Signing a Publishing Contract

11 October 2014

What to Do Before Signing a Publishing Contract

Column by Brandon Tietz at LitReactor

Writing a novel is damn hard. Selling one to a publisher, in its own distinct way, is even more difficult because you’re essentially convincing a company to gamble on you and your work. This is part of the reason self-publishing is booming right now. Searching for a publisher is both a hassle and a blizzard of heartbreaking rejection, so when you actually do get an offer, it’s a huge moment. So euphoric that emotion can often blind the writer to those important details on what’s on the actual contract. It amazes me how many authors took their time working on their novels only to sign a contract after skimming it once. It’s not an iTunes update, guys…read the damn thing. Here are some key things you should know before signing on the dotted line.

Who Are These People?

I will go on record and say that I have scared away authors from a publisher I went through because it was a sub-par experience. They’re out of business now, if that tells you anything. What I’m saying though is that you should know the publisher before you sign any sort of contract that binds you to them. Now I don’t recommend asking authors whether they do or don’t like the publisher while you’re querying, but after you get the offer, feel free to reach out and get a feel for how they’re handling their business. Unhappy authors are usually a good indicator that you should tread lightly.



Don’t be blinded by your contract. Signing a bad one can be the thing that ends up screwing you over for the life of the novel. Do your research, ask questions, and for the love of God, don’t be afraid to ask for changes if you don’t like something. If three author copies sound low—ask for more. If you don’t want your book assigned to a certain designer—ask for an alternative. A contract is an agreement between two parties…not one party telling the other how it’s going to be.

Read the rest here.

From guest blogger Randall

That Book cover is ugly!

6 October 2014

What Makes for a Brilliant Book Cover? A Master Explains
By Kyle VanHemert at WIRED

If you find yourself in a bookstore, Peter Mendelsund can be hard to avoid. His dust jackets wrap big-name contemporary releases like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He’s created ingenious covers for reissues of Dostoyevsky, Kafka, and other literary giants, updating a wide swath of the canon with a striking, graphic look. Cover, a new monograph of Mendelsund’s work, showcases the designer’s uncanny talent for capturing entire books with succinct, compelling imagery—a talent that has led some to deem him the best book designer of his generation. What makes it even more remarkable is that Mendelsund started his career with zero design experience whatsoever.


On one level, dust jackets are billboards. They’re meant to lure in potential readers. For a certain contingent of the publishing industry, this means playing it safe. “The path of least resistance when you’re designing a jacket is to give that particular demographic exactly what they want,” Mendelsund explains. “It’s a mystery novel, so you just splatter it in blood, and put the shadowy trench coat guy on it, and use the right typography.” Familiarity, the thinking goes, will always sell something.

Mendelsund does not subscribe to this view. He’s said that he prefers an ugly cover to a cliche one, and looking at his body of work, the thing that holds it together is that nearly all of his jackets have something weird going on, in one way or another.


Of course, catching a potential book-buyer’s eye is only part of Mendelsund’s job. A truly great jacket is one that captures the book inside it in some fundamental and perhaps unforeseen way. As Mendelsund describes it, his job is “finding that unique textual detail that…can support the metaphoric weight of the entire book.” That, of course, requires actually reading a manuscript closely enough to A) determine the metaphoric weight of the book and B) find a handful of relevant details within it. In other words, making a great book cover isn’t just about making. It starts with understanding.


Ideally, every dust jacket is unique to the book it’s wrapped around. But the realities of the marketplace often dictate how experimental a design can be. Mendelsund will have more interpretive freedom for a small volume of poetry, for example, than he does for a hotly anticipated piece of new fiction. “If you spend a lot of money on a book or an author, then you ratchet up the scrutiny the jacket’s under a lot—a hundred fold,” he says. “If this author got a big advance, then you’re going to have to jump through some flaming hoops with the jacket.”

Take The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Such was the buzz around the manuscript that when it came time to design the jacket, there were already a chorus of voices adding their take.


