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By Elyse Daniels, Global Audiobooks Merchandiser

*If you don’t yet have access to Kobo Promotions tool and your titles are uploaded directly through KWL, email us at writinglife@kobo.com and we can set it up for you!

So you’ve been rejected. Story of an author’s life, am I right? Maybe you’d like to know why?

You can view the rejection reason by navigating to the Promotions tab (see image) . . .

. . . then clicking on the Declined section (see image)

. . . and then clicking on the submission title you’re inquiring about (see image)

If you don’t see a rejection reason, this is likely because there is no particular reason your title was declined. This happens mostly when we get way too many submissions to accommodate.

Top Reasons For Rejection

1) Book Cover. The cover is the first thing a customer sees, so it is the first thing that the merchandiser considers when selecting books for promotions. If your cover is not very professional, or maybe just isn’t up to standard with the other books being included in the sale, it is less likely to be selected. You may be thinking that you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, you should judge it by the content, but just remember that fewer people are going to click through to the content if they’re not intrigued by the cover.

2) No Promo Price Offered. Come on guys! They are called “promotions”, so if a discounted price is requested, you’ll be rejected if you submit your book at its regular price (even if the regular price is below the sale maximum price).

3) Your Title Was Included in a Recent Sale. We try to mix up the titles that are included in each sale, so that Kobo readers aren’t seeing the same titles on promotion all of the time. For this reason, sometimes titles will be rejected if they were just included in a similar sale.

4) Optimized Pricing. If your promo price is not an optimal price, then it is unlikely that it will be selected for a sale. We consider optimal pricing, prices that end in $X.X9, preferably X.99.

5) Categorization Error. If your book is not categorized correctly, then we will not include it in a promotion. Please double check that you’ve entered the correct genres/categories in your metadata before submitting your titles to promotions.

6) Not a New Release. We are always looking to promote recently released books, so that we can offer Kobo readers fresh deals. It’s kind of like the “Your Title Was Included in a Recent Sale” reason, in the sense that we don’t want to be including the same group of books in every single sale.

7) Too Racy. This one is pretty self explanatory. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to promote racy books.

8) Competition. We receive a high number of submissions for each promotion we run, so competition is fierce! Make sure you’re not making any of the above mentioned mistakes, so that you aren’t ruled out early.

After abandoning the KWL team, Elyse Daniels joined the Kobo Merchandising team on a crusade to help push self-published content. She is KWL’s favourite merchandiser and is in charge of all things audio.

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KWL EP 109 – Katja Meier

In this episode, Stephanie and Joni interview author Katja Meier about her memoir Across the Big Blue Sea. Katja discusses her inspiration for writing a memoir and why she ultimately decided to self-publish her book. She also talks about the power of social media and the problems she encountered using Instagram to promote her work.

By Stephanie McGrath

In this episode, Stephanie and Joni interview author Katja Meier about her memoir Across the Big Blue Sea. Katja discusses her inspiration for writing a memoir and why she ultimately decided to self-publish her book. She also talks about the power of social media and the problems she encountered using Instagram to promote her work.

  • Katja gives us a peek into her life in Tuscany and talks about why she wanted to write a memoir about her experiences.
  • Katja discusses the role of social media in her life and the struggles she discovered when promoting her work through Instagram
  • Katja talks about the process of selling the film rights to her book and the process of working with production company Equality Film.
  • And more!
Links of Interest

Book: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/across-the-big-blue-sea-1

Article: Turning my Instagram Followers into Book Buyers—and a Movie Deal https://kobowritinglife.com/2018/03/19/turning-my-instagram-followers-into-book-buyers-and-a-movie-deal/

Instagram Account: https://www.instagram.com/anythingtuscan/

Book Soundtrack: https://www.acrossthebigbluesea.com/book-soundtrack

Website: https://www.instagram.com/anythingtuscan/

Book Recommendations: https://www.acrossthebigbluesea.com/resources-literature

How to Help: https://www.acrossthebigbluesea.com/lesley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anythingtuscan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatjaMeierAuthor/

