In this part of the DIY series the floor is open for Indie authors to share their experiences. Please feel free to add your own in the comments!
Advice for Authors
Since starting this DIY Guide, I have made some good author friends. I asked them to share their experiences in self-publishing.
Finding the Right Printer/Distributor: CreateSpace vs. Lightning Source by Karen Toz
As an author of children’s books, I knew I wanted to have both digital and print books available for sale. Deciding on whom to use for my printing/distribution, I quickly learned, would be an important decision. While I understand that there are many options, this article will focus on the two that I wound up using: CreateSpace and Lightning Source. Also note that the suggestions offered in this article are based solely on my own personal experience, and as such are only suggestions. Given that – I want to share what I did, what worked, what didn’t work, and what I learned along the way.
What I Did
When I went to publish my first book, Nate Rocks the World (NRTW), I had it set in my head I would go the CreateSpace route. I had read several articles on-line, talked with other indie authors, and was impressed by the CreateSpace website. It all made sense. The fact that I found the Lightning Source website incredibly confusing made my decision even easier. My book designer, a woman very experienced in self-publishing, tried to convince me to use Lightning Source. However, she had never even used CreateSpace before. What did she know? A lot it seems.
I was correct about one thing – the CreateSpace website was very user friendly. I had no trouble setting up my book on their website. Their customer service was excellent, their royalties seemed fair, and they had expanded distribution (more on that later). Within a day or two, NRTW was published and for sale. Everything was going exactly as planned… until…
What Didn’t Work
I first realized I had gone about things wrong when I approached a local bookstore about stocking NRTW. They looked it up in their system and replied, “It’s not returnable and it’s too expensive.” But … CreateSpace offered expanded distribution! I even paid extra for it! Yes – it is true that CreateSpace does offer books to retail outlets though its expanded distribution program. These books are even offered through the Ingrams catalog, however, they are not returnable, and are not (from what I have been told) offered at the industry standard of 55% discount. As an “unknown indie,” I was not able to find a store interested in taking a risk on stocking my books.
The first thing I did was call back my book designer so I could humbly tell her I should have listened to her in the first place. It was time to scrap CreateSpace and move to Lightning Source. There were a couple of problems, however. First, I had used the free CS ISBN number. Obviously, I could not use this number on Lightning Source. Since they did not offer a freebie, I had to purchase a block of my own ISBN numbers for Lightning Source. I opted for the block of ten, since I knew I’d be writing and publishing more books. My second issue – you can’t just assign a new ISBN number to an already published book. Ingrams won’t list you twice. I could have unpublished with CreateSpace, but I was afraid of losing all my reviews and my ranking. The way I got around this was by adding some material to the book and calling it a 2nd Edition. My third problem – my Amazon ranking. It wasn’t too shabby. Lightning Source populates to Amazon, but because I now had a new ISBN number, it was as if I were starting all over. I contacted Amazon’s customer service and while they were able to link all the previous reviews to this new edition, they wouldn’t do anything about the ranking. Not only that, but my CreateSpace edition was still listed, so my sales and therefore ranking were split between different issues. So why not unpublish with CreateSpace? Royalties. If someone bought the first edition CreateSpace NRTW off Amazon, I made close to $2 a book. If they bought the Lightning Source edition off Amazon, I only made $0.80 per book. Big difference! Unfortunately, Lightning Source does not let you pick and choose who you want to distribute to, so I was stuck with that second Amazon listing.
When I complained about the royalty situation to my now go-to book designer, the solution she offered made perfect sense. Unpublish the first edition of NRTW with CreateSpace, then publish the second edition on CreateSpace, using the new ISBN number, but only choose the Amazon.com option. Since I was using the same ISBN number, it would only be listed on Amazon once. Opt out of ALL expanded distribution. Yes – that second ranking would go away, but it had gotten so messed up it didn’t even matter at that point. When anyone went to purchase NRTW it would pull from CreateSpace not Lightning Source because of the relationship between Amazon and CreateSpace. It would also only be listed once in Ingrams, but that would be from the Lightning Source listing since I opted out of CreateSpace’s expanded distribution. So if a store is looking to purchase the book, it will show up as returnable with a 55% discount. Without questioning, I set up the files as she instructed, and everything fell into place.
