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“Sure, I know the author of that book. We’re in a group together on Facebook.”

Be honest. How many of you would love to say that about your favorite author?

As a self-published author, chances are good there is someone out there (or a bunch of someones) who would love to say that about you, too.

You may be asking, “Who has time for that?” The answer is simple: self-publishing authors who are building a platform, increasing their following, and growing their income.

Creating a Facebook group is easy and only takes a moment of your time (we’ll get to that in a minute). Keeping it going—and growing—is the tricky part.

This is where you must invest a little time; it doesn’t have to be very much if you plan correctly.

Like any good marketing strategy, you’ll need to spend your time on social media wisely. Put a plan in place and stick to it so you don’t get sidetracked from your writing.

Why are self-publishing authors creating Facebook groups?

You may feel the business page you created for your book is plenty, but creating a group to work in conjunction with it will give you better organic reach.

As mentioned earlier, there are three main reasons for creating a Facebook group.

1. Build Relationships

Readers love to feel connected to their favorite authors. Being able to say, “He gets me,” or “She understands,” are the biggest reasons people recommend books to their friends. Your readers want to know you’re human:

Helpful: Whether your non-fiction book solves a problem they have or your fictional story acts as an escape from their busy life, your readers want to know you can help them. Being able to offer real-time solutions and suggestions goes a long way with people.

Understanding: You know some of the troubles your readers face because you’ve been there. (This is why you are so helpful!) You can offer sympathy, empathy, and a listening ear.

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Mindful: Knowing that you actually listen and understand, and form thoughtful posts and comments, helps your readers connect with you.

Accessible: Readers love to interact with their favorite authors. Being accessible on a regular basis lets your readers know they can count on you. That reliability creates familiarity, and people recommend the books of authors they know and trust.

Normal: You’re a regular person, just like they are. By interacting with a group, you show you do not look down on your readers, nor do you feel you don’t have time for them. You are as normal as “the guy/girl next door.” Being helpful, understanding, mindful and accessible—being normal—is a great way to build trust. And, again, people buy from those they trust.

2. Grow Your List

When your readers feel they can relate to you, they’ll naturally talk to their friends about you, your books, and your Facebook group.

As you present helpful info and stimulating conversations in the group, word of mouth will cause the group popularity to spread, and more people will want to join.

As a prerequisite to joining, you can require that people submit a valid email address before you approve their membership. (More about that later.)

3. Promote Your Book(s)

Groups are a great place to pre-sell your next book. Teasers about the characters, the setting, and the plot can all be posted.

Suggestions for the title and subtitle can be voted on. And cover art input can be gleaned. Once the book is released, special deals can be offered for group members (submit a copy of your receipt to receive a family tree poster of the main characters, for example).

Posts made to your business page can be shared in groups as well. In fact, creating the post on your business page and then sharing it and asking for interaction goes a long way toward Facebook algorithms.

More people will see your Page posts if they are shared in a group.

Okay, I’m convinced.

But, how do you create a Facebook group?

I’m so glad you asked!

Finding the button to create a group is not very hard. At the left (on a computer) you can click on Groups located in the Explore list, and then choose the green Create Group button at the top of the screen.

Or, go to any group you are currently a member of and on the right, below the members and the description, you can click the blue Create Group button.

A box will pop open and walk you through setting up your group.

The slider at the top will offer a few suggestions for the creation of your group. If you’ve never done this before, take a moment to scroll (sideways) through those graphics.

Name Your Group

The first thing you need to do is name your group.

Will it be specifically for the promotion of one book or a series of books? Use the name of the book/series in the group name.

Will it focus more on promoting you as an author (and multiple books)? Use your name in the group name.

Add People

Next, you need to add at least one other person to create the group. (Once you’ve created the group you can remove this person, so go ahead and ask a friend to help you out. There’s no obligation!)

Start typing the name of the person you wish to add and when it pops up, click on it. Be sure you ask permission before adding people randomly.

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I’m sure there’s a huge list somewhere in Facebook’s files that keep track of who is adding people to groups only to have those people say they don’t want to be in the group.

Adding your whole Friends list to your group will look like spamming, especially if people start removing themselves right away. Don’t do it. It’s not good business practice.

Privacy Level

The next step is choosing a privacy level.

  • Public – Anyone can see the group, the members, and the posts.
  • Closed – Anyone can see the group and members; only members see the posts.
  • Secret – Only members can find the group, see who is in it and the posts.

In any group, only members can post and comment on posts.

Pin to Shortcuts

And finally, you are given the option of pinning the group to your shortcuts. Checking this box makes it easy to find your group in the list of shortcuts at the left side of your screen when on a computer.

It’s recommended that you check this box when you create a group if for no other reason than to make your life easier.

Interaction

A large part of Facebook’s algorithm relies on interaction. The more you interact with a group, the more group posts will appear in your newsfeed.

However, you are following the group by default when you create it, which also causes the posts to appear in your newsfeed.

Also, the default settings for Notifications (when you create a group) is All Posts. So, even if you don’t get a chance to interact over a few days, you’ll still be notified (the little earth icon at the top of the screen that gets the red box with a number in it) when someone posts in the group.

But, I would still recommend checking the little box to pin your new group to your shortcut list. As I said, it will make your life easier.

Choosing An Icon

After you click “Create Group” you’ll see a new popup.

You’re given the option of choosing an icon to represent your group. If you don’t want to pick one at this point, just click Skip at the bottom left and move onto personalizing your group.

Personalizing Your Group

At the top of your group page, you have the option of adding a photo.

Since the group is about your book—or about you as an author of books—you probably want to put a graphic of your book (or books) up there. Maybe include your logo, if you have one, or a photo of yourself.

Sites like Canva allow you to create graphics that will fit the top of a Facebook group perfectly. Use your creativity to make a mural for your group wall!

Edit Group Settings

The next step is to click on “More” located just below the top graphic and then choose Edit Group Settings.

The Settings page looks daunting, but most of it is already chosen by default. Look it over anyway, to be sure the group is set up to your liking.

Add a Description

Will you allow other people to promote their books or links to services or other groups?

Do you want people to treat each other kindly?

Write it up and place it in the description.

As noted, this will be viewable to potential members; if you have requirements for joining, such as emailing you a snapshot of their receipt after purchasing your book, place those directions in the description.

Tags and locations are optional.

Linked Pages

Linked Pages is the place where you can connect your business page to the group. If you don’t yet have a business page, select “Create New Linked Page” and get one set up.

Web and Email Address

This is a nice feature that allows you to put the name of the group right in the address (facebook.com/groups/nameofyourgroup).

The privacy settings were set back in the first popup window, but if you have changed your mind in the few minutes since creating the group, this is where you can adjust it.

Note that if you have fewer than 5,000 members, you can change the privacy settings at any time. If you have 5,000 or more members, you can only go to a more restrictive setting—and you’ll have 24 hours to decide before it becomes permanent.

Membership Approval

This should be set to “Only admins and moderators.” This is especially important if you have a group that is only for those who have purchased your book.

This allows you to ask for proof via email, and then to approve only those who have actually purchased. If you let anyone do it (as it’s set in the graphic), you may end up with people who have no interest in your book but want to be in your group so they can advertise their book or service.

If you have more than one group set up, consider using the “Automatic Membership Approval” option.

For example, say you run a restricted membership group (must purchase the book to get in), and you also have a general audience type of group.

If they’re already in the restricted group, you can be pretty sure they are safe for the general audience group.

