Getting Global with your Book

Self Publishing is a tremendous boon to the general writing public. From printing and binding a family history, to crafting a lavish work of fiction, to a manual or text book companion to your work or teaching career–print on demand and self-publishing have opened up a new world of possibilities.

Lulu employees, at book fairs and conferences, over the phone with our customers, and even just talking with our friends, are greeted roundly with astonishment when we reveal that anyone can not only publish for free, but can also put their book online for sale for free as well. You could publish a book today, and in less than two months time that book would be available for sale on retail sites around the world.

“Really? Free?”

You would not believe how many times I’ve heard those two words. They’re most often followed by ‘What’s the catch?’ or something similar.

There is no catch. Lulu publishing is completely free. And accessing our distribution network is completely free.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

I’m not going to lie to you; it is a bit more complicated than it sounds. It’s still free! But you will have to comply with distribution requirements, format your files to specification, and take the reins for editing and designing your book. This is self-publishing after all.

If you’re ready to take on the challenge and want to get your book out there to the world, Lulu’s GlobalReach distribution service is the perfect tool for you. Free listing on major book retail sites, free publishing tools, a free ISBN. And you’ll be able to take advantage of Lulu’s high quality print on demand network to earn the best returns in the industry.

 

Keywords: Get your Self-Published Book noticed

Marketing your book is tricky business. Here at Lulu, we appreciate that many of our authors are not marketing experts, but still would like to amplify their sales. The Internet makes it easy to list your book and for readers to perform searches among the many books out there. The trick for authors is to make their book stand out from all the noise, to distinguish itself so that readers can find your book when they search.

How do potential readers find content?

Almost all content online is found through searches. Authors must align their book with the common search terms a reader might use. To do this, you’ll need to use ‘Keywords.’

Keywords are search terms users will type into a search engine (like Google) to find something. A reader might want a book about healthy eating for women over forty, so they would search something like:

“books, healthy diet, women over forty”

The resulting search will be thousands of books that have utilized these keywords.

Now you’ll have to decide which keywords to use for your book. This can be a challenge, but we can recommend a three part strategy to help narrow down the keyword options. First, sit down and write out as many words as you can think of associated with your book. At this stage, anything that comes to mind if fine.

With this list completed, the second step will be going on some retail sites and book review sites (like Goodreads) and search reviews for books similar to yours. Look at the words readers are using to describe these books and make a list.

In the third step, ask your beta readers (or if your book is already published, any reader) for their list of words they would use to describe your book, and/or any terms they might have searched if they were in the market for a book similar to yours.

Any words that fall on all of these lists will of course be good to use. Create a refined list with all the words that span the three lists, as well as any other words you think might be highly valued for your readers. This last part will take a bit of guess work and intuition on your part. It’s not an exact science, but aim for quantity over quality.

With your keyword list in hand, what you’ll want to do is integrate the keywords into your blurb/synopsis. Readers will perform searches, and because your keywords were thoughtfully chosen and added to you book description, they’ll find your listing coming up in the search results, ultimately leading to a sale. Apart from using the right keywords to draw in readers, you’ll also need to craft a compelling blurb. Weave in the keywords as they make sense, and if need be write new material to incorporate keywords you deem too valuable to exclude. Check out this post for some advice on synopsis writing for self-published authors – Writing your blurb/synopsis

Conscientious and careful application of keywords can do wonders to boost the discoverability of your book. Help your readers, grow your sales, and enjoy the success a little bit of market research and keyword application can bring!

 

Book Publishing: The Economics of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is a demanding project to take on. As a writer, you’ve already labored over the words and phrases of your book, researched and studied the ins and outs of writing effectively, developed plots and characters…you’ve done a lot of work! Now to get the manuscript published, you’ve got to take on even more roles, notably laying out the book, designing a cover, ensuring the content is error free, actually publishing, establishing an ISBN, claiming a copyright, distributing…AND THEN you’re just at the beginning of the sales portion of your self-publishing journey.

Once the book is finally done and published, you’re new task is pushing your book, establishing contacts, leads, engaging readers through book signings, and selling both online and by hand. Publishing itself may seem easy at this point. Profitably publishing, now that is a challenge.

You might stop at this point and think “why bother?” Why go the self-publishing route? Why take the time, energy, and money to do all the work yourself (or hire designers/editors to assist you) when you could pitch the book to traditional publishers, hand the book over to them, claim a nice advance, and sit back while they do the heavy lifting?

