Ask me anything about publishing (please!)

book publishingThis weekend I’m attending the Willamette Writer’s conference in Portland, Oregon. There are a whole bunch of great writers who are beginning to think about publishing, and they are asking a lot of questions. I know a lot about publishing but I don’t often address the more common or basic stuff (how to set up a Twitter account, how to use Facebook, etc).

So today I decided to write a mega post called “100 common publishing questions answered.” I’ve been writing down questions I hear repeated, and brainstorming some of my own, but it would really help me out with you could tell me the biggest questions you have, or confusingly nebulous areas that you find challenging, about publishing or self-publishing.

I’ll wait about a week and then start writing in-depth answers for every question. Thanks for your help!

Here’s what I have so far:

BLOGGING

Do I have to do it?

How do people find my content?

How do links work?

Why should I write about other people?

How often should I post?

What should I write about?

Do I have to talk to people?

How can I sell books from my website?

How do I link my blog with social media?

How do I know how much traffic I’m getting?

How do I know how many people are clicking on and buying my book?

 

 

PUBLISHING

What kind of book should I write?

How do I find/pitch an agent?

How do I write a query?

How do I write a book proposal?

How do I self-publish?

How do I make a book cover (cheaply?)

How much does it cost to self-publish?

Do I need to hire an expensive book designer?

How do I find cover art?

How do I format the interior of my book (for print/for ebooks)

Where do I upload/put my files?

How do people buy my book and who ships it to them?

How do I get more book reviews?

How do I get book blurbs?

What should I put on the back of my book cover?

How do I get an ISBN / Barcode?

Do I need a publishing imprint?

Should I register as a company?

Should I file a copyright or trademark?

 

MARKETING

What do I need an email list for?

How do I grow my email list?

How do I use Mailchimp/Aweber?

How do I become a bestseller?

Do I have to use Twitter / How do I use Twitter?

Do I have to use Facebook / How do I use Facebook?

I’m a writer, why should I use Pinterest or Instagram?

How do I get on TV/radio?

How do I get my book reviewed in newspapers?

How do I get bookstores to carry my books?

Should I buy a Kirkus (or other expensive) review?

Should I enter book award contests?

Should I do book tours?

Should I do book signings?

How do I do a book launch?

How do I get support from celebrities/organizations?

Should I write a press release?

 

AMAZON / KINDLE

How do I format/upload my files?

What categories should I choose?

What keywords should I choose?

How should I decide on my title and subtitle?

How do I  check my sales ranking?

How do I handle rejection/ fear

How do I hit the bestseller lists?

Why not sell from my website for more profit?

 

This is just a start! Please help out by sharing concerns/questions you have in the comments so I can write answers for you.

Edit: I put all the answers together and published them as an ebook, which you can get free by joining my email list. If you have more questions, post them here and I can update the book.

 

 

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me
  • Annette Leach

    Coming from an all day Writer’s Digest Pro conference yesterday, here are some of the questions many authors were asking:
    Is Kindle Select worth it?

    Is Kindle’s new pricing support (Beta) worth changing your ebook price?

    Should you publish in many formats? Ebook + Print + Audio? Different languages?

    What are the best marketing resource websites for self publishers?

    Should you hire a publicist?

    Does crowd funding for books work?

    Is NetGalley worth the investment?

    If you only have time to develop one social media account, which one would you recommend over all others for authors? As most effective?

    How do you keep your readers engaged while you try to write your second book?

    How can you get into libraries if you don’t have any professional / industry reviews?

    What’s the best software programs or apps for helping you draft or outline your book?

    Do I need a literary agent or should I query editors directly?

    What’s the easiest way to create an author website? Is there a template? What tabs should I have on my site?

    How do I find a good editor for my genre? A copyproofer? An ebook designer? A print book designer?

    What’s the range of costs for these editing & design freelance professionals? How do I know if I’m getting ripped off?

    Is it worth it to pay for a publishing package from an author services company? Which ones are good? Or am I better off with freelancers? Or DIY? Again, how do I know if I’m getting ripped off?

  • David Emil Henderson

    What InDesign color profiles work best when printing covers with CreateSpace?