The final version, sure enough, had “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in huge type. To round it out, Mendelsund did what he describes as the “dumbass thing” of echoing the title visually on the cover itself, putting the text on top of an image of… a dragon tattoo. It was the rare case in which a novel had so much momentum that the best thing a designer could do was stay out of the way. “The book was going to sell well no matter what,” Mendelsund says.

And yet, Mendelsund insists that it wasn’t the most obvious approach he could’ve taken. The design featured at least one small victory against the obvious: the bright yellow backdrop. “Up until that point, I would defy you to find a dark gothic thriller with a day-glow cover,” he says.

For another view, an indie one if I may, I found Derek Murphy

Here’s what’s wrong with Peter Mendelsund’s Book Covers
From Derek Murphy at Creative Indie

A couple weeks ago I saw an article about Peter Mendelsund’s new book on book cover design; and I scoffed. Now I just saw another article on Wired, shared by Tim Ferriss.

Peter is obviously doing the rounds (and quite well) to promote his new book. Kudos to him. Here’s the big problem: Peter’s had a luxurious career as a cover design rebranding already famous and classic works of fiction, and breakout bestsellers – amazing books – supported by a heavy media campaign and a major publisher.

He’s said that he prefers an ugly cover to a cliche one, and looking at his body of work, the thing that holds it together is that nearly all of his jackets have something weird going on, in one way or another.

Looking at Peter’s work, I agree with his own take on his design philosophy. They are all creative, potentially clever, and ugly. And that’s fine – for literary fiction appealing to high brow readers. The tragic mistake is in applauding Peter’s work as a “golden measure” for book cover design, because it absolutely will not work for most books.


You see, most authors start out with no platform and have to catch reader’s attentions. They don’t have a big media or marketing campaign. Readers aren’t going to spend more than a couple seconds looking at their cover while browsing thousands of others in the same category.

The cover has to tell readers, immediately, what the book is about and what genre it fits into.

This can’t be done by being clever or thoughtful. Nobody is going to appreciate the cognitive associations and playful visual metaphors. Not to mention that a vast majority of authors are writing popular genre fiction or non-fiction (not literary) – and while literary authors may want to adopt Peter’s style to ‘fit in’ with other literary fiction, that in itself can be accused of being cliche; in other words, books in the same genre should look similar.


I pick the cover that is going to sell the most copies – and I’ll test it out with paid advertisements if I have to (though I’ve gotten very good at knowing which will perform the best). Selling more copies is all that matters for most authors. If you have a literary career, or are a professor, and are writing a book just to make yourself look good, then sure – go for something smart and obtuse and a little hard to figure out; something most people won’t like but a few people will think is brilliant.

But if you want to make money as an author, don’t be swayed by the sirens warning you to avoid the obvious and focus on something deeper and non-representational. Don’t worry about avoiding book cover cliches. Don’t focus on being creative. Get a damn fine cover that looks professional and immediately broadcasts the right genre. It SHOULD look a lot like the other bestselling books in the same category.

After you get enough people to buy it, read it and love it, and your name is so famous that people will buy anything you write, then you can start having fun with your book cover and taking risks with the design.

I’m not saying Peter isn’t a brilliant cover designer, of course he is. Another designer I like a lot is Chip Kidd.
And I’m obviously jealous of their talents. I’m not saying I’m a better designer than they are; only that, if they had to design covers that would sell popular fiction, they would probably look entirely different – and a whole lot more like mine – than the creative samples they’ve built their careers on.


So you have to decide what kind of author you are.

1. Are you the artist, who just wants to make an amazing book, even if nobody recognizes it in your lifetime and nobody loves and understands it like you do; you get no acknowledgment until decades after you die? Or, are you writing professional literary fiction with an established marketing campaign and recognized name? Great! Your book cover is a blank canvas.

2. Do you want people to read and like your book? Do you want hundreds of reviews? Do you want to make a bunch of money so you can write full-time? Then you better make sure your book fits the conventions of bestselling books in your genre, and appeal precisely to the readers who love that genre, and broadcast the core story message, and most importantly, make an emotional connection (in away that literary book covers almost never do, being purely conceptual).

In other words, the publishing methods that apply to famous authors are not and should not be the same for unknown authors on a small budget. You need to be more careful with how you do things. Your cover needs to look like it belongs in the top 10 books in your category.

