Thursday, May 26, 2011

10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing

Today’s authors have started to catch on to the fact that they no longer have to depend on and pay a third-party publisher to do the work that they can do themselves by self-publishing. Self-publishing is no piece of cake, but these books have all the potential to be best sellers and major moneymakers just like their commercially-published counterparts. Whether you’re sold on having endless artistic freedom or complete control over your work, self-publishing is a rewarding task and terrific option for authors who are willing to put in the extra effort. Here are 10 things you need to know about self-publishing:

1. You Need to Pick a Niche: It’s important to pick a well-defined niche for your book to guide you during the writing process and help determine your target audience. Niche books tend to do best, so it’s generally a good idea to write what about what you know and steer away from personal journals, emotional rants or niche topics that no one has heard of. Also, think about what your audience wants to read and what’s missing from your chosen niche. Once you determine this important information, you can better address the needs of your readers and niche market, as well as make a name for yourself.

2. Study Your Competition: Before you self-publish, it’s important to study, analyze and keep up with your competition. If you haven’t picked a niche for your book yet, but have a couple genres in mind, start your investigation by looking closely at these types of books and authors to compare and contrast. If you do your homework and stay on top of your competitors’ latest works, you’ll be able to bring something fresh and new to the table and hopefully stand out from the others.

3. You Are Your Own Editor: It’s important to remember that self-published authors are on their own for editing, unless you hire a professional editor, which can get expensive, fast. Proofreading and revising your own work is all part of the self-publishing process and is necessary to maintain full creative control of your book. If you’re taking the self-editing challenge, be sure to utilize the numerous editing resources available online, and try to get a second set of eyes to take a look.

4. Make Your Title Memorable: In order to stand out among the rest, you’ve got to make your book title unique and memorable. This is true for any book – self-published or not. A short, clever title is always preferable, but it should still be clear and relevant to your book.

5. Self-Publishing Includes Self-Promotion: If you don’t have a publishing company and literary agent to market your book for you, you’d better be ready to do it yourself. Self-published authors have to put themselves out there and take an aggressive approach to marketing if they actually want to sell their books. This includes promoting the book online, organizing book signings and sending complimentary review copies to newspapers and magazines. Essentially, you should eat, sleep and breathe your book so others will care about it as much as you.

6. Praise and Criticism Should Happen Naturally: As tempting as it is to ask friends and family to write positive reviews for you, whether they’ve read your book or not, authors should overcome this urge and let praise and criticism happen naturally. Fake or forced reviews are easy to spot, and it won’t help your image one bit. So, sit back and let unbiased readers praise your work or rip it to shreds. After all, isn’t criticism better than no attention at all?

7. A Literary Agent Isn’t Necessary: As much help as literary agents can be, they aren’t necessary for selling good books. If you’re dead set on self-publishing and reaping the benefits on your own, you probably don’t have much need or desire for a literary agent who works in mainstream publishing. Having an agent often defeats the purpose and personal benefits of self-publishing because you’ll no longer have 100 percent control over your work.

8. Self-Published Authors Can Still Win Awards: Forget what you’ve heard before – self-published authors can win awards too! Every year, there are several writing contests to enter and awards to be given for superb self-published work, including short stories, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and many other genres. Credibility, a strong readership and strategic marketing will help you achieve your goals and reach the award-winning level.

9. Know Your Audience: An essential part of writing and successful self-publishing is knowing your audience. Since self-published books generally cater to a smaller niche market, you have to consider your audience from the project’s conception, publication and marketing stages. One way of knowing your audience is to study the demographics, interests and needs of readers within your chosen niche. If you’ve self-published work in the past, get in touch with your readers and deeply consider their comments, concerns and questions when writing your new book.

10. Send Out Review Copies: One of the best ways to establish credibility and garner attention for your hard work is to send out review copies to as many people and publications as possible. If your budget allows it, you can snail mail printed complimentary review copies of your book to newspaper, magazine and journal reviewers, as well as publishing companies, bookstores and anyone who sparks an interest in your writing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

101 Best Websites for Writers from Writer’s Digest for 2011

We did it again! I just received an e-mail from Writer’s Digest (our heroes) telling me A Book Inside Blog is one of the top 101 sites for writers on the Internet for 2011. I’m so excited and appreciative to all of you who nominated us.

The first year we won this honor, I had sent out a million requests asking folks to nominate us for this award (desperate woman!). However, this time, I did nothing. In fact, I wasn’t even aware it was “that” time again. So I’m especially tickled about this (and grateful).

So here it is! The symbol that addresses to the world “we are a winner!”
Thank you everybody!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How I Published My Book for Free

Interview with Author Robin Murphy

Today I am interviewing Robin Murphy, author of Sullivan’s Secret, a paranormal murder mystery just released this week. Robin has managed to publish her first book completely cost-free and is here to share how she did it, and her secret for success.

Carol Denbow: Greetings Robin, and thank you for joining us on A Book Inside Blog.

I would like to start by asking you to tell us a little about your new book, Sullivan’s Secret. I’ve read this book (and I don’t read many fiction books, LOL) and it kept my interest throughout—that’s REALLY unusual for me! What’s the story? And don’t give away that amazing plot!

Robin Murphy: Hello Carol, and thank you for allowing me to speak with you.

