Tag Archives: self-publishing

Editing: It’s Not Just For Big Publisher Novels

I’ve been reading a great book lately. I am really enjoying its fresh and whimsical tone that keeps you from otherwise crying over what is a truly ghastly plot (ie. the plot is about something ghastly, not the plotting is ghastly). At the same time, however, I really wish there had been a more thorough editing job done on it before it went to print.

The book I’m reading is either small-press or indie-published. I understand that at this level the resources just aren’t there to catch every error. I get that. But there are an inordinate number of errors ranging from typos and missing words, to fragments of sentences fused together, to entire paragraphs being repeated within a few paragraphs of one another. It’s bad enough it throws me out of a story I really don’t want to be thrown out of.

As I said, the writing is so good I want to keep reading, so I overlook these errors and I move on. But deep down inside I resent being treated this way. It’s almost as if the writer is saying they don’t care about the reader, and that’s not the message an author wants to convey. I want so much to enjoy this book, but every time I encounter one of these errors it’s as if someone splashed mud across the page.

Self-publishing still has a reputation for poor quality; of books that are poorly written, poorly edited, poorly packaged and, as a result, poorly read. If this is ever to change we’re going to have to step up our game as writers. Readers will forgive a few small errors. Those even creep into top-published books. But if our readers begin to feel as though they are being asked to proof-read your book for you they probably won’t read another one. Proof-readers shouldn’t have to pay for the privilege of correcting your crap.

At the very least talk a conscientious friend into proof-reading your manuscript. And your ebook copy. And your POD copy. Not all errors are the fault of the writer–some software can make errors where none existed. But the writer still gets the blame. Sometimes you’ll get an Amazon review that points out your errors for you, but more often your potential fan will simply never become a fan–and you’ll never know about it–or why. You will only know you’re not selling as many books as you would like.


Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Love, LuAnn

I’ve always had Three Loves: teaching, theatre, and writing (the order changes from time to time). Before I began kindergarten, I “knew” I wanted to be a teacher. (It’s probably always been a control issue.) When I played “school” with my little pre‑kindergarten friends, I was always the teacher. How did I even know what a teacher would do?

Then I began school, and was learning to read. I remember The Day I “got it!” I was looking at a very long word, which I didn’t know. As I sounded it out in my mind, I realized I DID know the first part of it: “may”. Then I realized I knew the second part of it too: “be”! May Be. Maybe. It was like a bolt of lightning zapped through my head. Neither of the two words means the same thing as the combination means ‑‑‑ it was a word I didn’t recognize, as written, but once I’d puzzled it out, I was beyond thrilled that I knew THAT word too! At least, when hearing or saying it. It was MAGIC ! That had to be when my love affair with words began.

Many, many years later, when I’d already been teaching for a few decades, I met a like soul: LuAnn Brobst Staheli: the consummate teacher and wordsmith. I think we “recognized” each other upon our first meeting. She always had wise words, and that broad, welcoming smile! (How I miss her now.) I ran across an old blog of hers, and would like to pass along a few nuggets. She had become discouraged, at one point, and feeling that ‑‑‑ in spite of “small” successes with a couple of books through “niche presses” and what could only have been the beginnings of writing awards she received, she was ready to give up: too many “No, thank you,” “not right for our list,” “We’ll have to pass on this,” and “Good luck finding a house for your work” rejections.

Was she writing the wrong things? What would be the next Big Thing? Editors and others could only answer, “We’ll know it when we see it.” She was asking the questions most prolific, but unpublished, writers ask themselves. Then she made a decision and set a goal: “

LuAnn tried to look at her writing ‑‑‑realistically ‑‑‑she loved to write, knew how to tell a good story (that could have been from all those years of capturing the attention of her hundreds of junior high school students!). She knew she could write for a broad audience: middle grade, YA, adult, fiction and non‑fiction with topics just as wide ranging from memoir, education, history and all kinds of swirling, yet‑unrealized topics and subjects.

“So in December, I made a decision,” she wrote. “If publishers didn’t want to buy my books, then I’d need to move on without them. I had readers who were tired of waiting and I was too. . . . I made a list of all the books I had already written that were sitting on my hard drive, waiting for a home. I added the manuscripts that were nearly done as well, and found, that even with not yet counting the two manuscripts

I had out waiting for a response from traditional publishers, that I had enough books close enough to completion to meet my goal. (Since then, both of those books have been formally rejected, so they are now a part of my master list of books that will be lining up on Amazon, ready for an instant download to the readers who want them.)”

And so her 2013 goal came into being: she would publish a book‑a‑month, even if she had to do it on Kindle. She began with Leona & Me, Helen Marie, based on her mother’s stories of childhood, growing up in southern Indiana, which she’d written shortly after her mother passed away. The cover showed her mom, Helen Marie, and her aunt, Leona Mae.

LuAnn’s February release was A Note Worth Taking, with a cover which “placed it into the Small Town U.S.A. series. She noted that “[a]lthough some readers have tried to read themselves into this novel . . . it’s a story I made up in my mind . . . some of the events are based on truth, but the conflict and resolution, and the characters who play key roles are purely fiction. . . . when it comes to girl drama, there is nothing new under the sun, so you could change the names a million times and people would still wonder, ‘Is this about ME?’“

Having gone through this process herself, Luann wrote on her blog May 16, 2013, “Thinking of giving up your writing career? Time to get energized and take a new direction. Read my story here: T.he Book of the Month Club.”

LuAnn Brobst Staheli was NOT a quitter. She was more likely to follow Winston Churchill’s wise words: “Never give up. Never, never, never give up!”

And so should we all.

(Thanks, LuAnn, and “Winnie” ‑‑‑ I needed that!)

Some other books by LuAnn Brobst Staheli:

  • When Hearts Conjoin (Utah’s Best of State Medal for Non‑fiction Literary Arts)
  • Tides Across the Sea
  • Just Like Elizabeth Taylor
  • Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith
  • Living in an Osmond World
  • Been There, Done That, Bought the T‑Shirt
  • Books, Books, and More Books, vol. 2; A Parent and Teacher’s Guide to Adolescent Literature
  • Temporary Bridesmaid
  • Carny
  • Ebenezer

Building a Better Blog

The blogosphere is unique social construct, a community in which thousands of voices speak into the darkness and hope for a whisper in return. Even though nothing committed to the internet ever disappears entirely, the life of a blog is always uncertain. Some voices seem to continue to ring on strong, but these are the exception. Most speak out for a while and then die off into nothingness. There are several important differentiating factors that I have found as both a reader and a writer to be good indicators of the health of a blog.

