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My Self-Publishing Story: 3 Book Marketing FAILs and Lessons Learned

“I just met you, and this is crazy…but here’s my story, learn from it, maybe.”

In a lot of ways, I wish Duolit did not exist.

That sounds more drastic than it is — more accurately, I wish we didn’t need awesome websites like Duolit to teach us how to market our books.

I wish readers just flocked to us in the instant that we released our books. I wish we could spend our days writing whatever our hearts desired with no regard for how it will play with our target market, what our editors will think or what kind of reviews we might get.

I wish I woke up every morning in the beach house I bought from selling the movie rights of my latest book and sat on the deck overlooking the ocean, typing away on my snazzy MacBook Pro while a shirtless Joe Manigniello served me a homecooked breakf–

Oh, sorry, let you a little too far into my head — my bad!

Unfortunately, very few artists have that luxury.

The reality is that I’m currently subdividing my writing time between working a full-time job, blogging for Duolit, keeping up with my social media accounts, marketing my own book and all those other pesky things like sleeping, eating and watching Teen Mom.

Oh, and I live with my parents and operate off of a five year-old Dell laptop that’s on its last, dying breath.

In other words, I feel your pain.Continue Reading

Self-Publishing: A Long, Proud Tradition [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post from William Joel and an entry in February’s Self-Publishing Writing Contest. Click here to vote for the winner of this month’s contest. Want to help out your fellow indie authors? Consider entering March’s contest!

Recently, with the emergence of one Publish-on-Demand service (POD) after another, there seems to have been an explosion of self-published works. Some might even view this as the being a new way to be published, but they’d be misinformed. Self-publshing has been around for as long as there have been books. In fact, in the field of book creation, professional publshing houses are Johnny-come-latelies.

Instead of traveling all the way back to the birth of books, or even the days of rows and rows of monks, hand-copying texts, we only need to begin with the advent of moveable type. Think Gutenberg and the 15th century.

Once it was possible to mass produce books, which meant dozens or hundreds of copies, books could exist in the hands of the average person. Of course, the average person did not know how to read, or if he did read poorly. Details, details.

Still, it was a beginning. At that time, the printer was the publisher, and the marketer, etc. Or, more likely, the author was everything but the printer. Over time, small publishing houses did emerge, but there was still lots and lots of notable books that were “self-published.”Continue Reading

Do You Still Enjoy Writing? (And What to Do if You Don’t) [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post from Michael W. Roberts and an entry in February’s Self-Publishing Writing Contest. Click here to vote for the winner of this month’s contest. Want to help out your fellow indie authors? Consider entering March’s contest!

Why do you write?

What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning or keeps you up all too late to get your story written?

Is it the love of the craft? Is it the thrill of a finished project?

Would you still write if there was no way you could ever get paid for it?

I have to make a confession. I’m terribly ruthless when it comes to deciding how I spend my time. If I pursue an artistic endeavor such as writing, I’m always thinking of how I can capitalize on it. (If I can make money from it, then clearly I’m not wasting my time. Right?)

  • Maybe I can write a short story and sell it.
  • Maybe I can write an ebook and become an internet sensation.
  • Maybe, just maybe, I could become a professional author.

In short, I bleed the fun out of the craft by primarily focusing on the end benefits of the art. Wanting success isn’t wrong. But when it’s all you want, there’s a problem.Continue Reading

The Long Game of Self-Publishing [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post from Merry Farmer and the first entry in February’s Self-Publishing Writing Contest. Click here to vote for the winner of this month’s contest. Want to help out your fellow indie authors? Consider entering March’s contest!

Photo: CompujerameyI once took a train trip from Orlando to Philadelphia. I was moving back home after attending the University of Central Florida and I’d always wanted to make a long voyage by train. The trip was 24 hours as opposed to a two and a half hour flight. I reserved my own little roomette that had a huge window. What unfolded was one of the most enjoyable travel experiences I’ve ever had. I got to see the landscape gradually change from tropical to Southern to Mid-Atlantic. The changing view of America flashed by my window to the steady cha-chunk-cha-chunk-cha-chunk of the train speeding across the tracks. It was literally hypnotizing. And it was also the best night’s sleep of my life.