  • David Emil Henderson

    What are the best-selling genres in fiction?

  • David Emil Henderson

    What are the most common mistakes in query letters to agents?

  • David Emil Henderson

    Are video “trailers” on YouTube useful for promoting novels?

  • VladaSerbia

    How I self-publish my book if English don’t my native language, if I write in my native language, and if I live in a small European country?

  • I’ve got a short story I entered for a competition that didn’t win and is too short to put out on Kindle on its own. I was going to save it for a collection of such pieces and submit it to a few publishers while I wait. I had the idea of turning it into a podcast and giving it away – thoughts?

    My reasoning is that this is an unusual idea and might get me noticed. (Of course anyone reading this can now do the same!)

  • Lisa Martin

    Here’s a few questions… Should my manuscript be proofed by an editor before sending it to an agent?, How do I write an acknowledgement page?, Why is the back cover so important? How do I find a good editor/proofreader?….hope that helps!

  • Tony Lavely

    Look like some interesting topics to address. I’ll be looking to see the answers!

    Two questions, related, I think anyone should consider: Why do I need an agent? Do I really want to give up a ton of time and money, and my rights for the services of a publisher, or is it reasonable to do that work (editing, cover, MARKETING) myself?

    Hope it helps. Good luck!

    Edit for typos

  • plmiller

    A question on money. Can you make much money publishing an e-book? Or is it much less than hardcover?

    • Less per book, but usually much more per sales, and since ebooks can be very short (10,000 words or less) you’re able to put out a ton of content, which can earn nice income.

  • Desmond X Torres

    Your email to me sent me here, Derrick- and hey, you’re back on this side of the pond! Last time we spoke you were on the Pacific Rim if I’m not mistaken! Welcome home dude!

    Now I just put up a comment on your blog post about shitty books. I saw the link at the bottom of this one, and it got me thinking about THIS post that has nothing about writing development. I mean craft development. So…. my questions are:
    – What are the best websites for learning about the craft and why did you pick them?
    – How can I set up my own (or join) a writer’s support group where we can trade off our work for review and improvement?
    – What books on the craft do you recommend and why?

    Cheers man. Love this site!

  • Michael Hudon

    How does one find a publisher once their self published book is released on amazon?

    • Sell a ton of books; that’s all it takes. Focus on ebook sales, try to get over 1000 sales a month and hundreds of reviews, then agents and publishers will start taking notice.

  • There has been a lot of discussion about how Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited program will affect sales and revenue for self-published authors. Do you believe this will have a significant impact on Kindle authors? Have you seen any affects on sales and revenue thus far, or is it too early to tell? Do you have any suggestions of how manage Kindle books in light of this (Free vs. no free books, KDP or not, etc.) I don’t have a book ready to publish yet so don’t see what goes on behind the scenes, but I would like to hear what you have to say about it. Thanks for inviting me to ask a question here, Derek!

    • I’m not qualified to answer, since I don’t have any big selling titles yet and don’t have enough data. But my view is this: yes Amazon is a huge company and they are too powerful and after they are the last ones standing, they can do whatever they want (like not pay authors). But in the meantime, they are working really hard to sell my books to exactly the people who want to read them – a better job than anyone else in the world. Someday they may decide not to offer as many benefits, in which case authors are free to pull down their books. If they get too unpopular, there will absolutely be new competitors that offer authors better terms. Amazon is winning because it offers the best terms to authors and to readers – as long as they keep winning I’m not really worried about them being a dictator: it’s an open market. We use them because they’re good and convenient and better than any competitor. When that’s no longer the case, things will shift again.

  • Church Politics

    Derek, as far as a self publisher, what are the options on outside editing? Thanks, Cory

    • It’s expensive, but it can make a big difference. For my non-fiction, “good” and “amazing” won’t make that huge a difference. And I’m a damn fine writer anyway. I don’t think you will always recoup the expense, and I believe in publishing books that will earn you money as opposed to vanity projects. So do whatever you have to so that your publishing is profitable. It’s a complex subject… you can check out http://www.BookButchers.com to find editors.

      • Church Politics

        Mmmm…..Thanks.

