Thursday Feature: Lori MacLaughlin

Hey everyone! Today I want to welcome Lori MacLaughlin to The Five Year Project. Today, she’s sharing info on how to get your self-published book into libraries. Take it away, Lori!

Is Your Self-Published Book in the Library?

Thanks so much, Misha, for having me over today!!
Libraries are a largely untapped market in the self-publishing world. It’s not easy to get self-pubbed books into them. The sheer volume of books hitting the marketplace, limited shelf space, and the stigma that still surrounds self-pubbed books are just some of the barriers to library inclusion. Lack of library cataloging data is another.
I started doing research on how to break into the library market. Most of the articles I read described similar courses of action. These were some of the most important things that the articles recommended:
1.      Put out a quality product that has been professionally edited and has a professionally designed cover. Buy an ISBN for it.
2.      Create a website and social media presence to publicize your book. Libraries will be more likely to take a chance on your book if it looks like there will be demand for it.
3.      Get honest positive reviews for your book for the same reason. If you can get one from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, or the Library Journal, they’ll definitely take notice.
4.      Provide library cataloguing data. This makes the librarians’ jobs so much easier. Books published through Amazon’s Createspace have the opportunity to obtain Library of Congress (LOC) Cataloging Numbers (LCCNs). Books self-published through other means may be eligible for LOC Preassigned Control Numbers (PCNs). Any cataloguing done through the LOC must be done before the book is published. Once it is published it is no longer eligible for LOC cataloguing.
5.      Visit local libraries and meet with the person responsible for acquiring books. Offer to donate your book to get your foot in the door. Do some local media promotion to get people into the library to read your book.
Here are some informational links that I found useful:
I think tackling the library market is well worth the effort. Has anyone else out there had any success with this?
 

About the Book:

Tara Triannon is no stranger to trouble. She’s yet to find an enemy her skill with a sword couldn’t dispatch. But how can she fight one that attacks through her dreams?
With her nightmares worsening, Tara seeks answers but finds only more questions. Then her sister, Laraina, reveals a stunning secret that forces Tara to go to the one place Tara’s sworn never to return to. Her troubles multiply when Jovan Trevillion, the secretive soldier of fortune who stole her heart, is mentally tortured by an ancient Being intent on bending him to its will. And worst of all, the Butcher — the terrifying wolf-like assassin she thought she’d killed — survived their duel and is hunting her again.
Hounded by enemies, Tara sets out on a harrowing quest to discover the true nature of who she is, to come to grips with the new volatility of her magic, and to defeat the evil locked in a centuries-old trap that will stop at nothing to control her magic and escape through her nightmares.
Amazon  |  Barnes& Noble  |  Kobo  |  iBooks

About the Author:

Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.
She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids’ shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.
When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.
You can find her here:
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Terry W. Ervin II on Getting Your Books in Front of Readers

Hi everyone! Today I’m welcoming Terry W. Ervin II to the Five Year Project. Today’s a bit of a long post, but chock full of information, so I’m just going to let him take over from here. 

Getting Books in Front of Readers
With literally millions of novels out there, it’s a challenge to get attention…to get a book in front of potential readers. Sadly for anyone reading this, I don’t have the magic, or silver, bullet. There isn’t one proven method, or combination of actions and activities, that will offer success in this endeavor. Even worse, the market, technology, reader preferences and methods of finding books to read is continually changing.
But don’t despair…and don’t stop reading this post.
There are some things based on my experience that can make a difference—a positive one.
Experience? You might be thinking, who is this guy? He isn’t a NY Times Bestseller. That’s true, my individual novels don’t sell in the hundreds of thousands. They sell in the hundreds and thousands. This guy’s novels aren’t in the top 1000 on Amazon. That’s true, for now. But I’ve had novels that closed in on the 2000s, for a short while before fading. Nevertheless, if Steven King or Hugh Howey say something that contradicts what I recommend, definitely give their words significant weight.


