Self-Publishing Guide for Beginners

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A short guide packed with information on how to get started with self-publishing your ebooks. Learn how to make your book available in Amazon's Kindle Store, find out how to get book reviews for your …

A short guide packed with information on how to get started with self-publishing your ebooks. Learn how to make your book available in Amazon's Kindle Store, find out how to get book reviews for your self-published ebooks and tons of other great tips for aspiring writers and authors alike.

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  • 1. Pitching Bloggers for a Book book to a blogger without reading their review policy completely, to make sure they accept books in yourReview - Best Practices genre and to avoid wasting your time and theirs byBy Ashly Lorenzana on August 24th, 2011 sending an inappropriate pitch. 3. Keep your email pitch brief, on-point and polite. This will give you the best chance of getting a reply that is all three of these things, whether they accept your book for review or not. Dont be overly promotional, do not be pushy and keep your book synopsis short and concise. Its best to leave out snippets from other reviews inAs a self-published author, Im quite aware of how few book your pitch. If youd like to include a link to a page onreview sites are willing to accept self-published titles for your site that contains recent press or media attentionreview. This is true both online and offline, unfortunately. your book has received, thats fine. But focus more onWhile some of the reasoning behind this is understandable, introducing yourself and giving a snapshot of whatI still find it frustrating. Sure, without any "gatekeepers," your book is about.to check for quality of writing, there is bound to be piles 4. Do not offer any incentive for a review, otherof utter shit in the vast realm of independently published than a free copy of your book. It is not consideredwriting. That is to be expected. But...hopefully no one is good faith to offer any incentives for a review, as thisshocked by this little secret: there are piles of utter shit in the can compromise the honesty and integrity of a reviewequally vast realm of traditionally published works, which your book receives. Bloggers are not likely to takestinks no less. kindly to any such offerings. The only thing you shouldIm afraid that aside from blatant illiteracy and nonsense most definitely offer them is a free review copy ofwriting, quality is as subjective today as it has ever been. your book, whether in print or ebook form. If you haveThe massive success of many recent authors whove self- both available, ask which they prefer. But be sure theypublished their previously rejected books has proven that, accept ebooks if you only have ebook copies, whichquite frankly, the gatekeepers are keeping the gates for no should be found in their review policy.one at all. There is now actual data showing that these books 5. If you get a "yes" response, dont startthat were turned down by major publishers, do indeed have emailing them or bugging them about whena readership that is very much alive. your review will be done. As you can imagine,So dont be discouraged. If youre really interested in finding these bloggers receive dozens of pitches each day, andsites that accept self-published titles for review, you can save yours is not going to come before the list of othersyourself some time searching high and low on the web by which theyve agreed to review. Its important toreading my previous post, which lists 5 review sites that be patient and grateful when they show interest inaccept self-published submissions. reviewing your book. They are busy people with lives, and they review books free of charge on their ownHowever, dont underestimate the value of book bloggers. free time, simply because they enjoy reading andYou may have overlooked this source of book reviews in the sharing their thoughts. If they give you a time framepursuit of more established and formal review sites. There for the review and that time has come and passed, itsare tons of bloggers who review books exclusively, many of acceptable to send a polite email simply asking themwhom have a long-standing blog/site with a loyal and wide what they think of your book so far, if theyve had aaudience. Reputable book bloggers have tons of value to chance to start reading it. Another acceptable form ofoffer the self-published author, and as far as accepting self- contact may be to comment on another recent reviewpublished titles for consideration, you tend to have better they posted to their blog, and to mention how you lookodds pitching a blogger than you do finding a review site. forward to hearing their thoughts on your own book in the near future. But otherwise, dont contact themHow to Pitch a Book Blogger again. Not all bloggers will finish your book or want to 1. Visit their blog and read a couple of their reviews, to review it once theyve read some of it. Just figure if they become familiar with their writing style and the type of havent communicated with you for some time and no books they review. Do they review a lot of paranormal review has been posted, they probably decided to pass fiction? If thats your genre, then this may be a good on your title. Dont take it personally, lots of bloggers fit. Take a few to get to know the blogger through their have a policy of not saying anything at all if there was writing, find out if it makes sense to approach them absolutely nothing they liked about a book. So in some with your pitch to begin with. cases, no review is better than an awful one! 2. Read their review policy, since this will determine Most of this stuff is pretty common sense for most people. if you have a chance or not. Dont ever pitch your Just use normal email etiquette and write a strong pitch. I 1