There’s one really good reason to go the self-publishing route. And what better way to convey that reason than an infographic!

That’s a lot of information, I know. Let’s break down two of the most important points:

1) Revenue – Self-Published authors earn 80% of their revenue for each sale with Lulu. In the above example, selling 3,000 copies resulted in four times the revenue earned! Earning power and potential is one of two differences that will lure a writer to self-publish (the other being editorial control). When you sell your work, you want it to truly me your work and you want to earn what you deserve. We agree, and by putting the author in the driver’s seat, we can direct substantially more revenue to the author.

2) Sales by Publisher – This is interesting enough to be worth looking again at the specific segment of the inforgraphic. Look at those Yellow portions. That’s the piece of the book selling market (ebook and print) including just Indie and Single Author publishing. 41% of ebooks, and 27% of Amazon print bestsellers. Think on that a moment. An idea (self-publishing) that is only fifteen years old has already taken over more than a quarter of the biggest bookseller in the world. And that doesn’t even include small and medium sized publishers.

 

Traditional publishing is out there. And if you can get your book picked up by a publisher, it might be right for you. But if you’re looking to make the most from each sale, to retain control over your work, and to have the freedom to publish just the way you want, Lulu is the only real option. The book is yours! You wrote it, so you should see the profits.

If you need some more information to get started publishing, check out the Lulu Toolkit!

Selling Your Book – Synopsis

https://www.authors.me/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Synopsis-blog-pic.png

Synopsis – a brief summary or general survey of something.

Might seem like a simple thing. You wrote an entire book! Now all you have to do is write summary of said book.  Should be no problem, right?

Well, not exactly.

You see, the synopsis is more than just a general summary or description of the book. It’s also a pitch for the book. Be aware too, that in the world of traditional publishing, the synopsis is a bit different than for self-publishing. When you’re pushing your manuscript out to traditional publishers or agents, they will likely ask for a synopsis following a specific format, with a specific word count to summarize your book. In self-publishing, you’ll be using the synopsis in a different way; primarily as a guide for the description and back cover text, or as that text itself.

Think of your synopsis in the same way you think about your cover. Its the first piece of text your potential reader is likely to read. This is (after looking over the cover) the hook that will make your potential reader either buy this book, or keep browsing.

The element that is unchanged is the purpose: your synopsis is meant to sell your book.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a high quality cover, and we’ll talk more about that in a future post (and we have talked about it in past posts as well).  Today is just synopsis.

Accepting that the synopsis is a critical piece of marketing material for your book, how should you go about writing one that will hook readers, convey the message of your book, and only take up 400-500 words (about one printed page) of text?

Here’s a quick list to help you get the most out of your synopsis:

  1. Set up the premise, define the plot, and introduce your protagonist. This may not be as critical for a work of non-fiction, but for the fiction author, you’ll need to clearly define for your would-be reader the plot and the hero. Now, this does not mean telling us every precise detail about the story, nor does it mean painting an elaborate picture with words so we can visualize the main character. Brevity needs to be balanced with concision. Tell your reader enough to spark their interest, to make them curious enough to read more.
    For non-fiction, this is most often expressed in terms of the premise. You may not have a character (though if you do, be sure to let your reader know about them), so you’ll focus instead on the purpose of the book. Is this a field guide to bird watching? Why is it more relevant or useful than other, similar works? Or what specific elements does it add that other books do not?
  2. Clear, concise language. It is critical that your synopsis be free of any spelling errors. A spelling error or grammar mistake in the body of the book can be accepted. A reader expects a mistake here and there. But not in the synopsis. This piece of text is how your reader will decide to pay money for your book, so you need to put your absolutely best foot forward. You want your reader to quickly see that your book is worth read, and to regard you as the professional you are.
  3. Keep it focused! Your synopsis is going to be short. When writing for an agent or publisher, you can get away with 800 words, possibly even more. But self-publishing is a fast paced world, and you need to get the maximum impact with the minimum number of words. Hook your reader with the key elements of the plot, weave in introductions to your main characters, give us a hint or two about the conflicts, and do it all with a sense of urgency.
    The same advice applies to non-fiction works. Outline the premise or argument you’ll be making, give us enough details to make the reader want to know more, and be absolutely sure you give us a good reason to read your book over another that may address the same concerns or issues.
  4. Perspective. The general consensus is that the synopsis should be written in an active voice. Use present tense and third person point of view, even if the novel utilizes first person. Remember that the synopsis is a tool for drawing in readers. While the story might hinge on the inner workings of your protagonist, the synopsis is a detached overview of sorts, and will function most provocatively when the reader is at a remove.