The first predictor is the dependability of the people behind the blog. If they have a schedule set, do they fulfill those promises? If not, do they post regularly or is it months between new content? Do they have some way to communicate to their readership when new content becomes available? As a reader, I have neither the leisure time nor the inclination to browse blogs that haven’t been updated. Go too long without new material, and I will not be back. Chances are the blogger won’t be either.

The next sign I look for is the self-awareness of the blog and blogger. All writing must have a target audience, a group of people whom they wish to reach and influence. Whether you are trying to reach a niche, sub-culture or an entire demographic, it is essential to know what interests them and to tailor the blog’s culture to fulfill those needs. Do your readers seek entertainment? To learn something or keep up on news? To share in the thoughts and art of another? These questions change the nature of the posts themselves.

This leads directly into my third flag. Does the blogger produce high quality content, or can most of what they post be considered “fluff”? More importantly, is the type of content that they produce consistent to the needs and expectations of their audience? Both are legitimate strategies, after all. For instance, a blog that seeks to target geeks with science and entertainment news may be posting many short, graphic centric articles. They do not rely on readers going in depth, but rather depend on a high frequency of shares and new visits to spread their message. A blog that discusses the finer points of restoring classic cars, however, would rely on a small pool of devoted readers and discussions generated by more detailed content.

The final and most important aspect that I use to predict the success of a blog is its focus. Bloggers who write for their own satisfaction, who are internally focused, tend to be less reliable, and frankly, less interesting. They write for an audience of one. If that is enough for them, then I hope that they have fun with their little piece of the internet. Bloggers who are truly successful tend to be externally focused, seeking to reach people in order to share their passion and interest. They seek to form a community.

When I think of the blogosphere, I can’t help but picture the club fair that occurred during the first week of the fall semester at my college. Back then, we dragged tables out to the middle of our campus, and freshmen wandered around, trying to find what extracurricular they wanted to be a part of. These days I sit behind a digital table, but the goal is the same. I want to attract people who share my interests to stop and talk to me. If I’m lucky, they’ll even join my club and stick around. Community is what matters to bloggers, it is what supports and sustains us. It is our raison d’être.

The community that surrounds ForeverWriters.com and the Author’s Think Thank have become part of my personal blogosphere, part of my community. This community has done what most don’t. Not just grown, but thrived. Through reading their blog, listening to the podcast, and participating in discussions in the Think Tank, I see many of the indications I mentioned above that point to a long-lasting and healthy community.

Most of all, I’m thankful to all of you, dear fans and readers. Both my own, and those native to ForeverWriters. Without y’all, without your willingness to listen from within the darkness, and occasionally even whisper back, we would not, could not go on.

Nathan Barra

About Nathan Barra

Though Nathan Barra is an engineer by profession, training and temperament, he is a storyteller by nature and at heart. Fascinated with the byplay of magic and technology, Nathan is drawn to science fantasy in both his reading and writing. He has been known, however, to wander off into other genres for “funzies.” He is an active blogger, not only on his own site, NathanBarra.com, but also with a group blog called the Fictorians (www.Fictorians.com). Nathan is always up for a good conversation, so please drop him a line through his contact page, or write on his Facebook wall (www.facebook.com/WriterNathanBarra).

Plagiarism: How to Defeat the Digital World Taking Advantage of Authors

What is plagiarism?
According to academic sources, “plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source” (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003). If this is its definition, then anyone who uses another’s material without acknowledging it, is by definition—plagiarizing.

It seems like people are accepting plagiarized material more and more and I find this extremely disturbing as a writer. I felt like it was time to address this as a topic. How do you protect yourself as a writer?

How do you know if someone is plagiarizing?
“Ethical writers make every effort to acknowledge sources fully and appropriately in accordance with the contexts and genres of their writing” (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003). If someone is writing a novel, for example, it makes it hard to decipher what ideas could have been taken from another’s work. For plagiarism to occur, the passages must sound similar or have similar ideas. This “the gray” plays a huge role.

Look Atedited

What Can Plagiarism Look Like?
These are portions of text claimed to be plagiarized by Sam Taylor Mullens (A.K.A. Tiffany Rushton) in the current Nunes-Rushton case. This example is given to show what questionable material may look like.

• Rachel Ann Nunes 1998 – The dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years. They puffed out from her scalp and plunged halfway down her back as if they had lives of their own, helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the double sink reflected from the brown tresses, bringing out the subtle gold highlights.

• Sam Taylor Mullens, 2014 – Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life. They puffed out from my scalp and plunged halfway down my back. They helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the sink reflected the brown tresses.
(Nunes, R. 2015)


Understanding Laws: Copyright
“For a work to be protected by copyright law, it must be “original.” However, the amount of originality required is extremely small. The work cannot be a mere mechanical reproduction of a previous work, nor can the work consists of only a few words or a short phrase. In addition, if the work is a compilation, the compilation must involve some originality beyond mere alphabetic sorting of all available works. Beyond that, almost any work that is created by an author will meet the originality requirement.” (Tysver, D. A. 1997-2015)

Let’s take a look at how three different plagiarism situations affect the publishing market today. This should give all writers an idea of the attitudes of how plagiarism is being dealt with in the business world today. Each of these cases of plagiarism have some interesting attitudes and situations. Culturally we can see how people, in some cases, are surprisingly accepting of plagiarism. This is not a good thing.

The Rachel Ann Nunes vs. Tiffany Rushton Case
Locally the state of Utah has had its fair share of plagiarism cases. In the case of Nunes vs. Rushton, it has been well publicized over the past few months showing how social media has been a huge component to the case.

“A Utah author (Nunes) says a schoolteacher (Rushton) plagiarized her Christian romance novel, added graphic sex scenes and passed it off as her own. In a case she says brings to light plagiarism in the burgeoning world of online self-publishing, Rachel Ann Nunes of Orem filed a federal lawsuit in August against a Layton teacher, Tiffanie Rushton, who she says cut-and-pasted large sections from an electronic copy of her book. Nunes wrote Love to the Highest Bidder in 1998 about two art dealers, one from New York and the other from California, who meet while competing for an Indian Buddha statue and fall in love” (Associated Press, 2014).

