Blogs / Life, Writing Tips

Crash Course in Blogging 101

To any First Time Bloggers (or any bloggers looking for help on their site or gaining new followers),

When trying to set up your blog and gain followers, do you ever feel like this?

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Creating a new website can be frustrating as you navigate themes and customization options, but it does not have to be.

Finding blogs worth following and gaining followers in return can sometimes feel like the eternal mystery, but it does not have to be.

In my 5-day course, you and I will work together to tackle these enigmas and make your blog something special! In six months, I reached 1,000 followers and let me support that statement with this, “It was not easy and it was a LOT of hard work!”

If you’re willing to work for it, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this 5-day course, we will address blogging issues such as: site identity, the physicality of your blog, blogging schedules, content, how to follow and be followed, and how to thrive in the blogging world. Additionally, I’ll still be around after this course to answer questions that may come your way not only as your Blogging Mentor but as a Blogging Friend.

For my services, I require a one time payment of $40 (approximately $8 a day, which means I’m offering my services for under minimum wage).

Tiffany from BeUTifLee gives the course 5 stars!

I enjoyed the course, learning more than when I started the blog. Kayla Ann is full of knowledge, don’t hesitate to ask any question, big or small. The course is fun, inviting, and creative. It all depends on your motivation and determination. As I always say, Creativity takes courage.

5-star2

If you are interested in this 5-day Crash Course in Blogging 101 with me, your go-to Blogging Mentor, head over to my home page. On my menu, you will see a tab that says “HOME.” Click that and in the drop-down menu, click “CONTACT.” Fill out that form to contact me about wanting to participate in this enlightening course.

Due to my schedule, I can only take on one client per week so keep that in mind! I only have a few openings left for this summer so don’t wait! I will get back to you within a few days at the latest with my next availability and further instructions.

I look forward to meeting and assisting new bloggers!

Disclaimer: This 5-day course is really designed for beginning bloggers (although veteran bloggers are welcome to apply for the course as well, though these will be more reminders than new insights).

blogging tips

Blogging Tip: Schedule Ahead of Time

One of the biggest obstacles to blogging (I think) is consistently pushing through posts on a regular basis that contain great content. What I mean by this: it is hard to post every day, or even every other day, and on top of that, it is harder to post great blogs every time.

Let’s be honest, some days we just don’t feel very creative. We’re tired either physically or mentally or both and we just don’t have anything to say. We sit down at this blank screen and think, “wow I literally have nothing to say.” Indeed, there will be days when you simply cannot write, you can’t think, and you definitely cannot create a blog post. That will happen, so prepare for it and plan ahead!

Part of blogging is spontaneous creativity, the other part is planned posts.

You heard me, Planned Posts.

When you have great days where creativity is flowing, don’t stop after one post and do not (I repeat, do not) post multiple times a day. Instead keep creating and schedule them for in advance. For instance, this is the 7th blog post I have written today on May 31st (even though this post is not scheduled to publish until later in June). I now have my next week or so of blogging post planned out ahead of time so that I am not struggling the night before.

How do I come up with all these blog posts ideas?

Here is my strategy. Whenever I am out and about, or even when I am home, and I have an idea for a blog post, but I don’t have time to write it, I save that idea in my draft section. At times, I have up to 30 drafts just sitting there filled with ideas. So, on my good days, I go through those ideas. Some are no longer good (and never were), some need adjustment, and some I save for later.

Write in advance on your good days so that you don’t need to worry on your bad days.

*If you enjoyed today’s Writing Tip be sure to check out additional tips under the “Writing Tips” category on my home menu!

Happy Writing & Blogging Everyone!

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©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

blogging mentor

Blogging Mentor – Now Hiring

Please be advised this post is now obsolete. For an updated post on Crash Course for Blogging 101, please click on the link!

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********************************************************************

To any First Time Bloggers (or any bloggers looking for help on their site or gaining new followers),

When trying to set up your blog and gain followers, do you ever feel like this?

Creating a new website can be frustrating as you navigate themes and customization options, but it does not have to be.

Finding blogs worth following and gaining followers in return can sometimes feel like the eternal mystery, but it does not have to be.

In my one week course, you and I will work together to tackle these enigmas and make your blog something special! In six months, I reached 1,000 followers and let me support that statement with this, “It was not easy and it was a LOT of hard work!”

