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Infinity's Blog for Authors and Writers

3 Tips On Mobile Apps for Self-Published Authors

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 @ 09:20 AM

Whether you're traditionally published or an indie writer, you're going to have to do the bulk of the marketing to sell your book. Most writers do the majority of their marketing on social media sites, but the almost-universal popularity of smart phones and tablets has created a new marketing technique: the app. 

Apps are growing so quickly as marketing devices that companies have created new sites for writers and other business owners. They offer simple drag-and-drop designs for total novices to create great looking apps to advertise their goods and services.

Mobile_Apps_Authors

The Nuts and Bolts

There are a dozen or more sites online that allow you to easily create an app for your book or book series. The price varies, from free to hundreds of dollars, depending on how elaborate you want to get in your design. All the sites allow you to create apps in both iOS and Android, so you'll cover all the bases in your readership.

What to Include

Think of your app as an alternate website your readers can hold in their hands. This isn't the first line of marketing any writer should do; you'll probably want to have some other branding underway already that you can feed off of. When you decide on a logo and look for your book or brand, incorporate it in your main app page. Include links to your blog, your Amazon Author Central page and pages on other sites, your Facebook fan page, Twitter feed and Google+ page. Your app allows fans to keep in touch with what you and your characters are doing, so make sure you update it on a regular basis, just like you would a popular blog. Include any sales or contests you're holding, to keep the excitement and interest going, and allow users to comment for extra involvement. In the non-fiction world your app is an extension of the your website with a number of other features that can be more easily used by your reader and managed by you.

Spread the Word

Once you've got your app live you'll want to get it into your readers' hands. The first place to offer it is on iTunes and in the Google Play store, the most popular places for downloading apps. Many of the app maker sites have their own sales pages, as well. You'll also want to spread the word on as many social media sites as possible. Mention it on your Twitter feed, post about it and encourage fans to download it from your Facebook page, create a post on Pinterest for fans to pin and pass around, and mention it on all your other social media accounts. Most importantly, add a link to the download page in the back matter of your book. The minute your fan reads the last word in your book is when she wants to read more, so that's when she'll want to download your app to keep up with what you're writing and how soon she can get another one of your books.

We like to practice what we preach, so be on the look out for the Infinity App in the coming weeks!

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

 

 

4 Thoughts From Maya Angelou About Writing

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 08:30 AM

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
– Maya Angelou

When Maya Angelo died one of our team wrote the piece below. Unfortunately it was lost and never made it to this page. I recently found it, and thought now might be a good time for a change in content, still timely, maybe more timely as we seek to understand and relate to the tumultuous world around us.

maya_angelou

In 1969, Mayo Angelou told the world she understood why a caged bird sang. Angelou had a reputation as a storyteller already, but the idea of penning and publishing an autobiography seemed premature. She was only 40 years old when Random House editor Robert Loomis dared her to write the book. If she had proven anything in her 40 years, however, it was that she didn’t walk away from a challenge.

On May 28th 2014, Angelou left this world, but her writing legacy lives on to inspire self-published writers to push for more.

Writing as an Outlet

“I think each writer has her or his secret path to the muse.”

After a turbulent childhood that included molestation, Angelou went mute. During the time when her voice was unavailable to her, Maya began to experience the world of writing.

She started the way most good writers do, as a reader. She admired the works of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. She found writing down the experiences of her life provided an outlet to examine the joy and fear in it.

Writing as a Process

“I wear a hat or a very tightly pulled head tie when I write.”

When asked if there was a right or wrong process to writing, Angelou stated it was about finding a quiet place inside your own mind, regardless of the environment.

For Maya Angelou, the process involved cloistering herself in a hotel with nothing but a bible, a thesaurus, a dictionary and a bottle of sherry. She wrote in longhand and used this room for nothing but work. That was her own personal process, but every writer needs to find a way to extract the story.

Writing about What You Know

“You are the sum total of everything you have ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there.”

