Monthly Archives: February 2013

Kevin and the Seven Lions Free Promotion extended

I have one more day left for a free promotion and the book is currently at 24 on the top 100 free children’s books.  Would love to see it break the top 20.  Click on the pic to visit the Amazon page.

You don’t need a Kindle to read it.  You can read it with a Kindle App on your Ipad or read it with the Kindle Cloud  Reader.

"Kevin and the Seven Lions"

Great Resources for Indie Publishing

I’ve talked to a few people in the last 48 hours who have mentioned they are reading this blog for ideas on how to publish their book.  I figured a better way maybe instead of me doing all the writing, but instead share what I have read and am currently reading.

Books

APE, Author-Publisher-Entrepreneur came out after I was well on my way finishing the first Kevin book.  It covers the whole process from the writing, to the publishing, to the marketing part.  It is written by Guy Kawasaki, who a major tech player, having once been a Chief Apple Evangelist and himself has over 1 million twitter followers.

One thing I disagree with him on is a social media presence.  He suggests getting that started before anything.  I wouldn’t agree with that.  Write your book, but also work on developing your audience, which could include a large social media following.

But still the best book on the whole process from beginning to end.

This is another entry in how to publish.  David Gaughran is an Irish writer who has a great blog on the subject.  His book doesn’t have as much on the promotion end as the Kawasaki book does, but still tells you step by step what to do.

Be the Monkey, doesn’t really tell you how to publish, but it does the best job explaining about what is going on in the publishing world.  Both writers are best-selling authors with traditional contracts who have gone the indie route.  That alone speaks volumes of the publishing industry.

Websites and Blogs

Here is a list of some great blogs by writers who are doing the indie publishing thing.

James Altucher’s writing is what got me to thinking about self-publishing.  He has books published both traditionally and self-published.  This post from 2011 is probably what got the ball rolling for me.  His blog is wonderful for things beyond writing.  It was his blog where I discovered the phrase “choose yourself.”  But that’s for another post.

Let’s Go Digital is David Gaughran’s blog who wrote the above Let’s Get Digital.  Great info about the industry and how to get your name out.

Failure Ahoy is the blog of Edward Robertson who has several self published scifi books out.  He does an unbelievable job digging into the nitty-gritty of the Amazon store’s algorithm.

Dean Wesley Smith is a former traditionally published author who now indie publishes.  (Noticing a pattern?)  He does online workshops for people, which I have not done, but his experience that he passes on is great.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing is written by Joe Konrath who helped write the above Be the Monkey.  See this post on his blog about a writer who used to publish thrillers through Harlequin but now does them on her own.  See where I am going with this?

Barry Eisler apparently used to be an actual James Bond, expect that he is an American.  And has been writing spy novels for years, now he has taken back the rights to his books and published them on his own.  Great resources here.

Hugh Howley is the writer of the Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga)
.  His self published series has been bought by 20th century fox to make into a movie with Ridley Scott directing.  So there you go.

Anyway that is what I currently reading about this new world.  The online community is very helpful.  I am also a part of the A.P.E. community on Google+.  Great community.

I am making this whole thing up as I go, and the more we share together the better.  We are all in this together.

P.S. yes the above Amazon links are affiliates, I make a little money if you buy through those links.  That doesn’t make a bad person, other things do.

Indie Publishing a book as a writing assignment

By day I teach first grade, I don’t teach high school.  But I had this thought, could publishing a book be a good assignment for class?  Teacher’s rightfully check and grade student writing.  But once in the real world waiting for one person to grade us doesn’t really work, especially if you are a writer.  Writers, and other creative projects for that matter, are graded on how they are received by hundreds or thousands of readers and fans.  Not exactly the same sort of model presented in a classroom where one teacher tells you weather or not your book or writing works.  One person left a 3 star review of my book on Amazon saying that the story I wrote was boringly written, and that if I had I taken her class she would given me a C+.  Fair enough.  But I’m not in her class.

I got plenty of these in my lifetime.

I got plenty of these in my lifetime.

Other people have liked the book, does that make their feedback any less correct or worthy because they may or may not teach a class?

So I didn’t please the reviewer.

But the review got me thinking about grading and gatekeepers.  I know, a strange combination.

In the working world, if writing was their job, students could be in a situation where pleasing just one person, i.e. a boss.

But pleasing just one person isn’t where the 21st century is headed.  Students will need to know how to relate to hundreds or thousands of different people.

Trying to please many different unknown bosses, i.e. readers, is a much more difficult challenge.  How do you know what thousands of people will like and want to read?  It maybe easier to please just one person.

Here’s why I think it would be an interesting idea for an assignment.

1. The students are creating.

2. The students are writing.

3. The students should be communiating with others to edit and proof their work.

4. Students should be showing good digital citizenship by marketing their book.

We need to prepare students to relate to large groups of people and not just one person.  How can we do that?  Thoughts?

Yet Another Selfish Reason to Write and Publish

There are many reasons to write and publish.  Many writers will suggest magnanimous reasons, high and mighty reasons.  There are plenty of selfish reasons to do so as well, nothing wrong with that.

I will suggest one selfish reason here.

Have a kid tell you they checked out your book from the library.