If you’re willing to work for it, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this one week course, we will address blogging issues such as: site identity, the physicality of your blog, blogging schedules, content, how to follow and be followed, and how to thrive in the blogging world. Additionally, I’ll still be around after this course to answer questions that may come your way not only as your Blogging Mentor but as a Blogging Friend.

For my services, I require a one time payment of $30 (approximately $4.20 a day, many people spend more than that on their daily coffee).

(For those who might be wondering why I rose the price from my suggested $25 to $30 –> I raised the price when I lengthened the course from 5 days to 7 days.)

Cup of coffee with a pile of coffee beans Free Photo

If you are interested in this one-week blogging course with me, your go-to Blogging Mentor, head over to my home page. On my menu, you will see a tab that says “HOME.” Click that and in the drop-down menu, click “CONTACT.” Fill out that form to contact me about wanting to participate in this seven-day course.

Due to my schedule, I can only take on one client per week so keep that in mind! I will get back to you within a few days at the latest with my next availability and further instructions.

I look forward to meeting and assisting new bloggers!

Disclaimer: This one-week course is really designed for beginning bloggers (although veteran bloggers are welcome to apply for the course as well, though these will be more reminders than new insights).

blogging tips, Writing Tips

Social Media & Authors

Hey Everyone!

Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and WordPress (my primary author-outlets). There are other sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat that can also be used for an author’s page but because I am not as familiar with them, I will only be talking about the first three today.

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Social media can be a huge help to promoting one’s own platform but it can also be very time-consuming. An author’s platform can be a confusing term to throw out there so if you need some background information check out Jane Friedman’s explanation of the phrase: author’s platform.

Social media can be helpful in promoting your platform in two primary ways, increasing your visibility and discovering your target audience. Jane Friedman explains each here:

  • “Visibility means: Where do you or your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? It’s typically not enough to say you have visibility. You have to show how and where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
  • Target audience means: You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have visibility, authority, and proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re writing a book meant to target to Fortune 500 companies.”

In my experience, WordPress has proven to be the best social media site for up-and-coming authors working to establish themselves in the world of writing. Your blog is the perfect place for you to develop your personality as a blogger and writer. It also helps you determine who is listening and what people want to hear. It is a great place to interact on a real level.

I believe that Facebook will prove to become more useful after an author is already established. Now, I’m not saying that if you are not an established author that you should not have an author’s page on facebook. I have one, even though I am still a year out from my first book’s, The Agency Games, publication date. I think it’s good to have and let it grow slowly. However, once my book is published, facebook will prove more useful for setting up Events like Book Releases and Signings. If you haven’t visited my facebook page and you would like to be kept up-to-date with my future events, please check it out here!

Lastly, Instagram is a great place for visibility. While I don’t expect to have any in-depth conversations like I do on WordPress on Instagram, it is a fun place to post visual interactions. I consider Instagram to show the every-day-life moments of an author. It helps to show the audience who this author is as a person. For me, Instagram displays my more whimsical side with photos of my various tea mugs alongside my Writing Tips. You can find my author’s Instagram on my home page or by searching @KaylaAnnAuthor.

Instagram is also great for taking polls! Speaking of, stop by my Instagram and take the polls if you have the time as I try to determine what social media sites authors find most helpful!

What do you guys use for social media? Which do you think is the most productive and which is the least? Should I be incorporating additional social media sites?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Writing!

Blogs / Life, Contests

1,000+ Followers & GIVEAWAY Winner!

You guys rock!

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I now officially have over 1,000 followers (including email subscribers) and it is all thanks to YOU!

You have encouraged me, supported me, and engaged with me on this wonderful journey of writing and blogging!

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Today, I am feeling beyond grateful to everyone who has made this a possibility. Particularly after the weekend I had, I am more grateful than ever to my fellow bloggers who offered their support and encouragement on my behalf!

Anyway, I really don’t want to come off like I’m giving a speech at the Oscars so I’ll wrap this up quick! But I really do want to say thank you to a list of bloggers who are constantly visiting my page, and overall, just being awesome and spectacular bloggers:

WaltPage, MissMWriter, TShaw, Eugenia, Ivor20, Chocotales, Raynotbradbury, NovusLectio, QuippishQuill, InAMessyWorld, BrendaDavisHarsham, Diana, Mia, Carly (MessageinStanza), E.MichaelHelms, HimanshiShukla, TheMuddledLass, SarahAl-Haddad, B.Aphorisms, A.E.Jorgensen, 364Life, DreamFilledLaughter, J.M. Galindo, Joseph Emerson, Castorblog, HistorianRuby, Sims, MatthewWinters, AshaSeth, LibbySommer, Anjalisk96, NOpiniontatedHead, BenWeaver, VeronicaLeigh, YesMoreBlogs, Yassy,  ThePrettyPoems, RobbieInspiration, DarnellCureton, Dale.Beck, DorindaDuclos Short-Prose-Fiction, JoytotheWorld, ByLuis, and more!

