Category : Self-Publishing

  • November 13, 2013

    Snippet's Writer Dashboard Launches Today (a guest blog)

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    snippet screenshot 1I’m excited to be able to share with you that Snippet–a brand new publishing and reading app–is moving their Writer Dashboard from private beta to open beta today.

    As an author, it’s been amazing to be involved with Snippet. (If you missed my post a couple months ago about how Chip became my agent and how my upcoming book became a Snippet, you can catch up on that here.)

    Even though Snippet has already gained thousands of readers, it’s still new, so I’ve included some information below about my own experience and about Snippet in general, to answer some questions you might have.

    You can request access to their Writer Dashboard starting today, and begin creating your own Snippet at any time!

    What does Snippet mean for writers?

    Snippet gives writers a brand new publishing path that allows you to publish and monetize quickly and easily, but in a high quality, beautiful format. (Published Snippets are gorgeous, which was a really important factor for me as an author.)

    How does it work?

    With the move of Snippet’s Writer Dashboard to open beta, you can sign up to get access and begin creating your Snippet at any time. Each chapter is 1,000 words or less, but you as the author decide how many chapters your Snippet will have.  You also have the option of enriching your text with “discoverables” like video, audio, and pictures. (And just a note here: don’t let this part intimidate you; for one of my videos, I simply used my iPad to record myself, and for all of my audio, I used my phone. They turned out great, and it truly enriches the reading experience.) Creating and publishing a Snippet is free, and your published Snippet will be available for download from $ .99 – $4.99. As the author, you choose the price.

    What are some ways writers can use Snippet?

    1. As a companion

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  • November 11, 2013

    The (new) MacGregor Theory of Making a Living

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    A few years ago, I created a talk about how an author can make a living with his or her writing. I called it “The MacGregor Theory” (with apologies to the MacGregor who came up with all the Theory X and Theory Y stuff), and over the years it’s been picked up and discussed by all sorts of writers and editors  in the blogosphere. But now, with the changes we’ve seen in the world of publishing, it’s time I go back and revise my theory of making a living. So if you’ll indulge me…

    I have five rules for authors who want to make a full time living at writing:

    1. You need to have four-to-six books earning you a royalty. In other words, you’ve done books in the past, you’ve had some earn out, and you currently have some books that are making you a passive income.

    2. You need to have 18 months to 2 years of contracts. This is much harder to do in today’s publishing economy, but if you’re going to do this full time, you probably need to know clearly what you’re going to be writing for the next year or two. If you have your calendar filled up for the next 18 months with projects that are contracted, you’re at least afforded the clarity that comes from knowing what you’ll be working on.

    3. You need to be self-publishing. These days, most successful authors have generated some sort of income by self-publishing books, novels, novellas, articles, and/or short stories. This is a new piece of the plan (well… not to those of us who started out in this business writing magazine articles, but new to everyone else), and fairly essential to make enough money to live on. The days of surviving on book advances are over, for all but the A-list authors who are getting the mega deals. In today’s market you need to

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  • October 10, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Working with a Designer

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    On Monday, I posted the PDF designs of the business cards that I have been using to promote my book, The Extroverted Writer, at conferences. Now, in my book I talk a bit about working with a designer. And, coming from a marketing background in which a lot of the work we did involved print design, I do know a thing or two about making designers happy. But since having my cards made, I feel I have a lot more advice to add to the table. So, here goes…

    5 Tips on Working with a Designer

    1. Know your specs! While designs can many times be easily shrunk down, they should NEVER be expanded. Expanding or stretching a design will absolutely ruin it. Furthermore, designs/photos used on the web can be of a lower quality than designs used in print. Communicating exact dimensions (including any bleed space) as well as whether the design is for web or print is crucial to avoiding design disasters.

    2. Communicate what you want! If you have an idea of what you want the design to look like, let the designer know. They aren’t mind-readers and will 100% of the time come to you with a design that looks nothing like what you’d been envisioning. I have found that it often helps to provide visuals for a designer to work from. To design www.PlaylistFiction.com, I sent the designer a number of stock photography examples of textures and colors so that she could get the feel of what we were going for.

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  • October 7, 2013

    A Monday with Amanda: Book Promo Cards

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Last Thursday, I blogged about why creating STUFF doesn’t work when it comes to marketing and selling books. In the post I talk about a card that I created for my marketing book. Here’s what I said:

    I have cards on hand for my marketing ebook. I give these away at conferences. It works like a gem. But the big deal isn’t that I have the cards…it’s that I’m AT the CONFERENCES. I’m pounding the pavement. And then I’m sealing the deal with the card.