  • Karyn Almendarez

    Derek, how do I format scanned letters, pictures, etc. for an ebook?

    • JPG is fine, around 1000px wide should be big enough.

  • Cathryn Wellner

    On the blog I’m turning into a series of ebooks I embed a lot of YouTube videos. Can I use them in the ebooks (not embedded but as video screenshots that are hyperlinked)? Or is that considered NOT fair use? If it’s OK to use them, how do I set up for the links/screen shots for mobi and epub?

    • Interesting question – I use “snagit” which lets me take a screenshot of whatever I want, although I think Macs have a similar feature built in. I think you can also right click and save picture as straight from youtube to get the preview. I haven’t tested using the ’embed’ code from youtube in ebooks yet but I’ll try that before I write a full answer to this.

  • Cathryn Wellner

    BTW – lots of good questions here. Thanks for doing this, Derek! I’m a fan of your book and your work.

  • Cathryn Wellner

    What are the issues/options around font licensing for self-published books, both print and ebook? In past I’ve purchased specific fonts for projects. Is that still the way it’s done?

    • Yes – you need to check the details of each font and buy the right license so that you can make stuff for sale, it’s usually more expensive. There are lots of free fonts with limitations, and there are other free fonts where it’s OK to use. You just need to do a little research. In general though (this is me personally, but it rubs a lot of people the wrong way) if I’m self-publishing I don’t worry about that stuff too much, because nobody is going to care or notice, and if they do they’ll ask me not to use it. They would only take legal action if I became a millionaire and was in the news all the time; and then they’d have to track down whether or not I purchased the right license, and then they could ask for some money. Anyway, do the best you can, be as safe as you can be, but don’t obsess on the details.

      • Cathryn Wellner

        Sounds sensible to me. Thanks, Derek.

  • SabrinaStudent

    I have lots of questions

    how do i get noticed?
    what makes a book ‘Publish worthy’?
    How old do you NEED to be to publish a book?
    how to people find my works?
    how could i get popular?
    How do i even get into contact with a publisher?
    How do i self-publish,what are the steps involved?
    Do i need to have social networking site to make myself known?
    Where can i self publish?
    any good sites that can help?

    try to answer as many as you can. I am only 15 and i am writing my second book called ‘depths of the heart’ i don’t expect to get published until i finish school but i really need some help,

    • Hi Sabrina – I know a girl in 4th grade who wrote a book during Nanowrimo, kickstarted it and published on Createspace – her book is awesome. Being young works in your favor because you can say “I wrote this when I was 15” – I wouldn’t wait, the time is now! Get some feedback, get a cheap cover and ebook formatting on fiverr.com, and put it on Kindle! Writing more and more is the real secret of success, so none of the other questions really matter (although I will answer them in full when I organize all this material). See if you can publish 5 books before you finish high school. Then you’ll have learned a lot about writing and publishing, and your skills will be much stronger, and it’s much more likely you’ll be able to write even better books and start selling.

      • Quantity makes quality – isn’t it so, when it comes to writing? 🙂

    • Publish worthy is the return of the investment, if the publisher invests in your stuff he wants profit, this is the only criteria.

      Self publishing on the other hand is easy – but is very hard to market. It’s not worth investing into your first books 100%, after you test the water, then you can invest money – best cover is few letter slapped on the cover without the image.

  • Derek, On ISBNs, when or why do you need one? Is this strictly needed for traditional publishing? Will having an ISBN increase sales (ROI), particularly with a book published on Amazon?

    • You used to need them for each book format (paperback, hardback, audiobook, some would say a different one for Kindle and Epub). Now you don’t really need one for ebooks, on Kindle or iTunes at least. It won’t really increase sales either way – people don’t look up ISBNs. If you get a free one from Amazon they will include you into an expanded distribution that also services libraries – but that doesn’t actually mean anything, because libraries will stock books that are selling well or recommended in the book channels they follow; it just means they could order one, but if they want a book they’ll just buy it like everyone else, where ever it’s available. So for ebooks, I rarely use them – because I’m selling to readers. For print books, you can get the free one or pay extra to change the display name to a publisher. I do this because I don’t want it to say “published by createspace” on my sales page. But you can pay even more to have your publisher listed with your ISBN officially on Bowker – the only people who would care are agents and publishers (gatekeepers) and again, I’m not trying to impress them. It doesn’t really matter anymore how professional you appear or if you did it the right way: books that sell a lot will be successful, and often be scooped up by agents or publishers, regardless of what you did right or wrong.

