5 Key Steps for Aspiring Authorpreneurs

It was once the case that traditional publishing was the only viable option for authors, but today the rise of self-publishing has allowed authors to take full control of their work. Authors often receive higher royalties by this method and no longer have to wait years until their book is released, and the increase of freelance cover designers and editors means that self-publishing is no longer a last resort after a long process of submissions and rejections. It’s a first choice.

With the rise of self-publishing and the shift of the market to the web, authors have to work hard to build their own platform. They’re no longer just expected to write, but have to sell, and in most instances authors must now be prepared to work harder at marketing than at writing. As a result, writers are no longer just authors, but are becoming ‘authorpreneurs’.

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It may feel unnatural at first, especially following such a creative process like writing a book, but it’s becoming essential for authors to adapt to the savvy ways of an entrepreneur, building their book as they would a business. Thinking like an authorpreneur is essential in becoming a success, and will help to make your writing no longer just a hobby, but a full-time living.


1. Determine your audience

Establishing your target audience is essential in becoming an authorpreneur. What is your book about? Who would enjoy reading it? It’s really important to know as much as you possibly can about your potential fans, as this will make it much easier to reach them. Once you narrow down your target audience perfectly, you’ll find sales so much easier.

Marketing to anyone and everyone, posting on social media to anyone who will listen, and advertising your book on Google, etc. can be a very laborious and time-sucking method for finding your buyers. Whereas finding your target audience, as a tiny little niche, and marketing directly to them, means you are hitting that target in one quick, calculated shot. You’ll have a much higher success rate with marketing if you focus on growing a very specific fan base and marketing only to them.

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 2. Build a brand

When thinking like an authorpreneur, it’s important to keep in mind that you are a business, not just a writer. A key part of this is branding yourself. Focus on building an author brand by establishing how you want to be seen online. Like any successful business, you’ll need a well-designed website and a strong online presence across social media platforms. Sticking to consistent topics, using consistent keywords, and even using consistent colours (e.g. red and yellow – did someone say McDonalds?), can show off a huge level of professionalism, which is invaluable when attracting a readership. So, just as a company has consistent branding, using strong colours, fonts and images, authors should emulate this to give off a professional air.

For help in setting up your own author website, visit our website page.


3. Plan a launch

As with any business, promotion needs to be considered well in advance of release-day. Authors should take advantage of the pre-publication months by planning a launch event in the lead-up to a book release. Launch events can build momentum, excitement and a real buzz around your work at a critical time. Not only do you deserve to do a bit of celebrating after all that hard work, but it will kick-start your marketing campaign in style.

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4. Forming a friendship circle

By following step #1, it should be much easier for you to find potential readers online. Let’s use Twitter as an example. Assuming you follow (and receive a follow back) a hundred or so people that come under your target audience on Twitter, you then need to start reading over the tweets from your followers. What you’re looking for here is the potential for conversation, and for a mutual relationship. You don’t need to juggle too many at once – try aiming for a small and comfortable amount of correspondents, and gradually build it up. These friends become your loyal marketing team. They will endlessly promote you – they will be your brand ambassadors – and all because we always love to help out a friend.

Just as businesses gain loyal customers, you have the opportunity to build a loyal following online, and it’s important to remember to give and take. Social media is a conversation, not a lecture, so always be sure to respond to your followers and take an interest in them. Keep your new circle of readers happy by giving them an inside look – run free giveaways and show them sneak peaks of the inner workings of your writing to create a feeling of exclusivity for your followers.

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5. Enjoy!

Most important of all – have fun! Enjoying the marketing process will allow you to be a resilient authorpreneur, and you’ll become more proactive, more knowledgeable and more satisfied with your writing.

For help with your book marketing, check out our Marketing Advisor page and learn more about how to use these methods to improve your book sales and become an authorpreneur!

Ahem

Literary throat-clearing. ‘What is it?’ you may ask. For those of you who don’t know (and I apologise to those who do), literary throat-clearing is a term for that expendable ‘beginning’ of a story which is not actually the beginning of the story at all. You know, the pages where you do nothing but set the scene, describe the characters, waffle on about their traits and backstory. Description is great and throat-clearing can be useful, but both need to be controlled.

