A good plot will keep your readers interested in your characters and events. Without a lively and multi-layered plot that leads to a satisfying resolution, readers are unlikely to finish your book. Here are five important tips for writing a compelling plot:
A strong idea will set the stage for the story and guide the characters and events. Start with a strong concept that is clear, interesting, and unique, with the potential for adding twists and turns as you build toward your climax.
Characters are at the heart of any story, and readers must relate to the characters if they are to care about them. Characters should have distinct personalities, motivations, and goals, and they should be fully developed and well-rounded if they are to pass as real people.
Tension and conflict drive a story forward toward the climax by generating suspense. Conflict is rooted in the characters’ goals and desires. The character’s journey toward attaining their goals and dealing with the conflicts they encounter provides the tension of a story, which should escalate as the story progresses. This is what keeps the readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next.
Use subtext—the story’s underlying meaning—to add depth to your plot and complexity to your story. It is also what makes it multi-layered and gives it a deeper meaning. Subtext is usually incorporated into your story with the use of symbolism, metaphors, and themes.
The story should come full circle at the end, with the characters having faced and resolved all conflicts in a way the reader will find satisfying and fulfilling.
In the end, it’s important to remember that writing a compelling plot takes time and effort. It’s a process of trial and error and is not always easy, but by following these tips and continuing to practice and improve your writing, you can create a story that will keep your readers engaged until the very end.
As a self-published author, it is essential to understand how important marketing is when it comes to the success of your book. Though it can be tempting to focus only on the writing and publishing process, your book may struggle to reach its audience and achieve the sales you desire without a strong marketing strategy.
Marketing helps increase the visibility of your book and attract potential readers. It is a crucial part of the publishing process and can mean the difference between a successful book and one that goes largely unnoticed.
As a self-published author, it is important to focus on maximizing your reach. With so many books available, it is imperative to find ways to stand out so you can reach as many potential readers as possible. A comprehensive marketing strategy can help you do just while ensuring your book has the best chance at success.
2. Marketing Strategies for Self-Published Authors
As a self-published author, there are several strategies you can utilize to market your book and increase visibility. Some effective marketing strategies for self-published authors include:
Building an online platform: An online platform, such as a website or blog, can be a powerful tool for marketing your book, providing a central location where readers can learn more about you and your work. It can also help establish you as an authority in your field.
Utilizing social media: Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can be excellent tools for connecting with potential readers and promoting your book. Posting regular updates, excerpts, and other engaging content can help to build an audience that will drive book sales.
Networking and building partnerships: Building relationships with other authors, industry professionals, and influencers can be a great way to market your book. Forming partnerships with others can provide opportunities for cross-promotion, joint events, and other collaborative efforts that can help increase your reach.
Running paid advertising campaigns: Paid advertising, such as sponsored posts on social media or Google Ads, can be an effective way to reach your target audience to drive book sales. These campaigns can be tailored to specific demographics and locations, making it easier to reach your ideal reader.
3. The Importance of a Strong Online Presence
In today’s digital age, it is essential for self-published authors to have a strong online presence. A well-designed website can serve as a central hub for all of your marketing efforts and portray a professional persona for potential readers. Your website can include information about your book(s), an author bio, media appearances, and other relevant content.
Email marketing is another powerful tool for reaching potential readers. Building an email list allows you to communicate with your audience directly to promote your book through newsletters, special offers, and other updates.
Utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques also helps increase your website’s visibility, making it easier for potential readers to discover your book(s). Optimizing your website’s content for specific keywords can help improve your search engine rankings, increasing the chance that you and your book(s) will be found by readers.
4. Traditional Marketing Strategies for Self-Published Authors
While the Internet has significantly changed the way books are marketed and sold, there is still something to be said for traditional marketing strategies for self-published authors. Some traditional marketing strategies to consider include:
Utilizing local resources and events: Local events, such as book festivals, author talks, book clubs, and gift shows, can be excellent opportunities to promote your book(s) and connect with potential readers.