Adam Crofts Article about his Podcast Partners in Crime: https://kobowritinglife.com/2018/05/08/turning-a-passion-into-a-podcast-adam-croft-and-robert-daws-partners-in-crime/

Katja Meier is the author of Across the Big Blue Sea: Good Intentions and Hard Lessons in an Italian Refugee Home. Published in 2017, the memoir sheds light on the joys and challenges Katja encountered when trying to make a difference during Europe’s refugee crisis. A Swiss citizen who has spent most of her adult life abroad, Katja is a commentator on topics pertaining to migration in Italy and Europe. She writes about Tuscany and the bel paese for The Telegraph and her Map It Out blogs and currently works on a screenplay for the film adaptation of Across the Big Blue Sea.

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The online writing community is inundated with surface platitudes: You can do it! or All you have to do is write! But it’s not that easy. Ernest Hemingway likened writing to opening up a vein and bleeding onto the paper. I sat in a lecture by New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker and he said the same thing: “If you bleed on the page, people will drink it. Everyone is a vampire!”

Storytelling is a primal gift. Through advancements in technology and etiquette, humanity has lost much of their need to perpetuate story. It has become about filters, and quips, and memes, and somewhere along the way, many have lost touch with the primitive desire to spill tales of wonder, resting comfortably in their positions as consumers (or vampires!). And that’s okay. For them. They are fulfilled in other ways.

But then there are the outsiders. Those of us who defy convention, who reach back to the creative roots of what makes humanity great and refuse to sit idly by while narratives tumble in our heads like an overheating dryer. We are not satisfied as consumers. We are creators, and the moment we allow ourselves to pursue that instinct, that’s the moment we truly understand who we are.

It took me a long time to say I’m a writer out loud. I didn’t feel worthy of the title—like I had to go through some special rite of passage, or actually have an agent or a ten-book deal with a major publisher. I thought ‘writer’ was a term for those lucky few who had ‘earned’ it.

I was a blogger, a mother, a wife, a member of my local agricultural society, a communications specialist for a non-profit, but a writer? That was reserved for the big guys with million-dollar contracts, their hardcovers decorating the shelves at Indigo while their trade paperbacks please the masses at Costco. I didn’t even have a college degree.

I had excuses.

There is no right time to write a book and there are a hundred reasons not to try. Fear does funny things to a creative mind. It convinces us that we’re not good enough or brave enough or tough enough. It tells us that we will neglect our family, annoy our friends, and produce nothing worthy of a bookstore shelf. It tells us a parent’s duty is to their children, that dreams must be set aside to ensure a well-rounded upbringing. There is no greater enemy for a hopeful author than fear, and fear’s greatest  tool is a writer’s own mind.

In their latest hit, U2 says, ‘get out of your own way’, and to that I say, “Amen!” The moment I embraced that mantra for myself was the moment I allowed the stories within me to let loose. I want to raise children who are inspired by watching me pursue my dreams, not children who someday thank me for putting my life on hold for them.

There has never been a better time to be an independent author. Powerful platforms like Kobo have made it possible for us to write the stories we want to write and put them before a huge audience that, twenty years ago, wouldn’t have been available to us. No longer are we tethered to the whims of a publisher or required to have an agent to simply make our book exist. I don’t care that major publishers ‘can’t sell literary fiction’ and have to pass on my submission, because I can sell it. It may not be in huge numbers and I may not get the same attention as someone published under a powerful name, but I can tell the story I want to tell.

It is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. It is sweat and tears and yes, it’s bleeding onto the page. It’s pouring countless hours of work into something that you have to love enough to not care if it pays for the paper it’s printed on. It’s submitting to criticism, yet being firm in your convictions. There is no one else who can tell the same story in the same way. Let that fuel you. The world may not know what it’s missing if you don’t follow through, but you will know what you’re depriving it of. Don’t quit. Tell your story and hand it over. It is your gift.

The only thing that matters is this: what do you want? Name it out loud; identify and eliminate your barriers; then let nothing stand in your way as you chase it.