Lastly, realize that there is no definitely correct formula for writing a synopsis (or anything for that matter!). The above points may help create a synopsis in line with the general market. Use this advice to help create a marketable blurb, to entice and excite your readers!

 

Literary Dads

Father’s Day is right around the corner. And in celebration of this national day honoring dad, let’s look at a few historic literary fathers and the important roles they play in defining ‘dad’ for all of us.

Atticus Finch

In American literature, its almost impossible to talk about fathers without acknowledging Atticus, the father in Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. In a novel centered on the roles society imposes on individuals, Atticus teaches his children to be themselves, and to recognize the importance of making their own choices. Atticus Finch has been a quintessential role model in American literature since the first printing, and his character remains an everlasting example of the ideals a father can strive for.

Arthur Weasley

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series has no lack of interesting and exciting characters. Arthur Weasley, the father of the Weasley brood, is perhaps not the most memorable of the bunch. Still, he presents a soft spoken but wise, heroic if not boisterous, and completely unflappable father figure. During the lighter moments, Arthur is a fun loving and jovial man, and when things get serious, he sets an example for his children (and Harry of course) to be strong in their convictions and willing to stand up for what they perceive as right.

Bob Cratchit

Bob Cratchit does not have an easy life. As the long suffering clerk for Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Bob endures his bosses scorn and mood swings with endless optimism. His attitude, always positive, always looking for a bright side, keeps him from succumbing to Scrooge’s misanthropy. And, as we all know, the tale ends with Scrooge realizing the error of his ways, vindicating Bob’s outlook. As an example for his family, Bob Cratchit represents the idealist, the father who unceasingly encourages and promotes. His kindly attitude leads to an incredible bond with his children, in particular Tiny Tim, and demonstrates how a father can be a positive influence despite circumstances.

Mr. Bennet

The father of five daughter’s in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennet endures his challenging wife with a reclusive and somewhat distant attitude. But what sets him apart is his love and affection for his daughters. Most notably, putting circumstantial needs and desires behind their happiness. He never allows his own wants to come before theirs, and he continually guides and encourages his daughters to strive for what they want in life. Mr. Bennet is both protector and cheerleader for his children.

Calvin’s Dad

The father from the the popular Calvin and Hobbes comic strip penned by Bill Watterson, Calvin’s Dad is the epitome of patience. This father figure provides some sarcastic humor in his interactions with his son, but on the whole he endures Calvin’s antics and imagination by both encouraging his son and giving him the room he needs to explore for himself. Calvin’s Dad is never phased by Calvin’s many questions or sometimes incredible adventures. Despite numerous moments when patience can be seen to stretch thin, Calvin’s Dad remains a perfect example of how a father can support and encourage their children despite the many challenges parenting presents.

All of these fathers serve as examples, as role models for their children and other characters in their stories. Father’s day is an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the role fathers play in shaping us, and providing lessons by which we can grow. This father’s day, take a minute to thank all the dads (both real and fictional) for being a part of your story.

 

Common Grammar Mistakes

We all make mistakes. That’s what first drafts are for (and second…and third).

Being a self-published author, you might not have the desire or the resources to hire a professional editor or proofreader, so you’ll have to comb through the file yourself with an eye for grammar, spelling, and usage mistakes. Believe me, you should NOT be the only one looking over the file for these kinds of things. But in the end, the responsibility to ensure your book looks clean and professional falls on you.

Here’s a few grammar mistakes that get made often, particularly in early drafts, and are important to  keep an eye out for while reviewing your drafts:

1) Subject / Verb agreement

This one is usually pretty obvious, as the difference will stand out when you read the sentence. If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and likewise, if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

Example:

Incorrect: Proofreading have been the most difficult part of editing.

Correct: Proofreading has been the most difficult part of editing.

2) Commas

We’ll cover two common problems that arise from comma use: the dreaded Oxford comma, and missing commas.

The Oxford is subject to much debate. It is the last comma found in lists, series, and compilations (see the comma after ‘series’ in this sentence? Oxford comma). In general, it is acceptable to use it or not use it as you see fit stylistically, with the exception being any instance when the meaning of the sentence is questionable without it.

Example:

With Oxford Comma: Our book is about music, dance, and culture in the 1980s.

