Articles tagged "free publishing"

5 Tips for Editing your Manuscript

12 min read

Lulu, Self-Publish, editing, manuscript, tips

If you’re a writer anything like myself, you’ve got a handful of manuscripts finished, languishing in desk drawers, or in your Dropbox gathering virtual dust. I love to write, but I am not as excited about editing. So a manuscript often finds itself abandoned shortly after completion for a variety of reasons – time, interest in new projects, distaste for editing. Whatever the reason, if you want to transition from writing to publishing, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and do some editing.

Editing doesn’t need to be a chore though! Just like I mentioned in our DIY Cover tips blog, editing often is best handled by a professional. Even if you plan to hire a pro to fine tune the editing, you’ll need to do some review and revision yourself. And if you plan to do all the work yourself, you’ll really need to focus and do your best to ensure the editing serves the book and achieves your goals for the manuscript.

Leading us to the question; how does an author effectively edit their own work?

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The 6 DIY Cover Tips You Need for Your Book

10 min read

Poll veterans of self-publishing, and you’ll likely hear the same advice from all of them: get an editor and get a professional cover designer. There are many factors to consider, but if you’re an author with aspirations for your book, you cannot forego an interior edit and a well-designed cover.

The editorial assistance you may be able to solicit from friends or family to avoid paying for the professional touch. The contents could end up less than pristine, but the book may not suffer. Readers can forgive a misspelling here and there, or a clunky sentence now and then. If the story compels them and is well crafted otherwise, editing for content can be done without paying a professional editor (though if you have the option, I strongly recommend getting a professional editor).

The cover though, that’s another story. Without an eye-grabbing cover, the book is likely to struggle just to get a reader to consider it. A bad cover can ruin a great book. I bet you’ve heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, the saying is true: you can’t always tell how good the book will be just looking at the cover. A terrible book might have an eye-catching cover, and a terrific book might have a bland and unexciting cover. But the terrible book will have a leg up when it comes to marketing and promoting with that eye-catching cover.

Don’t let your book be held back by a poorly designed cover. It can be easy not to think to much about the cover if your focus is on writing, but if you plan to self-publish and want to grab some readers, you’re going to need to spend some time really thinking about and working on your cover.

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Marketing Toolbox: 3 Step Book Marketing Plan

8 min read

Over the past few weeks, we ran a series called “Writer’s Toolbox” aimed at revealing some of the more useful tools a writer can utilize to improve their productivity. There are other programs writers use but we’ll have to consider those another time. Today we’re looking at marketing your book.

If you’d like to read the Writer’s Toolbox series, you can find them here:

Writer’s Toolbox: Overview

Writer’s Toolbox: Microsoft Word

Writer’s Toolbox: Scrivener

Writer’s Toolbox: Evernote

Selling your book (or books) can be as challenging, or even more challenging, than writing. There are a number of specific things you can do as a self-published and independent author to promote your work, but there is never a guarantee any of these will result in sales. So many factors go into selling a book, and transitioning initial sales into regular sales, that laying out a definitive plan is almost impossible. The genre you write in, the style you write with, the people you know, the time you have to spend on marketing, the appetite of readers, the price you set, the design of your cover…I could go on and on listing factors that play into how well your book sells.

In an effort to be useful to our readers, I’m not going to advocate for a specific or definitive plan. I don’t think there can be one. Your marketing strategy will have to be unique to you, your goals, and your work. What we can do with this series is examine some best practices and consider the ways others have found success in marketing their  books, while retaining the understanding that anything I suggest (or anyone giving market advice suggests) should be taken as broad suggestions based on past experience.

That said, let’s think about marketing in three phases:

  1. Planning – developing a plan based on your book, your goals, and your audience
  2. Acting – following through on the plan
  3. Maintaining – retaining readers through consistent efforts after the initial release of your work

This week we’re going to focus entirely on the first phase. Let’s develop a marketing plan!

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Overcoming Adversity: Publishing to Succeed

4 min read

How do you do it?

This is the most common question I’m asked when people learn my story for the first time.  How do you juggle being an international author and self-promoter, all while traveling for book signings, raising four children; two with disabilities, running a cake business, and homeschooling?

How do you find the time to do it all, they ask. What’s your secret?

No-matter how many times I answer, my response always seems to deliver a certain sense of inadequacy.  The truth somehow falls short of exposing a hidden potion behind my innate ability to fill multiple roles at once.  The illusion is that I am actually a real person with realistic goals.  I just run beside passion and persistence and I never let them win.  I’m not the best writer and I will never proclaim to be.  I simply and wholeheartedly believe in myself enough that my ability to stay focused on achieving never wavers through adversity.  Some might say that being a mother is the hardest job on earth, so the idea of adding other roles seems like straining energy on borrowed time.  But there’s nothing wrong with borrowing as long as you give back; so long as you offer up results.  I simply manage my life one second at a time; one word, one hug, one errand, one interview at a time.