In November of 2014, Alanna Rusnak stopped being afraid and wrote the first word of her debut novel, The Church in the Wildwood, which went on to be named one of the top reader-recommended reads of 2017 on cbcbooks.ca and has been shortlisted for the fourth annual Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Alanna lives on a small patch of untameable land in mid-western Ontario with her husband, three children, and an overweight cat. She has since launched a Canadian Literary Arts magazine, Blank Spaces, a follow-up novella, The Ghost of Iris Carver, and is currently working on her next novel, Black Bird. Learn more at alannarusnak.com.
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Rejoice, dear authors, for great news is here!

We want to make KWL as easy as possible for you to use. Over the years, our authors  have requested access to payment and invoice history right in your dashboard. Great news: now, you can view both on your dashboard under the “My Account” drop-down menu.

Not only can you see a complete history, but you are also able to download your sales reports directly from your dashboard. You can download them individually or download the complete history at once.

You can even filter by date if you would like to view invoices for a certain time period!

We hope these improvements help you keep better track of your sales! We have more updates to the dashboard to come in 2018, so stay tuned.

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By Peter Staadecker

Peter Staadecker is a KWL author and illustrator whose book The Twelve Man Bilbo Choir has been shortlisted for the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. He has kindly agreed to walk us through the process of designing his own cover. This is a guide for those authors who have a flair for illustration and design, and a firm grip on graphic software. (For those who would rather leave it to the professionals, check out our previous post from Damonza!)

“Your book cover is HUGELY important in selling your book. That means you should probably find a professional to do your cover.”

I have no gripes with that advice, except  . . .

If you’re early in your writing career, you’ll be unsure if your book sales will recoup the cost of a professional cover designer, which can be upwards of $500. And, how do you pick a design professional with any probability of the right outcome, the right price and acceptable legal terms?

Of course, pre-fabricated cover templates are available on the web. They do offer low price and certainty in outcome. However, they feel like . . . well, mass produced templates.

This blog then, is for those of you who are tempted to design your own covers.

The aptitudes you’ll need are:

  • Enough design sense to at least be a critic.
  • No fear of numbers. You’ll be converting between page sizes in inches, in pixels, and pixels per inch.
  • No fear of learning how to use two free computer graphics programs.
  • Enough time to invest in the project. Becoming comfortable with the two graphics programs may take you about a week, part-time. Thereafter, you may take about a week to produce your first cover, part-time. Your mileage will vary.
  • Familiarity with a digital camera, even if it’s just your cellphone camera.

The two computer programs you’ll need at a minimum are:

  • A “vector graphics editor”. Jargon aside, that’s simply a program that let you draw outlines using your mouse and computer monitor. I use a free program called Inkscape. It’s available for both PCs and Mac computers, and there are plenty of free online tutorials.
  • A “pixel-based graphics editor”. In highly simplified terms, that’s for colouring between the lines using your mouse and computer monitor. I used Adobe photoshop, but if you need a budget-friendly option, there are free alternatives like GIMP for both PCs and Mac computers. Again, free online tutorials abound.

How do you use all this? As an example, here’s how I used these tools to design the cover for my book The Twelve Man Bilbo Choir.

The book’s protagonist spends seven years in prison. I was idly browsing the web looking for images to inspire me. (Note: I said to inspire, not to copy!) My search for images of barbed wire and prisons bars also turned up images of caged birds, including a striking tattoo—artist unknown—of a raven fleeing from a cage with the key to the cage door in its talons.

The metaphor was powerful—the idea of the bird carrying its own key to freedom. However, the raven didn’t fit my story. My book did contain a chapter involving a bird, though. In that chapter, the prisoner is sentenced to solitary confinement. He shares his meagre bread ration with a cardinal that flies through the bars of his cell window. It’s a daily glimpse of the free world for the man. The bird drops a feather in the prison cell, something the man treasures for years after.

This was one of my early line drawings using Inkscape:

Inkscape is well suited to drawing and replicating the regular geometric curves of the birdcage. My free-hand bird outline wasn’t bad either. The ribbon was a problem, though. It didn’t convey either captivity or motion. It looked downright festive.

I had avoided drawing a chain because drawing each link requires so much tedious effort. Then I discovered that Inkscape will replicate a pattern section on command. I drew a sample section of chain, just two links, and Inkscape replicated that to create a complete, long chain.