I think number one as far as a book (or books) getting noticed is to write and publish. Get your work out there. The best advertisement for a previous book is a new one.
If you submit a novel to publishers, while you’re waiting for that novel to find a home, write another. If you self-publish, don’t wait to see what happens with your first or most recent novel. Get another one out there for readers to get ahold of. A second novel, in essence, doubles your chances of finding readers. If it’s a series…you need to keep those that have found your works happy and interested. Beyond that, some readers don’t want to ‘invest’ in a single book author.
But just having a book out there isn’t enough. It has to be a good book, sure. But it needs a good cover. People do judge a book by its cover. It has to work both full size and as a thumbnail. If someone sees it as an ‘also bought’ or while browsing in some other fashion, if it (the cover art/title/layout) doesn’t catch a potential reader’s attention in some manner, he or she will move on and never ‘discover’ your work.
That means you have to check out the types of covers a publisher provides, especially in your genre, before you submit to them. (That’s just one bit of criteria to consider, but really determining publishers to submit a manuscript to is a whole separate article). If you self-publish, be professional. Hire someone skilled and experienced, just like you would an editor. It’ll increase the odds of your book finding readers.

Get reviews. What others say will echo louder than what you, the author says, or what your publisher says. Word of mouth is important, and reviews are a form of word of mouth, and will further entice readers considering investing time and money in your book.
Reviews from reviewers, reputable ones online, are difficult to get. Reviewers with a wide readership, and even trusted ones with smaller readerships are inundated with requests. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Reviews at Goodreads, and Amazon and B&N, and wherever your books are available, make a difference. Real reviews. Avid readers who use such reviews as a measure of a book’s quality to gauge whether it’s something they want to read…well, they invest at least enough time to make a few clicks and check out who the reviewer is. They especially take note if a reviewer has one review on Amazon, and it’s for your book. That one is discounted, and may actually count against an author—fair or not.

Ask your avid reader friends to give an honest review, especially if they write reviews on a regular basis. At the end of your book, ask the reader to post a review. If you sell copies at author events, ask a customer to write a review, especially if they enjoyed it. Yes, reviews from folks you don’t know and have never met do show up, but it’s only a small percentage of those that actually read the book. And if the book sells very few copies…that means few reviews, helping to pave the way to obscurity.
As an author, networking with readers can be dicey, especially online. Reader forums, for example, are very wary of authors self-promoting. More than a few bad apples have largely poisoned that well. The same thing with writer forums. And oversaturation of ‘buy my book’ sort of Tweets, well, they are not productive and can prove to be counterproductive. Having a Facebook page where people opt in? That can be a good place for a community of interested readers to interact with an author. But again, it’s not a place to try to ‘sell’. Readers who’ve built an online relationship with an author are more likely to talk about your works to their friends.
Again, someone else saying nice things about your work means more than you saying it yourself. If someone tweets, or posts or reviews…that will carry much more weight.
There are email lists and use of free ebooks and other promotional maneuvers…but that is fodder for another lengthy post, that someone else might want to write?

Finally, get out there. While it might happen that you can sit at home and play hermit and, despite this, your novel catches fire…that is very very much against the odds. Luck isn’t a strategy. Yes, luck can be a factor, but setting yourself up so that you cross paths with a bit of luck…that’s more of an objective to shoot for.
Go to book fairs and festivals, if you have print copies. Present at local libraries, talking about genres or the publishing business, or working with artists…or whatever you feel is one of your strengths to share. Visit forums, with maybe a link to your blog or website—probably not to an Amazon buy page—in the signature file. If folks at the forum(s) find your comments and input interesting, they might on their own try to discover more, and follow that link.
At those events and forums, network with the other authors. Exchange business cards and emails and knowledge. Offer to do interviews or the like on your blog or share on Facebook, or retweet something. Do this without an expectation of reciprocation. But if reciprocation occurs, your work will be out there, in front of eyes and potential readers…and, well, someone else is saying good things about your works, or offering a platform for you to provide some value to the visitors of that platform, be it a blog, a forum, a writer’s group, or a book club.
That’s the sort of thing I’m doing here. I was provided an opportunity by Misha to write an article for the readers of her blog. She suggested the topic, and it was within my realm of experience to provide an article to cover it, or at least that’s my belief.
…And if you’ve made it this far, you read the article. Thank you.
…And I hope you both enjoyed it and found it interesting and potentially useful.
…And I also hope you’ll click to learn a little more about me and my works available…and if they are something not directly of interest to you, share with others who you know it might be.
…And if you don’t? That’s okay too, because the main point of this article is assisting writers in ways to get their books noticed…not to sell my books. The hard sell is for persistent telemarketers and pushy used car salesmen, right?

