Are You A New Author? Please Don’t Make These Silly Mistakes!

There is no denying that writing provides a creative outlet for many a person. Authoring books is a fantastic way to tell a story and share it with limitless amounts of individuals. As you know, one can read books on almost any subject. From crime thrillers to romance novels, and from autobiographies to travel guides, there is a book out there that will interest everyone.

The process of writing a book is often a long and arduous journey. Apart from dedicating time to the cause, what you write has to offer compelling reading. Many authors promote their books and get dismayed when there’s little interest in them. If you’re a new author, make sure you don’t make any of the following silly mistakes:

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Poor spelling and grammar

 

Let’s face it. Every author has their own style of writing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what can irk many people is coming across spelling and grammar mistakes. It might not sound like a big deal to you. However, I’m here to tell you that it should!

If your first book is full of typos, your audience will find it hard to follow your story. These days, spelling and grammar checks are built into word processing software. And, there are online services like Grammarly that can help you. Make sure you use them.

 

Unappealing book cover

 

When a person walks into a bookstore, the design of a book cover will capture their attention. We process visual imagery first before written words. As a new author, your readers won’t be people who already know about you.

Your new entry into a particular niche topic can captivate them with stunning visuals. If you’re not a good graphic designer, pay a professional to do your artwork. After all, you wouldn’t build a house if you weren’t an expert bricklayer!

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Forgetting to create a website

 

Thanks to the digital world we live in, many of us buy the books that interest us online. We might head over to sites like Amazon to browse and buy what we want. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website dedicated to you and your books!

You can use your site as a springboard to launch new books in the future. And let’s not forget what a brilliant marketing tool your website can be. Again, it pays to use an expert web design agency for your new site. Don’t go down the DIY route if your best work looks like a website built in 1995.

Not having another person edit your work

 

You might be a brilliant proofreader. Your spelling and grammar skills may be exceptional. But, you should still get someone else to edit your work. Why?

First of all, your editing will be biased. Of course it will—you wrote the book! A fresh pair of eyes will help you to refine and improve your work until it’s ready for publication.

Second, you might not be thorough with your proofreading. That’s probably because you think your writing is okay. And, third, it will take up a lot of time. Just get someone else to do it for you.

Follow the above suggestions and you’ll have a higher chance of success. Thanks for reading my blog post today.

[post contributed for tamarhela.com]

Self-Publishing: What Makes A Book Successful?

When it comes to getting your writing out there in the public, there are many ways to go about it. One method which is gaining particular popularity in the past few years is self-publishing. In self-publishing, you have a genuine and viable way of publishing your work. What’s more, the lines are being increasingly blurred between traditional publishing and self-publishing. It is now not necessarily a more lucrative venture to go the traditional route. If you are keen to self-publish your book, then you probably want to know how exactly you can ensure that it sells. This is the main fear that many self-published authors face. After all, you of course want it to be as successful as possible. In this post, we will go through some of the main components of what makes a self-published book more likely to sell.

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Captivating Cover

 

Let’s be honest: most of the marketing here is done at the actual point of sale. The old adage of not judging a book by its cover doesn’t actually apply when it comes to books themselves. After all, we all do it – you pick it up, check the cover and decide based on that. To that end, you need to ensure that your book has a cover which captivates and fascinates immediately. To achieve that, you might want to consider brushing up on your graphic design skills. Then, using software like Photoshop Illustrator, you can really work on designing a cover which sells. For training in Illustrator, see https://www.trainingconnection.com/illustrator-training.php.

 

Original Concept

Of course, it would be cynical to say that the actual work had nothing to do with the book’s success. It does, of course. For your self-published book to be successful, you need to ensure that the actual concept is original and fascinating. After all, originality is usually what sells the best. The trick here is to learn how to draw the line. You don’t want to do what everyone else is doing, because you will get lost in it all. However, if you go out on a limb too much, then you might suffer from being misunderstood. If you can find the balance between the two, your book will probably do pretty well. For more on developing a good concept, see http://jillcorcoranliteraryagency.com/what-makes-a-book-sell/.

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Strong Writing

This one should go without saying, but it needs repeating as it is so vital. To sell your self-published book, you need to make sure that the actual writing is as polished and strong as possible. Too many authors rush into publishing before they have even properly proofread their writing. It is far preferable to spend a good amount of time on ensuring your writing is as good as can be. Only then should you even consider publishing it, in any form. Remember that when you go down this route, you don’t have an editor. You need to be your own editor, so make sure that you are strict with yourself. Otherwise, your work might just not cut it. Get these three elements right, however, and all should go to plan.