It’s an advanced feature, not for the faint of heart. I mention it to show what’s possible, and how I played with various small chain samples from which Inkscape produced longer chains.

Here’s the next stage of my cover design. This time it’s with a chain and with a more readable text font.

Something bothered me still. There was too much grey space to the right, and the image lacked a sense of motion.

The answer came from the feather that the bird leaves for the prisoner—the flash of brightness in his grey prison surroundings, a feather that he treasures for years. The addition of the feather led to the final drawing:

You’ll notice I haven’t said much about my pixel-based graphics editor. That’s because this image was highly stylized—poster-like with no fine detail. E.g., the cardinal’s chest is a uniform black, rather than showing individual feathers. Had I been working with a more detailed image I would have needed to say much more about my pixel-based editor.

The pixel-based editor is also invaluable when you incorporate photographic images into your cover. For merging images, removing distracting backgrounds, etc. the pixel-based editor is a must-have. In other cover designs, I’ve mixed photography with Inkscape sketches. The results—I think—are terrific. See for instance the cover of my book “Dropping Into Darkness”. But that’s another blog chapter for another day.

Finally, a word about copyright. You don’t want to become embroiled in legal battles because you’ve copied portions of your cover image from elsewhere. Draw your own images. Use your own photos. Or, if you’re incorporating someone else’s images, even in a highly modified form, make sure the image is in the public domain. Public domain means the image is free for you to use and modify, even for commercial purposes, without payment and without the obligation to credit the original artist. Be careful—there are many dishonest websites claiming to give you public domain images that aren’t public domain images at all.

If this walk through entertains you or helps you decide whether to try cover design yourself, great. If you are new to this and have questions, or if you’re an old-hand at this and have advice to add, please leave your questions/comments below. I’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like a chapter 2 on incorporating photos and using the pixel-based editor, leave your comments for the KWL editors.

Peter Staadecker is the author—and cover illustrator—of The Twelve Man Bilbo ChoirDropping Into Darkness and Just One More Page (cover and interior illustrations)

His first book, The Twelve Man Bilbo Choir, is shortlisted for the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. His children’s book, Just One More Page, was nominated for the 2018 Leacock Medal. Peter can be found online at:

https://publishing.staadecker.com

https://www.facebook.com/staadecker.books/

https://blog.staadecker.com

https://twitter.com/PeterStaadecker

https://gallery.staadecker.com

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by Michele Sabad

We define ourselves in various ways, depending on time, mood, inclination.  Many of our identities are stable throughout life. I am a woman. I am a forever army brat. I am a reader. I am an athlete. Other roles become part of us over time, growing and evolving and spreading into us like ivy; I am a wife, mother, a friend, a student. Definitions of these roles morph and take shape over the years—a mother isn’t the same person to her baby as she is to him when he’s married and living in his own home. (Although she still sees that two year old sucking his thumb—doesn’t that beard scratch?)

Some roles define us for a very long time, then dissipate until you wonder how they ever once described you. I was a computer programmer and Information Technology consultant for decades, in a career that financially supported my lifestyle and family. Now, just a few years into retirement and away from that life,  I have to google how to change fonts in the latest Word version. And “social media”?  I just figured out Facebook and am now told I need Twitter, Instagram, and Snap-whatever else! “Back in my day”, computers were kept in large back rooms with their own air conditioning, not worn on everyones’ wrists or simply glued to their palms, an ever-present bodily extension. (The “Borg” is us, but I digress . . .)

The student of life that I am and always hope to be, I am now an author. I started by being a writer, creating a blog, writing a few short stories. Then I self-published my first book Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story. I’ve sold some books. Some even to people I didn’t know. So now, I take ownership of the role “Author”. People ask how I did it. I’ll share a secret with you: I don’t really know! But in the spirit of figuring that out, I’ll relay the story below.

