Positive Authorship

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock

POSITIVE MARKETING

Authors, would you like to:

  • Put more readers in a good mood for your book.
  • Attract a more positive audience.
  • Make a powerful impression as an author.
  • Enjoy authorship.
  • Feel productive, creative, and energized.
  • Be part of a happier, more supportive ambiance.

The answer is simple: Foster positivity.

  • What better way to attract positive readers than to show yourself as happy in your role as author?
  • Positive people, likely to be in a good mood shortly after discovering your book through your marketing—will those people be attracted to authors who themselves radiate positivity, or will they want to read books by authors who complain, criticize, or show their frustration?
  • If you can be a rare author who handles all the struggles of authorship—from critical reviews to slow sales to technical computer challenges—with a positive, uplifting personality, more than helping to brand you as a professional author, you may even stand out as extraordinary—the kind of person other people want to surround themselves with because your presence makes their lives seem better.
  • Don’t you feel better yourself when you spread positivity among others? A smile goes a long way—so far that it comes all the way back around to you.
  • Do you feel more productive, energized, and creative when you’re complaining, criticizing, or feeling frustrated, or when you have a positive outlook?
  • Help bring about success by being positive about the future and making the most of what may come. The path to success starts by visualizing it. Negativity steers the course towards failure.
  • Spread positivity toward others and you may find yourself part of a happier, more supportive ambiance.
  • Surround yourself with positivity, and strive to bring out the best in any situation.
  • Don’t let ’em bring you down.

But carrying this out can be challenge. Especially for authors.

  • Writers can’t escape criticism. Even the best writing has its critics. Check out your favorite popular author and you may be amazed to see one-star reviews tearing your favorite popular books apart. People have many different opinions. No book can please everyone. The challenge is learning how to deal with it, and not letting it affect you negatively.
  • Editors are in the habit of identifying what’s wrong. That’s their job: find the mistakes. When we self-edit, we adopt this mindset. After several hours, we get into a critical, what’s-wrong with-this mindset. As writers, we interact with professional editors, who spend most of their time finding faults in writing. That critical nature sometimes spreads into the lives of writers, through personal interactions or on writing or publishing discussion forums.
  • One way to succeed as an author is to think of how to write a better book. You see what’s already on the market. You try to do something that you believe is better. A danger in this is carrying this too far, into the I’m-better-than-you mentality. Remember, just because you think your idea is better in some way doesn’t mean that (a) it’s better in all ways or that (b) everyone else will agree that it’s better. Maybe ‘better’ is the wrong word. You’re providing an alternative. Your idea caters to a new audience.
  • Authors have to deal with jealousy. Imagine working hard for years. You’ve studied, you’ve learned much about writing and publishing. You’ve written several books. You’ve poured so much time into it. Then you see other authors who seem to find easy, early success. Doing many of the things you’ve come to learn are ‘mistakes.’ Wouldn’t you feel jealous? Many authors do feel jealous, and they act on it, spreading negativity as a result.
  • Different authors have different beliefs and opinions, which sometimes clash. Some authors feel strongly about KDP Select, for it or against it. Some authors feel strongly that there are too many short works, while obviously those who thrive on short works feel quite defensive when others express views against short works. There are many strong debates in the publishing industry. Just imagine how much more (or how much better) we, collectively, could write if so much of our energy weren’t zapped into these whirlpools of opinion.
  • Sales fluctuate, so no matter how good your sales are, you’ll go through some valleys. And when you start out, sales tend to start out slow. Things can get very slow. It’s one more thing you can feel frustrated about.
  • Self-published authors encounter frustrating formatting issues. All authors encounter frustrating technology issues, like possible data loss (have you backed up your files lately?).
  • The publishing industry is constantly changing. This makes many writers very anxious about the future. Combine this with anxiety over sales, reviews, and everything else, and writing is an anxious lifestyle. But you can learn to accept and deal with that.

But authorship shouldn’t be a challenge:

  • We write because we enjoy it, right? So enjoy writing.
  • Force yourself to see the fun in storytelling, character development, researching something new, trying out a different genre, exploring where an idea takes you, and the many other things that make writing so much fun.
  • Train yourself to respond positively to all the negative triggers, like criticism or rants from other people, recognizing the negativity and replacing it with thoughts of things that make writing fun.
  • Exercise and a healthy diet may help you deal with stress better. Some exercise may be in order if you’re spending much time in a chair writing. More sunlight may help, too. Interact with real people, in the flesh. Mixing your life with your writing life is a difficult balancing act.
  • If you focus on the negative, you can always find some reason to be unhappy. Either sales are slow, or you heard some criticism, or you hear others complaining, or some change in the publishing industry has you anxious, etc. There is always something. However, if you focus on the positive, you can always find some reason to be happy. It’s a conscious choice. You can find the positive if you train yourself to search for it. If nothing else, you enjoy writing, right? (If not, maybe that’s the problem.)