[post contributed for tamarhela.com]

It Takes a Village to Raise a Book

(NOTE: Revised on 7/22/14. I forgot to add the part about connecting with my designer!)

I’ve been writing consistently for over five years now. I am just about to release my second book and am currently writing two more books, hoping to release them this year or early next year. And now, with my writing/editing/publishing business, I’ve been publishing clients for almost a year now—which, by publishing, I mean that I provide self-editing services similar to how my own books are published. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a team of people, but it’s fun and I’m passionate about what I do for a living.

Many people, who are interested in the process of bringing a book to life (and to the shelves), have asked me about the process of “raising a book.” To me, my books are like my children, and as the saying goes: “It takes a village.”

Because I get asked about the process so often, I thought it’d be prudent to write a post about it. This doesn’t mean that this is the end all or the “right” way to get a book out there, but it’s what works for me—and for some of my other writer friends. So, if you want to know how it works, pay close attention and take notes if you must. 🙂

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Step 1: Write the story.

This is the “duh” part. Obviously, you need to write a story first to make anything happen. However, the “how” part in this step is different for everyone.

I outline every book I write, but I don’t stick to it religiously. Sometimes, I’m very organic about the flow of my story, and sometimes I need to free write in my journal to help shape the next parts of the story. I’ve read about other writers who LOVE their outline, and about others who are more free-spirited with their writing—like me.

My first book, second edition.

My first book, second edition.

Step 2: Blog some teasers.

The more you grow your readership, the more important it is to keep up with fans and share some previews/snippets of your work. I admit that I’m not always the best at this, especially because I run a business AND have to figure out how to squeeze in my stuff every day. But, I have been sharing more teasers for my soon-to-be-released book, compared to my first book.

Posting teasers, etc., starts building up the hype for your book and (hopefully) gets people excited about the new “baby” you are creating.

Step 3: Design a great cover.

Let’s be real: visuals are everything, especially nowadays. Luckily, I have a great group of designers who help me with my projects–personal and business. For my second book’s cover, I hired an amazing designer, Andrew Beach, who made my ideas come to life. Though I’m an artist and can draw, I could not tell you the first thing about digital graphic design. So, even while the story is still developing, I have my designer begin to build the cover. You can see book two’s cover at the end of this post.

Step 4: Self-edit, revise, rewrite.

When I wrote my first book, it took me longer to write than my second. This is often true of most writers, but for various reasons. Part of what kept adding to my delay was self-editing ALL the time.

After five years, I’ve learned to stop being so meticulous as I’m writing the book, and to save self-editing for AFTER the book is finished. But, again, I want to reiterate that this might not work for everyone. It works for me, and if you’re still figuring out the best methods for yourself, try the editing and rewriting after the fact.

Step 5: Send to MY editor upon completion.

Yes, I’m an editor, and YES—I most definitely need an editor for my books. An editor who is NOT moi. Why? Because we are all biased when it comes to our babies. It is imperative to have another pair of eyes and an objective opinion for your stuff.

Fortunately, I have an incredible editor who does an amazing job with my books. I send her either a full print out of my book OR a Word file (I write everything in Word) so she can make edits.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Step 6: Print a “preview” proof.

I use CreateSpace as my printer/distributer. Yes, my books are published through a small publishing firm, but we all function as indie authors, and are hands on in the entire process. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve learned so much and am happy with the arrangement between my publisher and I.

For my new book, my publisher suggested I print a preview proof copy—which means that I printed a paperback version of my book while it was being edited by my editor. I was able to make even more notes/edits and catch things that were hard to see in the Word document. Then, when I finished going through the entire book, I added my changes and revisions while waiting to receive the Word document back from my editor.

MY edits in my book proof.

MY edits in my book proof.

Step 7: Go through editor’s edits.

This is another “duh” step, but it’s the next step in the process. Personally, I have found that a stellar editor will not only catch grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, but will also help you develop the store (as needed) and show you where plot holes or big questions exist. My editor does all of the above AND she leaves me encouraging/funny notes as well. It makes the editing process less painful. J

Step 8: Send edited book to publisher.

My publisher also goes through my book—several times, actually. Again, having another set of eyes on my book is crucial. It’s also crucial to have a highly polished manuscript since I represent the publishing firm with my work. I go through my publisher’s notes before printing a second proof.

Step 9: Print second proof.

This is an important step. Even if you think you have caught every mistake in the manuscript, it’s vital to go through another physical proof. Why? Because we’re all human, and we all make mistakes—especially when we think things are perfect.

My book proof (book 2).

My book proof (book 2).

Step 10: Team proof.

