On Friday, Amy will give conferees tips on Insider Self-Publishing: Separating the Amateurs from the Pros. Saturday, she’ll conduct two sessions, What’s the Right Type of Publishing for My Book?, and Does My Book Have What it Takes?
DS: I read you are an award-winning author, publisher, and budding online entrepreneur. Congratulations. What is a budding online entrepreneur?
AD: Writing/Publishing is a wide-open field, with more options now for people to create and sell information than ever before. I am constantly looking for methods to deliver helpful products that will allow others to reach their goals… and hopefully allow me to help support our family in the process. A win-win!
DS: There are times when people relax at home, they read, crochet and color in the Mandela pattern books. What is your favorite pastime when relaxing?
AD: I tend toward the crafty side with sewing and needlework, although don’t do nearly as much as I used to. It seems I’m always working on a writing project and the computer is never too far away.
I’m fortunate enough to be able to do a lot of work from home, and since it’s not healthy to be too closed in I get out to exercise, or to meet with friends for coffee, or go to Bible study. Evenings are nice when my husband and kids and I cook dinner together as we talk.
DS: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
AD: Trap 1. Negative people. Writing is hard work and if someone reading your work is not a writer, they probably don’t understand. Don’t let people tear you down. Trust yourself and be your own cheerleader.
Trap 2. Narcissistic writing. Remember that you are writing for the reader, not yourself.
Trap 3. Publishing before you’re ready. Writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, is a skill that takes a long time to master. Many writers invest weeks, months, even years producing a work that they are anxious to publish. Get feedback and be open to making your work even better before pulling the trigger.
Trap 4. Keeping your eye on the book, not the marketing. As someone who helps many authors self-publish, I can tell you that it is a straightforward process to package a book with stunning cover and interior design. The hard part is getting sales. Work out a marketing plan before you start… and don’t count on just social media to do the job.
Trap 5. Giving up control to your book if you want to self-publish. If you go with a traditional publisher that’s one thing to give them control, because they are paying you for your manuscript and delivering their expertise to help you create an awesome book for which you will both earn back money. But if you want to self-publish, be cautious of hiring a company that sells you a package. If you want to succeed you need to be in charge of your cover, pricing your book, selling it on different venues, and buying as many copies as you need directly from the printer.
DS: As a story and writing coach, as well as working to help writers self-publish, what are common problems you see?
AD: Fiction and nonfiction are different animals.
For fiction, you *must* always have something going on as the hero pursues steps to reach his or her final, clear-cut, real-world goal. The story is easier for you to tell if the hero is facing against a physical person/entity trying to stop him or her, rather than an amorphous force. The hero learns an important emotional skill or lesson that allows him or her to function better.
For nonfiction, before you start figure out what people want to read, not what you want to write. Put yourself in the reader’s position to clearly explain in a stepwise fashion your topic and solution. Make your explanations practical so the reader can do something to solve his or her problem.
For both fiction and nonfiction, make sure what you have is good before you publish it. Get other opinions. It takes a long time to coordinate the many techniques necessary to efficiently communicate, so be open to even painful feedback. Since you will always become better at whatever you practice, persist in your efforts. Believe in yourself!
DS: If you wrote a letter to your younger self, what would you talk about?
AD: Be mindful. While each day seems to be a repeat of the day before, events and life stages go by quickly and don’t come back.
People are more important than things. Period.
Remember to search for God before it’s too late. Life is short, but eternity isn’t.
DS: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Do you have any plans for them?
AD: Oh dear. The answer to that is a lot. Some are awesome ideas, but sadly many I’ve grown past or simply burned out. That being said, I just finished one work I wrote in January/February, and have three more works in line. After this conference I will start in again with the easiest/most complete first—a write-up of the self-publishing process that I hope will be helpful for authors who may benefit from my experience. I’m writing this book because I’ve found the self-publishing information is out there but laborious to find and laden with many traps to snare the unaware.
