Over the weekend, an essay I wrote about Book Country and the benefits of online workshopping for writers called “Emerging Writers: Treat Your Book Like a Start-Up” was featured on LinkedIn’s Pulse blog. Check it out here!
You can also download an expanded version of this essay here.
I couldn’t be more excited to head down to Atlanta this weekend for the Georgia Romance Writers regional conference, Moonlight & Magnolias 2015!
I’ll be the featured industry speaker on Saturday afternoon. Here are the details:
Saturday, October 3 2-3:50pm Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria
Treat Your Book Like a Start-Up
Join us to learn about Book Country, Penguin Random House’s writing and publishing community, and how the site has helped writers to write their best books, connect with audiences, and publish with the support of a community. This session is designed to help Georgia Romance Writers figure out the next step toward reaching their writing and publishing goals. Each participant will leave with a customized, immediate, and actionable plan for their book or work-in-progress based on where they are in the writing process. Continue reading →
When I’m telling writers about the Book Country community, I often get asked how writers who’ve already published can get involved on the site. Here are a few ways how published authors can use Book Country:
Have a book coming out?
Writers of all levels of experience use Book Country to workshop their manuscripts. We have 1:1 feedback on Book Country, which means that members have to review another writer’s book before they can post their own. We find that for a member’s first review, they are most likely to review a book with a great professional cover, a sharp synopsis, and, of course, a lower word count. Published authors can upload an excerpt of their forthcoming book as a preview. On Book Country, we have a built in audience of members seeking things to read. Just be sure and let the community know that what you upload is your final draft, and be prepared to get suggestions for revision even if you’re not going to use the feedback right now–it might be useful to you later. Be sure to include when and where folks can buy the book when it’s out! You can see how Penguin Intermix author Alex Rosa did this for her book TRYST before it came out last spring.
Already have a book out?
Again, using Book Country as a place to showcase an excerpt is a great way to give your book exposure to a built in audience. This is how I found out about Jessica Hawkins’s book COME UNDONE, and now her Cityscape series is one of my all-time favorite romance trilogies. Book Country’s blog and discussion boards can also help published authors brainstorm new ideas for marketing and promotion (check out how GD Deckard is sharing his experience using Google Adwords for his book THE PHOENIX DIARY), and connecting with other writers will help you build a network of contacts. Last week, when Book Country member Janice Peacock’s cozy mystery HIGH STRUNG was rereleased by Booktrope, she was interviewed on member DJ Lutz’s blog. These two met on the site and have been supporting each other ever since. Continue reading →
When I found out that Alex designed this gorgeous, sexy cover for FAHRENHEIT herself, I had to find out more. Alex explains her DIY approach to cover design below.
Everyone says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” which is true, but you can’t help but “oohh” and “aahh” over an enticing one. Although we aren’t supposed to take a book at face value, it should still exemplify what the book holds inside at least a little bit, which is what we are all trying to go for as authors in this ever evolving world of publishing. Here’s how I designed my book cover.
FAHRENHEIT (out today!) is my first leap into the erotica genre, and since it has some risqué subject matter I knew it was important for the cover to feel edgy, sexy, and forbidden. I have a plethora of tools to work with in Photoshop (an Adobe design program), but I knew I wanted an illustrated look to the cover rather than people or places. I wanted something more conceptual rather than realistic.
If you’re choosing to design the cover yourself there are many stock image websites where you can find illustrations and photographs to license.
How would I describe Book Country memberOlivia Glassto someone who doesn’t have the pleasure of knowing her yet? First, I’d say that Olivia is one of the most community-oriented writers I’ve ever come across: very active in the communities around the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (where she got her MFA), the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, adjunct faculty organizations, Philadelphia-based writers, and erotica writing. Second, I’d say that she’s an intrepid explorer of the rapidly changing publishing landscape: eager to try new ways to reach readers and enthusiastic about connecting with them online.
Today we are celebrating the release of her novella FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF, which she published right here on Book Country. Check out the heap of praise Olivia has gotten for her erotica:
“Angsty and hotter than hell . . .”Iris Blaire, author of Exposure
“Yes, this is a good story, but it’s a hot story. Glass is an author who knows how to write a blush-inducing sex scene . . . You’ll absolutely want to read this well-crafted, deliciously written lesbian love story again.”Erika Almond
“Glass takes readers on an emotional journey as three women learn to live and love again after heartbreak . . .” Elizabeth Franklin, Portland Book Review
“Olivia Glass spins a mesmerizing story of lust, love, betrayal and so much more… hot erotica wrapped up inside a strong, compelling story.”Jon Pressick
It was a great weekend at the PNWA 2015 Conference in Seattle, talking with agents, editors, and writers about Book Country, social media, and the publishing process. (PNWA stands for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.) I want to share these six big takeaways from the conference with the rest of the Book Country community:
Finding beta-readers is as important as ever. However you choose to work with beta-readers–whether in a real-life writing group, remotely via email, or on a workshopping site like Book Country–no one can dispute that a writer needs feedback on their manuscript prior to a successful publication.Technology that makes finding beta-readers easy has become indispensable to in-the-know writers.
