Self-Editing Explained: How To Edit A Book Yourself [Guide]

Self-editing is the process an author goes through before they send their work to a professional editor; it is not a replacement for editing by a qualified, experienced, professional editor. There is only so much work an editor can do to improve your manuscript in the allotted time, and self-editing enables authors to remove the more obvious errors so that a professional editor can really go to work on deeper issues.

If you want your work to really shine, you must make it as good as you possible can before you hand it over to a professional editor.

And it’s a professional editor’s perspective that I think you will find most useful on this topic, so I have invited along Karin Cox to run through some of the ways that authors can self-edit their work and get it in better shape before they send it off to be copy edited. Read More…

Best Book Promo Sites [2021 Edition]

These are the best book promo sites in 2021 for boosting your sales, broken down into various categories – with something for all budgets and experience levels, even some completely free options. This list is curated by me personally, and all these sites have been tested and are recommended because of the results generated.

You can skip to the section you are looking for below but make sure to check the final section for a free course on how to build a proper marketing campaign. Read More…

Authors Say #DisneyMustPay

Disney is accused of refusing to pay royalties to Alan Dean Foster in a move that could ultimately affect all published authors, prompting widespread calls that #DisneyMustPay.

Foster wrote the first ever Star Wars novelization, released six months before the initial movie. Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker was based on a screenplay written by George Lucas and its his name that graced the front cover. But Alan Dean Foster wrote the book, which is still in print, and he received royalty checks for it right up until the point that Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Then the checks stopped coming.

Back in the 1970s, Foster was contracted to write a sequel to that first tie-in, working from far less material this time. George Lucas wasn’t entirely sure at that point how successful Star Wars would be and, crucially, how much of a budget he would have to play with – which placed limitations on the kind of story Foster could write. For example, Lucas instructed Foster to keep Han Solo out of the story, because Harrison Ford had not signed on for a sequel yet.

Further writers were hired as the Star Wars franchise grew in popularity and scope, and Alan Dean Foster continued to establish his name. He worked on numerous media tie-ins for franchises like Star Trek, Alien, Transformers, Alien Nation, and Terminator, a whole plethora of standalone novelizations for movies like Krull, The Thing, Clash of the Titans, and The Last Starfighter, and also his own original novels like the Spellsinger series and the many Humanx Commonwealth books. More recently, he returned to the Star Wars universe to write the novelization of The Force Awakens.

In other words, this isn’t some unknown or inexperienced author that Disney is pushing around. But what is Disney playing at? Read More…

How To Market A Book | 2020 Edition

Figuring out how to sell books in 2020 means facing a pair of imposing challenges : the multiplying complexity of book marketing and — speaking of things rising exponentially — the global pandemic, which has led to lockdowns, recessions, as well as no small amount of tragedy.

And I want to focus on that second challenge for a moment — before we dive into all the ways that you can get your books into readers’ hands — because there is something rather different about this year.

Writers are generally quite fortunate in that they can work from home and sell books online and, for the moment at least, the digital side of the publishing business looks less exposed than the physical end.

Indeed, retailers and distributors are reporting a boost in ebook sales, and freebies in particular seem especially popular. Anecdotal reports concur, and also seem to confirm that there has been a surge in new entrants to the ebook market — which makes sense when people are stuck at home or less inclined to go browsing in meatspace, for painfully obvious reasons. Read More…

Decoding Amazon To Sell More Books

In case you read the old, free edition and want to know what has changed, let me make that easy for you: everything. This brand new edition is a full-length book (over 75,000 words) breaking down how the Kindle Store, and how you can seduce Amazon’s giant recommendation engine.

Most importantly, it goes deep on how to profit from that knowledge, showing you exactly how to tweak your metadata and marketing plans to sell more books.

In fact, Amazon Decoded goes one step further than that and hands you a series of strategies and tactics you can use right away – launch plans and backlist promotions to suit your needs if you are wide or exclusive to Amazon, or whether you are looking to maximize income, expand your audience, promote your work on a limited budget, or spend a little more and send a whole series into orbit.

