Authors: Want Publishing Help? Get a Book Shepherd!

A Book Shepherd Will Help Save You Time, Money and Perhaps Even Your Sanity!

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Communications

At some point in the writing and publishing process most authors find themselves exasperated with all of the things that need to be done. This is one reason I recommend authors look into hiring a book shepherd. A book shepherd is someone whose expertise in books and publishing will help you through the entire book-crafting and selling process. Services include help with ghostwriting, editing, cover design, printing, distribution, marketing, seeking an agent, even dealing with Amazon! A book shepherd will assist you with your book from start to finish.

Sadly, I see authors make mistakes that a good book shepherd would have caught and changed. With all there is to know about the book publishing process, the constant flow of changes makes it extremely difficult to keep up with it all.  The guidance of someone experienced would be your greatest insurance policy to ensure your book is a success. It’s like hiring a guide to give you a tour of a foreign land. Would you rather read a guide book and do it yourself or hire a personal guide with special knowledge to show you?

Consider yourself fortunate if you can afford a book shepherd because it is well worth the money spent.

“Nothing detracts from good writing like bad editing,” says Debra Englander an experienced non-fiction editor and writer. “Submit your best work. Have it copy edited and proofread by a professional. Don’t ruin a potential relationship with an agent or publisher because of mistakes.” Debra Englander has extensive editorial experience including: reporting for Money, managing the Fortune Book Club and serving as editorial director at John Wiley for nearly 17 years. She currently works with authors on creating winning book proposals, editing manuscripts and content creation for online and print projects. I’ve known Debby for many years and she’s at the top of my list. Email her at: d_englander@yahoo.com and find out more at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/DebraEnglander

Mike Ball, an Erma Bombeck Award-winning author and syndicated columnist offers unique assistance to new authors from his position on the front lines of the publishing wars. “Writing, editing and publishing a book can be complicated, time-consuming and downright confusing,” says Ball. “I just helped out an author who got completely flummoxed by the forms Amazon threw at him. I understand it can be a daunting task for anyone. That’s why I am happy to assist authors in ghostwriting, editing and publishing.” Find Mike at http://writeittight.com

>>>>>>>> Read the rest of the article on The San Francisco Book Review:  http://bit.ly/Book-Shepherds 

Medium- A New Writing Tool For Authors

MEDIUM- New Tool For Authors

Medium- A New Writing Tool For Authors

 

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Communications

 

Walter Isaacson uses it. NY Times journalist David Carr uses it. Author Emily Gould, Journalist Ben Smith, and Entrepreneur Elon Musk use it too. What is it?

It’s a new site for authors called MEDIUM.

It was founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone in August 2012. On this exclusive site the authors post to a communal blog, then the site groups the posts together to create broad topics such as “Creative Writing” “On Publishing” and “Online Marketing.” https://medium.com/about/writing-in-medium-df8eac9f4a5e

The thought behind the interworking of Medium according to the founders, was to provide a place where the authors could write a post longer than 140 characters—Medium length content. Medium provides the “what you see is what you get” experience to provide the right amount of formatting. According to the website, you cannot change fonts, font color, font size. You can’t insert tables or use strikethrough or even underline. Here’s what you can do: bold, italics, subheads (two levels), links, lists, and block quotes. Anil Dash, cofounder of @thinkup and @activateinc said, “It’s true: Medium has the best web-based editor I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen them all.”

According to the media experts at Medium, “Notes are one of the best parts of Medium and useful for lots of things: They help improve writing. They add valuable supplementary information. They incorporate new viewpoints. They give meaningful feedback to those who write things. And they let people connect over ideas.” Excerpt examples of a note edit:Clip for MEDIUM article

The collaboration of ideas among others and readers is another main idea of Medium. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Steve Job’s biographer Walter Isaacson said,” My book was formed by being posted and allowing people to make edits.”

“While I was writing The Innovators I posted the chapter about software and received many ideas from people within the technology field. I like that there is a way to collaborate with books online, where the author is the curator and others could contribute their edits. In the end we would split the royalties,” said Isacson.  Isaacson is the bestselling author of the biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein and most recently Steve Jobs.

David Carr, Journalist for the New York Times spoke about his experience while using Medium and said, “The writing tool is intuitive enough to seem psychic. Just when you search for some function, it pops up out of the background. Medium’s most important feature may be all the stuff it leaves out, including endless options for sizing text or positioning pictures.”

Evan Williams, co-founder of Medium said, “Our goal is to make Medium the best platform possible for everyone to share great ideas or stories. This should certainly include those whose profession is doing so.”

