Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our process to Success!

I'm not only an editor now, I'm also a marketer/promoter. That's right, I am also doing the marketing for this book. Assuming I'll see great success in selling this book, and all subsequent books, I think it's appropriate that I list a few of the things I'm doing to get to the point that my wife doesn't have to do the laundry. Yeah - like many mothers, one of my wife's dreams is to not have to do the laundry.

First things first. I needed a book to market, to advertise. My wife took care of that, with some nudging from me. Oh - and about 1000 read-throughs of the manuscript. I did that part. I also marked the edits, over and over and over until we got it right.

Second - Get the book uploaded and available for sale. Sure, this goes without saying, but, while it IS possible to market a book that is not yet for sale, I don't really see it as the most effective way to go about it when the author is brand-new published. So, we did our hard work, did all the prep for the book and got it uploaded.

Third - Find the best places to upload the book. Everyone knows about the Kindle. Well, almost everyone. And most everyone knows about the Nook. So those two spots were obvious. We uploaded to Kindle through KDP, and then I learned how to upload to the Nook through their 'Pubit' interface. In fact, we did this a couple of times as we learned the ropes to self-publishing. Through trial and error, we are happy with the current online product. I'd love to add some 'after matter' to the book now, you know, more info about the author, contact information, the 'reviews aren't required but are appreciated' type stuff, but I think I'll leave it alone for now.

What some people (pointing at myself) don't know about is smashwords. It wasn't until after we got the book uploaded to Kindle and Nook that I learned about Smashwords.

So, after yet more work, I got the book uploaded there. I won't take the time to talk about how nice it was that they published it so much faster, but it was nice that they published it so quickly. I'm still new to Smashwords so I need to take more time to learn all the ins and outs there.

Fourth - Now comes the marketing. And boy-howdy was I new at this. During time that I wasn't working I began to read and read and read. Then I read more. I found website upon website of great information for self-publishers and kindle users. I setup at Kindle Boards. I have an account at Goodreads. I've setup a lot of accounts recently. I am helping my wife with tweeting and facebook and blogging. I continue to read and learn and implement. Some of the things I've learned in this new endeavour:

  • Cover Art - Absolutely Essential. Everything I read says to make sure your cover art is top-notch. Beyond actually writing the book, your cover art is the single most important sales tool you have. Potential buyers look at the picture. If they like it, they'll read the blurb. If they like it - they'll buy the book.

  • After the Cover art (in importance) comes the blurb for your book. My wife and I worked a long time to get a clear and concise blurb for the book that we feel conveys the message of the book without boring the potential buyers. I'd love, love, love to hear feedback from average readers on what they think of the blurb for this book.

  • Get your name out there! Obviously, if no one knows who you are or what (or where) your book is, they aren't going to buy it. Because of this, getting your name out there is essential. Goodreads, Kindle Boards, Twitter, Facebook, Blog Posts, and a host of other methods are free and easy to use. Every time you post, almost anywhere, people see your name. They begin to recognize that name and when they finally go look at your book, they are more likely to buy.


And more regarding getting your name out there:
Some people, especially new authors, fear the marketing and promoting because they are concerned people will think 'hey - stop pushing your book on me!' But that's not it at all. I am happy to say that I haven't yet had to do any 'look at me' marketing. Instead, you have to become active in the reading/writing community. People have to get to know you, see some of your writing. Then, and only then will they become interested in your book(s). The writers with who you are interacting become comfortable around you and are more likely to offer a plug, or review, or interview or guest blog post. Readers get to know you and, seeing that you are human and not a marketing machine, are more likely to want to read your book.

So, that's what I'm currently working on. Getting her name out there. I'm posting relevant content. I'm trying to showcase her writing talents. I'm getting to know other authors, other readers, other people involved in the publishing industry.

And - I'm reading. By golly, I haven't read so much online since ... well... since I can't remember when. I read, read, and read some more so that I can learn more.

Part of my fourth step is also learning about new ways to market this book. I've been reading about blog hops, guest posts, interviews, etc... I've just signed her up for her first 'blog hop giveaway'. Or something like that. It's at the end of October so I've got some learning to do, but I'll get that done soon enough. Having her signed up is the first step.

Getting reviews is also essential. I've visited so many book review sites lately that I nearly forget where I've already been. I'm searching for Historical Fiction/Romance reviewers. I feel obligated to get to know the reviewer before blindly sending in a review request. I visit their site(s), read about them, read some of their reviews. I read their submission policies. If I feel that they may be a good candidate to have review this book, I spend some time crafting a clear email and sending it over.

Results on requesting book reviews are still out, because we've managed only one single review until now. Hopefully, we'll hear back from some of the others we've queried and get some reviews from them. Then I'll be able to update back here on the results of getting reviews.

Note: - There are hundreds of thousands of ways to market and promote a book. I don't know even know a fraction of them all. I've learned some that I'm happy with and I'm working on them. And I'll continue to work on them until we see hundreds of thousands of sales.... That could be a while.

And lastly, Fifth - Success! Sales! Yes, we've seen sales. There were, of course, the first 2 or 3 right after we posted the book. I'm sure this is from those people who watch the 'newly published' list and grab things they are interested in. But now we are in the 'mainstream' of books, right next to some one million other books.

But now we are starting to see more sales trickle in. As these sales slowly (and I emphasize slowly here) begin to increase in frequency, I feel like I need to double my efforts. 5, 10 - 15 sales in the first 2 or 3 weeks. Is that a good start? Who knows. But it IS a start nonetheless and we'll roll with it.

Sales on Nook and Smashwords are also starting up now and we're happy. We have our own goals and sales marks we are reaching for.

In the end, marketing is a tricky monster and many go about it in many ways. The items I've outlined above are our first attempts and we'll continue to work as our sales numbers go up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finally! Published! (again) Where?