    Imagine if I sat home. If I had a book to promote and a bunch of cards that I didn’t know what to do with. I’d end up with TWO things to promote. Two items that need marketing plans and Twitter campaigns and Facebook strategies (though I realize the idea of a Facebook strategy for a card is a bit silly…you get my point).

     

    One commenter asked to see an example of the card, and though I still hold firm that it is not the card that matters…it’s my presence at the conference…I figured it may be helpful to show you what info I included (and excluded) on the card.

    It’s a business-sized card, and it has a front and a back:

     

     

    Jam-packed on this card are the following:

    1) Cover image

    2) A sense of urgency and hype in place of a blurb or endorsement (Available Now!)

    3) A hook that answers a NEED authors have. I mean who doesn’t want to take control and build their platform starting

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  • September 20, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Throw a Book Launch Party

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Well, it’s not Thursday…it’s Friday, but for the sake of Brand you’ll have to suffer through my wrongly-titled post.

    We’re all back from ACFW, which proved to be a bunch of fun, as always, but also quite interesting in terms of industry stuff. But something happened there that rarely ever happens at any conference…ever.

    A literary agency threw a launch party.

    You may have heard/read me talk about Playlist Fiction. In thinking about how to help the authors create awareness and buzz we considered what most publishers/authors consider. We considered running an ad. But let’s face it:

    1. Ads are expensive

    2. Ads get buried by other ads

    3. Ads are forgetful

    So when Chip asked me what my ideal method of creating buzz at ACFW would be, I said a party! Which of course meant it became my responsibility, but I took it on happily.

    Here’s how I did it…

    • We got some big names to agree to attend, and we asked them to read excerpts from the books our authors did
    • We created invites (we had a Facebook event page, a physical paper invite, and we hit up the big My Book Therapy e-blast as well as a few blogs)
    • We secured a local venue (Buca di Beppo) and promised free dessert (I mean hello! ACFW is 90% women. There was no way we could lose here)
    • We got the go-ahead from the conference directors and made sure that our time slot wouldn’t interfere with ANYTHING
    • We unashamedly mentioned the party during the agent panel
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  • September 3, 2013

    What does an unpublished writer do with her completed manuscript?

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    Someone wrote to ask, “If a writer has never published before, but has a completed novel manuscript ready to go, what would you recommend he/she do with it?” 
    I like this question, since it’s a situation I see frequently. If an author has a manuscript done, I’d encourage him or her to spend some time creating a few other pieces: a one or two page synopsis, a quick overview, a one sentence hook, a good list of three or four comparable titles to give the novel context, and a one-page bio that focuses on platform. All of those things are going to be important when you get to the important stage of talking to an agent or editor.
    Next, I’d probably say, “The first draft of any novel is usually bad.” So I’d encourage the author to use the next couple months to polish it. Take it to a critique group. Have writer friends read and comment. Get it in front of an editor. Pay for a professional critique, if that’s possible. Not every bit of advice you get will be great (or even correct), but listening to the wisdom of others, particularly those who are farther down the path, can help you improve your book. Take your time to improve it, rather than typing the last word and sending it off. Make it as sharp as possible, since that’s the best way to get it published.
    Then I’d say to the author, “Check out ALL your options.” Should they introduce themselves to agents? Sure. Should they try to get it in front of some editors at a writing conference? Of course. Should they consider small presses? By all means. Should they explore self-publishing? Yes. The world of publishing has changed completed over the past five years, so start looking at the various options you have as a novelist. But don’t jump on the first opportunity that presents itself. Take
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  • April 11, 2013

    Thursdays with Amanda: Questions from Last Night’s GET PUBLISHED Teleseminar

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon andBarnes & Noble.

    Last night was our GET PUBLISHED teleseminar with Michael Hyatt. What a great time, talking business and answering questions! It was a blast.

    We weren’t able to get to some of the submitted questions, so I’ve gone ahead and answered them below. Would love your thoughts on what was discussed during the teleseminar, or what is talked about below.

    And don’t forget! We have a special opportunity for friends (that’s you!) of MacGregor Literary. 

    Michael Hyatt, former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers (one of the largest publishers in the world), has recently released a comprehensive solution for authors called GET PUBLISHED. It’s a 21 session audio program, accessible online, that distills Michael’s 30+ years of publishing knowledge into a step-by-step guide to help authors get published and launch a successful career, even perhaps a bestseller!

    Michael is offering a special limited time discount on GET PUBLISHED. Not only can you save significantly on the program, you’ll also get access to several bonuses worth over $150. Bonuses include items such as Michael’s popular “How to Write a Winning Book Proposal” ebook and more.

    For details and to take advantage of this special offer, go to http://michaelhyatt.com/getpublishedoffer

    (Note: This discount offer is only available through April 17).