The Bottom Line: MEDIUM, a site for serious collaboration and the verification of facts. Tap into the brainpower of MEDIUM, and allow others to comment on your not yet published work. It’s the perfect way to crowd source, fact check, and edit your work all while gaining insight from some of the best minds on any given topic.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.Book-Marketing-Expert.com   or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist

Authors: Turn to Kickstarter to Launch Your Book

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In Renaissance times and during other eras it was common for artists, sculptors and other creative people to recruit patrons and sponsors to fund their works so they could create masterpieces 

Today it also is important for creative people, such as writers, to recruit sponsors and patrons – not to help make a living but to promote their latest book in need of a boost to climb up the best-selling lists.without worrying about such trivial matters as making a living.

To take the greatest advantage of the technology of the 21st Century a tool some authors are turning to is Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com). Kickstarter is a virtual place where authors, musicians, app developers, inventors and others go to recruit people to support their creative project.

Based in New York City’s Lower East Side, Kickstarter is a for-profit company that exists to support creative projects (for a 5% fee against the funds collected) because they believe creative projects make for a better world. Since starting in 2009, five million people have pledged $826 million to fund 50,000 creative projects.

Project creators joining Kickstarter set a funding goal and deadline and if people like your project, they donate money to support it.  An author can use the money for publishing or distribution costs, to upgrade a better distributor, or to pay for the costs of the book promoter hired to give your book the push it needs.

One great thing an author can do is to give a free digital copy of his/her book to anyone making a contribution. This is a great way to promote your book by getting it into the hands of committed readers interested in your writings.

Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing policy that states you must reach your goal before receiving any money. But don’t let that be a concern because even if you don’t receive a penny you have the opportunity of placing your book into the hands of a few dozen or few hundred more readers and that’s a good thing.

While many authors have benefited from Kickstarter, a lot of the campaigns flat out failed, especially when the creative person tried to run their own campaign without first researching what works or without professional assistance.

As a book publicist I have been involved on both sides of a Kickstarter campaign and have seen firsthand how authors have used the platform to attain the funds needed to publish and promote a book. In one case one of my author clients funded a campaign to launch his book into outer space on a balloon. I kid you not! I have not had a single author share with me that the efforts put into Kickstarter were not worth their time. In fact, all of them gained from enrolling in Kickstarter in some form or another.

Author Andrew Peterson of Nashville, TN, used Kickstarter to recruit almost 1,300 supporters who pledged some $72,000 to support his book The Warden and the Wolf King, the fourth and final volume of the award winning Wingfeather Saga. The minimum bid for each supporter was $1.

When Peterson filed his project with Kickstarter his goal was to raise $14,000 to issue his latest book as a high-quality paperback and to deliver an early pre-release digital copy in time for Christmas sales. The author also promised supporters if he exceeded the goal of $14,000 he would add more illustrations to the book, if he exceeded $25,000 the book would be published in hardback, and if he exceeded $35,000 an audiobook version would be made available. All goals were met and exceeded.

In a video presentation Peterson explained where he was at in writing his book and what his hopes were before introducing the illustrator who would be used if $14,000-plus were raised. Peterson told listeners he always wanted to publish hardback but could not afford to and added that he would personally narrate an audio-version.

Author Harry Connolly of Seattle recruited almost 760 sponsors who have pledged more than $35,000 in the campaign for his book The Great Way, an epic fantasy trilogy about a supernatural invasion which  destroys an empire.

Connolly offered free sample chapters from the beginning of his book to anyone who makes a pledge and then offers a free copy of his trilogy to anyone pledging $30 or more if the 850 backer level is reached. He also promises free cover art for all three books to anyone pledging $12 or more if the 925 baker level is reached. And if the 1,000 backers or more level is reached anyone pledging $12 or more will receive an e-book copy, an upcoming short story collection Connolly will be releasing.

Supporters are told that the money raised in the campaign will be used to pay for the cover art, book illustrations, copy editing and typesetting costs, etc. “That will make the difference between a book created by a guy whose only real skill is telling stories and a book that has clearly been prepared by a team of professionals,” explains Connolly.

In his video on Kickstarter, Connolly tells readers that the first draft of the entire trilogy is written and that after he does a revision he will turn his writings over to an editor and designer. He explains his goal is to connect to a larger audience with The Great Way. He presents a plot summary of each book in the trilogy, explains that the trilogy started as a homeschool project with his son, what readers his book is intended for, and shares his writing standards. After explaining what the money raised will be used for, Connolly then explains what the reward levels are for different pledges.

“The real challenge here is the timing because 350,000 words is a lot to revise and it’s not something that can be rushed,” says Connolly. “I’ve selected a generous delivery date with the expectation that I will deliver early, but this work takes time.”