What I Learned
When it came time to publishing my second book, Nate Rocks the Boat – I felt like an old pro. Here’s what I learned when publishing a book from scratch:
- Use your own ISBN number (and imprint).
- Use Lightning Source in order to get listed in the Ingrams catalog – be sure to toggle yes on the options asking if you want your book to have a 55% discount and be returnable.
- Use CreateSpace and choose the distribution option of Amazon.com only – use the same ISBN as the one you used for Lightning Source. Opt out of all other expanded distribution.
One other great piece of advice from my book designer (ps-her name is Deana Riddle and she is at Bookstarter.com) – do the upload to CreateSpace first. It is a lot less expensive to make changes to the file on CreateSpace than to have to do it on Lightning Source.
As I said above – these are only my personal experiences, and recommendations. In this industry, I have found that what works for one, does not always work for others. Hopefully, there is some information here that you will find useful. Had I listed to Deana right from the start, I would have saved both time and money. Good luck and happy publishing!
Barnes & Noble:http://bit.ly/NateRocksBN
Twitter 101 by Alison Deluca
One of the main tools I use to gain readers is Twitter. It’s a great resource for writers.
When my book went live on Amazon, I had 17 followers. I now have 7000, a little over a year later.
If you are starting off from scratch, I suggest you use your writer’s name as your twitter username, or your name + author if it’s not available. Go to Twitter.com and build a profile. Be certain to upload a nice headshot or your book cover.
Include a short bio that mentions what your connection is to writing, as well as a link to your blogspot and to your books. Keep this short. It makes it easier for people to recommend you on Twitter. Add a little spice or humor to make it pop. You’re a writer – you can do it.
As an example, here is mine:
Wrestling words and laundry. Author of The Crown Phoenix #Steampunkseries, expected out this summer.
The next step is to get a boatload of followers.
I built a following by participating in #WW or #WriterWednesday, and #FF or #FollowFriday. If you put some of your followers’ names in a tweet and add those hashtags, they will do the same for you. They’ll know you have done that because they will click on the @Mentions, which will bring up all the tweets with their names in them.
At a certain point the following will just start building on its own, especially if you take the time to say thank you to every new follower. Tell them that you’ll check out their links or blogs, if they have one in their profiles, and do so. They’ll check yours out as well.
You can do the same thing in Twitter. Click on @Connect after you have been on for a few days and you’ll see who has mentioned you in a tweet. Tweet them back and say thank you. That gets both of your names out there even more.
That brings us to the magic RT, or retweet. If someone puts up a mention of a book or a blog in a tweet, be certain to retweet it for them. Do it often enough, and you’ll pick up a lot of thank yous. When you put up a blog or book link, people will do the same for you.
While all of this is going on, be certain to tweet about funny thing that happen to you, random thoughts as a writer, snippets from your day – fun things to read. If you go overboard with the marketing and retweets and #FF’s, your tweet list will look like one sea of red links, and you won’t get as many followers. Who wants to get in touch with someone who talks like an infomercial all the time?
If you want to take it to the next level, try to think of something special you can tweet every day, like pirate jokes or silly haikus.
The more time you spend on Twitter, the more followers you will get. Don’t let it take over your life, though. You have books and blogs to write after all. About 20 minutes a day, twice a day, is plenty of time.
Which brings us back to that blog link you put into your profile. Remember how you told new followers that you would check out their links? And how you did? And how you liked some of them enough to follow their blogs so you could read them each week?
Some of your new followers will be doing that to you as well. Through the use of Twitter, you will increase your blog readership. This is how social media will begin bleed over across formats, in a good way.
Not only that, but as you look at your new followers’ blogs and read their tweets, you’ll find new opportunities. There are writers out there looking for guest bloggers and people to interview and books to feature. They might as well feature your book.