While Peter’s new book should in no way be used as a manual for commercial book cover design, as an exercise in creative thinking and design it’s definitely worth perusing.

Peters Book Cover at Amazon

Derek Murphy at Amazon

From Guest Blogger Randall

Don’t Wait for Permission: Why Authors Should be Entrepreneurs

4 October 2014

From author and TPV rock star David Gaughran:

Joanna Penn (writing as JF Penn) has hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists with her fiction, but also has an extremely popular blog and podcast aimed at writers, as well as several non-fiction books.

I invited her along today to talk about her latest – Business For Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur – in which Joanna provides excellent advice on ALL the ways that authors can monetize both their work and their knowledge/skills. And it’s especially useful for those who don’t fit exactly into the “write genre fiction as fast as possible” model.


Why are you so passionate about authors embracing the entrepreneurial side of things?

This site is all about empowering authors to choose themselves, to take their words out into the world and reach readers directly. It’s about the truly amazing opportunities that authors have when they take action on their dreams. I’m passionate about that too, and now I want to take it one step further.

At the very basic level, an entrepreneur creates value from ideas, which surely is the definition of an author! But more than that, an entrepreneurial author goes beyond just one book into the realm of running a viable business with their writing.


We create art. We manifest our ideas in the world in glorious creative ways, but to be entrepreneurial is to care about the business side as well as the creation. It’s about being excited to generate something new and original, but also being enthusiastic about how the book will reach customers as well as the financial side.

“Entrepreneurs don’t wait for permission”

They act, they experiment, they see what happens and then they pivot if necessary, adapting to the new situation. They are active, not passive, as protagonists are in the best stories. So writing and publishing are only some aspects of this new author life. To be entrepreneurial is to understand the rest of it and make conscious choices as to how you want to run your creative business.


Strategy is also something I’ve learned a lot about as I wrote this book. It’s as much about what you DON’T do, as what you do. As indies, we only have a certain amount of capacity. We have to make decisions about what we will spend our precious time on. Like many authors, I have a list of book ideas that I add to almost every day. I will never have the time to write everything I want to write. I have to choose, and having a strategy helps me. Here are some questions to consider in your strategy:

• What do I want to be known as in 5 years time? When people say my author name, what images, words and emotions will be evoked?

• Should I focus my books into one particular genre or sub-genre and try to dominate that? Or should I spread my bets and write across multiple genres and see what sticks?

• Should I write in a series and try to attract readers who want to binge read multiple books? Or should I write stand-alone books that will enable me to explore my creativity?

Read the rest here. It’s Dave, so ’nuff said.

You can find David’s books here, and Joanna’s books here.

~ Dan

Why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Went Viral

27 August 2014

PG thought this might be interesting since so many authors use social media to promote their books.

From Knowledge@Wharton:

If your social media feeds haven’t been clogged with videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this week, then you’re in the minority.

The campaign involves people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves (or being doused by others), sharing a video of the experience and nominating others to give it a try as a way to build awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS.)

. . . .

With its combination of emotion, challenge and social currency, the campaign has become something of a marketing phenomenon, Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger said in an interview on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111. The challenge has been passed among neighbors, friends and relatives, but also to celebrities including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Anna Wintour and Ben Affleck. Millions of videos have been shared on Facebook, YouTube and other social networks.

“People don’t want to be left out. Anytime you’re at a cocktail party and someone is talking about something, whether it’s a brand or a new band, … you don’t want to be the only person in the group who has no idea what they’re talking about,” noted Berger, who studies word-of-mouth and why things go viral.

. . . .

The ice bucket challenge has raised $53.3 million in donations for the ALS Association since July 29, compared with $2.1 million at this time last year.

Link to the rest at Knowledge@Wharton

Book Categories: A Modest Proposal

25 August 2014

From author Robert Bidinotto:

I’ve been pondering the whole way that books are categorized and classified, and how “genres” and “subgenres” are generated. I do so because we indie authors are always agonizing about how to categorize our own books within the existing genre and subgenre classifications on Amazon and elsewhere.

