Articles tagged "writers"

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!

 

2017 Book Expo America and Book Con

It’s that time of year again! Book Expo America and Book Con are coming to New York City May 31 through June 2. Come out and get serious about your publishing with a variety of other authors, readers, publishers, and book marketers.

As you would expect, Lulu will have a booth at the Expo, and we’ll be hanging out throughout the event, giving out cool prizes, promoting self-publishing, and enjoying all the terrific events and speakers BEA has to offer.

The Expo includes are range of speakers, including Hillary Clinton on the main stage June 1, as well as Mary Higgins Clark, Neil Patrick Harris, R.L. Stine, and Stephen King throughout the event.

Each day will also feature sessions on a variety of publishing industry. There are so many, I’m not even going to try to list them here. Just head over to the Expo’s Session’s page to find the comprehensive list. For anyone involved in the publishing industry, you’ll find something among these sessions to pique your interests and expand your publishing knowledge.

And if all that isn’t enough, the second half of the event will be the reader driven Book Expo, with their own unique list of speakers, including authors Dan Brown and Bill Nye. Find their complete main stage list here. The two events combine to provide a thorough perspective of the industry from writing and publishing, through to marketing and reading. There is something for everyone at the Book Expo and Convention!

Now that I’ve tantalized you with all those great speakers and expansive list of sessions hosted at the event, I’ve got the best for last.

Of course I mean the Lulu Booth. Come find us at #2258 on the Expo floor. We’ll be there with a bunch of awesome Lulu gear, including notebooks and pens to start planning your next novel, water bottles to keep you hydrated, and an awesome mystery prize for a few of our lucky visitors! Plus we’ll be spinning our prize wheel for give-a-ways and handing out lots of free self-publishing advice.

Please please come see us and help celebrate everything book at the Book Expo and Convention!

 

Maximum Formats

If you’re self-publishing, you have the unique ability to take advantage of all available formats with the click of your fingers.

Most books these days will appear in both print and ebook formats. It’s common to find the newest best sellers showing up on bookstore shelves in hardcover, and some months later in paperback, and later still in the even more economical trade paperback. All the while, the ebook will be available through online retailers.

Oddly enough, this trend hasn’t taken hold in the self-publishing world, despite that producing a book in all format types is astonishingly easy. In fact, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to take a self-published book you’ve already created, and release it in a variety of formats.

The reason is this: once you’ve made one book, once you’ve prepared the files for interior and cover, you’ve done 90% of the work for any additional versions you might like to make. The real challenging work of formatting, doing layout, designing the cover, and actually editing and proofing the book is already done. All you need to do is make additional projects, perform a few format updates, and publish!

Print

Paperback print books are the most common choice among self-published authors. We see the vast majority of books created in the 6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11 sizes. If you’ve opted for one of these sizes, creating a hardcover project will be simple!

With you Print File prepared, follow these steps to create a Hardcover book:

  1. Adjust page sizes – Make certain to set your pages to make the size of your book. Lulu offers hardcover in 6 x 9 and 8.25 x 10.75 for both dust jacket and case wrap.
    **If you made a 6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11 paperback, you will not need to resize your interior file to make a hardcover book**
  2. Update the copyright page – Your new format will need a unique ISBN, so update the Copyright page to reflect that.
  3. Update the cover – Hardcover books have different margins and bleeds for the cover. If you’re using the same cover as the paperback, you’ll have to adjust it to allow for those changes. Also be sure to update the barcode with your new ISBN.

Ebook

Ebooks did not spell the end of printing as some predicted years ago. Instead, they carved out a portion of the market as an accompaniment to printed books. An ebook is a simple means of presenting options for your readers, and is so easy to do, you should absolutely take advantage and create one.

  1. Open your Print File in MS Word – Select all the contents and clear formatting.
  2. Update the Copyright page to include your new ISBN
  3. Set the title, copyright, dedication, and any other front matter to Heading 1
  4. Set all Chapter titles to Heading 2.
  5. Remove all Header/Footer content. Remove all Text Boxes.
  6. Set all images ‘in line’ with text, and all text justification should be set to the ‘left.’

The cover for your ebook can be the same as your print. Just use the front cover alone as the ebook cover, and resize it to match the ebook cover specifications.

Detailed instructions and specifications.