Maya Angelou dissected her life, laying it open for all the world to see, according to Annie Gottlieb. She didn’t focus on creating drama or fantasy, she wrote about what she knew. The message that Angelou leaves self-publishing authors is to pull from inside themselves, from their own experiences, to develop a story whether writing fiction, nonfiction or poetry. You add a touch of yourself to the piece, you add realism that readers will connect with and believe.

Writing as a Habit

“I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.”

Probably one of the most poignant points Angelou made about writing is to get into the habit. Writing should be second nature because the alternative is to hold the story in your head. 

Maya Angelou never looked at her life as tragic. She examined every piece of it for its potential. She leaves that legacy to everyone with a desire to write. See the potential in yourself and let it grow onto the page.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” 

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

                                     

How to Use Booktrack: A Unique Marketing Concept

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 @ 11:23 AM

It's said that the more senses we engage during an experience, the better hold it will have on our memory. Up until now, eBooks have only involved our sense of sight, but a new service called Booktrack has changed all that. 

Booktrack allows writers and self-published authors to add a subtle layer of sound to their written words, adding to their readers' experience much like the soundtrack to a movie enhances your viewing pleasure. The service is relatively new, and can give authors a unique book marketing tool that will set their work apart from their competition's.

Reading_music-marketing

How it Works

After signing up, click on the Create button to pull up the work box. Booktrack has a library of copyright-free work you can use to practice, or you can move right into using your own text. When you're ready to add a soundtrack to your own work, copy and paste the text into the provided box. Highlight the words you want to back with a sound. Letting go of the mouse button causes a box to pop up holding the search for all the sounds in their library. They have thousands, so your work won't sound like a cookie cutter copy of everyone else's.

You have the option of searching for Music, Ambiance Sounds, or Sound Effects. You can choose to add one, two, or all three of them to any portion of your text. Put a subtle song in the background, add gentle waves when your protagonist walks on the beach, and drop in a thunderclap when the weather suddenly turns stormy. Experiment with subtle sound layers to create just the right mood for your story.

The Site

Booktrack is completely user-friendly, with intuitive techniques that even pure novices can use. The site offers numerous instructional videos that break down the process into separate sections, as well as some showing a general overview of the service.

Right now, Booktrack is free to use, both for authors and for readers. Those making a Booktrack have the ability to add a description, including external links to a website, to direct readers to sales pages and other informational sites. Readers can, and do, leave comments after reading entries; the Booktrack community is growing daily and is quite lively and generous with comments and reviews.

Book Marketing

The site may be free, but it can create some valuable income as a book marketing device. If you have a series of short novellas or short stories, do one complete episode and include a link to your site where readers can purchase the complete set. For those with longer novels or nonfiction works, choose a fascinating highlight chapter (usually the beginning of the book) and end the sample on a cliffhanger. Try writing a separate one-off addition to your series to hand out only to your fans or those who sign up for your newsletter, putting the link to the Booktrack page in the email. It's taking a sample and making it more interesting, drawing in even more readers who will want to buy more.

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!

   
     Drive more traffic to your website  

4 Tips to Go From Author to Entreprenuer

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 @ 12:28 PM

 

Finishing a manuscript is only the first step in the long process of being a successful author. Books written as a hobby almost always die a quiet death, so if you want to be a successful self-published author you'll have to treat writing as the business that it is.

Today's writers are artists, businesspeople, marketers, and organizational geniuses. A modern writer worries about word count, but also has to be concerned with the day-to-day details any other business owner deals with.

Author_To_Entrepreneur

Books and Taxes

The minute you publish your book you're an independent business owner, subject to taxes on your royalties. The government treats royalties differently than it does a regular paycheck, with higher withholdings and payments quarterly instead of once a year. Writers who don't want to get in trouble with the IRS would be smart to hire an accountant to advise them on financial matters.