Dr. Marie Bartek’s life has been uneventful as the local veterinarian on Sullivan’s Island, SC, until her ability to see spirits returns after eighteen years. After confiding in her best friend and realizing their interests in the paranormal, they organize a paranormal investigation team called Sullivan’s Island Paranormal Society, SIPS. Marie learns to channel her ability through the help of one of the team members, but not before learning the spirits are trying to warn her about the murders taking place on Sullivan’s Island. Sullivan’s Secret captivates the reader with murder, suspense, and the world of the paranormal.

I believe a good story starts with great characters and having the ability to allow the reader feel as if they know them. Once I created those characters for Sullivan’s Secret, I placed them into a storyline filled with intrigue and mystery. I tried to keep the plot moving at a steady pace so as not to lose the reader. It may be a story of fiction, but you also need to remember to make it somewhat believable. I think Dr. Bartek and the SIPS team does just that.

Carol Denbow: So many authors write a book and never manage to get it published. Big publishing houses only seem to want to publish books by previously well-known writers. A lot of great manuscripts get passed over in the process. Not to mention, the frustrating “no thank you” responses to our submissions. How long did it take you after writing the book to find the right publishing option and what was that journey like?

Robin Murphy: This is an interesting scenario. I actually knew that to be the case when I began writing Sullivan’s Secret. I asked myself first, why am I writing this story; and second, what do I want to see happen when I’m finished? There is always that notion in the back of your mind of, “Wow, will this story hit number one on the New York Times best seller list? But I wrote this story for me first, and I basically wanted to have a publisher, a third unbiased party, tell me it was a great story for publishing. I did send it to a big publishing house first and never received a reply. That was disheartening, but I wouldn’t give up and believe it or not, the next publisher was Plain & Simple Books Publishing and they loved Sullivan’s Secret.

Carol Denbow: So you eventually choose “author assisted publishing”—correct? I know that is a new publishing method. How does that work?

Robin Murphy: Yes, that is correct. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t aware this was out there. I accidentally came upon their website through a link off of Writer’s Digest. I wanted to be sure I was dealing with a legitimate publishing company. There are so many scams out there that it’s important to do your research and make sure you don’t fall into a trap that many writers have fallen into. The best way to describe “author assisted publishing” is to say it sits in the middle of self-publishing and the traditional POD publishing. You get a one-on-one relationship, which is completely unheard of with big publishing houses. You don’t get lost in the shuffle. Plus, you are guided through the process to help you understand all of the details. There are no up-front costs, which is VERY important. And you get a very professional designed layout and cover. You don’t lose your copyright and you keep your re-publishing option. You also receive a commission from Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble nook book. This was so important to me because this was my first published book and it can be very daunting on knowing what to do and how to get your book published. Don’t be fooled into thinking just because you may publish with a big publisher that all of the marketing will be done for you. It’s a known fact that you need to help self-promote your book to get it recognized, and P&S Books Publishing gives you an amazing bit of information to help you do this.

Carol Denbow: It’s nice there is a new option for “good” writers. I know they do not publish every submission, but it’s a little better odds of acceptance than with other traditional publishers. What did you like best about your publisher, Plain & Simple Books Publishing?

Robin Murphy: The one thing I learned is just because it’s a little different than the traditional publishers doesn’t mean they aren’t professional and accept “any” submission. They have very high standards and will only publish a professionally edited manuscript. It’s hard to pinpoint what I liked best, but I have to go back to the personal one-on-one relationship that has developed.

Carol Denbow: Author assisted publishing is a totally new type of book publishing. What did you get out of this experience that you would not have got from a traditional publishing house or doing it all on your own?

Robin Murphy: I would have to say it has given me hope. I learned early on there are so very many writers out there and it’s easy to say, “I can write a book,” or “I can write better than that.” I said all of those things and learned it’s not so easy. Writing is a unique craft and when done right, it’s an amazing experience for the reader, as well as the writer. This process has allowed me to share my story in a very painless manner. It has inspired me to continue to write, because let’s face it, when those “big” publishing companies continue to say “no thank you,” or don’t even respond, it can break your spirit.

Carol Denbow: Is your book available at all the typical outlets? Or is your exposure limited?

Robin Murphy: Oh yes, it is available in libraries, through retailers (book stores), and of course, on-line. Basically everywhere.

Carol Denbow: Sounds like an interesting and “successful” venture. Even with this publishing method, it seems the book is “priced” right on. Can you give our blog visitors the links to your book in all those formats?

Robin Murphy: Sure:
Kindle Reader:
Barnes & Noble Nook:
You can also walk into any book seller and order the book or ask your local library to order it for you.

Carol Denbow: Robin, I’m excited for you as I’m sure our blog readers are as well! Your book looks really intriguing and I can say—it is!
Thank you for doing this interview and as always…any final comments?

Robin Murphy: Thank you Carol, it’s been a pleasure. I guess I would have to say to any new author out there trying to get their story published not to give up, and try author assisted publishing. It’s a wonderful experience and every bit as professional as the big publishing houses, and so much easier than trying to self-publish. Everything P&S Books Publishing stated they were going to do was done. I’m happy with my final product for Sullivan’s Secret and I just know it’s going to capture a lot of readers out there.

Carol Denbow: Okay friends, thank you so very much for stopping by to read this wonderful interview with Robin. Click over to her website at to learn more about her. Leave a comment and Robin will respond to any questions.
Plain & Simple Books Website is at

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ordered My Writing Book?

I would like to apologize if any of you ordered the paperback version my book, A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story. Unfortunately, because of the recent spike in demand, the book is backordered until May 30 but we will get it out to you a.s.a.p., I promise! Thanks for your patience.