Amazon Decoded also comes with a stellar set of bonus resources, housed on a private part of this here website, which will help you put all this information into practice and raise your marketing game.

Want to sell more books on the world’s biggest retailer? Amazon Decoded will show you how. Read More…

What The Big Tech Hearings Mean For Indie Authors

The CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple were grilled on Capitol Hill yesterday, stepping up the anti-trust chatter that has been percolating over the last few years. While some of you might be tempted to reflexively dismiss these hearings as political theater, many commentators seem to agree that this time feels different.

Political sands have shifted. Public sentiment towards tech companies has soured — companies who were once almost universally loved. Well, at least in the case of three of them; Amazon always attracted some measure of criticism, I guess, probably given the particular companies it disrupted.

Indie authors, in particular, perked up at the news of these hearings, given that three of those places are where we sell most of our books, and the fourth is what many of us predominantly use to drive sales of those books.

Whatever your feeling on these individual companies, their effects on society, or the forces driving these hearings, the mere prospect of anti-trust actions creates uncertainty in business terms, at a time when we already have a significant amount of it. Which makes this an excellent time to examine how well your author business is future-proofed, given the average indie author’s dependency on this set of companies currently in the anti-trust spotlight. Read More…

Amazon and the Myth of the A9 Algorithm

There is more nonsense written about Amazon than almost any other topic because mere mention of Amazon will get you more clicks than anything else — although the “A9 Algorithm” might be the most ridiculous topic of all.

Amazon also happens to be an incredibly divisive subject generally, one of those where little nuance seems to be permitted — and someone writing articles about Amazon tends to regularly get labeled a “shill” or a “hater,” depending, sometimes off the back of the same piece!

Talk of Amazon can also be quite lucrative. The currency of the internet is attention — as I think was once said by Jeff Bezos, although I’m scared to Google it in case I start getting hunted down on every corner of the internet with hyper-personalized ads offering to make me a Kindle Publishing Millionaire or help me build a Drop Shipping EMPIRE.

Internet marketers are not known for their rigorous application of the scientific method. One intrepid black-hatted pioneer will discover a tasty data-morsel, dress it up in distracting finery, and then parade it about as part of a $2000 course. And then a dozen more will riff off that for their own courses and Patreons and books and masterminds and exclusive online workshops and virtual conferences; it’s like the most expensive game of telephone ever.

Sadly, it’s also quite value-free if you like hard facts.

This kind of environment shows some of the drawbacks of the brave new world ushered in by the internet and Google. If search for the phrase “amazon algorithm,” for example, the very first result is an article titled “Everything You Need To Know About Amazon’s A9 Algorithm,” and my BS alarm immediately goes off — use of the singular “algorithm” is a dead giveaway that the person doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about. Use of “A9” in this manner is another. Read More…

Self-Publishing A Book? Here’s Your Free Guide

This fourth edition of Digital has been completely revamped to reflect the needs of self-publishers in 2020. The structure has been completely streamlined to reflect the ten steps involved in publishing your work like a pro.

Reflecting the specific challenges that writers face today, the advice on each step goes much deeper than before. Instead of just showing you how and where to find a cover designer, for example, Let’s Get Digital will show you how to brief your designer effectively, and learn what effective commercial packaging is for your niche, so that you end up with a cover which isn’t just pretty, but also very effective at appealing to your specific target audience.

And the same goes for writing, editing, formatting, pricing, metadata — all the areas where an author must make crucial decisions which affect the viability of their book.

Of course, the largest section of the book, by far, covers the entire topic of marketing from the ground up, showing authors not just how to find their first readers in the most cost effective way possible, but also how to construct a real author platform, one that will capture interest from readers and use those seeds to grow a community of fans around your work, who will send each new release higher in the charts. Read More…

Three New Books For Authors

This blog has been a little quiet in 2020, but I’ve been beavering away at a veritable smorgasbord of stuff for authors which I can finally start talking about.

The headline news: three new books for authors, a huge surprise which isn’t book-shaped, and then lots more cool resources coming to this here website; let’s expose each of these projects to the merciless glare of publicity.

