Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Present a Professional Appearance as a Self-Publisher

If you have self-published or are considering that route, you are more than just an author - you are a business owner. You have to think like a business owner and present a professional appearance. There are things you can do to elevate yourself to publisher status, which in turn garners you a little more respect along with some clout. After all, you are competing with the big boys. Plus there are added bonuses, such as access to larger pre-publication reviewers.

1 - A publisher name. Establish yourself with a company name, and preferably not your own. (Keep you the author and you the publisher separate.) Google several names to see what is available. You can register your business at the local county court house for a small fee. If your state collects sales tax, you will need to register your business at the Secretary of State website and get a resale number. (Sales tax is collected only on physical books sold within your state.)

2 - Register with Bowker Link. Once you have a company name, you can register with Bowker. This will give you access to their Books in Print database, the largest in the world, plus access to their services and products. You can list upcoming books in Books in Print, and booksellers will be able to pull up this information.

3 - Purchase your own ISBN from Bowker. They are the only company authorized to sell ISBNs - you can purchase them in batches of 10, 100, etc. Purchasing ISBNs from Bowker lists you as the publisher. (As opposed to “renting” them from CreateSpace, Smashwords, or a POD publisher. They are listed as the publisher, not you, and true self-publishing is defined by who owns the ISBN.) Many sites will allow you to upload and sell ebooks without an ISBN, but it looks a lot more professional with one. In a batch of 10 or more ISBNs, the prefix identifies you as the publisher, giving you more clout. Bowker also sells bar codes for print books.

4 - Get a Library of Congress Control Number. This only applies to print books - ebooks are not yet accepted. As a small publisher, you won’t qualify for the official LCCN, but you can register for a PNC instead. (The numbers are basically the same - the big difference is that the Library of Congress won’t design a CIP block for you for free.) The LCCN/PNC is listed on the copyright page. To look even more professional, you can hire someone to design a CIP block. (Catalogue in Publications) The CIP block helps libraries catalogue your book.

There are a lot of others things a self-publisher can do to appear more professional in the areas of editing, cover art, formatting, etc. But those items are often overlooked and most people aren’t aware of them. If you’re serious about your career as a self-published author, look into those four items. It could make a big difference in your sales!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The ABC's of a Writing Career

If you’ve been writing for a while with little results, it’s challenging to stay focused. Your writing buddies may have landed contracts, launched a second or third book or perhaps hit a best-seller list. While it may seem as if some writers achieve success overnight, there is no such thing. A book or series will come to prominence and it seems as if they materialized out of thin air, but the reality is that the writer laboured over the book/s for months, did numerous edits and re-writes before coming up with a product good enough to submit or publish. A prime example of this is Michael Wallace who talks about his ‘overnight’ success.

Since we know there is no magic formula, let’s talk about the building blocks of a career in writing.

Apprenticeship - There’s no getting around it. We learn to write by putting our brain in gear, pasting butt to chair and fingers to keyboard. We may buy dozens of books on the craft of writing, attend conferences and/or workshops. Some of us have Diplomas in creative writing. Although they are useful, none of these tools can take the place of practical experience, which we gain by writing short stories and novels. Over time, we develop a style that is unique and with each new story our skill level climbs.

Build a Body of Work - If you’re convinced there is no overnight success, you’ll also believe what I’m about to tell you. The best form of advertising is your finished product—your book. All the advertising in the world won’t be worth much if people buy your novel and it is full or errors, plot holes and incredible situations. However, if you’ve written a good book and follow that up with a few more that can stand on their own, you’ll have the freedom to call yourself a writer by profession.  That said, once you have a few books under your belt, it’s time to find at least one method by which you can expand your fan base.

Create a  Loss Leader - I’ll state up front that I’m not a fan of giving away my books, but I’ll also say that the one book I’ve made perma-free has rewarded me. It’s been in the number one spot on Amazon several times in the short story category and after a year and a half has fallen out of the top ten. Between March 2012 and last month, that book was downloaded 165,580 times. This is modest by the standard of best-selling writers, but the positive spin-off is that gradually, I’m seeing an uptick in sales. If you don’t have enough books to let one go free, you can offer a sample of something new in the back of your current book, compile short stories or write a prequel for an upcoming novel and use it as a deal sweetener for readers.

Yes, there’s a D.

Don’t Become Discouraged - When you’ve worked hard to produce a good book and sales are a trickle, or you haven’t sold to a publisher, it’s easy to become discouraged. You’ve probably come across this data in one form or another, but I invite you to read this article about thirty famous authors who faced rejection time and again. Self-publishing has opened other options to the enterprising writer, but some struggles are the same.   

A career in writing is a marathon, not a sprint and if you give up now, you’ll never know if you would have had a respectable writing career. It’s also important to remember that your stories will never have a bigger champion than you. Nobody can spin a tale the way you do and if you don’t believe in your writing, nobody else will.

Keep studying the craft. Keep writing. Keep believing.

Do you feel less insecure knowing that overnight success is more of a myth than reality? Are you prepared to keep working on that masterpiece you’ve yet to complete? Will you continue putting your building blocks in place?

Monday, October 14, 2013

3 Easy Steps to Turn Your Writing Insecurities into Strengths

by Lynda R Young
Our writing insecurities have a way of feeding the voice of doubt, tugging on the compulsion to give up, and making us hide our work because we think it’s not good enough. They come and go, of course, but just when we think we’ve mastered the insecurities, they come back in full force the next time we get a rejection letter or a bad review. Since they don’t fully go away, we need to find a way to deal with them so they no longer rule us. We need to make them work for us.