Liza F. Carter of Concord, MA, author of a photo book on Mongolia entitled Moving with the
Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family
, (www.MovingwiththeSeasons.com ) relied on both creativity and practicality in conducting a successful campaign on Kickstarter.

Because you can only collect money if you reach your goal, Carter began with a modest goal of $7,000 which she reached in just two days. She then added a “stretch goal” of $12,000 and raised $14,739 before adding a second stretch goal of $18,000, explaining that the extra funds raised would allow her to conduct a travelling photo exhibit.

Before posting her Kickstarter project, Carter studied the projects of others and learned from them. Every Kickstarter campaign that’s ever been done is still up on the website so there’s ample opportunity to learn from the good and the bad, from the mistakes and successes of others. In addition to the promotional video, her project page contained an informative map of Mongolia and stunning photographs of the people of Mongolia.

Part of that initial research involved viewing the promotional videos of others so she could create an effective, promotional video. Carter found that many were merely talking heads and were very boring because they were too long and lacked promotional elements. She designed her video to be only three minutes long and to include scenes from Mongolia rather than shots of herself.  Of the 2,237 people who clicked on her video, 17.2 per cent viewed it to the end.  Carter stressed that it is important to place your pitch in the first 10 seconds of the video to be successful.

Carter learned from Kickstarter that the average contribution is $20-$25 so one offer she made for pledges of $25 or more was a postcard from Mongolia with stamps from different parts of that country and 35 people accepted that offer. For larger pledges she offered 8×10 limited edition signed prints from her book as well as signed copies of her book.

Liza began her campaign by creating a Facebook page on the campaign with a link to Kickstarter, and then shared that page with friends. Facebook turned out to be an important part of her campaign as 37 percent of the money raised was from Facebook. Another 16 percent of the pledges were generated by Kickstarter from people she did not know, mainly because her project was a “staff pick” the entire time she was on Kickstarter.

“I sent a personal email right away thanking people for the donation,” says Carter. “It makes the people feel good and connected to the project. I am sure it helped maintain the momentum and spread to others who knew those people.” Some 15 percent of donors gave money without expecting anything in return and those donors she thanked personally on Facebook as well as by email.

Peterson, Connolly and Carter conducted successful Kickstarter campaigns because they:

  • Explained the reasons they were seeking the money
  • Came up with fun, unique and compelling offers to the funders for the cash they pledged
  • Understood the importance of a good video pitch
  • Promoted the program outside of Kickstarter with a solid public relations campaign

A very imaginative approach was taken by Celeste Headlee of Washington, D.C., who started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $92,000 to launch a National Public Radio show called Middle Ground. Celeste said that she turned to Kickstarter for support in her efforts to “launch a brand new public radio show focused on the states in between California and the eastern seaboard, ignoring the coasts. We hope to tell the stories that are largely ignored by the major networks while they focus on New York City, DC and LA.”

For various pledge levels, Headlee offers a CD of the pilot programs, a Middle Ground t-shirt, an outgoing voice mail greeting recorded by Celeste, webinars on how to conduct interviews, producer credits on the show’s website, on air mentions, a basket of foods from middle America, dinner with Celeste, or a personal visit by Celeste to your school, business or organization for a pledge of $10,000 or more.

Authors besides Headlee who have used very creative approaches in their Kickstarter campaigns include Gary W. Allison of Clarkston, MI, author of Bone Cay: Crime Thriller Book Project, who promised anyone who pledges $500 or more that he would name a character in his book after the donor. What a great way to raise $500 without any monetary costs to the author!

Author David Bergantino of Los Angeles promised anyone who pledged $400 or more that he would name a character in his book after the donor plus place a photograph of the donor on the cover of his book Afraid to Love.

Seth Godin of New York City, author of The Icarus Deception: Why Make Art, offered to interview anyone who pledges $1,150 or more and write a paragraph about them in all editions of his book.

Other ideas to attract pledges are for authors to offer:

  • Digital copies of your entire works if you have written three or more books
  • Autographed, limited edition copies
  • Free editing and critique of a donor’s draft writing
  • A free review of a donor’s published book
  • Your illustrator to draw an image of the donor to place in your book
  • An in-person meeting with the author for a formal English tea
  • Mention of the donor’s business with a testimonial given by a character in the book
  • A gourmet meal prepared by the author of a cookbook at the donor’s home
  • A free hot air balloon ride for two with this article’s author, Scott Lorenz to any Michigan resident donating $1,500 or more one to one of his clients

This is meant as a sampling of creative ideas authors can use to entice pledges from supporters. When one of my clients agrees to a Kickstarter campaign we will look at what offers should be made for a successful campaign, what pitches should be used, how to come up with an appealing video, and how to promote the campaign outside of Kickstarter.