The process is now totally haphazard. There’s no defining principle or rational method underlying any of this. The ad hoc process seems to be: Some writer comes up with a fresh new story concept; he or she then spawns a host of imitators; next, somebody, maybe a reviewer, slaps a cute label on what all the copycats are doing, and voila! We have a new “subgenre.”

I mean, how else to explain things like “steampunk”?

Anyway, studying the Amazon fiction classification trees, it seems that there are two general ways in which genres and subgenres are defined:

1. By psychological interest — that is, by the kind of emotion or mental experience that we seek from certain kinds of books (e.g., horror, romance, humor, inspiration, mystery, fantasy, sexuality, adventure, etc.) There are a limited number of these core human emotions and experiences.

2. By topical interest — that is, by the kind of subject matter that arouses our personal interest and curiosity (e.g., history, biography, crime, espionage/spy, gay/lesbian, children, sports, politics, military, nautical, technology, science/sci-fi, Westerns, urban, etc.) Our topical interests can be unlimited in number and variety.

Given this, I’ve been toying with an idea — a way perhaps to think about and categorize stories a bit more intelligibly (I won’t say “intelligently”; others can be the judge of that). Maybe online retailers and booksellers might find it useful.

The concept involves combining readers’ interest(s) in specific topics, with the emotional experiences that they hope to get out of them.

. . . .

Topic + emotion = subgenre.

Examples: Western adventure, urban romantic-comedy, historical fantasy, sports mystery-thriller, technological horror, military humor, political-espionage thriller, etc.

Link to the rest at Robert Bidinotto

Here’s a link to Robert Bidinotto’s books

You Are So On (Because They Are, Too)

15 August 2014

From Writer Unboxed:

My address is 2025 Avenue of the Stars.

This is as it should be, of course. 90067.

With my sunglasses so firmly in place that I can barely read anything on the screen, I’m writing to you on the eve of Phil Sexton’s Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference in Los Angeles. It’s at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza again this year, the kind of hotel that’s designed to look good on you.

. . . .

There are certain dangers here, naturally. If the paparazzi are spotted, you can be trampled by starlets running toward them. And parts of LAX still seem to be undergoing the same renovation project that put Hangar No. 1 into place in 1929.

But one of the side benefits of being in Tinsel Town from time to time is a reminder that being on is no longer just something stars and motivational speakers worry about.

The more we talk about authors needing to market themselves, their brands, their work, the more we’re really saying that they need to be aware, be alert, stay on top of issues, to position themselves in and around the going media story about publishing and books and writing.

In short? Like a Hollywood hopeful, you want to be…on.

. . . .

In today’s edition of The Bookseller, my fine London colleagues Tom Tivnan and Felicity Wood are writing with special timeliness about what publishers’ growing understanding of consumer data might mean to how those publishers work with their authors.

“Publishing’s increased focus on consumer insight and customer data,” they write, “is set to drastically change relationships with authors, informing decisions around acquisitions, contracts and publication itself.”

And if that line didn’t fully get your attention, go back and read it again. You may not be quite on, baby. Grab the sunglasses for better viewing and I’ll give you more:

Rufus Weston, insight director at HarperCollins [UK], explained: “Publishers are realising what Amazon realised much earlier: that our own data is a business asset. As physical sales become less important, it is more difficult to use the TCM to calibrate what a successful book or author is.

“We can now look at the social trajectory of a potential acquisition and use that to our advantage to set the advance. We’re seeing authors becoming more data-savvy, and I think we will see a further recognition that data is part of the business process. I can see us asking for a regular amount of tweets from a celebrity as part of their contract, for example.”

Note that this all is being phrased in a positive light. I mean, eureka!, right? Well, of course right. More data on how readers are reacting to authors’ interactions on this or that social medium? — means more info on how to enhance those authors’ readership with such knowledge. Big smile, darling, they’re all watching. Right now.

Author care will also be further improved by the rise of consumer insight, Weston said, with publishers better equipped to expand author brands through feedback. He added: “We can monitor an author’s interactions on Twitter and then say when is the best time for them to tweet, and who they should be interacting with. It will increasingly become part of the service we offer and [it] will also help to emphasise authors’ obligations for social media.”