These are just a FEW of the awesome people I am surrounded by on WordPress but I really appreciate the way they continuously encourage me, repeatedly like my posts, and comment on my blogs! I highly encourage you to check out their blogs, just type in their names and be prepared for quality blogging!

A VERY HUGE THANK YOU!

Now, getting to the part you might be more interested in. Who won The Hunger Games Book-set Giveaway?

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Please give a Big Congratulations to:

Walt’s Writings!

I could not think of anyone more deserving of this prize then you Walt! You are constantly supporting my blog and extending your friendship! Your wisdom, kindness, love, and humor shine through all your poems! It’s a blessing to know you!

blogging tips, Blogs / Life, Writing Tips

UPDATED: Victim of Stolen Content

First of all, thank you to all of my amazing, sincere, kind followers who reached out to me with their sympathy, their support, and their encouragement. You guys turned a really crappy event into a better day! Thank you so much!

Just to give you an update, the original blogger who stole my work contacted me and apologized for her actions. She admitted that she was wrong and took down the site with the copyrighted works. She has promised to never act that way again and asked me not to share her name. Because she owned up to her mistakes, I have no desire to further shame her, unless this happens again.

Let this just be a lesson to all of us to be careful about what we put up, to do our best to protect our intellectual property, and perhaps, to be more conscious about how our work is being duplicated.

Again, thank you so much for your support.

 

*****Original Post*****

As you know, I don’t usually post on the weekends.

However, after logging on today to congratulate the winner of my GiveAway, I realized something had gone wrong.

Another blogger, one of my long-time followers, had stolen my content that I had created and was posting in on their own site as if it were their own material. Needless to say, I am shocked, hurt, and yes, angry.

Here is my original post: Blogging Tip: Responding to Followers 

Here is Their post: Engaging with Followers (they deleted their site shortly after this blog was posted.)

 

See the similarities?

Basically, they just removed the GIF and my end signatures.

I have tried commenting on this post requesting that they give credit to my blog as the original poster. So far, no response.

I don’t mind people re-blogging my stuff, but I do mind when people steal my work and attempt to pass it off as their own.

It’s plagiarism, it’s copyright infringement, and it is just plain unethical.

 

I contacted WordPress and basically there is very little that I can do. I have reported their site but that is all I can do without giving out private information to WordPress and the other blogger. Needless to say, you will be seeing my Copyright Signature EVERYWHERE now and honestly, I’m considering pulling back on my writing tips and blogging tips.

Has anyone else dealt with this problem? How have you addressed it? Is there anything else I can do to protect my site, my work, my content from thieves?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

blogging tips, Writing Tips

How to Conduct an Interview

We are writers, not reporters, and yet, the time may come when it is necessary for us to conduct an interview. Perhaps we need to speak to a war veteran about the reality of war, or perhaps we need to talk to a high school barista. By interviewing real-people with real-life experiences, we can add a level of authenticity to our narratives instead of filling pages with guess-work and speculations. Whatever your reason may be, if you have to conduct an interview, here are some suggestions.

Plan & Prepare for the Interview

  • While people may encourage you “to wing it” because it will be a more “natural” conversation, I highly suggest that you plan ahead. If you decided to just “wing it,” the conversation is more likely to be filled by awkward silences and might even lead to your interviewee thinking that they are wasting their time. So here are some ways to prepare:

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  • Ask them ahead of time, don’t just spring it on them.
  • After deciding who you are interviewing, decided why. What is your primary reason for interviewing them, what is the thing you want to learn most about them.
    • Having considered your objections, make a list of questions. You do not have to use every question. If you ask one question and that leads into the next question not on your list but it’s where you want to go, then follow that line of questioning, but it’s good to have those questions there in case you hit a dead end.
    • Try to avoid questions that force a specific “yes” or “no,” “this” or “that” answer. Use open-ended question such as “why” and “how”

Interviewing your Guest

  • While you are obviously going to be asking questions, try not to dominate the conversation. Be a good listener. You are there to prompt the conversation, not to add in your own experiences or thoughts.
  • Be considerate. If you told your interviewee that you will be there for an hour, don’t go over, even if you have more questions without asking them if they are available. Most people have busy lives.