Although I no longer work in IT, I still use step-by-step logic to approach any activity, task, or challenge. That’s how I approached retirement. Once you are financially secure enough to quit your day job, (that’s another article entirely, but basically the formula is simple: save; downsize; wait until the kids leave home again and again until they stay away), the real challenge in retirement is what to do all day. I am a reader. I would have more time to read. But once I realized that reading alone was not enough to challenge my day, I decided to become a writer. (Another aside: a long-time friend wasn’t surprised; she said I had always wanted to write and that I’d said so since we were kids. I didn’t remember that!)

So. Decide to Write. What to do? I found a short course for “learning in retirement” at the local university and took a writing class. That turned out to be terrifying, requiring short pieces to be written every week and then, gasp, read out loud in the next class! But luckily, I didn’t stroke out, no matter what it felt like at the time, and soon, at the recommendation of the teacher, I submitted a story to a local paper for publication. That’s when I encountered the new creature in a writer’s world: the Editor. How to describe the feeling when I read her emailed comments about my piece: shock? distress? Maybe horror. What was I doing, thinking I could be a writer? I’d better give up, before I died of stress. But the editor wasn’t fazed by my reaction, and didn’t give up on me. We reworked it, and then, I was published! I think I emailed everyone I’d ever known with the news. I was a writer!

The rest of the story is similar: step by step. Wrote little stories, researched where to submit them, got accepted by some, rejected by most. Started a blog to collect the musings and stories. Curiously, I noticed something was happening: many of the stories were anecdotes about my life growing up in the military as an army brat, then Air Force wife, a hockey mom, an IT worker. My life. Told in short stories. I saw the themes: search for a hometown, growth from an independent young woman into a successful partnership marriage with children. I threaded and stitched the stories together with some narration, context, clarification, an editor, then voilà, there it was: my first book. A memoir. Even though I prefer reading fiction, the first genre I wrote had become, organically, a non-fiction contest-placed (Top 5 in 2018 non-fiction Ink&Insights) book, Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story.

I’d like to finish with: “And that’s how I did it”, which is true, but somehow anti-climactic. Because I’m not finished, of course. Writing, like all of life, is a never-ending journey. The roles are always changing and growing. I want to write fiction next, historical or science-fiction—the book I’d like to read myself. Keep tuned, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Michele Sabad is retired from careers as a database administrator, computer programmer, and lifeguard. She was born in Calgary, Alberta, but grew up on military bases in both Canada and Germany, and now lives with her retired Air Force husband of over 40 years, Don, in Aylmer, Québec. Besides writing, she loves hiking, sports, music, and travelling. And family. A reader since her mother first tossed magazines in her crib, she still loves all kinds of books, and will continue writing as either herself, Michele Sabad, or as her author social media persona of Stevie Szabad. Follow Michele’s writing on stevieszabad.com.

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Vivica Fox

Actress, producer, TV host, business owner and newly minted author Vivica Fox sits down with Rene at Kobo HQ in Toronto to talk about her new memoir, Every Day I’m Hustling

By Joni Di Placido

In this week’s episode of the Kobo Writing Life podcast, the multi-talented actress, producer, TV host, business owner and newly minted author Vivica Fox came to the Kobo office in Toronto to chat about her new memoir, Everyday I’m Hustling.

Vivica spoke with Tracy Nesdoly and Rene D’Entremont of Kobo’s PR department about the process of writing the book and her journey to success through sheer hustle and hard work.

If you look closely you can see Tracy’s teeny tiny puppy, Perri

Some highlights to listen out for:

  • A peek behind the scenes of some of the hilarious Hollywood anecdotes she describes in the book
  • How she came to embrace and celebrate her differences and what makes her unique
  • The inspiration behind the Vivica Fox Hair line
  • A little insight into her upcoming talk show, set to launch in fall 2018
  • The shift she has seen over time for women of colour in the media
  • The sacrifices she made for her career and how her family keeps her grounded.
  • Her advice for achieving success through perseverance, planning and self belief.
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By Adam Croft

There aren’t many jobs in which you can meet up with friends and colleagues for a beer or a coffee and discuss the best way to dispose of a dead body.

Of course, sometimes the conversations are less macabre: we occasionally muse on —methods of strangulation or the length of time it takes beetle larvae to eat their way through a fresh corpse. And hey, this is something the whole world would want to listen in on, right?