Insurance for Authors

Unless you're working full time and have no plan to ever quit to write for a living, you'll need to find some type of health insurance. The market is fluid and varies from state to state. Depending on your age, health, and family situation, insurance can be reasonable or very expensive. No matter the cost, it's still less expensive than getting hit with a large hospital bill when you aren't expecting it. Some writer's associations and other self-employment clubs offer discounted insurance, so shop around.

Scheduling a Must

Every writer with a solid body of work knows that "the muse" is a myth. No one builds a successful writing career waiting for divine inspiration for each and every word. Writers are in the business of writing and they have to do it every day, just like any other job. Writing is work, and hard work at that sometimes, but it's something that has to be done almost every day. You can only build a successful writing career by scheduling writing time on a regular basis. Have either a time limit, such as two hours of work, or a word count goal for each day, and don't allow any interruptions.  Producing something for your book outline every day, inspired or not, is the best way to add titles to your personal book shelf.

And most importantly...

Return on Investment

Return on investment, or ROI, is a simple concept that looks at whether you get out more than you're putting in. Even the best of best sellers drop down in the ratings eventually, and most writers' books fall in the midrange at best. The way to turn a sudden windfall into a viable business is to reproduce that same success again and again.

You've invested the time and energy to finish a book and get it published, and much of that time was spent on the learning curve. You've experimented with writing itself, found an editor and support system, and learned what you need to know to get a book published. The time to make use of that investment is right after you've published your book, by starting to write the next one. One hit wonders are fun for a while, but it's the writer with a large body of work that makes a good living from royalties a long time after the first book was published.

Part of the key to generating a positive ROI (profit) is to have a solid understanding of where the costs are and how you are going to most effectively use your book marketing tools to generate revenues. You will invest a significant amount of time and money in writing, publishing and marketing your book with marketing dollars usually being the toughest to manage. This is a fact not only for authors but every marketer on the planet that has to handle the complexities of the art and science of marketing. 

As a side note, we will soon be offically launching our next innovation for independent authors, a marketing framework called AuthorTree. We have mentioned it briefly, but have kept it pretty low-key as we received some feedback. It is groudbreaking, in the sense that it will help create a roadmap for not only what works to sell more books, but how to exploit a major talent of all writers to generate unlimited marketing without the cost! Stay tuned.

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Easy Steps to Creating a Powerful Book Trailer

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Tue, Oct 07, 2014 @ 10:52 AM

It's always exciting to watch the coming attractions before a movie, and finding out what films are coming up that you want to see, use the same power to promote your book!

As a self published author you can create powerful buzz and excitement by creating video trailers for your books. The internet is a visual medium, and savvy writers are taking advantage of that by creating slideshows set to music and even short films, all to advertise their newest books. It doesn't take a Hollywood producer to create a book trailer; you probably have the equipment already installed in your computer.Today it's also possible to find a great freelance resource or your publsiher may provide book marketing services that fit the bill.

Video_trailer

Setting Up

As book marketing tools, book trailers run the gamut from slapstick funny to tearjerker and everything in between. Decide on the tone of your movie, and make it mesh with the tone of your book. Choose one main theme to focus on in the trailer. Usually, your book blurb or elevator speech is a good topic to cover. Gather a large collection of royalty-free photos that fit in the theme of your book and trailer. You'll probably end up with more than you can use, but it's useful to have a large amount from which to choose. Find some compatible background music and write any text you're going to add to the screen, and don't forget to add a tag line directing the viewer where to purchase the book.

Where to Do It

A good number of computers come with movie making software already installed. Windows Movie Maker is one, and there are similar included programs with a number of Apple products. If your computer is lacking, look online for one of the dozens of free movie making downloads or new web-bsed services and grab one. Animoto is a good example of a web-based service.Most of these programs run the same way: download pictures into numbered slots, decide on the type of transition you'd like between images, then add audio and words on top.  You'll probably spend a few hours experimenting with different combinations and looks, but most people can create an interesting book trailer to entice their readers in just one afternoon. Once the video is finished, save it and upload it to both YouTube and Vimeo and let people discover it. 