Diversity is incredible important when selling your book, both online and by hand. Think about it like this: you’ll never again lose a sale because the buyer doesn’t want to wait for shipping. They can order an ebook! And the customer who simply loves hardcover books and is willing to spend a little more to get that can do so!

Best of all, making multiple formats can be completely free, and only takes a minimal investment of time and effort.

Don’t wait, get your book out there now with Lulu’s variety of available formats.

Top ten errors writers make that editors hate

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.40.50 PMHelga Schier, independent writing and publishing consultant and founder of Withpenandpaper.com, recently gave a brilliant presentation at the Writer’s Digest Conference covering the trials and tribulations of book editors.  More specifically, she eloquently and succinctly outlined a list of the top ten errors editors hate — and often see — the most. For the writers in the room, this was a gold mine of valuable information and I would like to share what I learned.

First and foremost, there are three levels of editing and they should all build upon each other.

  • Editing that deals with the surface structure of the words on your page – copy-editing.
  • Editing that deals with style and voice, as well as, tightening your manuscript by getting rid of unnecessary sections – line editing.
  • Editing that deals with ways to make your world come to life, including ways to create your characters, build your world, and write good dialogue  – conceptual editing.

Before you hand your book to an editor, you should have already gone through these three levels of review…

The Basics: Writing

1. Editors hate it when it’s clear that you never ran that spell-check.

These are things everyone can fix.  This level deals with spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Your words are your tools so make sure they are in good working order. Some may argue that editors should care more about the story and characters. This is true, but these kinds of mistakes greatly distract readers from understanding and absorbing the book.  Your job as an author is to take the reader by the hand and take them on a journey through the story.  Bad grammar or spelling mistakes detract and sway from that journey.

2. Editors hate it when you serve leftovers.

  • Plot or character inconsistencies
  • Timeline issues

A good way to keep this from happening is to run a second reader check. Give your book to someone who will critically read it and ask them to report on things that don’t make sense to them.

Beyond the Basics: Writing in Style

3. Editors hate it when the writing is heavier than a ten-ton-truck.

  • Inflated sentences – polish your sentences, don’t use unnecessary lead-ins. Get to the point or meat of the sentence quickly.
  • Stilted language – you want to meet your readers through your work and you want to call the readers attention to your story or argument.  Unnecessary language reminds readers that they are actually reading and takes them away from being immersed in your world.
  • Overuse of adjectives and adverbs – makes a story feel cumbersome and lazy.  Most adjective and adverb phrases don’t do the description justice.

4. Editors hate it when style isn’t really style but writing in your comfort zone.

  • Repetitive use of vocabulary
  • Repetitive sentence structure and length

Every writer has a set of words that they fall back on and don’t often notice unless they specifically go looking for them.  Remedy: make a list of your most used words/phrases and go through your manuscript hunting them down.  Make sure your characters use their favorite words not yours.

Vary the length of the length and structure of sentences to provide a unique mix for the readers. Also, allow your characters to use varied sentence structure depending on their personality, background, and environment in which they find themselves. Step outside your comfort zone and find your voice.

5. Editors hate clichés. Except when they don’t.

  • Innovate and personalize clichéd images and comparisons.
  • Use clichés and stereotypes as character markers.
  • Turn stereotypes upside down to define a personality or relationship.

Leave trusted clichés behind. Clichés are predictable and writing should never be predictable.  Replace established clichés with your own creative ones. These images should be new and personal but, not obscure to your readers. You want your readers to turn the pages because they can’t wait to see what is beyond the next paragraph.

Far Beyond the Basics: Writing to make your world come to life

6. Editors hate it when characters resemble cardboard cutouts.

Don’t let your characters be predictable and don’t give your character’s entire back story all at once.  Readers can’t digest that volume of information and the story comes to a screeching halt with all suspension of disbelief gone. Giving the character’s back story is not the same as creating and developing a character that comes to life. You want fully developed characters with their own psychological make-up, who have a past, hopes for the future, and most importantly, a motivation or reason for their actions.

7. Editors hate it when the narrative tells rather than shows.

  • Scenes need to show how characters act and interact.
  • Narrative needs to observe, not comment.