Membership Requests

This next section is where you can set up questions that must be answered before membership is approved.

This is a great place to ask potential members for their email address. You should also state that by joining the group they are giving permission to be placed on your email list—and if the address they provide bounces, you will be removing them from the group.

Answers are limited to 250 characters, so keep that in mind when you formulate your questions. Only Admins and Mods can see the answers, and at this time they are not stored anywhere.

If you need the info they are providing, for any reason, you’ll want to start a file and copy/paste the answers.

Posting Permissions

For most groups, this will be set to anyone in the group. “Post Approval” will be left unchecked unless you have a reason for monitoring every single post.

While this can come in handy during heated conversations, it can get overwhelming if you are the only Admin. There are other ways to quell debates, which we’ll touch on next.

Stories in Groups

These are much like group chats, except you can send photos and videos to it.

Unless you know your group members (or you are prepared to monitor what’s posted), you may want to keep permissions set at “Only Admins,” or at least check the box stating all story posts must be approved.

Hit Save

Be sure to hit “Save” before you leave the page or your changes will be lost.

A Few Extra Features You Should Know About

Sometimes a side conversation can begin within a thread. Usually, this takes place as a reply to a comment.

For the most part, no one will know the conversation is happening except for the person who made the initial comment and those involved in the conversation.

This is referred to as hijacking a thread. When this happens, you have two options.

  • Mute the member who is being confrontational. Do this by clicking on the three dots to the right of the comment/reply and then choose Mute Member.
  • Turn off commenting. Do this by clicking on the three dots at the top right of the original thread and then choose Turn Off Commenting.

If you have a member who is always causing problems or just doesn’t follow the rules, you may want to remove them from the group entirely.

This is done by clicking on the three dots to the right of any of their comments/replies and choosing “Delete Comment” and “Remove Member.”

You’ll notice there is an ellipsis after that; clicking this option gives you a popup that allows you to delete posts/comments from that member for the last seven days and decline pending members invited by this person in the last seven days.

This option is so nice when the offensive member is new and just there to troll—then any troll-friends will be removed as well.

You’ll also have the option (only available when the person starts the thread, not when they comment/reply) of blocking the member. Just check that box before hitting confirm, and they won’t be able to find, see, or join the group.

Ideas for Using Your Group

Share posts from your business page and encourage members to share it on their Timeline and on other social media platforms. The more your page’s posts are shared, the more Facebook will show them to people. This is the best form of organic reach.

Hold a monthly giveaway. By using your insights, you can see who is the most active in the group each month. Reward that person with an Amazon or Starbucks gift card.

Ask members to leave reviews on Amazon. Take screenshots of the reviews left by members to give a virtual ‘pat on the back’ to them. Who doesn’t love being singled out by their favorite author?

For non-fiction books, hold monthly live chats and answer questions about the book topic. For fiction books, the monthly live chats can be a backstory about the characters (a different one each month).

Use your group like a book club, with weekly check-ins to discuss each chapter.

Use your group as a meeting place for your Street Team. Discuss strategy for spreading the word about your next book, ideas for promoting your last book, and suggestions for launching future books.

Encourage discussion about your books, and be sure you are interacting in those discussions on a regular basis. Always be H.U.M.A.N.! (See above.)

Use group insights. Your group insights are going to be your best tool for measuring how the group is developing and evolving.

Insights help you see how the group is growing, how the members are using the group (active members, which days are the most active, which posts get the most interaction, etc.), and the demographics of the group.

Starting a Facebook group can seem daunting, but with a little ingenuity, a group can be a great way to promote yourself and your books.

Using the steps outlined above, you can have your group set up and ready for fans to join in about 10 minutes or less. Connect it to your business page to get the word out, and then start interacting as members join.

Do you have a Facebook group for your book? What is your most effective way to use it? Leave a comment and let us know!

The post Why And How To Create A Facebook Group As A Self-Published Author appeared first on Authority Self-Publishing.

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Every time you publish a book, you’re putting your name out into the world.

People will look for you on Amazon and other bookselling sites, they’ll look on social media sites, and they’ll look for an author website.

Being a well-known writer and having your name instantly recognized might be the ideal for most self-published authors.

But, do you really want all that attention focused on your true identity?

What if you’re a member of the PTA at your child’s school, yet you want to write a bodice-ripper?

What if you are known for writing business books, but you want to write in an entirely different genre?

Or maybe your name is Ishcabbible Humperdink, and it just doesn’t seem to fit with the romance novels you want to write.

Using your own name in any of the above instances could cause problems, either for promoting the book you wish to write, your day job, or even the safety of you and your family.

What’s a writer to do?Choosing to write under a pen name (a.k.a. writing under a pseudonym, a.k.a. nom de plume) is an option writers use for many reasons.

Why do authors use pen names?

Here are a few of reasons for going incognito:

Change Persona

Using a pen name allows you to change as much or as little about yourself as you wish.

If you are male, you can become female (and vice versa). If you usually write non-fiction business books, you can create a new pen name to write fiction or academic works.

If you are already well-known in the religious community, you can create a new persona to write for the secular market.

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Shorten Name

A pen name allows you to take a hard-to-pronounce or long ethnic name and shorten it, so it is easier to spell and pronounce.

Chikalinski becomes Chik, Hladisova becomes Ladd, and Goytiom becomes Guy.

Memorable Name

Creating an easy-to-remember name will go a long way toward boosting your branding.

Names like Bear Smith, Duke Wayne, Laura Drum, and Violet Dawn are short and easy pen names to remember.

Not only are they easier to recall, but they are also easy to write and create logos around if you choose to build a full-blown business around your nom de plume.

Match Genre

Creating a pen name that matches your niche makes it easier to remember.

Case in point: “Remington Steele,” the pseudonym created by a woman who wanted to start a private investigation business.

Rose Tanner could be used by a man who wishes to break into beach romances.

And Jon Byte could be created strictly for writing technical computer manuals.

Privacy/Security

Staying safe is another reason to use a pen name.

If the topics you write about have the potential to jeopardize your job, your social standing, or the safety of your immediate family or yourself, creating a pen name could be your only choice if you wish to be published.

Keep in mind it is never okay to create a pen name for illegal purposes.

Don’t create a pen name as a way to get around a contract, infringe on another author’s name, or to write something you’ve promised not to write about.

How to Choose a Pen Name

Now that you’ve decided to use a pen name it’s time to choose one.

Picking a pen name is even harder than naming a baby because you need to come up with a last name as well.

Some authors will even go so far as to create a whole character, complete with backstory, to go with their name.

Do you want a name that’s obviously fake? Many authors will use names that are common to their genre when picking a nom de plume: names like Kandy Kisses for romance, Prairie Dawn for westerns, Jack Hammer for true crime, and Star Knight for sci-fi.

Still, other authors will choose less obvious pen names and make the spellings unique, like changing LeeAnn to LeighAnne, Jane to Jayne, or Charles to Chaz.

How to Outline a Nonfiction Book

Or maybe you want a regular name, one that blends in with society as a whole. Many writers opt to go that route, too.

Here are a few pen name generator techniques:

Brainstorm

Grab a pen and some paper and start going through the alphabet.

Decide if you want a male or female name and then start writing. Adam, Alan, Alfonso; Betty, Barbara, Brenda; Clifford, Charles, Cameron. You get the picture.

Click a Button

Name generators are easy to find online.

Namegenerator.biz – This site generates random names using the fewest filters. Click a button and get a name. Don’t like it? Click the button again and get a new name!