Not done yet…

  • Thank your subject both in person and either: a call, an email, or a hand-written note. They took time to help you with your questions so be kind.
  • Immediately after, go over your notes and spend some time reflecting on the interview. Expand on your notes and answers while the event is fresh in your memory.

So, get out there and get writing! Don’t know enough about your subject? Start Interviewing!

Happy Writing Everyone!

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Contests

Flash Fiction – Results!

The Flash Fiction Contest closed on Friday and I had all weekend to read over the submissions and let me tell you, there were some really amazing pieces!

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The Winner of the Flash Fiction Contest goes to . . .

Savannah the voice behind Rejoicing in Hope!

Although there were several pieces in the running for first place, I kept coming back to Savannah’s post time and time again. Only 6 words long, her flash fiction slams into the reader’s heart and steals their breath while they are left wondering what happened. So here it is:

“Single Mother: Now she’s just single.”

Author’s Bio:

At Savannah’s foundation, she is a Christian, a wife, and a mommy. She enjoys writing, coffee, Hallmark movies, and going on adventures with her little tribe. She says, “I have a Bachelors in English, a GED in life, and a Masters in making mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not perfect, and I hope to use my own failures and experiences to help and encourage you.”

Rejoicing

Her blog is a little bit of a lot of things but it is centered around making her and her readers better: better Christians, friends, spouses, individuals, and forces for good. Her blog might challenge you, inform you, encourage you, or maybe you’ll just have some fun! As a newer blogger she looks forward to branching out and meeting other bloggers on this wonderful world of WordPress! So be sure to click the link, stop by, congratulate her and say hi!

 

 

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A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who participated, re-blogged, and commented! You guys are awesome and I’ve had another blast reading your pieces!

 

I haven’t decided when or what my next contest will be on. What kind of contest would YOU be interested in participating?

blogging tips

Blogging Tip: Responding to Followers

Gaining Followers is not the only thing that matters. Building relationships and dialogue with said followers is what really matters.

I’ve given this advice before: When blogging, be reciprocal. In other words, if you want more followers, it cannot just be all about YOU. It is about others, it is about your followers. So, if you want more followers, here is what I suggest:

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It does not matter if you have 10 followers or 10,000 followers, you should be responding to your followers.

When your followers leave a comment on your blog post, you should be thrilled! Someone has taken the time to read YOUR work! Isn’t that great? So let them know! Say thanks for stopping by and even ask questions, keep the conversation going.

Now that’s the easy way to be reciprocal. The harder way is visiting other blogs and leaving comments, but it is still so important! Why should people continue to visit your blog, sacrifice their time, and encourage you if you are not willing to do the same for them? Plus, it’s just so dang enjoyable exploring other blogs!

Don’t get me wrong, I know that it can be crazy hard to visit everyone’s blogs. It is hard for me. So here are a few different ways to address this issue:

  • Visit your reader daily and select at least 5 blog posts to open, read, and leave a comment. You will probably follow more than 5 blogs, so obviously you won’t hit all of the blogs you follow in one day. The next day choose 5 more blog posts to open but try to make sure that you are hitting blog sites that you did not visit the day before. Keep cycling and doing your best to hit different blogs every day and cycle them, that way you are visiting often without burning yourself out on the reader.

 

  • Next, when someone leaves comment on your post, you can respond to it and then click on their site. Go check out their latest post and leave a comment. Or if that post doesn’t strike your fancy, take a minute to find a post that you feel you can really respond to.

These are just two suggestions on how to make sure that you are engaging in other blogs. I try my best to do both. Those who comment on my blog posts are more likely to receive a like, comment, or both on their posts because I appreciate the time they have spent on mine.

Now, what if you have hundreds of comments on your posts? How are you supposed to respond to them all? Well, first off, that’s awesome to have so many comments! Congratulations, that must have been a killer post. Do your best to spread the love. Go through the comments, respond to them all there, and be sure to hit up as many sites in return as you can.

Reciprocation is key!

