Mar 22

Writers need to read just as much as anyone else, and Mary Keeley, agent with Books & Such Literary Agency,  has compiled a great list of books for writers. What other books would you add to the list?

Mar 07

Retailer’s needs aren’t all that different from traditional publisher’s needs. Retailers rely on the author to have a platform and followers, or a tribe. What is a tribe? Seth Godin has written a powerful book about tribes and our affinity for them. These tribes define the way we think and interact, and more and more, how people buy. People want to connect so they join groups. You see this all the time with clubs, churches, charities, etc. A tribe is that group of people who are passionate about you. You belong on the same team. They are your blog followers. They are your workshop audience. They are your current readers. They are your Facebook and Twitter followers.

The power tribe: the power of 1000 true fans

According to a popular theory, a creator, such as an artist or author needs to acquire only 1,000 ‘true fans’ to make a living. A true fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive miles to see you sign a book or read a story. They will buy the box set even though they have individual books. They have a Google alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They are true fans.

How do you build a tribe?

First, you need to build your platform’s foundation. According to Brian Jud, author and consultant, a platform “is a series of career-long relationships with people who find it beneficial to communicate the word about your book, introduce you to influential people who can endorse your book, or get you on major media. As third-party references, these people give you more credibility among those in the larger segment of your platform. Platform building begins with cultivating relationships with a core selection of credible sources in at least five groups.

Good friends. They could be your classmates, fellow employees, relatives and neighbors. This is probably the weakest category in terms of their desire or ability to spread the word about your book.”

How can you find people who might promote your book?

  1. Centers of influence. Do you know people that can influence the purchasing decisions of large groups of your target readers?
  2. Professional associates. Are you writing to a specific group of people, and do you know people who have a following in that specific niche can spread the word among their constituents.
  3. People in your affinity groups. Find and participate in groups of people with similar interests or needs and who know you personally.
  4. Fans. These are people in your target audience who have read your previous material or have heard you speak on your topic. They believe that you know what you are talking about and are willing to put their reputations on the line by becoming your advocate.
  5. Network – you are only five people (six degrees of separation) away from just about anyone.
  • Associations
  • Presentations in front of various groups/tribes
  • Trade shows
  • Seminars
  • Social media
  • Publicity (free advertising)
  • Blogging
  • Write articles – become known as a subject expert

Encouragement for the journey:

  1. Building a tribe takes time – you have to be persistent
  2. Building a tribe may mean being ‘different’. Sometimes it is a completely unique or non-conforming idea that people are attracted to. It could mean that you have to be a little weird.
  3. Building a tribe takes effective communication – you are writer after all. Communicate well.
  4. Building a tribe takes passion – be sold out about your topic/niche/story.

Authors, what did I miss? More on this topic next week.

 


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Feb 25

Last fall, I attended the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in Dallas Texas, and had the opportunity to present a seminar titled: ‘Authors and Retail – How does it all work?’ During the past 18 months, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a number of author’s groups at industry events about the ‘business side of publishing,’ which is a subject that most authors do not understand.

Publishing, after all, is a business. Authors whether or not they are getting the opportunity to publish through a traditional publishing contract,

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or are choosing to self publish their work, need to understand how the business works, especially when it comes to retail. Authors have the opportunity to dramatically affect their sales by working with retailers and understanding their needs. I will write about this topic in next week’s post.

While at the ACFW conference, I had the privilege of hearing Michael Hyatt address a room full of authors, and his topic was encouraging. I recently ran across my notes from Hyatt’s session where he shared five reasons why TODAY, is the best time to be a writer.

  1.  It is easier than ever to do the writing. More than ever before, there are conferences to attend and books to read, that teach writers how to craft their projects. Word processing and other computer programs have made is easier to get the words on paper, and go back and edit and polish without have to start over.
  2.  It is easier than ever to do market research, and engage with readers. The internet has provided a virtually limitless supply of research tools, and Google has made it possible to find almost any information a writer might be looking for. Social media, through platforms like Facebook and Twitter, have made writing and engaging with other writers and fans, a personalized experience.
  3. It is easier than ever to get into print. Traditional publishing with its royalty advances, editing schedules, marketing cycles, and traditional distribution channels, is no longer the only option. Self publishing is a viable and thriving industry for writers who choose to go this route. Self publishing is not the best option for everyone, but the same can be said for traditional publishing. Traditional publishing is also far from dead, however, the model must continue to change with the times rather than run from new ways of doing things. Both of these models are providing writers with new opportunities, which translate to more readers in more places.
  4. It is easier than ever to build a tribe. Authors can talk to their fans and have direct access to them through blogs, websites, and social media. Reading has now become a social activity and people engage around content like never before. Authors are engaging readers around their book platform.
  5. It is easier than ever to build a business around author content. This is only true, however, if authors take the time to understand the industry, and how to build their business model. The first step in the writing process, before outlines, character development, and research, must be a business plan that helps an author identify a sustainable market (group of buyers), where they can be reached, and what they are looking for.