What to Do With It

Your book trailer can be a great marketing tool on any social media program, giving you a great way to find new readers. Post it on Facebook and encourage people to share it. Add it to your Pinterest board, along with some appropriate keywords. Write about the trailer on your blog, and embed a copy of it at the end. Turn it into the featured image at the top of your website. When you write your monthly newsletter, feature the trailer as a surprise behind-the-scenes look to your most loyal fans. Anywhere you appear online is a great place to post either the video itself or a link so readers can find it for themselves. Happy fishing!

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

 

 

4 Tips to Create Your Own Real-World Writing Group

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Fri, Oct 03, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

It's the rare writer today who doesn't have at least some contact with other writers online -- through Facebook groups, subject matter forums, or dedicated category organizations. Places where writers gather online, from tiny five-member Facebook groups to the Romance Writers of America, all have the same basic goal: to encourage writers and help them to improve their writing. These can be more or less effective, depending on your participation, but there's still something to be said for meeting other writers in the flesh. If your online friends are the only ones seeing your work, maybe it's time to find the advantages in a real world writers group

writing_groupSocial Aspects

Admit it. Whether you write full time or just do it as a sideline, you sit in a room alone while writing. It's your solitary activity, rarely shared with the people in your life. Why not turn your writing into a means to improve your social life? If writing groups are anything, they're filled with people who have one thing in common: writers. The odds are good that you'll find a few you like, and getting out of the house to enjoy yourself while still working on your book is the best of both worlds.

Motivation

Most writers groups include readings and critiques of each others' work, on something of a rotating basis. Whether your group has everyone read a short passage each week or you rotate on a weekly basis, it will give you a powerful motivation to get your writing done every day. It's very easy to slide out from under online obligations with people you'll likely never meet, but with real people in your neighborhood, it's a much stronger commitment.

Honest Critiques

The ability to be anyone and say anything online is one of the charms and hazards of the digital world. Online critique groups can be useful, but it's very easy for people to pile on, either in praise or in criticism. There are no consequences for any behavior in those groups except the bad opinion of others you'll never meet. A live group, on the other hand, is a social being. Members get to know each other and, even if they're not all friends, they at least respect each other enough to be honest about what they say. It's much harder to lie about your opinions to someone face-to-face, and impossible to be a troll, as some people become online.

Create Your Own Group

Creating your own group is the best way as a self published author or writer to make sure you get what you need out of it. Determine what you want from the group (encouragement, advice, critiques, challenges), then find other writers who have the same needs. Meet-up is a successful service online that allows you to post open invitations for real world meetings of every type. Set your meeting in a public place such as a coffee shop or restaurant, and keep the Meet-up page current to constantly encourage new members.

 

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

 

How Frequently Should You Share (And Publish!) Your Writing?

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 @ 09:30 AM

We all learned in kindergarten that sharing is caring, but when it comes to writing, sharing your work can be downright scary! The decision to share your work depends on a lot of different factors, and the sharing itself can take many forms.

Writers group

The Writing Group

Joining a writing group can be a great way to create community with fellow writers and also receive feedback on your work. Writing groups can devolve quickly however, so be sure to set some clear ground rules around respect and honesty to ensure that everyone is getting truly constructive criticism.

If you are part of a writing group, be sure to take the time to polish what you bring to the table. Your feedback won't be as useful if you force your fellow writers to pick through all your careless typos. The second you hit "save" is not the moment you hit "send" on your email; give yourself at least a few days, if not weeks, to sit with and polish your first draft until it's ready for other eyes.

Alternatively, you may be the kind of writer who needs lots of encouragement in the beginning stages. If that's the case, be clear to your peers that you'll be submitting rougher work or even outlines, and that you'd like a more free form critique that focuses on overall ideas and inspiration as opposed to sentence tweaks and suggested edits.

Depending on your current needs, you may want to meet with your group once a month, or you may find yourself swapping sections with a like-minded peer on a weekly basis.

