via link to your fans. If pictures are part of your message, then set up a Pinterest site and ask your followers to join and pin pictures to your boards. Make your campaign as interactive as possible. There are so many creative ways to set yourself apart and get noticed.

Traditional v. Self-Publishing

Whether or not to self-publish is a big decision as you can’t undo it once it’s done. Yes, there are always stories about wildly successful books that started out as self-published but later were traditionally published, such as:

What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

The Joy of Cooking by Irma RombauerLife's Litt

Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown

Juggling for the Complete Klutz by John Cassidy (actually this author then started a publishing company, Klutz Books)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

But what is rarely noted in these stories of amazing self-publishing success, is that the prize at the end of that road is: traditional publishing. Like Amanda Hocking has said, running a publishing business is not for the faint of heart or for those who want to focus on writing, even if it is financially successful. (She started publishing with St. Martin’s Press once her books became bestsellers.) There are both pluses and minuses to both routes that ought to be fully considered before making a decision. And the fact that traditional publishing is a slow process shouldn’t be the deciding factor (have some patience!) Many books were rejected a lot and went on to be huge hits, such as:

Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen was rejected 140 timesZen and

The Help by Kathryn Sockett, 60 times

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig, 121 times

Carrie by Stephen King, 30 times

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, 76 times

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, 26 times

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 38 times

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Suess, 27 times

So you may have to have persistence and you will certainly need a thick skin in this business.

Where to Self-Publish

The hows of traditional publishing will be covered in a later podcast and video, but a few details about self-publishing for now. First of all, Amazon is not the only game in town. And you really need to think twice before going with Amazon as that will exclude nearly all other book outlets, even if you don’t do an exclusive deal with Amazon (independent bookstores and chains like B&N do not like to purchase from a competitor, which Amazon is, and frequently will refuse to carry books printed by them.) There are a lot of companies to look into with a lot of options, here is a sampling of some of the larger ones:

Many of these companies offer package deals that may include editing, copyediting, ISBN, cover design, and marketing.

Other Questions to Ask

And a few other decisions you will need to make:

  • Will you be publishing an ebook? A print book? Both? Will print books be printed in a large quantity (offset printing) or one at a time (print-on-demand)?
  • Doing your own marketing and publicity:
    • What are blogs that review self-published books? Should you pay for a book blog tour?
    • What traditional review companies accept self-published books for review? How much does it cost? How much advance time do they need before the publication date?
    • How can you target your audience?
    • What social media outlets work best for you and for your book? How can you raise your level of visibility?
    • Should you hire an independent publicist?

It may sounds like I think everyone ought to go with traditional publishing and that’s certainly not true. I self-published a book myself in fact! It’s called The Insider’s Guide to a Career in Book Publishing. And you can read a post on my personal blog about the cost of that process. I just think the majority of writers make this decision without all the facts in front of them, and it’s a decision that needs to be fully explored and thought over carefully.

What Type of Editing Do You Need?

You’ve written your last sentence and hit save (twice—just to be sure it worked). Time to celebrate! You’re finished, right? Well, no, you’re not. Now it’s time to dig in and get dirty. You still have niggling doubts that your main character isn’t likeable or that your explanation is clear as mud. Maybe you’ve gotten less than positive feedback from critique group members or early readers. And it could be that you still have no idea what a comma splice is, but you know you’re guilty of committing this grammar crime.

The problem is that you don’t know exactly what your problems are or how you can fix them. That’s when you know it’s time to hire an editor. Sometimes you don’t even realize that you need an editor, but you have a wise friend who’s told you that you do. You trust this friend. And that’s good because your friend is right. Having your book professionally edited is one of the best things you can do for your writing career. Without a solid manuscript, you’re dead in the water. A great query might prompt an agent to request your manuscript, but without solid writing, you won’t snag a contract. Same goes for self-publishing. You can’t compete in a saturated market without a well-written book. A professional editor can give you advice that propels you to the next level.

So you fire up Google, search for editing services, and just stare. Who knew there were so many different types of editing? What services do you need?

Let’s clear up some of this confusion. While there are many types of editing available, the basic services you may need are developmental editing, line editing and/or copyediting, and proofreading.

