All About the Authors

Helping edit, publish, and market your book.

Tag: traditional publishing

7 Essential Tech Tools That All Writers Need To Have

Laptop on deskIt’s now easier than ever for writers to take their work from an idea to a published manuscript. The advances in technology and rise of the Internet offer a platform for authors that’s creating a self-publishing revolution. Additionally, websites like www.AllAbouttheAuthors.com help guide you through the process.

There is also a vast array of wonderful apps and tech tools that support writers during all stages of their writing. These seven are essential for modern authors and will help you make your book into something that will take the world by storm.

Scrivener 

By far the most comprehensive tool on the market, Scrivener is a word processing app on steroids. It allows you to set up a personalized writing studio that includes a virtual cork board and summary tags. You can easily organize research, write documents, and edit them individually or as a group. 

The outliner tool allows you to create synopses and metadata for each piece of work so they can be easily navigated. This is perfect for those writing books because you can divide the manuscript into smaller sections while keeping a detailed overview of the whole project. It’s also great for freelancers who are working with multiple clients at once.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a fantastically useful online to-do list. Each point opens up an individual card where you can add additional comments, files, due dates and reminders. It also allows you to network with teams for collaborative projects and easily assign different tasks to members. 

Any author knows that the actual writing of your book is only a miniscule part of the process, so having a tool that can help you organize all of your marketing, liaising, planning and formatting as well is infinitely useful.

ExpressVPN

 For writers, your computer is the most precious piece of equipment you own. Due to this, keeping it safe and secure is an essential pursuit. One of the greatest dangers to a writer’s online security comes from the necessary evil of relying on public WiFi. Whether it’s having an intensive writing session in your local coffee shop or checking emails on the train, these notoriously insecure networks are hard to avoid.

Using a VPN such as ExpressVPN is a great way to secure yourself when out-and-about because it encrypts all of your data and allows you to browse without any risk. It also lets you bypass geo-blocking restrictions, which can be an added bonus when performing research.

 F.lux

 For authors, a large amount of the day is spent staring at a computer screen.  While this is when the magic happens, it also takes a nasty toll on your eyes. F.lux is a truly handy tool that, once installed, adjusts the tones and brightness of your screen based on time of day to help reduce the damaging affect.

It’s also great for those of us who find ourselves writing into the early hours of the morning. It does so by naturally dimming the lights. It encourages you to adhere to your circadian rhythms and sleep better. 

Hemingway

The Hemingway readability software is a wonderful tool that helps you clean up your manuscript after the first draft. Providing a user-friendly system that highlights words and phrases in different colors, you can get an objective view of how well your work reads.

Yellow highlights overly complex sentences. Red means it’s too long and meandering to understand. Other colors represent other areas of your writing that demand your attention. I’d never recommend you rely on this completely but it does provide a useful alternative perspective.

Cold Turkey

One of the greatest pitfalls for authors is distraction. We live in a world of constant connection to our friends, colleagues, and unlimited entertainment. This is why Cold Turkey is perhaps ones of the most useful tools in a writer’s arsenal.

Its bulletproof format allows you to schedule blocks on specific websites or even your work email. It is very difficult to stop, edit or uninstall the program once the timer has begun. This means you can easily get into an intensive writing session without anything drawing your attention away.

Writer’s App

 Creativity is something that can’t be scheduled; often you can find yourself in the most inconvenient situations when a moment of brilliance comes to you. Writer’s App is an easy-to-use planning software for novelists, which lets you jot down ideas for books in an organized and easily-navigable manner.

The user interface was presented as a work desk. Books are organized by title and, once opened, have sub-sections for plot, characters and others, or can be viewed by chapters. As simple as this app is, it truly is one of the most useful tools available for brainstorming ideas.

Do you know of any other tools that deserve a place on this list? Have you used any of the tools listed above and want to share your thoughts? Be sure to leave a comment below, as I’d love to hear your ideas!

About the Author: Caroline is an entertainment blogger for Culture Coverage. She’s written all throughout her life and is probably working on some project right now. She loves how technology has revolutionized the way we write!

Want to write a guest post for All About the Authors? We welcome guest posts from authors and those who are experts in the book industry. What is your writing process? Where are you in your publishing journey and what advice do you have? Have you successfully marketed your book and do you have tips to share? All About the Authors wants to hear from you! If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to All About the Authors, please send your information and topic idea to allabouttheauthors@gmail.com with the subject line “Guest Post” or comment here.

 

You Can’t Please Everybody

This morning I was taking a look at the recent book publishing deals that have been made on Publisher’s Marketplace. The information listed is very short: title of the book, author name, a one-sentence description, the name of the agent who sold the book, and the editor who bought the book.

You can do a search by genre, and since my women’s fiction/romance book is being submitted this week by my agent, I wanted to see what books had been sold in the last two months, and who some of the editors were who were buying them. What first came to mind is: Who knew Cattlemen were so sexy? It seems like fifty% of the books sold in this genre in the last two months featured cattlemen and Texas. Having spent three years in Houston, TX, I can assure you I have no desire to romanticize anything about living there. However, a bunch of successful romance writers clearly feel differently.