There are various generators available at this site; you can search for a first name if you already have a last name you like, or you can search for a last name if you have a first name you prefer.

Name-geneator.org.uk – Like the first generator, this site has various generators available to use, but they also offer filters, such as nationality and type of character.

Fakenamegenerator.com – This is an amazing site. Not only does it give you a name, but it also gives you a complete identity to go along with the name.

Set your filters to show nationality, gender, and age, then click the button.

Your resulting alias comes complete with a fake address, social security number, mother’s maiden name, phone number, birthday, email, username and password, place of employment and job, physical description, favorite color and the car he or she drives, as well as a few other things.

There’s even a map showing you approximately where this person would live.

Search, Search and Research

Check everywhere to see if the name is already in use:

Head over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any other large bookseller online, and type in the name you’re thinking of using. Is there already an author with that name?

Look specifically in the genre or niche you are considering. If there is already an author with the name you want, you may want to consider changing the spelling, adding a middle name or initial, or picking a new name altogether.

Choosing a name based solely on the idea of riding on another author’s coattails is never a good idea. It only confuses readers when they think it’s the same person. And, if the other person has a brand built on that name, you may find yourself in court.

Do a trademark search to see if anyone has claimed the name already. Again, don’t infringe on anyone else’s name. It’s just not worth it.

Head over to betterwhois.com and search for your chosen pen name as a domain. Many authors snag their names as domains to promote their books.

If the name you want is taken, is it an author? Once again, consider adding a middle initial or changing the spelling of the name, if needed, to alter it, or create a new one.

Check social media for the name you want to use. Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, Twitter – even Pinterest – are all places you want to check to see if the name you want to use is already taken.

There’s a very good chance the name you choose will be someone’s real name. A quick Google search will tell you just how popular they are – and it will help you decide if you need to alter the name or come up with an entirely new one.

Claiming Your Pen Name

Once you’ve settled on a pen name, it’s time to claim it.

Start by securing the domain name and social media accounts, if possible.

Register the copyright on the pseudonym. In most cases, you’ll want to note your real name on the registration form as well, so you never have trouble proving it’s your pen name.

Next, create a “doing business as” (dba) for payment purposes. Add it to your bank account, and set up a PayPal account if needed.

You’ll probably want to create an email address for your pseudonym, too, so you can stay incognito as you deal with editors, cover designers, and all the other people involved in getting a book put together, as well as fan mail.

Go ahead and create a bio for your new name now, to cement the persona in your brain. You’ll need it for the back cover of your book anyway.

Keep in mind there’s a good chance your die-hard fans will find you if they really want to, even if you use a pen name. The question is, do you want to make it easy for them, or hard?

Make it easy for your fans:

  • Create a primary website under your real name or your brand and list all your pseudonyms on one page with links to their respective sites.
  • Include your real name on the registration form to copyright the pen name.
  • Use your photo on the back of the book and in all promotional materials across all media.
  • State in the author bio that “this author is a fictional character.”

Make it hard for your fans:

  • Keep all your websites, email addresses and social media accounts separate (this could get hard if you have multiple pseudonyms).
  • Do not list your real name on the registration form to copyright the pen name.
  • Do not provide photos or do public appearances.
  • Do not say anything anywhere about the name not being that of a real person.

Whatever your reasons for choosing a pen name, make sure you’ve thought through all the pros and cons entirely before setting the wheels in motion.

Decide beforehand if you want to be completely hidden behind the name, or if it’s okay if word leaks out that it’s you.

Having a pen name could give you the life you always wanted – one book at a time.

The post Going Incognito: How to Choose A Pen Name appeared first on Authority Self-Publishing.

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After months (possibly years) of writing, your book is finished.

You’ve spared no expense. You used the best writing software to write it.

You found and hired the perfect editor to polish your prose.

You teased your email list and social media followers with the title and asked for their help in picking an enticing sub-title.

Your cover designer teased your followers even more by asking them to vote for the most alluring design.

Now you have a publish date. You know exactly when it will be available to the public for purchase, and you want the world to know. But, how do you do that?

You write a book press release.

Think of a press release as the official announcement about your book that goes out to the media.

A properly written press release will showcase your book in such a way that a journalist will read it and see that he or she doesn’t have to put in extra effort to make it interesting and compelling.

When you make it easy for a journalist, the odds are much higher your release (or an edited version of it) will get published.

What are the benefits of sending out a press release?

  • You gain online visibility as traffic is driven to your author website
  • You build your brand by gaining authority and credibility in your niche
  • You reach new customers as journalists use your press release for story ideas
  • SEO backlinks are created, which can help your site rankings
  • A well-written press release will be published in more than one newspaper or online media site. When multiple media outlets (newspapers, journals and blogs around the country—and even the world) publish your book press release, that’s called mass syndication.

You’ve seen press releases before, and you know they have a certain format and formula to them. However, you don’t want just any formula – you want a winning formula for your book press release.

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But you’ve never written a book press release before, let alone one with a winning formula.

Can you do it? Yes. Yes, you can. Here’s how…

The Winning Formula for a Book Press Release 

Remember, a press release will get more attention if there’s something newsworthy (aside from the fact you are launching your amazing book) to include in the release.

Before writing your release, ask yourself:

  • Is my book topic related to something newsworthy or trending right now?
  • Do I have a unique or compelling story to tell about myself as an author related to my book?
  • Do I have credentials or awards that make me more interesting or credible as the author?
  • Has my book been endorsed by someone famous or well-known?
  • Does my book go against conventional opinion or common beliefs? Is it controversial?
  • Try to focus on what makes your book different within your niche, and why readers would want to pick up this book.

Think like a journalist who is looking for that “something different” that might stand out in the pile of other press releases cluttering his or her inbox.

Once you’ve found your “hook” for your book press release, it’s time to write it. Here’s the template you’ll need to follow:

1. “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” These words should be placed at the top left of your page so publishers know they can use it today. Be sure to place them in all caps!

2. Contact Info. Name, email address, phone number, mailing address. How do you want people to contact you if they have questions about the press release?

3. Action-oriented Headline. You want something that will grab their attention since this will also be the subject line if you are sending the press release in the body of an email.

An example would be “## Reasons Why You Should …” or “The Fastest Way to …” or some other headline that invokes a sense of urgency. This headline is often less than twenty words.

4. Dateline. This is placed on the first line, at the start of the first paragraph. Include the city, state, and the date you are writing the press release.

For example, New York, NY, Jan. 10, 2018 – (Opening paragraph starts here).

5. Opening Paragraph. Much like the headline, the opening paragraph is designed to draw the reader in and keep them reading. It needs to cover the Who, What, When, Why and Where of the book.

Specifically, include how the book will benefit the reader and why they should read it. This section often includes a sentence or two about the author, including any pertinent credentials or awards.

6. Quotes. The second paragraph (and possibly the third) is where the book’s value is expounded upon. Quotes from the book itself, such as weighty statements made by the author, are often included.

If a key influencer in the same industry has read a draft copy of the book and offered praise for it, that would be included here as well.

7. Short Book Blurb. The next paragraph or two will continue to spell out the value of the book and will often tie it into a trending phrase or word that journalists recognize, like “mindfulness” or “self-care” or some other hot topic.

Remember to keep all paragraphs short. Using bullet points is also a good way to keep things brief and to-the-point, making it easy for readers to skim for info.