It turns out, working in my current position as an editor, I also am taking care of the uploading of the files and account management. And with so many accounts - Wow! How to keep them all straight!

First, there is Amazon Kindle. Sure - that's easy enough. The Kindle is the reason we went with e-publishing in the first place. But.....

If we're going to publish there, we should probably publish to Barnes and Noble's Nook because we have family with one of those.

And why stop there?

Smashwords looks like a viable candidate so I've spent time there learning, uploading, editing, re-uploading, [repeat], and finally, having Sweetwater Springs published there.

But there seems to be *S*O* *M*A*N*Y options out there that I fear I'm going to need a spreadsheet just to try and keep track of them. I wonder how others have done it?

So now Sweetwater Springs is available on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and almost everywhere smashwords sends it as well.

Where else should I be looking to keep things diversified and moving? Does anyone have suggestions?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sweetwater done - Again.

I finished my final edits to Sweetwater Springs over this weekend. It is now uploaded and available on Kindle.

The edits took longer than I thought they would, but we found all of the issues, fixed them up, made a few other minor adjustments and prepped it for Kindle.

I've never edited for Kindle before. I found it a bit tedious to have to scroll through every page of the Kindle formatted book to be sure that things looked OK. However, I did scroll through every page and made a couple of other minor adjustments to be sure that things looked good on the Kindle as well. Of course, it won't be the same on the other Kindle reader software programs, and will probably be quite different when a Kindle user uses a different font.

But in the end, I'm happy with the results, and I'm happy to have the book back up on the Amazon Kindle Bookstore.

After I completed the edits and got the book uploaded, my wife showed me a book that she is currently reading on her Kindle and pointed out significant formatting errors. It look like the book had been taken straight from the paper-printed book and published to Kindle. It had hyphenated words in the middle of paragraphs and sentences. It had large gaps in between words. It had lots of problems. I'm glad we resolved all of those and re-uploaded the book.

So now - take a moment to go take a preview of Sweetwater Springs on Amazon Kindle and other Kindle reading devices.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finished another run-through on Sweetwater Springs.

Last night I finished yet another editing run-through on Sweetwater Springs, and I have to say, again, it really is a great story. Sure, sure - claim bias, but in reality, the story is a classic romance with a strong climax. Now, normally, these types of stories I wouldn't dare read - I'm just not the 'romance' type, but since I had to read this over and over again - I found it to be very good.

It's interesting as you read through a manuscript with an objective to edit the faults, I found myself getting caught up in the story and failing, at times, to actually do any editing. I'd find myself at points telling myself to stop, go back, and read it again because I was sure that it was just flowing under the bridge without me actually watching. And sure enough - I'd go back and sometimes find errors or omissions that would need some type of adjustment.

And now, having finished it again, I'm concerned that there are still edits to be done. So, having now passed it off to my wife to do the edits on sections that aren't clear, don't flow, or aren't 'just right', she will get it back to me and I'll need to go through it again.

Of course, these are probably the hundredth+ times I've been through this book and the edits are coming fewer and further between.

There is something of an urgency, though, to get through it this time. A need to get it done and ready to go. I'll tell you what happened on our first attempt at uploading to Kindle some time later. Let's just say there was a problem, and these edits will fix that problem.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Print Publishing is tough to get into.

Several years ago, my wife came home from a trip with an idea to write a book. A fiction novel. She got hard into it and built it to a nearly finished manuscript. But then decided to write something different. Many years later, Sweetwater Springs was ready to go. After hundreds of query letters and the same number of rejections, she got a full manuscript request from Avalon. 12 months and 2 weeks later she got the rejection from them as well.

That's tough. This is not my story, I've not invested my creative mind into this book, so the rejections are obviously much easier on me than it is on her. But I know that after so much hard work, it's tough on her to see her story go unpublished.

So while reading about getting print-published I came across a guest blog post by John Locke on Joe Konraths blog. As many in the publishing world now know, John Locke is the first self-published author to sell 1 Million ebooks on Amazon's Kindle.

I had previously talked to my wife about publishing Sweetwater Springs to Kindle, maybe 6 months to a year ago. But as many authors feel, she wanted to see the printed book. Now, some time later, and after a heart-breaking number of rejections from print publishers, she has a bit more opened mind about e-publishing.

Print Publishing vs e-publishing. We tried the first, followed the rules, worked hard, and now will go with the second.

Our first attempt didn't go well.

First blog post as an editor

I've decided to start this new blog to reference some of the things I am learning about being (becoming?) an editor. I'm nothing official, but I've always had a knack for catching mistakes in print. And now I get the chance to do it more.

Let me explain a little first.

#1 - I'm not really an editor. I just know a little about writing copy and catching mistakes.

#2 - I'm keen to spelling errors, grammer, punctuation, and - since I'm doing that anyway, I also catch plot errors and make suggestions for twists and turns to characters.

#3 - Most importantly - I can't write a novel! Not even a little bit.

#4 - My wife writes Historical Fiction under the name Alex Taylor Wolfe. You can visit her on her Webpage, Blog, and her Twitter Account. You will also be able to find her on the Amazon Kindle, and at Barnes and Nobel's Nook.

#5 - I've spent countless hours editing her novel, Sweetwater Springs, getting to know her characters Katie and Tyler.


It's not just novels I edit - I notice errors in all kinds of prints. On my drive to work everyday, I notice a reader board for a local company that has the letter 'N' backwards. Not good.

So now, in mostly rambling, barely-coherent, and sometimes purposefully misspelled words, I'm going to post about the things I have learned, am learning and will continue to learn about when it comes to editing. Mostly, editing novels for e-publishing.

Go ahead - bookmark this page. I'll let you.