Tag Archives: Treasure This

How to Earn a Living From Writing

Do you want to make money from your writing? I know… silly question. Or is it?

Regular readers of this blog will know I wrote recently that I believe we should write from the heart (December 2015: What Waterstones Can Teach Writers), work on improving our craft, and dare to be ourselves. I still believe that. There are too many so-so books out there, written by authors who’ve spotted a bandwagon and scrambled over each other to get on to it. Well, we’re all trying to earn a living in this world so I’m not going to throw stones…

But when I read Andrew Crofts’ piece in the Guardian online, I saw that he advises writers to “stop writing only what you want to write”. I thought it worth sharing with you because he makes so many valid points about the difference between what he calls “passion projects” (novels you want to write) and actually earning a living from writing. Sadly, there is a difference. Where I advocate “writing what you want and being true to yourself” (i.e. risk staying poor 🙂 ), he takes a much more practical stance and suggests if you want to make enough money to support yourself from writing, you should “gain access to information other people are willing to pay for or provide a service that others need to buy”. Good advice, though it did take him 20 years to hit six figures. But at least he hit it!

As ever, it’s about balance. If you can balance writing professionally, as Mr Crofts does, with projects for other people that earn you a living, then you can afford to do you own “passion projects” that might not make much money but will bring you enormous creative satisfaction. That way, you can have the best of both worlds.

Kay Leitch
Author of   Treasure This
Kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

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Filed under Andrew Crofts, Creative Writing, creative writing tips, How to earn a living from writing, Kay Leitch

What Waterstones Can Teach Writers

Don’t you just love mavericks?

Stephen Heyman writes on slate.com about how Waterstones’ fortunes changed for the better when Alexander Mamut, described by one broadsheet as: “The most powerful Oligarch you have never heard of”, bought Waterstone’s (when it had the apostrophe, but no profit) and put James Daunt in charge.

Waterstones_WDaunt was already a very successful businessman. He founded Daunt Books in Marleybone High Street in 1990 when he was just 26, and ended up running six independent book stores across London, all of which remained profitable even in difficult market conditions. The first thing Daunt did as Managing Director of Waterstones – apart from getting rid of the apostrophe – was to tear up the existing business plan for the failing book store and implement his own, rather unconventional, ideas.

He took power away from publishers and gave it back to the book sellers, promoting what he believed would sell rather than what the publishers wanted to advertise. All those “Best Seller” spots in the window of big book stores didn’t actually mean the books were best sellers. The publishers paid for those spots.

The great thing about Daunt, in my opinion, is that he’s not an accountant, a marketing executive or a PR man. He trusts the book lovers he works with. One thing he said made me laugh out loud: when he discussed his individual marketing plan and how he wanted to shake up the business he loved, he knew publishers would not be happy with his decision to cut their advertising space in his stores. “But,” he said, “we had the advantage of being bankrupt…” Talk about turning a negative into a positive!

He also gave each Waterstones almost complete autonomy over how to arrange their merchandise. So, no more homogeneity, where Waterstones in Glasgow looked exactly the same as the one in Chiswick. Each Waterstones looks different, individual, inviting. The one thing they all have in common is good books, tailored to individual local areas.

What has this got to do with writing and publishing? Everything. Rules are great when they work, and lethal when they don’t. Sometimes we’re so used to following old rules and procedures we don’t realise they’re so past their sell-by date they’re doing more harm than good. Many publishers have been following restrictive rules for a long time: pay lots of money for advertising space in shop windows (take it out of authors’ earnings) … tick. Avoid risks … tick. Ooops, not making so much money – cut authors’ earnings a bit more … tick. Watch the rise of independent author publishers…

I love that as independent publishers we are the mavericks of the publishing world. We’ve stopped trying to second guess anyone, least of all fickle publishers, and write what we want to write. We make it the best we can. Yes, we follow the rules of editing, punctuation and good grammar. Yes, of course we’re aware of the market, but we don’t let it tyrannise us. We don’t jump on band wagons for the sake of a quick buck – we don’t let the bottom line dictate what we write. Where’s the joy in that?

We can’t all be the kind of maverick James Daunt is. But we can learn from him. If you make any resolutions for 2016, make them be to trust yourself, ignore the “rules”, and write from your heart.