    Okay, on to those questions!

    Brooke asks: What makes an agent take a chance on a first-time author?

    When we fall in love with a fiction author’s story idea and writing, or when we see the potential of the book idea, writing, AND platform of a nonfiction author.

    Mark asks: What do you think about

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  • March 26, 2013

    Does a proposal marked "requested materials" get reviewed faster?

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    I’ve been using the past couple week to try and blow through a bunch of publishing questions people have asked, offering shorter-than-usual answers to try and get people the information they need. For example, one writer asked this: “I’ve heard that requested materials get put toward the top of the slush pile in most cases, but does this still mean a 3 month response time from most agents?”

    If you ask ten agents “what’s the average response time to a submission,” you’ll probably get ten different responses. Just remember what your mom always told you: patience is a virtue. My guess is that, for most of the agents out there, the response time varies based on how busy we are at the time. Some months (like December and July, for example) are slow months for publishing, so all of us get to catch up on our queries and proposals. But yes, most of us are sure to look at requested materials ahead of the slush pile. I try to respond to every query within a month. I try to respond to every requested proposal faster – as soon as I can get to it. In most cases, that’s about two weeks, sometimes three. But no, I’m not perfect, and sometimes things take longer.

    Another writer sent this question my way: “I have a question for all you hardworking agents out there. [Note: Though the author of this question has aimed it at “hardworking” agents, I decided to answer it anyway.] When you get a submission from an unpublished author who has requests from several publishers, do you prefer if the author wait to see if you want to offer representation before she or he sends those submissions into the requesting editors? Or does it not matter?”

    No question about this one—I much prefer the author wait. The thing is, I’ve been working in this business a long time.

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  • March 12, 2013

    What's the most important thing to know about book marketing?

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    Someone wrote to ask, “What is the most important thing I need to know about marketing my book?”

    To me, the most important thing for you to grasp as an author is that you are responsible for marketing your book. Not the publicist. Not the marketing manager. Not even the publishing house. YOU.

    Think of it this way: Who has the most at stake with this book, you or the publisher? (You do.) Who is more passionate about it, you or the publisher? (You are.) Who knows the message best, you or the publisher? (You.) I think an author should work with his or her publisher’s marketing department as much as possible. Make yourself available. Say “yes” to everything they ask. Express appreciation every time they do something that helps market your book. But then go do everything as though it all depended on you, because it does. Whatever the publicist does for you is gravy. YOU are responsible for marketing your own book. Don’t leave it to some young college grad who has 17 other projects to market. 

    Someone else asked, “Since it seems like anyone can get a book published today through self-publishers, how do I make sure my book gets the needed exposure?”

    I’m one of those who thinks that many self-published books don’t really seem as if they are really “published.” They post their book on Amazon, then sit and watch it not sell. And most people who actually self-publish (that is, pay to have an ink-and-paper book, rather than just an ebook) lose money because they don’t know how to market and sell their own book. So if you want to really sell some copies, whether you are self-pubbed or published through a regular royalty-paying publisher, you’ve got to understand basic marketing principles. I suggest authors purchase some basic marketing books (such as a textbook from Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong, or Frances Brassington and

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  • February 1, 2013

    Jerry Jenkins, self-publishing, and the end of civilization as we know it

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    I’ve had more than a dozen people write to ask me about the new self-publishing service Jerry Jenkins has set up through his company, CWG. I’ve looked into it, read the stories, studied the comments, and four thoughts have come to my mind.

    First, Jerry Jenkins is not a con man. I don’t understand the vitriol being leveled at a guy who wants to help authors get their books published, and make a buck while doing so. Some people in CBA are acting as though there’s been some breach of faith — as though this is a sign of the end-times, and the world’s most famous apocalyptic writer is behind it. Look, Jerry and I aren’t friends, but we’re certainly friendly — I’ve gotten to know him a bit over the years, and was at the literary agency that represented his LEFT BEHIND series that sold 70 million copies. It’s not like we’re hanging out together, and I have to leap to the defense of the guy… but give me a break — he’s made a pile of money, doesn’t need to bilk anyone, and has basically run his Christian Writers Guild as a service, not as a money-maker. I can tell you from firsthand experience that he’s honest and fair, and a much nicer guy than, say, me (who would be calling these people nasty names if they said those things about me). He’s not out to con anyone.

    Second, Jerry Jenkins is a businessman. His name and celebrity certainly draws in potential writers, and the long list of people who have participated in CWG classes, conferences, and training creates a perfect list for potential self-published authors. How is that unethical? (For the record, PW asked me for a quote about all of this, and I told them I didn’t have much to say. It’s pretty much the same as what Thomas Nelson did with Westbow, or what Rick

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