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Yeaaaa, this gif doesn’t exactly fit our topic but I just love Luke and Jess!

Happy Writing & Blogging Everyone!

How do you manage your Reader?

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

All You Need to Know About Self-Publishing: An Interview with Gavin Whyte

 

In the hopes of sharing knowledge with fellow writers, I sought out someone with experience in self-publishing. Gavin Whyte does a really great job at covering the basics of self-publishing, the ups and the downs! So if you want an honest opinion on self-publishing, be sure to take a read!

K. Why did you decide to go into self-publishing?

The truth is: lack of patience and the need for instant gratification. Not ideal attributes for an author, I admit. When I self-published my first book, back in 2010, I just wanted to get it out there as soon as possible. I was naive, to say the least. I had no prior experience of the publishing industry, and the first book I published was the first book I wrote – ever.
Now I would advise any writer that is just starting out to write, write, write, and as soon as you have finished one book, start your next one. Doesn’t Neil Gaiman say to imagine you have a million words you need to get off your chest first, before anything good comes out?

Just to show how naive I was, one of the things that attracted me the most about self-publishing was the fact that you got to cut out the middle man. This is the publisher and/or the literary agent. These people supposedly take a long time to get back to you, and I simply wasn’t willing to wait.

Moreover, I’d heard they are so swamped with submissions, that the chances of them taking on a new writer are slim. Self-publishing was an attractive option from the start, mainly because it was free. I learned earlier on that if a publisher asks you to pay a fee in advance, then walk away – fast. So called “vanity publishers” are sharks, looking for writers with little experience and big dreams.

I was attracted to the idea that I could have my book published in the same afternoon I finished writing it (although it’s not a good idea to do that). I was attracted to the fact that I would be in control of the creative process, from designing the cover to deciding the price.

The traditional route simply does not offer a writer such freedom. You might be wondering if I tried getting my first book published the traditional way: The answer is
yes. You have no idea how shocked I was when it was accepted. I was sent a contract, and when I looked into the small print (I even had a lawyer-friend go through it with me) I decided there was something fishy about it, and so I declined their offer.

That’s when I stepped onto the path of self-publishing.

It felt safe and refreshing. More importantly, I felt my book was safe. As writers, our works become our babies, and we want to protect them and give them the best chance to thrive in the world. Selfpublishing seemed to offer that protection.

K. What have you published?
To date, I have self-published five books, all for the young adult (YA) audience, or younger. It is interesting to see – and I know this from reading the reviews and the personal feedback I get – that it is mainly adults that read my work. I can only assume it is because my books are not reaching their target audience; an undesirable aspect of self-publishing that you, the writer, is in charge of.
My first book, Waiting for Wings, was written as a gift for a friend’s family, when he died of cancer at the age of 22; another reason why I wanted to protect it from the jaws of the dishonest sharks. It tells the story of a 12-year old boy whose friend is dying of cancer, who one day says that he woke to find an angel at the foot of his bed (which my friend actually said, before he lost his speech).

I then went on to write a fable called The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair. This is less than 9000 words in length, and is easily my most successful book. Why? It is free to download. The feedback is overwhelming, both on Amazon and on Goodreads. It has got into the hands of a decent amount of people (it is closing in on 500 ratings on Goodreads and has 67 reviews, both on amazon.comand .co.uk) all because it costs nothing to read. I treat it as my bait book, to get my name on readers’ “readar”.

K. How did you go about publishing your books?

I started out by using lulu.com. I have just checked their website, and they have clearly made it friendlier and more attractive since I last used it, nearly 10 years ago. They use a print-on-demand business model, which means that if they receive an order of 50 copies
of your book, they print 50 copies and send them out to the customers. You, the writer, don’t have to do a thing. Gone are the days when you fill your garage with boxes and boxes of copies of your own book, which, chances are, might end up being pulped. (Such a sad thought.)
I moved my books over to Amazon because of its impressive infrastructure. The business model is the same as Lulu (in terms of it being print-on-demand), but the truth is – and I’m sorry, Lulu, you were good to me – that more people shop on Amazon than they do on Lulu. That is a fact. Most people haven’t even heard of Lulu, but ask a friend where they bought their Christmas presents, and chances are Amazon will be on the list.

To get you started on Amazon as a self-published author, go to Amazon’s homepage, whether that be .com or .co.uk etc and log in (assuming you have an account). Scroll to the bottom, and find the option that says either Self-Publish with Us (as it says on .com) or Independently Publish with Us (as it says on .co.uk), and then all you have to do is follow their instructions.