James Altucher Admits Plagiarism
In an interview, James Altucher talks about stealing from another author as “a test” which will make him money. For Altucher, he believes in stealing people’s ideas and rewording them overseas to make money can’t be wrong if it’s reworded. These are his words from the podcast where he discussed his plans. Altucher for some reason thinks his plan isn’t plagiarism, yet fully discloses that it is.

“So today something interested me. I decided, just for the fun of it, I’m going to take a very popular book and I’m going to hire somebody on Freelance.Com to take this very popular book, and change every word, but keep the same story. So if the words were, “Jane ran to the store,” I might change that to, “Christine walked quickly to buy her clothes.” So I’m gonna basically, it’s just for fun, I’m gonna see if I can essentially see if I can have someone use a thesaurus to change/rewrite an entire book. So it’s the same book, but just every single word is rewritten. So nobody can say this is plagiarism. And if I load this book to Amazon, what will happen? It’s just an experiment. So I just had the idea to do it today. I found someone in India who extremely cheaply will do it, by Monday. So I’ll have the book finished by Monday.” (Dutson, A. 2015)

Jared Keller and Benny Johnson
For some plagiarism doesn’t end their career. Sadly people still get hired and work as writers in an industry where people are forgiven such as in the careers of Jared Keller and Benny Johnson. In an article for the Huffington Post, these men are “called out” for their sinful ways.

“In further evidence that plagiarism is no longer a career-ender, Jared Keller, the former Mic news director who was fired for plagiarism, has published at least six items in publications like The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Daily Dot, Talking Points Memo reported on Thursday. Keller was fired from Mic last month after allegations of some 20 instances of plagiarism were published by Gawker. Keller’s second life shows just how much things have changed. Far from being run out of town, those accused and even fired for plagiarism are more often finding themselves easily back in a job. Last year Benny Johnson was hired by National Review not long after he was fired from BuzzFeed after more than 40 instances of alleged plagiarism surfaced. Just last month Johnson jumped to IJReview.com. In both Johnson and Keller’s cases, the plagiarism mostly amounted to not properly citing information or full passages lifted from other sources.” (Gold, H. 2015)

It’s evident that all of these situations are related to plagiarism. In some situations people were prosecuted and other times not. The criminals are hoping they won’t be caught, but with more and more people becoming aware, writers and authors are starting to stand up for themselves and their work in this digital scam. Some authors have publishers who help them in plagiarism cases while others do not.


Anyone could commit plagiary. The internet gives people the temptation to make money from others work with a click of a button. Unfortunately, it looks like other writers are beginning to plagiarize other writers in some instances like web content with Keller and Johnson. Authors, even notable ones like James Altucher, are beginning to believe plagiarism is allowed and should be looked at as fun. Well, they are all sadly mistaken. The key is how any author handles the situation of protecting their own work. Let’s take the Rachel Ann Nunes case as an example.

Nunes found help through many sources. Many of these didn’t cost her money and, in fact, helped her fund much of her costs to this point. Let’s break down how she did this.
• Lawyers
• Social Media Web Funding
• Fans
• Other Writers
• Documentation

Nunes hired a group of lawyers at the beginning who were very expensive. With the help of her fans and other writers, Nunes was able to find legal representation with a writer who just so happened also to be a lawyer. This saved her a huge amount of money.

Social Media Web Funding
Without endless supplies of money, Nunes took to social media with her case appealing to fans, other writers, and her community for help. To date, she has had over $12,000 donated to her cause to stop people like Rushton, who believe they will not be caught plagiarizing.

Nunes has a huge support with fans. Online they have stood up to blatant bashing from Rushton and aliases she has assumed or hidden within. Social media bashing has become a huge issue within the Nunes-Rushton case and Nunes has been vigilant in documenting everything she can find on the internet.

Other Writers
Writers have spread the word on the Nunes-Rushton case through blogs and support with money to help Nunes. This has been a huge support. Even New York Times Best Selling author, David Farland has come to the aid for Nunes by rallying people to her aide and even suggesting that writers need an insurance policy to help with situations like these. David says he’s in the works of coming up with ways to protect writers in these situations who need support in lawsuits against plagiarism. (Farland. D, 2015)


One of Nunes’s biggest strengths in her case has been the documentation of criminal behavior that Rushton has been involved in. Anyone who believes that they are being plagiarized needs to document everything they can find online that links this person they believe to be stealing from them to the crime. Not everyone can hire a private detective so this is a great way to show the evidence you have. Screenshots are a great way of doing this to save evidence that could be taken down by the criminal or the website like Amazon or Goodreads.

This diagram below shows an estimate of fees that Nunes has lost due to her plagiarism case—since the case is ongoing, it could cost much more. This is how she explains what it’s like dealing with a plagiarism case. “Every day I was doing something to protect myself, taking screenshots, communicating with attorneys, deleting posts, asking Amazon to take down her reviews, trying to find books to put into fundraising sets, etc. Even when I had a slice of time, working was impossible because of the emotional upheaval. I felt terror every time I turn on my computer for fear of what I would find next.” (Nunes, R. 2015)

Monetary Loses

Lawyer Fees $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$= $25,000 and up
Court Costs $=$300
Time Lost $$$$$$$$$$=$10,000 and up
Book Sales Lost $$$$$$$$$$=$10,000 and up


“In his new book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson (The Psychopath Test) points out that public shaming was a popular punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it usually had a highly personal and physical component—confinement to the stocks or pillory, or even something more creative, like Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter. The punishment had died out with the rise of anonymous urban environments and easy travel, which made it less effective. But this wasn’t the reason for its disappearance, he argues: “They stopped because they were far too brutal.” Ronson makes clear, throughout the book, that he wholeheartedly supports this assessment. Still, it was the recent rise of the Internet and, specifically, social media that allowed for public shaming, of a sort, to become widespread.” (Fallon, C. 2015)

With this wide spread public shaming, Nunes found that her plagiarizer (Rushton) planned revenge through social media as the only way to get even. Social media has allowed public shaming as entertainment for some at the expense of others. In this case for Nunes it actually proved a point and gave her supporters room to defend her. Nobody feels good about getting into social media battles, but as social media becomes more and more popular, people are finding ways to discredit and become deeply slanderous to others and their work.