My fear is that an up and coming writer may take a look at that list, and slap herself in the face, moaning, “Oh no! Cattlemen? Why was I writing a sweet romance that takes place in a bakery in Virginia! I’ve missed the boat! Cattlemen are what’s selling now.”

You may remember this phenomenon happening when the Twilight series came out, and suddenly everybody thought: “I must write books about moody vampires!” And then The Hunger Games, “I must write about a dystopian future world with a strong female lead!” This is the wrong road to go down for two reasons:

  • The publishing cycle is long. Unless you write very quickly, all the editors who just bought books on cattlemen have pretty much filled up their lists with these books already. By the time you finish your book, find an agent, and submit, these books are already published and the editors have moved on to another hot topic.
  • Don’t write on trend. Write what you want to write – the book you want to read. Your heart won’t be in it if you are writing for a rapidly moving market. And given that you’re probably writing in your spare time, is this a project you’re really interested in?

51n9fRCno3L._AA160_

  • You Can’t Please Everybody. I submit this to you if you’re in a book group: How often does everyone love the book that was picked out for that month’s read. I can count a handful of times (in my book group, we all loved The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Where’d You Go Bernadette? And the list ends there.) People have different tastes. You may love dystopian books, while your best friend loves only realistic literary fiction. Some love history books, and others purely escapist cozy mysteries. The world of books and reading is large, with enough great books to cater to every type of reader.
  • Even agents don’t agree on what works. Agents and editors turn down books all the time that go on to sell a lot of books. My first boss in publishing turned down Like Water for Chocolate, and used to say, “What do I know? I’m the schmuck who turned down Like Water for Chocolate?” But he was also the schmuck who published Hilary Mantel, Reynolds Price, and Isabelle Allende. So you win some, you lose some. It’s all about taking a risk on a project you’re passionate about.

41HGJKFdW3L._AA160_So don’t fall for beating yourself up about what’s hot, what’s selling, what’s marketable. Write the book that’s important to you. Not everyone is going to love it, but for the people who do, it will be something they can spend time with during a long commute, a lazy weekend day, or up late at night, turning the pages. Your work will be a companion, an escape, a glimpse into another world, an eye-opener, and maybe in inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Is a Small Publisher Right for You?

Most writers, when they think of publishing through traditional channels, think of the big guys: DalkeyHarperCollins, Random House, and the like. And to get in those doors, you do need a literary agent. But what happens when you start hearing a lot of “No” from agents? Or hearing nothing at all? Is your reaction, “Well, then I guess I need to self-publish!” Hold off, because there is a vast area in between. In my video this week, I talk about three reasons you should very seriously consider going with a small press before turning to self-publishing.

There are an estimated two thousand publishers in the United States. Many of them belong to the Independent Book Publishers Association (which is why it has been confusing for self-publishing to John F Blairstart calling itself “indie publishing.” There already have been independent publishers around for decades.) Many if not most small publishers do accept unagented submissions. Many have very targeted publishing focuses, which can make it easy to find the right publisher for you. They can take more risks, and you can be a big fish in a small pond instead of the reverse. Small presses might haveMilkweed a regional bent, might be not-for-profit, might be affiliated with a university, or might be on the verge of growing into a major player.

When looking for a small publisher that might be right for you, keep these three questions in mind:

  1. Who does their selling and distribution? There are a number of distributors for small presses, and those distributors are very important in allowing the small presses to get appointments with and sell into the bookstore chains, major independent bookstores, and libraries. Their warehousing and shipping consolidation makes your publisher seem more like one of the big guys. You want to be sure your publisher’s relationship with their distributor is strong and firm—and not likely to change right after your book has released.
  2. What other books do they sell? Who will be the other books in the catalog next to yours? What books will your book be next to? Is their publishing philosophy one your agree with acrCoffee Houseoss the board? This isn’t the time to get desperate and go with the first offer that comes your way—check out their other books and see if you think the editorial and production values are what you want, that the website is up to snuff, and that they give the professional feel you are looking for.
  3. Is this a stepping-stone or are you looking for a lifelong relationship? Plenty of authors stay with the small publisher that believed in them and gave them a chance, while others move on to greener pastures when they have the clout to do so. Which future you prefer should affect the contract you sign with the publisher. If you will be unagented, read carefully the options clause and see if you’d like it to be more narrowly defined. Or you can try to get a two-book deal. When you don’t have an agent you need to read up on the aspects of a publishing contract and fully understand the various clauses and what they will mean for your career.Forest Ave

So before you give up on your dream of being traditionally published, you need to fully understand everything that falls under the umbrella of traditiGraywolfonal publishing. This is not a business for the impatient; keep submitting, keep researching, keep trying, as there are hundreds more options than just The Big Five. Small press publishing just might be right for you.

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.