Kay Leitch
Author of  Treasure This
kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

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Filed under Children's Publishing, Creative Writing, creative writing tips, Electrik Inc, Independent Publishing information, James Daunt, Kay Leitch, kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com, Waterstones

Using a Pen Name and How to Market Yourself

Great post by Frances Caballo in The Book Designer with some good tips on using a pseudonym and how to market yourself. It often makes sense to use a pen name if you want to write in a different genre, but there can be problems marketing yourself as a  new name or brand, especially if you’ve already built yourself up a fan base in one genre.

Still, lots of authors manage it successfully, so I thought I’d pass this on as worth a read, in case any of you are looking for ideas.

Kay Leitch
Author of  Treasure This

Originally posted on kaywriteshemretoo.wordpress.com

 

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Filed under creative writing tips, how to market yourself, Independent Publishing information, Kay Leitch, Publishing, Tips for Authors and Illustrators

Best-selling Author, Judy Blume

Want an insight into how a best-selling author’s mind works? The research, the rewrites, the editing? The highs, lows and insecurities that most writers feel? There are lots of gems about the individual writing process in this in-depth interview with Judy Blume, via Goodreads. It shows the kind of hard work and commitment that’s needed — along with a bit of luck — if you want to make a success out of writing.

Judy Blume’s new novel In The Unlikely Event draws on her memories of real events: three plane crashes in her home town back when she was a teenager. We may not all have such tragic events happening in our back yards, but I think every writer has their own tale to tell. We can all draw on personal experiences when creating our stories.

This author comes across as likeable, down-to-earth and honest. More importantly, she’s successful and is happy to share her experiences.  I love that she ‘hates categories’, uses ‘security notebooks’ and was discovered from the slush pile. I admire her for saying she’s a much better rewriter than she is a first-time writer. If only more aspiring writers realised that it’s ALL in the re-writing.

I know the world is different now than when she started out, but the interview is well worth a read, so I thought I’d pass it on.

Kay Leitch
Author of whodunit, Treasure This
kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

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PUBLISHING TODAY… AND TOMORROW?

PUBLISHING TODAY… AND TOMORROW?

Here are some excellent links I thought other writers/independent publishers might find interesting.

The first, from The Spectator, The Civil War For Books Where Is The Money Going   should be read by every writer whether committed to independent publishing or courting traditional publishers. It’s always good to know what tunes the devil is playing… 😉

The second, Publishing’s Digital Disruption Hasn’t Even Started, by Gareth Cuddy is an interesting comparison of the publishing industry with other creative industries that have suffered digital upheaval and where we might be heading.

Also, to add a bit of perspective, here is a link on What Authors Really Think of Publishers — some interesting facts and figures here too.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about publishing today and the big names that dominate it. Just thought these were worth sharing.

Kay Leitch is the author of Treasure This
kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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Filed under children's books, Children's Publishing, Independent Publishing information, Kay Leitch, Publishers' Profits, Publishing, Uncategorized

Writing, Editing and Publishing

You know how sometimes you know what you want to say but then you hear someone else say it so much better than you could?

Well, that’s a convoluted way of saying I’ve found three blogs I think are worth sharing in this world of creative writing, independent publishing, traditional publishing and editing.

1) — Paula Hawkins didn’t have much success writing a variety of genres, including frothy romance stories. She wrote them to try and earn some money. A few years ago she decided to stop trying to second guess the market and decided “to try writing the kind of story she likes to read” and so she wrote The girl on The Train. And guess what? It worked. Good for her! She finally wrote what she wanted to write.

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-gamble-that-put-girl-on-the-train-writer-at-top-of-bestseller-lists-in-under-a-month-1.2088004

2) — Toby Young, writing at The Telegraph online with the headline These days, writing isn’t a career, it’s a rich man’s hobby mentions that a survey of 2500 professional authors found their median income in 2013 was £11,000, a drop of 29% since 2005.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11349865/These-days-writing-isnt-a-career.-Its-a-rich-mans-hobby.html

Most writers need another job to supplement their income (that or a private income or an understanding — and rich — spouse). Interestingly, most traditional publishers and agents only need to hold down the one job… They make their money from writers.

So, it seems to me, if you’re going to be paid what amounts to pocket money for doing what you love, and need to keep the day job anyway… then you might as well write what you want to write.

Life. Is. Too. Short.