      • EtienneT2014

        Can I just create my own publishing name and put it on my books? I have noticed that some idie authors do this, but I wonder if they actually formed a publishing company, or simply put a name for marketing purposes.

  • Waldo

    I have been offered a publishing contract, which I have signed. It is a small publishing house that has limited resources. I have a lot of the same questions as many of the other people posting here as I am responsible for much of the process myself…ie the cover art, marketing, book reviews etc.

    • Hi – have you accepted? Personally I wouldn’t take it, and I hear this from agents all the time too: small publishers help you design the interior and book cover, and help you upload the files, but you could probably hire a professional yourself (and get better quality design for less – and design is a HUGE part, virtually the only major part of publishing so it must be done right, and small presses aren’t usually very good at it. After the files are online, they won’t do much to promote you. You won’t get in bookstores until you start selling big numbers, and that’s all up to you. If you want more support and feedback and help, maybe it’s a good way to learn, but make sure you’ll be able to get the rights back if for example you don’t sell 10,000 copies in the first 2 years.

  • Are they famous artists? With music lyrics you have to be insanely careful; the music industry will come after you – even though I’m usually not so careful with stuff like this, and it should be fine for fair use… it usually isn’t. Sorry for the bad news but it may be far more trouble than it’s worth to quote lyrics (unless they are small, independent artists, in which case I’m sure they’d be happy about it…) Your other option is to paraphrase or hint at it without actually using the real lyrics.

  • I love this question! I’m actually working on a book about drugs and creativity. Nerves is a flight or fight response, I also can’t control them, even though I’ve done a lot of public speaking. A lot of professors take propranolol, it keeps you calm, and you’ll speak more slowly, which is good if you’re reading, but not as good if you need to be animated or think quickly. I’ve also found modafinil makes you crazy smart and articulate, but removes your filter so you may come off colder/meaner than you would. And Vicodin removes social anxiety, you just feel good and confident, but not drugged up or anything, I don’t recommend taking drugs regularly but for important events, you want to do as well as you can.

  • Good question, be very careful about lyrics, for professional artists, it’s almost always not OK and they will charge an insane amount of money. You can paraphrase or hint, but not quote directly.

  • If you have no platform, doing a free KDP giveaway and promoting it on all the free kindle sites is the best option. Go free until you have a platform, when you have a platform you don’t need it so much. Also if you series, it’s very effective to have the first book for free but not the others (I give my books away for free on my site and also sell them – but I have some future books I probably won’t need to do any free campaign because my platform will be large enough for a strong launch).

  • Interesting – I think we’re getting used to larger fonts. I like a lot of space over large fonts, people say 12pt but you could do 13 or 14. Kid’s books are probably around 16pt. For me it depends on the book, because you want it to be around 300 pages (so it has a nice thick spine, but not a huge intimidating spine).

  • Thanks for these! I’ll answer them all in full once I go through and organize all the questions.

  • It would help a lot for both books; did you self publish? Have you been growing your platform and list? I would publish books 2 and 3 asap, set them at 2.99 and set the first book at .99 cents with occasional periods of free days. And you can publish for much less than $8000 – even with a great editor it should cost around 3000 (I don’t spend any money to publish anymore, because I can handle all the services myself).

  • Doesn’t matter at all: bookstores won’t buy your book until you hit bestseller lists or make a big stink in the media. Bookstores don’t have any space. They are not your target. Focus on selling to the readers. I’ve had my books in expanded distribution and I do get bookstore orders sometimes (if I market really hard and get in the news often). So yes, sign up for it, but don’t worry about the bookstores, worry about online sales and selling a lot of books in a short time period with a massive launch, guest posting, etc.

  • You don’t compete, you do things differently. You are actually in a much stronger position than any traditional publisher, you can do things they cannot do, which is why self-publishing is destroying traditional publishing. I’m going to write a book on it called “guerrilla publishing” soon. Audio book is a great option, but can be costly to set up… consider reading and recording it yourself?

