Articles tagged "authors"

Is it time to quit your day job and become a full-time writer?

As the market shifts toward benefiting authors who use open-platform publishing, it’s good to temper expectations and think about how much profit you might realistically make with your book. While it’s easy to get starry-eyed when looking at the profits of prominent self-published writers, it’s also best to consider the average, and even the low end, of the spectrum. This CNN article cites that Do-It-Yourself authors earn an average of $10,000 a year (which means that many self-published authors earn less than that a year.) While $10K is a significant amount to supplement an income, it does not make for a full-time job.

It’s rare to find an author who gets to write for a living, rarer to find one who makes a good living doing it. There’s a long history of writers who have taken jobs to supplement their income while they worked on their writing. MacArthur “Genius” and fabulist George Saunders worked in a slaughterhouse. Nicholas Sparks sold dental supplies by phone. Stephen King was a high school janitor.

Jobs have a way of getting in the way of writing, but they also have a way of providing inspiration. Stephen King thought of the opening scene for Carrie while pushing around a bucket to mop hallways, and T.S. Eliot thought of scenes from The Wasteland on his way to work at a bank.

Writers tend to take advantage of the weekend or late nights to work on their writing outside of the office, and to make sure they don’t put aside their passion in lieu of a living (you can really have both). A great portrayal of this was this season on Mad Men, when Ken Cosgrove, an ad executive, revealed that he stays up late at night, writing, and becoming a successful science fiction author. Watching that scene, I found myself realizing I’ve been in the same position — staying up late, the only time in the day I had time to write.

So what are your day jobs? How has your work inspired you to be a writer? How do you find time in your busy schedule to write, and how do you make sure it doesn’t get put off?

Related Reading:

Setting Realistic Goals for Marketing Your Book: Part 1 – Treat Yourself Like a Business

Setting Realistic Goals for Marketing Your Book: Part 2 – Realistic Expectations

Why do you write?

We’re always finding great quotes and inspiration from the people we follow on Pinterest. Here’s one for the day:

Great Apps for Writers

You’ve heard plenty of people say,”There’s an app for that,” but which are best for writers? Whether you need to give your creative side a kick or want to continue revising your work during your morning commute, here are a few apps you may want to check out:

Pages: For $9.99 this Apple app allows you to write and re-write no matter where you and your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch are. Start a new doc or drag Pages ’09, plain text, or Microsoft Word files into the iCloud and… boom, your creativity can take center stage at the bus stop or while waiting for a movie to begin. Other perks include choosing from 16 templates for reports, flyers, cards, and posters; adding in charts and graphs; or printing wirelessly with AirPrint. And since Pages saves your work as you go, you’ll never have to worry you’ve lost your latest if you press the wrong button or close out of the app. Given all of these perks, it’s no wonder MacWorld rated it 4/5 stars.

Advanced English Dictionary & Thesaurus: 250,000 entries, 1.6 million words, and 134,000 pronunciation guides — all for 99 cents. Need I say more? If you’re in a bind, this is the app to turn to. What’s more, you can edit your history, bookmark specific words, and learn not just what the word means and its synonyms but also a whole host of related information including examples/types and parts of the object you’re looking up.

Story Tracker: At $7.99 this app is a steal for the submitting writer who wants to keep his or her ducks in a row. You can keep track of the publications you’ve submitted your works to (sortable by date), make note of details for each market, including title, genre, editor, or deadline, catalog your submission history with specific sites and markets, and more.

Evernote: See something you think might make for a nice moment in a future novel? Jot it down with Evernote, a free app that helps you “stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity.” Recently optimized for the iPhone 5 so that you can view more notes, this New York Times Top 10 Must-Have app’s perks are many and include:

Inspirational Quotes for Writers

How many times have you come across a quote and thought I should write that down? If you’re anything like me, the answer is: a lot. Finding meaning in someone else’s words is a joy, and as a writer I find comfort in the wisdom — and struggles (let’s be honest) — of others. It’s nice to know that not everyone gets “it” (or a seven figure deal for that matter) the first time out the gate.

“I try to remind myself how much I love to stitch words together to make a story that kids might enjoy reading,” says Kristiana Gregory, author of the young adult novel Stalked. The Robert Frost quote taped to her printer reads, “All the fun is in how you say a thing.”

Alexandra Foster, a former New York City-based freelance writer, turns to Ralph Waldo Emerson when she’s struggling:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

I have quotes all over my apartment. Above my desk I have Ernest Hemingway’s “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” And on my fridge there’s a small piece of paper with Andy Rooney’s words scribbled: “A writer’s job is to tell the truth.”

VH1 writer and blogger Kate Spencer says Andy Warhol’s honesty “speaks” to her — especially when he said: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Each of us will take to certain phrases more than others, but in case you need a little inspiration these days, here are some quotes to consider:

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” –Joseph Heller

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” –Stephen King

“You can make anything by writing.” –C.S. Lewis

“You can’t edit a blank page.” –Nora Roberts

You might also enjoy the Pinterest Pin Board we just started as a place to collect inspiring quotes for authors.

In the comments, tell us: What quotes inspire you as a writer?

Hiptype: Analytics for eBooks

I run a website, which means I constantly check Google Analytics to see which stories are being read and how readers are reaching my site. It’s an incredibly useful tool that helps me figure out my audience, what my readers enjoy, and when best to post certain pieces. This type of real-time analytics has been revolutionary for websites, letting media groups find out whether their tweets are making a difference, whether their “tags” are working, and if their highfaluting SEO strategy is working.

Of course, as an author, this might all be gibberish. That is about to change. Hiptype, a young start-up, is looking to bring the wonder of analytics to eBooks. While it’s still in Beta and not yet available to all publishing companies, Hiptype represents a new, inevitable approach to gauging the eBook market. By noting when readers make a comment on a section, or share an excerpt, authors and publishers can see what interests and excites readers.

This leads to some interesting dilemmas and the question of privacy on the internet. Many publishers, authors and marketers would like to use this technology to learn more about their readers. There are two ways to look at it: as an invasion of privacy or as a research tool designed to deliver you the most relevant content. Your internet-surfing experience can be tailored to you based on what your browser knows about you (what words you search, what websites you visit, etc.). With this information, advertisers can target specific ads to you based on your interests. For avid readers, this can mean that when you go searching for eBooks, the eBookstore will recommend books that people similar to you have enjoyed.

Likewise, authors and publishers can use this information to target a specific audience with an eBook and to improve marketing efforts. You can also use the information about your primary audience to create more relevant content for them. For instance, let’s say that you discover that your books are very popular with veterans. With this knowledge you may decide to include a character in your next book who is a veteran.

This is just another avenue of creative possibilities that has been opened by the internet. We imagine that this type of analytic eBook information will become ubiquitous in the coming years.

As writers, how will you use this information? Will you tailor your books to your audience? Are you interested in knowing who reads your books?

Send Your Book to the Frankfurt Book Fair

Road Trip! – For your book

Remember Book Fair Day in elementary school? If you’re anything like the rest of us Lulus, it was your favorite day of the year. You perused shelf after shelf in the Media Center, leafing through the books and marking your favorites on the order form, and if you were very lucky, your parents would send a check the next day to order the books.

Well, book fairs have grown up! The Lulu Book Fairs, like the 2012 Frankfurt International Book Fair, are a great way to showcase your book, providing the opportunity for it to be noticed by book and publishing industry professionals. Like the book fairs of your youth, the books are not available for sale at the actual Fair, but they are there for anyone interested in viewing and sampling new independent titles.  The same professionals flipping through your books are also provided a catalog of all of the books in the showcase, along with the information necessary to contact you and purchase the book at a later time.

HURRY, THE DEADLINE TO PURCHASE THIS SERVICE IS AUG. 10 AND THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT YOUR REGISTRATION AND A COPY OF YOUR BOOK IS AUG. 15.

The magic questions are, what do you get, and will someone notice your book? Like any publicity service, what we can guarantee is exposure, not direct sales. We guarantee that your book will be included on the Lulu.com shelves at the fair, and that editors, agents, librarians, journalists, and other industry professionals will be in attendance (depending on the type of fair, the types of attendees may be more narrow). Whether they purchase the book depends on a great number of factors. In addition, there are other ways you can use the road trip experience to showcase your book.  Having your book at the Frankfurt Book Fair is a great credential to add to you back cover, saying, “Showcased at the Frankfurt Book Fair.”

Think about the most successful authors and the pride they exude for their books; there is an unwavering certainty that inside the book is something they think is worth reading. So often, we hear, “My book could be a best-seller, if only the right people knew about it.” If you have the same feelings for your book, a Book Fair is a great place to start with your book’s marketing campaign.

What’s required?

  • Buying the event service by Aug. 10
  • Completing the registration form by Aug. 15, and
  • Sending a copy of one book to the exhibitor office located in the US by Aug. 15. (You may ship your book directly from Lulu if you’d like.)

A full list of Book Fairs can be found here, by clicking on the “Book Fairs” button: Lulu’s Book Fair Events and a full list of FAQs for events can be found here: Book Fair Marketing FAQs.