Nunes has dealt with her plagiarism case in a way other authors can learn from her. Unfortunately, for Nunes the end is not yet in

Nunes has dealt with her plagiarism case in a way other authors can learn from her. Unfortunately, for Nunes the end is not yet in site since the case is ongoing. What we can learn from this report is that more and more people feel that plagiarism is socially becoming acceptable. This is not acceptable to authors and writers who slave away to create their work. We must protect original works from those who scam, steal, and socially berate those who make an honest living with hard work and creativity. Having strong social connections has helped Nunes pay for a case she normally couldn’t afford. With the help of the writing community, Nunes is standing up for all writers in a case to prove to those who plagiarize that they will be prosecuted.

In order for authors to protect themselves against plagiarism, it’s important to have a strong social media presence. This helps fans and other writers know you and understand who you are so when you’re in a situation where someone could be plagiarizing your work, you have people who will stand up and support you. Nunes used her social media connections in her favor to rally others to her cause. You can too if the situation arises. Be aware of costs that cases of plagiarism may cost a writer and be ready to spend hours of your life fighting for your creativity.

Remember to:
1. Have a strong social media presence
2. Build networks with other writers
3. Be ready to fight for your own work

Works Cited

Associated Press. (2014, September 10). Schoolteacher copied Christian romance novel and added raunchy sex scenes: suit. Retrieved from Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/schoolteacher-stole-christian-romance-suit-article-1.1934341

Council of Writing Program Administrators. (2003, January 1). Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Retrieved from Council of Writing Program Administrators: http://wpacouncil.org/positions/WPAplagiarism.pdf

Dutson, A. (2015, March 19). Best Selling Author, James Altucher, Admits Plagiarism. Retrieved from Anthony Dutson’s Paper Petroglyphs: http://avdutson.blogspot.com/2015/03/best-selling-author-james-altucher.html

Fallon, C. (2015, March 25). Jon Ronson Shames Shamers In ‘So You Think You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/25/jon-ronson-wants-us-all-t_n_6935060.html

Farland, D. (2015, February 11). #DailyKick—Update on Rachel Ann Nunes Case. Retrieved from David Farland: http://www.davidfarland.net/writing_tips/?a=474

Gold, H. (2015, March 25). Jared Keller, fired for plagiarism, still writing. Retrieved from Politico: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/03/jared-keller-fired-for-plagiarism-still-writing-204588.html

Nunes, R. A. (2015, March 27). http://www.gofundme.com/StandingAgainstPlagiarism. Retrieved from Rachael Ann Nunes Woman’s Fiction: http://www.ranunes.com/

Tysver, D. A. (1997-2015). Obtaining Copyright Protection. Retrieved from Bitlaw: http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/obtaining.html

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

Find Your Tribe

By Laura D Bastian

I’m brand new in this world.

I’ve been a “writer” officially for just over five years. That’s when I decided that the little writing assignments for a class to renew my teaching license weren’t cutting it for me. A simple five page story turned into a two hundred plus page story. And it was awesome! To write. The finished result was very far from awesome, but the feeling of accomplishment when I completed that rough draft was beyond anything I’d felt before.

So of course after finishing it, I thought it would be a piece of cake to polish it up (read: double check for typos) and then send it out to a couple friends and family members to tell me how wonderful it was, and then look online to find a publishing house to get it ready for the world.

Yeah, I was that naïve.

But you know what. That’s okay. I learned from my own experience it wasn’t a great book. It was okay, had wonderful potential, but was just not ready. Don’t know if any of you have had a similar experience, but I would guess some of you have.

I was lucky enough to be flipping through a newspaper as I was getting ready to start a fire with it and I found an article about a local writers group just getting started up in my town. I set that page aside, started my fire, and then went right to the computer to email the contact given.  Cheri Chesley was starting a chapter of the League of Utah Writers in Tooele Utah. Funny side note, now I’m the chapter president of that same chapter 5 years later.

By finding my “tribe” I have blossomed and changed as a writer. I got involved in the monthly meetings with my chapter where we encouraged and supported one another. I found other writers online and made friends and connections with them. I started a critique group right away, and I learned so much about how unready my writing really was from those critique group members. They pointed out passive voice. Pointed out how I had little or no conflict, how nothing exciting was happening until way past the point any sane reader would have put the story down, how the characters were unlikeable or unrealistic, etc.  With that help, I could fix my story. If you do nothing else as a writer, GET A CRITIQUE GROUP. You have to find other people not your friends or family to look at your story and tell you what’s wrong with it. Some can give you exact reasons why it doesn’t work, some will just say, I was bored here, here, and here. But get someone to read your work.

And take your pride, put it in your pocket, and look at their advice. If it really doesn’t work for you, then don’t take it. However, if you find that more than one or two people are pointing out issues with the same thing, LISTEN to that advice.

In the five years I’ve been involved in the writing world, it has changed. When I first looked at it, Self Publishing was a horrible word to say, let alone think about doing. I wanted to go find an agent that would get me into one of the big publishing houses for that validation. And honestly I was a scaredy cat. I didn’t want to do it. I let my friends around me try it out. And by watching them brave this new world, I’ve learned a lot. They had the guts to go out there and make mistakes, but they learned from them and shared their experiences, then shared it with me and other writers in the world. Now, I have plans to go “indie” on a Young Adult urban fantasy series later this year and have a Young Adult Sci-fi coming out with a small press soon.

Now, I’m not saying either route of publishing is better. That decision is left to you to make, but look at your options. Get involved in discussions about it. There are tons of online writer support groups. Go to conferences, take classes, read books, sign up for newsletters from authors you like who give out advice, try new things, but whatever you do, don’t stay where you are. You will never learn and grow as a writer if you don’t make changes. The rough draft is never good enough. It took five years of reworking that story and writing a handful of other ones as I learned the craft to get that first book from horrible – but with potential, to something that was ready to see the world. It comes out next week.