  • Have you seen my guide at http://www.diybookformats.com? Just set your word file up the right way, and use a free online conversion tool and it will look perfect. Don’t get picky about design on ebooks, it should be very simple and clean, nothing fancy. But if it’s frustrating, fiverr.com is a good option. Check out deviantart.com, find an illustrator you like, contact them and offer some cash for their art or something custom (I offer around $250 usually).

    You need reviews before you do any marketing, and you have to get them in anyway you possibly can. It has to happen. You can’t do anything with your book until it has reviews. (I’ll explain this a lot more in the full answer – did you get copies of my books? I talk a lot about reviews in those).

  • Romance, Thriller, Science Fiction/Space (I think, you can look them up). For non-fiction anything about health, money, relationships or happiness.

  • Formatting picture books is different – check out Blurb.com, they do well. Illustrate your own, take pics with your iphone, add on text (iphone even has some amazing text editing apps you can just add text to the images on your phone then export them all, put them together in a PDF).

  • Good question; there are people living in other countries who will buy the books in English. For translating you have to be proactive, but it’s a much smaller market so it may not be worth the effort. I wouldn’t consider doing it unless you are selling huge in English. Some smart people from other countries have been looking for bestseller, self-published books in English and offer to translate and publish them for 50% of earnings – someone made that offer to me and I said sure, what is there to lose?

  • Find and share interesting or useful content. That should be easy for introverts. Read a lot, if you have a kindle you can highlight cool sentences and tweet them automatically. Don’t market on social media (that’s not what it’s for!). Share amazing content that other people like. It should really be your content, although you can share your own blog posts. The advantage of social media is that it lets people get to know you and like you, if they like you, they will buy from you.

  • No, don’t sweat it. Focus on online sales. Hit HUGE numbers. The rest will work itself out.

  • I don’t have enough experience with that one yet, but I’ll publish some short stuff this month to test it out.

  • check out http://www.diybookformats.com – pick a style that looks good and get someone on fiverr to format it for less than $50. Word is OK, but InDesign is better.

  • I would focus on the title rather than the brand, and put “Book one of the X series” up on top. Different covers are better – but very similar styles.

  • Yes. Sign up. Start posting useful stuff. The best way to use it is just to follow influential people, or people who writ .e in a similar genre, or people who you’d love to get a blurb from, and respond, like or share their content. Do that for a few months. Use social media to build relationships with influencers, not to sell books.

  • Reviews are really important. It’s hard to get reviews in the beginning but you’ve got to have 10 before you do any real marketing; or ask for a blurb or review from someone more credible. Invite your friends and family to dinner and make them all spend 5 minutes to post reviews. It doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) rave 5 star reviews; those don’t work. Balanced, fair 3 and 4 star reviews are better. They don’t have to be long or in depth, short comments are fine. It’s hard to start, but that’s why building a platform is so awesome. If I need reviews now, I can offer a big prize and ask all my friends to go leave reviews. I’m also starting to get to the place where I rub shoulders with the really enormous influencers – not there yet, but starting to get on their radar. Getting blurbs from famous people is a lot like stalking – it takes subtlety and planning.

  • If lots of people are writing about the same topic, GREAT. Tons of people write diet books and people will always keep buying them.

  • Without a list, you have to ask other people to share the news about your book. With a list, you don’t need any favors; you just tell the thousands of people who follow you to go buy your book, and get a lot of sales the same day, and hit all the bestseller lists. It’s. So. Easy. But building a list means providing a lot of great content, repeatedly, which is what a blog is for. The best marketing in the world is offering a ton of useful free content over a long period of time and developing relationships with lots of people online, so that when you launch a book, you don’t need to do any marketing or advertising. You just email everybody and say “OK I’m done” and you’ll do pretty well. You can pay others to market it for you but you won’t be nearly as successful as someone who has their own platform.

  • None of those things will help you sell more books, and they take a lot of work and time to set up. They used to work: the don’t any more. Save your time for writing more books, doing online advertising, writing more blog posts and guest posts, and building your own platform.