Feedback can be wide-ranging, but ratings are also revealing. The more feedback a writer gets on their book, the better informed revision decisions they can make. Getting reviews on your book from beta-readers is a great way to seek suggestions on how to revise. But different readers give different suggestions, sometimes contradicting one another. Your overall ratings can be a powerful way to aggregate your readers’ opinions. On Book Country, for example, your overall rating–so long as you’ve spent the time and energy to garner a large number of peer reviews–will help you gauge whether or not your book is ready to be published.
Distribution is everything. Writers have gotten savvier about this since the last time I was at PNWA. Back then, I met a lot of writers who had self-published but their book was not widely available. It’s rare these days to find a writer who isn’t planning to publish their book electronically, and it’s also common for writers to make sure their book is available for many different types of eReader. On Book Country, for example, authors can publish once and simultaneously distribute to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Kobo, iBooks, Google, and Flipkart. It’s essential for writers to stay on top of book retail trends.
Social media takes time. Writers at PNWA knew how important it is for them to be growing their social media audience. It’s key to start building a following early, so that when your book does launch, it has somewhere receptive to land. Learning how to use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and others now rather than later is a good use of an aspiring writer’s time.
Social media takes time. Wait, didn’t I just say that? To be clear, it’s not just building a social media that takes time. Doing the real work of social media–writing posts, creating engaging images, reading social media feeds, and conversing with followers–takes big chunks of your day-to-day. So not only do you want to start early, you also want to get organized. Writers I met at PNWA were figuring out how to carve out time for social media tasks. One tip Andrea Dunlop shared in our “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media” session was to be realistic about how much time you will be consistently able to devote to your social media. It’s easy to sign up for a lot of accounts, but it’s better to be selectively active than to have a bunch of abandoned online profiles. (Go here for more tips from Andrea.)
Professional author services are the author’s best kept secret. More and more writers–both those seeking self-publishing and traditional publishing–are hiring professional developmental editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, book publicists, marketers, designers, and more. The competition to get noticed is stiff, so figuring out what you need help with to make your book stand out is becoming a bigger part of the publishing process. Many writers are using editorial firms like Girl Friday Productions to develop and polish manuscripts. Authors who find social media either too daunting or too time-consuming are learning how to hire it out to professionals. While these services can be expensive, many writers and authors are finding them to be valuable. I predict that we’ll be discussing this aspect of the publishing industry much more here on Book Country in the next year.
When do you need an agent? How do you know when you are ready as a writer to take this step? –Claire Count
There are a variety of great options for publishing your work, but if your goal is to be traditionally published, your odds of success increase quite a bit if you work with a qualified agent. Although many small/mid-sized publishers will consider unagented work, most of the larger houses will not, and the publishers who do often give priority to agented submissions.
You will know you are ready to take this step when your manuscript (or book proposal for nonfiction) is your best, most polished work. Although an agent will often provide some feedback to clients, an agent is typically looking to take on projects/clients who are as close to ready for the marketplace as possible. So be sure to do your research and due diligence. What is the typical word count for your genre? Is your POV clear and consistent? Are your main characters fully developed? Is your pacing appropriate for your genre? Did you have quality beta readers provide feedback? Did you identify a few current comparable titles to include in your query? There are numerous websites such as WritersDigest or here at BookCountry, as well as countless books and classes, that cover how to prepare your manuscript for publication. Applying this information will help your manuscript get an agent’s attention. Continue reading →
Stephanie Chandler is the founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association, a marketing community for writers. The 5th Annual Nonfiction Writers Conference begins May 6th, and the keynote speaker will be Julia Cameron, author of THE ARTIST’S WAY. Participants can attend live sessions by telephone or Skype. Stephanie shares why she started the Nonfiction Authors Association and her experience being a self-published author.
Lucy Silag: First off, what is the Nonfiction Authors Association and why did you start it?
Stephanie Chandler:The Nonfiction Authors Association is a marketing community for trail-blazing writers! I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. When I quit my corporate job in 2003, I opened a 2,800 square-foot bookstore in Sacramento and planned to write novels in the back office. (When you’ve wanted to write your whole life, you naturally assume that a novel is the way to go.) But it turned out I didn’t have a knack for fiction, so I wrote my first nonfiction book (a business start-up guide) and was astonished by how much I loved writing nonfiction.
I began attending writers’ conferences and eventually started speaking at them as my author career took off. I noticed that nonfiction authors were largely neglected at these events. We didn’t quite fit in with the fiction writers and had different needs and approaches. So I launched the Nonfiction Writers Conference in 2010—an event conducted entirely online. I had no idea if it would catch on, but it did. Each year our attendees kept asking how they could keep the momentum going, so I finally answered them by launching the Nonfiction Authors Association in 2012. We needed our own community and now we have one with over 8,500 members and growing every day. Continue reading →