Reaching out to bookstores and libraries: Many bookstores and libraries are willing to stock self-published books, especially if they are locally based or written by local authors. Reaching out to these institutions and offering to do readings, book signings, or other events can be a great way to promote your book(s).
Utilizing traditional media outlets: Traditional media outlets, such as newspapers, magazines, and radio programs, can be excellent ways to promote your book(s) to reach a wider audience. Consider reaching out to these outlets to offer to do interviews or write articles to promote your book.
Local writing groups: Besides offering master classes and networking opportunities, many local writing groups have connections to booksellers and book-selling opportunities in your community. Those with a membership fee might also subsidize tables at events, allowing authors to participate in expensive, large shows, such as Word on the Street, that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Go online to see if you can join an active writing group near you and the perks they offer when it comes to connecting with other authors and booksellers in your area.
It is essential for self-published authors to understand the importance of marketing when it comes to the success of their book(s). To increase your visibility, reach potential readers and drive book sales, create a comprehensive marketing strategy, including both online and traditional tactics.
By focusing on maximizing your reach and increasing your visibility, you will give your book(s) the best chance of success. Don’t be afraid to try new marketing strategies and continuously evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Once you have a strong marketing plan in place, you can effectively promote your book and be on your way to reaching your publishing goals.
Do you have a tried and true method for increasing your visibility as an author and reaching more readers to increase book sales? Please share what has and/or has not worked for you in the comments below.
Having an edited, ready-for-publication manuscript is paramount when searching for a publisher or an agent. Some vanity publishers—like EMSA Publishing—will provide editing in exchange for a percentage of the royalties. Others will provide you with a list of approved editors and ask you to pay from your own pocket for their services. Similarly, when self-publishing, the onus is on you to self-edit and/or hire an editor to get your manuscript up to standards.
In today’s economy, hiring an editor isn’t financially feasible for most of us. Authors are forced to become jacks-of-all-trades as a result, writing, publishing, advertising and editing on their own. Out of that array, editing is perhaps the most difficult to master, especially when it’s on your own manuscript.
Two reasons why self-editing is hard
Reason One – lack of education
Whether your highest level of education is a high school diploma or graduate degree, chances are you were never formally taught grammar in school. This is especially true if only a decade or so has passed since your graduation. I remember, in middle school, having to parse sentences to pick out the subject, object, predicate, etc. I was never very good at it because I was never formally taught any of the rules. My knowledge of grammar is more intuitive than practical—if it sounds good, it’s probably grammatically correct. When in doubt, I can always look it up online, a luxury I didn’t have in middle school.
Reason Two – it’s not how our brains work
As a writer, you’re too close to your work. Nick Stockton’s article, What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos, says writing is a critical thinking task. When you challenge you brain with higher-level thinking, it tends to generalize. You remember where you wanted to take the story and your brain fills in the blanks, glossing over the errors. It’s hard to edit your own work, not because you can’t or don’t know how to fix the issues, but rather, because you know what should be on the page so well that your brain doesn’t realize it’s not there.
Even with the cards seemingly stacked against you, there are still techniques you can use to help with this aspect of the publication process.
Five Ways You Can Make Self-Editing Easier
Give yourself some wait time.
Put your work away for a day, a week, or a month. If you give your brain time to forget what you’ve written and come at it with fresh eyes, it might help to find issues you missed before.
Read your work aloud.
Sometimes hearing your work will help you to find grammatical problems. When you read, don’t just vocalize your words. Read slowly and really try to listen to what you are saying.
Pay attention to spell- and grammar-check, but be skeptical.
Sometimes, spell- and grammar-check marks correctly spelled words and stylistic sentences as incorrect. While that doesn’t mean it is an actual error, it is worth checking it out. Check online against the rules when in doubt.
Use online applications to help with the process.
Websites like PaperRater that have built-in grammar and style checks can be useful, but take all suggestions with a grain of salt. I particularly like the HemingwayApp site which marks difficult words and sentences, and highlights phrases in passive voice. HemingwayApp will also categorize your reading level for difficulty, which can be helpful to for authors writing for children and teens.