This is a great lead-in for next week’s topic on the publishing business. Would you add anything to this list?

 

Feb 18

This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending time at Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild conference called Writing for the Soul. This is a first rate conference and my second time attending. As was the case last year, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the faculty and the speakers. Jerry is on record as saying that he wants the conference to be known as one of the highest quality events on the calendar, and it showed. The conference featured keynote speakers Liz Curtis Higgs, James MacDonald, and Steven James, as well as a cast of industry professionals teaching writers how to become published authors. I would highly recommend for anyone thinking of attending a writer’s event.

The purpose of the Guild is to train writers how to become authors. This is in their DNA. They offer three courses that take a new writer through training and mentoring, with the intent that they are ready to present their writing to agents and editors. I don’t know of any other programs quite like it.

A few weeks ago, Jerry announced a new, advanced course called PUBLISHED. This ‘masters level’ type course adds a fourth layer to his already successful program…with a new twist. For writers who finish the course, and follow their mentoring, the Christian Writers Guild will provide the author services (editing, typesetting, design, etc.) that it takes to craft a quality book for market. The new publishing initiative is called Christian Writers Guild Publishing (CWGP), and takes the best of both traditional and self publishing and combines them in a model Jerry calls ‘come-alongside publishing.

Unfortunately, as often happens in Christian community, the idea was blasted from a number of sides. Jerry had been on record earlier in his career as being against self publishing (see his announcement for his own admission to this), and many looked at this new initiative as an attempt to cash in on self publishing. It’s too bad that people have chosen to attack what is being offered without understanding the full picture, which is still evolving.

In a Q&A session, Jerry shared that the Writers Guild has always been a labor of love, and struggles to break even every year. This new teaching program is not about making money, but about providing opportunity for writers. He said that that his most recent experience has shown that 1 in 1000 writers makes it to a traditional publishing contract, and that many of the students in the Guild program have publishable material, but for whatever reason, can’t get the traditional deal. It is for these students, that this new program is built. PUBLISHED is not for everyone.

I applaud the commitment Jerry has to writers. I hope this new initiative creates opportunities for Christian writers, and give their voices a chance to be published. As with all new things, there are most definitely going to be changes and updates to the program as it matures. Jerry made a point of telling the conference attendees that the program ‘isn’t for everyone,’  but will be a good fit for some.

I am pretty sure the program will eventually include a robust set of marketing and publicity tools, eBook conversion and distribution to retail, even though the current information doesn’t include this.

I would love to hear what you think about it!

Feb 14

Not too many months ago, I would have never considered writing this sort of post. I believe in the printed word, and love traditional paper books. I know that eBook reading is growing and I know that eBooks are helping new authors get discovered like never before. However, my business was book printing.

But the readers have spoken. With more and more regularity, they are saying they want options. They want to be able to download books and read them on devices. They want the flexibility.

At the time, I wasn’t able to help. Now I can.

I want to introduce you to a new eBook company specifically designed to serve Christian authors and independent publishers, along with authors who want a family friendly place to publish their eBooks. ChristianeBookPublishing.com, is the culmination of the desire to offer eBook services with a distinctly Christian worldview and a world class eBook publishing system, now available to authors and publishers.

Authors might only need a file conversion. We offer a tremendous value along with a quality product that is hand crafted by experts here in the US. Other authors might need help with editing and design. We can do that too. And a whole other group of authors and publishers will want to consider the advantages and efficiency of having ChristianeBookPublishing.com distribute their files to more than 30 retailers. We collect the royalty checks and compile the reports, all for a modest upfront fee…and the best part is that we don’t take a penny of your royalties. You get to keep 100%!

We invite you to give us a try and see the difference our professional services can make.

Do you have your books available as eBooks? What has been your experience?

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Nov 19

I recently ran across a new magazine that is free for authors. Although new, the content seems to be getting better each month and provides authors with some good ideas and tools. I had the opportunity to write an article for the latest edition. Feel free to download your free copy.

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Nov 15

This information was originally published on selfpubauthors.com by Ruth Ann Nordin. Used with permission. Copyright © 2009 Ruth Ann Nordin.

How do I typeset my own book?

First of all, I highly recommend getting a professional who understands all of the rules about type, and how to make your book look professional, and let them do this for you. As with any art form, it takes years of practice to make sure you get it done right, and in line with the latest trends.