First out of the traps is Following: A Marketing Guide To Author Platform and it is FREE – exclusively available as a bonus when signing up to my mailing list – which you can do right here. (If you are an existing subscriber, check your inbox – you don’t miss out!) Read More…

Formatting An Ebook: A Step-by-Step Guide

After clocking up ten years’ experience making my own ebooks, I do a few things differently – but these are predominantly stylistic preferences, or my preferred best practices in terms of ebook layout, or the odd policy change from Amazon here and there.

A caveat: you will need a fair bit of patience to get through the DIY formatting process. At least the first time. It becomes much less of a head melter after you first format an ebook successfully, but you will be tearing your hair out that first time. Be warned! That said, I actually love formatting my own ebooks; I find it weirdly soothing.

I can fix errors at the drop of a hat, fiddle with my end matter to my heart’s content, and I could even hang out my shingle as an ebook formatter now, if I needed a side-hustle. It’s a useful skill, if you are willing to work through the many frustrations that will accompany your first efforts.

It might take you a whole day to do this the first time. It could even take longer! But after doing this a few times, you’ll be able to whizz through the process in an hour or less. And it doesn’t take much “practice” to reach that point. That first time is a bear though! You have been warned. Read More…

Facebook Engagement Bait and Shadow Bans

Websites try to keep your attention as long as possible, but the stakes are higher on Facebook where a drop in engagement can cost millions of dollars. Or FACEBOOK as it now insists on calling itself, like a shouty man outside a pub.

Content which keeps people on Facebook – like video or pictures – gets much more organic reach than content which sends people away, such as a link to your books on Amazon. Not only that, Facebook will also give preference to content which is genuinely engaging.

Please note the emphasis.

Facebook doesn’t have an army of humans sifting through the billions of pieces of content on Facebook and giving a gold star to the best of it – AI does the heavy lifting here. The way the system measures engagement is necessarily crude: what is getting Likes, comments, and shares?

In simple terms, people want engaging content and Facebook wants to show them content with high engagement, so if you can post content which triggers good engagement levels, then that content will get much more visibility.

And visibility can be worth a lot of money, of course. Read More…

Apple Books For Authors – Now With PC Access

Apple Books For Authors has launched and the all-new site now provides help to authors for every stage in their publishing journey. And here’s the biggest news of all: PC users can now publish direct with Apple Books. That’s right!

Before now, anyone using a PC device could not publish direct with Apple Books (unless they went to the trouble of using a Mac emulator) and had to use a distributor to reach all of Apple’s customers. Now that has changed, and the new Apple Books publishing portal is accessible by web browser, and on a PC too.

That’s going to be the headline news for many people, so I just wanted to get that out of the way up top. But before we dig into that a little more, let’s take a look at some of the other aspects of Apple Books For Authors – which only threw open its doors to the public this very morning.

Hot off the presses, people. Read More…

13 Ways To Increase Your Email Open Rate

Having a big email list is great, but utterly pointless if your open rate is in the toilet. Quantity might get the headlines but it’s quality which pays the bills.

You need engaged subscribers, ones that care about getting your emails, people who open your messages and act on the contents. If you are putting effort into growing your subscriber count but not proactively taking steps to assist open rates, then all you’re really doing is bailing out your boat with a leaky bucket.

People often say things like “it’s natural for open rates to fall over time” – and that’s true… if you do nothing about it. Also, there are plenty of practices you might inadvertently engage in which might accelerate the natural wastage you tend to get over time. But there’s also plenty you can do to address falling open rates and even reverse them. Read More…

Going Viral: A User’s Guide

What truly makes something go viral? It’s hard to say.

Sure, afterwards, we can all point to something — with the crystal clear vision bestowed by hindsight — and list off elements which contributed to the explosion: it had a cute dog bouncing on a trampoline or just the right amount of indignation, it was funny and there was a well chosen emoji, it was topical or it tapped into some lingering but unspoken resentment about a hot button issue… that list could go on forever.

Trying to assemble a Franken-thing that ticks all those boxes will quickly show you that this retrospective diagnosis is missing something — the X-factor that makes one thing go viral and another thing, which was very like it (or even “superior” in many ways), do the exact opposite. Read More…