Catch that last line? About emphasizing “authors’ obligations for social media?”

. . . .

Never does one hear, “It also can show us which authors to cut off at the knees if they’re not toeing the line and workin’ it the way our data says they should.” Heaven forbid. It’s all as bright as an ingenue’s grin on premiere night. Just before she tweets that selfie to her fans.

. . . .

And in case you haven’t felt personally digitally disrupted so far as an author? Let me suggest you feel harder.

When your publisher — or your self-publishing platform which may or may not be your friend — learns to gauge how well you’re getting out there to the folks, then you will begin hearing…things. About about your “profile,” your “visibility,” your “presence,” your “reach,” your “connection,” your “commuuuuuuuuuunity,” and your….on-ness.

. . . .

I’m saying the world has changed. And is about to change more. You don’t have to “worry about all that,” no. But somewhere, somebody is going to be worrying about all that for you, if you do want to have a bit of a career, a salable, going little thing here in the marketplace. They have to worry. So you may want to worry first, worry faster, worry better.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed and thanks to Louisa for the tip.

PG was about to let slip the dogs of snark, but he’s running behind this morning, so he’ll just ask a few questions:

If you had notable talent for understanding consumer data, why in the world would you work for an antediluvian organization like a publisher instead of a sexy modern company where you could do really cool stuff, get paid well today and receive stock options that might be worth a lot of money tomorrow?

If you’re an author who wants a publisher so you can just focus on writing, do you really want to focus on writing tweets in addition to writing books?

And receive critiques on your tweets? And quotas for how many tweets you must send each week?

If you’re an author who is data-savvy and tweet-savvy and can build your own brand, what, exactly is your publisher doing for you that justifies giving it the large majority of the money your books earn?

Particularly when all this online marketing, etc., is more likely to lead to sales on Amazon and other ebookstores than sales in traditional bookstores?

If your horde of followers on Twitter sees a tweet about your new book, any social marketer will tell you to include a link. Where is that link going to point? If you say to Joe’s Bait Shop and Book Store instead of Amazon, you flunk Social Marketing 101.

And if your hordes of followers click on the link, would you rather receive 70% of the money they spend on your book at Amazon or 17%? (Even less after your agent’s cut)


Kindle pre-order

14 August 2014

From Kindle Direct Publishing:

You can make your new books available for pre-order in Kindle Stores worldwide. Setting a pre-order allows customers to order your book as early as 90 days before your book’s release date.  When you make your book available for pre-order, customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date.

One advantage of pre-order is that you can start promoting your book before launch to help raise awareness. You can promote your book’s pre-order page on Author Central, Goodreads, your own site, and elsewhere. Also, pre-orders will contribute toward sales rank and other Kindle Store merchandising even before your book is released, which can help more readers discover your book.

. . . .

You’ll list your book as you would with any other KDP book. When you’re adding a new book, on Step 4, “Select Your Book Release Option,” you will choose “Make my book available for pre-order” and set a date in the future. That’s it.

Though your book isn’t available for download yet, we’ll still publish a product detail page for it within 24 hours of approval. Customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date. However, customers won’t be able to download sample content for pre-order books.

You can list pre-order books in all marketplaces except, where pre-orders are not currently available. Your book will release at midnight local time in each marketplace.

. . . .

When you list a book for pre-order, you’ll need to upload the final version or a draft manuscript of the book file for review. Typically, a draft manuscript would be something like a complete book that might still need copyediting and proofreading. We won’t show the version to customers, but we’ll need to preview the content for compliance with our Program Policies before creating the pre-order detail page. It will go through the same review process that any other KDP book would. Your final version must be uploaded 10 days before the release date you set.

Link to the rest at Kindle Direct Publishing and thanks to Brandilyn for the tip.

What Kind of Writer Are You?

10 August 2014

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Generally speaking, a good publicity campaign starts by defining the campaign’s target audience.

Here, however, instead of figuring out your campaign’s audience, we’re going to figure out who you are. Because until you know your strengths and limitations, you can’t do any planning well.