  • 2. have sent my pitch to several bloggers since publishing my important, because each reviewer and each blog has theirmemoir in November of 2010. Ive managed to get reviews own review policies and your genre may not be included onfrom blogs like LLBookReview, Literary R&R and a few some.others. Best of luck! Genre ConfirmationHow to Give Away Free ReviewCopies of Your Self-PublishedBook to Reviewers/BloggersBy Ashly Lorenzana on August 24th, 2011Are you interested in getting book reviews from bloggers andreview sites? Then youve made it to the perfect lens. Readon to find out how you can create a password-protected PDFfile of your eBook, along with a request form for reviewers.This lens assumes you have some basic knowledge of GoogleDocs/Forms, Dropbox & OpenOffice. Be sure to customize Step 3: The third page of my form asks the reviewer if theyyour own form, based on your books details. Best of luck! accept books that contain adult content, since mine has quiteCreate a Google Form a bit of mature themes. Specify Book Format Step 4: The fourth page of my form asks the reviewer to specify the format of their review copy (i.e. digital ebook or print copy)Step 1: The first page of my form asks for the reviewers Email and Websitesname and age, and confirms that they do in fact reviewbooks online somewhere.Blog Info Step 5: If a user selects "PDF ebook" from page 4 of my form, they are taken to the page shown above, which asks them for their email address and lets them select whichStep 2: The second page of my form asks for the name websites they post their reviews on in addition to their ownand URL of the reviewers blog. It also specifically asks if blog, if any.they review memoirs, since thats my book genre. This is 2
  • 3. Download Link • When the popup window appears, select the tab farthest to the right that says "Security" • Click the button that says "Set Open Password" • Choose a password for reviewers to access your book download Upload Your PDF to the Public Folder in DropboxStep 6: The next page of my form gives the reviewer a linkto copy and paste in their browser, which will take them toa protected PDF file which I uploaded to Dropbox. It alsoinforms them that the password to access this file will besent to the email address they provided on the previouspage.Thank You Message Step 1: Head on over to Dropbox and login. Once youre signed in, open your public folderand upload your password protected PDF file containing your book. Get Your LinkStep 7: After submitting my form, the reviewer sees themessage shown above, which thanks them and remindsthem to check their email for the password to the book file.Track Form Submissions Step 2: Once youve uploaded your book file, right click on it and select "Copy Public Link." Copy Link to Clipboard and Send Link toStep 8: View your form submissions in Google Docs, which Reviewerwill include the email addresses that have requested accessto your protected PDF.Open OfficeCreate a Password Protected PDF File Step 3: Hit the button that says "Copy to Clipboard" • Copy and paste the text of your book contents into a new document in OpenOffice • Go the "File" menu and select "Export as PDF" 3
  • 4. 5 Book Review Sites for Self- appreciated. Very cool gesture on their part to offer this to self-published authors.Published eBooks 2. Readers Favorite - This is another cool site thatBy Ashly Lorenzana on August 24th, 2011 offers reviews for indie authors, completely free of charge. To submit your title, you simply fill out a form on their site with all the info for your book, then either mail it in via snail mail or attach an ebook version before submitting the form. They state on their site that reviews typically take 10-12 weeks. They have over 50 genrecategories, and accept just about everything except for erotica and short stories. It took quite a while for my book to get a review, but eventually an email showed up in my inbox informingFinding reputable publications to review your self- me that my review had been posted. I dont knowpublished book is nearly impossible, but even finding which one of the reviewers on the site read my book,a book review blogger can be a challenge. This is but theirreview was very positive and they gave it fiveparticularly true if your genre is not among the more popular out of five stars, which I found rather flattering.in the book blogosphere. 3. LLBookReview - This is a great review site that hasIn my own personal experience, it was somewhat difficult been around for a few years and deals exclusivelyto find book bloggers who had a preference for (or even in self-published book reviews. This particularaccepted) memoirs for their review blogs. There seems site is more bloggish in nature, since you must contactto be tons of bloggers that enjoy YA, paranormal one of the reviewers to request a book review.romance, fantasy andgeneral fiction novels. As for However, I would consider it a review site even ifthe non-fiction reviewers, they seem mostly to deal their submission process is less automated than thewith business-related books or technical novels. previous two mentioned here. I contacted ShannonMemoir is sort of a unique genre since it is Yarbrough, one of the reviewers on the site, and hetechnically non-fiction (because it is a true account of was interested enough to give my book a read and postthings which actually happened) yet from the readers a thoughtful review. He gave my memoir three out ofstandpoint it is really no different than a work of fiction. It five stars, and wrote some very constructive feedbackis only real to the author and the other individuals who are in his review.a part of the story they have written. To anyone else, it might 4. Midwest Book Review - This site has a long historyas well be made up. and a solid reputation for book reviews, placing self-At any rate, I did manage to find a small handful of very published works before other titles. On every sitecool sites which allowauthors to submit their self- Ive visited which mentions MBR, it is regarded aspublished titles for review, then create a listing for one of the best reviewsources for independentany reviewer who is interested in reading it. While these authors. One downside, they only accept physicalsites do not guarantee areview, there seems to be a good copies of books. They require two copies sent bychance that your book will inspire some curiosity if youve mail in order to consider yourbook for review. Theycrafted it well. For each of the sites below, I will include any also do not guarantee that your book will receiveresponse I received as a result of submitting my book. areview, and their website states that approximately 1/3 of all titles submitted end up being reviewed. 