The Future of Print Books: Why They're A Secret Self-Publishing Weapon

The Future of Print Books: Why They're A Secret Self-Publishing Weapon

Have you read the articles? You know the ones. They say that print publishing is dying, and that e-books are all the rage. They say that self-publishers shouldn't even bother with print books anymore, that they're a waste of time. I admit that I've believed them before. 

Here's the thing: maybe print books don't work for everyone. Maybe e-readers are the future. But let's take a look at this logically. If print books are dead, why is Amazon opening physical bookstores? Why are independent bookstores thriving? While there are many reasons, I'd like to sum it up in a word: experience. 

As our lives move more and more toward the virtual, people are craving the tangible even more. We love the experience of an independent bookstore. We love the experience of finding our favorite book on the shelves. So, if you're thinking of discounting the print book, I'd take a closer look first. 

Keep Your Motivation Mojo While Making Submissions

As a self-published writer, I have limited knowledge of traditional publishing. However, I do have friends that can help fill in the gaps for you. 

Writer's Relief is an incredible service that can help you submit your stories and navigate the shifting lanes of the publishing world. Below is a guest post that I'm beyond thrilled to share with you. 

If you have more questions by the end, head on over to Writer's Relief or leave us a comment below! 

After many tedious hours spent researching markets to submit your creative writing, you’re ready to make submissions! Your master plan is in place. Your work is all dressed up (with someplace to go). You know where and when you’re going to submit your writing, and you couldn’t be more excited about it!

But then life gets busy. Last-minute deadlines, scheduling conflicts, and a million other everyday distractions get in the way.

You want to submit your writing—you really do—but at the end of the day, you’re just so exhausted you can’t bring yourself to type a single word. Plus, given the choice, you’d rather be writing than doing paperwork. Your list of literary markets falls by the wayside, along with all of your good intentions.

It’s a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless: You can plan and schedule, tweak and time everything out, but if those motivational juices aren’t flowing, you’re just left with a well-made plan.

You have to do something to keep your spirits up while making your submissions; otherwise, your writing will never reach the editor’s desk (or the literary agent’s desk). Fortunately, we have some tips to keep you motivated:

5 Ways To Stay Motivated And Make Your Submissions:

Find friends who need some motivation and help them out.

Having someone to lean on in a time of need is always nice, but being there for someone else is even more rewarding. If you find fellow writers who need some motivation, it’s likely they’ll be happy to return the favor and give your spirits a boost.

Compare your notes, talk shop, or just vent your frustrations. Not sure how to meet other writers? Find some local writers groups or writers forums online.

Treat yourself when you meet your goals.

If you find yourself strapped for time, break down your submissions into smaller, more manageable chunks. When you’ve completed your goal (i.e., “I completed my five submissions quota for today!”), reward yourself for your accomplishment.

Choose something you really want but would not usually allow yourself to have. You’ll be more motivated to get your tasks done.

Keep in mind—you’re only human!

We humans get bored, distracted, and sometimes discouraged pretty easily. It’s inevitable that somewhere along the line, we’ll make a mistake or two.

Turn errors into learning experiences instead of beating yourself up (i.e., I didn’t make my submissions today, but I’ll be diligent and get them done tomorrow!).

It doesn’t pay to procrastinate!

If the phrase “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” ever comes out of your mouth, you have the wrong mind-set, friend! Putting off your submissions leads to guilt…which leads to more procrastination. Break the cycle and focus on the end result.

Find your inspiration.

Picture that byline with your name on it in your favorite literary journal. Leave inspirational messages around your workspace. With a constant reminder of your goal in sight, you’ll be much more enthusiastic about getting the busywork out of the way.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, writers. Sending your work out into the world isn’t always easy, and having someone support you in your efforts can go a long way. Now get that motivational mojo flowing! You can do this!

Writer’s Relief is a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers that includes weekly leads and tips, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.

Discussion time: What scares you the most about submitting your work?



How and Why to Give Away a Book for Free + Free Checklist

If I'd read this title a year ago, I would have said, "Give my book away? You're crazy!" But now, I'm happy to tell you that since I've listed my book for free, I've had an increase in overall sales. In fact, my book(s) have been downloaded every day since the launch of my free prequel, when previously, I'd go weeks with no activity. 

As a self-published writer, it can be tough to get your book visible to your audience. How many times have you seen the "buy my book!" on twitter? How many times have you posted on Facebook with only a 3 person audience reach? Not the most effective method, my friends. 

The truth is that social media doesn't sell books. You need a good, actionable strategy to get your book to the forefront. Now, let's get started! 

How to Give Away Your Book For Free | Blots & Plots.jpg

Why Should You Give Away a Book For Free? 

1. To generate interest in you. 

Pretty self-explanatory, right? If you're self-publishing, you have to view yourself as a risk. Because there is no built-in marketing team to generate buzz for you, readers are taking a chance by investing in your creative work. 

How do you get them to choose your book out of the million other books? A few ideas: 

  1. Great product. I'm talking an awesome cover, a professionally edited manuscript, and top notch formatting.

  2. Great reviews. Reviews not only help to sway your potential reader, but they also help boost your books on the rankings. (Amazon, primarily.)

  3. A super smart strategy. Yep, you guessed it. The free book idea.

2. To generate interest in your other books. 

Congrats! Your reader downloaded your free book. Now, what? 

Maybe your reader will read your free book. Maybe she'll like it and explore your other books on her own. But what if she doesn't? What if she moves on to the next book, and accidentally forgets to check back to yours? 

You need to make sure you hook your reader in with a free book, and keep them coming back for more. Here's how: 

  • Offer a second free book/short story/etc. This technique comes from Nick Stephenson. If your reader signs up for your email list, they'll receive a second free book. For more information on this technique, head over here.

  • Create a hashtag for your book. Even though social media doesn't sell, a hashtag helps to unify your readers and create a community.

  • Discount your second book. With the first book free, you can offer your second book at a lower-than-normal rate. This can be done with kindle countdown deals or a permanently lower rate.

3. To reach a broader audience. 

Like I said, reaching an audience is no picnic. It takes strategy and a bit o' luck to get your books into the hands of your readers. Let's set you up for success, shall we? 

A few ideas on how to up your selling ante: 

  • Facebook ads. This form of advertising has proven to be extremely effective for authors. If you have a targeted campaign, you can reach your ideal reader.

  • BookBub ads. Though it's tough to get approved for these, BookBub advertising is awesome.

  • Write more books. Easier said than done, right? Having a library of books helps to keep readers coming back for more.

There you go! The end!

So, what do you think? Would you list your book for free?

Three Reasons Why I'm only Reading Self-Published Books in 2016

Can I be honest with you? I love books. All books. The fact that there are entire stores dedicated to housing these amazing word-holders kind of blows my mind. I mean, don't even get me started on libraries. 

But this year? My book-reading will take a narrowed focus. This year will be a year dedicated entirely to self-published books. Here's why.

1. TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

When I first created this blog, I had a very limited view of the publishing world. I thought that if I wanted to write books, I would need to spend hundreds of hours perfecting my query letter and spend years waiting for a literary agent. And getting a publishing deal? Might as well be decades. 

This reality was not exactly accurate for a couple of reasons: 

  • Traditional publishing doesn't necessarily take eons. It's part luck-of-the-draw, part talent-based. (I can only comment so much on this platform because *spoiler alert* I self-published.)

  • Self-publishing exists. And it's awesome. (You can find a list of resources on self-publishing here.)

This year, I self-published my first book called These Are the Moments. (You can read the first ten chapters fo' free over here. I need to stop having side conversations with parentheses.) I completely fell in love with the process and made incredible friends that were starting their writing journeys the same was that I was.

This year is a year I want to dedicate to my friends and their stories:

  • I want to help dispel some of the outlandish self-publishing myths.