Whether you plan to self-publish or find a literary agent to represent you, a developmental edit is a good idea. Developmental editing, also called structural or substantive editing (those sneaky editors—calling the same service different names), addresses the big picture elements of your manuscript. In fiction, these are character analysis, point of view, setting, timeline, story arc, pacing, and tone. In nonfiction, editors look at organization, style, point of view, pacing, and comparative analysis. The editor will mark up your manuscript, pointing out the good and the bad, with lots of viable suggestions to improve your manuscript.

Line editing and copyediting are often confused and thought to be synonymous. These services do have a few differences though. A line edit is a more intense service, and the editor will provide a hands-on approach to make your sentences crisp, eliminate jargon, or make dialogue sound belietrack changesvable. Sometimes an editor will provide line editing during the developmental editing phase, and you’ll need a separate copyedit after revisions. But if you hire an editor for a line edit only, this service should include a copyedit. So what does a copyedit include? Copyediting addresses manuscript issues at the word level: grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, treatment of numbers, consistency, and repetition. A copyeditor will point out a confusing sentence. A line editor will rewrite the sentence. You definitely need a copyedit (and possibly a line edit) if you plan to self-publish a quality book. However, if you hope to publish traditionally, you can hold off on this service.

If you’re still a little confused about whether you need a line edit or a copyedit and what that should include, you’re in good company. Editors don’t always agree on this either. That’s why it’s important to nail down exactly what your editor is going to do, regardless of what she calls it.

Proofreading is a final look at your manuscript before it is published. A proofreader will catch typos, inconsistencies, and issues with formatting, such as bad line breaks. You should not need a proofread until your book has been formatted and is ready to make its way into the world.

Now that you know what the basic editing services entail, you should be able to decide what service(s) you need. Figuring out the service you need is helpful when you begin the search for an editor because many editors specialize. If finding the perfect editor sounds daunting, there will soon be a video on this very topic, so stay tuned.

All About the Authors – A Force of Five

group photoIt all began several years ago with the founding of the Charlotte Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association and a lot of serendipity. That’s where Carin Siegfried (the first president) and Betsy Thorpe (the first vice-president), met. A few years later, Betsy reached out to Carin to encourage her to start freelance editing after Carin left the Charlotte-based book wholesaler Baker & Taylor. Both had worked in New York City at Random House (Betsy) and St. Martin’s Press (Carin) before moving to Charlotte. Next, also through WNBA, Carin and Betsy connected with Nicole Ayers, another freelance editor, and they would discuss their work and best practices. Nicole had over a decade of experience teaching writers and working with a National Writing Project affiliate before she turned to freelance editing. Carin also discovered that a college friend, Karen Alley, had begun freelance editing after a career that included work as an assistant editor in book production for Digital Text Construction, and time as editor of two separate magazines, the IGA Grocergram and Carolina Gardener. Carin encouraged Karen to join WNBA. And, in 2013, Priscilla Goudreau-Santos, a freelance publicist, writer and editor with over 20 years of public relations, journalism, and marketing experience including book publicity, also joined WNBA and a dynamic alliance was born.

These five book professionals met often at WNBA events, and also at social get togethers. This year, they decided to launch All About the Authors, a platform for writers to learn more about the publishing process and meet editors and publicists who are experts in the business. These savvy book pros knew from their clients and from workshop attendees how much confusion there is about the process of getting a book from one’s head into printed form. And between them, they have a great deal of knowledge that can help. Combined, we’ve worked with authors whose successful books have included a New York Times bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Kirkus Books Best Indie Book, an iBook Pick of the Year, and a Red City Review Book Award Finalist. So they decided to make their knowledge available, for authors to learn about publishing from the comfort of their own homes.

All About the Authors will take authors through every step of the process, both big and small. We encourage you to send us questions if you have them. We know writing a book and getting it published is a confusing and daunting task, and we strive to make it more understandable. We want to break it down so you will know that it is possible. With our guidance, you can determine which path is right for you to achieve the results you want, and we want to help you get there. That’s our vision and our mission.

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