About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn wrote her first book, about a talking grandfather clock, when she was six – and hasn’t stopped writing since. In fact, she can’t “not write,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She hasn’t missed a day of writing in her journal for the past four years!

As a winner in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, Bonnie produced her latest dystopian novel, "Escaping Safety," and is now working on its sequel. She is also close to completing a fantasy romance series, "The Legends of Elldamorae," whose characters have captured her heart and can’t wait to have their stories revealed.

Bonnie’s mantra is, “I write because I believe every story deserves to be told.”

You can learn more about Bonnie, and read her inspirational blog posts, on Where Legends Begin at http://www.bonniegwyn.blogspot.com/

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.

I Recommend Pleasant

Remember the old Jimmy Stewart movie, Harvey, about the guy whose best friend is a 6 foot imaginary rabbit? Bizarre (and thus awesome) plot, but there is one line in that show that stands out as a priceless bit of wisdom. Someone comments that the guy, whose name is Elwood, used to be so business savvy, and one of the keenest men in town. Then he takes on the imaginary bunny friend and everything changes. When asked about it, Elwood’s reply is the line that impresses me.

“Years ago my mother used to say to me… ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”

As authors, we’re trying to make our place in the world, leave a mark, get heard, seen, and read, even though our nature is to stay in the quiet shadows, curled up with a book or pen.

We’re told that we have to get out of our shell and become awesome marketers. We’re told to get our work professionally shined, wow the world with our brilliance, and then convince the masses to follow us around to gobble everything we produce.

The smart ones are able to pull it off.

I hope they’re enjoying their success, especially since they’ve worked so hard to obtain it. I’m sure they deserve it, and I’m impressed with their achievements. But personally, I’m with Elwood and Harvey on this one. I’ll take pleasant.

I hope my books help people want to be better, to get the most out of life, and love doing what’s right. I hope when people listen to my music, it makes them happy and feel inspired. I hope my stories play the role of the six foot rabbit that makes everyone feel good to be around, and inspire people’s imagination.

My works might not reach millions, but to the few they reach, I hope they make life just a little better.

Of course some will say that without the smart business mindset, you’ll never make it. That’s not reality.

To that I’d respond as Elwood, “Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”

So if you’re struggling between whether to be smart or pleasant, I recommend pleasant.


About Chas Hathaway

Chas is an author, musician, husband, dad, and X-grave digger. He's always enjoyed writing. He started keeping a daily journal when he was 13, and that started a pattern of regular writing that has continued to this day.

His first book, Giraffe Tracks, a memoir of his missionary experiences in South Africa, was published in 2010, and in July 2011, Cedar Fort published his book, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with DATING?!

Chas has been playing piano since 1994, and actively writing New Age piano compositions since 1996. He has long felt that the greatest factor in the influence of a piece of music is the intent of its author. He has also written numerous LDS Hymn arrangements, many of which are available in sheet music, including the favorite hymns, If You Could Hie to Kolob and Come Thou Fount.

So far, Chas has 4 albums out:

Tune My Heart, Released 2012
Anthem of Hope, 2010
The Ancestor, 2009
Dayspring, 2007

While music and writing are his most time-consuming work, he also enjoys gardening, inventing games, and most of all, spending time with his beautiful wife and adorable little kids.

Self-Publishing: Is it For You? Part 6: Creating a Platform

During this ongoing series on self-publishing we have discussed a lot of great topics such as your interior, exterior, and marketing of your book. CHECK OUT PART FIVE BY CLICKING HERE. Today I am going to focus on selling your book. In today’s big internet word, you as an author must have an online presence. This presence is referred to big publishers as your platform. There are lots of places you can choose to have your platform but I want to stress that you don’t want to be everywhere IF you can’t handle bein7g everywhere. Social media groups take a lot of time. Time that you should be spending writing your next book. My tip is to focus on one specific area and make that your main platform. Big publishers expect you to have somewhere in the range of 5,000 followers—and you should expect the same as an indie author. That might seem like a huge number, but it’s obtainable with a little effort and determination.

You might be thinking, “Well, I’ll write the book, publish it, and then get a following.” You could do that, but it will take longer and make it harder to sell your book. So start now! Build a following.

9So what are your social media options? You have Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and your Amazon-author-page. Each of these sites has their own way of doing things and their own kind of people using them. Find out which you like most and start there. Obviously you want to like it or you won’t do it. I am very new to Google+ and LinkedIn, so I don’t use them very often. I like Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter, so I spend most of my time there. That’s okay for me. What you want is what is okay for you. I am going to focus on just a few on my personal favorites and the things you can do to help build your platform and sell your book.

First I want to talk about your online presence. You have to be professional. Swear to it right now! If you are an author of children’s books your readers, which will most likely be parents searching you out, don’t want to see naked pictures of yourself, crude comments, rude behavior, or anything else that will be a turn off. BE PROFESSIONAL! Make yourself interesting. Think of your onlin10e self as someone trying to get a date. You need to be interesting, attractive, smart, funny, and desirable. Make sure you have a profile picture of just you—not your kids, grandkids, toys, pets, house, book, boat—YOU. Have it be an up-close image of your face. It can be black and white or color—it doesn’t matter. Readers want to connect with authors but they want to see your face. I attended a writer’s conference and had a bunch of people coming up to me calling me by name, but I had no idea who they were. They weren’t using their own faces as their profile picture. I or your readers will not recognize you by the cover of your book or a picture of your kitten.

Blogs: These are a great way to find a following if you have a specific niche your readers can tap into. If your book is about cooking and staying healthy, start a blog that focuses on those things. Let your book just be a side attraction to what you can offer. You always want to be sharing informati1on that people find useful and informative. Blogs can take a lot of time. For a blog to be successful you should have at least 3 posts a week, if not more. I have several blogs and so a lot of times I get swamped with work and can’t post on all of them. So I try to create a cache of posts that I can schedule ahead of time.

Where can you start a blog? Blogger.com, WordPress.com, Posterous.com, Xanga.com, Tumbler.com, Weebly.com. All of these sites are easy to use and are absolutely FREE.

Why have a blog? There are two main reasons to have a blog: 1: you have a specific niche or target audience. 2: it is also your website. It is important for your readers to have a place to find you. Place your blog address in the back of your book. You can purchase your web domain and link it to your blog at a very affordable price.