After I receive the second proof, I hand out copies to my editor, publisher, and other English language savvy peeps. I then share a Google doc between us and we use it to track other errors in the book—including formatting issues. It can be a tedious process, but if you have a wonderful editor like I do, it’s less painful.

During this process, I may also send an electronic ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) to my beta readers and I take their notes/reactions into consideration.

Step 11: Last things before publishing.

If needed, I order another physical proof (you can order up to five proofs at a time through CreateSpace). Otherwise, I review the final electronic proof, provided by CreateSpace. During this time, I add my book and information to Goodreads and other book platforms. I also post about the “coming attraction” on my blog, etc. When everything looks as perfect as can be…

Step 12: Publish!

When you hit the “publish” button, it’s really exciting for a good five minutes, and then you get back to work. The process is never ending when you’re a writer, and that’s the plain truth.

After the paperback is ready, I start on the ebook conversion process. This has taken me a while to learn, and someday, I’ll post THAT process. When the ebook is converted, I check the proof for that as well, and then publish to KDP when it’s ready.

Step 13: Create samples.

When the big things are finished, I then create samples of my work. For example, you can upload a preview of your book to Goodreads and your website, etc. I usually include the first five chapters of my book and convert it to a PDF file. (Click for a sample PDF of Feast Island> Feast Island 2nd Edition SAMPLE) I also make a PDF review copy and put text in the beginning, indicating that it’s a review copy, not to be distributed illegally, etc.

I also make sure I revamp my website a bit at this point, in order to reflect the new release.

Step 14: Copyright.

You can secure a copyright from the United States Copyright Office to protect your work. It’s a fairly “easy” process, and you can probably expect to get your official certificate in 4-6 months.

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That’s as easy as I can break things down. I promise to elaborate more on this process later, with future blog posts. And, like I said: it never ends! You are always working when you’re a creative. Always thinking of something new. But the most important thing is that it truly does take a team to make your book happen. Without my trusted editors, readers, and fans, there’d be nothing.

The best thing you can do after you write a book is to find your trusted team members to make your dreams a reality. Be very picky about whom you choose, and if it doesn’t work out with someone, protect your “baby” by finding someone else who is better suited for you and your vision. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something needs to change, but be open to new ideas. As time goes on, you’ll find what does and doesn’t work for you.

If you haven’t seen the cover of my upcoming release, The Wrong Fairy Tale, here it is in all of it’s glory. I’ll be sure to let you all know when it’s on the market and available for purchase. Almost there!

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Author Interview: Brea Essex, Author of Foreshadow

I can’t believe it’s time for another blog post! Thinking I’d shake things up a bit, I wanted to have one of my good friends, Brea Essex, share her writing journey. She recently had her debut novel, Foreshadow, published by Astraea Press. Below are her answers to my interview questions. Enjoy!

Foreshadow by Brea Essex

  • Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer?

I wrote a lot as a child and a teenager, but didn’t finish much. My first taste of “fame” was in fifth grade. I wrote a short story and my teacher put it in our class “library” for my classmates to check out. It was about Nancy Drew being murdered and the ensuing investigation. Looking back on it, I’m surprised the teacher didn’t call my father.

By the time I got out of high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I didn’t think I could actually make it as an author. I studied to be a medical assistant, but ended up not liking it. Most of the doctors I worked for and the patients we saw were great, but the job was too stressful for me. So, I started writing again.

  • What is the genre in which you write?

I mostly write YA (young adult) paranormal. I’m working on an epic fantasy series and a historical novel as well.

  • What is the book you recently published? What is it all about?

“Foreshadow”, book one of The Shadow Imperium series, came out in December of 2011. It’s about a sixteen year old girl named Raena whose mother dies. She has to go live with her mother’s best friend and her family. Craziness ensues. Here’s the blurb:

Imagine discovering that your boyfriend was out to kill you—and that the annoying boy from school was your guardian angel.

Rae Davenport has already lost her mother. The only thing keeping her sane is her new boyfriend, Andrei—that is, until she finds out that he wants to kill her. Andrei is a devil, and he wants to use Rae as a sacrifice to get back into Heaven. The only one who can save her is Logan, her guardian angel. He’s only annoyed her in the past, but now he will be her savior.

  • Have you published or written any other works?

“Foreshadow” is currently my only published work. I’m finishing up the sequel, “Overshadow”. I’m also working on a myriad of other projects.

  • Name your top three favorite characters you’ve made up and explain why they’re your favorites.

Number one favorite would have to be Father Matthias, the Catholic priest in the Shadow Imperium series. He comes across as a bit crazy (and yes, that was intentional). Let’s just say he’s not all he seems. He’s been really fun to write.