I’ve been a writer since I was ten years old and realized one day that I didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. But traditional publishing never appealed to me. Imagine my joy then last year when the world of Indie Publishing blew wide open. Suddenly it’s possible to write what you love and take it directly to the readers. No agents, no endless waiting, and the only rejection is from the readers themselves not buying your book. It’s a kinder, gentler rejection. But I still write my books, I still revise and have them professionally edited, and I still set them free into the world on my own terms and watch them fly.

So far my first two novels have soared out of my hands … and up into a nearby tree to sit there and roost a while … enjoying the view … hanging out … taking a nap.Continue Reading

Writing Goals: Don’t Just Make’em, Meet’em!

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

It seems like we blinked and the first month of 2012 passed us by in a blur of annoying political ads, above average temperatures and boxes of Christmas decorations headed back to the attic. We all needed a little time to get our bearings in the New Year, but now the adjustment period is over and it’s time to get down to business.

If you spent all of 2011 saying that you were going to write a novel, but then coming up with a long list of excuses why that plan didn’t come to fruition, get ready to leave those excuses in the dust. We’ve put together five easy steps to not only setting your 2012 goals, but making sure that you see them through to completion.

Step 1 | Choose a long term goal.

For most of you, this should be simple: Write a book. You can be a little more specific and name your plot, characters, whether you want to complete just the first manuscript or actually make it to the publishing stage, but the overall endgame is to get a completed novel in your hands before the Mayan calendar runs out and we all turn to dust.

Step 2 | Fill in the gaps with short term goals.

Once you’ve set your long term goal, you need to establish a few short term goals to get from start to finish. These checkpoints can be really specific like creating outlines, character profiles, etc. or you can focus on the numbers and go for word count or chapter goals. The key is to put dates on each short-term goal to keep you focused (and ward off that pesky pest known as procrastination!).

Step 3 | Decide how you’re going to reach your goals.

Just because you set your goals doesn’t mean that all the pieces of your novel (and the time it will take to write it) are going to fall out of the sky. It’s a goal, not a wish. After you establish your goals, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to accomplish them. Deciding on your writing schedule is key. When will you find time to write? We’ve talked about this a lot in the past (including in our How NOT to Write a Book eCourse) so you should be an expert by now. Make your schedule, plan your writing times and set those keys on fire!

Step 4 | Share your goals with someone else.

This is a crucial step; everybody needs a little accountability to stay on track. Find someone you can share your goals with who will keep you honest and push you toward reaching your objectives. One important point of clarification: Pushing and nagging are not the same thing. You don’t want someone who’s going to harass you, but someone who will give you a swift (but soft) kick in the pants when you need it. If you don’t know someone, reach out to the Duolit community. We writers stick together and I’m sure you can find someone who would be happy to help!

Step 5 | Keep track of your progress.

Whether it’s a monthly blog post or a detailed writing journal, you’ll want to keep track of where you are in the process. If you had some setbacks, that’s okay, but talk about what they were and how you can avoid them in the future. If you met your goals, celebrate it! Every accomplishment along your path to success is worth a celebration.

Follow those five easy steps and you should not only be able to set your writing goals in 2012, but meet them!

Friendly reminder: Help us with some prompts!

If you missed our post on Monday, we are working to gather some weekly blog prompts to share with you guys. Our goal is to help everyone add valuable content to their blogs and generate more traffic for their blogs with weekly prompt link-ups, which will start in February. If you have prompt ideas (they can be about anything from creative writing prompts to basic profile questions to writing experiences) leave them in the comments on Monday’s blog. We’ll announce February’s prompts on Friday so if you have some ideas, please share them!

Later days,

– Shannon