Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

How Liz Schulte Failed Her Way to Massive Success as an Independent Author

In this guest post, you’ll learn how Liz Schulte failed her way to massive success as an independent author. One thing is for sure, she’s humble about her level of success. To learn more about how I met her, download this book for free: Profitable Publishing Today.

Liz Schulte’s Story

Liz Schulte

Since starting my publishing career about seven years ago, I have been fortunate enough to speak with and learn from many other authors. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds, writing styles and professional careers. One thing that we all have in common is that we wrote a book. It doesn’t matter if the book is insanely successful or still looking for its market, writing a book is a major accomplishment. At the risk of sounding cliché, writing is a journey. A journey that is a little different for everyone, but not one you have to do alone.

This journey is the reason I am talking to you today. You see, I found myself traveling down this road to becoming an author without ever knowing it was where I wanted to be. A lot of writers knew they always wanted to be an author—I am not one of them. I wanted to be a lawyer then I was toying with the idea of forensic psychology. I never considered writing because it wasn’t a “real” career.

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However, after a fair amount of prodding I set out to write a book. Little by little I wrote bits and pieces as I had time, never breathing a word to anyone about what I was doing. The book wasn’t for other people, it was for me. I used every single idea that came to me. I remember thinking I would never be able to write another book because I used every good idea I had. In the mornings, the book was the first thing I thought about and it was my last thought as I fell asleep at night. Finally, I made it to the end. I was overwhelmed by the immediate sense of accomplishment that was quickly followed by sadness. My journey had ended.

After a few days, I started to read this book that I had poured so much of myself into and it was … awful. It was slap in the face. I grew up reading twelve books a week. How could I have written something so horrible? My first thought was to delete it, but something stopped me. Maybe it was the countless hours I poured into it or maybe I knew I couldn’t simply delete an accomplishment because it didn’t fit the narrow definition of what I wanted it to be. I finally decided I needed a second opinion. I confessed to my best friend that I had written a book and it wasn’t very good. She wanted to read it and I kind of wanted to hide under a rock. However, I did the brave thing and let the book go. A few days later, she finished reading it and told me something I wasn’t prepared to hear. She liked the story.

The next several months I devoted to making the book better, more like it was in my head. I tweaked and fussed until it was something that resembled what I wanted it to be, though it still hadn’t quite gotten there. By this point, I had already started another novel in a completely different genre. I made a folder for the first book and tucked it away as I fell in love with a new group of characters.

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I had no clue what to do with the first book. The extent of my plan was to write a book. I hadn’t thought beyond that. After much discussion, I agreed to query some agents. I sent out ten letters and received ten blandly polite form letters in return—though one did have a nice hand written note directing me to someone else, but I didn’t contact him. You see I loved writing and no one was going to steal that joy from me by telling me they didn’t like my books. I was happy just writing them.

This attitude brought me to a crossroads in the journey. I could keep writing just for myself, or I could find a way to share my stories. That’s when I received my first eReader as a gift. I promptly downloaded several books and read one that was really cute. I went in search of who her agent was only to discover she had self-published. It was an option I didn’t even know I had. I sent her a nervous email asking about self-publishing and what it required. In less than a day, she responded with a very long email telling me about her journey as a self-published author. Though I had no idea at the time, the woman I contacted just so happened to be one of the early Kindle millionaires.

I chose my path. I was going self-publish my books.

However, being a reader didn’t help me when it came to marketing or even the finer writing points. I began to devour as much information as I could. I saved my money and went to conferences, joined online writing groups and indiscriminately read everything my Google searches brought me to on the subject. Those early times were fraught with floundering blog posts trying to figure out what in the hell a brand was and whether or not I had one already.

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The first book released to lukewarm sales. I determined it was because I had done everything wrong. At one conference, they told me that flashbacks were bad—my book had them. At another conference, I was told that dreams were the worst—yep had those, too. It didn’t matter though because I had another book and this one was going to be different. This time I would do everything right. The new genre was hot and surely everyone would immediately snatch it up and Joss Whedon would want to buy the movie rights.

The second book came out, and much to my horror, it did worse than the first. What was I doing wrong? Marketing. Obviously, marketing was the answer. I would just market the hell out of the first book and then they would read my second book, never mind that I had written in two different genres. I set up blog tours, bought advertisements, set up some free days and did absolutely everything anyone had ever suggested about marketing. The first book started to sell. It had momentum, but guess what? The sales never transferred over to my other book. Instead people wanted to know when the next one would be out. I didn’t have another mystery. I was in the midst of writing a paranormal romance trilogy that wasn’t selling. I hit yet another crossroads in my journey: should I throw over my trilogy to write another mystery?

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Part of me wanted to follow the money, but I followed my gut. I wanted to write the trilogy so I did. And I couldn’t have made a better decision. After a fairly mediocre year, I released the third book in the trilogy and I used what I had learned marketing that first book to market the first book in the trilogy. The month of the release I made $12,000 and realized for the first time that maybe writing really could be a career.