1. Manic Readers - This is a cool community for authors Still, based on their reputation and their preference and writers, and they have an awesome section forself-published books, it is probably worth taking which is labeled the "Review Depot." After a chance with them. Be sure to send a cover letter and you have created an author account, navigate a press kit along with your two copies, since these are on over to this page where you can fill out the also requirements. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a details of your book (title, ISBN, etc.) and then chance to send my bookto the MBR, though I plan on choose which of their partner review sites you doing so in the future and will update this post when I would like to submit your book to. In addition to have more to share in the future. the reviewers on the ManicReaders site, there are 5. IndieReader - This is a relatively new site that reviews 11 other review siteslisted in the review depot. self-published books exclusively. So far, they have Each of these sites accepts different genres, so 181 reviews posted on their site. They accept both you may not be able to submit a request to all of hard copy and ebook submissions for review. I them, depending on your book genre. Again, none sent a submission to the email listed on their site and of these guarantee a review either. I submitted received a prompt response from a friendly lady named by bookfor review and probably a month later, one of Amy, who gladly listed my book for review. They of the reviewersfromManicReaders posted a review on course do not guarantee reviews for submitted titles the site. It was short, sweet and to the point. She gave either, and like the others on this list they state on my book three and a half out of five stars, which I their site that the window of time for reviews can vary 4
  • 5. substantially, due to the volume of submissions they shows, as well as invitations to public speaking events receive. The only thing Im unclear about is that they and book readings! recently placed a Paypal button on their submission 3. Brand yourself on the web as an author -There are page, which states that there is a $35 processing fee for tons of different ways to do this, but none of them each book, both physical copies and ebooks. This was are too difficult to put some effort into. Branding is a not there when I submitted my book, so Im not sure if process that takes place over time and is not something they are no longer offering free reviews. I will email you build overnight. The best place to start on a limited Amy when I have a chance, to find out if their free budget is social media websites that allow you to reviews are still available. create a personalized profile, especially social book communities that allow you to create author profiles.3 Ways to Promote Your New Be sure to add lots of interactive media to your profiles, including videos, audio files, photos and images, textEBook content, and other ways for users to participate andBy Ashly Lorenzana on August 24th, 2011 engage. Start a blog and write about things related to your eBooks. Buy a domain and design your own custom author website, and sell your eBook from your site as well as on other websites. Always read and respond to blog comments, give article marketing a try, pitch book bloggers to see if they will review your book and continue to explore the endless possibilities!If the idea of promoting your eBook puts you off in any way, How to Write a Quality Presshopefully you can afford a publicist or you can manage tofind a literary agent to represent you to major publishing Release - Article Marketplacehouses. Because unless you are lucky enough to be in August 24th, 2011one of those positions, the truth is that you will be solely The following list offers many examples of press releaseresponsible for your eBook marketing campaign. worthy situations. See if your news item is found somewhereYou may read that and think "But I dont know anything on this list, but if not then you may want to examine things aabout book marketing, Im just a writer!" or "I am going to little closer before deciding to write a press release.publish my eBook and will not need to promote it." Well Ihave good news and bad news for you... 1. Recent book or other publication • The good news is that you DO NOT need to have a 2. New product launch or major change to an existing background in any sort of marketing to effectively product market your eBook! 3. A significant corporate event • The bad news is that if you do nothing at all to spread 4. Charities and fundraisers the word about your book and promote it online, there 5. Recent collaboration or merger is almost no chance that you will sell more than a handful of copies. 6. Corporate blog launch 7. Free giveaway, contest or other competitionOverwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Lets start with thebasics and run through the top 3 ways to promote your new 8. Share recent statistics from a consumer reporteBook using the internet. 