You want to keep quality as well as quantity in mind when you start to gather followers. If you randomly follow everyone you see in tweets, then at some point you will be following 2000 people. Twitter caps you at that level, until you have over 2000 followers yourself.
There are ways to get to that level. First, try to keep a balance between people followed and followers. Those numbers should be very close to each other.
(You can purge nonfollowers by going to justunfollow.com or tohttp://manageflitter.com/. Log in through twitter and those sites will show you who isn’t following you back. You can unfollow them with a click of your mouse.)
With Twitter capping you at 2000, you can’t afford to follow everyone. Make certain that the people you follow are human and not ‘bots (you can tell by looking at their tweets, which come up in their profiles) and that they aren’t just tweeting about their home carpet cleaning business. You need them to participate in your marketing, not just to concentrate on their start up company.
You can follow up to 500 people a day. If you rotate following people who are interested in books, your genre, and publishing, and unfollow an equal number of those who aren’t following back through manageflitter, you’ll notice a sharp increase in your followers.
Now, to the tweet itself. You only have 140 characters to tweet in. You’ll need to shorten some of those long links you want to tweet, such as Amazon and blog links. You can do that at bit.ly, or at a host of other shortening sites. I like Bit.ly because it stores your shortened links and copies them to your clipboard when you need them again. Plus you can customize your links and track them to see how many people have clicked on them.
If you tweet short links and snippets of information, and if you retweet other followers’ tweets, then your tweets will get retweeted. That’s important, because your info will:
A) go out to a much larger, everwidening audience
B) continue to appear on twitter even after you stop tweeting
C) win you more followers
As a final tip, on #WW (Writer Wednesday) I feature a few select friends, instead of long lists of @writername and @whoosis. Here’s an example:
#WW @danielleraver – She’s funny, talented, and a tech whiz. Her #fantasy book Brother, Betrayed is at http://amzn.to/BrotherUS
You can do a recommendation like that right from followfridayhelper.com.
A recommendation like the one I wrote about Danielle like that gets a lot of attention – more than strings of @writernames, and the people I mention in those tweets get a real kick out of it.
The problem with Twitter is that it is very fast-moving. A tweet comes and goes in an instant. Marking a tweet with a hashtag like #MyWANA #Fantasy or #romance puts your tweet in a specialized list that other people will access.
Another way to get around that immediacy is to schedule tweets to appear at regular intervals. You can do that on Hootsuite, right on line, or on Tweetdeck, which you download and install. Both have several amazing features, such as the ability to sort several groups of hashtags at once.
In my opinion, being classy, having a thick skin, and respecting the other authors out there will get you a lot further in the Tweetiverse than any automatic Followback app. But I think that’s true of most of the aspects of being a writer.
One writer, who is publishing the male version of Pride and Prejudice, holds regular “balls” on Friday nights. He tweets to followers under the hashtag #DarcyBall ; they check in and speak Austenese. Once you have enough followers you can do the same kind of thing, tailored for your book.
The sources that taught me the most about Twitter can be found here:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/alison.deluca.author OR http://on.fb.me/TNWEfb
Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/AlisonDeLuca
Google + http://bit.ly/ADGoogle
From Sleepless in Seattle to Clueless in Melbourne by Jonathan Gould
I know, it’s a pretty zappy title. It’s also true. A while ago, I spent a year living in Seattle. Actually, it was quite a while ago but as my age is a closely kept secret, I’m not going to tell you how long. But I’m sure at some point I must have been sleepless while I was there. And since I’ve been back home in Melbourne, there is absolutely no doubt that I am, was, and am likely to remain pretty damn clueless about most things related to publishing.
You want a laugh? You want to hear how clueless I actually was? When I first had the brilliant idea to write a book some years ago (again, not telling you how many) I had this amazing idea that once it was finished, I would mail it to a publisher who would recognise my brilliance straight away and offer me a deal on the spot. Then, of course, I would instantly start selling books by the truckload, and would be able to quit my job and live a life of leisure. Okay, pick yourself up off the floor. I haven’t finished yet.
