How To Find Buyers for Your Book

Books usually don’t sell themselves.

All the time you spend writing, rewriting and editing your book can result in little more than a few hundred dusty copies in the attic if you don’t put yourself on the map (and stay there).

Authors are small business owners.

Being an author is a busines. It requires a plan, forecasts and an excellent marketing strategy. Questions such as:

  • Who am I writing for (or to)?
  • Are they likely to read my book?
  • Where do they spend their time now?
  • How and where do they socialize?
  • Does reading play a big role in their lives?
  • How much do they value a good book?
  • Would they prefer other mediums, such as ebooks or audiobooks?

These questions and others are crucial to the success of your book. Of course, you could get lucky and become a bestseller overnight with minimal effort. But I wouldn’t count on that happening.

Getting to any level of success with your book usually requires dedication, commitment and, hard work. Depending on your answers to those questions, you may or may not be surprised that your book has not created the buzz you thought it would.

Promote yourself every day.

If you use social media, you know how quickly information comes and goes. Unless you save that thing you liked, you will lose it forever (or spend hours going through your feed to find it).

How have you promoted in the past? Did you post only a couple of times a week? Did you share a simple link to your author page, or did you add an irresistible reason for anyone to care? Did you show your audience how your book is relevant to them?

People usually have no idea what they need until you tell them. So tell them. Constantly.

Build up anticipation

Ever wonder why event tickets sell out so quickly? The coordinators spend months creating hype and advertising ticket sale dates. They use strategies such as lower prices for the first batch of buyers up to a certain date or number to get that sales ball rolling. People like to be first, and so there is a rush of people trying to be the first to get their tickets.

Start promoting your book before it’s complete. Join groups and get involved with what’s going on with others and their projects before promoting yours. Once you are more of a regular member, share what you are working on and ask for reactions. See how people feel. Share your ups and downs with your writing. 

You can even start an author blog detailing your progress and moods as you write. People love to hear other people open up about the “behind the scenes” aspects of their work and thwyay follow you just to see what happens next. You become the living story that leads them to buy the book you’re writing.

Being an author is rarely a matter of dropping a title and watching the dollars roll in. It has to become a way of life and something you are always marketing.

Don’t expect your book to sell itself. You may get lucky, and you might not. It is up to you to let people know what you have to say.

You Haven’t Tried This Cure for Writer’s Block Yet

It happens at least once to every writer: that awful moment where you take a walk to the bathroom, splash your face with water and scream, but you still have nothing to write.

Listen, it’s normal. All writers go through this at one time or another. Anyone who has to come up with content regularly especially feels the pinch. You can’t have weeks and months rolling by with nothing posted when others rely on you for fresh perspectives. So, the stress piles on. 

I am no stranger to writer’s block myself. There are a million reasons why it hits. Life gets busy. You lose interest in your usual genre. Maybe you are becoming repetitive.

During times when I can’t think of anything to say for myself, sometimes coming to someone else’s rescue gets me right out of the writing slump. However, there is another option that many writers don’t think about.

Join Quora.

It’s a network of people asking questions on every topic imaginable. You would be amazed how much inspiration you can glean from this. Join the network and pick questions that interest you and write your piece using that question as your thesis (the statement to be discussed, proved, supported, etc). You don’t have to use the question directly in your piece (and probably shouldn’t). Just use it as fuel for your dying inspiration fire.

Another factor could be that you may need to change genres. Writing the same kind of thing all the time might strain one part of your brain and leave another to grow weak. I am no scientist, so I couldn’t tell you exactly what is happening up in your noggin’ but I am pretty sure that doing too much of one thing never ended well for anyone.

When you don’t feel like writing, take a moment to close your eyes and meditate. Allow your inner self to slowly open up and tell the conscious you what is wrong. By taking the time to look inside, you will be able to find the source of your writing block.

You may not be able to fix it overnight, but the first step to fixing any problem is to find the root cause. Once you do, you can find the right cure.

How to Organize Your Book Content

Are you the kind of person who will write the ending of your story long before you’ve figured out what comes first? Yeah, I know that feeling. That’s okay if you’ve been writing for a while and are comfortable with working backwards.