Bio:



Terry W. Ervin II is an English and science teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction. His First Civilization’s Legacy Series(fantasy) includes Flank Hawk, Blood Sword, and Soul Forge.
The Crax War Chronicles, his science fiction series, includes Relic Tech and Relic Hunted (his most recent release from Gryphonwood Press).

In addition to writing novels, Terry’s short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, magazines and ezines. Genre Shotgun is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com and his blog, Up Around the Corner at uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com

Rachel Pattinson on Why It’s Great to be an Indie Author

Hi everyone! Sorry for my prolonged silence this week! I’m really in crunch time with my publishing at the moment, but I’m pushing to get the books out this weekend. Don’t worry, though. Today, I’m leaving my blog in Rachel Pattinson’s capable hands. 

Before I go. Just want to point out the irony of the subject, because at midnight last night, I needed to remember that indie authoring is awesome. 😉

Take it away, Rachel.



Four reasons why it’s great to be an indie author


First of all, thanks for having me today, Misha!

Writing can be a lonely job. Especially if you’re an indie author. You don’t have the support of a giant publishing house behind you, you’re not getting paid millions of pounds to write and you’re still stuck in your day job for the foreseeable future. Let’s face it: in our lowest moments, everyone has those days when they’d rather just quit this whole writing business and become a hermit instead.

Well today, I’m here to spread the indie author love and tell you why being an indie author rocks. Here are my four reasons why you should be celebrating the fact that you’re an indie author:

1. You wrote a book
Okay, so this isn’t strictly reserved for indie authors, but I think a lot of indie authors don’t give themselves enough credit. Can we all just stop for a moment please, and recognise the fact that you wrote a book. An actual book. With actual words. That actual people can read. At some point you took all those weird little thoughts that have been swirling around your fantastically weird* brain and you’ve made something out of them. This is such a massive achievement and you should be shouting it from the rooftops. I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles from authors (whether traditionally or indie published) who say that it’s always been their dream to write a book. Well guess what? Give yourself a great big tick – you’ve accomplished that dream.

*this is in no way a bad thing. Weird brains are awesome. We wouldn’t be writers without them.

2. You get to keep creative control
I’ve heard horror stories about authors being forced to change every little thing about their books in order to fit in with what their editor/publisher/agent deems to be ‘marketable’. Or they’re expected to sign over all their rights to the highest bidder, regardless of what the author actually wants. But I like to think of the publishing world as a load of people frantically trying to find a needle in a haystack. No one really knows whats going to happen. No one really knows what the ‘next big thing’ will be. Yes, people can make educated guesses on what readers might like, but who would’ve thought that erotica based on Twilight fan fiction would’ve turned out to be such a huge success? Or Twilight itself for that matter? True, most indie authors don’t have thousands of pounds to spend on marketing campaigns, but my point is that no one can really predict the future, and no one can tell you with 100% certainty what readers will or won’t like. Want to write that book about cake-loving aliens? Or a mash-up between GoT and Terminator with a handful of Jurassic Park thrown in for good measure? Go for it. I’m not saying it’ll sell. I’m not saying it won’t. I’m saying that you should be writing whatever it it you want to write – no one else. And that’s why I love being an indie author. I can write what I want – if it works, great! If not, well then, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson and I can keep moving forward with my writing. And the cherry on top of the cake is that as an indie author, you also get to keep all your rights to your novel. Boom.

3. You can work at your own pace
It’s up to you how much (or how little) you write. Want to release one book a year? Or churn out five in six months? It really is up to you. You’re in control of your writing and your time – which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. It’s good because if you suddenly get busy at work, or you’re dragged out of your writing cave by your significant other to interact with real people instead of the ones in your head, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You don’t have to answer to anyone and I find this an incredibly liberating thought. It’s up to me how much I write. My writing career is entirely in my hands – and I rather like the thought that I don’t have any kind of boss to answer to. On the other hand, if you’re a huge procrastinator (like me), this probably isn’t such a good thing. But hey, at the end of the day, your time and your writing is still your own. So go forth and write prolifically! Or not. Whatever, it’s all cool.