Tip: make your blog your name. If you can’t make it your name, make it something that is connected to you in some way.

Tip: have an email form on your site. You want to be able to collect as many emails as you possibly can from the people who visit. Make it worth their while. Tell them they will get an exclusive short story sent to them if they sign up for your mailer. You can set up an emailing system by visiting mailchimp.com. It’s great and FREE to start. Emailing can be a great way to market your next book without being spam.5

Tip: Set up blog tours. These are great ways to get other bloggers involved and get more visitors to your site. Blog tours connect other blogs by each host posting something and then linking to the other blogs. Set a specific date and pick a theme. Then have one blogger start connecting the next blog in line. Readers will then hop from one blog to the next, reading the great content, and hopefully following the ones they like.

Facebook: I am a fan of Facebook. I always have been. I think it’s a fun way to connect with not only family and friends but coworkers, acquaintances, and a great way to meet new people. This blog your reading now came started from a Facebook group: The Authors’ Think Tank. Now you might be thinking, “Oh, I don’t want all my personal stuff seen by hundreds of people.” Guess what? You don’t have too. You can have your normal Facebook page and then create another page just for you as an author. The nice thing about having an author page is you don’t have to accept any friendships, they all just like you. That way you CAN keep your personal stuff to your family and close friends and the rest to your fans. Facebook is easy to use. Try it out if you’re not on it.

Share everything about you and your work—people want to know this stuff. DO NOT BE NEGATIVE—EVER! Nothi4ng will make your fans run faster than you being negative. We have all seen the whiners of Facebook and have hidden them or stopped following them. If you get the cover for your book, post it. If you get bookmarks, take a picture and post it. You get a totally awesome review, post it. But please, don’t just keep posting “BUY MY BOOK!!” That too will lose your followers. If you have a promotion going on, of course post it. I am not saying to keep quiet about your book, just don’t be an ongoing commercial.

WARNING: stay away from all the games. Yes, I know they look fun, but they are a waste of your valuable writing time.

6Twitter: is much like Facebook except everything you say is limited in 140 characters. Here you can follow whomever you wish. The problem is that people will only follow you if they want to. So how do you get followed? Tweet interesting and informative things. People will re-tweet your message and people will follow you. You can also use hashtags (#). Twitter has a little box down on the left side of the screen that has a list of the trending topics. Let’s say the trending topic is #PB&J’s. You can come up with something clever about PB&J’s and Tweet it using the hashtag in your tweet. Make sense? Twitter takes a long time to collect followers. But the more you keep at it, the better you’ll become.

I could go on and on about the different ways to use social media to sell your book. The bottom line is that before you can actually sell your book to anyone online you must first develop a good platform. You need to have an online presence and you need to tell people where to find you. You need to be professional and desirable. But you need to start TODAY! I hope you have found this helpful. Happy Writing! I hope to continue giving tips on this subject in the future including tips on eBook publishing. So check back and keep asking me questions.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Self-Publishing: Is it for you? Part 5: Marketing

BrandThis is an ongoing series of self-publishing tips. Click here to view part four.

We have discussed quite a bit in this series on self-publishing including publishing platforms, finding a freelance editor, making a killer cover, and getting that interior to shine. We have discussed that self-publishing is not something to jump into without some thought. It’s hard work! You can’t just upload a book, hit publish, and expect to be an overnight success—it takes lots of time and lots of effort. But if you have the determination and the drive, you can be successful. One of the key ingredients to making your book a bestseller is marketing.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh no, he brought up the ‘M-word’. I’m a writer not a salesman!” I am going to say this only one, but I want you to lock it into your brain, “Writing is a business—not a hobby, not a fun thing to do on the weekends—it’s a business!” I am about to put to rest the misconception that traditional authors don’t have to worry about marketing—the fact is: they do. Even the big publishers expect authors to have a platform (an audience and following to sell to). Sure the traditional publishers will give their authors backing for a short time, but the majority of the marketing is left to the author to get their voice out there for people to hear.

So what is marketing? It is the process of promoting the value of your book to readers to get them to buy it. It’s all about getting your book into the hands of readers. I will share a few things you can do to help market your book. Do not limit yourself to these ideas only, with an ever changing world, our marketing tactics should change too. Be ever open to new ideas and ways to get your book into the hands of readers.

Step 1images: Have a marketing plan. Don’t go into without thought. Traditional publishers take a good six months prior to the book’s release to get people excited about it—remember you’re competing with them. Plan ahead. You’ll need time to get reviews, blogs, tours, interviews, and publicity set up. You can’t have it all come together in just a couple days—well you could, but you’d probably fail and then quit—and we don’t want that!

Step 2: List your options. There are tons of things you can do to get your book noticed. Make sure you list them all out. Make a list of the things you feel you can do and afford to do, and dream to do (normally the things I can’t afford). Basically this is just prioritizing your goals. Need marketing ideas? Here is an example of my lists:

Can do and afford to do:

15 day blog tour, book giveaways, book bombs, author interviews, 10-20 reviews posted before the release date, create a reader email list (mailchimp.com), setup a Blog or website, setup an Amazon-Author-Page, start a platform (get a Facebook page, setup Twitter account, start a Pinterest board), create a cover reveal, order bookmarks, set up a book launch.

Dream list, If Only I had the $:

Book trailer, postcards, create ads online and in local papers, ads in areas that focus on your target market, TV and radio ads, snail mail mailers, and reviews by large reviewing sites (Kirkus and NY Times).

For my last book release I actually invested in some of the things on my ‘dream list’. I purchased postcards and used them as invitations to the book launch. It worked great. You can also use postcards to send to local bookstores and libraries, make sure to include your book’s ISBN number on them. I also upped the efforts on some of my ‘can do’ list like doing 30 days of blog touring instead of just 15. The point is you see what you can do and what you can afford, and then focus your efforts on it. Just because I didn’t do a book trailer doesn’t mean I won’t. There is a huge audience on YouTube.com that can be potential readers—the question is whether you want to focus your efforts there or not?