But what if you’re new? You might not so do so well jumping all over the map. How can you organize your thoughts and ideas so you’ll be able to write your book more easily? Putting some method into your madness will go a long way in the book writing process.

Let’s look at a few ways you can stay on track and get through to the end of your draft. 

You will need:

  1. a sheet of paper
  2. a pen
  3. about 30 minutes

What are you writing about? (10 minutes)

Suppose you want to write about baking. There are a million approaches you could take. Are you going to write about baking in general, vegan baking, or baking for people who have had to go gluten-free? Ask yourself what you’re most passionate about and make a list.

The possibilities are endless, but your time and patience aren’t. Take five minutes and jot down all the aspects of your topic that you know the most about. Don’t think about it too much. If you’d feel comfortable teaching it to someone who doesn’t know jack about it, then write it down. 

Once you have that down, then take the remaining 5 minutes to narrow that list down to a few things you definitely want to cover in the book. Now you have your theme and the beginnings of chapter divisions.

How many chapters and how long? (10 minutes)

You have your list of things to cover and they’re all under one theme, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Now, you need to structure the chapters. Should they be long or short? Go to the library and flip through some books similar to the one you want to write. Make note of how those authors handled it and keep it similar (unless you want to strike out and try something new).

Look at your list of topics and break them down into subtopics. Give each a name and label it as a chapter. Take another 5 minutes to arrange them all in an order you like. Figure out which ones should come naturally after the other. Then, set deadlines for each one, so you can push yourself to write the content consistently towards your goal. 

What’s your style (10 minutes)?

How do you write? Are you bubbly or stoic? Technical or down-to-earth? Academic or opinionated? Long-winded, or short and sweet? There are so many styles and yours is unique to you. I can guarantee you that nobody writes exactly the way you do, so look within and get to know what your style is. 

A good way to figure this out is to free-write for a bit. Don’t try to make your writing sound like anyone else’s, just write whatever goes through your head. Let it flow from your brain to your fingers. Don’t censor, don’t adjust, don’t edit. Just write. Get a few pages down, and then read it over. You’ll get a pretty good idea of what your style is. It’s should sound like you in your head.

Once you’ve figured this out, you can go on to ask these questions:

  1. who am I writing to,
  2. what personality do they tend to have,
  3. how do they already view or feel about topic, and
  4. will I stick to norms or challenge the way the topic is viewed?

Not everyone will like the style you choose to write in, so take some time to  think about the people who will want to read your book. Picture them; get in their heads.  Then, using your style, write to them. Once you’ve decided on your theme, main points and recognized your style, you will have the why, what and how that you need to put your message in writing and create a manuscript.

So, in a nutshell…

How do you organize a book? Figure out what the point of your book is. Narrow it down a  list of subtopics you want to touch on. Turn these subtopics into chapter titles and rearrange them until you like how they flow. Finally, think about who you are writing to and how your writing style will affect them. Don’t get bogged down in the little things, like what margins to use or whether to hire and illustrator down the road. All of that comes later. Just ignore the distractions and then write. Open your word processor and let those words flow from your soul to the page. Don’t edit, don’t overthink; just write

How Many Edits Should Your Book Draft Get?

It would be a shame to open your newly published book and find errors on every other page. Yet, it happens more often than you think and many authors wish they had spent a little more time on the editing phase of publishing than they did. 

Now, it’s true—you might not escape a missing comma or two—but you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to share your book with readers, family and friends once it’s out and ready for a signing.

You can avoid this by making sure that your book has been properly edited before it ever gets to a printer. Editing it once isn’t enough, no matter how sure you are that you caught everything. Although I will never say that it is impossible to edit your own book draft, it is certainly difficult and you’re likely to miss things that your eyes got used to.

I can’t remember where I saw it, but I once read that the reason why it is hard to edit your own work is because your brain knows what should be there—and it goes ahead and fills it in for you. The problem is…nothing happened on the actual page. You saw what you wanted to see.

Annoying, right? Well, thankfully, there are a number of ways to make your draft as clean as possible without breaking the bank.