Bottom Line: If you are an author who wants to be on the edge of the latest promotional tools then check out how Kickstarter can launch your book and its promotion.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com  or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist

 

Authors: Crowd Source Your Next Book Critique- New Service Does the Work

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I recently contacted several Amazon and GoodReads reviewers to obtain a blurb for the cover of a new book in a series. Most of the reviews were very complimentary but then I got one back that stopped me in my tracks. In that email the reviewer pointed out some flaws in both the writing and the cover. There was inconsistency in what the writer said and what the cover designer selected. Furthermore the reviewer pointed out that a couple of the characters were ‘formulaic’ and ‘underdeveloped.’ She mentioned a few other things but you get the point. And so did the writer, who thanked me and the reviewer for taking time to point out these flaws and gladly made the changes…before it was published.

The point? Imagine if you could get not one, not five but 50 people to read your book before it was published and give you some feedback? Would you want that? I know that most writers would jump at the opportunity.

Well, there is a new service offered by my friend Clark Covington that offers in effect a ‘crowd sourcing’ critique of your manuscript.

The service called ‘Collective Intel’ doesn’t shield you from the feedback, they encourage you to embrace it, and use it to get better. The service uses a simple equation to create the Collective Intel book score.

Here’s how it works: They’ll have 50 people read your book cover-to-cover. Who are these people? They are avid readers of books. Some are highly qualified editors, English Majors, proofers and even authors. They love to read books and they know a good one when they see one.

Then, they have each person fill out a ten question survey ranking satisfaction of each question. For example, on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate the rate the way the author wrote about the setting in the book? On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate the relatable nature of the characters in the book, 1 for you couldn’t understand who they were, and 10 for feeling like you’ve known them all your life?

Then they take your total score (out of 500) and divide it by 50 to get your mean book score, or Collective Intel score. You are then given a total score, and a breakdown of your scores by each question so you can see how you are performing in each area pertinent to being a great writer, like setting, plot, tempo, etc. If you have a collective intel overall score of a 9, you probably have a bestseller on your hands. Conversely if you’re a 3, it might be time to get back to the drawing board. This data is awesome for so many reasons, because it helps you break down what you do well, and what you need to work on, which as I’ve illustrated above is often totally out of sight to hardworking writers.

In addition to creating collective and Question-by-Question mean scores for your book, they also provide you with each survey individually, and the notes from each reviewer on what they liked and what they didn’t when it came to your book, and most importantly what they want you to work on.

Think of this service as the ultimate focus group, a way to get honest feedback on your book, learn to be a better writer, and understand your audience better.

Let’s face it, if you have your friends, family and workplace acquaintances read and comment on your book, are you really going to get the feedback you need to create a best-selling well rounded book? I don’t think so. That’s why this service sounds like it could really be a useful tool for all authors.

Learn more and sign up here

‘Become a Real Self Publisher’ by Michael N. Marcus is a Must Read For First Time Authors or New York Times Bestselling Authors

If you want the roadmap on how to become a successful author and publisher then “Become a Real Self-Publisher” by Michael N. Marcus is the book for you. In a pull-no-punches style Marcus cuts to the chase in the often confusing and treacherous book publishing and book marketing game.

As a writer and successful publisher of books for more than 30 years Marcus speaks from personal experience. He implores authors to become real publishers and not customers of vanity presses or companies that publish on demand which Marcus says does not exist. Why? Nobody publishes on demand; they “print” on demand, he says.

Marcus compares and contrasts publishing options including: LULU, Outskirts Press, Infinity Publishing, Amazon, Author House, Book Surge, Xlibris, Lightening Source and traditional publishing in a “no-holds- barred” approach. I find his approach refreshing because so many authors I speak to as a book publicist really need someone like Marcus, who has no hidden agenda, to tell it like it is.

Besides discussing the benefits and pitfalls about every type of publishing option in the marketplace, Marcus also offers tips on what to do if you get a bad review. Says Marcus, “Don’t let a bad review ruin your day or your life. Some reviewers have hidden agendas like working on a competing book.” Marcus points out that it is rare that 100% of a review is bad and that there are usually a few sentences that can be pulled for the purpose of helping you sell more books.

“Become a Real Self-Publisher” also includes a list of publishing terms authors need to know about such as: ARC (advance reader copy) and POD (print on demand ) …as well as places authors don’t want to see like the Slush Pile which is that place where unsolicited manuscripts end up awaiting an evaluation by a publisher or agent.

“Become a Real Self-Publisher” by Michael N. Marcus is a must read for all authors whether they are first time authors or on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s written in a serious but entertaining style with a little humor tossed in. I highly recommend it.

For more of my ‘favorite books on book marketing’ check out http://www.westwindcos.com/