That was the unlikely but seemingly fortuitous spark that led to the launch of the Partners in Crime podcast in January of this year, almost a year after my co-host, Robert Daws, and I first came up with the idea.

We’re both international bestselling crime fiction writers and live only a few hundred yards apart from each other, so regularly meet for a coffee or a beer and chew the fat of the crime writing world. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could share our conversations with the world?”, we thought, in a not-so-rare moment of self-congratulation.

A few months later, we recorded a ‘Conversations in Crime’ video, in which we both sat down in Bob’s living room with a camera crew and chatted about crime fiction and our writing lives in general. It was almost like a two-way interview. It proved popular, but was somewhat limited in scope. ‘What if we brought a third, different crime writer in the room each week?’ we thought, patting ourselves on the back in a way which was now starting to become familiar.

All of this self-congratulation was leading to too many glasses of champagne. Our bellies began to swell—not to mention our heads—and we decided it would be best to ditch the cameras and move to an audio-only medium in the form of a podcast. ‘How hard can it be?’ we thought. Wrongly.

We did our research, recorded a couple of interviews and realized that launching and producing a podcast was actually quite a difficult business—not to mention expensive. We might be bestselling crime writers, but those champagne celebrations had somewhat dented our coffers, and we turned to our good friends at Kobo and invited them to become our new sponsors. Being the forward-thinking visionaries that they are (*pop* there goes another bottle) they agreed to put their name to the podcast and quickly began biting their fingernails. Soon after, Partners in Crime was born.

We’re both very fortunate to have connections with some big names in the fictional crime world, and Bob’s decades of acting on TV, film and stage means that we were able to open up the podcast to the whole of crime—not just books. We launched our first episode with Neil Dudgeon as our guest—DCI Barnaby of TV’s Midsomer Murders fame. We were keen to show our ambition for pulling in big names from the start, and in our first dozen episodes have interviewed Peter James, Elly Griffiths, Mark Billingham and Hugh Fraser—Captain Hastings from TV’s Poirot.

To say it’s all been plain sailing would be a lie, though. The long evenings editing and producing the podcast are tiring, to say the least—especially when you’ve spent the morning recording an interview with your new star guest, only to realize that Bob’s microphone wasn’t recording. And yes, that’s happened twice in twelve episodes.

There was also the time when we spent the afternoon recording our next episode—one which we were confident was by far our best yet. The conversation was flowing, the banter was on another level and we’d managed to hit that perfect sweet spot between humorous, entertaining and informative. We were on a roll. Until I called Bob an hour later, desolate and inconsolable because 75% of the episode hadn’t actually recorded. Ever the consummate professional, Bob came back the next morning and we re-recorded the whole episode, desperately trying to remember what we’d said and done the previous day. And no, I’m not going to tell you which episode it was!

But, all in all, the podcast has proved extremely successful over its first three months of life. Our audience continues to grow with every episode, and listeners seem to like the style. As authors, Bob and I are both acutely aware of bad interviewing techniques, so we deliberately don’t go in with a list of questions. We simply have one topic we ask about at the start of the interview, and everything else flows as natural conversation. That organically brings out the humour, pathos, exclusive revelations and everything else that makes a good interview. And, of course, we’re very careful in selecting our guests and have been extremely lucky with the people who’ve said yes.

If you’re a fan of crime fiction, TV crime dramas or films, why not listen in? The podcast’s completely free and all episodes are available to listen to indefinitely, with new episodes launching each Friday. You never know—you might just find your next favourite read.

With more than a million books sold to date, Adam Croft is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world, and one of the biggest selling authors of the past year.

His Knight & Culverhouse crime thriller series has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide, with his Kempston Hardwick mystery books being adapted as audio plays starring some of the biggest names in British TV.

In 2016, the Knight & Culverhouse Box Set reached storewide number 1 in Canada, knocking J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child off the top spot only weeks after Her Last Tomorrow was also number 1 in Canada. The new edition of Her Last Tomorrow also reached storewide number 1 in Australia over Christmas 2016.