The Submission Cycle

Once you're ready to start sharing your work with a larger audience, it's time to consider publishing. There are differing opinions on whether a fiction writer must first write stories before composing a novel, but what's definitely clear is that you'll be able to either submit your work more frequently if you have a handful of stories to send out to traditional sources. Stories typically take less time to produce than a novel, and you may find yourself encouraged by getting a few of these pieces picked up by literary journals. Not sure where to send your work? Try sites like Duotrope, or check out the classified section on the website for Poets and Writers magazine for the classic opportnities. And as we have promoted for years, there are many, many places to share and promote your work on your own and get the recognition you deserve...

Digging Deep

For some writers, spending time on shorter projects only serves as a distraction. If you have a larger story to tell, then you may want to skip the constant loop of submission and rejection that many short story writers are all too familiar with. Instead, devote yourself wholly to the book length work that's bringing you to the page each day, and worry about sharing it with the world, or even your writing group, only when you're good and ready.

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

Topics: self publishing, writing tips, author marketing, time to write, book writing tips, finding time to write, book reviewers, audiobooks

Writing for the Ear: Can Audiobooks Improve Your Work?

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 @ 08:26 AM

Can audio books help you create music for your readers' ears?

It's clear that audiobooks are a powerful force that writers would be remiss to overlook, but there may be a hidden benefit to including audiobooks in your overall publishing strategy, a benefit that will ultimately improve your writing craft at every stage. Can audio help you make music for your readers ears?

Audio ears books

Writing for the page is an art, sure, but what about writing for the ear?

Reading your work out loud has long been touted as a way to catch typos, missing or extra words, or simply notice the passages that may drag on a bit too long. It can be easy to feel like you're catching every mistake when you read silently to yourself, red pen in hand, but writing experts suggest that there's plenty that the ear will catch that the eye simply won't. As scholar Peter Elbow puts it in a piece reprinted on the National Novel Writing Month blog, "our mouths follow complex rules of grammar that our minds cannot tell us about." Elbow goes on to recommend reading your work out loud until the sentences not only look right, but sound right, too.

By engaging in this multi-sensory revision process, you can tighten your sentences and paragraphs, and make your ideas clearer to the reader on the page, as well as in their headphones. Reading your work out loud will also get a real feel for the rhythm of your own writing. This can help enormously if you read your work in public at a reading or book signing, or, if like author Yvonne S. Thornton, you decide to narrate your audiobook yourself.

Writing for the ear is definitely a different process than writing for the page alone. It can help you pare down flowery language, and break up confusing sentences. Imaging your work as an audibook from the very beginning can also force you to picture your reader, or, in this case, your listener. Instead of focusing solely on how beautiful your turns of phrase are, you'll have to consider whether you're actually communicating your true meaning to your audience.

Making read alouds and careful listening a part of your regular writing and revising routine can lead to a greater clarity of language, deeper audience engagement, and more compelling public readings. So, what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath, clear that throat, and get ready to hear your wonderful work!

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

 

Topics: writing environment, self publishing, writing tips, author marketing, time to write, book writing tips, finding time to write, audiobooks, serial novel

What Self-published Authors Should Do About a Bad Review

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 @ 11:53 AM

 

A bad book review is not uncommon and it will not be your last!

There is one truism that all self-published authors must accept -- not everyone is going to like what you write. The good news is a bad review at least means someone is reading your book. Book marketing is a big part of the self-publishing world, so how you choose to handle a bad review matters. Let’s look at what one writer did the wrong when responding to a bad review and the backlash that ensued and then consider some more positive approaches.

Bad book review

What Not to Do

Kiri Blakeley, contributing writer to Forbes, tells the story of one self-published author who went on the defensive when someone posted a bad review about her book. The poster stated that the book was full of typos and grammatical errors, making it difficult to read.

In the author’s defense, the reviewer was less than kind when pointing this out. The comment was full of words one doesn’t usually hear in polite conversation. The author went on the attack by insisting the writing was fine and demanding the reviewer delete the post.

