Salute to Small Business

November is also National Entrepreneur Month and in this post I’d like to celebrate all the self-published authors, small independent publishers and presses that make up the indie book scene. We are the little engines that could. This Saturday is Small Business Saturday and if you have a book that you would like to promote this week, I open this blog up for you to pitch your book. In the comments, tell me your name, title of your book and give a link to where we can purchase your book. I ask that everyone who reads this blog today would consider purchasing a book from a self published author or independent publisher this weekend.

I have two books that are both available online.

I Believe              I Wish for Snow Cover

http://www.amazon.com/shops/AV3MJQ7H1J1P6

Every book comes signed by the author.

Thank you for your support of me and the other authors who post their links.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

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The Business of Writing

The moment you decided to become a writer, you become a business. Not only are you in business, you are the CEO of You Incorporated. Everything you do and say from this point on will be scrutinized. People will suddenly care what you have to say and genuinely want your opinion on everything. What exactly, is the business of writing?

Writing as a business is about more than putting words on paper. It’s about sharing ideas and at times challenging beliefs. Writing is about giving a voice to the disenfranchised or being an authority in a field. It’s about communicating effectively as both a teacher and a storyteller. The hardest part of the business of writing is discovering your platform. Once you decide what being a business means for you, then you can sit down and be about the business of writing.

When I began my publishing company back in 2004, I branded myself as a writer of Christian books for children and young adults. I’ve since expanded that to include adults. The subject matter is on a different level but my message is still the same. My mission has not changed. There is room to grow and evolve even within the brand and platform you’ve chosen.  Just be strategic in how you roll out the new direction of your company. I’m always looking for ways to improve the business and to find what I consider to be success.

Success for some writers is being published. For others, it’s writing a best seller. For me it’s being able to use my gifts and talents to make a living that will help support my family. It’s writing this blog in the hopes that I’ll share something that will help you take things to the next level in your writing. This is the cake for me, public recognition would be the icing.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

Book Covers

Book cover design by Tony Sarg

 

As children we were all taught to never judge a book by its cover. But readers do it all the time. We look at the title, then the images and try to determine if we want to read the book. If we have time, we’ll turn the book over and read the back cover copy and maybe look at the table of contents. Like it or not the cover is the first impression that your book will make on potential readers.

 

A publishing friend of mine asked the question, “Are there certain things on a book cover that will turn you off?” I wish I could give you a magic formula that would make your book attractive to everyone who sees it. But the reality is, that everyone who sees your cover will view it through their own set of experiences. However, you can make sure that your cover has the following characteristics that readers are looking for.

 

  • Choose an image that reflects the title
  • Choose background colors that reflect the theme
  • Make sure that the overall design draws people in
  • Choose a spine font that is interesting, yet readable
  • Make sure the back cover copy is intriguing

 

You may spend months or years writing your book, spend just as much time and energy on your cover design. Pay a little more to get a custom design if that is what is needed to make your book stand out from the others on the shelf. Even electronic books, have covers so this advice applies to e-books too. A good book cover can be your best marketing tool.  You can take the image and make post cards, posters, flyers, whatever materials you need in order to promote your book.

 

Until Next Time,

 

Nicole D. P. McLaughlin

 

 

 

Self-Publishing: Working with Bookstores

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.

Every author wants to see their book in a bookstore.  The pinnacle is to have your books available at major chains all over the country.  There are a few things you, as a self published author will have to consider before you print your books if you want them to be picked up by bookstores.

  • You’ll need to purchase an ISBN from Bowker that identifies your book.
  • You’ll need a bar code with the price of your book on the back for easy scanning
  • If you’d like to be in the library as well, you’ll need to register with the Library of Congress and get an LCCN.
  • Your book must have a spine wide enough to hold the title of your book and your last name.
  • You’ll need to need to have your title listed with a major book distributor.

That’s a lot to do just to get your book where people can purchase it. But it’s necessary if you are going to compete with a traditional publisher. The internet levels the playing field a little. You can list your titles online easily through Amazon.com and other online bookstores.

I met an author said, she called bookstores in cities where she knew people and asked for her title. She would then send her friends and family to the store to ask for the title. Eventually, they would call her to purchase the book because so many people were coming in looking for it.

My motto is always be creative. If you can foster a relationship with a local bookstore then by all means do so. Take advantage of local author days and other programs designed for local self-published authors.