Music & Writing: A Writer’s Playlist

Maybe it’s because I live in a city filled with distracting noises — car horns, drilling, and shouting — but whenever I sit down to write, I immediately put on my headphones. Suddenly, the world evaporates, and all that is left is the screen, with my words slowly trekking across it, and whatever music I’ve chosen as the tempo. Mostly it’s something ethereal and ambient, Brian Eno or Steve Reich, but other times, when I’m trying to work through a really difficult section, or simply wanting to motivate myself, I put on something faster and more defined, like Outkast or LCD Soundsystem.

Obviously, each person’s musical preference is specific to his or her own taste, and what you want to listen to while you write might be entirely different than what you’d dance to. But how does music affect your writing in general? Do you find yourself more productive when listening to music, or more easily distracted and prone to losing yourself in someone else’s art and not your own?

A 2011 study found that listening to music dramatically increases brain function. A researcher on the study said, “Our results show for the first time how different musical features activate emotional, motor and creative areas of the brain.” However, others disagree. Geekpreneur notes: “The bottom line is that music always replaces thoughts. When you’re doing mechanical tasks — even if those tasks involve implementing creative ideas you’ve already thought of — music can be pleasant and helpful. When you need to think, though, the only sounds you should be able to hear are those of your own inner voice.”

Perhaps as more and more novels find a home on eBook, and writers begin to incorporate more media into what they write, eBooks will come with playlists that inform the story, or even let the reader in on what writers were listening to as they wrote. In that case, let’s get it started!

Post your favorite writing playlist in the comments section, and let the world in on what gets you in the creative mindset.

Top Web Resources for Writers (Part 1)

There’s a reason why the Internet was called the “information superhighway” in the 1990s. Although the term itself is somewhat out of date, the significance is not. Today’s search engines pull up thousands of web pages in seconds, so which sites should you be visiting and why? Here are some of our suggestions:

Publishers Weekly: Whether you know you’re going to self-publish or not, you should always keep an eye on the pulse of publishing. It’s helpful to know what genres are hot, how authors got their start, and what self-publishing phenoms did to market their titles. Although technically a trade journal, Publishers Weekly presents everything from industry news and deals to author interviews and the latest on the expanding digital market.

Absolute Write: First, check out the blog, which includes helpful articles such as: how to write good web copy and how to handle feelings of frustration. Then head over to the forum, where you can connect with thousands of writers about anything and everything. Engage in discussions on grammar and syntax, specialty genres, e-publishing, and even the freelance market. The site also serves as a place to take, or teach, writing classes.

Critique Circle: If you’re looking for honest feedback on your work then look no further than Critique Circle, which is a forum to help writers connect with one another. This free service allows writers to submit their work to a select few and garner feedback in a private exchange. According to the site, stories receive on average between 7 to 10 critiques each. If that’s not enough there are other handy tools that will help you bring your characters to life (and come up with their names), track your own progress, and write a paragraph a day thanks to the Paragraph-A-Day tool.

How To Market Children’s Books

Marketing is usually pretty cut-and-dry. You have an audience you’re trying to reach, and you do what you can to reach them. But what if you have a whole segment of people whose attention you want but that don’t have any buying power? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.

Marketing to kids is made more difficult by the fact that you have to appease not one but two people: the child and the parent. Because of this two-pronged approach, marketing kid’s books can be tricky. So here are some handy tips to consider:

Mind the law: The laws around Internet marketing toward children under the age of 13 are very clear and very strict. Make sure you familiarize yourself well with the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) laws before you do any contests, giveaways, or other promotions targeting children online.

Build a Robust Website: All authors could benefit from a good website, and children’s book authors are no exception. Make it easy for parents and educators to know if your book is appropriate for a child by outlining the book’s story and themes, providing your bio, and surfacing any quotes from other authors, teachers, or librarians. Additionally, consider putting up downloadable activities, or a reading group guide, that teachers can use in their classroom. Here is a great example: TraceyJaneSmith.com.

4th of July Pinterest Contest

Join Lulu on Pinterest for a bit of 4th of July fun. We’re hosting a Caption Contest. Write a caption, then repin the image for your chance to win.

Prizes

Your choice between a Premium Book Cover Design Service (valued at $450) or $300.00 Lulu bucks.

How to Win

To win, visit Lulu’s Pinterest page and write a caption on this image. Then, repin that image, and you’re entered to win! Valid entries should be submitted by Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 5pm EST. The winner will be selected by Lulu’s team of judges by Friday, July 6, 2012 at 5pm EST. We will alert the winner by posting our congratulations message on your repin and providing further instructions for redeeming your prize. We will also announce the winner by updating this blog post.