3) — Mandy Brett at the meanjin.com.au site gives an in-depth analysis of what being an editor means to her. She demonstrates how a good editor works and why they’re so necessary if you want your book to be not only professional, but better than it would have been. And you do want that, right?

http://meanjin.com.au/editions/volume-70-number-1-2011/article/stet-by-me-thoughts-on-editing-fiction

So that’s it. Three blogs that said exactly what I wanted to say. Here’s what it boils down to:

1)   Write what you want to write.

2)   You probably won’t make much money from writing anyway (although a lot of people will make money from you), so write what you want to write.

3)   Hire a good editor; they’re worth it. But write what you want to write.

There’s a theme in there somewhere  🙂

Kay Leitch

Author of  Treasure This

Originally published at kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Children's Publishing, Independent Publishing information, Kay Leitch, Publishing, Tips for Authors and Illustrators

Interview with Kay Leitch

Check out Indie Author Land for an interview with Kay about writing Treasure This, the characters, and life in general. Here are parts of it:

Kay's debut novel.

Kay’s debut novel.
Buy here.

Treasure This is a murder mystery… whodunit… thriller kind of novel, for anyone over 10 who enjoys fast-paced stories that make you think.

I sat down at the computer one day, as you do, and an interesting first line popped onto the screen:

I swear I saw a dead body in Aunt Ellie’s garden shed…

I wrote a few pages and submitted them to my then writing group, who all said “Wow – keep it going!” So I did. I had no ideas WHERE the story was going until well into the second half, but I loved the character enough to want to know what happened to her and how she solved so many murders. I kept on writing, and I ended up with Treasure This.

Tell us about it.
Treasure This is about 12-year-old Addison, who finds a dead body one morning in her aunt and uncle’s garden shed. But by the time she drags her elder sister Caitlin and little brother Leaf down to see it, the body has disappeared and Uncle Harry and Aunt Ellie are cleaning the shed after a spill of red paint… then Harry starts burning everything.

Addy is determined to find out what’s going on in Aunt Ellie and Uncle Harry’s old Cotswold mansion. She discovers there’s another body buried under the lilac bush… and another under the holly tree… and who are the two horrible men watching the house?

Addy’s emotional journey teaches her the difference between good secrets and bad secrets, that people aren’t all bad or all good, but somewhere in between. More than anything, though, she learns to trust her instincts.

Sounds really interesting.
It’s fast-paced, so people who prefer a story to move along quickly should like it. Also, anyone who likes a bit of depth to their stories, something that’s multi-layered. The moral issues at the heart of Treasure This are meant to make you think – what would you have done?

What’s Addy like?

Addy is brave but vulnerable. Her dad is ill in hospital, and her mum is with him, which is why Addy, Caitlin and Leaf are all staying with their aunt and uncle at Roseleigh Manor.

They don’t sound very nice.
Addy loves Aunt Ellie and Uncle Harry. That’s why it’s all so awful for her. She can’t believe they’re murderers. And if they are, what will that mean to the family? When she meets the two thugs in the woods – two men who’re watching Roseleigh Mannor – she has another dilemma. Should she tell the police? What if the police dig deeper (literally!)? That would be the worst thing that could happen…

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
No, but I’m already well into writing the next one.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
akaycloseup1I like creating things. Whether it’s artwork or novels, I like the process of sitting down with a blank canvas, page or screen, and creating something worthwhile. I get a real kick when people tell me how much they loved Treasure This but I’m realistic. I don’t expect to make a million from writing, but I do know it makes me happy so I’m going to keep on doing it for as long as I can. I love writing into the early hours of the morning – it’s magical – even though I feel like a wilted flower all the next day. There’s something about writing at midnight. Nothing beats it…

… Do you have a website?

kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com.

What about Twitter?

Sorry, I don’t tweet. I decided to put more effort into writing than into social media so I keep it manageable. Yes, I know it means fewer people will learn about Treasure This. But, you know, there are only twenty-four hours in every day. Twenty-four. And I have to work, too. So all in all, I’d rather write.

What’s next?
Next, I’ll be finishing the book I’m writing now. Would love to tell you about it but don’t want to jinx it. With luck, I’ll be back here next year telling you all about it.

We can’t wait.

Read the full interview at Indie Author Land

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Thinking Of Independent Publishing?