Step 3: Write another book! The best marketing you can do for yourself isbook-marketing to get another book out there. The more books you have the better you will do in becoming a successful indie-author. Once you have multiple books you can play with pricing to market your books (a post for another day). But think about it. You go into a store and they are sampling a delicious cheesy pizza. You have but a taste and you want more. So you buy the pizza. Then you discover the same company also sales calzones and pasta, so then you buy those. It’s the same with your books. If you give your readers a well-crafted story that has been edited, formatted, displayed with an excellent cover—they will want more! You give them more and they will buy it.

Step 4: Go back to step 1 and start over. Yes, you’ll have to market every book you write. It doesn’t stop with book 1. You are in it for the long haul now. But guess what? Keep doing what you are doing and you’ll be living your dream: working as a full-time author.

This was just a taste on the things you can do in marketing your book. I plan on going into detail on each area of marketing but that will happen another day. Check back soon and until then, happy writing! CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART SIX.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Self Publishing: Is it for you? Part 3: Covers

This is an ongoing series of tips and advice on self publishing and whether or not its for you. Check out part two by clicking here.

Welcome back to the self publishing series. Last time we discussed using a freelance editor to beautify your writing. Today we are going to discuss covers. Everyone judges a book by its cover…everyone! The most important thing you can do for your book, after having a wonderful inside, is to have a screaming outside. Your book not only has to stand out from the 2 million+ other books out there, but it has to look good as a thumbnail. The best investment you can make is on a cover designer.

Now you are probably thinking, “Hey I got Photoshop two years ago for Christmas. Can’t I just grab a picture online and slap my title on it?” Well, you could if you wanted. There are plenty of places that sell stock photos you can use if you pay for the rights to use them. DO NOT just go on Google and pull a picture. That is violating copyright and just as you do not want someone to steal your text to make money, artists and photographers don’t want you to steal their images for your profit. These are some of the stock photo sites that I use as a freelance illustrator/cover designer: istockphoto.com, dreamstime.com, shutterstock.com, and fotosearch.com. I am not personally endorsing any of these sites; and some are more pricier than others. Make sure you read the fine details of the image when you purchase it. Also if you have Photoshop there is no reason to pay for the highest resolution image. Never get above 300 dpi because you won’t even upload it to Createspace or LightingSource higher than that. I always get the medium option and bump up the resolution in Photoshop later.

Sound like too much work to do it yourself? Good! I say good, because too many authors think they are cover designers and they are not. That’s okay if you are a darn good writer and suck the biscuit at covers. I will admit to the world right now that I am still learning to do even a good job on adult covers. Now picture books, sure I have those nailed because I specialize in children’s art. Anything else and I will try my best—but maybe my best is not what is going to sell your book. So PLAN ON a cover designer! It’s one less thing you have to do. And let’s admit it you probably wouldn’t do as great a job as someone else—be honest…

Let’s talk price right now because I know you have your “inner-banker” screaming in your head you can’t fork over a couple grand on your cover.  Don’t worry Mr. or Ms. Tightwad, they will not break your bank. There are awesome cover designers that charge way below what they should and far too many bad ones charging too much.  Look to spend between $80-$50RedDresses-300x1460. Make sure when you are looking into a cover designer that they are credible and have great endorsements. Ask your author groups. See who has used who. Also make sure the price they quote you is for the eBook cover, print version, or both. Some charge more for the print because they are then doing a full-wrap. Most charge about half if it’s just the eBook cover. For example. I charge between $150-$300 to do my full-wrFlirtingWithBoysHaileyAbbott-99x150ap covers for print. The majority of my covers are all hand drawn, illustrated art, that you will never ever see on someone else’s cover. Make sure your cover designer is giving you exclusive images. You don’t SecretLifeof-PrinceCharmingDebCaletti-99x150want this to happen with your book. Look at these covers. Notice how each cover is a different book with the same exact image. Unless the cover with the same image as yours is selling like crazy you want an original cover.

These are a few cover designers you might want to look into. I do not personally vouch for them but I do know them and they do a pretty fantastic job. http://jamesecurwen.blogspot.com/p/book-covers.html, http://novakillustration.com/, http://walkingstickbooks.com/, and of course myself http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/freelance-illustrator/. Check out their book covers they have available in their galleries. Ask around to see what feedback others have to say about them. Remember that some of these guys have been around longer than others and they might have a much bigger gallery—this doesn’t mean the ones with only a few covers under their belt are bad (they just need more opportunities to shine). Always get in writing how long they are going to take and the estimated cost of your cover. Ask them if they charge for changes and if you have rights to the cover after all said and paid. See if they have sales. I know James Curwen occasionally has a pre-cover sale. He has a gallery of available pre-done covers that he sales for $50! WOW!

Once you decide whether you are going to get a cover designer or not, research the popular books in your genre. Make sure you are looking at TODAY’S best sellers and not the ones from years ago. The themes and styles of covers change all the time and you don’t want you book to disappear when placed amongst the others selling. Another thing to consider is whether your book is going to be a part of series or a stand alone. All the books in your series should complement each other in some way. The fonts should be the same and the colors should complement each other.

Remember that evePollryone judges a book by its cover and you should too. It is the one thing you have to attract readers to your book. Let me give an example about what not to do. When I was ready to release my book THE DREAM KEEPER I thought I had created the perfect cover. When I got the proof copy I was utterly disappointed and set to creating a new one. You’d think with being an illustrator it would be easy. I came up with another cover, more colorful and child-friendlycase5.500x8.500.indd. I posted the cover on Facebook and just waited to hear the wonderful remarks on how awesome it was. That never happened. Instead I got an email from a very brave and honest colleague who shared that he thought I should rethink my cover.  I took his advice and came up with another one. This time I played it smarter and did a cover contest. I wanted to see what age group I was trying to market my book toward. What was interesting was the second cover, the brighter more kid-friendly cover, was picked by kids under the age of 9. My new cover was selected by ages 10-15 (my target audience). I found my cover! I am so glad someone pointed out my mistake before it actually went to print. Fortunately as an indie we can change our covers anytime, but I believe in always making a great first impression, FIRST.

Check back next week for more information on self publishing and whether or not this long road to publishing is for you. The key is to never give up on your dream whether you want to be self or traditionally published. Both ways are tough as nails, but rewarding as a dream come true. Happy Writing! CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART FOUR.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Self Publishing: Is it for You?