During the summer of 2016, two of Adam’s books hit the USA Today bestseller list only weeks apart, making them two of the most-purchased books in the United States over the summer.

Adam has been featured on BBC television, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, the BBC World Service, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Bookseller and a number of other news and media outlets.

In March 2018, Adam was conferred as an Honorary Doctor of Arts, the highest academic qualification in the UK, by the University of Bedfordshire in recognition of his achievements.

Adam presents the regular crime fiction podcast Partners in Crime with fellow bestselling author Robert Daws.

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By Tim Leffel

Does That Glamorous-looking Job Really Pay?

If you just look at the Instagram feeds of travel writers and bloggers, you would think they’re all leading a charmed life. They post gorgeous photos from different spots on the globe every week or two and always look like they’re off on some great adventure, having a blast. But are they really making any money from this?

For many, the answer has long been no. They’re having great experiences, but are perpetually broke. For an ever-increasing number, however, writing about travel can be a lucrative full-time job. There are ways to earn income as a travel writer that are more varied and more stable than in the print-only days of yore. There are more outlets, more gigs, and more advertising opportunities for bloggers who strike out on their own. This is an incredibly competitive category of writing—as any one that looks fun tends to be—but in the Internet Age we have surpassed the old saying, “The money sucks, but the perks are great.”

Here are just a few of the ways travel writers are earning money as we approach 2020. Most professionals employ several of these to cobble together enough to earn a full-time living. As with self-employed writers of any stripe, multiple steams of income help us keep the bills paid and smooth out the peaks and valleys.

Freelance Writing for Others

The oldest way for a travel writer to earn a paycheck still exists, though the freelance world looks quite different than it did when I started in the early 1990s. Newspapers and magazines have faded in readership, pages, and importance, overtaken by online magazines, blogs, and corporate content sites. For every print outlet that died, we now have 10 or 20 online outlets to pitch instead. The one thing that hasn’t increased, however, is pay rates. It still takes a lot of gigs together to add up to thousands of dollars, even with steady corporate assignments in the mix. Most travel writers use freelance writing as just one piece of the income pie, not the whole thing.

Books and E-books

When I first went backpacking around the world in the pre-internet age, nearly everyone had a guidebook or two in their daypack and the authors of those guidebooks frequently made enough money to live on from the advance and royalties. Authors barely make enough to cover expenses from guidebook writing now, but the trade-off is that anyone can publish their own book and keep a much larger share of the income than in a traditional publishing deal—with the same access to customers online.

It is not uncommon for a writer who knows a city well to self-publish a guidebook that outsells Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. Bloggers with a strong following can clear $1,000 or $2,000 per month from a single how-to book only available in an e-reader version. Some have launched a whole series that earns them the equivalent of an office salary at a publishing house. With good e-mail marketing, social media, and a blog, they’re getting the kind of exposure that used to be limited to best-selling novelists.

Online Advertising

The most successful travel writers today are not writing for magazines on the newsstand or books on a store shelf. They’re working for themselves, as bloggers. The top 50 travel blogs in the world by traffic are all reaching at least 80,000 unique visitors per month, with the majority reaching more than 100,000. Many print magazines would drool over a circulation that large. The very top travel bloggers actually reach more people than the websites of the top travel magazines do, but with just a few people working on content and admin instead of a team of hundreds.

Without even getting to that level of readership, travel bloggers have a whole host of ways to monetize their content through advertising, ranging from Google AdSense to network display ads to affiliate programs that pay a commission. Bloggers with high traffic or a well-defined niche get interest from individual companies as well, leading to direct ad deals for products or services that are a good fit for the audience.

Sponsorship Deals

Do you know why those popular Instagrammers you see plugging a travel company have #sponsored in the description? It means they’re getting paid to talk up a destination or service, the same way a magazine with “Sponsored Content” in tiny type is getting paid to fill their pages with articles that are really just ad copy. If a blog post about some new booking service has a sponsorship message on the page, it’s the same as a Food Network show making references to name brand products they’re using in the kitchen.