It’s been a good year for independent publishing. Mark Coker of Smashwords is feeling confident for the future, as is Electrik Inc.

But what about the many stages writers go through before they press the button that uploads their print on demand or ebook file? I thought I’d mention a few of the important stages we go through, from the very beginning.

You’ve written your novel. It’s complete. What now? A good start is having an online presence on some of the excellent writers’ forums out there: Here are just a few:

absolutewrite.com
youwriteon
writers-forum.com

We’ve found most writers’ forums have members who are very generous with information and help for all stages of writing and book production.

Also, consider having your entire manuscript assessed by a professional editor. This kind of help is invaluable because most writers don’t see where the plot is weak, most writers don’t see their own typos. See under for more tips on professional editing.

?*********************? This row of asterisks represents what you should be doing right now. Go on, guess. 🙂 I’ll tell you later.

Post some of your work on a writing forum. There are lots of writing forums out there, just google them. Getting feedback on your work is invaluable. The general comments will tell you if your novel is looking professional, or is ‘nearly there’. Too many typos? Grammar a bit dodgy? Well, that takes us to the next stage, one which every serious writer should consider before even thinking about pressing the ‘publish’ button:

Get yourself a professional editor and/or proofreader. There are lots out there, some better than others. Without one, your novel is destined to stay in the ‘amateur’ corner. That’s why traditional publishing houses have editors, because even people who work as editors need other editors – they know every writer needs another pair of eyes. A professional editor won’t just tell you how great your novel is, though hopefully they’ll do that too, but they’ll suggest improvements, mention when pace stalls and what you could tighten to get it moving again, when dialogue goes on too long, or where conflict is non-existent.

The editorial process we employ for Electrik Inc books is stringent, from reading the novel that’s put forward, assessing it and suggesting rewrites, to line editing, proofreading, and advising on blurb and cover.

Traditional publishers don’t send a book out into the world without investing time and editorial services on it, and neither should you.

Organise your cover. It’s early days yet, and you may still have lots of corrections to do in your body copy, but you should know what kind of image you want your book to present to the world. Your cover is your shop front. It’s vital to get it right. You’ll need an illustrator (see our previous blog on this) and a graphic designer: someone who can take your image file and place the title, author name and any strap line (the bit that entices your reader into the book). Sometimes one person does both. If you’re doing print on demand as well as ebook, then your graphic designer will ensure the cover meets the printers’ guidelines (remember, front AND back cover for print). Ebooks are easier in that you need only the front, but it’s still wise to have a graphic designer place all type and make sure the picture is the right size.

Buy ISBN for your book (Smashwords offers one free). If you’re producing an ebook with Amazon, for example, your ISBN will be different to the one you put on the inside page of your print-on-demand book. You can buy a single ISBN for £15 from the Independent Publishers Network. However, they ask that you become a member of their organisation first. This appears to be free but do check the small print: http://www.ipubnet.co.uk/buy-isbn-numbers/

Alternatively, contact nielsenbook.co.uk and buy a set of ten for £132. Remember, if you change something in the bodycopy of your e-book, you need only re-upload the file. But if you make any changes to the physical copy of your book, that will require a new ISBN.

You’ll have to decide on which print on demand or e-book company is best for you, Put self publishing into Google and you’ll be knee deep in companies vying for your manuscript and your money, but here are a few to start with:
Createspace.com
Lightningsource.com
Lulu.com
Smashwords.com

Formatting the interior file. There are different formatting requirements for ebooks and physical books. Smashwords has a list of designers for ebook covers, and people who will format your book for you. They also have downloadable, easy-to-follow instructions for this on their site – well worth reading if you want to do the formatting yourself.

CreateSpace also offers lots of help, including providing templates for physical books. And they have a good forum where people discuss formatting problems. You can often find the answer you’re looking for here – post your question and some kind independent publisher will try to answer it, whichever company you’re printing with. Lightning Source has a document setting out its print requirements, too.

If you decide on print on demand as well as ebook, it’s wise to get a physical proof of the paperback. It will cost you a little more, but not as much as if you pass it all unseen and something isn’t right.

Yes, formatting takes time to get right, but it’s worth persevering if you want complete control over your work. However, you can also hire people to do the formatting for you and usually it isn’t too expensive, though of course that depends how large the book is. As mentioned, Smashwords has a list of recommended designers and formatters. This is another area where writers’ forums can help. Ask for recommendations, or check online.