Foster a positive ambiance not only for yourself, but also for:

  • your readers
  • new readers you’re trying to attract through marketing
  • current fans going to check you out online
  • fellow writers part of your online circles
  • your social media reach
  • yourself, as the positivity you spread often comes back to you

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

How do you know if your website is Mobile-Friendly?

Image on right-hand side from ShutterStock.

Image on right-hand side from ShutterStock.

GOOGLE’S MOBILE-FRIENDLY TEST

As of Tuesday, April 21, 2015, mobile search results on Google favor mobile-friendly websites.

Do you want to know if your WordPress (or other) website is mobile-friendly?

Google has a simple test for this:

If Google says, “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly,” you’re in good shape. Congratulations! You should buy a t-shirt that says, “I survived Mobigeddon!”

Most WordPress blogs are probably mobile-friendly. If you’re using an outdated WordPress theme, that could be an issue. If so, check out this WordPress article.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly and it’s not due to an outdated WordPress theme, try exploring the resources on Google’s mobile-friendly test page.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Audio Book: Reach Ears as well as Eyes

Wacky Stories cover designed by Melissa Stevens at www.theillustratedauthor.net. Side images from ShutterStock.

Wacky Stories cover designed by Melissa Stevens at http://www.theillustratedauthor.net. Side images from ShutterStock.

CREATE AN AUDIO BOOK

There are 27 million paperback books on Amazon.com, 9 million hardcovers, and 3 million Kindle e-books.

But there are only 180,000 audio books on Amazon.com. The audio book market has much better odds.

You can publish an audio book even through self-publishing. Amazon lets you publish an audio book through the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), which makes your audio book available on:

There is a market for audio books. Many truck drivers enjoy listening to audio books on long trips. They’re great for anyone taking a long trip (even kids). But they’re not just for trips. Anytime you’d just like to relax and enjoy having a book read to you. Or you could even read and listen together (check out Amazon’s Whispersync—you need an unabridged audio book with a nearly perfect sync rate for your book to be eligible for this feature). And there are yet other reasons that many audio book customers enjoy listening to books.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

I recently got involved in the audio book development process. Author Julie Harper wanted to create an audio book for her new Wacky Stories collection. I was fortunate to be able to get involved in the process and get a firsthand look. The experience was amazing, so much that now I’m thinking of which of my books might be a good fit for this.

You start out by visiting the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX):

http://acx.com

Log in with your Amazon account. (Wondering which one? Well, you should only have one. You can use the same account as a customer, at KDP, and even at Author Central. But if you didn’t, well, I guess you have to choose.)

Then you need to find a book that you’ve already published and is already available at Amazon. (For example, you can find this option from Projects > Open for Auditions > Assert more titles.) The title of your audio book will be the same as the title of the edition already published (in print or Kindle).

You can hire a narrator, try to sell the audio rights to your book, or narrate your own story (you’ll need sufficient equipment or access to a studio). Julie took the option to find and hire a narrator for her Wacky Stories, and it worked out far better than we were expecting.

Find a narrator by holding an audition at ACX. You need to provide a small excerpt from your book to serve as the audition script. Julie uploaded the first story of her Wacky Stories book for the audition. It’s a children’s story with animal noises (like “Moooo” and “cock-a-doodle-doo”). The narrators seemed to have some fun with this in the auditions. It was pretty cool listening to their performances.

The financial aspect of hiring a narrator includes two options:

  • Offer 50% of your audio book royalties, paying nothing up front.
  • Offer a fixed fee, payable upon completion of your audio book and before your audio book is available for sale.

There is no guarantee that you’ll sell any books. So if you wish to offer 50% royalties instead of a fixed fee, it may help if you can provide compelling reasons to believe that your audio book will sell. Note that the narrators will see your current Amazon.com sales rank when they find your book, so if your sales rank is in the millions, 50% of the audio book royalties may not sound like much. If your Kindle or print edition is currently a hot seller with many reviews, these are worth mentioning in the Additional Comments field. If you have a large following online, quote these numbers, too.

Julie selected the option to pay a fixed fee up front instead of 50% royalties. This is less risky for the narrator (but instead places the risk with the author). Julie’s Wacky Stories book is short enough (the reading time is 33 minutes) that it didn’t cost too much to produce the audio book. If you have a long book that would translate to several hours of reading time, a flat rate can get pretty expensive. You pay per finished hour (PFH). You offer a range of PFH’s when you make your audition available. Once you receive auditions, you can make a specific offer and negotiate the terms of the contract.

ACX pays a 40% royalty on the audio book list price if you distribute your audio book only through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. ACX sets the list price. If you offered 50% of your audio book royalties to the narrator, you’ll effectively receive 20% royalties on your audio book sales. (If you know of other audio book distributors and have plans for significant sales through other outlets, in order to widen your distribution beyond Amazon, Audible, and iTunes, the royalty would be 25% instead of 40%.)