Second…I’d have to say Ty from another series I’m working on called The Zayin Chronicles. One of my beta readers called him “wonderfully creepy”. It’s interesting to write such an odd character.

Third, I’d say Declan from a stand-alone novel I’m working on, which is tentatively titled “Ravenside”. He’s Scottish, and it’s really fun writing in an accent—it’s also really hard.

  • Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

According to Alyson Noel, the best way to get past writer’s block is by refusing to believe in it. Trust me, it’s easier said than done. Writer’s block sucks, plain and simple. I’m still trying to learn to deal with it. The best things I’ve found is to listen to music. I have playlists for each series/novel. Some write better to classical music. Sometimes instead of music, I’ll put on a movie that I’ve seen a ton of times. That way, I have background noise without distractions. I’ve also found that writing in sprints helps. I’ll time myself for fifteen or thirty minutes, see how much I can write, and then take a short break. I’ll often do “word wars” with other authors. We all sprint for the same amount of time and see who writes the most.

  • How long did it take to finish your first novel?

Writing-wise, about a year. It took me another year to get a publishing contract, edit, and have it published. It was almost exactly two years from when I first put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard) until it released.

  • What were the challenges you faced when getting your first book published?

I had a really hard time getting it long enough. Editing was a nightmare, as was writing the dreaded query letter. I couldn’t get anyone to look at it for a long time. I got rejection after rejection. A lot of the places I sent it to never responded at all. I finally found my publisher, Astraea Press, after about seven months of querying.

  • How do you market your work? What avenues have you found that work best for your genre?

I market it in any way I can possibly think of: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogging. Writing involves a lot of promotion. I spend a lot of time on social media, as well as looking for places to do guest posts and interviews. It’s a learning process, something I hope to improve on.

  • What does your writing process “look” like?

Honestly, it can get messy. Oh, I attempt to outline, but those usually come out with about five or six points on them. More often than not, I take several pages of notes, and then write the scenes as they come to me. With one series I’m working on, I literally wrote down everything I might like to see in a book series and ran with it. I usually write very out of order. I write the major scenes, then go back and fill in the gaps.

  • What projects are you currently working on?

I’m finishing up “Overshadow”, the sequel to “Foreshadow”. I’m also working on “Ouroboros”, book one of The Zayin Chronicles. There are some others I’m working on, but these two are my main focus.

  • What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I haven’t gotten too bad of criticism yet (if I have, I must have blocked it out!). I have gotten a few nasty comments. One person told me that “Foreshadow” was Satanic because it was paranormal. I found that funny, since it’s about angels. I also had one really mean review. These things happen, I guess.

The best compliment…that’s hard to choose. One recent reviewer said that “Foreshadow” is now at the top of her “favorite angel books” list. I’ve had quite a few people tell me how much they love Logan (I do too). One of my favorite comments I’ve gotten is that “Raena is the anti-Bella”. Now, I’m not trying to bash Twilight. I’m just not a big Bella fan. So, naturally I thought this comment was amazing.

  • What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Stick with it. I can’t help but think how much further I might be if I hadn’t listened to people tell me I had to get a “real job”, or that I’d never make it as an author. Find what works for you, writing-wise. If it’s spending hours outlining, and writing in complete silence, go for it. If you’re like me, and just take tons of notes, then write to music or “Prince Caspian” (yes, the Narnia movie), do it. No one has the same writing process, and finding yours is key.

  • When can we expect to see another publication of your work?

Hopefully, later this year. I’m hoping to finish “Overshadow” and submit it to my publisher this month. I’m working on a couple of things I might self-publish. Those may be out sooner.

  • Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and readers?

I want to thank everyone who’s supported me, either by buying “Foreshadow”, or reviewing it, or just encouraging me. If you’re hearing of me for the first time, thank you for reading this long, rambling interview of mine. I’m a little long-winded. I’m Italian. I talk a lot. I can’t help it.

  • What’s a cool (or nerdy) fact about you that you’ll share with us?

Hmmm…sadly, I’m not very cool. I guess the “coolest” fact about me is that I’m actually descended from nobility. My great-great-(add a few more “greats”) grandfather was the Duke of Caithness, Scotland. You’ll see a lot of information about Caithness—or “Caitnes”, as they call it in Scotland—in my upcoming book “Ravenside”.

Would you like to know more about Brea, connect with her, and buy her book? Here’s where to find her and Foreshadow: 

Website: http://breaessex.com

E-mail: brea@breaessex.com

Blog: http://breaessex.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/breaessexfanpage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/breaessex

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/breaessex

Buy her book:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/ynlGqa

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/t39319

Astraea Press: http://bit.ly/xXv80w