Okay, your novel is ready. You’ve had some great feedback, everyone loves it. You’ve paid a professional editor to line edit it for you. You’ve taken in their suggested corrections, you’ve paid for a proof reader. You’ve got the ISBN and your cover is looking fab – all ready to go. You’re going to upload it to print on demand, get some paperback copies, and have the ebook available for everyone who wants it. You’re even thinking of having a launch. Yippee.

Now you just have to sell it…. which takes us right back to that row of asterisks at the beginning of this blog:

************************ Marketing begins before production. Not after it.
(see our previous blogs for tips on marketing and independent publishing.)

These are just some of the steps you have to take once you decide independent publishing is for you. Don’t just write a book and throw it out into the ether – that’s what clogs ups the online shelves with poor produce.

Your readers deserve the best, and so does your novel.

Good luck.
Kay Leitch
Author of Treasure This
kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

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Super Stories for Stockings

As special advisors to the children’s book department at the North Pole, we have been campaigning for a story to be included in every child’s stocking. I know a nine-year-old has written to Father Christmas asking for St Viper’s School for Super Villains because I’ve been asked by an elf to write a personal message inside the cover. I’ve seen Kay’s book Treasure This  on the present conveyor belt too. Here are some other brilliant stories we’ve suggested to the book-buying elf team.

Inkling ideas for bookworms

Kim Donovan, author of the series St Viper’s School for Super Villains.

Every Christmas Eve my son and I dust off Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs and read it curled up together in bed. The book is in comic-strip format and has well over a hundred exquisite illustrations, showing the reader everything Father Christmas does from the moment he wakes up on December 24th to going to bed on Christmas Day: making cheese sandwiches for the journey, filling the sledge with presents, riding through fog, tripping over a cat in someone’s house. We also see him being a grumpy old man, which is a nice change from the standard jolly Father Christmas character. The book is full of humour, the illustrations are delightful and my son seems to appreciate the story more with each passing year. A special 40th edition copy has just been published.  As Father Christmas says, “Happy Blooming Christmas to you, too!”

Janine Amos at  janineamos.com

There are so many wonderful children’s books to choose from. . .

For children who like fairy tales, I’d recommend The Snow Queen, vividly retold for confident readers by Sarah Lowes, Barefoot Books. This little version of the Hans Christian Anderson tale about friendship and courage is illustrated by Miss Clara, a French artist with a gift for the magical. There are other books in the series – The Princess and the Pea and The Twelve Dancing Princesses  − all perfect reading for a cold winter’s night.

For something much more contemporary, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s novel Millions is a miracle of a story: what happens when millions of banknotes fall from a train right into the arms of Damian Cunningham, Year 5. This fast-paced adventure, told in Damian’s voice, is both funny and sad; it will have you laughing out loud and crying too, and I can guarantee that after reading it you’ll never see the school Nativity Play in quite the same way again. Millions really will please anyone from 8 to 80 – Cottrell Boyce’s “dream-reader” is an adult and child reading together, one of the very best ways to spend Christmas I reckon.

Jenny Landor

Some stories have a magical quality you can’t quite put your finger on … For a rip-roaring yarn which adds that X factor to Xmas, look no further. Geraldine McCaughrean, one of the most acclaimed and original storytellers for children, gives Christmas a real twist in Forever X, a novel for ages 10+ which will enchant and surprise grown-up readers too.

When the Shepherd family car breaks down at the start of their summer holiday, they are forced to stay in the nearest B and B, a bizarre place where December 25th happens every day of the year. Despite Holly, the resident elf, and grandfather F-C’s efforts to fulfill wishes, the drama here isn’t all tinsel and candy, especially when the police and the mysterious Mr Angel arrive…

Funny, moving and brilliantly plotted, the story explores family relationships and gets to the bottom of what Christmas is really about. Read about Geraldine’s books here and check out another favourite, The White Darkness, a gripping and romantic survival adventure which, by contrast, has a decidedly wintry setting. Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to J M Barrie’s original, will delight too.