AUDITIONS AND PRODUCTION

I was able to listen to the auditions for Julie Harper’s Wacky Stories audio book, and was really impressed with the performances.

Julie made her audition available late in the evening. There were already 3 performances for that audition later the same evening.

And they were all amazing. Any of the narrators would have worked very well. They were actually better than we had imagined. This made Julie’s decision very difficult.

She selected Michael Pauley as the narrator, and was quite pleased with the production. I’ve listened to the Wacky Stories audio book, and I love Michael Pauley’s narration.

You can check out a free sample here (it’s fun to listen to):

Once you offer a contract and it’s accepted, the narrator produces a sample chapter, and once you’re satisfied with that, the narrator completes the entire audio book (the deadlines for each are specified in the contract when you make your offer).

Be sure to set aside time in your own schedule when you begin the process. You’ll need time to listen to the audio book carefully when you receive it.

Once you’re happy with the audio book, you submit payment to the narrator directly (e.g. with PayPal; that’s between you and the narrator, and something you should work out in advance). Unless you picked the option to split the audio book royalties 50/50.

The narrator tells ACX when payment is received. Then it takes a few weeks for your audio book to become available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes.

Michael Pauley

Michael Pauley narrated Julie Harper’s Wacky Stories audio book.

He has an impressive resume in theatre: http://www.michaelpauley.info/resume.html.

Here is his ACX page: https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=AKV8NSYEMQHEK.

Find audio books that he has narrated on Audible.com.

Julie Harper

Julie Harper is the author of a popular series of handwriting workbooks.

Here is her Author Central page at Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/julieharper.

Check out her author website: http://wackysentences.com.

Her Wacky Stories audio book can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W5PJIVU.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

And the Current #1 Bestseller on Amazon Is…

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock

AMAZON BESTSELLER

Go ahead. Guess.

What kind of book do you think is currently the number one bestseller on Amazon?

  • Romance novel? Nope.
  • Fantasy novel? Nuh uh.
  • A short story? Wrong.
  • Children’s book? No.
  • How-to guide? Wrong again.
  • Suspense thriller? Not even close.

Among print books,

the number one bestseller on Amazon,

presently,

first of all is

out of stock

and,

secondly,

(would you believe?)

is

a

coloring book

(no, children’s book is still wrong!)

for

adults.

That’s right:

The bestselling book on Amazon right now is a coloring book for adults.

 

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford.

But that doesn’t mean you should rush to publish one.

I typed in “adult coloring books” in the Amazon search and it pulled up nearly 2000 matches in books.

As usual, you need to deliver good content and market effectively to stand out from the crowd.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Infinite Feedback Loop in PhotoShop

Infinite Loop 4

Infinity and background images from ShutterStock.

 

HOW TO CREATE AN INFINITE FEEDBACK LOOP IN PHOTOSHOP

In photography, you can display a camera’s image on a monitor and point the camera at the monitor to create an infinite feedback loop.

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

There is a simple way to create this effect in PhotoShop.

Let me illustrate this by showing how I created the image for this post.

I began with a simple image in PhotoShop, consisting of a background image, a foreground image, a tablet, and a line of text.

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

I saved this as a PhotoShop file in PSD format and then created a PNG image of it as well.

Next, I opened the PNG file and resized it to match the screen size of the tablet.

In my version of PhotoShop (I have the Creative Cloud), I used Select > All and Edit > Copy to copy the image, and then I switched windows to my PSD file. I used Edit > Paste to insert the PNG image into the PSD file, and positioned it to fit on the screen.

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

My original image was 1024 pixels wide. The tablet’s screen size in the original image is 340 pixels wide. The ratio is 0.332.

Multiply 340 by 0.332 to get 113. The next PNG image needs to be scaled to 113 pixels wide. Copy and paste that image into the PSD file to add another loop to the picture.

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

Repeat these steps (multiplying by the same ratio; in my example, the ratio is 0.332) until you can’t tell with your eye that the feedback loop isn’t ‘infinite.’

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Readers & Authors: Check out Kindle Scout

ReadTuesday

Image from ShutterStock Image from ShutterStock

KINDLE SCOUT

Amazon recently launched a new program called Kindle Scout.

It’s a new publishing program that involves reader input. (Currently available in the US.)

It’s a form of publishing, not self-publishing, but unlike traditional publishing:

  • $1500 advance and 50% royalties
  • Reader voting impacts consideration
  • Looking for new, copy-edited manuscripts
  • It helps to have a good cover

There is a reward for readers to get involved, too:

  • Free book. If you vote on a book that gets selected for publishing, you receive an early copy free.
  • You can vote on up to three books at a time.
  • Read a short sample to judge which books to vote for.

Note that voting doesn’t quite determine which books get published. Voting determines which books get considered.

Authors need the votes. You’re basically showing that you have some basic marketing skills to put a following together. But the votes only…

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