9. Welcoming recently hired employee or announce existing employee promotion 1. Hold a Free eBook Giveaway Contest - This is a great way to get your new eBook in front of new readers. Now, lets go over the fundamental elements of an effective The benefits of doing this are many (gain new readers press release, as well as how to format each of them. and fans, get book reviews, title listed with other books being given away) and there are sites that will let you The Headline or Summary start one of these contests at no charge! The headline of a press release is arguably the most crucial 2. Write and Distribute a Press/News Release -Do a part, since it will determine whether or not a person reads it. little homework on the proper formatting and writing Press release headlines should pack a strong punch --- you tone for news releases to the media and practice must grab the readers attention with your headline, and not writing a couple. After youve done this, craft a killer waste any time in doing so. Eye-tracking studies have shown press release announcing your book release and use that website visitors tend to focus on only the first few words a combination of paid and free services online to of a headline, when scanning over reading material. distribute it online. Make sure that your press release grabs the readers attention! This is a great way to get requests for interviews on news programs and radio 5
  • 6. The Lead The following list are the top questions that most first time self-published authors have on their minds after reading that:The next part of a press release is the lead, which needsto answer the following questions: "who?" "what?" "where?" "How do I get attention for my book?""when?" and "how?" (and sometimes "why" also). This should This first question is very broad. This can depend a lot onprovide the most important information regarding your piece what your particular subject and format actually are. Forof news, since many readers will only scan over the first example, if youre promoting a self-published ebook then youparagraph, without reading the release all the way through. will probably want to devote most of your marketing efforts toJournalists will also be skimming many different news releases online ventures. For print books, in person events and touringeach day, so its important to answer the essential questions may be better options.right off the bat. "How much does it typically cost to get myThe Body book noticed?"The body of a press release should expand on the pointsmentioned in the lead. It typically consists of 2-4 paragraphs The answer to this will vary significantly depending on wherethat offer additional information about your piece of news. Use you are featuring your book. To be honest with you, online buzzthe body as an opportunity to illustrate a real life situation or and attention from the media should never cost you anything.example that helps bring your story to life. These things should be free, because the organization or person hosting your book has decided it is noteworthy enoughThe Boilerplate to create an engaging story which will mutually benefit them as well as yourself. The only thing which is really worth payingThe last part of a press release is the boilerplate. Think of this for to promote your book (in my opinion) is press releaseas the "about us" section for your company or the organization distribution. You should definitely start out your marketingbehind the news story. This section should be labeled "about" plan with a concise news/press release and pay a professionaland should generally be a short paragraph, usually 4 or 5 company to distribute news about your book to media outlets.sentences. This usually has surprisingly positive results, but only if your story is captivating enough to catch peoples attention andGetting Your Book Noticed your press release was written sharply and to the point. Never pay to have your book reviewed!- How to Promote a Self-Published Book - Article "Who should I approach for promotion opportunities?"Marketplace The answer to this will be specific to the type of book youAugust 24th, 2011 have written, but there are some general answers that will help all authors. First and foremost, connect with other writers and authors! Network with your contacts and grow your social network to find new opportunities. Think of any organizations, clubs, associations or businesses that might be interested in the subject of your book/writing. That can be a great way to land a public speaking opportunity, or snag an invitation to do a book reading. Book bloggers are a great source of attention for books online also. Always be sure to read their review policy thoroughly before contacting them to pitch your book to them. Make sure they accept your genre and then write themSelf-publishing a book is not easy. On the contrary, its a personalized email with a brief synopsis of your books plot,rather difficult and overwhelming. You are totally in charge and a polite request for a spot on their to-read and reviewof designing an attractive and professional looking cover list. Find websites, podcast shows, online radio shows, localdesign, making sure that your books interior layout is likewise newspaper columnists and pitch your book to them also. Justprofessional and up to the industry standards, you must always remember to make sure you are sending your pitch toedit and proofread your book extensively to ensure proper the correct person.grammar and spelling, and most of all, you have to write a As you can imagine, these few questions are just the tip ofgreat story about your topic! After this lengthy process, most the iceberg when it comes to marketing your self-publishedauthors will find themselves exhausted and ready for a break. book. However, try all of the ideas discussed here and you willWell, it doesnt come just yet. Now you will need to put all have made considerable progress in gaining some publicityof your efforts and energies into one thing: promoting your and exposure for your new book. Best of luck to everyone!new book. Unless you have the money to hire a publicist ora marketing firm, youre on your own here too. Try not to bediscouraged by this news, since the internet is such a breedingground for opportunity and Im happy to tell you there areendless ways to generate buzz for your book. 6