Kay Leitch, author of Treasure This

If you happen to see Santa sitting chuckling over a book before Christmas, he’s probably reading ”Who Could That Be at This Hour?” by Lemony Snicket (the first in the “All The Wrong Questions” series). And if you like your mysteries to have quirky humour, wit and a sense of the ridiculous, you’ll make sure this book finds its way into your stocking too. This series has all the usual fun, twists and turns we’ve come to expect from Lemony Snicket, along with more curious characters such as the enigmatic Ellington Feint, librarian Dashiell Qwerty, and Moxie Mallahan the journalist. Lemony’s secret assignment centres around finding a statue of the Bombinating Beast, presumed stolen… but perhaps not actually stolen…  and as usual Lemony shows himself to be much smarter than his chaperone, S. Theodora Markson, who is the best there is… or perhaps not…

A nice mystery, neatly tied up at the end… or maybe not…  which means you’ll probably want to read the other three in the series. Great fun and a delight to read. Just remember – the map is not the territory!

Another favourite of mine is One Boy and His Dog by Eva Ibbotson. A bit of a modern classic, this is simply but beautifully written and, sadly, was the last one Eva Ibbotson completed before her death. Hal has always wanted a dog and his overly house-proud parents humour him by hiring one – Fleck – for a weekend, thinking Hal will tire of the idea. As anyone who has ever loved an animal knows, you don’t tire of them in a few days – you fall more deeply in love. Hal is devastated when Fleck is taken away and returned to Easy Pets Rental. This is the story of how he runs away and tries to get Fleck back, with the help of his friend Pippa and four other dogs. An emotional journey for characters and readers alike and a very satisfying read.

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Ten Tips For Successful Marketing (ebooks and print on demand)

First, make a plan. It’s okay to write your book without any kind of plan, if that’s your preferred way of working. But if you adopt that strategy for marketing, you’ll seriously restrict your book’s chances.

A lot depends on how much time you have. I don’t subscribe to the ‘make the time’ school of thought, either for writing, reading or marketing. Too many writers also work, full time or part time, and many don’t even get sitting down to eat until way after 7 pm. Since the laws of physics are immutable, ‘making time’ is impossible, so don’t beat yourself up about it. What it really means is that if you want to write and market your books, and you also have to work, then some other part of your life will have to be sacrificed: eating, sleeping, watching tv, spending time with loved ones … take your pick.

All this means is that choosing a marketing strategy that works best for you is more important than trying to fit everything in and then wondering why you’re exhausted, bad tempered and have just noticed a horrible mistake on the last page of your printed book.

For example, you may not be able to do school visits (if writing for children) but you could fit in a few hours of social media marketing a week: reviewing others’ books, putting your own up for review, joining forums, being helpful, guiding people to your own blog (and your own book) … When your spare time is so precious, make every hour count. Don’t waste time on Facebook if you’re not comfortable with it – find another way. Forums can offer more anonymity, if that’s what you want. But bear in mind that these days, everyone wants to ‘see’ who you are.

A typical marketing plan might look something like:

1 Do a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Example: Strength: you write well. Weakness: you have limited time. Opportunity: independent publishing is becoming easier, and there are some very bad books out there. Threat: There are also a lot of very good, independently published books out there, and someone might write a book similar to yours but have greater resources with which to market it.

Your strengths and weaknesses will be unique to you, but the opportunities and threats will alter with the state of the market. Know where you stand within your chosen market. Keep an eye on it.

2 Sit down … I have some news … You are now a brand. I know. I’m so sorry, but it seemed best just to break it to you.

Even if you’ve never been image conscious or interested in fashions and fads, you need to start looking at yourself (the writer) as a product (a good book) that people (readers) want to buy. It’s your job to ensure those people know your product is available to buy and that they can be assured of a consistent image/style (and quality) within that product.

For example, if you write dark YA fantasy, your blog shouldn’t look and read like something from a knitting or gardening magazine (unless there’s an intelligent, psychotic plant that shape-shifts into … well, you know what I mean). This can be a hard idea to take in, because it encompasses so many things: your style of writing, your genre, how people (readers) see you, your image, your blog, your tweets … all of these should have your unique stamp on them.

3 Make a list of social media sites you might be interested in. As I mentioned in my Ten Tips for Successful Independent Publishing, join forums and review sites such as Goodreads or Booklikes. Start reviewing. Play nice! Ask others to review your book – but be prepared for them to be brutal. Stay professional. And build on the online relationships you make. Consider guest blogging (yours and theirs), give useful links. Be interesting. The idea is to drive traffic (people) to your blog or website, where they can find out more about you and possibly buy your book.