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Throat-clearing can help you as the writer when working on a first draft, as it can help cement the character’s backstory in your head and enable you to visualise the scene more clearly. It will then be easier for you to convey this to your readers; after all, no author can really write well unless their ideas are clear in their own heads. How can you expect readers to understand something that you as the author only have a vague idea about? Description, if done well, also serves to pull readers into the world of your novel.

However, always bear in mind that throat-clearing doesn’t really have a place in revised drafts. Waffle on for as many pages as you like about backstory, scene, character traits etc. if it helps – just be sure to cut and change as much as necessary when rewriting. Some bits of information from throat-clearing may make it into later paragraphs in your revised drafts; see what feels natural to you. The best novels start by either jumping straight into the action or by briefly describing the scene/character/backstory then jumping into the action. In other words, action is the driving force of the novel. Don’t make readers wade through paragraphs upon paragraphs of irrelevant information before you start saying what you really want to say. 

You don’t want to be the author equivalent of Dolores Umbridge! Hem-hem. 

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Re Post: Interview with Michelle Path

Promote Me Please

 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Michelle Path Talks About Her Books

Today we welcome Michelle Path to Promote Me Please to talk about her children’s books.

Q1 Hi, Michelle; while trawling about on Twitter, I found my attention attracted by some wonderfully funny and individual illustrations. So… would you tell our readers about these?

A I like to come up with characters that are unique and fun for children to get to know. I think the best way for children to learn to love to read is by being able to identify with the characters in some way. Incorporating these into stories that are weird and whacky is something that I love to do as an author. The illustrations really bring my stories to life. I am fortunate to have been able to work with such talented artists.

Q2 Sham Subterranean and Xalien and a pirate scared of birds are just three of your characters. Please describe Sham Subterranean in three words.

A Unique, mysterious and likeable

Q 3 OK, who is the pirate and why is he scared of birds?

A The pirate is named Crackskull Jack. He is the captain of a raggedy crew and sails on his ship The Eye of the Storm. Everyone has something they are frightened of and Jack’s phobia just happens to be a fear of birds. Fears are not always rational and logical and Crackskull Jack’s is ironic to say the least. He is on a quest to find a cure for his fear.

Q 4 Which is your favourite of your own books so far and why?

A, I have two favourites. Firstly Xalien the Purple Alien: Xalien Goes to the Zoo. I love animals and one of my main messages as an author is about caring for animals. Xalien is so fun to write about that she almost writes her own adventures.

Secondly Suki and the Seedling. It was the first book I have had published and it is a Chinese based fairy tale with an environmental theme. Caring for the environment is another issue that I am passionate about so it is a book I am incredibly proud of. I wrote the story a few years ago. Jyoti Di Cola really worked her magic on the illustrations.

Q 5 What’s next for Michelle Path?

  1. I have seven books coming out this year (2016) including my first chapter book Rory Aqua Adventure Man. I also have a short story book to be released towards the end of the year titled Phantasmagorical Phobias which includes The Pirate Who Was Scared of Birds and another 5 stories which all deal with ironic phobias. I also have a book called Cody the Pony which I wrote based on my own experiences with my pony Cody. The other books are mainly sequels including a new pirate book and the second Subterranea story.

Thanks, Michelle! And here are some links for readers to follow.

website www.michellepath.com.au

Facebook

Twitter @mimilovesu

Goodreads

Amazon Page

Promote Me Please blog is associated with Affordable Manuscript Assessments

It is open to anyone with a family-friendly creative endeavour to promote. Comments are welcome. To read other interviews at Promote Me Please, choose from the menu on the right of this post. The direct url for this post is http://tinyurl.com/pathtomichelle

RE POST. Characters in Hook Up: Macy

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Now where do I begin? At the beginning of course! Macy – who is she, what is she ? Let’s take a look at her.

All Macy’s life she has been, shall we say, large. Yes that’s Macy, bullied at school for her size, not much in the way of boyfriends or real friends, a loner in a way – possibly because of being an only child with older parents.

She left her loving parents to work with horses. It was her passion and the only time she was ever slim. Her relationships with men were scarce even then, until she met the farmer’s son and then her first taste of love blossomed. They enjoyed riding naked, swimming in the streams, and Macy came alive.

She later met her husband to be who courted her lovingly and her made her happy, until the wedding ring went on her finger. She then learnt how lonely a marriage could be. Her husband drank and abused her both mentally and physically. Eventually, in desperation, and with two children in tow, she up and left him with the help of Emma, her best friend.