If you have an agent, you may also ask them to shop your self-published book to traditional publishers. They may be interested in doing a second printing or possibly buying your next book.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

Why Write

English: penulis = writer

I began this conversation on my Facebook fan page this weekend. I asked, “Would you continue to write, even if you never publish?” We are always talking about publishing. It’s now easier than ever to self-publish and so that is no longer the big obstacle it used to be.  However, I wonder if people are so focused on publishing that they are losing the why of it all.

There are only a few reasons to sit down and write. If Fiction is your thing, it’s the thrill of plotting the perfect story. If Non-Fiction, it’s about sharing information. At the end of the day a writer writes because he or she must. There is a deep desire to tell the tale or relay the message to the masses. My question to you is, “What happens if the masses never read a single word?”

A few years ago, I shut Azreal Publishing down and contemplated giving up on being in the publishing business. After a year and half, I decided to rebuild and give a second try. Through it all I never stopped writing. As a result I have books waiting to be published. I have several other book ideas in various stages of development. A writer must write.

When you’re wondering, why you continue to sit down day after day and write keep the following thoughts in mind:

  • Writing benefits the writer as much as the reader
  • Readers want new books to read
  • Books are not the only things you can write
  • Experimenting with different genres makes you a better writer

Hope that you find that the act of manipulating words is enough for you. That yo u never lose focus of your why and the reason you write. Keep producing quality works and in time your audience will find you.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D. P. McLaughlin

Author as Bookseller

I Believe  When I self-published my first book, it didn’t dawn on me at the time that I was becoming a bookseller. Even those who publish with a traditional publisher, are still responsible for having a marketing plan and promoting their books. Writers tend to be a little introverted. Salesperson is not exactly the best word to describe many of us. However, if you want to become a bestselling author, you’ll have to learn to sell.

The biggest thing you have to sell is not really the book itself, but rather the concept or big idea the book represents.  There will also be a lot of selling of yourself. My degree is in Theatre. I learned all of the technical, management and playwriting aspects of theatre because I hate auditioning. I was young , and didn’t know how to handle rejection. As an actor, I thought if I’m not chosen for a part that, I’m being rejected as a person. Whereas, if my script is rejected, I can re-write it and make it acceptable.

Fear of rejection is the number one reason the average person is terrified of sales. There are a select few who manage to never take it personal and as a result excel in the sales arena. To be a successful bookseller, here’s a few habits you’ll want to foster in your life.

  1. Tell Everybody Often: We are often timid about telling people about our book or what we do. Or we tell them once and expect that to be enough. Research shows it takes on average eight presentations before a marketing message is received by one person. Find ways to keep your book or service before them.
  2. Remember It’s a Numbers Game: Track your numbers and know the odds. If it takes talking to 20 people to sell one book. Then you know if you want to sell 10 books you must reach 200 people.
  3. Know Your Audience: If you know your audience and what they need you can tailor a message that will intrigue them. You can explain how your book or product solves their problem. By targeting a specific group of people who are favorable to your message you increase your odds. You can now sell one in five people.

I’ve found it’s nice to make your books available online and get them in a bookstore if you can. However, the book won’t sell itself, you still have to let people know where they can find it. You should also be prepared to sell books out of your trunk if you have to.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D. P. McLaughlin

Every Writer Needs an Editor

Edit Ruthlessly

Regardless of how great a writer you are a good editor will only make you that much better.  I’m prepping a book for publication and I hired an editor to go through and make sure I didn’t have any typos or spelling errors.  I didn’t have any, but what I did have, was a bunch of missing or misplaced punctuation.  I know that I often misuse and abuse commas, colons and dashes.  So having a professional go through and fix my messy punctuation has given me the confidence to publish this book knowing that it is the best work I could have possibly done.

An editor can also help you with flow and syntax to make your work easier to read and understand.  I’ve read some books, especially non-fiction, that were just hard to digest.  The information was good but I would have to stop and re-read several passages to try to comprehend the text.  Editors can also help fix plot construction for fiction writers and make sure that you are writing in a consistent voice throughout.

Even if you consider yourself to be a good editor and master of punctuation and sentence structure, having a second pair of eyes is always a good thing.  If your writing is pretty good, the cost for a quick read through by an editor will be minimal and money well spent.  You can find plenty of great editors online through freelance websites like Elance and oDesk or find an editor at your local college or university.  There is no excuse for unedited books being brought into the world.  The saying goes that writing is rewriting. Well a good writer always has their work edited before they send it out into the world.

Until Next Week,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin