Joanna Penn visits Kobo HQ!

Last night, the Kobo Writing Life team was thrilled to welcome Joanna Penn to our Toronto office. Joanna is a bestselling author-entrepreneur and professional speaker, and she shares invaluable information with the self-publishing community on her blog and podcast, The Creative Penn.

Joanna Penn speaks to a crowd of local authors at Kobo's Toronto headquarters.

Joanna Penn speaks to local authors at Kobo’s Toronto headquarters.

A packed house of local authors chatted with Joanna over drinks and snacks, then she took the stage with KWL Director Mark Lefebvre to speak about self-publishing and answer questions from the audience. The advice she shared was incredibly helpful and inspiring, so we wanted to share a few key takeaways with you here.

  • Remember that this industry is global. You can build a platform from anywhere in the world and reach an audience in countries you may have never heard of before!
  • Book publishing and marketing are processes that take time. Set long-term goals—we’re talking years, not days. Don’t give up if you do not see a return on your investment immediately.

    Joanna signs Kobo's Author Wall of Fame.

    Joanna signs Kobo’s Author Wall of Fame.

  • It’s ok to fail. The Creative Penn is Joanna’s third blog effort.
  • Take your work and yourself seriously as a business.
  • Do a little bit every day.
  • Be true to yourself and what you love in terms of your writing and marketing.
  • Think about every opportunity for every book, including print on demand, audio, and translation. You can turn each book into multiple product streams, such that ten books multiply to become 50 potential income sources.
  • Publish directly wherever you can. Every platform—KWL, iBooks, KDP, Nook, etc.—is a potential business partnership and can bring you new opportunities for success.
  • The writing life does not have to be lonely. Get online and engage with other authors on social media, join ALLi, or go to a conference. Even if you’re introverted, don’t be afraid to join the author community.
Joanna with the KWL team, from left: Operations Manager Jodi White, Director Mark Lefebvre, Coordinator Tara Cremin, Content Specialist Christina Potter, and US Manager Christine Munroe.

Joanna with the KWL team, from left: Operations Manager Jodi White, Director Mark Lefebvre, Coordinator Tara Cremin, Content Specialist Christina Potter, and US Manager Christine Munroe.

We are so grateful to Joanna for sharing her time and knowledge with us.

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Grab J.F. Penn’s newest release, DELIRIUM!

If you haven’t listened in to our podcast interview with Joanna, you can do so here.

KWL is a proud sponsor of The Creative Penn Podcast, which we can’t recommend highly enough.

 

Joanna PennJoanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers on the edge, as well as non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013.

Twitter: @thecreativepenn

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JFPennAuthor and  http://www.facebook.com/TheCreativePenn

Write Away

By Kerrie L. Flanagan and Jenny Sundstedt

Write_Away_FrontCoverWRITE AWAY: A Year of Musings and Motivations for Writers combines monthly insightful and humorous stories with tips, tools and interactions that encourage writers to reflect on where they are and where they want to be. From “Writing Naked” to “Writing an Effective Query Letter,” these essays remind readers of the unique nuances in the life of a writer and provide practical advice for strengthening skills and knowledge. Each month opens with a place to record goals and action plans. A back section provides resources and tools to help readers stay on track and stay informed. Inspirational quotes, reflective questions, and short exercises keep motivation and energy flowing. Here are a few excerpts:

“Time to Get Rid of Excuses”

By Kerrie

One of the biggest issues I hear writers bring up is that they find it difficult to find time to write. The bottom line is that if you want to be a serious writer, then you must make the time to write. We all have 24 hours in a day, and we all have the power to decide how we are going to use those hours.

If all you can spare is 30 minutes a day, then commit to those 30 minutes. Don’t let anything get in your way. Think about it—a half hour a day, five days a week, is two and a half hours a week, which then equals 120 hours a year. That is definitely enough time to make a dent in your novel or write a dozen poems or a few stories or a picture book or two or a dozen articles . . . you get the idea.

Here are some quick tips to help you find success in organizing your time.

  • Make a daily/weekly goal for the number of hours you are going to write.
  • Schedule your writing times and mark those times on your calendar.
  • Stick to your commitment. If someone calls to try to schedule something during your writing time, nicely say to them, “That time won’t work for me, I have a prior commitment.” No further explanation is necessary.
  • Reward yourself after one month of sticking to your plan.

What is one way you can be better about honoring your writing time?

“Take A Leap”

By Jenny

Poor February. It’s the little brother of the calendar, never quite matching up to the longer months. But every four years, it puffs up its chest a bit with the addition of an extra day. I love the novelty of Leap Day, even though it occasionally gyps me out of a coveted Friday or Saturday birthday.

February 29 is a bonus day, but, as such, how should one choose to spend it? Is it a do whatever you want because nothing counts day (i.e., whatever happens on Leap Day stays on Leap Day), or is it a day to take a real shot at something meaningful? Or maybe a little bit of both.

We’re told how to celebrate most holidays, whether it’s with candy and flowers, fireworks, or green beer. But I say that Leap Day should be celebrator’s choice. So, writer friends, it’s up to you. If you’ve been working so hard on a manuscript that you’re revising it in your sleep, perhaps your Leap Day should be spent with crossword puzzles and a bottomless cup of tea, or a double feature of completely mindless entertainment at your local movieplex. Cheesecake for lunch is also a viable option.

But if your writerly self has lately been feeling hampered by self-doubts, intimidated by the prospect of success and/or failure, and generally reluctant to strike off in any direction, then perhaps February 29 is your day to take a leap of faith. Send a query. Enter a contest. Register for a conference or sign up for a pitch session. Write a first word, a first line, a first page, a first chapter. You may like it so much that you’ll want to treat every day like it’s Leap Day. Except for the cheesecake for lunch part.

My leap is sending off one of the short stories I’ve been sitting on for a while. What will your writer’s leap be?

For more helpful tips and motivations, get the WRITE AWAY eBook here!

About the authors

Authors Kerrie and Jenny at the WRITE AWAY book launch.

Authors Kerrie and Jenny at the WRITE AWAY book launch.

Kerrie Flanagan is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers (NCW), writing consultant, and freelance writer with articles in regional and national publications including Writers Digest and The Writer.

Jenny Sundstedt is a member of NCW and serves on the creative team for the annual NCW Writer’s Conference. She writes long and short fiction, essays, overly ambitious to-do lists, and since 2010, has been a regular contributor to the NCW blog, “The Writing Bug.”

 

So, About That Cover: Book Cover Design Tips From a Merchandiser

By Shayna Krishnasamy, Kobo Writing Life Merchandiser

As the merchandiser for self-published eBooks at Kobo, my job is to judge books by their covers. Okay, that’s not my whole job, but you might be surprised at how much of my day is spent scrutinizing, arguing about, praising, sifting through, staring at, and judging (oh, and also mocking. Yes, sometimes a cover practically begs to be mocked) self-published book covers. Book cover design is an immensely important part of the digital self-publishing process. I really can’t emphasize this enough. A professional book cover will get your title the attention it needs and will make it more likely to be awarded merchandising space on our website, in email newsletters, and in promotions. An amateur book cover, on the other hand, will do exactly the opposite. That your book’s success depends so heavily on something that has nothing to do with its contents might be a hard nut to swallow, but it’s a reality that can’t be ignored. So, before you sit down to make your next book cover using a photo you took last summer of your friend Matt’s cottage, let me share with you my list of Dos and Don’ts of digital book cover design.

DO Your Research

Every genre has its book cover hallmarks. While you don’t want your cover to blend in with the rest so completely that it gets lost, you also don’t want to create a cover that is so different from the other books in the genre that it confuses the reader. The book cover, even more so than the title, is the thing that’s going to sell your book. You need to make sure the reader can tell, at a glance, what kind of story you’re telling.

The easiest way to make sure you don’t mislead the reader is to check out other books in your genre, both self-published and traditional, to get a feel for the kind of cover you want for your book.

New Adult Romance covers tend to feature couples and cursive fonts:

Between UsReckless TogetherPerfect RegretWait for You

But not always:

Kiss Me Like This: The MorrisonsDamagedLosing HopeTen Tiny Breaths

The covers of Thrillers are known to have weapons, buildings or vehicles, and apparently orange is a popular colour. Faces are less important:

Panic: A Leopold Blake ThrillerSaint DeathWild StormWasted Justice

Sometimes just author and title is enough:

Act of WarPersonalBad PennyInside Man

Whichever genre you’re writing in, you should incorporate at least some of these familiar elements into your cover to ensure the reader is getting what they expect.

DON’T Make It Yourself

Unless you’re a graphic designer by trade, and therefore know what you’re doing, do not make your book cover yourself. This is where so many authors go wrong. In order to save costs, because of a false sense of their artistic ability, or just due to a misguided belief that book covers are easy to design, so many authors end up designing their own covers, often with disastrous results.
I’ll admit, I did this myself back in 2010. Here’s the cover I originally made for my first novel, Home:

Home CoverI still like a lot of things about this cover. I like the image and the colour scheme. I like the font I found for the title, and the way I was able to fit it between the branches. But this is, very obviously, an amateur attempt at book cover design. Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” like using Times New Roman font for the author name. The novel is a historical fantasy for young adults, which isn’t at all clear from looking at the cover. This cover is a good effort for a first try, but it is definitely not professional. It just isn’t good enough.

 

Here’s another example of the type of cover I come across all the time:

Bad cover (2)There are many things very, very wrong with this cover. To begin with, the dimensions are wrong. The image is obviously a personal photo taken while on vacation. It’s a beautiful photo, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make a beautiful book cover. The title is in some weird font meant to mimic handwriting. Points are awarded for not choosing Times New Roman and for the nice centering, but that’s about it. The colour of the author name makes it unreadable and it’s also placed way too close to the edge of the cover. And then there’s the cut and pasted dog.

I would never merchandize this book.

You want your cover to represent the brilliant book you’ve written, to draw in customers who might not have considered reading your stuff otherwise, to wow the merchandiser. If you’re considering designing your own cover, ask yourself if whatever you might create will have this kind of power. An adequate cover isn’t good enough for your book. You want your cover to be the BEST!

I’ll say it again: Don’t Make It Yourself. Hire a professional book cover designer.

DON’T Put It On Repeat

If you’re writing a series, it’s a great idea to use the book covers to link the titles in the series together. When looking at a list of your books on the retail site, you want the reader to be able to tell right away which three of your five books are a part of your series, especially since not all readers check if a series name is listed. Similar images, colour schemes and font choices on the covers can do this job quite well.

H. M. Ward (who, incidentally, creates her own covers, proving that there’s always an exception to the rule) achieves this quite nicely with her The Arrangement series:

The Arrangement 7The Arrangement 8The Arrangement 9 (Ferro Family)The Arrangement 13 (The Ferro Family)

What I don’t recommend is getting one cover professionally made and then using it for every title in the series by changing the book title only. I’ve seen many authors do this, and I believe it causes confusion with the reader and makes for ugly merchandising. If the series number (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc.) isn’t clear enough the customer can end up purchasing the wrong title. It also implies that you didn’t care enough about your book to get a new cover made.

Though repeat covers are by no means a deal breaker—they are far too common for me to exclude them from merchandising entirely—I feel that series covers pack the most punch if they are similar but distinct.

DO Reserve The Right To Change Your Mind

One of the great things about self-publishing is that the author has complete control over the book cover, which is certainly not the case with traditional publishing. Not only can you decide what your cover will be, but you can also change that cover whenever you wish. Naturally, you don’t want to confuse your readers by putting up a new cover every other week, but if you feel your current cover isn’t working, why not try something different? Do your readers continually mention that they were expecting your book to be more of a romantic suspense, when it’s actually a straight contemporary romance? Are you getting a lot of returns? Have you noticed that it’s hard to read the title when you’re looking at your cover on the retail site? All of these problems could possibly be solved by changing up your book cover. Even better, if you don’t like the resulting sales of the new cover, you can always change it back! Such is the freedom of digital self-publishing.

Do you have a favourite book cover designer to recommend? Let us know about them in the comments!

Shayna's PhotoShayna Krishnasamy is a Montreal author of literary and young adult fiction by night and the merchandiser for Kobo Writing Life by day. Shayna’s books are available on Kobo.

Click here to visit Shayna’s website!

How to Beat Boxed Set Burnout: Making the Summer Lovin’ Series

By The Summer Lovin’ Authors

Being an author means more than writing a book. Authors are businesswomen, just like any other person who creates a product for sale. Part of our business is delivering a high-quality product—in our case, a great book!—and another part is finding ways to enhance the reading experience for the reader.

When our group first began talking about writing a project together, it was in response to the prevalence in the romance market of themed box sets. Since box sets are a fabulous waysummer lovin to introduce readers to new authors at a bargain price, we started off considering that approach. However, the conversation quickly changed after we talked about how some of our readers were experiencing what we called “box set burnout,” which meant that they either purchased a box set but never read all of the stories because they simply found the number of books overwhelming, or they felt the set wasn’t as fulfilling a read as a single author’s series featuring recurring characters in the same setting.

After a little more discussion, we decided to address box set burnout by writing a linked series instead. The Summer Lovin’ series features six category-length works by six different authors, each releasing two weeks apart. All books are set in the same location—at Stone Cliff Resort in the fictional town of Deerfield, Canada (modeled after Banff)—and each book has overlapping characters with at least two other books, but could easily be a standalone read, as well.

Crashing Down, New Adult RomanceLosing ItLoving Lies

This approach allows us to create a better reading experience, not just by offering a fun way to introduce readers to new authors, but also by giving readers time to read and digest each book without feeling overwhelmed. We each came up with a synopsis and a cast of characters, (even the town itself became a character) then we used Springpad to set up an online group data storage system to make our bible. Using all this information, and sharing ideas back and forth on a daily basis, we honed the story lines until we felt we had built a solid world! Then, it was writing time. We each wrote independently, based on the plots we had discussed, and then read over one another’s work, tweaking characters and setting descriptions to make sure everything in the books flowed together. Writing this way can be a challenge, since everyone is very close to their own story, but we were all willing to make changes to ensure description/characters fit with the rest of the stories because we all cared about the final produce, and ultimately the reader experience.

Our cover artist, Croco Designs, created covers with the same Summer Lovin’ logo and summer-by-the-lake theme, and before we knew it, the linked series was ready to go!

Taming Tess, New Adult RomanceSurviving NikkiSaving Sullivan

We’re so excited to offer this series of six books by Cathryn Fox, Audra North, Renee Field, Jan Meredith, Lilly Cain, and Sara Hubbard.

Check out the Summer Lovin’ Series here!

Connect with the authors on Facebook here!

An exciting new initiative: Digital Book Day

“One day, one site, hundreds of authors and free books, all to celebrate our readers!”                         – CJ Lyons, founder of Digital Book Day

For three years, World Book Night was an effort to share the love of reading by giving away thousands of books in a single day, once per year. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, World Book Night announced last week that they would cease US operations.

Author CJ Lyons quickly stepped up to the plate to organize something unique and exciting: Digital Book Day, an initiative with the same mission – celebrating readers – but featuring free digital copies instead of print editions. It’s all happening next week, on July 14, 2014.

DBDsquare“When I heard the news that World Book Night USA was over, it saddened me, “ Lyons told Kobo Writing Life. “And it came on the heels of so much upheaval and distress in the publishing industry that instead of addressing the issue with more rhetoric and empty words, I decided to take action.”

“After all, thanks to digital publishing, authors (traditionally published or self-published) have a less expensive and more efficient way to gift books to readers via e-books. I myself have given away over 50,000 print and e-books in the past five years—and it’s always, always, always led to new readers finding me, not to mention a ton of fun for me to do, kind of like Christmas all year round! So I thought, why not a self-funded Digital Book Day?”

We applaud CJ’s efforts and the inclusive spirit of Digital Book Day. Any author can submit a free book HERE, and link to their preferred retailer – including Kobo!

By self-publishing with Kobo Writing Life, you have the ability to price your titles free anytime, with no exclusivity. If you want to offer a book free for a limited time for Digital Book Day, use our easy price scheduling tool to schedule that price change ahead of time. Readers, remember you can find amazing free books any time on our First Free in  Series page: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/Collection/free-first-in-series

Find out more about Digital Book Day here: http://DigitalBookDay.com

About CJ Lyons

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-three novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has

Author and Digital Book Day founder CJ Lyons.

Author and Digital Book Day founder CJ Lyons.

lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

Her novels have won the International Thriller Writers’ prestigious Thriller Award, the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Readers’ Choice Award, the RT Seal of Excellence, and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

CJ will be giving away SNAKE SKIN for free on Digital Book Day. You can find all of her eBooks on kobo.com, including her latest release, FAREWELL TO DREAMS: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/farewell-to-dreams-a-novel-of-fatal-insomnia

Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net

 

 

Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do

By Merry Farmer

I, Merry Farmer, am an indie author. And I’m proud of it, too. I was never really interested in taking a path to publication that went through the traditional publishing industry. Sure, it had and still has its advantages, but after a few half-hearted attempts to toe the party line, I knew it wasn’t for me. The feedback I was repeatedly given was that I was a great writer, my plots were interesting and my characters had dimension, but my stories wouldn’t sell. No one was buying medieval or western historicals. It couldn’t be done.

That was when my purpose as a writer was born. The refrain that has become my battle cry and the heart of everything I write is, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” Nothing pushes a creative mind harder than being told that something can’t be done. I’m convinced that that is at least half of what has fueled the indie revolution, and I know that that’s what keeps me writing the books that I love instead of chasing the latest trend.

Self-published author Merry Farmer.

Proud indie author Merry Farmer.

When I first started publishing in 2011, the indie revolution was near its beginning. There was a lot of skepticism from high and low about the quality of the books that those crazy rogue writers would dare to publish. What ended up happening, though, is that without the fear of huge financial loss, writers like me were able to experiment with story and setting, with character and themes. Slowly but surely, new voices began to be heard amongst the tried and true staples of every genre.

I write historical romance, and while I love a good Regency era story, complete with dukes and dances, I always wanted to hear more about other eras of history and the richness of the lives of men and women who didn’t have title or money. I love a story full of tight historical accuracy, but I wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a tale with a modern twist set hundreds of years ago. When I published my first novel, THE LOYAL HEART, which is intended to feel more like the movie A Knight’s Tale than THE CANTERBURY TALES, I held my breath, eager to see how it would be received. I was told people would pan it, that it didn’t fit within the confines of the medieval romance genre.

You know what? People loved it! It turns out that there is a place for an adventure-packed romp in the world of traditional chivalry. So I decided to play with ideas and experiment with themes again with my Montana Romance series. I was told historical westerns weren’t selling anymore and that the late 1890s was far too late in the 19th century to appeal to the historical romance crowd. And what was I thinking, including an m/m romance in the middle of a conventional m/f series?

A sneak peek at book one in Farmer's upcoming series, GRACE'S MOON.

A sneak peek at book one in Farmer’s upcoming series, GRACE’S MOON.

Don’t tell me what I can’t do. The beauty of indie publishing is that it has allowed me to try out ideas that a larger publishing house isn’t prepared to take a risk on. I can’t say I blame them for not taking that risk either, but just because they aren’t prepared to put a chunk of cash behind an untried concept no longer means that that concept will wither. There are books being published now that can open whole new worlds to readers. The sky’s the limit now when it comes to creativity and experimentation. We truly are living in the Age of the Author now.

My next experiment? Publishing in a different genre with the same name, Merry Farmer. I have a sci-fi series, GRACE’S MOON, coming in July. They say you can’t publish different genres under the same name. They say your readers won’t follow you, that you’ll have to start the discoverability struggle all over again.

Three guesses what I say to that.

You can find Merry’s eBooks on Kobo through the links below:

THE LOYAL HEART

THE FAITHFUL HEART

THE COURAGEOUS HEART

OUR LITTLE SECRETS

FOOL FOR LOVE

SARAH SUNSHINE

IN YOUR ARMS

THE INDOMITABLE EVE

SEEKS FOR HER

SOMEBODY TO LOVE

 

Visit Merry’s website to learn more, and follow her on Twitter @MerryFarmer20.

Indie Insider’s Next Picks – June

insiders-logoCheck out the third monthly installment of INDIE INSIDER’S NEXT PICKS, a list of recommended indie titles and authors, by IndieReader in collaboration with industry experts (including Kobo!).

Indie Insider’s Next Picks is a great place to discover great books and new authors.

Check it out today to find the books everyone will be talking about tomorrow! Kobo’s picks are right at the top.

New picks will be available every month, so don’t forget to bookmark the link.

Find Indie Insider’s Next Picks here.

Oh, the Mistakes We’ve Seen!

By BlueInk Review

In our mission at BlueInk Review to review self-published books, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. While it’s difficult to explain how to create stellar prose – as there’s always a touch of genius involved in the best literature – there’s no secret about where writers go wrong. As our reviews show, authors tend to commit the same writing crimes, book after book.

Below, we have compiled excerpts from the more than 2,000 reviews we’ve done, each of which expose common writing blunders. So what makes the bad review rear its dreaded, beastly head? Here are five traps you should avoid at all costs:

1. Writing rife with spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors

The fact that this is at the top of the list is both discouraging and heartening: discouraging because, let’s face it writers, a book should be free of all spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors long before it’s reviewed or even published; heartening because this is one of the simplest problems to remedy.

Mechanical errors detract from the plot by forcing readers to wade through a veritable pool of inaccuracies in an attempt to decipher meaning. Don’t punish your supporters for reading your book; reward them with flawless mechanics.

Simply put: Hire a professional copy editor. And when he/she is finished, don’t rest easy. Proofread, my friends, proofread.

Here’s a sample of what our critics said on the subject::

“More frustrating, however, is the inundation of spelling and punctuation errors in the novel, specifically the incorrect use of the question mark, which is employed improperly in countless sentences. The seeming lack of any proofreading leads to an exasperating reading experience that is made even more challenging by a storyline that is disjointed, aimless, and, at times, self-indulgent.”

BlueInk Review2. Fiction containing overpowering agendas

Readers don’t appreciate picking up a romance novel or thriller, only to be inundated with an author’s opinions about abortion or saving the rainforest. Yet authors often feel it’s appropriate to hammer a political or social message home through their characters.

It is perfectly acceptable for a character to have strong opinions,  provided that this point of view is in keeping with the character’s overall persona. But if readers can tell that the character is simply acting as your mouthpiece, they will feel used and manipulated, and your story will collapse under the weight of your agenda.

Before you write, ask yourself: Is this my character’s opinion or am I simply trying to get a pet message across?  Am I focused on telling a story, or presenting a diatribe? Let the story lead the way, not your politics, your religious beliefs or your social attitudes.

3. Mixed genres

You don’t go to a Chinese restaurant for tacos. Readers have similar expectations when picking up a book. If your book cover promises a mystery, science fiction novel, romance or other genre story, only to deliver an odd mash-up of fantasy, erotica and young adult, readers aren’t likely to appreciate – or in many cases – even understand your book.

Before writing, study highly regarded books in your genre. Read, read, read!  And then read some more. This will help you understand the plot elements, character requirements, and pace that readers will expect of your story.  And if you’re tempted to mix genres in the interest of creativity, without the skill of a professional with decades of writing experience behind him/her, think again.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say about that:

“At heart, (title deleted) is a brash mash-up of kung-fu flicks, superhero capers, and airport thrillers that skews along the lines of John Carpenter’s cult bomb ‘Big Trouble in Little China’.  The narrative is immature at best, while unwieldy dialogue and overlong expository sequences hinder the book’s pace.  Ultimately, the story’s atmosphere of spiritual mysticism is overpowered by childish notions of heroic fantasy that often feel out of place in the midst of an adult-oriented thriller.”

4. A lack of focus

It seems to us that many authors simply sit down and write whatever comes to the top of their heads, leaving readers baffled at the book’s ultimate purpose. When writing, every word you choose must help you make your overall point. Ditto every sentence, every paragraph and every chapter.

Ask yourself: What message am I conveying with this book? How does each chapter – in fact, each and every word – help convey this point? Here are some review excerpts:

“The weakness of the book is its lack of cohesion. The author jumps from subject to subject – farming methods, family reminisces, tangents about personal interests, people with no connection to (the author’s) story – without a clear thread or progression. Information about (the author’s) disability is interjected at intervals that lack the chronology or firm contextualization to be of real benefit to most readers.”

“Unfortunately, the book’s bland recitation of history continues, without benefit of a theme or thread to tie together or promote the author’s slant. When readers finish this book, they won’t know the ideology of either major party, let alone how each evolved to the present day.”

 5. Unsubstantiated arguments

When writing nonfiction, self-published authors often feel that presenting their opinion is enough. But you can’t expect readers to buy your argument if it’s not backed up with coherent logic and/or research.  Why, after all, should your readers just take you at your word?

Successful authors lead readers through their thought process logically.  They cite credible sources to back up their arguments, along with facts and examples.  Don’t simply share your thoughts and/or opinions.  If your argument is to make a lasting impression on your audience it must be properly supported.

What not to do:

“The authors cover everything from 12th century BC Arabian trade routes to proper coffee roasting temperatures, but without giving the context or explanation that would affirm their expertise. They emphasize that, while critics focus on the risks of consuming caffeine, coffee has antioxidants and many other beneficial components, but they do not cite studies that prove these benefits in any detail. Stronger claims are hedged (“There is a lower incidence of type II diabetes among coffee drinkers …”) and difficult to fact-check, given that there are no footnotes.  Ninety-seven of the 101 chapters have exactly three sources referenced for each.”

“He might be justified in claiming credit, but readers will find little persuasive evidence here to validate these undocumented assertions.”

BlueInk Review offers credible and unbiased reviews of self-published books exclusively. Visit  http://www.blueinkreview.com to learn more.

Indie Insider’s Next Picks – May

insiders-logoCheck out the second monthly installment of INDIE INSIDER’S NEXT PICKS, a list of recommended indie titles and authors, by IndieReader in collaboration with industry experts (including Kobo!).

Indie Insider’s Next Picks is a great place to discover great books and new authors.

Check it out today to find the books everyone will be talking about tomorrow! Kobo’s picks are right at the top.

New picks will be available every month, so don’t forget to bookmark the link.

Find Indie Insider’s Next Picks here.

Self-publishing will save literary fiction

By Hugh Howey

This article was originally created as a blog post on Hugh’s blog. You can find the original post here.

An interesting piece on The Bookseller today about literary fiction. The worry from some agents and publishers is that unique and daring voices are going to fall silent because of the changes in the publishing industry (fewer bookstores, lower advances, less risk-taking). The idea seems to be that without the funds to support these writers, the works will never materialize, and literature will suffer a great loss.

I think the opposite is going to happen. The future of literary fiction will be owned and operated by digital natives — writers who grow up posting on blogs, debating on forums, posting on Facebook and Twitter, and all the myriad forms of self-publishing that we don’t seem to label “self-publishing.” Learning how to turn a manuscript into both a physical book and an e-book at almost no expense to the author takes a weekend of fiddling around. And that’s from someone who learned to type on a typewriter. Digital natives are going to be both literary and technologically savvy. It won’t be long (it’s probably already happening) before the next great voice is putting her work out there . . . simply because she can.

What goes unsaid but seems implied in the message that literary works will die without a publishers’ support or bookstores in which to shelve them is that we write literary works for the pleasure of publishers and bookstores. These works are rarely even written for the pleasure of the audience. The three works of my own that I consider the most literary are the three that I tell people *not* to read. I wrote them for myself. I wrote them because I had to. Because it would have pained me *not* to write them.

Works such as this have been penned in composition books by others and shelved, never to be seen. Digital natives won’t do this. They might post the entire work on a blog. They might text the entire work to strangers, one line at a time. They could craft these works on WattPad for public purview. They might typeset the work at a book crafting workshop and bind the pages into a jewel of stitched leather to be read by no more than one person at a time. They might distribute their masterpiece on thumbdrives. But they will write. It’s what we must do.

Artists have relied on the largesse of patrons for centuries. Increasingly, those patrons will become the general public. Or, as the cost of production and distribution drop to zero, artists will realize the patron has become moot. Anyone today can carve out enough time to work on their masterpiece. And that’s why masterpieces will continue to be written.

The final advantage digital natives will have is the absence of a self-publishing stigma. Soon (this is already true for many) self-publishing will be seen as the purer artform. No tampering with style or voice. No gatekeeper. No need even for monetization. Doing it yourself has all the allure of the hacker culture, the local culture, the maker culture. Doing it for a corporation has all the allure of . . . vanity, perhaps?

Great works are being penned at this very moment. They are waiting to be discovered. The problem for the agents and publishers who like to plant their flag upon such works is this: In the future, it’ll be the reader who gets there first.

hugh Hugh Howey is the author of the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series. Hugh’s eBooks are available on Kobo.

Click here to visit Hugh’s website!

 

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