Show don’t tell, but this does not mean that you should shy away from the description. “Show don’t tell” refers to the way your characters should interact. Scenes cannot happen in a vacuum. Your narrative must develop the scene.  Don’t simply say, “the restaurant was loud”, rather describe the conversation at the bar, the waiter dropping the tray, the phone ringing off the hook at the host stand. If you show something well enough, there is no reason to tell the reader.

8. Editors hate it when dialogues turn into speeches.

  • Dialogue requires that people interact with each other verbally and non-verbally.
  • Dialogue passes on information.
  • Dialogue defines characters and their relationships.
  • Dialogue exposes tension and conflict.

Dialogue in a novel is polished speech that serves certain functions…it shows relationship, moves the story along, creates scenes, etc.  None of your characters should ever lecture or pontificate. Dialogue should always have at least two people interacting verbally and non-verbally. The words a character chooses says a lot about the character’s background, personality, and status. Again, words should be theirs, not yours. Dialogue words must also fit the situation. Someone will speak differently given a different situation.

People don’t necessarily say what they mean or mean what they say. There is often a subtext. Do the characters have a relationship? Trust each other? Hate each other? Have a secret crush? This all can come through in the subtext of the dialogue.

9. Anything goes! But just because you say doesn’t make it so.

  • Events must be caused by earlier events and lead to the next.
  • Natural story development depends on the interplay of plot and character.
  • A character’s natural behavior must be motivated by his/her psychological disposition.

Remember, in a novel one event must lead to the next and the interplay of your characters and events should create the plot…in other words, it is the characters that write their own stories.

10. Editors hate hangnail writing.

  • Everything in your story has an impact on your readers.
  • Show and tell your readers only what is relevant. No more.
  • Show and tell your readers everything that is relevant. No less.

An extra scene, banter, subplots, or characters that don’t drive the story forward create boredom and distrust of the author.   Show the readers what is relevant, no more and no less. Readers take in everything about the story, so you must follow through. You absolutely must show everything that is relevant as readers only see what you show not what you may know.

Quick but hugely important tip:

Take time off from your manuscript, a step back, and gain distance. In that time…READ, READ, READ (other people’s work) then, reread your work.  First, start looking for the big picture stuff. Before you edit, read it again and look at style and genre. The third time, go for typos, spelling etc. DO ALL OF THIS BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO REVISE!

For access to Schier’s slide deck, click here.

 

 

 

Writing the breakaway self-published book…words of wisdom from Ivory Madison

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.40.30 AMIvory Madison isn’t only  the RedRoom.com CEO and Editor in Chief, she is an accomplished writer and author coach with numerous years of experience.  I was fortunate enough to catch her session at the Writer’s Digest Conference in Los Angeles, where Madison shared her “Red Room Method”, which helps authors blast through writer’s block and quickly develop into razor-sharp writers.

Her opening question to the audience and what you should contemplate while reading this post: is your book as good as it can be already?

A lot of people jump the gun.

One thing learned in teaching writing is that most people are doing it wrong.  They are trying to do too many things at once…worrying about marketing, if the structure is correct, do they need an agent, etc.

The Red Room method separates what you are doing into different buckets: Writing, Editing, and Marketing and focuses on getting your book done faster, easier, and at a better quality.

Writing (words of wisdom)

  • Writing comes from passion and processing. First drafts WILL be bad…they are supposed to be. A writer should  focus on the writing ONLY at first. Stop trying to do two things at the same time, “It’s like trying to run a marathon and you keep stopping and saying ‘Oh, I got the first steps wrong’.” Your first draft has to be imperfect so that your can productively edit.
  • There is a level of self awareness that is required for writing…it is a shift of self-perspective.  Stop trying to write like a writer and write like yourself!
  • Ann Rice once said that the great thing about writing is that it can be an expression of you without any special training or access. In other less eloquent words, writing is about yourself and marketing is about everything else.
  • If your goal is to finish your book then, schedule your hours with other people. Sit down with the group and dedicate the full hour to writing. People won’t show up for appointments with only themselves. Just remember that you can’t win a Nobel Prize in an hour BUT, you can write about 1,500 words. Relish that accomplishment.
  • Quit worrying about the quality. A baby’s first few steps aren’t fantastic but, they are still wonderful.
  • Remember to not write.  Don’t forget the other things in your life and relax and don’t always worry that you should be writing. Stop torturing yourself. Enjoy the other parts of your life and let your brain process it.
  • Some people have “blocks” and only think about all the reasons they aren’t finishing their book: I don’t have enough time, money, knowledge, etc. Bottom line is you make time for what you make time for. Don’t feel like you SHOULD be writing…GO WRITE!
  • Some people believe the myths about being a writer. Remember, every brilliant, successful author was told by someone somewhere that they were terrible. Perfectionism is the opposite of high standards.  High standards means getting it done, perfectionism means never getting it done.