For those who are unsure that it can be done, believe me, it can.  Despite appearances, my path hasn’t always been easy, but writing has constantly remained central to my survival.  When I was younger, I suffered through being raped by four military men, who also videotaped the ordeal, but I bravely made a decision to use what happened to me to help others.  Through the drama novel, The Day it Rained Forever, I have been able to heal, help, and move on.  When my son was suddenly diagnosed with Autism, I felt like he was taken from me and I had to find a way of bringing him back.  I did it through the publication of the children’s book, I Will Always Love You No Matter What.  And from the back seat of a car, at twelve years of age, I recall watching my father grasp his chest with both hands, struggling for air.  I watched as he fought to live for me and, in that moment, I vividly remember thinking to myself; I’m going to lose my dad.  I had to find a way of saying goodbye, and I did that through the novel released last year, entitled, The Night Birds.

Through my adversity, I have come to realize that the struggle is a misconception.  It all just takes time.  Success and dreams are within reach if you just keep writing, while remaining true to yourself.  Good things will eventually come.  Writing is my lifeline and the process of self-publishing has been made all the more enjoyable by Lulu Publishing’s online publishing tool and their tireless support team.

And speaking of good things, I am proud to announce that my novel, The Day It Rained Forever, has been picked up by the talented screenwriter Shaun Jooste.  Shaun and I recently signed a contract allowing Shaun to adapt my novel into film!  Shaun is also managing a Guinness World Record attempt that I am taking part in, to break the world record for the most amount of authors in an anthology.

I also, recently, had the incredible privilege of attending the 2017 Book Expo America in New York City.  While there, I had a chance to thank fans for their dedicated support and encouragement throughout the many years I have been writing.  It was truly the highlight of my year.  So I am elated to also announce that I will be doing it all again in 2018 when I attend the BEA in New York City for another book signing and meet and greet.  You can hear more about my experience at the BEA and all about my journey as a self-publisher, in an author interview I did last week with Paperback Radio.

No matter what happens in my life, I will never stop striving to better my craft, to deliver passionate, exciting stories, to my audience.  My fans have always stood behind me and I refuse to let them down.  I’m exactly where I know I need to be and the view is incredible.  Here, I look up and hope that my father is looking down on me knowing, if nothing else, at least I gave it my all.

 


Lynette Greenfield was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up in both Brisbane and Melbourne.  Her love of writing came when tragically, her father passed away at the age of twelve.  It was then that she discovered an intensely personal love for poetry, never once writing for an audience, quickly appreciating the healing qualities words had on her life.  She went on to study creative Arts at the Brian Chandler’s School of Art and Design and creative writing and photography at the University of Technology in Queensland.  Her first publication was a poetry book entitled, Moments with Me.  She has since published many more poetry books and has also gone on to write romance novels, mystery, and children’s books.  Lynette attended to Book Expo America in 2016 in Chicago, signing her debut novel, An Ounce of ExpectationAnd attended the BEA again in 2017 in New York to show her novel, The Night BirdsShe will also be attending the 2018 BEA in New York City to showcase her latest drama novel, The Day it Rained Forever.  ​With 25 years of writing behind her, Lynette is now an established Author, but is always seeking out new challenges in her writing career, enjoying working with other artists including musicians, songwriters and illustrators. When she isn’t writing, she is teaching children with disabilities, specializing in Autism and one of her children’s books entitled, I’ll Always Love You No Matter What, was written for a child with Autism.

Selling Your Brand: Author Website

5 min read

Independent publishing demands an effort on the author’s part to self-promote. The task may seem daunting, as many of the tasks involved in self-publishing can, but thanks to the power of the Internet, you can promote yourself online with minimal effort. One of the most potent is the author website.

Creating and maintaining a website dedicated to your work can have a multitude of benefits and uses. Get your name out there on the web, and provide interested and potential readers a location to learn more about you and your work with an author website. The following list provides some basics about creating a website, the content you should include, and the benefits.

1. Hosting and Domain

The first step in creating an author website is actually locating the site on the web. There are a variety of low cost services like WordPress or Wix that can be used to create a simple website. These services, among many others on across the web, offer template and layout tools to help you design the page and keep it looking fresh and up to date. Remember, fashion and standards on the web are always evolving, so keep up to date on the latest trends in web layout and adjust your site accordingly. You don’t want your site to look like something from 2002. You’ll want to purchase a domain, preferably something using your name (like www.firstnamelastname.com) or something including the word “author” alongside your name. This is key for discover-ability and indexing in Google searches and will help potential readers find you.With your site domain ready and a service selected, the next step will be actually building your author website.