Books are definitely judged by their covers, and if you get a reader to pick up your book, you have won the first battle. However, if a reader can’t get past your awkward typesetting, you may lose not only this reader, but his/her endorsement of your book. Peer reviews are the most potent method to increase sales of your book. Don’t lose them because of a poor design and typesetting!

However, some people want to do the typesetting on their own, and I recently ran across a pretty complete set of instructions about how do this using Word, which is the default word processing program for most authors.

These instructions are for paperbacks or ebooks that are supposed to be a duplicate of paperback copies. (Note: This is not for getting a document ready for Kindle or for other electronic handheld devices. That is a different format.) This is how I make the interior file, but I’m sure there are other ways of doing it.

What you’ll need: Microsoft Word 2007 or a newer version.

Instructions:

  1. Open your completed Word document…

Download the complete instructions.

Oct 31

Snowfall Press is first and foremost, a technology company. We produce technology for printers who want to be part of the Snowfall Print Network. We produce technology that makes it easier for authors and publishers to print their own books. We produce technology that enables authors and publishers to distribute their books across the globe, whether it is to readers or retailers.

One of the key technologies that Snowfall has recently released is called the Snowfall Facebook Bookstore Application. This application is available to any Snowfall Press customer who has both books for sale, and a Facebook Business or Fan page. The application creates a bookstore on the fan page, where fans can purchase the book directly from the author or publisher, and the order is printed-on-demand through Snowfall’s system, and drop shipped directly to the customer.

I was recently interviewed about new technology, and I talked about this new Facebook feature for authors and publishers.

 

 

For more information about the Facebook Bookstore Application, click here.

Oct 22

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October is clergy appreciation month…so if you have a pastor or priest that you worship with; make sure to let them know how much you appreciate their time and efforts.

Pastors, by their very nature are communicators. They take the time to learn and study each week, and then hone their verbal communication skills in order to bring a message that inspires and energizes.

In the past few years, the tools to publish have become easier to access, and the opportunities for clergy to expand their communication to the written word have never been greater. Many pastors have begun using social media as one way to build relationship with their congregations. Others have begun blogging as a way to communicate messages impressed on their hearts.

For a much smaller group of pastors, publishing has become another tool to expend their reach to people both inside and outside the church. With the rapid growth of self-publishing tools like access to freelance editors and designers; along with print-on-demand services, many pastors and churches are beginning to use this communication tool as part of their overall ministry strategy.

Here are 7 reasons every pastor should publish:

  1. Pastors are already communication experts. If you are an inexperienced writer, get help. Take the messages that are most impactful from the pulpit, and expand their reach to others. Or, prepare a book ahead of the next series, and make the book available to the congregation while you teach through its content.
  2. Pastors are thought leaders. It is a proven strategy in publishing circles, that pastors can influence a book’s success by simply mentioning it from the pulpit.
  3. Books are less intimidating. Sometimes, books can give advice where a person can’t.
  4. Books expand the ministry outside the walls of the church. Every pastor wants to reach new people, and books allow that to happen.
  5. Books can help shoulder ministry costs. Although churches are not set up to make profits, book sales can be used to fund ministry efforts.
  6. Books have fewer boundaries. Sunday morning sermons might live on in an audio format on the website, but books will travel to places the message will never reach otherwise.
  7. Books allow deeper engagement. Thirty minutes on a Sunday morning might be enough to start someone’s thinking, but a book will drive them deeper into the topic.

All of the tools are available, and the cost of entry is very affordable. If you are a pastor, have you considered this communication strategy? If not, why?

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Oct 17

Writer on the Tracks | Stock Photo © Trevor Goodwin #2220146

Every week, I consult with small publishers and authors who are choosing to self publish their own book. As I have written about in previous posts (best time to be a writer, good company, build your house) self publishing is a lot like being the general contractor on your own book project. Each step of the process can be contracted out to free lance professionals. Unlike companies who offer self publishing packages, which are kind of a one size fits all approach, an author can choose the help they need ala carte, and many times get a better product while reducing their overall costs.

I have worked directly with most of these professionals, or have interviewed them about their experience and each has a track record of success.

Note: Snowfall Press does not benefit financially from any of these relationships.

Copy Editing

Cover Design

Typesetting:

Marketing Services:

Social Media:

Publicity:        

Expanded Retail Distribution:

E-book conversion:

Out of Print file construction/conversion: (scan physical book to printable PDF)

Legal (publishing and copyright):

There are lots of other wonderful professionals out there in these different areas. If you are an expert in one of these areas, send me a note. We love to help our authors and publishers find new people to work with.

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