  • I want to write reviews and cheer on the people who have come to mean so much to me, while making new friends along the way.

  • I want to drink coffee. (I think I lost my point here. I also forgot the stop the side conversations.)

2. TO CONNECT READERS TO NEW AUTHORS

Let's test a theory, shall we? Open a new tab and head on over to Pinterest. In the search bar, type in "best books to read." Now, scroll down until you see the same book twice.

I bet you didn't get very far, did you? I was halfway through my first scroll when I saw Gone Girl for the second time. What's wrong with this picture? In 2016, let's usher in a new wave of authors. Let's play matchmaker with little-known authors and bright-eyed readers.

This year, I'll be tracking my reading journey in a few places. You can keep up with me here:

  • Instagram. I love posting photos over here. This year, I'll promote these self-published books as I read them via pictures. And maybe a little bit of review, too.

  • Goodreads. I don't know how I read books before Goodreads. I love that I can track what I've read each year, while setting a goal for myself. Be my friend!

  • Twitter. Who am I kidding? I spend the majority of my life on Twitter. So you're bound to see updates over there.

3. TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS

If I only read self-published books in 2016, will the world dissolve into a book-less existence and I will be blamed for singly-handedly destroying the written language? Uhh, no. I don't expect anything drastic to come from this challenge, but I would like a few answers to questions I have:

  • What makes a book, well, a book? Do you need a movie deal in order to be considered successful? Do you have to sell 1,000,000 copies to be valid? (I know the answer to this, but only from personal experience. I want exposure to other people's journeys too, because I'm nosy.)

  • How do we encourage future writers? Is buying an author's book the best means of support? What does it take to be a true fan? (Again, I may know this answer.)

  • How many people can I get on board with this?

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN.

Reading challenges are fun, but they're way more fun when you have people to share in them.

Discussion Time: What books are on your to-be-read list for 2016? What are your thoughts on independent publishing?

5 Lessons We Learned Successfully Cultivating an Anthology

It's my absolute pleasure to introduce to you two of my favorite ladies in the writing world. I've known Ashley R. Carlson and Marissa Fuller for over a year now, and I couldn't be happier of this amazing duo cultivating an anthology called It Begins Here. Now ladies, I hand the mic over to you... 

Ashley R. Carlson and Marissa Fuller are familiar with the publishing industry. As both authors and editors, they thought they were fully qualified to cultivate an anthology with five other authors. Inspired by the purpose of seeing many of them in print for the first time, Ashley and Marissa dove head-long into what turned out to be a big project. Here’s what they learned.

5 Lessons We Learned Successfully Cultivating An Anthology | Blots & Plots
5 Lessons We Learned Successfully Cultivating An Anthology | Blots & Plots

The Biggest Challenge

M: COMMUNICATION. As writers, communication is basically our trade. If we can put an image in your mind’s eye of a house you’ve never seen before, then we should be able to muster some chain emails with six CCs, by golly. But keeping in constant touch with seven people turned out to be quite a task, especially since all the authors are scattered in different time zones and all committed to other jobs and projects. Thankfully, our shared passion for this anthology was enough to pull it all off.

A: For me, the biggest challenge was probably coordination—as in, sending out emails, deciding on due dates, enforcing those due dates, communicating with our formatter and cover designer, etc. It’s quite a lot when eight people are involved in a project, but thankfully everyone was extremely prompt and wonderful about getting first drafts to me on time, getting beta-feedback to the author they were paired with and submitting final drafts! Special shout out to our cover designer and contributing author, Amber Thomas, who remade the covers about eight times to fit CreateSpace’s dimensions. Thanks, Amber!

Assembling the Team

M: When Ashley and I began the draft, I had too many names to add to the list! The first people to come to mind were NaNoWriMo word sprint comrades, people whose passions fueled my own inspiration. I am blessed with a wide-reaching writing tribe, and I could not be happier with the roster we ended up with when all was said and done!