Step One: Don’t Deny the Insecurities.
Every writer, new to established, has felt insecurities about their writing. Accept this is going to happen to you too. Don’t punish yourself for feeling the urge to quit, the urge to weep, to shout and pout and everything in between. Feel these things—privately—and get them out of your system. If you bottle up the emotions and hide them in a dark place, then the problem will only fester and grow.

Step Two: Find Support.
Most writers will agree with me: Writing isn’t easy. Every part of the process has the potential to be painful—from the idea to a finished manuscript, from the querying or formatting to the published book. The way is littered with stumbling blocks which will snag our doubts. We need support to keep us strong and focused.

While family and friends can be a great support, a writer needs the kind of encouragement and understanding only other writers can offer. The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a fabulous group for this and we even have a Facebook group for fast feedback, whether you need genuine cheers, a shoulder to cry on, or helpful advice. There is no such thing as having too much support too, so connect with other writers at conferences and workshops, and join a writing group in your local area.

Step Three: Adjust Your Approach.
Insecurities are all too often perceived as a weakness. It’s why we so often shy from them or hide them. If, however, we change our thinking, and embrace a more positive approach toward any reservations we might have toward our writing, then the power they once had over us will lessen.

For example:
Insecurities flare when we’re focusing in the wrong place. They act as a great reminder when we’re caught up in the negatives when we should be celebrating the positives. Every milestone in the writing dream should be noted, shared, and celebrated.

Insecurities are a watchdog against an inflated ego. The ego tells us our work is pure gold, we don’t need to go to workshops or find critique partners, and everyone will love our stories. Insecurities remind us we can’t please everyone and, while we won’t ever reach perfection in our writing, there’s always more to learn. Even the very best writers need critique partners and beta readers.

Insecurities remind us why we write. It’s easy to get loaded down in the hard slog of writing and polishing a manuscript. We forget far too quickly how much we love to write. When the hardship hits us, we’re forced to remember why we started writing in the first place.

Insecurities teach us to appreciate the craft. Without our uncertainties, we’re more likely to dream of those publishing unicorns and rainbows, and expect to climb to the bestseller lists without pouring our all into the effort. We need our insecurities to truly understand what it takes to get published and stay published.

Insecurities tell us that near enough isn’t good enough. When I get to the end of a manuscript, I’m bored of editing and just want to start sending it out…then those little doubts start nibbling at the corner of my mind. I want to ignore them because I’m eager to move on to the next project. Sound familiar? Our insecurities are often just what we need to give our manuscripts one more round of edits. It could make the difference between rejection and a contract.

You have writing insecurities? Great! That makes you normal. Now go write!

What helps you to turn insecurities into strengths? How have your support groups helped? How do your insecurities keep you going?

Lynda R. Young lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock, and a cat who believes world domination starts in the home. She writes speculative short stories and is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Photo by Lynda R Young. Sapling on the beach, somewhere on the Australian coast between Sydney and Melbourne.


Monday, October 7, 2013

The Benefits of Knowledge and Support

Thanks to everyone who now follows this site and the Facebook Group.

We are also opening up an opportunity for IWSG members who offer services to list them here. Visit the Services page above for details.

A schedule is already in place for the Facebook group – we’ll have Motivational Mondays, Wow! It’s Wednesday, and Fun Fridays. Members are already networking, asking questions, and finding answers and support.

And that is exactly what we hope to accomplish with both sites.

Most of us don’t have a clue when we start this journey. Often we don’t even realize that we don’t have a clue. (That’s a dangerous place to be!) Finding the answers when you don’t know the questions can be a real challenge. That’s why we want this site to become one of the best resources online, a place where writers can come to find links to sites covering every aspect of writing, publishing, and marketing. We want you armed and ready so you can succeed!

We also want to be a source of support for writers everywhere. That is how this group began and we don’t want to lose it. Sometimes all it takes is an encouraging word from just one person to keep us on track. We need to know others have faced our struggles and succeeded.

When I started this group over two years ago, I had no idea it would strike such a nerve with other writers. The monthly postings were so passionate, as were the comments from other members. This group is such a place of strength. I am humbled and touched by the response. If I’d never accomplished anything else online or sold any books, it wouldn’t matter. This group is what matters to me. It represents a positive force in a negative world. It’s the difference one person can make in the life of another.

Thank you for coming along on this journey.

What does the IWSG mean to you?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Welcome to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website!

Many thanks to the IWSG Admins who helped put it together - Joy Campbell, Michelle Wallace, Joylene Nowell Butler, Susan Gourley/Kelley, L. Diane Wolfe, Lynda Young, - and me, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

It is still a work in progress and we will continue to add to it over time. You will find pages full of links to great sites and databases under the following subjects – Writing Tips; Publishers, Agents, Queries; Self-Publishing; Marketing; Contests; and Publications.

We also have a page where you can leave suggestions for sites to add to the database. Note we are looking for sites, not individual posts!

The IWSG List will be hosted here, as well as on Alex J. Cavanaugh’s site.

The first Wednesday will be an encouraging word from the team, and every Monday will be a post from one of the admins about writing, designed to encourage and give you some valuable information or resources.

We also have a Facebook page HERE. Just make a request to join the group - we have admins standing by and approving requests as they come in.

Eventually, we intend to open it up for guest posts on Wednesday, and expand to include Twitter and possibly a newsletter. (The Twitter hashtag is still #IWSG.)

We invite you to follow and explore our new site. And let us know what we can do to make it a great resource for writers.

Thanks everyone for your dedication to the IWSG and making this site a reality!

Today’s awesome IWSG co-hosts - Julie Luek, Rachna Chabria, Beverly Fox, and Ilima Todd! Please be sure to thank them for their time and effort to make all IWSG members feel welcome.