I did a lot of things wrong along my journey, but I also did a lot things right. If I had to narrow it down, I would say these were the more influential decisions I made:

  1. I believed in myself.
    No one has ever told me I don’t have confidence in myself. I wrote a book and never once thought that I shouldn’t try it or it might be too hard. I simply wrote it because that’s what I wanted to do. That same confidence gave me the courage to undertake the overwhelming task of self-publishing and it helped me believe in my stories enough that I didn’t give up on them.
  2. I never stopped learning.
    Twenty-four books later, I am still learning. I still read about the industry, writing and marketing. Now, I am a bit more discerning about who I take advice from, but I still actively seek out new information. Recently, I heard the term influencer marketing. I didn’t know what it was so I read every article I could find on it until I started getting ideas about how I could apply it to what I do.
  3. I treated writing like a business.
    Yes, writing is a creative pursuit, but publishing is a business. I set deadlines and went through hell to keep them. I made professional connections and respected other people’s expertise and time like I would my own. To be a good self-publisher you have to be prepared for both aspects of the business.
  4. I did everything wrong.
    This is my favorite point to make. I didn’t do any of the things the blogs and speakers told me to do. I listened to them and respected what they had to say and where they were coming from, but this journey was my journey, not theirs. All the well-meaning advice in the world will not get you further down the road. If you are writing a book and you want a prologue in it, then put it in. You are the writer. Even if I rewrote my first book today, I wouldn’t touch a single one of the flashback scenes. They are just the way I wanted them to be. It is a part of that story and just because someone else got sick of them, doesn’t mean that I can’t use them. Always be true to your creative vision first. If it doesn’t work, cut it in editing, but trust your characters and let them have their own voice.
  5. I didn’t listen to the fear.
    I didn’t tell people I knew in my daily life that I was writing and publishing books until I had multiple books released. Even then, the thought of people I knew reading my books made me feel sick. It was ice-cold fear. I still have it. When people I know read my books I wait for them to tell me how much they hate it or everything I did wrong. I feel sick to my stomach when I send each book to editing, always fairly certain this is the book when they take away my laptop and tell me no more writing. The fear is everywhere and all authors have it. Had I listened to the fear I would have deleted my first book. I would never have let my friend read it. I wouldn’t have emailed that first author. I wouldn’t have joined and been active in author groups. I wouldn’t have tried self-publishing. I wouldn’t have put so much into promoting a book that wasn’t selling. I wouldn’t have finished my trilogy. I wouldn’t left my day job. The list can go on and on. Fear has long been the killer of dreams and I simply wasn’t willing to place mine on the chopping block.

Liz Schulte’s Marketing Plan

So that’s my story about how I got to this place where I can be a self-supported self-published author. Kim also asked me to tell you about my marketing plan. I am going to do this as a bulleted list in the order of importance:

  • The book
    Great marketing might sell one book, but it doesn’t make a career. The story, especially the ending, is what makes loyal readers. This is part of the reason why I am always learning. Each book is a chance to hone my craft and tell a better story so I always try to produce novels I can be proud of—stories I would like as a reader.
  • The quantity of product
    This was a mistake I made, but it was a lesson well learned. I focused a large amount of money and time on marketing one novel when I didn’t have a backlist. It worked, the book sold, but there wasn’t the return on investment that I should have had. If one book is all you ever plan on writing, then market it as much as you want. But if you are planning a series, wait until you are at least three books in to start ramping up marketing efforts. You will get more return on your investment.
  • Advertisement
    The best way I have found to get word out about my books isn’t plastering social media with “please buy my book” posts. It is forming a strategic marketing plan for each book. First, I submit my book that will be on sale to Bookbub. If they choose my book, I will then form a strategy around that post. Bookbub still has the best reach of any of the book mailing lists, but they are also very selective, so don’t get discouraged. If I don’t get that ad, I select my sale period and will systematically go through the various sites stacking as many ads as I can for a period of a week to two weeks. The more exposure I can get the better. I will also set up targeted Facebook advertising for the period and send out my newsletter.
  • Networking
    Writing can be solitary, but don’t shut yourself off too much. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there from your fellow authors. Make friends, help others and accept their help. The indie community is kind and embraces new authors. Be respectful of other people’s time, but don’t be scared to ask your questions. Also, attend conferences. Meet authors, writers and publishers. Talk to them and share about your own experiences. Those connections will come back to reward you.
  • Social engagement
    I love social media — maybe a little too much. However, keeping in contact with your readers helps you, as an author, stay on their mind. Remember that you are there to be social, not to sell. Be yourself and only do the platforms you like. If you don’t like any social media, then don’t use it. Set up an email and website where readers can reach you. The idea is to make a direct connection between you and your readers.