What I know about you is that you’re a writer.

. . . .

I also know that you want as many readers as possible to find your books. In a perfect world, the readers would find your work without anyone doing anything.

. . . .

I’m very good at marketing. But that doesn’t mean I like all of it. In fact, I hate some of it. I know how to do it, and I would rather have someone else help me than do it myself.

However, I also know there are some things that will take me five minutes and take someone else hours. I do those things, and maybe, someday, I’ll train the other person.

Part of my attitude toward marketing comes from the fact that I have done it since I was a teenager. I learned to write ad copy in junior high (yes, in the days before those years were called “middle school”). I learned to write good ad copy in college. I did a lot of PR and marketing for various companies in my twenties.

And, for my sins, I did countless on-air pledge drives for the non-profit radio station I worked at. When you do on-air pledging, you know immediately when your pitch is working and when it isn’t. The phones ring in the studio if you’re doing well, and they’re silent if you’re not doing well.

. . . .

[T]he most important commodity you have is time. And the best thing you can do with that time, my writerly friends, is to write.

Finish the next book and the next book and the next.

The more product you have on the market, the greater the chance that readers will find you. It’s the simplest way to market your work and the one most suited to writers.

But we’re all different.

Which is a real bummer. Because what most writers look for is one-size-fits-all marketing.
If the marketing strategy used by Writer John put his first novel on the bestseller list, then clearly that marketing strategy will work for every writer. Right?
Sorry. Nope. It doesn’t work that way.

Marketing follows a standard statistical model. The outliers are complete opposites. The successful outliers are the handful of people who invented the strategy. The complete failure outliers are the handful of people who are the very last people ever to try that strategy.
The packed middle is filled with all the writer-lemmings who follow the one-size-fits-all marketing crowd. They have some success, but mostly, the strategy gives them just enough traction to disappoint them—because those writers didn’t make millions like the successful outliers.

. . . .

The idea that each book is the exact same product, the way that each jar of peanut butter is the same product, is hard-wired into the conventional publishing wisdom.

As readers, we know that’s wrong. What Huckleberry Finn has in common with The Goldfinch is that they’re both novels. But they are not the same book or even the same kind of book.

They appeal to different readers.

Sure, you could do a Venn diagram of the readers for each book, and find a overlapping subset of readers who like both books (that subset includes me), but most of the readers only like (or have read or want to read) one of those two books.

The books are dramatically different. The way that peanut butter and hummus are different. Peanut butter and hummus are both food. They’re (usually) both brown. They can both be spreads for bread or crackers. But peanut butter and hummus don’t provide the same eating experience.

They’re not even close.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch and thanks to Sandra for the tip.

Wattpad: Engaging Readers as You Write

7 August 2014

From author Mary W. Walters via Write, the magazine of the Writers’ Union of Canada:

Sometimes I have trouble writing the next pages of a work in progress. It’s not that I am short of ideas. It’s just that I have a lot of other urgent matters that require my attention (paid editing work, posting to Facebook, reading books, visiting family and friends, checking out the latest Rob Ford antics… the list goes on).

I have often envied those writers with editors and literary agents standing at their sides like midwives, encouraging them through their labour, reminding them of the rewards of manuscript delivery, telling them how much the world wants to see their next baby, and finally urging them to “push.”

When I heard about Wattpad, an Internet platform for readers and writers that attracts 27 million unique visitors per month, and 200,000 uploads of writing per day, I thought it might be part of the answer to my problem. And it has been. But it is also other things.

. . . .

The important part of making Wattpad work for you is to remember that it is a social media platform. If you don’t engage with it (read others’ works, respond to comments, participate in forum discussions), you will miss out on the very important reciprocity factor, and your work will languish. Further, thanks to algorithms, the more readers you attract, the more readers will find you on their own.

For me, Wattpad has become part of an overall marketing strategy for my fiction which boils down to infiltrating as much of the Internet as I can. My goal is to attract attention to Seeds and Secrets — the novel I am creating on the platform, which I will eventually pull down, revise, have professionally edited and bring to market — and to entice readers to seek out other, already published works of mine that they can buy right now. For me, Wattpad serves in a small way the same marketing role that YouTube does for musicians.