Read your work from the bottom up.
Fool your brain by reading your work backwards, sentence by sentence. This can help you find sentences that don’t make sense, or those with errors in grammar, even though it’s a really awkward way to review your work.
Do you have any other suggestions or sites that will help with the editing process? If so, please share them in the comments below.
Most of my experience in the world of publishing has been helping friends and colleagues to get their work published, so I never had the need to create a social media presence for what I do. But when I decided to go pro, I realized that my business was going nowhere without an online platform.
Starting an online platform from scratch is a lot of work with little return, at least in the beginning. Nevertheless, in today’s digital market, it’s exactly what I had to do. It’s also exactly what many first time authors need to do, and so I thought I’d share the process with you.
Without further ado, here is my beginner’s guide to building an online platform:
Claim your domain name.
A domain name is how potential fans will find you on the web. You can choose from virtually any name or phrase, so long as it hasn’t already been registered. Many authors choose their book title as a domain name, but I suggest using the name under which you publish. That way you can create a separate page for each book and keep site maintenance to a minimum.
Build a web page.
Take a breath…this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. There are quite a few really good point and click interfaces out there. I like WordPress, but you can also use Wix or Weebly and forward your domain name to your site. Pages you might want to include on your site include synopses of your books including buy links, and a brief biography which lists ways to contact you. While a blog is not mandatory, it’s a good way to pique reader interest, particularly if you blog about writing and the writing process, and/or the subject and genre in which you write.
Claim your social media accounts.
Create a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Pinterest, Storify, and GooglePlus account in your name. If your name is taken, try adding the word “author” or “books” to it. Social media is a great way to publicize your work and draw reader attention.
Link your social media for cross-posts.
You can join your social media accounts to post to each other, which is a huge time-saver. By cross-posting, your blog can post to select social media for you, Twitter can post to Facebook and vice-versa. Same with GoodReads. Some websites (like WordPress) will even let you create a widget that shows your last few Twitter and Facebook posts on your website. GoodReads has code that will display your To Be Read list, or the title of the book you are currently reading in a sidebar, all of which can help make connections between you and your readers. Use a scheduling site like HootSuite to enable you to post during peak hours, if you can’t physically post at those times yourself.
Create social media buzz.
Post to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest regularly. I usually make an advertising post about once a week. The rest of the time I’m reposting materials about publishing and writing that I find on the web and that my followers might find interesting. I also post a notification to social media any time I add something to my blog or earn accolades on the web for my work. I reserve sites like Storify, GooglePlus and LinkedIn exclusively to promote posts about my own work.
Follow and friend like-minded people.
Search up hashtags for your genre and content on Twitter and follow a few of the people that post them. Join Facebook groups for writers and lovers of similar genres and content. Interact regularly by liking, sharing, and retweeting. Engage and interact with your followers and friends and they’ll follow suit. Before you know it you’ll be networking like a pro, selling books with little effort, which, after all, is the primary reason you embarked on the journey to create an author platform in the first place.
Do you have any other ideas for beginning writers wanting to set up an online presence? If so, share your tips in the comments below.
As authors, our goal is to get read, which means getting the word out there. If you’re like most of us, you spend your time dreaming of the day you can shed the shackles of your day job in favour of making a living at writing full time. The old adage, “you have to spend money to make money,” just doesn’t work for us, because we don’t have a lot of money to spend on things like advertising campaigns which may or may not prove successful.
So what do you do while you’re waiting for your book to make it to the best sellers’ list? You seek out free publicity. And who doesn’t love a bit of free publicity?
Here are eleven places (and one idea) where you can list your books online, totally free!
Bookbzz is an online social sharing site where people can talk about and review books. While they have other paid features, you can list your book for free and participate in the social sharing (or not), if you desire.
Click on the “Authors Start Here” button on the menu at the top of the page for a list of free services. While there are a lot more features you can use if your book is free or under a dollar, it doesn’t have to be.