Articles tagged "author"

Advice from a Wise Guy

Photo credit: @abennett96 on Flickr

Guy Kawasaki, one of the most prominent venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, as well as one of the original marketers of Apple, has struck out on his own and self-published a book (which fittingly enough, is about self-publishing). APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur explores the pitfalls and successes of self-publishing from the vantage of a Guy (sorry) who knows a thing or two about success in the digital age.

He’s recently compiled a list of “do’s and dont’s” for independent publishers, which can be quite helpful to consider when you’re embarking on your next big independent publishing project. All of them are particularly smart things to keep in mind, and are questions that one should definitely revisit each time you publish a book.

His bottom line, however, is that when it comes to publishing independently, nothing is set in stone. So with that in mind, here are a couple of additional pieces of advice to consider, especially for keeping yourself in a good state of mind when entering the wonderful world of independent publishing.

1) Let it work for you. You will need to make a decision on how much effort and time you devote to the project. If you would like to make a living off of independent publishing (which is still very hard to achieve), then you will need to give it your all. If you are only able to give half of your attention, then recognize that the results might not be as great as you expected. Keep your expectations in line with your effort.

2) There is no magic formula. Some books take off, others languish. Some of your success will depend on conditions out of your hands. So, even giving it your all might not be enough. Recognizing that we have yet to crack the magic formula of independent publishing is huge.

3) Write because you love it. Kawasaki touches on this a little bit, but I really want to stress that this is the most important part of writing. Love the act, even if it hurts sometimes. Remember that this is your passion, as well as a possible way to make some money. Here, I offer a great quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke on how you now if you’re called to be a writer:

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

4) Be your worst critic/best champion. Be hard on yourself — push yourself to get your book into shape, polished, and something that you really want the world to see. But once you do it, then make sure you are your best champion. You need to believe in your book before anyone else will.

As independent publishing continues to expand, the litany of advice will continue as well. What are your best inspirational tips? What has helped you avoid mistakes? What was the best advice about independent publishing that you ever received? Let us know.

Author Interview: Troy M. Cusson

What are your books about & what message are you trying to share through your children’s books?
Dawn The Deer & Dawn The Deer Enjoys The Fall are glimpses into what a quiet, peaceful little doe experiences in her day in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate NY. Colors, creatures, sights, sounds and smells are all around her, and she stops to enjoy them all. If I could convey any message with my children’s books it would be to do as our friend Dawn does: to stop, if only for a moment, and enjoy your day. Take in all the wonderful things around you. The way the sky looks at the moment the sun hits the horizon during a sunset, the way wet leaves smell on a wooded trail in October, the crunch of fresh fallen snow under your feet in the winter. There is so much to enjoy in every new day.

What inspired you to write?
I guess you could say it was Dawn herself. Everyday my family and I would see her out and about in our neighborhood and on one particularly beautiful July morning, while enjoying a cup of coffee on my porch with my wife, I said,”Ya know, that deer is around so much we should probably name her.” My wife then said, “I’ve been calling her Dawn as I always see her around in the morning.” I said, “Dawn The Deer, that sounds like a perfect name for a children’s book!” After a few more minutes of watching her it hit me, . . . I could write a children’s book about all of the things that Dawn sees or does in any given summer day. From there, the story pretty much wrote itself as I just put to rhyme all that I saw her experiencing. The birds, the squirrels, the children playing nearby, the ravens, all of them were going about their day and Dawn was taking it all in.


What have been the challenges you’ve faced with writing / self-publishing?
My first challenge was finding the right artist to illustrate my stories. In an effort to keep it simple I tried modifying photos I had taken in PhotoShop but was not able to get them dialed in. I asked a friend who had done some cartoons in the past if he would be interested but he wasn’t able to get me what I wanted either. It was then I thought about approaching the art department at the college I work at to see if maybe there was a student who was proficient in watercolor artwork who needed a project to work on for classwork. The director of our art department put me in contact with Crystal Cochell,

How To: Serialize with Lulu

There was such great response from Lulu authors at our blog post about a resurgence of interest in novel serialization, that we thought it would be helpful to talk about…

What’s the best way to make a serial novel with Lulu?

EBooks are really the way to go with serialized material, and the most important reason is length. Sizing options for print books require 32-page minimums for the best results. Don’t get us wrong, Lulu print books are a great way to compile and release your whole, finished novel at the end of the serial novel process, but most of us can’t write 32-page chapters on a regular basis. The short length of a single chapter of a novel is much more suited to a Lulu eBook. In order to harken back to the golden age of serialization, when a reader could sit down with the newspaper and read the latest installment of a Dickens epic after current events, you’re going to need a Lulu eBook. Don’t forget that Lulu will turn your .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .odt files into an EPUB eBook file for free, and provides retail distribution.

EBooks are also less of an initial investment for the author, of both time and money, and that matches the low initial investment that comes with serialized novels. Think of eBooks as a chance to test the waters with whatever project or concept you just haven’t been able to get out of your head but you’re not sure will work on a large scale. You can write one chapter, and see if readers are engaged and excited about it. If you release Chapter One and decide, based on reader feedback, that your hero needs a sidekick, guess who you’ll be able to introduce in Chapter Two? You guessed it, the pun-hurling partner in crime of your terse heroine.

Whether you decide to go with print or electronic publication (hey, if you crank out chapters Dickensian in length, more power to you!), there are some things you’ll want to consider for your personal writing process, and some of the decisions you make after you finish an installment.

Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book

As self-published authors, we find that it’s often in our own hands to promote our own work. We make daily efforts to find new and innovative ways to spread the word, inspire readers and gain recognition. At Lulu, we are always thrilled to see self-published authors succeed, and we are particularly grateful to the people and organizations that dedicate their efforts to supporting the community of self-published authors.

That said, we are happy to share with you a great new opportunity for self-published authors brought to you by Margaret Brown of Shelf Unbound Magazine. If you don’t know Shelf Unbound, I highly recommend checking it out.

And without further ado… the competition details below in the words of Margaret Brown herself:

Seeking Best Self-Published Book

We launched the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book a couple of weeks ago. Word of mouth. Social media. Modest expectations. I immediately got a rather scathing email from an industry guy questioning my ethical integrity – how can I justify charging $10 entry fee when there are no self-published books worthy of even being read, he asked.

Remarkable Find: A MOO Way to Market Your Book

How do self-published authors get the word out about their work? The same way other professionals get the word out about their businesses – through networking. This is why MOO recommends business cards for authors. In fact, MOO is so confident that your author cards will boost your book sales that they’re giving you your first pack FREE.

MOO allows people to design their own business cards, MiniCards, postcards, stickers and more. How is MOO different? They invented Printfinity, which allows you to have a different image on every single card in a pack. It’s a great way for you to show off your work. Here are some creative ways for authors to use MOO cards to market their work:

 “You can quote me on that.”

As an author, you are selling your ability to write. So, give people a taste of what they’re going to get. Reel them in! Pull choice quotes out of your work and use them on your cards – it’s bound to be a conversation starter.

News and reviews

If you’ve been reviewed (and obviously, only if it’s positive!), why not incorporate the design of your card to include a few of the best lines? The world of professional writing is competitive, so letting people know straight away the good things others have said about your work will help you stand out.

Collectables

Consider making your cards collectors’ items by featuring a different excerpt on each. This works particularly well for poets. When the poems are too long to print on a small card, consider using a QR code to link directly to the poem online.

This is also a great technique for cookbook authors, who can feature different recipes on each card with links to recommendations for what appetizers and drinks to pair with each dish.

Judge my book by its cover

As an author, you obviously value words. But the truth is, in a short period of time – the amount of time, say, that it takes to glance at a business card – most people respond very well to strong images. So if you’ve got a great book cover, why not use it as the front of your cards? Alternatively, you could use classic literary covers throughout the ages or design something that represents your reading taste.

Ready to start making your MOO card now? MOO is offering Lulu customers 100 free MiniCards (excluding shipping). Hurry – this offer is limited to the first 500 customers, one per customer.

Author Success Story: Timber Hawkeye

A longtime student of world religion, Buddhism, and psychology, Timber Hawkeye yearned for a less complicated depiction of the Buddha’s teachings than what the Tibetan temple had to offer, so when the Lama suggested he try Zen instead, Timber took off his maroon robes and moved to a Zen monastery far from home. While he liked the simpler message, he still felt the teachings were full of the same dogma that sent him running from religion in the first place. Believing that people are more interested in positive inspiration and motivation than in ceremonies and rituals, he conceived of a book that would empower readers to not necessarily be a Buddhist, but a Buddha, through gratitude and the consistent message to “be kind.”

“There are many incredible books out there that cover all aspects of religion, philosophy, psychology, and physics, ” he explains, “but I was looking for something less ‘academic’, so to speak. I was looking for something inspirational that people today would not only have the attention span to read all the way through, but actually understand and also implement in their daily lives.”

Thus, Buddhist Boot Camp came to be.

How To Write A Great Book Title

Choosing a clever title can be as hard as writing the book itself. Some writers say their title comes to them first, and the story develops from there, while other writers have folders of documents like, “Untitled, fantasy time travel book, name TBD.”

Your title should do three things: Attract readers you want, distinguish your book from others in its genre, and leave a lasting impression on the reader. Here are Lulu’s tips for giving your masterpiece a great name.

  1. Avoid clichéd nouns like “chronicles,” “tale” and “adventure.” Sure, some of the great classics use them – The Chronicles of Narnia, The Handmaid’s Tale and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn come immediately to mind – but usually these descriptors are unnecessary and over-used. Distinguish your book with an original title, even if it is a chronicle, a tale, or an adventure. John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War could easily be described as a chronicle, but doesn’t rely on that descriptor to be memorable and powerful.
  2. How to choose a clever title? Consider an important object, character or idea from the book and start brainstorming. Perhaps a line from the book during a critical scene would make a good title. Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, for example, takes its title from a character’s description of time travel to a child – creating a “wrinkle” in the fabric of time to get to and fro easily. The relevancy of the title may not be immediately apparent, but when the reader finally figures it out within the text, the realization can be just as satisfying as finishing the book.
  3. If your book is non-fiction, consider a subtitle to clarify your clever main title. Readers of non-fiction want to know up-front what they’re going to get from your book. Before it becomes a nationally-known best-seller, a vague title like What Color is Your Parachute? needs a descriptive subtitle (A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers) to appeal to the job-hunters who might need the help this book can provide. The combination of title and subtitle of Deborah Frye and Tracy Mercier’s Our Father Who Aren’t In Heaven: A True Story of a Career Criminal does a great job of telling the reader the subject and tone of the book. (Don’t worry; if you’re using Lulu’s cover design services, we can handle a subtitle, a sub-subtitle and all the authors, illustrators, editors and contributors you want to include on the cover!)
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