Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Publishing Tips

Want To Be A Bestselling Author? ~ Don’t Read This Blog . . .


In fact, if you want to be a bestselling author, don’t read any blogs, don’t listen to any of the self-professed experts, don’t use social media, and don’t self-publish—just make a deal with the devil

There is no “path to success” as a writer.

There is no sure-fire way to sell lots of books.

Let me share some quotes from past posts to convince those who saw “Don’t Read This Blog . . .” and are still reading.

From Bad Advice for Writers = Most Advice for Writers:

“Someone is a writer and writes a book—no, wait—wants to write a book.

“That someone looks at the publishing landscape and realizes the intended years of effort to create the book could be followed by many more years of the book not selling, even if they self-publish, even if they spend every waking hour doing social media, even if they can afford to pay a publicist, even if they find a magician who specializes in spells woven ’round readers hearts

“Perhaps, to salvage the self-esteem of aspiring writers, there need to be other options than sales and money to keep their artistic boat afloat?”

I then go on to quote some of those options from electronic bindery.

From What Are A Writer’s Odds of “Success”?:

“Who made it seem success wasn’t merely the next stage, from which further action becomes possible, but rather a pinnacle of achievement that leaves all other contenders breathless on the sides of the conquered mountain? So, who did that? Businesspeople? Fundamentalist religious folk? Football coaches?”

“’Success’ comes from roots that mean ‘come close after’.

“Society has boosted its meaning to something like ‘beat all the odds…”

I share some interesting thoughts in that post from author William Dietrich.

From Lies Writers Tell Themselves (And, Each Other):

An article in grub street daily lists these lies:

1. You’re only a successful writer if you’re published by paying markets, such as the magazines that you can buy in Barnes & Noble.

2. You’re only a successful writer if you’ve published a book-length work with a big publishing house.

3. It is hard to write a book, but if it is good, you’ll easily get it published and earn money from the royalties.

4. If you don’t publish a book, you can’t write very well and you’re certainly not a professional.

5. If you’re not earning large amounts of money, you’re not successful in terms of your career.

6. If you self-publish, it means you aren’t talented and/or professional.

From What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?:

Tobias Buckell says:

“Making a living off art is hard.

“But that isn’t a sexy sell.

“That isn’t to say you should give up. Fuck that. But I am going to say: get ready to work, don’t expect riches. Focus hard on the art….

“There’s a lot of snake oil sales going on. And a lot of well meaning people who won the lottery telling everyone to go buy lottery tickets while financial advisors shake their head.

“Pretty much the same as its always been

“PS: this survivorship bias also works for writing advice about ‘how to write’ if you think about it

So

If you got hooked by that part of the title that said “Don’t Read This Blog” and you’re still reading, I do hope you’ll check out those past posts and read them—cure yourself of dreams of having a bestseller and get to work on your writing—Your Writing, not what you think will sell

And

If you do write a book that becomes a bestseller, make sure you live through the experience without selling your soul

Now, for a QuizWhat’s Wrong With This Video? ~ (While there’s certainly some interesting information and, possibly, even some “valuable” information in it, What’s Wrong With It ?)

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This may be the shortest post I’ve ever done; but, it has Great Depth—if you take this link :-)
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Author Interview ~ Lauren Elizabeth—Part Two


I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Lauren Elizabeth back in March, before she published her first book.

Here’s the post-publication interview :-)

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Lauren, how does it feel to be published?Author Lauren Elizabeth

Honestly pretty strange, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I have been working towards this goal for quite a few years and to now have it in my hands is a dream come true.

I just Love the pictures of you getting the first shipment of your book :-)

So, why did you write Looks of an Angel?

I always enjoy a good story. I wanted to share a story with the world, one that would make people laugh and cry. Also I enjoy escaping to another world where I write the rules and no one can tell me no.

That is a distinct advantage of being a writer :-)

But, Lauren, what was your life like before becoming a published author?

I was the quiet girl in the back of the room. I played sports and was active in clubs but nothing exciting that got me noticed.

What’s your life like now?

Changed, to say the least. I’m now constantly stopped in the hall and asked, “Are you that girl who wrote that book? Well, I loved it!” It gives me joy that I’ve given something to the world for people to enjoy. That’s why I write, to bring joy to others, not for the fame or the money.

Would you say your writing is “personal”?

Not personal where you’ll know my life story after reading Looks of an Angel but you’ll know my writing style and a piece of what is going through my mind.

Are there parts of the book based on experiences in your life or people you’ve met?

Not experiences themselves but more the emotion I felt during certain times of my life—it’s poured into my writing. As for people I’ve met, no, the characters aren’t based on people I know. Instead, on qualities I like or dislike in people.

When you name your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meanings?

When I name a character I try to choose a name that I’ve never heard before or at least a different spelling. Otherwise every time I think of that character I think of that person visually in my mind—for instance my main character Aly. I know many people named Aly but their name is spelled Allie or Ally. That one letter difference makes a difference in my mind allowing me to create my own character image.

Do you ever hear your characters “talking” in your head?

Yes, call me crazy but there were times I’d be writing and Aly would be yelling at me in my head :-)

So, Lauren, do you ever experience “writer’s block”?

Yes, in the middle of Looks of an Angel, I just couldn’t decide where to go from that point so I tried for a couple days to force it to happen, until I finally decided to just walk away from it and returned two weeks later to finish the novel.

What’s your favorite part of Looks of an Angel?

Got to say the last chapter, defiantly, it came to me in a dream and I love every bit of it. Looks of an Angel

What’s one important lesson you learned while publishing your novel?

Since I am only eighteen people think they can take advantage of me by trying to raise prices or treat me wrong. Although I did my research and was able to politely correct or refuse. Make sure you know what you’re doing so you don’t end up paying an arm and a leg for something that only costs maybe a finger.