By the time it was all over, there were over 300 comments, most of them bad, about the book and the author’s lack of professionalism. The outburst even ended up repeated on Twitter.

How Should You Handle a Bad Review?

Author Isaac Asimov once said that writers fall into two groups: the ones that bleed visibly with every bad review and those who bleed secretly. Your goal is to be the latter, because there will always be someone that hates your self-published book. You can’t control what your readers say; only how you react to it.

Instead of giving in to that urge to strike back, consider some holistic ways to handle the problem.

1. Look at the Stats of a Bestseller

That is the beauty of online sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can easily look up a book title and see the review statistics. Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games series, has over 900 one star reviews.  

2. Put it in Perspective

A self-published book with only glowing reviews looks suspicious. A bad review every once in a while keeps it honest, while keeping you humble at the same time.

3. Categorize the Review

There are two types of bad reviews, a troll comment meant to insight and one that offers constructive criticism. Once you get past the angry stage, read the review again and put it in one of those categories.

  • If it is a troll review, ignore it and move on with your life.

  • If the reviewer makes legitimate points, then dissect the information and learn from it. 

The best way to offset a bad review is with a good one, so when you are out doing book marketing, encourage the people you meet to offer up a review. If you do respond to the comment, make sure to limit your response to a thank you. Anything else sounds defensive and puts you in a bad light. 

Now... that review doesn't sound so bad...does it?

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!

Topics: Marketing, self publishing, author marketing, time to write, book reviewers, audiobooks

How to Throw a Book Launch Party for Sales Out of the Gate

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 08:08 AM

Whether you're an independent self published author or you go the traditional route, a big part of your writing job is going to be marketing your book after it's published. Word of mouth is crucial for any book's success, and one of the best ways to get the word spread around is by creating buzz before the book even hits the best seller list. A launch party on Facebook helps your book to hit the ground running, building sales and growing the excitement and anticipation with your fans.

Facebook party

A Launch Party?

A launch party is an online celebration of the birth of your book. Readers, fans, and even the curious can join in the fun and get enough information about your book to make them want to buy it. There are giveaways, live chats, virtual and actual prizes, and ways for you to keep in touch with the reader after the party is over. If done well, a launch party can propel your book right onto the bestseller lists.

Where to Hold It

Your Facebook author page is the ideal place for your book's launch party. Facebook already has the mechanisms installed for all the party facets you need. If you don't have an author page there, that's your first order of business. Start the page and spread the word, signing up as many fans as possible. 

Planning the Party

Set everything up ahead of time to allow you to enjoy the party along with your guests. Look on the top left corner of your Facebook page and click on "Events". This will take you to a page where you can set up an invitation and reminder that will notify every fan from your page. You can also spread the word on other forums and in your newsletter, giving them the page address.

Decide on some prizes for contests. Most authors give away .pdf copies of their book to give the lucky winners a sneak peek before anyone else. Others can win advance chapters of your next book, Amazon or Starbucks gift cards, or naming a character in your next book. Set up a Rafflecopter contest and let it run for a few weeks before the party to allow the maximum number of entrants.

Party Day

Have some fun activities, hints about the book, quizzes, and jokes ready before the beginning of the party. Drop in every hour or two to see how the party's going, and to post on all the threads. Start a new topic every few hours, just to get the conversation flowing. Ask for ideas for your next book, give tough little quizzes, post as your main character, or host an "Ask the Author" thread. Interact with as many readers as possible to turn them into fans. Pull the Rafflecopter prizes in the early evening, and email the winners to congratulate them.

This is something all authors can do even those of you who are just getting started with social media. Have some fun with this...50% of getting to success is simply being there, so go for it!

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!



 

Topics: audiobooswriting tips, marketing with bookbub, book marketing, self publishing, book reviews, writing tips, author marketing, time to write, book writing tips, finding time to write, book reviewers, audiobooks, serial novel, launch party

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