4. An awesome indie community

I’ve saved my best point for last. There is no way I ever would’ve had the courage or confidence to keep writing if it hadn’t been for the wonderful indie author community. Without their support and encouragement, I never would’ve had the confidence to self-publish my book. I honestly think that indie bloggers, reviewers and writers are the best bunch of people ever – each and every person that I’ve reached out to over the past few years has been friendly, welcoming, supportive and cheered me on every step of the way. I can’t thank them enough. They do amazing work every single day, simply because they love to do what they do, and I hope to be a part of this community for a long time to come. Being an indie author rocks, because you know that no matter what, you have the support of the whole indie community behind you.

So, in conclusion, if you want a career that involves tears, tantrums, throwing your laptop across the room in frustration, becoming addicted to tea and sugar AND YET being able to write about fantastical worlds every day, and having the support of a truly fantastic bunch of readers and writers, then indie publishing just may be for you. There’s a whole lot more to indie publishing than what I’ve listed here, but if you’re an indie author and you’re having a bad day, just remember this: you rock.

Now go and conquer the world.

About the author



Rachel Pattinson graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a BA Hons in Publishing Media. Born and raised in the north of England, she shares a love for anything to do with tea, cake, bread and butter, rain, the dark, lakes, fells and Lord of the Rings. She now lives in Norfolk with her partner in crime and is currently working on several new projects. Her debut novel Synthetica is available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.


If you fancy a chat or have a query, you can contact her on her blog, Rachel’s Ramblings.

Email her at: rachelsramblingsblog[at]gmail.com.

Or follow her on Twitter at: @REPattinson1

Add Synthetica to your TBR on Goodreads!

Update Day: How I Did in June

Hi everyone! This is the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time to update on my progress. For those of you who are new to my blog, Beth Fred and I host a bloghop where the entrants share their big, important or just crazy goals. Then once a month, we post updates on how we’re doing, and encourage each other.

If you’d like more information, or to visit some other people who are taking part, feel free to click here.

So my goals for June have been rather simple in theory. I simplified things as much as possible to help me get my two books published. Alas, my business (as in my day job) is still confounding me around every corner.

Honestly, I can’t complain. It’s a good thing that my business is showing movement and growth. It’s just a lot more difficult to manage two new businesses (because that’s what my publishing gig is too) when both are entering a high maintenance phase.

Anyway, this is how I did:

My Goals in June:

Writing:

1) For TVK and THC: Finish everything that needs to get finished for the final formatted submissions by mid-June. 

Didn’t make this. In fact, I’m not hoping to get this done before the end of the month.

2) Send out review copies by mid-June. (Or a week after that if I must.) 

This can only happen when I complete #1.

Reading:

Read enough to keep sane, but other than that, no set goal. 

Good thing I didn’t set a goal. I started a book in week 1, and haven’t been able to read it since. 

Social Media:

1) Get started on the materials needed for the blog tour. 

I’ve done some of the interviews, but I really need to get cracking with this. 

2) Continue with the stuff I’ve been doing because it seems to be working. 

Tried in between work stuff, but most of my available time went into prepping my books.

Life

Basically to keep growing my business and not go insane while I’m putting myself through a publishing hell of my own creation. Which might mean letting off steam with other crafts.

Did the growing my business part. I did get a bit of crocheting done. 

My Goals for July: 

Writing: 

1) If my submissions aren’t done by the end of the June, I want them done by end of the first week of July. 
2) Ditto for review copies being sent out. 
3) As soon the two above are done, I want to work on something new. Preferably a rough draft. I might join CampNano, but I’ll see toward the end of June.
4) Edit my short story for my Untethered Realms Anthology.

Reading: 

1) Finish the book I’d started. 
2) Read other books. Not giving myself a goal as to how many, because I know things are going to go nuts once my books are published. 

Social Media: 

1) Send out all materials and guest posts etc for my blog tour. 
2) Maintain my web presence as far as humanly possible. 

Life: 

1) That Europe trip is still in the pipeline, but will possibly happen in July. I want to get all necessary things done before my plane takes off from Cape Town. 
2) I want to recover from the publishing pressure by doing some other arts/crafts. 
3) Continue to grow my business. 
That’s pretty much me for today. How are you doing? Wish me luck! And don’t forget to sign up if you have a big goal to chase after. 

Peeking Out of the Editing Cave

*Blink blink.*

Holy cow it’s bright out here.

*Blink blink blink.*

People, things are going rough on my end. I’m having to prep both my books for publishing and grow my business at the same time. Which is why I’ve been so very conspicuous in my absence this past week.