Once the piece is up there, the effort to attract readers begins. You can contribute to this process (but probably only once) by emailing all of your friends and inviting them to check your story out, and by posting your Wattpad link to other social media sites. Of course, you also want to encourage visitors to your page whom you don’t already know, and you can do this indirectly by reading and commenting on the writing of others on the site, getting involved in the discussion forums, and entering the informal competitions Wattpad puts on from time to time. The goal is to get people to “follow” you so that they will be notified whenever you post a new installment or an update.

Every time someone takes a look at a segment you have posted, your “read” counter goes up. Readers can also vote for or post a comment on your work. The more reads and votes you get, the greater are your chances of being noticed by even more readers.

. . . .

I’ve also found a few very careful and helpful readers on Wattpad who will probably help me get through Seeds and Secrets far more quickly than I would ever have done on my own. Seeds and Secrets is the story of a 47-year-old seed researcher who, attempting to keep her ancient Lhasa Apso alive after its sibling expires of old age, inadvertently discovers a formula that makes the dog start getting younger. She starts taking it herself, and soon all the relationships in her life are screwed up. Like most of my fiction, Seeds and Secrets explores a serious subject by means of a commercially palatable plot. I love it when readers not only get the surface story, but appreciate the underlying themes and also recognize my passion for wordplay and sentence structure. I’ve found readers like that on Wattpad. Plus, there is a definite motivation to keep going when people start asking when you’re going to post the next installment.

It is also important to keep contributing work to Wattpad in order to retain your readers’ interest. My goal (sometimes interrupted by life) is to post at least half a chapter every week, and to comment on a couple of other people’s work every two or three days.

Link to the rest at Write

Here’s a link to Mary W. Walters’ books

The Liliana Nirvana Technique

3 August 2014

From Hugh Howey:

No, the Liliana Nirvana is not a secret massage chakra technique. But it may be the secret to launching a successful self-publishing career.

The effectiveness of this technique hit me at RWA. I attended a panel entitled “Self-Publishing Q&A.” It was two jam-packed hours of tossing out questions to mega bestselling authors Barbara Freethy, Bella Andre, Courtney Milan, and Liliana Hart. Of the four, only Liliana entered self-publishing without first having had a career with a traditional publisher. This anomalous beginning stood out during their introductions, but the uniqueness of Liliana’s success disappeared during the Q&A. Why? Because Liliana published as if she had a traditional publishing history.

. . . .

The idea is this: Annual releases are too slow to build on one another. And not just in the repetition of getting eyeballs on your works, but in how online recommendation algorithms work. Liliana suggests publishing 5 works all at once. Same day. And she thinks you should have another work sitting there ready to go a month later. While these works are gaining steam, write the next work, which if you write and edit in two months, will hit a month after the “hole” work.

Why does this work? I think it has to do with “impressions,” or the number of times people see a product before they decide to take a chance on it. (In this case, the product is your name.) It also has to do with recommendation algorithms and how new works are treated on various online bestseller lists. From my own experience, I know that it was following WOOL with four more rapid releases that helped my career take off. I followed these five releases a month later with FIRST SHIFT, and I released a work every three or four months after that (SECOND SHIFT, I, ZOMBIE, THIRD SHIFT, plus several short works).

. . . .

Simultaneous releases have a similar effect on one another. While it’s still a chore to get initial readers, every sale will lead to recommendations for 4 or 5 more of your works. This is far less likely with a lot of time between those initial releases. Some authors will tell you you’re crazy to sit on a product while you write more, but this method has quite a track record.

Think of how it worked for authors who came from traditional publishing. Critics of self-publishing try to wave off the success of authors like Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, and Joe Konrath to some imaginary massive following they won from their publisher, but they have told me that this isn’t the case. They didn’t gain a massive following until after they regained rights to their backlists and self-published. When they did get those rights, they secured works that were already written and edited. They could do some minor tweaks, update cover art, and release those works in rapid order.

Link to the rest at Hugh Howey and thanks to Jessica for the tip.

Here’s a link to Hugh Howey’s books

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