Macy became a carer, and with her parents’ help she brought up her two boys. She had learnt to live with herself and for the first time was completely happy with her life, her work and children. As a carer Macy learnt how to appreciate life and met an array of people. She was very good at seeing how people felt and could read them almost like a book , understanding their needs implicitly. She was very well liked by all she met.

After a time Macy met Mark, who at first was seemingly sincerely appreciative of her for how she was, a large curvy woman who was now quite confident in her own skin and also financially secure due to the traggic death of her parents on one of their holidays. She had been seeing Mark for a year and was now 55, but something was not right, Mark had changed; his habits, his attitude, it was like her ex husband all over again. He also demeaned her or tried to. But Macy, being older and wiser, had had enough. She caught him out on his computer and set a trap –  it was the greatest feeling ever and it opened doors she never knew existed – and with Emma’s help she started to live a life that she had not thought possible.

She learnt about herself she became empowered by feelings previously alien to her and she met her soulmate. At 55 Macy was transported into a whole new way of life and she loved it and lived it.

Jan Harvey & Sian Jones

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Follow Macy as she learns about her new – found freedom and finds her soulmate in HookUp and Legacies

http://getbook.at/AmazonHarveyJones

http://mybook.to/Legacies-kindle

http://mybook.to/Legacies

http://www.rowanvalebooks.com/books/hook.html

Thesauritis

Admit it: at least once, you have found yourself frantically scanning the thesaurus, trying to find that reclusive perfect word to use in your writing.

While this is an understandable reaction to the highly frustrating tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, it can be a bad habit to slip into. Now, we love a good, meaty adjective as much as the next person, but there is much to be said about not compulsively reaching for the thesaurus every time you get tongue-tied.

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There’s nothing worse than reading a text where the author has obviously tried too hard and abused our friend the thesaurus. Have you ever come across a text that reads something like this:

 ‘Sally! Come back!’ Megan squalled.

Sally took no notice, but simply enjoined her horse to press on though the dank, unilluminated wood.

Excruciating, isn’t it? ‘Squall’ in the first line does not make much sense in the given context, as ‘squall’ usually refers to the noise a crying baby makes (or a gust of violent wind or the falling of heavy rain). To write this, we simply looked up the word ‘shout’ in a thesaurus and picked this one at random as an alternative. As you can see, it doesn’t really ring true to the original meaning.  In the second sentence, the words ‘enjoined’ and ‘unilluminated’ may mean the same as ‘urged’ and ‘dark’ fundamentally but they lose the tone of the text itself, hindering the narrative style and making the text cumbersome to read.

We would suggest sticking to a 10 second rule: if you look up a word in a thesaurus and can’t find the perfect alternate word listed in under 10 seconds, put the thesaurus down and think long and hard about what you want to convey to your readers. Chances are, if no word is jumping out at you after 10 seconds, there’s a reason for it. Perhaps you haven’t fully worked out what you want to say. Perhaps you need to take a step back and simplify things in your writing. Sometimes simple wording really is best. As Jonathan Franzen once said, ‘Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.’

To sum up: the thesaurus can be a writer’s best friend or worst enemy; it is up to the writer to decide which it is to be. Get back to the basics, but don’t neglect your thesaurus; use it to enrich your text rather than burden it. Don’t suffer from Thesauritis!

The Benefits of Book Awards for Self-Published Authors

Discoverability is the word on every self-published author’s lips. Book awards are part of your arsenal to achieve discoverability. The majority of book purchases are made from existing authors who are known and trusted by readers, or through recommendation from friends, family, book clubs or the media.” – British Novelist James Minter (http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/50-book-awards/)
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Out with the old, in with the new. Traditional methods of publication are being eschewed in favour of self-publishing, where individuals are now given the opportunity to instantly promote and publish literary work. With the increasing readership of self-published titles, more and more newspapers and magazines (including The Guardian, Writer’s Digest, and National Best Book Award) have noted its popularity and introduced this category to writing competitions.