I’m pushing to get final submission for both done this weekend, though. This is for two reasons: I still have a Europe trip looming sometime around the end of June and I want to give my reviewers a month’s time at least to read the books before the official release date.

Right now, I’m doing the final hard-copy proof-read of The Heir’s Choice. Basically to check if there are any edits that I’ve missed or any formatting for the paperback that’s gone wrong. Then I just need to implement the fixes and edits. After that, it’s the final formatting and adapting the covers to the paperback template, and I’m done.

Sounds easy enough. Just… not so much while my business is taking off at the same time. Because where I used to have plenty of quiet afternoons, now I don’t.

Of course, I’m not complaining. It’s good to have a thriving business again. And it’s amazing to see my books starting to sell once more.

I’m just feeling the pressure right now.

I don’t regret it, though. The sooner these books come out, the better. And the sooner I can get back to writing again. I really miss it. Haven’t written any fiction since the beginning of May and it’s really bothering me.

I just can’t focus on writing with my publishing to-do list lurking in the back of my mind.

A bit of good news is that things are currently going very well on Wattpad. Right now, I have two books on writing and The Vanished Knight ranking in their genres. (One book on writing is in the top 100.)

So yeah. That’s me in a nutshell right now. How are you doing? Anyone else prepping to self publish? Or entering the query and/or submission trenches?

To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter

This is probably going to get quite a few people upset. You know…in the same order of upset as “I don’t think hard selling on Twitter sells books.” 

The thing is just… 
Well. 
I don’t like newsletters. 
At all. 
Not even a little. 
In fact, even if I once upon a time subscribed to them, getting one in my inbox immediately spikes my blood pressure. 
Which is why I’ve now taken to not signing up to them anymore. Sorry to everyone who’s asked, but when it comes to newsletters, I’m definitely not your target audience. 
And yet it seems like everyone swears by them. 
And just when I get sold on the idea, I get one of those danged things in my inbox and there goes all the convincing. 
So here are the reasons why I don’t like the idea of a newsletter: 
1) If I’ve created an online place where someone could just go to check out for updates (which I now do), why must I send a newsletter? 
2) Given that I have blogs and/or writing gigs for: writers, readers, spec fic readers, women, people who like reading about someone taking charge of their lives, AND interior freaking decorating (yes, really), I honestly don’t see what the heck a newsletter would add. More than that, I don’t know what I’d even put in the newsletter. Other than HEY! By the way… I have a new book out. 
3) And if “HEY! I HAVE A BOOK OUT!” is all I have to ever say in a newsletter, that’s pretty much equal to (in my mind at least) hard selling on Twitter. 
4) Given the sheer volume of people now swearing to newsletters, I’m really wondering if my newsletter would even make a dent? 
BUT! 
That said, I know that sometimes, it’s not just about what I like. Marketing is about doing things the market likes. 
Except: Does the market even really like newsletters? 
So please do let me know your thoughts. And your reasoning if you are using newsletters. 

Just a quick check-in.

I was going to post something I’d written a while back about how I actually work on multiple goals at a time, but I haven’t had a chance to visit any blogs since Wednesday, so I don’t think it would be fair to subject people to a long(ish) post.

And although it’s only 8:30 pm at the moment, I’m exhausted.

It hasn’t actually been a really tough week, but I think the change of season has caught up with me with a cold or something draining my energy.

I’m thinking that going to sleep now and sleeping in will probably help me get over the slump. On the other hand, this will be yet another day where I haven’t continued final proofreading for The Vanished Knight. 

Or any of the other writing, critique, publishing and/or editing related things I’m supposed to do. And today is half way through this month.

How strange. I thought May was supposed to be my month off.

Anyway. I’m a bit frustrated at the moment. I want to get The Heir’s Choice online for pre-orders too. Because until I do, I’m a bit hampered in my marketing efforts. (Hard to point people anywhere when I don’t have anywhere for them to go to.)

And my problem is that I’m not getting the blurb the way I want. It’s seriously frustrating, because I’m great at helping other people with their blurbs.

My own, on the other hand, are constantly kicking my ass.

So I’m thinking I should just go sleep and start again when I’m refreshed. No point to trying to edit while sleepy.

How are you doing? Do you also have trouble with your own blurbs?