They are constantly trying to make the process as simple as possible. It is all free (as is lulu.com), but you can pay for additional services, such as editing, proofreading, and copy-editing, etc. (I personally haven’t used these services, but I do have a friend that has, and he was very satisfied with them.)

Here is an important point about self-publishing, one that needs to be taken very seriously: What you write and hit “publish” on, is exactly what your readers will download and keep, forever. Read that sentence again, in fact, no, I’ll put it in italics for you: What you write and hit “publish” on, is exactly what your readers will download and keep, forever.

You, not only as a writer, but as your own publisher are responsible for making sure that your book is as finely polished as it can be. Self-published books with many errors in them – such as sloppy “speling” mistakes, or the absence of full stops – is one of the reasons self-publishing has got a bad reputation.
Of course mistakes happen, but they shouldn’t be because of laziness or negligence. And anyway, why would you want to present your hard work in such a half-arsed way? You have got to become a perfectionist, because if you don’t your readers will pick up on it. Even something as simple as asking a friend to help proof-read it, can help go a long way to avoiding simple mistakes you may yourself miss.

K. Can you give us some advice on publishing with Amazon?
Let’s start with an ebook. I’ll briefly cover how to self-publish a paperback and audiobook later.

Cover design

  • Once you have completed the steps mentioned above, you will need to upload your work, usually as a Word file or PDF. I would strongly recommend only a PDF is used at this point, because PDF mirrors print exactly – that is what it was designed for. Word Docs are not designed to look the same on different mediums, or even different screens or computers. Once uploaded, you can go through your book just as it would appear on a Kindle or iPad. Here, you can again check for errors – and again, it is very important you do.
  • Then it comes to designing your cover. Amazon are forever updating and improving their templates for you to use. Some of them are pleasant, some aren’t. But it is about your personal taste at the end of the day, and what kind of cover you envision for you book.
  • I used Amazon’s templates for my first three books. I was happy with them, but as time went on I realized how unoriginal and cheap they looked. Having an eye-catching cover is important. We might not judge a book by its cover (at least we try not to), but a cover is usually the deciding factor of whether or not it jumps off the screen at us.
    We see thousands of images on a daily basis. We scroll and scroll, clicking only on what grabs our attention. You have got to try and create a cover that grabs the eye. Easier said than done. However, Amazon know this, and, like I said, they are always improving their templates.
  • The thing about using one of their templates is that other people can use them too. What could be more frustrating than finally publishing your book, only to scroll down and see a completely different title with the same cover! Not good. I have been there. It is for this reason that I used fiver.com for The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair, Happiness & Honey, and A Stolen Youth.
    • ‘Fiver’ is a website where people offer many services, including editing, digital marketing, translation, and graphic & design, i.e. book covers. And, just as the name of the website suggests, they do it all for a fiver (of course, you can also choose to pay more, depending on what you want).
    • It is used by people who are trying to build a substantial portfolio for their work, and so they are going to try their best to do a good job. You find someone who you like the look of (by reading their reviews, for instance), tell them what you want, upload a few samples of the covers you like (by sending them book covers from Amazon or wherever), and leave the rest to them.
  • When I received the cover for The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair, honestly, my eyes filled with tears. I was so happy with it – and all for a fiver!

 

K. How do you price your books?
You don’t want to make your book too expensive. Simply do some research and see what others are doing. Do what feels right to you. Are you wanting to knock up the price of your book because you want fat pockets? Chances are you won’t be a household name, so setting your ebook at $9.99 isn’t advisable. However, something like $3.99 is much more sensible – and still a little on the pricey side.
Some have said the price reflects an assumption of the book’s quality. I am not sure if that is true. If your ebook is on sale at $1.99, it has an attractive cover, and the story is good enough to start gaining good reviews, then clearly that assumption is false.
(Word of advice: At the end of your book, ask your readers if they would kindly write a short review for you. Reviews are so important for any writer.)

Because you are in control, you can change the price at any time. Something you definitely don’t get to do when you publish traditionally. That being said, I would advise you not to change it too often, simply because you don’t want to annoy your readers.