8. Author Bio. Once again, keep this brief and to-the-point. You may notice some press releases have the bio last, but a winning formula will have it second-to-last. Why? So you can wrap it up with a CTA.

9. Closing with a Call to Action. Be sure to let readers know where they can purchase the book, and how to find you (and the book) on social media.

Direct them to your website to get a freebie of some sort (if you have one) and to sign up for your mailing list. And let people know you are available for interviews.

10. Optional Hashtags (###). These three hash marks (centered at the bottom of the page) indicate that the press release is complete. Anything written after this will only be seen by the journalist using your press release to write an article.

Putting it all together is as simple as filling in a template. Use the numbered steps above to create your press release,
but once you’ve pulled it all together, it’s time to start submitting it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to send your release to hundreds of media outlets yourself. You can (and should) hire a press syndication service to handle this for you.

Here are a few services where you can submit your news release:

PRWeb – PRWeb sends your news to search engines, news sites, and more than 250,000 subscribers. There are four packages to choose from for one-time releases, ranging from Basic at $99 (released to search engines and news sites) to Premium at $369 (released to premier news outlets through the Associated Press, allowed to include images, videos, and other attachments).

iREACH – For $129 per release, the SearchReach package will get your message on iREACH and Yahoo. Or, you can take advantage of the WebReach Plus package which offers the unique ability to get your info showcased on the Thomson Reuters sign in Times Square for $399 per release.

PR Buzz – PR Buzz boasts a large RSS network, which gives them the ability to create a huge buzz for each release. You can see their impressive list of partners here. Two packages are offered. Unlimited press releases for one company is priced at $299 per year. Unlimited press release distribution for SEO firms or resellers is priced at $499 per year.

Be sure to check the package you are buying to see if you can include a photo of your book or a headshot of yourself. You may need to invest in a more expensive package to include these items.

Ready to write the best book press release?

Remember to include all the items outlined above, and make sure you edit it before you hit that ‘send’ button.

The less work an editor needs to do, the better your chances of having it published.

The editor will always have the final say on what gets printed in their magazine, journal, newspaper or blog.

Book Press Release Examples

New Book Offers Hands-On Advice for Physicians at Every State of Career 

New York City Interior Designer Releases Children’s Book about Special Spaces

Author Sarah Love Features New Research in Book to Attract and Keep a Partner 

Have a tip or suggestion about writing a book press release? Leave a comment to let us know.

Did you find this article helpful? Why not share it with your friends on social media?

The post Learn The Proven Template For A Book Launch Press Release appeared first on Authority Self-Publishing.

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The cover of your book is the first thing readers see when they browse brick-and-mortar or online bookstores.

Are the colors appealing? Does the cover convey the heart of the book? Is the title easy to read?

The fact that people will judge your book by its cover is exactly that: a fact. You need a cover designer who can sway people’s judgment toward the desire to purchase, not pass over.

Who should you hire?

Since you know exactly what your book is about, maybe you could create the cover yourself. Or, better yet, your cousin is currently looking for work – why not hire him?

While doing it yourself may save you money, if you have no experience with graphic design, you’ll be spending a lot of time researching and learning how to create covers—time you could spend working on your marketing, or writing your next book.

Research isn’t the only thing that will take up your time.

Much like the book-writing process itself, you’ll discover that every time you look at the cover there will be something you want to change. It will never be “just right” in your eyes since you know you can change it.

Hiring a relative may or may not save you money. If your cousin happens to be a book cover designer and understands what you’re looking for in a cover, go ahead and hire him.

But, make sure you have a contract and treat the arrangement exactly like any other business deal.

Make sure you get what you want, and make sure you pay for what you get. Don’t let any open-ended favors or expectations hang over your head and ruin family gatherings for the next few years.

Same goes for hiring friends: Hire them if they are professionals, not just because they are your friends.

Working with friends and family just for the sake of your relationship often causes problems. You think you’re doing them a favor by giving them something to do.

They think they’re doing you a favor and that you’ll love whatever they make for you because of your relationship with them.

You think they’ll know exactly what you want. They think you’ll understand if something comes up, and they can’t finish on time. Feelings can get hurt, and relationships can be damaged.

Where do you find a good book cover designer?

As with anything, getting recommendations from other authors should be first on your list.

Ask friends and post on social media about your need for a cover designer. If you belong to a Facebook group for self-publishers, ask there for recommendations.

You could also check with online companies who create book covers, such as Archangel Ink, Happy Self-Publishing, or 99 Designs. Another option is to find a cover designer on Fiverr or Upwork.

Be sure to get recommendations! (Have I mentioned that already?) You need to know others have used the designer and been pleased with the work.

You need to know you can trust the person or company designing your cover. They are, in a sense, putting clothes on your baby. (And you don’t want just any old clothes on your baby!)

What do cover designers charge for their work?

Costs for cover designs vary as much as book topics do.

You could find someone on Fiverr or Upwork who will listen to what you want and create the perfect design on the first try for only $5, $20 or $50.

Or, you could find someone from those same sites who is totally out in left field, revises 20 times and still doesn’t get your book cover design right.

Listen to Related Podcast: How to Outsource Your Book Cover Design

If your budget is minimal it is possible to find a designer who will work with you.

But, think of your cover design as an investment. Remember, first impressions matter.

If you want your baby dressed in artful clothing which draws the attention of readers ready to buy, you will need to invest some money in that fine raiment.

When you work with a company like Archangel or 99 Designs, you’ll get multiple designs to choose from, plus, after you’ve chosen your design, you can make further revisions to make your cover perfect for your book.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $249 and up, depending on your needs and how much you wish to invest.

Here are 6 questions you need to ask before you hire a book cover designer:

1. Do they have references and can they supply samples of current work?

If this info isn’t on their website, ask that they send you samples via email. Better yet, if you can talk to past customers, do it.

Find out if the designer delivered on-time, if the author’s expectations were met, if the designer was professional and willing to make changes.

2. Have they created other covers for books in your genre/niche?

Understanding the genre/niche market is important.

If you write action/suspense thrillers, you probably don’t want pretty flowers and birds in a park setting on the cover.

If you write cookbooks, you want appetizing food on the cover. Make sure they understand what you need.

3. How many mock-ups will be created?

How long will it take? If the designer sends you one mock-up at a time, offering to “change it” as needed, find another designer.

Professional designers will send multiple mock-ups for you to look at and compare, before making a final decision.

4. What is their policy for revisions?

Professional designers are willing to take aspects of one design and merge them into another until your cover design is exactly the way you want it.

Read Related: 10 Elements Of A Good Nonfiction Book

They will ask you questions – before they start and while they work – in order to understand your book and your desires.

If they aren’t questioning you, be wary. You want an original design, not a stock photo slapped behind your title.

5. What do they charge?

Is it a flat fee for the whole project, or do they charge by the hour? If they charge by the hour, will you be charged for the initial consultation/phone call?

6. In what formats/dimensions will the work be given to you?

Is it just for digital ebooks, or will they provide files for print books as well? Will you hold all rights to the images? Make sure you get what you pay for from your designer.

You’ll need to get either a TIFF or a JPEG image (better yet, ask for both), as that’s what KDP currently accepts.

The ideal dimensions your designer should send you (for KDP) is 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (the height/width ratio is 1.6:1).

KDP recommends saving your file with a minimum of 72 DPI, and it should be less than 50MB.

To learn more about publishing through KDP, go to their website to read their guidelines.

If you are submitting a print book to CreateSpace, the cover will either be 18” x 12” or 19” x 13” depending on the final trim size of the book.