Get yourself an alpha reader

Have you heard of an alpha reader before? They aren’t talked about as often as beta-readers are, but they can be very helpful once you’ve completed your very first rough draft. They will ignore most of the spelling and grammar errors and get right to the heart of the story, telling you where it feels weak and where it’s strong. It’s best if your alpha reader is a fellow writer (preferably a bit experienced) as they will know where you’re coming from and can help you flesh out and structure your book from a writer’s standpoint. Alpha readers volunteer their time, so this form of review and editing won’t cost you more than a few emails and maybe a cup of coffee if you meet one in a local writer’s group.

Seek out beta-readers

If you spend any time at all on Writing Twitter, you’ve probably seen the term beta-reader thrown around quite a bit. Beta-readers are people who test read your draft, similar to volunteers for market research and taste-tasting studies. They aren’t paid to do this, so finding a few won’t put a dent in your saving account (especially great when you’re working with a tight budget). Though they usually aren’t professional editors, they are a sample of the everyday readers who will eventually enjoy your book. They can pick up on glaring typos, awkward sounding sentences, and plot holes (or inaccuracies) that you might miss in your own review. They will also give you a feel for how a broader selection of readers might react to your book. This will save you a lot of heartache when approaching agents and publishers with your draft. If your beta-readers didn’t like it, then it’s unlikely to get you much more than a pile of rejection letters (though, one can always hope for the best)!

The feedback you receive from helpful beta readers can help you to improve your draft in ways that would make you cry if you had to pay for all of them. So don’t skip this phase: the criticisms may hurt, but they’re worth it if it means you can produce a book worthy of the name.

Hire a content / copy / line editor

Wait! What’s all this? There are different types of editors? That’s absolutely right. I don’t mean to make things complicated, but you’ll have an easier time of it if you know what kind of editor to actually hire for your draft. This is where you have to fork out a few dimes, so let’s talk about these options so you’ll know where to go from here.

Ideally, you’ll want to find one person who can do the job. This may be possible, depending on your budget and how experienced the editor you choose happens to be. What you may not realize, at first, is that one edit is not usually enough for most manuscripts—especially complicated ones.

Content Editors

If you’re writing fiction, you’ll want to find a content editor. Let me hasten to say that if you have a strong writing community and can find alpha and beta readers who are highly experienced in writing for your genre, then you may not need to hire a content editor. 

Should you choose to, however, ask for examples of edits they have done for other authors in your genre. If they are just starting out (we don’t want to exclude new editors completely!), then ask for a list of books they have read in your genre and ask for a phone consultation so you can chat and feel them out a little. Once you’re confident that they understand your genre well enough to help you sort out issues with plot and world-building, you should be good to go. But, oh! Don’t forget to ask for a free sample edit before you sign any paperwork.

And yes, they should have you sign an agreement before you get started.

Copy Editors

If you’re looking for someone to find spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, then a copy editor is the one you want. Their job isn’t to tell you that you can’t have ice on your Mars-like planet because there is no water. They are there to fix that pesky habit you have of spelling “committee” with only one “m.” Oh, did you completely forget a word altogether? The copy editor will be on it (in their offices, a thesaurus is never too far away).

If you are very sensitive about the content of your draft, or simply haven’t written something very complex, you can get away with only hiring a copy editor (or having a general book editor only do a copy edit). They will go through your draft with a fine tooth comb and, yes, replace those missing commas. They will ensure you’ve used the right punctuation, not too much of it, and will ensure that your spelling is correct and consistent (I’m looking at my fellow Canadians, with our wild swinging between U.K. and American English).

Line Editors

So, who do you hire when you want your world or framework left as is, but you want your editor to correct a little more than simple spelling and grammar mistakes? A line editor. These are the people who will go line-by-line (as their name suggests) and tell you when a sentence is awkward, when dialogue is clunky, and when your character has blue eyes in chapter one and green eyes by chapter twenty (assuming you’re not writing about iris re-pigmentation surgery set in the year 2049).

Line edits are often the most appropriate edit to do after your book has been through alpha and beta readers. You don’t want to waste time doing a copy edit to catch misspelled words and bad sentences that might not even been in the manuscript at all after a line edit is completed. So, unless you don’t plan to have your draft checked for awkward constructions, conciseness, and clarity, have a line edit done before you call for a copy edit.