The realisation that maybe it would be a little trickier than that to make my mark in the publishing industry slowly sunk in. Years of frustration followed. The slow drag of writing up cover letters and sending them off, and then waiting for months and months with baited breath until the inevitable rejection letters arrived. A few times it looked like I might get a break: a couple of school readers published by an educational publisher; making a contact at a major publishing company who really liked my stuff. But everything turned into dead-ends.
In the meantime, I remained clueless enough to stay optimistic and keep writing, eventually building up quite a substantial portfolio of work.
I had pretty much made the totally clueless and uninformed decision to self-publish the traditional way – you know, big expenses up front and a big print run of books that would probably prove impossible to sell. Then a friend who had just got a kindle for himself told me about KDP. At least I didn’t waste all that money. Instead, in a totally clueless manner, I leaped into e-publishing.
All right, it’s laugh time again. When I published my first ebook, Doodling, I couldn’t have been more clueless about what was involved. Marketing – what the heck is that? And as for social networking – I had absolutely zero online presence. I had never been near Twitter or Facebook and had never even read someone else’s blog, let alone having one myself. Those rare occasions when I actually sold a book (after the initial rather small flurry of friends and family) sent me into paroxysms of joy. Again, it was a long, slow learning curve before I began to get some idea about how to use social networks to tap into the writer’s communities and (shock horror) even improve my actual sales.
Here’s the bit where my cluelessness actually ended up working in my favour. Because one of the first things I discovered was that the best way to sell more books is to have more books to sell. At this point, if I’d just had the one book, I may have finally found my ridiculous optimism starting to flag. But I had heaps of books I could now work on getting out. Who would have thought that with my seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of cluelessness, I could actually got something right?
These days, I still feel pretty clueless. When I dip into the various networks and look at all the clever things writers are doing to get the word out about their books, I’m constantly overwhelmed by it all. But somehow, despite my lack of competence in social networking, I’m managed to find myself in the middle of a bunch of on-line tribes and have even become a member of a self-publishing collective – the Alexandria Publishing Group. And I’m selling books. Maybe not the kinds of numbers I dreamed of back in those marvelously naïve days of old, but still numbers I couldn’t have predicted a year ago.
I feel like I’m on the right track. Because when your starting position is “totally clueless” then there’s surely only one way to go.
More about Jonathan Gould
Jonathan Gould has lived in Melbourne, Australia all his life, except when he hasn’t (e.g. Seattle). He has written comedy sketches for both the theatre and radio, as well as several published children’s books for the educational market.
He likes to refer to his stories as dag-lit because they don’t easily fit into recognisable genres (dag is Australian slang for a person who is unfashionable and doesn’t follow the crowd – but in an amusing and fun way). You might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.
Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).
You can find him at:
Books by Jonathan Gould
Magnus Opum: an epic fantasy that’s slightly skewed – Tolkien with a twist.
Doodling: the extraordinary adventures of a man who fell off the world (because it was moving too fast.
Flidderbugs: a political satire, a fable, or maybe just a funny story about a bunch of bugs with some strange obsessions.
Apparently, I’m an author by Shaun Allan
Sure, I’ve written a book – more than one – and a few short stories, some poems, guest posts and have an ongoing blog, but I struggle to actually call myself an ‘author’. Why is that?
I’m giving a writing workshop at a local Academy next month. The person who contacted me to ask if I’d like to participate said that the students would get a kick out of a ‘real author’ being there. I asked, only half joking, if someone else was going to be there too. Of course, she was referring to me, but it sounded odd…
Me a ‘real’ author?