Make sure your fonts and images are embedded and that the file is optimized. To learn more about CreateSpace requirements, visit their site and download their Submission Specifications.

Finding and hiring a cover designer doesn’t have to be hard, but don’t settle for just anyone.

Find a professional who comes highly recommended, invest in the design, and work closely with the designer.

You’ll be much happier with the finished product (and you’ll get more sales) when your book is packaged perfectly.

The post The Secrets To Finding And Hiring A Cover Designer appeared first on Authority Self-Publishing.

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First impressions are very important.

Whether it’s you walking into an important meeting, or someone seeing your book for the first time, the person viewing you or your book will form an opinion at first sight. It’s just human nature. It’s how we create memories.

If you want people to notice and buy your book, you need to make a good first impression.

Walk into any bookstore, or even your local library, and you’ll notice the colors of the books first. Depending on what you are looking for, different colors will appeal to you.

Take cookbooks, for example. Many of today’s “healthy eating” cookbooks are either white or earth tone, while those for baking may incorporate pink – like frosting, which isn’t always healthy.

As you get closer to the books, you’ll start to read titles. Once again, first impressions will be important. Titles need to be short, concise, and convey the book’s message.

Not everyone will take time to read the back matter, or even the subtitle, if the title doesn’t grab them first.

What’s the best strategy for picking book titles?

Feedback!

How do you get feedback?

Here’s a simple 6-step strategy to generate book title ideas:

1) Choose three to five titles.

Set aside some uninterrupted time for a personal brainstorming session. Grab a piece of paper and start listing all the various titles you can think of off the top of your head.

What is your book about? Are there any synonyms you can use to liven the title up? What pain point will you solve for your reader? Can you phrase the title as a question? Can you make an alliteration? What about a rhyme?

Write down everything and then pick out three to five that you really like. Then move on to steps two and three to refine or add to your list.

2) Look at your competition.

Go to Amazon and take a look at top selling book titles in your niche or topic. Look for books that have an overall rank of 30,000 or less.

What makes the title compelling to you? Does the title make you more curious or intrigued? Does it use language that is relatable and not jargon-y or dull?

Make notes about what you see and what your impressions are. You don’t want to steal another author’s title, but you can certainly get some good ideas and words that you might want to use.

You may also realize where there’s a hole in the market that you can take advantage of — a way to separate your book from the crowd. And that brings us to the next step.

3) Find your “hook.”

Finding a good “hook” for your book title can make the difference between your book flying off the shelves or languishing in obscurity.

A hook is something that grabs the reader’s attention or speaks to a need that compels your reader. For example, in Steve and Barrie’s books, The 10-Minute Declutter and 10-Minute Mindfulness, the hook was the “10-minute” part.

Readers are looking for short, manageable strategies for getting things done rather than techniques that are complicated and long. Tim Ferris did this with his blockbuster books, The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body. But your hook doesn’t have to relate to time.

Think about Marie Kondo’s mega bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You don’t usually associate tidying up with life-changing magic. This definitely grabs your attention. Or what about Jen Sincero’s bestseller, You Are A Badass? A little salty language can grab readers as well.

You want your hook to entice readers but not confuse them. The title still needs to tell readers what they are getting. A cute and clever title that is indirect won’t get the job done.

Think about what sets your book apart from the others and what you are offering to your reader. How can you frame that in a way that is both clear and compelling?

It make take some practice to learn how to craft a great hook for your title, but keep at it. A good hook can be a real game-changer.

4) Get some free feedback.

You can do this in any number of ways:

  • Post a poll on your personal Facebook wall, Tweet the choices with hashtags, or post a graphic on Instagram. Social media is a great place to get feedback because everyone has an opinion – and these days, they love to share that opinion, too. Also, consider Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • If you have a business page or an author page on Facebook, post a poll there.
  • If you’re part of a Facebook group, post a poll there if it’s allowed – be sure to follow the group’s posting rules.
  • Run a poll on your blog. If you use WordPress, install WP-Polls, or you can ask readers to leave a comment with their choice.
  • Send out an email to your newsletter list directing people to the poll on your blog or to your Facebook poll. (Be aware that you may get some people who vote on more than one platform – consider only having one poll, such as the one on your blog, and directing all social media and newsletter traffic there.)
  • You can also create a poll on Survey Monkey or Survey Gizmo and direct your blog readers there. You aren’t charged for the first hundred or so responses, but you’ll have to pay for access to all of the responses if they exceed that.

Remember to ask for comments when you post a poll on social media. Sometimes, friends and readers will have some great ideas and suggestions for even better titles.

If someone offers a suggestion you like, or if others respond that they like the title better, add it to your poll on Facebook.

Read Related: How to Write a Book For Kindle

Don’t forget to close your poll, too. A week should be plenty of time for people to see and respond to your poll.

Close your poll and move on – otherwise, if you get a comment a month later after you’ve chosen your title, you may start second-guessing your choice. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life! Close the poll and move on to step three.

5) Get some paid feedback.

After you’ve completed the poll through the free channels mentioned in step #2, head over to PickFu.com to get anonymous feedback on the top two titles.

These responders won’t know you, they won’t know anything about your book, and they’ll be honest – because they don’t really care what you think — they’re just giving their opinion. Harsh, but true – and very helpful when you think about it.

6) Use the feedback to craft your final title.

Sift through all the comments from PickFu and social media; take everything into consideration. Look for honest feedback, such as, “This one sounds better because…” or “This one makes me feel….”

Even the negative feedback will be helpful. If more than one person states neither title offers clarity on the book’s content, maybe you need to do some tweaking.

The negative comments may sting a little, but they may also help you see things from a different angle. You may even get some feedback that leads you to an even better title.

Read Related: How to Launch a Bestselling Book

You may be wondering, if PickFu seems to be the best way to finalize your title, why bother with the other steps? I can answer that in one word:

Pre-selling.

When you post your poll on social media, when you ask your newsletter subscribers for help, when you give a little hint at what your book is about to anyone, you are advertising.

You’re letting people know you have a book coming out, and you’re giving them just enough information to pique their interest.

Asking for feedback should be done a couple of weeks before you plan to publish your book. This will get your name out there and create a buzz in your readers’ minds about your upcoming book.

Your book may be your baby, but you want that baby to sell. Picking a great book title with a great hook can help.

Once you’ve created your list of possible titles, get some input from friends, family, and readers. Then get some input from strangers. And finally, choose the best title for your next best seller.

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Step into any elementary school classroom on Career Day and you’re bound to find at least one child whose sole goal in life is to be a writer.

Maybe they know someone who writes, or maybe they just have a story to tell — whatever the reason, they feel life will be incomplete if they can’t write when they grow up. Did I just describe you?

Many a high school newspaper has been started on the side, anonymously, by a quiet teenager who is observant. The need to prove their abilities keeps their articles ethical.

The insatiable desire to write about what they see, either as fact or fiction, keeps them up at night. Perhaps this was you?

Type the word “blog” into any search engine, along with whatever topic interests you, and you’re bound to find people who write for a living — or live to write — or both.

It doesn’t matter when the writing bug bites you, as long as you succumb to the desires. If you don’t, you end up feeling like something in life is missing.