If you’re considering self-publication (either independently, or with a publishing company), it’s worth putting book awards and competitions at the top of your marketing list. Novelist, James Minter, explains why:

  • They create interest in your book. This leads to more sales and opportunities.
  • An award displayed on the front cover may encourage someone to pick up your book while browsing.
  • A book award will give you an edge and may be all the difference needed to propel your book into bestseller territory.
  • When you win or get placed, you can say you are an ‘award winning author’. It sounds great, and gives the book a magic little lift that comes from third party endorsement.
  • Book awards give your book a seal of excellence unequalled by other forms of media exposure. No reviews, nor articles, nor TV or radio interviews can compete with having an ‘Award Winning Book’, selected from hundreds of competing titles by experienced and professionally-trained judges.

For those interested, a full list of upcoming Book Awards for self-published authors can be viewed here: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/book-awards/.

A select few include:

  • The National Best Books Award
  • The Next Generation Indie Book Awards
  • Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Awards
  • ForeWord Reviews Books of the Year Awards
  • The Benjamin Franklin Awards
  • The Reader Views Literary Awards

If you’re interested in self-publishing but aren’t sure about how or where to start, visit our Paperback and eBook Publication pages today:

http://www.rowanvalebooks.com/pbackpub.html

http://www.rowanvalebooks.com/ebookpub.html

Bandits, Bank Robbers & Three Smoking Hot Bananas – A review by Frances Turpin

Despite the warning in the prologue of “the more debase outbursts of the human body” being featured (and certainly judging by the detailed descriptions you’ll be pleased this book isn’t scratch and sniff!), BB&TSHB has a certain sophisticated humour that will appeal to kids and their older siblings/parents alike.

With caricature characters along the lines of Roald Dahl and David Walliams, and interspersed with illustrations as detailed as the narrative, reading about Moan-and-Groan-Upon-the-Sea and its inhabitants feels like a hyper-realised visit to every small town in Britain. Albert Grunge is an anti-hero with a grudge with plans of revenge against the town that wronged him that you can get behind despite his general appearance, attitude, personality and, by all accounts, scent. His bumbling nephews Tag and Cal prove themselves to be prototype comic sidekicks-slash-motor vehicle geniuses (sort of…), who inspire Albert on his journey to right the wrongs of the past.

Easy to read but with a fun and complex enough storyline to keep you gripped until the bitter, car-chasing end, this will be a perfect read to inspire many games of banana-bank-robbery in the future.

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Bandits, Bank Robbers & Three Smoking Hot Bananas is out now, and can be purchased from our book store here.

Mixing it up: action, dialogue and narrative.

When writing a story, authors have to strike a balance between action, dialogue and narrative in order to be effective. They need to keep the reader guessing, pace their novel properly and mix things up a bit. There are no actual rules about when to blend action, dialogue and narrative; you have to experiment a little, weave them together and find your story’s unique rhythm. However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself about your story to help with this — especially during the redrafting stage — that can help you know which elements are most effective at a certain point in the novel and which aren’t.

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  • Should you give the reader some background information on the characters at a certain point in the plot so they can connect with them more? If so, it may be best to use narrative, dialogue or a combination of the two in order to do this.
  • Are your characters providing too many background details in conversation with each other? If so, maybe try using narrative to explain these details to the reader.
  • Is the plot moving a little slowly? Do you need to speed things up? If so, it may be worth inserting more dialogue.
  • Do you have too many dialogue scenes in a row? If so, you should consider using action or narrative.
  • Do you find that your characters are constantly confiding in others things they should only be thinking to themselves? If so, the best course of action may be to insert more narrative.
  • Likewise, are your characters alone in their heads when conversation would be more effective and lively? If so, perhaps consider using more dialogue in your scene.
  • Is your story unbalanced in any way? For example, do you have too much action, too much dialogue or too much narrative? If so, try adding more of the elements that are missing.

I hope that these tips help when writing or redrafting your novel. Remember: pace your work, mix it up a little and, above all, just write!

Oh, the horror!

The arrival of Halloween obviously calls for a post about a certain genre of novel. You know the one I’m talking about… horrors. The genre that strikes fear into some authors when they struggle to answer the question of how on earth to scare readers in a world where 10-year-old kids play 18+ video games, people sneer at most horror movies, declaring them ‘clichéd’ and ‘pathetic’, and the news is full of terrorism and death.