My challenge in writing is to focus—I’m usually working on several things at once, not only my own writing but also editing and publishing others. And to relax my mind I love to research and ponder eclectic ideas that can be occasionally, um, distracting? I must constantly remind myself to stay on point!
My real love is fiction, even though it’s much tougher for me to write than nonfiction, so I work on it in the background. Here’s my logline for my current story for which I have about 20K words so far:
After a near death experience, a medical student falls in love with a young woman who doesn’t seem to exist, and must discover who she is before his life runs out a second time.
So we’ll see.
DS: What age did you start writing, and what did you write? What do you write now?
AD: I can’t remember when I wasn’t making up stories in my head that I lived in a parallel world to my “real” world. Sadly, I didn’t write as much as I imagined, and when I did write I was shy about showing people my stories. The few times I did (mostly to teachers for an assignment) they weren’t particularly dazzling.
Now that I’m a grown up (smile) I’ve found I’m very good at analyzing “why things work” and have moved to the nonfiction side of writing, where I have published (myself and others) a mix ranging from story analysis to publishing to science to religion to kids. Our (an author with our publishing company) most recent book is a fun cookbook: How Do I Lose Weight and Still Feed My Family?
DS: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
AD: I have learned that if you want to make money rather than write as a hobby that you must create products for the market. There are some great tools out there (I love KindleSpy) that help to determine what people want to read. I research the specific problems people may be trying to solve in those areas by checking out forums and groups, then try to find good fits for my knowledge base with these needs. I put out these relatively short “helping to solve a problem” books under my own name and pseudonyms that bring in income for our family.
If I’m writing something more substantial I will research as appropriate. I start with general reading in a topic and writing “what-if” questions (actually I use Dragon Speak to speak my documents) to outline a general direction. For nonfiction I then further research the area to see what are the common areas for which people have questions. For fiction I’ll outline my story and then research when I get into a pickle—for example, what are common types of problems someone climbing a mountain in March might encounter?
I always try to include a few unusual, relevant nuggets to make my book stand out from the pack—I don’t want to write the same old same old, but something that will add to the sum of knowledge.
Finally, I search out experts in the field. I ask questions and let them answer completely without interrupting; they often come up with ideas or areas I didn’t know about. And if they are very kind I ask them to read my manuscript to make sure it’s complete and correct.
Insider Self-Publishing: Separating the Amateurs from the Pros. Hands-on workshop that walks you through the self-publishing process! Keep all rights and profits while you design and market your stunning new book… and keep your costs low. We’ll look at the publishing process and pieces involved: setting up your new business, finding your niche, writing, interior formatting, where to find a cover designer, why POD printing is best, understanding ISBNs, and how to list your e-book and print book on Amazon. Since selling is the idea, we’ll also review tips for marketing including SEO optimization, platform, and connections. You can do it!
What’s the Right Type of Publishing for My Book? Congratulations on finishing your book! But as you start out, navigating the publishing field can be overwhelming. Should you get an agent? Should you publish yourself? Learn the pros and cons of different publishing methods and common pitfalls waiting for the uninformed so you can make the choices that will keep you a happy (published!) author.
Does My Book Have What it Takes? We’ll talk about the three ingredients that determine whether your book will even be picked up and read. This will be a hand-on workshop—bring your title, logline (15-25 word description) and back cover copy (100-150 word summary) for critiquing and group opinion. You’ll learn first-hand what people pay attention to and how you can persuade potential readers that your book is exactly what they’ve been looking for.
Amy Deardon is an award-winning author, publisher, and budding online entrepreneur. She is eager to help writers take their words to the next level through story or nonfiction coaching/editing and guiding them through the self-publishing minefield.
In her life B.C. (before children) she was a Ph.D. scientist under a different name who did bench research. Now married, she lives with her husband and two children near Washington D.C. Visit her website at AmyDeardon.com, and her Indie publishing company at EBook Conversion and Listing Services. You can also follow Amy on Twitter.