 

 

 

Editing the breakaway self-published book with Ivory Madison

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.40.30 AMI just had the pleasure of sitting in on Ivory Madison’s session on writing and editing breakaway books at the Writer’s Digest Conference. Madison is CEO and founder of Redroom.com, the “Facebook for authors”.  She was also named “Best Writing Coach” by San Francisco magazine and has been a guest lecturer to the faculty and writing coaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Publishing Course.

In this particular session, she provides some amazing advice and insights on editing your next book:

  • Once you have finished your writing, having said everything you have to say, in all it’s sloppy glory, you will want to get through your editing quickly, painlessly, and efficiently. Now, imagine a giant bulls eye.  Each ring is going to represent a stage and focus in your editing journey.
  • The outermost ring is very big picture questions: What type of book is this?  What are the themes? What are the cast or characters? How do they develop?
  • Then, we get into the inner structure ring (this is also the hardest part). Can you write a one-page hero’s journey? Does it flow and follow correctly? These aren’t necessarily templates but, rather insights into how people tell stories. Structure is also where you look at point of view, tense, pacing, and what kind of voice the story has.
  • Story Fractiles: scientific concept that posits that everything is ultimately a repeating pattern. Applying this to writing, you need to ask yourself “is this all the same book?” If you took a small piece of it, does it still reflect the overall work?  Does each chapter reflect a short story of the book? Your writing should ultimately sound like YOU speaking at your most eloquent…it must be real and authentic.
  • Copy-editing Ring: is everything fluid and in the right word? Is everything true? This is also where you look at metaphors…do your metaphors make enough sense to have an impact?
  • Mechanics Ring: Looking at each word, grammar, formatting, and punctuation.

Madison’s final editing words to live by, “it’s worst to not get published than cut things out of your book”.  Finally, sit down and have someone read the manuscript out loud at full volume, you will be surprised by what you find.

 

Authors using Helix Review: Protasio Chipulu

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 1.47.40 PMNext up in our ongoing Helix Review series, we have Lulu author Protasio Chipulu, author of Living with Cerebral Palsy:  A Parents’ Guide to Managing Cerebral Palsy. Helix, powered by The Book Genome project, allows authors to upload a manuscript and receive an incredibly in depth analysis of the book.

Tell us a bit about your book:

In this book, we (father & mother) have given details on our daughter with cerebral palsy and how we have been managing the condition.   Our experience compels us to plan for the establishment of a center of excellence for children with disabilities.  We have also given stories on CP starting with our own story with the challenges and coping mechanisms of disabilities.  Our experiences are not exhaustive and it does not attempt to answer all the questions related to the management of CP.  This is our personal experiences as a family. All the short comings in the management of our daughter with CP are our responsibility.  Our experiences may be different from other families and some of the information may be outdated but we shall endeavor to update the information.

How would you describe your writing style:

My style is of high density writing and it is descriptive and this makes the reading a bit of a challenge because it takes longer to read.  The pacing is relatively high making it easier to browse through pages.    The motion in the book is relatively low and dialogue is very low.

Why did you decide to try Helix:

First, to improve the writing of my current book so that I have higher sales.  Second, to improve my writing in the future.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

The comparison of my book to other books in my category was very beneficial because I can use the comparisons when writing my next book.

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

When I write an another book, I will improve on my writing style (motion, density, dialogue, description and pacing). I will try to balance styles so that it is easy to read and provides excitement, suspense and education.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

I was not certain at first about the Helix Review but after ordering was happy with the overall results. For the price it was a great way to get feedback that can help me understand my book and how it fits into the genera and along side other books.  I can also take the feedback and apply it to my future writing to create better and more full enjoyable creations.

For more information about Protasio Chipulu and Living with Cerebral Palsy:  A Parents’ Guide to Managing Cerebral Palsy:

Author Blog

About the Helix Review

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.