I don’t know. I’m just me. My daughter thinks that, because I’ve been in the newspaper a few times, on the radio and on the TV, I must be famous. It makes me smile. Yes, people all over the world know my name and have read my book but…
… Wow… People all over the world know my name and have read my book…
Maybe I am a real author…
Anywho. I don’t feel it. I don’t feel any different. People came up to me at a recent Waterstones signing and were treating me like I was some kind of minor celebrity. I felt like looking behind me to see if Lady Gaga or someone had walked in. I don’t FEEL like an author. I FEEL like someone who writes because they can’t not. I FEEL like someone who writes because, if they didn’t, the words would bubble up and ooze out of their ears. I FEEL like someone who, if he didn’t give the characters their own voice, would potentially be classed as having multiple personalities as they vied to be heard.
I can’t help writing. I have to. Is it therapy? Perhaps. My main character incarcerates himself in an asylum. I say to people that Sin is a lot like me, or has a lot of me in him, so maybe the need for literary therapy isn’t too surprising. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to write, but when I do, I’m ‘in the zone’ and washed away by the situations and circumstances I find myself in. I become the character and, as I tend not to plan out my stories, it’s a magical mystery tour for me too.
But, am I a ‘real’ author? I suppose I am. I have a book. More than one, as I said. My main character has his own blog and Twitter account. My book is in the library and in bookstores and available online. I’ve signed copies and received fantastic reviews. Been compared to ‘real authors.’ I suppose I should accept it and embrace my ‘authorship.’
I’d started this with the comment that, apparently, I’m an author. My intention was to talk about other people’s reaction to that but, instead ‘ve rambled on about my own reaction. But what of others’?
It varies and sometimes I’ve wished I hadn’t said anything at all.
Some think it’s great, but don’t take it too seriously: ‘Wow, really? And what’s your real job?’
To be honest, I often forget to say I’m a writer. I’m almost embarrassed, which is crazy as I should be, and am usually, proud. My ‘real’ job is very busy and means I don’t get a lot of time to write. It’s not surprising Sin took me ten years to complete. That leads onto another reaction I get.
This time it’s the people I work with. Granted they’re in the minority, but I get jokes about ‘knocking out another chapter’ and similar hilarious comments. Of course, if I was knocking out chapters at work, that ten years would have been ten weeks, or at the most ten months.
I have had some real support from my colleagues. A few come to signings, buy the book, just say ‘well done’ and mean it.
There’s those that say ‘Well done’ and follow with ‘you must be rolling in it now.’ Hmmm… Not quite.
The best reaction is from those that think it’s great that I’ve written a book. They buy it, read it and tell me they like or love it. One such person, when I asked if he’d started it, told me he’d not only started Sin, but he was on his fifth read and thought it was one of the best books he’d ever read!
But still, there are those kickers-in-the-teeth who ask if I’m knocking another one out. They can make me feel like I’m doing something wrong or something that should be a dirty little secret. Well, that’s not going to work. Loud’n'Proud.
I’ve written a book, more than one, it’s selling quite well, it’s had amazing reviews and actually like it myself!
Hey, some of you admit you’ve never even picked up a book that doesn’t have pictures, and think that’s fine. Maybe that’s why you can’t understand how I was driven to write. You will never know what it’s like to enter another world or another life and lose yourself or become someone else.
I’ve helped people do that. From when my old English teacher captivated us with his reading of To Kill A Mockingbird, I’ve dreamed of doing the same.
I had one lady tell me she actually went down the street from my book on which the ‘Seven Hills’ location in Sin is based. Something like that tells me that, perhaps, I didn’t do too badly.
Hey, apparently I’m an author.
Pleased to meet you.
Blog (Character’s POV):http://singularityspoint.blogspot.com
Twitter: @singularityspnt (Sin: @SinNotSinful)
Mapping a World by David M Brown
I like to feel I respond well to feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, and one criticism my debut novel, Fezariu’s Epiphany, received was about its lack of maps. I took the reader on a tour of Odrica, Merelax Island, Valadomiar, Emeraldon and Himordia during that book but these were just names and picturing them in the world of Elenchera was no easy task without a map. I held my hands up and agreed with my readers that maps were essential to any future novels I wrote.