  • Sounds like fan fiction: Shades of Gray was originally Twilight fan fiction; she had to change the names (and take out the vampire part) before she published for real. So yes, you can do whatever you want if it isn’t for sale, and it can be great writing practice. But don’t write for yourself too long- write for us too!

  • Easier to be prolific when you’re making money and writing full-time, so focus on creating a ton of content that you can sell, even if it isn’t that great. Mediocre authors with 50 books are doing as well as brilliant authors with only 5. Also, stay tuned for book “The Creative Brain on Drugs.” 🙂

  • Thanks, will answer all in my big post.

  • refinedself

    Besides the usual suspects (Writer’s Digest, Querytracker.Net, writers conferences), what are some other placed to find agents who accept submissions? I’ve tried them all, and only found 150-odd agents who accept books in my genre (self-help).

    • Your website looks great – do you have a platform already? You can pitch an agent but in my opinion you’d do better self-publishing. It’s all going to come down to the size of your platform and your own marketing efforts, although if you got signed with a reputable self-help publisher it might help… the more you can do yourself, the more power you’ll have later – if you self-publish you can use the book for more innovative marketing hacks, grow your platform and use that experience to have a much better shot at getting an advance for your next book.

      • refinedself

        If by platform you mean the blog, then yes. Nothing beyond that. Writing more posts, seeking to guest post, be on podcasts, etc. I’d prefer a publisher, but will self-publish if I must.

        Thanks.

        • Books are a great way to build a platform, so you could put out a couple little books or guides, build your traffic and list, and then it will be easier to get a publisher for your main one…

          • refinedself

            I think I’ll do just that – offer some short guides for free to build the audience.

  • Organizations can be worthwhile, I’m in a few, but only if you go to events and actually meet up with people. Everything is easier with friends and groups. I’m writing a book on cover design, but writing one specifically on photoshop is a good idea. I’m developing an online software that has some of the best features of photoshop so I’ll write a good for that once I add it to DIYCovers.com… a lot of those tips will be the same for Photoshop. Thanks for the idea, I can at least write a long post about it.

  • You should probably ask the amazon reviewer before using it, but I don’t believe it is legally necessary… I would just use “Amazon Reviewer” though rather than putting their name on it, in case they mind.

    I ease into it on Amazon, so I can build reviews before doing a really launch: but then you launch hard to hit the bestseller lists. I usually stay on Amazon and do KDP days to reach a ton of people, but once my platform is bigger, for some books I won’t need to do free days (I’m thinking of putting up a few on presale through smashwords), so people can buy early, and all those buys count during the launch week so you could get the high numbers faster.

    As a designer I will often look for art and hire an artist – the only danger in doing it yourself is that you may choose something you like that won’t actually sell the book. A good designer will steer you towards a cover that will sell.

  • What questions do you have? I have a block of 10, and I use them but I don’t set everything up through Bowker. I just login to Bowker, choose an ISBN, and use that on Createspace… that’s enough for me, because I know Createspace/expanded distribution will list the book and ISBN in most places it’s needed.

  • Thanks Irene, yes classes and practice and training can all help too! For me personally, I have trouble controlling my natural reactions (sweating, anxiety, shakiness). I understand my advice is controversial and I can’t defend it in a brief comment, which is why I’m writing a big book about it.

  • refinedself

    I could be mistaken, but quoting a few lines from a song should be allowed as fair use (U.S. law). Printing the whole song, no.

    • It should be, I’m not sure why it isn’t, but I’ve heard a lot of stories of people being charged crazy fees. Maybe those are urban legends… in most cases I don’t worry much but for lyrics, I steer clear because of the scare stories.

  • roxy

    These are great questions, can’t wait to see the answers.
    I have a couple: On the topic of cover art, if I make my own cover with free stock/Creative Commons, how and where should I give credit? If I buy pre-made covers online, should there be a contract between me and my designer?

    • You can give credit for the photography, and the cover design, on the bottom of the back cover, and also usually on the copyright page. For stock photography it usually isn’t necessary, but it’s nice, and it can make the book look more professional. I’m not big on contracts myself, just make sure the art they used is royalty free and that they remove the premade cover from their site after you buy it.