Without Oxford Comma: Our book is about music, dance and culture in the 1980s

The Oxford comma is only critical in a sentence that needs it to make sense:

For breakfast I had eggs, toast, and orange juice – this sentence is a list of what I had for breakfast.

For breakfast I had eggs, toast and orange juice – the meaning may still be clear enough, but this is me telling toast and orange juice that I had eggs for breakfast.

Missing commas are much clearer, and are another little bit of formatting easy to miss in an early draft. Most often it is added after an introductory phrase, to break the rhythm of the sentence, and clue the reader in to the meaning, so confusion is avoided.

Example:

Incorrect: In case you didn’t notice I covered that in chapter three.

Correct: In case you didn’t notice, I covered that in chapter three.

3) Pronoun Reference

Pronoun is defined as: “a word that can function by itself as a noun phrase and that refers either to the participants in the discourse (e.g., I, you ) or to someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse (e.g., she, it, this ).” Because of its use to replace a noun, it is critical that the pronoun reference be clear, lest the sentence cause confusion for the reader.

Example:

Incorrect: When Fred read Jim’s assessment of the draft, he didn’t like it.

Correct: Fred didn’t like Jim’s assessment of the draft.

4) Split Infinitives

Split Infinitives refer to any phrase or sentence with “to” and the associated verb separated by another word. This will usually be an adverb. In general, there is no rule against split infinitives, but it is smart to try rewriting the sentence without the extra word (or with the extra word relocated) to see which reads better. Often times a split infinitive can break a reader’s cadence or throw them off when reading.

Example:

Split Infinitive: I’ve got to quickly read this book.

Non-Split Infinitive: I’ve got to read this book quickly.

5) Correct Words/Forms

English is a tricky language sometimes. There are numerous words that sound the same, but have different spelling and meaning. Be careful to look at these closely to be sure the correct word and form are used in all instances.

Example:

Incorrect: There taking they’re book over their!

Correct: They’re taking their book over there!

Don’t let these and other grammar pitfalls hurt your marketing plans! A clean, correct manuscript is critical to keep readers invested in your book. Readers will forgive a mistake or two, but if your book is riddled with problems that can be caught and corrected in the proofreading process, they may not be willing to buy another of your books.

 

 

 

Independent Authorship for the Senior Citizen

Individuals over 60 years old have a great deal of experience to impart on others, but sometimes they do not have their “visions” shared because of the complexity writing and publishing their stories.  In most instances, the senior has access to word processing software, and the ability to use the software, but after writing their story has to wait for printers or traditional publishers to review and approve their stories.

Chris (center) with Senior Center directors

 

This is where I come in. I’m an independent author with Lulu for almost 20 years (yep, he has been with Lulu almost from the very beginning!), and I teach at local senior centers in Baltimore Maryland about self-publishing and how to format and publish a person’s works so that they may share with others their knowledge and experience.  The course, entitled “Self-Publishing 101 for Independent Authors,” is taught with help from a study guide that I wrote and published on Lulu!  Using this study guide, along with the many different types of books (children’s, fiction, non-fiction, and education) I also published over the years, I aim to make the publishing process simple and clear.

My first class was given at Parkville Senior Center near Baltimore and had several individuals that wanted to learn more about self-publishing.  The students actually had products in electronic form that they wanted published and Chris accommodated them through a step-by-step approach.  As a result, most students have published works with Lulu.  A sad chapter in this story is that one of the students completed his book, and has it published on Lulu and shortly after publishing his work passed away.  His book of poems is available for sale on Lulu, which has been a great consolation for his relatives, who know that he left something for his future generations.

The gift of knowledge and experience is something that is priceless, and knowing that these individuals in the class have the ability to author a book that focuses on something they want to share is also priceless.  The fact that Lulu provides a platform for these individuals to express themselves makes them feel useful.  This, according to author Elie Wiesel, in his book “Night,” is something that can make the difference between life and death.

With Lulu as part of that platform, I’ve been able to make a great impact on the future independent authors; young heart, old smart.


With a combined 35 years of experience as a military officer, federal civilian and private industry combined, along with periodic teaching at the secondary and undergraduate levels, Chris has the perfect combination for writing everything from fiction to children’s books. Take a look at the many different offerings and see if one of these many titles fits your needs. You can contact Chris at chris@grectech.com if you have any questions or special requests.

 

Check out Chris’s Author Spotlight