Is there a message in your novel you want readers to discover?

Appearance isn’t everything—what’s inside is what really counts.

Cool :-)

What do you do when you are not writing, Lauren?

Well, being a senior in high school I spend most of my time in class and after school or on the weekends I: volunteer, hang with friends, do homework, read, participate in clubs and musicals.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on editing the sequel to Looks of an Angel and I’ve also started another novel.

Great to hear that! Write On :-)

So what advice do you have for someone who’d like to become a published writer?

Write what you know and love, otherwise you’ll end up forcing a story that wasn’t there to start with.

Lauren, thanks, very much, for coming back and doing your post-publication interview. See ya after your next publication, ok?

You bet, Alex :-)

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You can buy Looks of an Angel at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Here’s a sneak-peak:

“The Siren went off, the one for which they have trained us all our lives. Which meant… Invaders! I flipped around, breaking the number one rule—don’t hesitate—to see a hovership coming towards our planet…”

When Aly’s home planet Pluto is invaded, everything she’s ever worked for is put on the line. In the process of saving her not-so-much friend Matt, Aly is captured, taken by the Neptwainians to their home planet. She will have to fight to stay alive as they put her through a series of life-threatening tests

Also, visit Lauren’s blog :-)
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Publishing Wisdom From a Whippersnapper :-)


Just in case you’ve never heard the word “whippersnapper”, it means “a young and inexperienced person considered to be presumptuous or overconfident”.

I found one through Twitter—Jolina Petersheim.

Her status as a whippersnapper is her own judgement

Based on her personal definition, we have a few more of them in our Author Interviews and some aren’t all that young :-)

I’ve tried to be a whippersnapper many times in my life—almost got to be good at it—but I was destined to become a maverick.

Perhaps, some day, over a cup of tea, I’ll explain the fine distinctions between the two epithets

I found a video by Jolina called Publishing Wisdom From a Whippersnapper— her first novel is due out in 2013.

As you watch Jolina and her baby, listen carefully

This whippersnapper does have some words of wisdom:

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The Fears of Self-Publishing Are Still Hotly Swirling . . .


Those who blindly cling to the Traditional Model of publishing have a tendency to raise biased alarms when others show favor for Self-Publishing.

I saw an article on one of my favorite sites, Publetariat, called Why DIY Publishing is Not a Dead End [ DIY meaning Do It Yourself ].

It was a reprint from M. Louisa Locke’s post with the same title—Why DIY Publishing is Not a Dead End.

Ms. Locke was responding to a Porter Anderson piece, EXTRA ETHER: Will DIY Pay for R&D?, which was responding to a post from the Boston Phoenix called The dead end of DIY publishing.

If you want to feel the full force of the Hotly Swirling Fears that the phenomenon of Self-Publishing can induce, read all three articles.

I happen to have chosen Self-Publishing for my books and would need a very good lawyer looking over any offers I might receive from a traditional publisher.

There are valid reasons to choose traditional publishing but my posts here about Joe Konrath’s experience show why you should be extremely wary

But, to return to Ms. Locke’s post, here are a few excerpts:

“I am not going to argue that traditional publishing is dead, or that self-publishing is the best or only route for every author to take, but what I am going to do is give you my reasons why I don’t believe that self-publishing is a dead end.”

[In reference to the writer of the Boston Phoenix post] “Since she can’t prove her statement that self-publishing is unprofitable, she instead feels the need to insult those people who do it by suggesting that the authors don’t care if they make money because they ‘wouldn’t make a dime because no publisher would take them’, or that if they make money, it was only because they had the money to invest in the process because the ‘truth is self-publishing costs money.’”

[Taking her argument further…] “If she had either done her research or wanted to paint a balanced view of self-publishing surely she would have taken the time to interview one of the hundreds of self-published authors she could find on the internet (we blog incessantly about our experiences), and mentioned that Smashwords, Amazon’s KDP, and Barnes and Noble’s PubIt, and Amazon’s CreateSpace and Lightening Source have made it possible for authors to publish without that large initial investment.”

[One of her most persuasive points—made in response to the claim that traditional publishing nurtures new authors] “What I will argue is, that if we are discussing fiction, which Williamson seemed to be doing, the nurturing that authors need the most is a steady predictable income so that they don’t have to work full time at something else, and the research and development they need is marketing data that they can then use to develop new strategies for getting their work to the reader and getting that reader to buy their work.”

“I have every reason to expect that the two books I have published will continue to sell, and that as I publish more books, my income will go up. My traditionally published friends know that in most cases they will never make any money after the advance, and they have no guarantee that the next book they write will ever be published. Which vision of the future would you find more nurturing?”

If you’re a writer or know one, I urge you to read or recommend Ms. Locke’s full post

And, while clearly admitting that all self-published authors won’t necessarily make big bucks, I’ll quote a bit from Joe Konrath, to show the possibilities:

“One hundred grand [$100,000]. That’s how much I’ve made on Amazon in the last three weeks.

“This is just for my self-pubbed Kindle titles. It doesn’t include Shaken and Stirred, which were published by Amazon’s imprints. It doesn’t include any of my legacy sales, print or ebook. It doesn’t include audiobook sales. It doesn’t include sales from other platforms.

“This is from my self-pubbed books. The ones the Big 6 rejected.”

And, just to drive the point home, one more excerpt from Ms. Locke’s piece:

“Will some authors fail, or be disappointed? Of course. Will some of these experiments prove unsuccessful, certainly. But, without self-publishing these authors wouldn’t have gotten the chance to fail, and many others, like myself, a former academic in her sixties, wouldn’t have ever gotten the chance to succeed.”

Any comments, thoughts, feelings, or rebuttals?
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