Enjoy these 25 Motivating Quotes About Writing:

1. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~Toni Morrison

2. “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ~Madeleine L’Engle

3. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~Stephen King

4. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~Anaïs Nin

5. “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” ~Lloyd Alexander

6. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” ~Robert Frost

7. “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ~Mark Twain

8. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” ~E.L. Doctorow

9. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” ~Aldous Huxley

Read Related: How to Outline A NonFiction Book

10. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” ~Louis L’Amour

11. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” ~Henry David Thoreau

12. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~Stephen King

13. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ~William Wordsworth

14. “A word after a word after a word is power.” ~Margaret Atwood

15. “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” ~Neil Gaiman

16. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ~Jack London

17. “Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.” ~Meg Cabot

18. “If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” ~Anaïs Nin

19. “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” ~John Steinbeck

20. “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” ~Stephen King

21. “Write what should not be forgotten.” ~Isabel Allende

22. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~Pablo Picasso

23. “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

24. “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” ~Stephen King

25. “We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.” ~Anthony Burgess

Do you have a favorite quote that keeps you motivated to write?

If you need to write as much as you need to breathe, I hope these quotes will keep you going, keep you writing, and keep you inspired. You are a writer. Now, go write!

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Perhaps you’re one of the thousands of people bitten by the writing bug who would love to make a living from writing books all day.

Can it be done? Absolutely!

The world of publishing has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Self-publishing your book doesn’t have the negative reputation it once did. In fact, thousands of authors have self-published because it gives them more control over their work and a greater share of the profits.

Some self-published authors have received movie deals and created seven figure royalties, not to mention millions of readers who now recognize the author’s name and enjoy their work.

Amazon has given self-published authors the necessary tools and resources to edit, format and distribute their books to readers around the world.

Not only can authors track sales with up-to-date rankings and analytics, but they can also research and choose a profitable niche by understanding the 30,000 Rule in Amazon’s Best Seller rankings.

Wait … You had no idea you could predetermine profitable book niches?

Read on to discover how to use the Amazon Best Seller rank – 30,000 rule:

One of the ways Amazon keeps authors informed on the status of their books is through rankings. Amazon determines the best seller rankings based on the amount of sales a book has.

There are separate rankings for Kindle books and paperbacks, as well as for free books. However, they are all ranked according to how many times someone buys a copy.

Amazon’s rankings often seem complicated and problematic because the system doesn’t necessarily count sales the moment they happen. So you need to be patient as Amazon doesn’t update their rankings every minute. It’s usually hourly.

When determining the ranking of a book, Amazon either compares it to all the other books sitewide — Amazon’s “Bestsellers Rank” — or to other books within the same category. The Bestsellers Rank doesn’t take category into account; only category rankings compare books in the same categories, which means all these numbers could vary widely throughout the day.

Read Related: How to Outline Your Next Book

Trying to navigate all the different rankings and figure out exactly what they mean can be confusing. Each version of a book, whether a print book or e-book, will have it’s own ranking in each of the various categories (Ex. travel, self-help, money).

Steve and Barrie don’t worry about their individual category rankings but instead  they pay attention to the overall Amazon Best Sellers Rank for each of their books.

Knowing how to interpret the Amazon Best Seller rankings can be the difference between writing the next “Top 100” book and the next flop.

Using the Rule of 30,000 To Determine Demand

Checking a book’s Amazon ranking helps you determine if there is a demand for information on a specific topic. This is an essential part of doing niche research for a new book.

The 30,000 ranking benchmark equates to about 150 sales per month — or a profit of approximately $300 (70% of $2.99 per book). While it may not seem like much, consider if you had a catalog of 10-15 books with that rank. Now you can see a nice side-hustle of steady monthly royalties!

Let’s put the Kindle Store 30,000 Rule to work and find out if your next book idea will be profitable.

Check for competition. Now head over to Amazon. Choose “books” and type in your topic. Begin by typing in “Evernote” just to see what comes up. From the books that come up, choose the one that best matches your idea. Let’s look in more detail at the Amazon search results.

(Click to Enlarge)

The Master Note System: A New Way to Use Evernote to Organize Your Life has an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 19,892 (approximately 7-8 sales per day)

Evernote: From Note Taking to Life Mastery: 100 Eye-Opening Techniques and Sneaky Uses of Evernote that Experts Don’t Want You to Know has an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 30,024 (approximately 4-5 sales per day)

Master Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Organizing Your Life with Evernote (by our own Steve Scott) has an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 28,967 (approximately 5-6 sales per day)

Now select Master Evernote and scroll down to the Product Details section for this book. At the very bottom of the ‘details’ list, you’ll see Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 28,967 (as of 11-9-17). The more books you can find around this topic with a ranking of 30,000 or less, the more profitable your idea is — because people are buying these books!

(click to enlarge)

Don’t Become a Slave to the Ranking

Amazon’s rankings are an asset when it comes to choosing your next profitable book. They’re also helpful once your book is published, but don’t give them too much weight.

A high ranking doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a failure, and a low ranking doesn’t mean you’re going to get a movie deal or be able to retire on royalties (it helps, but there are no guarantees in life or the publishing world). Rankings are just numbers. As mentioned earlier, they change hourly as Amazon runs their analytics, plus there can be a lag in the time your book sold and when your ranking reflects that sale.

As an author who desires to write books people will buy (and read), knowing how to interpret the Amazon rankings will be helpful, but remember: the numbers change often, so don’t become a slave to them.

You now know how to use the Amazon rankings to your advantage. How will you use that information? Have you already published through Amazon? Do your rankings match up with the Rule of 30,000 theory?

If you’d like to learn more about discovering profitable book niches then read this post: 13 Proven Ways To Find Bestselling Book Ideas.

Leave a comment with your questions, thoughts, and experiences. And, if you’re comfortable doing so, share your niche with us!

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You’ve spent a lot of time writing your book — now, make sure it’s the best it can be by hiring an editor.

Working on a book or novel is a labor of love. You spend hours, days, months or maybe even years working on your story. You pour your heart and soul into it. If you’re a fiction writer you’ve meticulously created your world and developed each of the characters.

Your story has a great arc, and the climax is heart-stopping. After editing it numerous times on your own, you’re now ready to show it to the world.

Before hitting the upload button, we strongly encourage you to consider hiring a professional editor to go through your work. Sure, you’ve gone through it with a fine-toothed comb, but there are still things you’ve overlooked.

As the author, you are too close to your work and know it too well to see all the little issues. By having a fresh set of eyes look over your masterpiece, your book will become so much better.

Bah! you might be thinking. Readers won’t care if your book isn’t grammatically correct. Your content is interesting enough that a few mistakes will be easy to overlook. That might be true for a few readers. After all, not all books are 100 percent perfect. Mistakes still happen.

However, there are many readers who will notice every error, and they might point that out in with a negative review. Here at Authority Pub, that is not a chance that we’re willing to take.

Different Types of Book Editors

When it comes to finding an editor for your work, there are three different types of editors to consider: a developmental editor, a content editor and/or a proofreader. Each one of them fulfills a different role when editing your book, and the price for each one varies widely, so you’ll need to decide which one you’re willing to hire and pay for.

Developmental Editor

This type of editor will go through your manuscript and make sure that the writing flows properly and makes sense. They’ll offer feedback and suggest changes to make your book better. Depending on the type of developmental editor you hire, they may or may not go through and find grammatical or spelling errors. Their main focus is to make sure the your writing makes sense and all your details remain consistent.

Copy Editor

If you hire a copy editor, you will be hiring someone to look at the grammar and spelling within your manuscript. They might pay attention to some of the details of the story, but their main job is to make sure sentences are structured correctly, that your grammar and spelling are consistent and that you are using the right words in the right places.