That’s an incredible reason to write and publish.

Write a book just to see it here.  Trust me.  (P.S. image not from  my school library)

Write a book just to see it here. Trust me. (P.S. image not from my school library)

For those that don’t know, I teach.  I teach first grade.  Yes, men, from time to time teach the younger grades, but that’s another post.

My school announced yesterday that my book was now available to be checked out from the library.  I had students ask if they could check it out.  I reminded them they already had a class copy and that others should be able to read it if they wanted to.

When going to lunch, a student from another class told me they had checked out my book.  That is a cool feeling, no way to describe it.

If you are teacher write your book, and then see what I am talking about.

Go do it now.

Step 3 Tell People You’ve Written a Book.

The next step I took was telling people I wrote book.  I didn’t tell anyone at first because I had never done this before.  I mean who am I to think I can write a book?  No one from New York or London had ordained me a writer.  Who am I?

The simple math is that you will sell zero copies if you never tell people.

There is more than gaining sales when you tell people, you also earn respect.

Here’s the honest truth I didn’t even tell my wife at first.  I mean she had read an early draft of the book when I first wrote it several years ago.  But didn’t even tell my wife that I had hired an illustrator and was finishing a book.  Yeah, that’s the kind of husband I am.
But after I got around to telling her, I used Facebook to publish a few illustrations from the book to tell everyone.  Carla’s illustrations made it look like a legitimate book.
By publishing the pictures people actually began to be interested in the book.  It took me by surprise.

As if by some divine intervention Disney bought Star Wars, and the news covered my Facebook feed for the evening.  So I decided to jump on the wave and post the pictures the same evening.

My first press release.  A full 10-12 weeks before it was ready.

My first press release. A full 10-12 weeks before it was ready.

In some ways it would seem that telling people that you’ve written a book would be obvious. But telling people about a new project, especially something you’ve never done before, is a learning experience.
Telling people that you’ve made a book changes your life. And it changes it in ways you didn’t expect.
I received various questions from “where did you get the idea”, “who published you?”, “how did you do it?”
I was unprepared for the questions, in many ways I still am. But I realized if you not only write a book, but also format it, get a cover, and put it out there then you’ve done more than most people, and that separates you from the rest of the crowd.  They will want to know how you got there.

Okay, you’ve finished a book, and put it out there.  You have done what thousands of people have wanted to do, but never got around to doing it.

So go ahead and tell people, you’ve earned it.

Step 2 Hiring Someone to help you

You’re not just an author, you’re a publisher

There is more to making a book than just writing it. You will need an editor, a cover designer, and possibly an illustrator.

In this new world you are not just the author, you are also the publisher. So all of these decisions fall on your shoulders. Don’t worry that is a good thing.

With the first Kevin book I didn’t hire an editor.  That was a mistake.

Consequently there are a handful of copies of my book in existence that have two typos in them. My fantasy is that those copies will be worth millions some day. Until then they are just books with mistakes. But the wonderful thing about the 21st century is that when they were discovered it was fixed very quickly. As in, less than 24 hours kind of quick.

I did hire an illustrator to illustrate the book and design the cover. I did that right.

You will need an editor and a cover designer to make your book look professional.  In other words, that it doesn’t look “self-published” or pathetic. If you publish, remember you are competing against millions of other books. Do everything you can to make yourself standout.

You're competing against millions of books.

You’re competing against millions of books.

Even with just an ebook you will need an exceptional cover. Yes, your mom always taught you to never judge a book by its cover. Ironically that saying doesn’t work in a bookstore. Your cover is exactly how potential customers may decide to give your book a try. In the Kindle store or iBookstore your cover is competing against tons of other book covers. Make it look professional.

Sorry mom, people do judge a book by its cover.

You will need to hire someone to help you, yes it is an expense, get over it you’re a publisher.

So where do I hire someone?

I used Elance, and probably will for the foreseeable future.  I found Carla there, and she did an amazing job.

I am in Virginia, and she is in the UK.  That is a great example of how the 21st century is different, and how business is different.  Carla and I never had to meet face to face to work together and make wonderful illustrations.  I love that.

What I did was post a job posting on Elance.  I wrote that I was a teacher who attempted to write a children’s book and that I wanted an illustrator.  Because the book is only around 1000 words, I attached the text of the story to the job posting.  That was something I did right by accident.

By posting the text several illustrators differentiated themselves from the group by posting illustrations from the story as they saw.

On a side note trust me when I say that you see someone interpret your work, it will blow your mind like nothing else.

47 illustrators applied for the job.  Only a handful took the time to draw the character or a scene from the story.  Others would just say, I can do it for X amount of money.  No effort, no nothing.

What those that did it right is very closely related to Ramit Sethi’s Brief Case Technique.  There’s a lesson and another full post here in interviewing for any job.  Maybe I’ll write that at another time.

Hiring someone online is a 21st century skill that everyone will need to learn at some point. Plus being the person that is ultimately in charge is a nice change from always being an employee. But hiring someone to work with you is just the beginning of the process. I will write more about how Carla and I worked together in an upcoming post.

In this new world you are not just the author, you are also the publisher of your work.  That is a great thing.