During the world building for Elenchera I produced more than 500 hand drawn maps, a statistic which still makes me shudder today. Despite a good grade in GCSE Art at secondary school, drawing has never been my strongpoint, though I wish it was. I wouldn’t have allowed my basic maps to grace the pages of any of my novels but I did want readers to have maps to refer to with my next novel, A World Apart. I needed to find a way to improve the maps I already had, make them look more professional and easy to navigate. The hand drawn maps have been my essential guide when planning and writing my novels but I knew the reader deserved better quality.
My muse and dear wife, Donna, who is a constant support when it comes to my writing, gave me some useful help in enhancing these existing maps. She handed me a program by the name of Campaign Cartographer 3 along with an intimidating instruction manual. Campaign Cartographer 3 is considered to be one of the best pieces of software out there for producing maps so I was naturally worried. Given the simplicity of my hand drawn maps and my basic drawing skills, would I be able to transfer them into Campaign Cartographer 3 and give them the visual substance they so desperately needed?
As well as an extensive but useful instruction manual, you can find some very good tutorials on YouTube to help navigate your way through Campaign Cartographer 3. The YouTube ones became my sanctuary in fact and I followed them step by step in recreating my first map for A World Apart. In a nutshell I scanned one of my hand drawn maps, traced it into Campaign Cartographer 3, and then utilised the program’s many functions to add a more realistic look to the map before adding loads of mountains, trees, rivers, towns and villages. Despite my embarrassment at my hand drawn maps I have shared them here along with the ones I have produced in Campaign Cartographer 3 to give you an idea of how much the software can improve things. They certainly look better than the ones I drew but as far as Campaign Cartographer 3 goes these are among the simplest maps you will ever see! The truth is if I can produce these maps from my hand drawn efforts than anyone can.
Of course, using Campaign Cartographer 3 hasn’t been easy. Many times I’ve found myself pulling my hair out trying to figure things out but more often than not the answer was straightforward. The online tutorials, instruction manual and a selection of forums are all worth seeking out and are easy to find if ever you get stuck.
I currently have some rather pleasant looking maps and despite the difficult learning curve with Campaign Cartographer 3, I am pleased I persevered. I now feel that the world of Elenchera has taken on even more life. Looking at the close ups of the maps, the colour of the landscape, seeing the towns, tracing the journeys of my characters and the experiences they have, it has all taken on a far greater level of realism.
To my wonderful readers that wanted maps, I promise there will be some in A World Apart and all future novels in The Elencheran Chronicles series. This humble author has endured blood, sweat and tears to get there. If it brings a smile to the faces of my readers though, it will all have been worth it. This is proof that I do listen to feedback and that readers are not to be ignored whenever they do offer constructive criticism.
David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Honors in History and English, David’s dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.
Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu’s Epiphany and the in-progress A World Apart, combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten., David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month traveling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.
Book Bloggers & the Indie Revolution
By Terri Giuliano Long
Shortly after I began marketing my debut novel, In Leah’s Wake, a former agent assured me that I’d never sell 500 books. Nothing about the book had engaged her, she said. The agent had left New York, but she was a pro and I was a novice, and her words stung. I hung up the phone, feeling heartbroken, depressed. Had I not been in the midst of my first blog tour, I might have pulled my book off the shelf that day.
Determined to see the tour through, to honor my commitment, I soldiered on. On the tour, I met many wonderful, caring people—book bloggers—who buoyed and sustained me. Their enthusiastic support encouraged me and gave me the confidence to believe in myself.
Since then, In Leah’s Wake has appeared on hundreds of blogs. Book bloggers opened their hearts and spread news about this quiet literary novel across their social networks. Now, a year after my discouraging conversation with the agent, my book has sold over 115,000 copies.
Book bloggers are the fairy godmothers and godfathers of the literary world! Bloggers invest their precious time, enormous energy, and tremendous talent in discovering, reviewing, and promoting new books—and, in so doing, they keep dreams alive.
In real, tangible ways, book bloggers have created and nurtured the indie revolution. With courage, determination, and vision, they planted the seeds for this amazing populist movement and enabled it to grow.