4 Your cover is an important marketing tools. Get it right. Organise a cover designer. Be prepared to pay for this – set a budget. Do homework. Check other book covers you like. Have a strong idea of what you want your cover to be, don’t expect the designer/illustrator to work to a blank canvas. Be prepared to pay a kill fee if you don’t like their attempts. Use your cover wherever you can in your marketing material – any press releases should have your picture and your cover on them. Your cover should definitely be on your blog and any Facebook page. Give your book, and cover, a page of their own, rather than just presenting it as a normal blog, which usually disappears down the list and makes way for the next blog.

5 Put your book into one of CreateSpace’s interior book templates to see how many pages it will make in the book size you want. Then work out what discount you will have to give to the major print on demand distributors (anything from 20% to 55%, depending on what you think you can get away with). They will all take a cut and the longer your book is, the more your print costs will be, giving you less profit. Once you know an approximate page size, you can work out roughly how much you will make on each sale. Then you can work out how many books you will have to sell to a) break even; b) make a profit; and c) earn a living from writing.

Caveat: this is the point where you may consider sticking your head in the gas oven, or running away to join a Circus in the Balkans so I think it’s worth pointing out that you need to accept you’re in this for the long haul and not the fast buck (excuse the mixed metaphor). Time and again I’ve heard it can take at least a year or two, or a book or three before you begin to make any decent money from writing.

6 Consider an online launch if you are launching an ebook only. It’s a good way of spreading the word to your online friends and associates that you have a book coming out. Read more about these at spiritauthors.com – a great site for all sorts of information on independent publishing.

7 Consider a bricks and mortar launch if your book is also print on demand. (Remember the book store will likely want to see the kind of book you plan to publish so let them see any book proof.) Don’t restrict yourself to independent book stores for your launch. There are some great Bars out there that would be happy to host a local author’s book launch, especially mid-week when it’s usually quieter. Or, again, consider something completely different. If your house is big enough, host the launch there, or at a friend’s. Theme it. Make it fun. Invite more people than you think will come; there will always be those who can’t make it.

8 Make up postcards with your cover on one side and your blurb and contact details on the other. Consider bookmarks (if appropriate), T-shirts, notebooks – anything you can think of that would add perceived value to your book. Always link these back to your book (cover or other visuals). Vistaprint.co.uk and other companies offer these kinds of products, often with discounts. But don’t spend money if you don’t have to. No point making up lots of T-shirts or fridge magnets just for the sake of it. Stick to items your intended readership might like, or find fun. Build this into your budget but don’t overdo it. Also, make sure you have a professional business card and carry it with you – for example when you visit your local book stores to ask if they’ll stock your book (see 10).

9 Consider an author Facebook page for your book and characters. Tweets and u-tube are other options (short readings, fun videos). But remember, as ever, to choose what works best for you and the time constraints you may be under. I’m making a list here so you have options; you don’t have to do it all.

10 Go round local book stores, especially the independents. Ask if they’ll consider stocking a few copies of your book. As an unknown, you don’t have a lot of leverage so if you’ve had any media coverage, take along a copy. Offer sale or return (times are hard for everyone). They’ll likely check the book’s ISBN to ensure they can order it from their usual wholesalers and if your print on demand company has done its job properly, your book should come up in all the right places. Ask for window space for a small display – they probably have their own plans for that but it’s worth asking. Sometimes they’ll offer you a window display ‘in a few months’. Fine. Keep in touch and take them up on it.

And here’s one extra tip – for those of you who actually want to write, rather than spend your creative time and energy on the social media marketing treadmill:

11 FIND ANOTHER WAY.

Read what Lionel Shriver says in her feature How to Succeed as an Author: Give up on Writing

Read some of what Michael Alvear says in his book How to Make a Killing on Kindle (Without Blogging, Facebook or Twitter) and then decide if you want to buy it.

As ever, it’s about balance. I hope you find it.

Good luck.

Kay
Originally posted on kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com
Author of Treasure This
Co-founder of Electrik Inc

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Filed under Kay Leitch, Publishing, Tips for Authors and Illustrators