This is going to be a series of Self Publishing Tips and Resources

So you’ve finished a book and you want to publish it. In today’s fasted paced market you can upload your book’s files and in the matter of days get it into the hands of your readers. It can take months of submitting queries to agents and editors and then once your book gets under contract it can then take anywhere from 12-18 months before you even see your book on a shelf. Compare days to years and self publishing becomes a better option—but is it for you?

There are many benefits that come with self publishing. The first is that, unlike traditional publishers, you have the ultimate say in how your book will appear. You take on the role of not just the author, but the cover designer, editor, proofer reader, marketer, distributor, and publicist. Of course you can outsource all these roles for your book, there are many talented cover designers and editors willing to help self published authors; just because you are doing it on your own doesn’t mean you have to be on your own. Knowing that you are in charge is very important in self publishing. There isn’t anyone who is going to take control and sell your book for you—that’s your job.

Okay, so you feel fine with taking on all the responsibilities with your book, now what? Now it’s time for you to choose which publishing format you want to go with. The two major publishing platforms are CreateSpace.com (an Amazon owned company) and LightningSource.com (an Ingram affiliated company). There are other places you can go to publish your book via ebook such as Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple iBooks, and Nook, but I will mostly be discussing CreateSpace.com and LightningSource.com.

CreateSpace.com https://www.createspace.com/ offers many services for wlogo-csp-no-tmriters including interior formatting, cover design, and distribution, but make sure your read the fine print before agreeing to anything because all their services cost money. Most of the formatting and other things your need for your book you can do on your own for free or outsource to freelancers. Make sure you look through their FREE tutorials and templates they provide to help you create your files for upload. I have personally found Createspace.com very fast and very affordable for indie authors. Their customer service is also top notch. They are extremely helpful when you have questions and very upfront with the costs of printing. They also have a strong connection with Amazon which is a great place for your book to be. They offer FREE ISBN numbers, but make sure you check into them before going with that option, they are limited and are owned by CreateSpace.com so you cannot use them anywhere except for CreateSpace.com. You can purchase your own ISBN number through Broker click here for purchasing options: http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp. CreateSpace.com also offers an expanded distribution option for $25 that gets your book placed onto BarnesandNoble.com and other online retailers, however, I have not seen much success with their expanded distribution and it also makes your book available in Amazon’s online markets (meaning the day you publish your book a discounted ‘used’ book can become available from one of these retailers and you don’t get any royalty from used book sales). CreateSpace.com also makes it easy to transfer your metadata and book information to Kindle and that option becomes available once you have uploaded and proofed your book. Another thing you should be aware of is that CreateSpace.com only offers paperback books. You can have your book converted and made into a hardback book through their server (an additional cost of $99) but your hardback book will not be made available on Amazon.com or CreateSpace.com but YOU can order them directly through CreateSpace.com and distribute them however you feel. They also do a great job with picture books; however, the quality of paper isn’t as amazing as it could be. Once your book is uploaded you can either view your proof electronically via their online previewer, download it as a PDF, or order a proof copy at a very reasonable price (normally $4.50+). Once you review the proof, set the price, double check everything, click accept proof and BAM! your book is published and available to purchase directly from LightningSource.com and on Amazon.com within 12 hours. Isn’t that better than waiting 1-2 years?

LightningSource.com https://www1.lightningsource.com/ is another great option for indie authors. Like CreateSpace.com they offer guided publishing at a cost. Where Cls_logoreateSpace.com is super fast, LightningSource.com is a little slower and you will have more fees involved. You first have to set up an account with them as a publisher. Once you have filed for an account it takes a few days for the account to be set up. They you have to send in all your tax information (all this is done electronically on CreateSpace.com). Once your account is opened you can then begin your process. LightningSource.com assigns an agent that will help you handle all of your materials and they have live customer service if you have any questions. You will need an ISBN number LightningSource.com does not provide one for you. You will also be charged a fee for uploading both your interior file and your cover file. Both upload costs are $35 each. You have an option to add distributing thingram-logorough Ingram for the cost of $60. This gets your book added to the catalogue that all major bookstores use to order books. One thing LightningSource.com offers that CreateSpace.com doesn’t is that you can have either a paperback or hardback cover. If you are interested in picture books they also have a premium paper option which is much better quality than CreateSpace.com. You set up your pricing much like CreateSpace.com but at LightningSource.com you have the option of setting the discount that retailers can place on your book. You can also opt for the guaranteed returns (meaning if the bookstores stock your book they can return them to you guaranteeing they are not out any money, which gets them to actually place your book in their store). However I have not had experience with this option. I’m not sure how it works best for the author/publisher if a bookstore orders 20 copies and only sales 2 and you get stuck with their bill. When I have more information on the returns option I will let you know. If you are planning on requesting a proof copy of your book make sure you’re comfortable paying $30 for a copy. This price is not negotiable and is mostly covered in the overnight delivery. If you prefer you can download the PDF proof and review it that way, but I strongly recommend always getting a physical copy. It wasn’t until I received my proof copy of my book that I decided I hated the cover. Some things look better on a computer screen than they do in print. Once you approve your proof you can then set a date for publication. Know upfront that you have many more options with the way your book will look but also remember you are going to have a lot more fees before you even get to see your book. Any changes you want to make after your initial upload will cost you another $40. The books however are better quality and very professional.

So there are a few of the ins and outs of self-publishing. I plan on sharing more information on how to get freelance editors, illustrators, cover designers, formatters, and other self publishing tips on marketing so check back. Never go into self-publishing lightly. It is a lot of hard work—I’m not kidding here folks. You will never have worked so hard. It’s easy to get your book out there, it’s harder to get it noticed and then get that book to sell. As you have seen you can spend a lot of money upfront and you will be out money if you can’t get readers to purchase your book. My best advice is to have passion for your work. Next make sure you have an amazing book. Get it edited and then have it proofed by several people who will give honest feedback. Start building your platform now, work on setting up your network and website (yes, you do need a website), and plan on working your tail off. Self-publishing isn’t for everyone, at times I don’t think it’s for me, I’d rather have a publisher helping me out with all this, but there are rewards in self publishing too. You get all the royalty off books, you have the freedoms traditional houses don’t offer, and you have the power to control what you write.

I hope you have found this helpful and happy writing! CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.