Here are five important ways bloggers have shaped the literary world:
- For indie titles, bloggers replace traditional critics: Book reviews are big business. Publications like The New York Times Book Review are supported, at least in part, by ad revenues generated from traditional publishers. Currently, traditional media refuse to review self-published books; while there may be other reasons, there is little money to be made.
Before bloggers assumed this role, readers interested in trying works by unfamiliar indie authors had to buy books largely at random. With the explosion of digital publishing, thousands of eBooks flooded the market. Understandably, many readers were reluctant to plunk down hard-earned cash for a book that could turn out to be a dud. Recognizing the need for honest reviews, bloggers picked up the slack. Today, bloggers take the guesswork out of book buying, lowering the risk for readers.
- Provide professional reviews, tailored to their audience: Like traditional reviewers, reputable bloggers don’t merely give an opinion about a book under review. They offer a thorough analysis: they analyze plot, evaluate structure and character development, offer praise where due, and cite shortcomings.
Today, many bloggers specialize in a particular genre or genres and readers follow favorite bloggers with whom they share sensibilities. Unlike traditional critiques, blogger reviews feel personal. Readers respond to posts and chat with the blogger and with one another; in this open dialogue, readers and bloggers connect, engendering feelings of friendship and trust.
- Discover new voices: Unlike the traditional media, many bloggers welcome indie-published books. Except in free reads, no one pays for their reviews. Bloggers are independent. They’re not compelled by a corporation to read books by anointed authors. They select books freely, eager to share good reads with their followers and visitors. Because they’re open-minded, willing to give authors they’ve never heard of a shot, they discover new voices. This is what happened with In Leah’s Wake.
- Democratize the bestseller lists: Traditional publishers invest upwards of $100,000 into marketing favored titles, often at the expense of smaller books or books by new or lesser known authors (who are then blamed if the book fails to meet sales projections or the publisher’s expectations). With massive PR efforts, raising the profile of their anointed authors and favored books, traditional publishers have controlled the bestseller lists.
Thanks to bloggers, history is changing.
Bloggers publish reviews on their blog, post them on reader and consumer sites, such as Goodreads, BarnesandNoble.com, and Amazon, and share book news across their social networks—on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest. By harnessing the power of social networks, spreading news virally, bloggers—and their followers—are launching bestsellers, putting their favorite books on those all-important lists. Today, the NY Times and USA Today lists regularly feature self-published titles.
- Offer collaborative communities for authors and readers: Bloggers host vibrant communities of authors and readers. In the past, other than during public readings, readers and authors rarely connected. Today, readers and authors meet on book blogs and dynamic conversations unfold. Bloggers also interview authors or invite them to write guest posts, giving authors a chance to share their thoughts with readers and readers the opportunity to learn more about—and connect with—authors.
Friendly, personal, book blogs invite collaborative dialogue. The comments an author receives from readers help her grow as an artist. Most blogs are moderated, eliminating the unfortunate nastiness that all too often ensues on sites that encourage anonymity. Book blogs are the new literary salons – offering a safe, vibrant, comfortable place for authors and readers to chat.
Today, thanks to bloggers, we take delight in the funny, poignant, intelligent voices of new authors from around the world—voices that, just a few years ago, might have been silenced by the gatekeepers of the old guard. These rich new voices reach into hearts and minds, forging connections, uniting us in a community of readers and writers, as we search for and find—through the power of words—the better part of ourselves. Isn’t this what reading and writing are all about?
Blog – http://tglong.com/site/
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tglongwrites
Twitter – https://twitter.com/tglong
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/tglong/
**Please note that guest posts and columns reflect the opinions of the individual author and not The Indie Exchange as a whole. Also note, The Indie Exchange uses affiliate links to offset the costs of hosting etc.**
Latest posts by Coral Russell (see all)
- #indieexchange Book Review: Train Wreck by Bennett Gavrish - May 24, 2013
- Flash Fiction Contest Week 4 - May 22, 2013
- What are you reading? 5/19 - May 19, 2013