A: With technology, it’s finally easy (and recommended!) to have a network of fellow author friends as we pursue this crazy career called fiction writing. When I reached out to Marissa with the idea of publishing an anthology, our immediate first question was: Who will be involved? Some anthologies are open to the public, with writers making submissions for possible inclusion—but we wanted to do something more intimate than that. I (and Marissa) wanted to see some of my closest writer friends, many of whom are pursuing traditional publishing careers or are still in drafting stages of novels, have their work in print.

Because of the amazing capabilities of indie publishing nowadays (as Jenny can attest to), it’s quite possible to go from idea to publication in as little as three months—which is exactly what we did with It Begins Here! Due to the dedication and hard work of the seven authors involved—all strong female up-and-coming writers and close personal friends of Marissa and me—we have an amazing book full of new works by Marissa, Liz, Amanda, Lilly, J., Amber and myself to entertain audiences with.

Favorite Part of the Experience

M: When I got home from class today, I knew a real life copy of a book with my words in it would be waiting for me in the mail. To hold our creation in my hands, the dream born from our idea only months ago, was incredible. I feel terribly honored to have my story sharing a platform with the caliber of talent that stands alongside it in this anthology.

A: I have to say the same—I’ve already self-published several books and though it’s still magical every time, the best part of this experience has been watching some of my dearest friends and critique partners (Lilly Raines!) have their words published and available for readers. There is truly so much talent in this anthology, and to have been a part of getting several of these authors’ FIRST PUBLISHED WORK into the world makes me positively ecstatic. Plus, that cover.

The Logistics

M: We set a length of 10-15k words per story, which staggered nicely as some stories came in across the spectrum. The genres and topics are all so diverse, but were tied together with the same idea of beginnings.

A: Yes—we are all such different writers, and wanted to be true to our genres. I think it’s really cool to explore the topic of “beginnings,” and to see how this concept was interpreted by so many different minds and in various worlds. Also, we decided that our proceeds will go to the second installment of the anthology, It Ends Here—all sequel stories to our first, about something ending—as well as NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned for It Ends Here in spring of 2016!

Marketing Fun!

M: As I am one of the majority in this anthology being published for the first time, the marketing part of the business of publishing was new to me. I’ve always championed my friends as they publish, but it was my first time on the other side! What’s really great and unique about our marketing experience for It Begins Here is that proceeds go to creating the second part of the anthology, and anything surpassing that is to be donated to NaNoWriMo. It makes it really easy for me to market the heck out of this anthology when I truly believe in what we’re doing.

A: One of the best things about organizing an anthology is the ability to cast such a wide net throughout various channels regarding the book. Instead of just one person marketing a book, we have seven (and even more because of amazing author friend/supporters like Jenny). That means seven people tweeting about it, seven people sending out newsletters, seven people holding drawings for signed paperbacks (I am too! Go to www.ashleyrcarlson.com/free-e-book to found out how to enter!), and seven people generally getting really excited about our new book.

Find It Begins Here on Amazon in e-book and paperback.

Add It Begins Here on Goodreads

Stay tuned for the second installment, It Ends Here, with an anticipated release of spring 2016!

Marissa Fuller is a young adult contemporary author and freelance editor currently studying at the University of Arizona in their creative writing program. Her short story After He Left is her first published work. Find her on her website at www.thebrazenbibliophile.com, on Twitter as @thebbibliophile, and Instagram as @marsfuller.

Ashley R. Carlson grew up wanting a talking animal friend and superpowers, and when that didn’t happen, she decided to write them into existence. She is the CEO of Utopia Editing & Ghostwriting Services, a company that makes editing, content creation, and marketing fun and successful for every need. Her award-winning fantasy novel, “The Charismatics,” can be found on Amazon and her website, and you can subscribe to her newsletter for updates, free books, and prizes. Check out Ashley R. Carlson’s writing and editing at:www.ashleyrcarlson.com.