If you write nonfiction, a copy editor may fact-check your work or ensure any links you’ve incorporated are correct and not broken. A copy editor will also make sure the structure of your manuscript complies with the publisher’s guidelines — assuming you’re submitting to a publisher. If not, a copy editor will make sure the work is consistent with style use.

Hiring a good, professional copy editor means you’ll have someone who has a sharp eye for details and a passion for the mechanics of language. They’ll also enjoy fact-checking and making your work as easy to read as possible.

Proofreader

A proofreader is the last line of defense before your book goes to publication. They will be looking for small mistakes — a missing comma, a straight quote instead of a curly quote, missing words or misspelled words. Proofreaders won’t check style or that your facts are correct. They will mainly focus on the mechanics of language and formatting issues and take care of minor edits before you share your work with the world.

Which Editor Is Right for You?

Depending on what you’re looking for from an editor, any or all of these editors might be right for you. Having more than one set of eyes look over your book will ensure it is the best it can be before getting into the hands of readers. Will hiring a professional editor guarantee you become a bestseller? Not necessarily, but you won’t have to worry about readers complaining about bad grammar and plot holes because you’ve taken steps to ensure those aren’t present in your work.

Read Related: Why You Should Write a Crappy First Draft

Another thing to consider when deciding what type of editor to hire is how much they cost. The prices of developmental editors, copy editors and proofreaders varies widely, and how much you pay also depends on several other factors, including how long your manuscript is, how complex your story is and what your deadline is.

It’s possible to find good editors for cheap, but you need to be wary of what type of edit you’re getting in the end. Don’t sacrifice quality to save some money. Investing in your book by finding a good editor is well worth the price.

Here 5 Questions to Ask To Find a Book Editor That is Right For You

When you’ve decided what type of editor will be the most beneficial in improving your manuscript, there are some questions you should ask before hiring them.

1. What type of editor do they claim to be?

It’s totally possible the editor you’re looking to hire has experience in development and copy editing, as well as proofreading, but be cautious if they claim to have experience in all three. Each editing type requires a different skill set, education and credentials, and you don’t want to waste your time and money on the wrong kind of editing.

2. What is their background?

Has the person you’re looking to hire ever worked for a publisher(s)? If so, which one and how many?

Working for a publisher means the editor probably has the experience and knowledge to help you with your book. However, just because they haven’t worked for a publisher and may have only freelance edited, that doesn’t mean they are terrible editors.

Read Related: How to Outline a Book

Ask them for a list of works they’ve edited and check those works out. Email the authors and ask what they thought of the editor. If most of them were happy with the editor’s work, you might be too.

3. How busy are they in a given month?

Editing takes a long time. It’s an involved process. If an editor takes on more than two or three books in a month, they probably aren’t giving each manuscript the time and attention they deserve. You want to find an editor who will be dedicated to improving your book and writing, not padding their bank account.

4. How much does the editor cost?

Again, since the price of editors varies so widely, it’s hard to say whether or not the price you pay for your editor is worth it. However, more experienced editors tend to charge more, which might indicate you’re getting a great edit. But at the same time, more affordable editors might whip your manuscript into shape at a fraction of the price.

Read Related: The Perfect Writing Software for Your Writing Style

In the end, it all boils down to your budget and what you’re willing or able to spend on an editor, but it’s worth the investment to get the best talent that you can afford.

5. Do they offer a sample edit?

One of the best ways to know if an editor will work for you is to ask them to edit a sample of your work. This sample will give you an idea of how they work and what they can do for your manuscript. It will also give you an opportunity to talk to an editor over the phone or email about your story so you can decide if you’ll work well together or not.

Writing a book takes a lot of time and energy. When it’s ready for the world, make sure it’s the best it can be by hiring a professional editor to fix your errors and make the creative work shine.

We recommend Archangel Ink for editing, formatting and cover design, but there are dozens of good professional editors out there.

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Have you ever felt like the first hour of the morning sets you on a direct trajectory towards the rest of your day? You’re either “up and at ’em” and ready to conquer the world, or you’re…well…you’re physically present, but your mind is somewhere else. Whether it’s still asleep or just dreaming of your future vacation days, you just cannot seem to focus. No matter how you feel when you wake up, do you maintain a normal morning routine?

As a writer, you may not tend to think in a “routine” way. Rather, you are likely to think out-of-the-box or creatively. You probably like to take a few unexpected turns throughout the day and even fear to fall into a predictable set of behaviors. However, successful writers know that implementing a morning routine often makes you more productive when it comes time to sit down and write.

So, what’s a good routine and how strict does it have to be? It can certainly be flexible; it’s important to find a routine that’s right for you. Not every routine is perfect for every person, and not everyone is on the same schedule.

Here are five of the best morning routines to set you up for a successful and productive day:

1. Wake Up

Of course, you have to wake up—but only after you’ve gotten enough sleep to allow you to be mentally present all day. Like many writers, you may work from home. This allows for a flexible sleeping schedule where you sleep until your body is ready to wake up.

Try to get into the routine of waking up at the same time each day (and going to sleep at the same time each night), so you don’t accumulate sleep debt. Once you understand your sleep habits and how much sleep you need to be productive the next day, try to plan around that. If you need a few extra minutes of sleep every now and then, that’s okay.

The key here is to commit to being awake once you’re out of bed. Don’t continue to wish you were still asleep and don’t count down the hours until you can take a nap. Be excited to be awake! Remind yourself how lucky you are to have the ability to get up and write—to live your passion—for the bulk of the day. Not everyone is so lucky.

2. Start Writing First Thing in the Morning

Even if you’re just jotting down ideas, do it as soon as you wake up. Did you know your brain is the most active when you first wake up? It’s true—this is when your prefrontal cortex is up and ready-to-go, and your mind is thinking creatively.

Before the sun rises, while everything is quiet around you, take time to be alone with your thoughts. This tranquil part of the day will not return until the following day, so take advantage of the slow pace of the world before things become rushed.

With this in mind, take the thoughts that have built up in your mind overnight and get them down on paper. They don’t have to be written in any sort of neat fashion. Actually, some say that the morning is the best time to write and the afternoon is the best time to edit, as the analytical part of your brain becomes more active as the day goes on.

3. Take a Shower

As soon as you have gotten all of your initial thoughts out on paper, get up and move. This is a great time to go for a walk or head to the gym. Do not skip the shower! Taking a shower will boost your energy and allow you to wash away your stress. Your muscles can relax in the warm water while the stimulation increases your blood flow and perks up your senses.

If you need a serious boost in the morning, turn off the heat and end your shower with a blast of cold water. A cold shower can help further energize you and improve your circulation. Rumor has it that cold showers may boost your immunity, which may save you from taking a sick day or two. While taking an ice-cold shower might not sound too appealing in the morning, you can start slowly by ending your shower with a cool blast of water for a few days and work your way up to all-out frigid.

Showering will help you to feel fresh and ready for the next stage of your writing process. It will also give you some alone time with your thoughts and ideas. The shower is often one of the best places to brainstorm about your writing projects.

Read Related: How to Outline a Nonfiction Book

Use this time to run through different ideas and scenarios. For example, you may have recently considered taking your writing in a new direction. Think about the possibilities of where this could go. Showers may also act as an evolution period where you can think about new ideas and possible outcomes and then let them sit in your subconscious for a time before making a decision.