One very interesting new tool currently available to authors is TitlePager. The service is low cost ($12/month) and provides software to directly import your book’s information into a website template. For authors less interested in learning the ins and outs of website design, TitlePager is a good alternative to consider.

2. Design and Layout

Your website should have a few “pages” to segment information and help your readers find the information they need quickly and easily. Most websites will use a navigation bar along the top of the page to guide visitors. For an example, look at the navigation bar at the top of the Lulu Blog:


You’ll see Home, About Lulu Self-Publishing, Commentary, and Guidelines for Guest Posting. Each of these links lead to a unique page on the blog website. For your author site, you’ll want a home page, a page listing your books with sale information, a page with personal information about you,  and possibly a separate page for posting blog style articles.

Think about your audience when designing the site. Starting out, you won’t likely have the following of the world’s most well known authors, so you may want to avoid a site that is packed and busy like this one. A good example of a modern, clean layout that still has a lot of content like this site, shows how you can uses distinct pages for specific information, while keeping the front page interesting and inviting. Again, these are highly successful authors, who likely have a rather large budget for creating and maintaining their author pages. Look to these examples for ways you might pick and choose elements to emulate that fit your particular needs.

As the owner of your site, you have a tremendous amount of flexibility, and you should do some research to see how other authors build their sites for inspiration. The key elements will be the attractive home page, the succinct book’s page, and the about page. Consider your genre, the quantity of books you have or will be publishing, and the target audience when you are planning your website. For example, if you have accompanying video content, you might want a “videos” page to house this material. Or if your work is non-fiction and uses a number of references, you may want to make reference links and citation information available on a page of your website.

Another good idea for your author website is to include a subscription option and social media links. You want anyone who lands on your page to share on Facebook and Twitter, and capturing emails through a subscription box provides a way into their inbox, allowing for some direct email marketing and building a mailing list to promote events and new publications. Don’t underestimate the power of a mailing list. The ability to directly connect with potential customers is a tremendous asset.

3. Content

We touched on this above, but the most important piece of an author website will be the content. Is the layout appealing? Are the images relevant? Can visitor’s easily find and buy your books? Keep those questions in mind when working on the layout of your website. You’ll want the pages to be simple but appealing, and avoid cluttered or “busy” pages in favor of simplicity. Readers are coming to your site because they followed a link you provided or because they came across you while searching. Either way, they will likely already be interested in your content, and your site’s goal is to assure them that they should buy your book.

It’s not a bad idea to include a link to your Lulu Author Spotlight, along with direct links to your books. Many author websites will also include some publishing industry news or a feed of news from their favorite publishing industry sites. This kind of content will reward users for returning to your site, which can eventually lead to purchases of your back list. And it helps ensure they notice new works as they come available.

Another activity to consider is blogging. Keeping a blog and updating it regularly (as in, at least once a week) will provide a flow of content to drive readers back to your site, and gives you a great reason to make use of that mailing list you’re building. The goal is to give anyone who comes to the site, or follows you on social media, a reason to keep coming back.

4. Benefits

Your website will be the primary tool in developing yourself as a brand. It will serve as a location for your various marketing efforts to point to, a destination for those finding you on social media to learn more (and hopefully make a purchase), and yet another way for you to show your authoring skills. Think about the website as a project, similar to writing a book.

An author website gives you a means to connect with readers and potential readers, a way to display your skills and work (maybe you offer excerpts free or teasers for a new book), and a central location for your brand. As a self-published author, the key to success will be branding yourself. Highly acclaimed authors are read as much because of their brand as their quality. Your website allows you to promote your own brand, and when coupled with high quality writing, is the best way to grow your readership.

Marketing and promoting your book can be an arduous job. Take the first step to promoting yourself and building your author brand. Create an author website and start selling your book today!

 


 

 

Keep Coloring – Self-publishing your own Coloring Book

2 min read

Summer may be upon us, but we can’t spend every day this summer frolicking on the beach! If you need a great way to stay entertained (or keep some little ones entertained), why not a custom coloring book? We posted some time ago about the many therapeutic benefits of coloring. Nothing has changed, and coloring books are as popular as ever among kids and adults.

Lulu’s self-publishing tool makes it particularly easy to make your own coloring books!

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Share Your Sound

1 min read

Independent publishing is so easy to do, and the costs are so low, that a wide variety of artists and professionals can take advantage of Lulu’s free publishing tools online. All manner of individuals and groups you might not think of as “authors” have found uses for Lulu’s publishing tools.

For example, musicians. One does not commonly associate musicians with publishers. Self-publishing can help musicians monetize their work in alternative forms, to offer products for their fans, and to share their musical creations.

Create custom songbooks for your fans. Publish tabs, chords, sheet music, lyrics, and more. Expand your audience by reaching a new group of potential listeners, earn extra income at the best rate in the publishing industry, and offer your fans more of what they want.

Visit publishmymusic.lulu.com to learn more!