  • renegawlt

    If I publish through Amazon, does that mean my local booksellers won’t carry my book?

    • Not necessarily; though booksellers are unlikely to sell your book even if traditionally published. Small/independent bookstores sometimes try to steer clear of Amazon… and local bookstores may be more likely to support books of local authors, but in general, bookstores are businesses that need to make money, so they will sell whatever people are buying.

  • Alana Ihsan

    What is a proof copy?

    I remember when I was trying to get copies made, and the website kept throwing this term around without explanation.

    • A proof copy is a special pre-publication copy of your book; sometimes it’s without real cover art – or with a badge on the cover that says “Proof Copy.” Often these are sent out to reviewers before publishing, because some reviewers want to make sure they get an early copy about 3 months before it is really published. If you’re self-publishing, this basically means you need to finish, then send out proofs to reviewers and wait 3 months hoping they’ll give you a blurb or review you can use. Personally, that’s not worth it to me for most books, but if you’re going for a major bestseller, doing it right may be worthwhile.

  • Hi Emma, it’s awesome that you started writing so young! Is it all finished? Send me a copy and I’ll see if I can make a cover for it or help you publish.

  • That’s a good question; I don’t have much experience but a standard title page copyright notice should suffice, aka “no part of this manuscript can be reproduced without the author’s consent in anyway, shape or form, nor shared without permission.”

  • Where are you publishing? If you are blogging on your own new blog, or Tweeting without followers, or facebooking without followers, then you’re standing in the woods alone by yourself shouting but nobody can hear you. They are all at the party. You need to make friends first and get followers; you do that by NOT talking about your book, but instead being friendly, helping people and sharing great content, either your own articles or other people’s. Also, what are you posting? If you’re posting a lot of marketing crap about your book everywhere (“Buy my book on sale NOW!!!!”) that’s a smoke screen that’s blocking people from actually getting to know you. If they don’t know you, they won’t care about you and your book. If you’re doing the work but it isn’t working, you probably don’t have any friends. If you don’t have any friends, it’s probably because you’re trying to sell shit to strangers.

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  • Lisa Borja

    About self-epublishing: What if I do it and basically just bomb – will this make it even harder to get a small publisher or agent in the future if I want one (for a different book)?

    • Nope! It sucks but it’s actually to be expected. Your first book will probably not be great; your first cover and website will be ugly, you’ll make a bunch of mistakes. That’s OK. You learn, you get better, you improve. Publishers don’t give a shit until you’re selling, so just try again. Issue a new release with updated design; do a bigger promotion, or (smartest move) just write more books until you become a better writer and start selling. Failing at first AND THEN selling a lot of books is a necessary part of your “hero’s journey” – it will make you more likeable and more successful in the long term. It’s an achievement story, full of perseverance. So if the first book is a failure, great – you’re on the right path. Keep at it!

      • Thia Licona

        Thanks! This answer hits the mark with me! I still would appreciate if you give me a clue of how am doing with my learning curve from your guidance? (posted question above) 🙂

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  • Nice move on gathering data for your book – as soon as I’ll build traction I’ll make the same thing. 😛

  • To find readers – you need to make friends on the internet and they’ll help you spread your content, if it’s worth it – facebook/twitter is the spam hole with people who don’t give a fuck about you and your stuff.

    Book for free gets you nowhere – I’ve done that, book market is very competitive and most of the stuff is plain junk not worth reading.

  • I will only add that with the new VAT reform, it might turn into a downfall for anyone to sell from their blog, especially when you live in Europe, not in UK and your customers are from US.

  • Catherine Fuentes-Tukes

    I am having a problem with creating the right presence for myself and for my books…any tips on how to go about that? I have done the social networking, I have even hired a marketing coach in the past, nothing has worked to my satisfaction…

  • Thia Licona

    I would like to know how am I doing in this whole arena of editing, formatting, DY covers, publishing, marketing, can you evaluate my situation? Right now, after learning so much from your GUIDE and other articles, I decided to re-write & re-format Power From On High! As it was it had no plot or structure. With your guidance I think I am correcting that matter but, I am not sure yet of what am I doing. Can you help me?

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