So, how does one write a horror that is original, disturbing and engrossing? And how does one scare the socks off a reader who seems immune to fear? Well, the good news is that there are techniques to help, so without further ado, let’s explore…

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  1. Sentence structure. Make good use of shorter sentences to create tension and drama. Use lots of them in a stop-start structure – but don’t overdo it! Mix in a couple of run-on sentences to pick up the pace after a few shorter ones to push readers along as the horror escalates…
  2. Pacing. In horror, as in any genre for that matter, pacing is paramount. You need to keep the reader’s interest to keep them invested in the fear. You want them sitting on the edge of their seats, and then you want to knock them to the floor. Metaphorically, of course. Play around with pacing and see what effects you can create for the reader.
  3. Educate yourself. Watch the news, read urban legends and ghost stories and give these starting points a modern twist. You’ll be surprised what you can come up with this way.
  4. Exploit the unknown. Everyone fears the unknown; it is ingrained in our very nature as human beings. Our ancestors gathered around firelight for warmth and safety. Well, it it your job as a horror writer to push readers outside of the firelight. Abandon them somewhere cold and lonely, with only fear to keep them company.
  5.  Relating to the point above, the unknown must be worth fearing. You need to build the fear in readers by creating consequences in your writing and making them understand these consequences.
  6. Don’t lose the plot! You can’t push readers into a vat of entrails and expect them to swim. They will sink, and stop reading your book. You need great characters and a great plot to give readers the will to keep afloat and swim through the gore. Otherwise, you’re just left with a vat of entrails.
  7. Write about your own fears. That way, you can truly understand the horror and what makes it scary; you can exploit these fears in your writing. Chances are, if you’re scared of something, somebody else will be too.
  8. Make readers really care about the characters. You can’t expect readers to feel horror when Sally is stabbed through the heart with a pickaxe if Sally is still a two dimensional character to them. They need to feel attached to a character, otherwise they are not going to feel the emotion you need them to feel when bad things happen to them.
  9. The main ingredient: a dash of hope. Don’t make the mistake of dragging the reader kicking and screaming through piles and piles of gore, murder and bones. They need a respite, however brief, in order to keep reading and keep feeling the fear, otherwise they may become desensitised to it entirely.
  10. Above all, the old favourite of ‘show, don’t tell’ applies more to horror than any other genre. You cannot ‘tell’ a reader to be scared. You need them to feel the fear on their own. You need to show them things so horrible and terrifying that they have no choice but to be afraid. You cannot simply say, ‘Here you go, here’s a stake through the eye, isn’t this scary?’ They are very unlikely to be scared.

If writing a horror story is something you’ve tried before and it didn’t quite work out right, or something you’ve been meaning to try but simply haven’t had a clue where to start, I hope these tips will prove useful in nudging you closer to becoming the next Stephen King!

Frozen – A review by Anne-Marie Richardson

The vivid narration of Elle A. Rose’s Frozen brings her alien-invaded dystopia down to earth in a novel ideal for those who enjoy the science fiction genre. Verick Cedar, our sixteen-year-old protagonist, guides us through what remains of mankind as he fights for his family’s survival. For another year, at least. Set long after ‘The Great Takeover’ when Verick’s ancestors lost their home, Verick begins to question the society that he and his loved ones work tirelessly to maintain. As a result, he delivers a matter-of-fact and well-paced perspective that is easy to read and yet intimates an underlying sense of pressure, as though something could cut his story short at any moment.

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The storyline is rich with characters as generations of humans strive together for the continuation of their race. From the novel’s opening pages, the elders clearly have a strict grip over the young, with a fascinating fusion of superstition and tradition upholding order. Although, the tightly-knit tribal atmosphere of this remaining collective often results in friction, creating unexpected twists to keep readers on the edge. An abundance of conflicting emotions and agendas sparks a series of romantic, humorous, and often unfortunate occurrences. Readers will laugh at our hormonal hero’s personal struggles, which lead audiences to wonder if the invading alien genus is half as much trouble for Verick as the teenage girls in his life.

However, these personal difficulties are set against an impending backdrop. The mysterious Xecerptavode species that drove humanity to the brink of extinction hangs above the story like a predator waiting to strike. The sympathy invoked through our connection with Verick and his friends leads us to deliberate whether surviving will be enough anymore. Will the humans continue to live in fear or will they at last retaliate against their oppressors?

Rose’s realistic writing style combined with the fantastical creatures and climate creates an inventive flair that is enjoyable to read and will entice you into an unfamiliar and unnerving new world.

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Frozen can be purchased from our book store here: http://www.rowanvalebooks.com/books/frozen.html