My advice is to set the price of your book rather low, and treat it as a trial run. You can always change it 6-12 months down the road. Self-publishing really is all about trial and error. At least it has been for me.
Handy Tip: Amazon do not give you the option of giving your book away for free. Which makes sense, because they would make no profit. But what they will do, because it directly affects their reputation, is match the price of your book if it is cheaper on another site. If you want to make your book available for free, go to a website like draft2digital; go through the process of uploading your book, then set the price at $0. Contact Amazon and tell them that your book is available for free on Draft2Digital and you would like them to match the price. Hey presto, your book will appear on
Amazon for free.

 

K. How do you get paid for self-publishing?
Every month you will receive an email from Amazon, regarding your royalties. They will get paid straight into your account, completely hassle-free. I know a lot of people have had trouble with Amazon not paying them, but honestly, I have never had an issue.

Let’s briefly cover the process of self-publishing a paperback and an audiobook
As a self-published author, you get to publish one book in three different ways. That is, potentially, three streams of income from one source.

If you want to publish your book as a paperback, then simply head over to createspace.com. It’s owned by Amazon, so the process is very similar to publishing your ebook. Formatting can be a nuisance. I have published books where the print is extremely small, and, even now, I’m pretty certain there are big margins of empty space at the sides of the pages. It is not ideal.

It is worth remembering that Amazon sell many more ebooks than paperbacks.
Once you have finished going through the process of creating your paperback, hit publish, and it will be available on Amazon.

If you want to create an audio version of your book – and why wouldn’t you want to? – head over to audible.com. Again, this is owned by Amazon. Now you understand what I was meaning before about their infrastructure. They have their fingers in many pies.
You upload a sample of your work, and then wait for narrators to send you samples of their auditions. You choose the one you like the most, leave them to narrate your book, they send you the entire thing, and once you are happy with it, you hit publish. Simple!
Now you have your one book available in three different formats. You don’t have to do any shipping yourself, and your royalties, from all three sources, get put straight into your bank account.

K. Sounds easy enough, so how has it gone? Have you made money on your books?
How much have I been paid since I published my first book in 2010? This includes five paperbacks, five ebooks, and three audiobooks. Drum roll…

Less than $1000.

If you went for a job interview, and were told that after a decade you will have earned less than $1000 in total, you would laugh and walk out of the room. But that is the reality of it. My most successful book is, as I have said, my free book. It is great to read the reviews. In fact, I was nearly moved to tears last weekend, when I read some of the ones I hadn’t seen before! But, chances are, those people downloaded the book for free, and so no money for me.

You may ask why I don’t increase the price (at least to 0.99!) but here is the thing: People get to know it because it is free. Amazon have a whole separate chart for free books, and there are far less contenders there, simply because there are less people willing to give away the work they have worked so hard to create. Which makes perfect sense.

It is a massive sacrifice. But I did it because I believe in the story, and I knew people would resonate with it. The most important thing is that people read it. And I have confidence that the book will one day reach enough people that it will begin to pay dividends. Overly confident, maybe?

I haven’t lost any money, which is a very important point. The process of self-publishing can be absolutely free. You choose how much you want to spend. If you don’t want to spend anything, then don’t. You really have got nothing to lose.

K. Do you plan to continue self-publishing or would you ever consider going traditional? Why?

I have three children’s picture books, and another 40,000-word YA novel that sit unpublished. And I don’t intend to self-publish them.

It is time for me to tackle the traditional route. Self-publishing has allowed me to build a
framework, such as reviews of my current books, a following on social media etc, all of which I hope will attract a literary agent, and subsequently a publisher.

A positive aspect of self-publishing is that you are in charge – and that very thing can be a negative aspect too. I have spent many, many hours going through the self-publishing process – getting it wrong, learning the hard way – when, all that time, I could have been writing.

Now I feel I have the patience to include the middle-man.
There are many success stories about self-published authors, selling thousands and thousands of their ebooks, but I am afraid mine isn’t one of them. The reality is, it is hard to get people to read your books.
But, and this is a big but: Your book deserves an audience. God knows how many hours you’ve put into it. It needs to be read, it calls to be read – its purpose is to be read by as many people as possible. If it is finished, and you are happy with it, you can have it available to people, all around the world, this afternoon. And that is pretty cool.
Whatever path you decide to go down, good luck. I wish you all the best.

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Gavin Whyte

If you are interested in more from Gavin or his books, check out his site here

So what do you think? Is self-publishing for you? Or are you planning on going more of the traditional path? Let me know in the comments!