4. Get Settled

Grab a cup of coffee, check your email one last time, do whatever you need to do to be able to settle in and work for a few hours. Don’t allow anything to linger in your mind. Finish all of your personal things so you can focus solely on your writing without distraction.

Getting settled may also include getting one big task out of the way that you normally put off. If you can accomplish something first thing in the morning you don’t want to do, it will open the door to a higher level of productivity throughout the day. Additionally, you won’t have that task hanging over your head while you’re trying to concentrate on writing.

It is also important to put on clothes that you will be comfortable in all day. Don’t bother wearing anything that will make you fidgety or cause you to adjust in your seat every few minutes. Wear clothes that allow you to move around freely while you think and write.

You may even need to turn off your phone and computer and make the commitment to spend a few hours with just a pen and paper. No matter what you have to do in order to pay attention to your writing—finish a project, turn off all distractions, get comfy, whatever—do it before you really settle in to start writing.

5. Tidy Your Workspace

Get rid of any extra papers from the day before or trinkets that may be on your desk. Start with a clean slate for the day by only having the things you need in front of you. Get rid of anything that might be distracting or irrelevant to your goals for the day.

Read Related: The Perfect Writing Software For Your Writing Style

Just looking at a messy desk in the morning can increase your stress levels. A mess can also make it difficult for you to find items you need, which could slow you down. Having a neat and organized atmosphere will decrease your distractions and allow you to focus on your writing, not your mess.

Having a lot of white space gives you the opportunity to look around the room without causing your thoughts to drift away to another task or a distant memory. Keep the distractions to a minimum and try to keep the purpose of your desk strictly work-related.

Successful Morning Routines

If your mornings tend to be the toughest part of your day, start incorporating these five tips into your routine so you can make it a positive time that sets the tone for the rest of your day. Mornings should be an exciting time to start fresh and look forward to a day of creativity.

While not all of these tips may be right for you, adopting some of them could be the trick you need to get going in the morning. Try adding one of these routines to your morning each week until you find what works best. Once you get a solid morning routine in place, you will see the benefits of starting your morning off right when you want to have a successful day of writing.

What works for you? Leave a comment and let us know which ideas you’ve adopted or tell us what works for you. Perhaps your tip will help another writer create the perfect morning routine!

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Writer’s Block. Those two little words can derail just about any writing session.

One of the major causes of writer’s block is perfectionism: trying to make everything perfect in the first draft.

When you try to do both the writing and the editing, you’re running your creative brain and your logical brain at the same time. That can kill your productivity.

Instead, use only your creative brain to write the “crappy” first draft.

Pull up your outline notes and just write whatever pops into your head; ignore grammar, spelling, and formatting—just get the words on the paper first. “Write with the door closed,” as Stephen King says.

In Anne Lamott’s popular book about writing, Bird by Bird, she suggests the first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out on the page.

No one else has to see the first draft, so it’s okay to be messy. You can fix it later, in the second and third drafts, as you edit.

Here are some tips on writing your crappy first draft:

Start Writing

Using your outline and index card notes as guidelines, write in a stream-of-consciousness style.

Imagine you’re in a one-to-one conversation with your ideal reader about their problems and how your book can solve them. People appreciate good, practical advice in plain, simple language.

When you feel the need to research a website, look up a quote, or check something that you haven’t figured out yet, leave a note in those places (i.e., “Check _____”) so you can keep writing from your creative brain without interruption.

If you feel stuck in certain sections as you write, jot a note to remind yourself that you skipped that section and then continue writing.

Read Related: How to Write a Book for Kindle About Your Expertise or Passion

Don’t spend time editing or worrying about the words. Remember, you’re trying to get through this draft as quickly as possible by writing with your creative brain.

Create Value

Even though you’re writing a crappy first draft, make sure to create valuable content for your book. Your end goal is to provide a great reading experience for your readers.

A crappy first draft does not mean it should also have crappy content; it means it has good content which can be cleaned up in the second and third drafts.

First, identify the core problem. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes: describe their problem and then provide an action plan with potential solutions to this problem.

Next, prove that you know what you’re talking about by sharing a little about yourself and how you are qualified to write this book. Write in a way which shows you understand their pain points.

Break down solutions into consumable parts; write step-by-step instructions, checklists, bullet points, and information on how to implement what you teach.

Be Creative

Tell stories in each section or chapter. You can talk about your personal experiences, or you can share the stories other people told you which relate to your topic.

People love hearing stories and often remember the stories more than the actual concepts, so be sure to include many in your book.

Include websites, resources, and links to studies which further explain the concepts in your book. You can also include charts, graphs, and images to help them understand the concept better if necessary.

Read Related Post: Publishing Basics: 10 Steps to Writing Your Book

In concluding your book, you might include a simple, step-by-step checklist to guide your reader in how to apply what they learned. Try to limit this to just a page or two.

Keep in mind, many of today’s readers don’t have time to read long passages of text. Use short words, sentences, and paragraphs.

Also, use subheads to break up sections and make them easy to identify. White space is your friend!

Use bullet points and number sequences for lists. Do whatever it takes to make it easy for your readers to figure out what you’re saying.

Writing Subsequent Drafts

Writing the crappy first draft is necessary as you can’t edit a blank page. However, you will need to do some self-editing—your second and third drafts—before handing over your work to an editor.

Print a copy of your first draft so can read it over and write notes on it. Then set the draft aside. Take a break from your book for a couple of days, even if you’re hurrying to get it out the door.

Editing will be easier with fresh eyes. Give yourself at least a day or two between the first and second drafts.

Then, read the entire thing with the reader’s perspective in mind. Ask yourself questions, such as:

  • Does it flow?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Is it repetitive?
  • Am I bored by it?
  • Does it sound too formal or too casual?
  • Does it sound preachy or does it lack confidence?
  • Are the chapters ordered properly?
  • Did I leave out anything important?

Next, get a few people who may be your target audience to read it. Let them know exactly what you’re looking for and encourage them to send back comments.

Ask them the same questions you asked yourself. Pay attention to their critiques, positive comments, and constructive criticism as they can be useful. Save the comments in a file so you can refer to them later when you’re editing your second and third drafts.

The Second Draft

Now you’re ready to do any big restructuring that’s needed.

Create a new outline or just take your printed copy and use arrows to indicate where you’ll move blocks of text. Then go back to your computer to do a bit of tweaking and rewriting, such as changing transition words to make sentences flow.

Next, rewrite the entire first draft based on your notes and the comments you received from other people. Read the whole thing one more time to make sure everything makes sense and that you didn’t miss anything.

The Third Draft

The third draft is more of a review. At this point, you will be checking your spelling, grammar, and syntax.

You may want to read through everything out loud, carefully, one final time, just to make sure you’re not missing anything that’s glaringly obvious. Doing so will save your editor time and also yourself, as you won’t have to go back and make those corrections later.

The more books you write, the better you’ll get at writing things correctly the first time and not missing them in your second and third draft. You’ll also learn from your editor when you get the edited copy back and see any corrected mistakes.

Start Crappy, End Polished

Finally, try your best to avoid editing overkill. You might feel that something is still wrong even after rereading your manuscript a dozen times.

Continue editing if you still have time, but there comes a point when you must “put it to bed,” as they say in the publishing world.

It’s never a good idea to spend so much time rewriting one book that you lose time in writing other books. Eventually, you’ll get to the point of knowing when you’re finished and ready to start publishing.

Remember: Your goal is to move on to the next book and get each published so you can build an authority business—a catalog of books—around your writing.

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