The one edit we haven’t talked about

You’re probably realizing by now that a book may need not one, but two or even three edits before it’s publisher ready. How much time and money you want to spend on editing is up to you, but it’s a necessary step no matter what you’re publishing. 

Before you find any alpha and beta readers, and before you hire any editors, there’s one thing you should always do first: go over your own work yourself. Why did I put this last? There’s no reason, I just like to do that.

First, go over your work with wide-toothed comb. Look for the huge mistakes your brain won’t gloss over. Don’t stress over it, though, just work the biggest lumps out of the cake batter, so to speak. Take a break for a day, and then take a fine-toothed comb to the draft on day two. Use this review to resolve subtler issues that you didn’t notice before. Look for major issues with style, clarity, consistency, and phrasing.

Your style is the way you write: your unique tone. Sometimes, you may weave in and out of a consistent style as you write. This second review is where you will try to recognize where you do this and correct it. Don’t be afraid of not catching it all: it will be hard for you to detect everything yourself. Your editor will pick up on whatever you miss.

Clarity is, well, how clear your message is. To fix this yourself, you will need to be honest with yourself. Be objective. Be harsh. Criticize it the way someone would if they didn’t like you or your book. Remove needless words and simplify any complex ones, if you can.

Remember to be consistent. If you spell neighbour with a “u” in the first few pages, then you should not be spelling it as “neighbor” by the end of the book. Take your time and fix all the less obvious problems you can find. If you’re ever mixed cake batter, you know that the small lumps are far harder to find and crush than the bigger ones. 

Getting ready for the publisher

This is your book. You have spent days, weeks, and months pouring over the words. They are a part of you, so you will be used to them. You’ve learned that your eyes may glaze over areas of text because you know what it says already, so there will be mistakes that you don’t catch—like that one person in every room, sometimes you can’t smell your own breath.

We’ve talked about getting a second opinion from alpha and beta readers. An alpha reader should be another writer, but you can ask trusted friends, relatives, or anyone really to beta read your book and send you their feedback. Try not to take their comments to hear. Just listen with an open mind. They can even use Track Changes in Microsoft Word to mark and comment on each line. Accept the changes you agree with and discard the rest.

You will have a solid manuscript by then, so your last step is to hire editors. Having cleaned it up as much as possible, you will save money on the final edits. A good, professional editor should offer you a sample of their proofreading or editing work at no charge, so you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into with them. Always trust the vibe.

If you don’t feel like you would enjoy working with an editor, or even a beta reader, then don’t. Finding new editors can be a hassle, so if you can find one you truly feel a bond with, then stick with them. You shouldn’t have to worry about your book being subject of a nightmare about typographically-challenged manuscripts.

8 Easy Steps to Becoming an Editor

The fundamental role of an editor is to make certain that any print and online work you submit for review meets a certain quality standard. However, this can mean doing anything from reading manuscripts to making layout and design changes. If you plan to become an editor, make sure you know what kind of editing you’d like to do before you begin. You’ll want to be clear on what you offer, so you are not led to take on more than you’ve bargained for with any one project. Here are 8 simple steps you can take to establish yourself as an editor in your area.

Step 1: Decide what kind of editor to be

Before you do anything else, take a moment to sit down and research types of editorial work. It’s one thing to say you want to be an editor in general–it’s quite another to be dumbfounded when a potential client asks you to do things that you never considered, or simply don’t want to do. You may decide to be a general editor, accepting a wide variety of assignments, or you can specialize in specific areas, like children, fashion, magazines, religious books, etc. You’ll also need to decide whether you’d like to provide various levels of editing (proofreading vs. copy editing, or developmental editing), or whether there’s just one that suits you now. Knowing this will help you determine what research to do and what training or education you’ll need. It’ll also help you narrow down your target market to the people you’re most likely going to help.

Step 2: Brush up on your skills

Before you propose to edit other people’s work on a large scale, make sure that your skills are up to date. There’s a common misconception that one must have a degree in English or a similar vein to be an editor, however, it’s not necessary. You can study on your own to develop a strong grasp of language and take tests to verify the skill level you have attained.

Resources such as Khan Academy, Alison, Coursera, and others will be invaluable in your preparation to put up your editing shingle in the window. If you do have the opportunity, however, pursue as much formal education related to writing as you can afford. Although you may have the technical abilities, it can be a slightly more uphill road to gain a client base without a degree as it would be without one. You will need to build a portfolio, which leads me to our next step.