Whether through social media mentions, sponsored blog posts, or just posing in a gear company’s clothing, popular travel bloggers with a following have become paid endorsers of products and services they use and like. While some traditional journalists decry the practice, most bloggers just see it as a natural evolution. As they have become a personal brand that tens of thousands of readers trust, they’re getting paid to recommend things or places they enjoy. Instead of a 100-person company splitting advertising and content, they’re a one-man show wearing two hats.

As companies see a strong return on investment—for a fraction of what they spent to advertise in print or on TV—many travel bloggers have found a path to six-figure earnings. While it’s difficult to find a print writer earning $100,000 a year unless they’re at the top of the masthead, there are dozens of travel bloggers who make that feat look easy. (After 5-10 years of hard work getting there, that is.)  Many others are earning more as a part-timer than they could in a retail or office job.

Tours, Consulting, Speaking, and Other Media

Travel writers who specialize in a certain city or region can parlay their knowledge into non-writing jobs that supplement their income. They start a local walking tour, sell itinerary planning services, or do consulting work. Some get hired by international tour companies to accompany groups. Some get invited to speak at conferences or on cruise ships. Others gravitate into TV contracts or start podcasts that eventually become ad-supported.

More people around the globe are traveling than ever before in history and travel is likely the biggest industry in the world. It is a very fragmented and competitive industry, however, which can mean a long startup time to gain traction and stand out. For those who persevere and find success, however, there are more ways than ever to earn income writing about the joy of travel and interesting destinations.

Tim Leffel is an award-winning veteran travel writer who runs multiple content websites and is the author of five books, including Travel Writing 2.0, which is in its second edition. He runs the online courses Travel Writing Overdrive and Productivity Power for Writers.

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KWL EP 107 – Sarah Wendell

In this episode, Stephanie and Cristina sit down with Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Sarah is a writer, blogger and podcaster and chats to us about running her successful romance book blog and podcast.

In this episode, Stephanie and Cristina sit down with Sarah Wendell. Sarah is a writer, blogger and podcaster and chats to us about running her successful romance book blog and podcast. She delves into the workshops she runs on topics such as “Digital Promotion” and “How to Put a Review in Your Rearview Mirror” and, of course, we ask for her romance recommendations.

Sarah discusses the work involved in running her successful blog (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), podcast and workshops and the way content creators can go about trying to monetize their work.

Sarah gives listeners her tips for dealing with negative reviews and where an author should focus their attention when navigating social media.

She also gives us her thoughts on why romance readers love to talk about romance books and give recommendations to their fellow readers.

Sarah tells us which romance trope she would ban forever if given the chance and what she is excited to see this year from the romance genre.

And much more!

Want your title reviewed by Smart Bitches Trashy Books? http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/contact/review-requests/ Links of Interest

Sarah’s Books

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/beyond-heaving-bosoms

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/everything-i-know-about-love-i-learned-from-romance-novels

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/lighting-the-flames

Article Cristina mentioned in the episode: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/2014/01/10-things-i-hate-about-sex-scenes/

Book Recommendations

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/too-fat-too-slutty-too-loud

Come as Your Are by Emily Nagoski: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/come-as-you-are-7

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-princess-in-theory

Julie James series: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/search?query=Kate%20Fansler&fcsearchfield=Series&seriesId=dc2aa680-f6f0-529f-86d1-527a22878a0d

Act Like by Lucy Parker: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/act-like-it-1

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/pretty-face-5

The Hating Game by Sally Throne: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-hating-game-2

Dating You/ Hating You by Christina Lauren: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/dating-you-hating-you

Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/death-below-stairs

A Soupcon of Poison by Ashley Gardner and Jennifer Ashley: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-soupcon-of-poison

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-treacherous-curse

Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/audiobook/penric-s-demon-1

Rachel Hawkins: https://twitter.com/LadyHawkins

By day Sarah Wendell is mild mannered and heavily caffeinated.  By evening she dons her cranky costume, consumes yet more caffeine, and becomes Smart Bitch Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, examining the history and future of the genre, and bemoaning the enormous prevalence of bodacious pectorals adorning male cover models.

 

Website: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/

Podcast: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast/

FB: http://facebook.com/TrashyBooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smartbitches/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smartbitches

 

 

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