Step 3: Build a portfolio

Once you’ve developed your skills, you will want to go about creating a portfolio. This can be difficult, especially at first. It’s not unusual to accept low-paying or even pro bono work for some time to quickly amass a collection of client reviews and work samples. Sites such as Freelancer and Elance can help with obtaining this kind of work, but you can also ask around to friends, colleagues, and family who may need some things edited–such as website content, school papers, or even a book. Having past work to show will help you a lot when you’re pursuing new work in the future.

A good way to gain experience and work samples is by volunteering. There are numerous opportunities to join the marketing staff of organizations seeking volunteers to help with writing, editing, and preparing content for print and the web. Though unpaid, it’ll be worth every moment when you can add it to your resume.

Step 4: Get official

If you’re serious about becoming an editor, then don’t skip the red tape. Choose a business name and get it registered with your government agency. Ensure you understand all the laws surrounding being an entrepreneur in your area. For example, at what threshold are you required to charge sales tax? Do you require any special permits or licenses to offer editing services? Take a couple of days and write out a simple business plan. Even if you never take it to anyone to obtain funding, having the plan written down will serve as a guide for you to stay on track as you manage your business.

You’ll also want to think about your brand. Have a logo designed and set up pages on the networks where you’re most likely to find new work. If you do a lot of networking, ensure that you have a steady supply of business cards to hand out at events and meetups. Use an appointment-setting software to manage meetings and consultations that you schedule with clients, and ensure that you have a good accounting system to keep track of expenses, income, and other aspects of your business.

Step 5: Set up your admin process

Before you accept your first client, it’s a good idea to have your admin process figured out. When someone inquires about editing, what will you do? Set aside some time to create all the documents you will need to handle prospective and new jobs. At the minimum, you should have an invoicing system, a project calendar, payment methods (preferably one that accepts credit cards), and information sheets to send to your inquiries at a moment’s notice. You should have NDA (non-disclosure agreements) and similar legal items available too, in case your client requests them. Having all those documents ready beforehand will make it easy for you to reply to emails and process new projects in a professional, timely manner.

Make sure that you do your research well before creating your price list. There’s a fine line between charging too little and too much in this industry. You’ll find that your final pricing will be based on several factors, including the average rates in your area, the value you can offer for the price of editing, and coming to numbers that are both competitive, yet can sustain your lifestyle given the right number of clients. Don’t ever sell yourself out cheap. It devalues the entire profession and you’ll also become discouraged if you constantly take on work that you’re underpaid for.

Step 6: Go forth and find work!

After all your setup, it’s time to go out and find clients. This is the most gruelling part of being a freelance editor. You must always be on the hunt for new projects, and this means joining groups and attending events where you’re most likely to meet your target clients. Online, you must be prepared to spend hours submitting proposals to people you meet on social networks, and jobs you find through sites like Upwork and Elance, where you must bid for the chance to be selected for a project. You’ll spend at least twice the time marketing yourself as you will spend editing anything. Becoming active on platforms like Twitter and Instagram can help you reach the kind of people who may need your services. Take a look at your marketing materials. Are they inviting? Do they urge a potential client to pick up the phone and call you? Also, don’t forget to show your personality. People want to work with editors they can trust and relate to. Showing your human side can make it easier for them to picture working with you to edit their work. By being down-to-earth, yet, professional, you can attract clients to your door.

Step 7: Learn to negotiate with clients

Editing rates can be difficult to set, and sometimes you’ll find yourself having to meet a client halfway. Though it’s not a good idea to always deviate from your standard pricing, there are times when the benefits of taking on a certain project outweigh the cost of lowering a fee to fit a budget. If you’re editing resumes, or other small documents, like emails, you may find it appropriate to opt for volume over price in some instances. If a potential client tells you they have 200 emails for you to edit, but a budget that’s slightly below your set fee, you may adjust it to fit within their budget. You can sweeten the deal for yourself by asking for something else of value, such as a video testimonial, permission to use excerpts in advertising, etc. so that you do not feel short-changed (which can affect your work quality). 

Negotiation can also come in handy when clients try to sneak in more work than you’ve originally bargained for. Rather than flat out refuse, find grounds to meet them halfway, indicating that although you can’t meet all their demands without additional compensation, you can throw in a freebie. This goes a long way in maintaining good relations, especially with long-term clients.

Step 8: Keep clients coming back

You’ll have the best chance of becoming a successful editor if you learn to keep your clients hooked on your brand. Make sure that your client’s experience with you is one that they’ll never forget–in a good way. This goes beyond sending them their edits on time. Doing the minimum expected isn’t enough to keep a client loyal to you in the long run. Be the editor who goes the extra mile to make a client feel cared for. Don’t hesitate to offer to fix little issues you noticed, or to go out of your way to find an article or a solution to something your client mentioned in a phone call or passing comment. People want to feel like you listen to them and care about their well-being, so by being the kind of editor who doesn’t simply churn out edits and ask for a cheque, you’ll do yourself a favour in retaining clients who return again and again with more work. Make sure that you offer something to your clients that is more valuable than most of your competitors, too. They need to know that they’re getting the best value for their money.

Here’s Why You Suck at Interviews

You’re excited! After sending out a million resumes, you finally got invited to an interview. The day arrives and you make your way to the location with your heart racing and butterflies in your stomach. 30 minutes later, you’re sitting down across from the interviewer. But you’re not smiling now. They’re asking questions that you don’t have a good answer to. You’re looking down at your resume a lot, trying to remember what you did, when and where. Then they ask if you have any questions for them and, frankly, you didn’t care to think of any. You just need a job, right?

Does that sound like you? There’s a good chance that is why you don’t hear from recruiters after your interviews. It isn’t enough to look good on paper. Sure, the paper is important. That’s what got you to the interview in the first place. But it’s your personal brand that recruiters when you get in the room. Your personality and ability to clearly show why you’ll be an asset to their company is what will get you the job–or at least a polite callback with the reasons why you weren’t selected.

When you show up for an interview barely knowing your own resume (much less anything much about the company), it tells an interviewer that you are simply after the paycheck and couldn’t care less about anything else. Now, you may really not care, but it’s your job to make it seem like you do. Otherwise, you’ll always lose to the candidate who does.

When applying for jobs, keep a list of the companies you apply to and make it a point to research all of them. Simply visiting their websites and social media pages is a great start. Be sure to check out their mission and vision statements, along with their about and team pages. Know who the top people are and how long the company has been around.

Another thing you can do (for jobs that are an upgrade or that you are especially interested in), you can call or stop by the front desk (anonymously) and try to get a feel for the culture and atmosphere of the organization. This will also help you avoid being late, as you’ll know exactly where you’re going on interview day.

With all this research, you are bound to come up with some questions. Remember, you should be looking to see if they are a good fit for you too. It’s not always just about the money. Unless you’re desperate, there is no point taking a job that you know you’re probably going to quit in a few months because you already hate it there. Take your resume, the job description, and a blank piece of paper.

Be sure to memorize your resume. Know it back and front, so that you won’t need to look at it once during the interview to speak about your past experiences. Pick through the description of the job you applied for and jot down examples from your past of how you fulfilled similar duties and solved major problems, saved the company money, or some other notable achievement. Practice these so you can speak about them smoothly.

Another thing: dress appropriately. I don’t mean that you have to wear a suit and tie. This is where your research will come in handy again. Dress just a step above the role you’re going for. Applying to be a dishwasher? Go with a nice pair of slacks and a shirt or blouse. Look presentable, but not runway ready. That would work for a modeling audition. Applied for a stylist role? Definitely go for a clean, simple look and put the most effort into your hairstyle. I’m sure you get the idea. The idea is to show the employer in living, vivid color that you’re right for the position.

Last, but not least, remember that you should be interviewing an employer as much as they are interviewing you. Keep an eye out for red flags, such as a poor fit with their office culture or being asked personal and/or illegal questions during the interview. Things like these may lead you to turn down an employment offer. There may be a time when you’ll have to do that, as surprising as that seems. Just remember this: an interview is a two-way information gathering session. Make sure that you are armed with facts, questions, and a good understanding of what is expected of you. Know what you want from them as well.