That’s it. That’s my entire marketing strategy. There aren’t simple answers or easy solutions. Working hard and believing in yourself is the only way I know how to make a book series successful. I wish each of you the best of luck and would love to hear from you.

Liz

Liz Schulte is a self-published author in mystery and paranormal romance with more than twenty novels, multiple short stories and audiobooks. She is a member of RWA and her local guilds in Missouri, the Missouri Writer’s Guild, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers of America.

Though success in publishing didn’t happen overnight, like she envisioned it would, the journey has been worth the trials along the way. Liz became a self-supported full time author in 2013 and wouldn’t trade her hard begotten knowledge or the wonderful friends she has made along the way for anything.

Liz has a degree in psychology from the University of Missouri and a minor in philosophy. She has taken numerous forensic courses and writing classes as well as attended several symposiums on writing. She speaks on subjects ranging from self-publishing to marketing and social media.

Website                    Facebook                    Twitter                    Pinterest

© Liz Schulte 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.



Ash Borodin Discusses the Writing and Editing Process

I want to thank Ash Borodin and his editor, Elisa, for providing this unique guest post about the writing and editing processes for the PPG Publisher’s Blog. I smiled all the way through the below dialog and found myself nodding “yes” through much of it.

The creative process of writing a book takes on many different forms, as Ash discusses below, and the editing/ghostwriting processes require much patience and collaboration between two willing participants…

Ash Borodin on The Editing/Writing Process

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My name’s Ash and my debut novel is called The Jealous Flock. It’s about the parallel lives of unique individuals struggling to define their values and identity in relation to the major culture clash(es) the world is experiencing right now.

My name’s Elisa and I edited the Jealous Flock

Ash: Everything I do is experimental, including this interview (which we are collaborating on live through Google Docs). I can imagine I’m an editor’s worst nightmare…

Elisa: Yes, you can say that again.

Ash: Can you elaborate on that… On second thought, actually don’t. Well, give us a rough idea of one of the challenges.

Elisa: Well for starters, having the chapters written in no particular order, so I couldn’t really make sense of the story. And using speech to text didn’t always give the words you intended, so I had to guess what they might be.

Ash: Ah, yes, I’d forgotten about that. I think I had this general master plan in my head for what the final book should be but I had no idea how to weave it all together. So initially it was more just a bunch of short stories. And then I gradually wrote some bridging stories to connect the others and from there more changes had to be made. It really was a mess. I still think it was a pretty good mess, from my point of view, it was like a band improvising, each person takes a solo and the others fit in and react.

Elisa: I also found it strange to read when it was initially in present tense, and I told you it sounded like a play.

Ash: Well, in a sense it was. And when you said that, I thought – alright I’ll make it a play then. But that was more stubbornness than resolve on my part. I think it could easily be adapted to work as a screenplay and that’s something I keep in the back of my mind if the opportunity ever arises.

Elisa: I think it might lack the beautiful descriptions you have put into the writing though, and perhaps make it more bland.

Ash: Yeah, and in part it was vanity that spurred me on to rewrite the whole thing in past tense. I didn’t want to lose my poetic vision, my voice. But finding some way between the two extremes was a real challenge for me as a writer, this being my debut novel especially. Because I wrote a lot of it live – I method acted the lines through a voice-recorder – it had that zeal, the immediacy you only get from the spoken word and some of the intimacy of conversation. To then put that into past tense, well it felt like prostitution of my passion at first. I was really adverse to it.

Now I tell people the importance of having an active reader (or an editor, really) from the beginning. Because writing is one thing, but storytelling is really a higher level of writing and that involves connecting, relating to your audience.

Elisa: Yes, it is, but it’s a hell of a difficult thing to try and convince an author that he needs to make a change like this. Authors really don’t like criticism of any kind.

Ash Borodin

Ash: Not naming any names, of course….

Elisa: None at all. And by the way, just so people know, I’m editing your writing as we speak. That’s why there are no spelling mistakes.

Ash: Ha! What people don’t know is that you just wrote ‘smelling mistakes’ and I saw it!

Elisa: Yes, okay, you caught me, but I did fix it immediately.

Ash: I think if we were to work on a book again it would be much easier this time because we’ve both mellowed a lot. For those who came in late, Elisa and I are married. And in the 3 years since we wrote the book we’ve been through a lot personally and as a couple, and I think though we blow up at times under great stress, we are generally able to plan ahead for stress and compartmentalise it a lot better.

Elisa: Sometime a good yelling match is exactly what you need to release it all.

Ash: I know, yesterday’s was great. We called each other unprintable names. A good time was had by all…

Elisa: So, back to editing… another thing that was difficult to get a handle on was that each character used first person, which was really confusing during the editing.

Ash: I think I would do that differently now, but surprisingly no-one’s complained about it yet. Yet….

Elisa: I think it actually works… now.  Now that we have each character’s name in the title of each chapter (thanks to me).

Ash: Yeah that was a necessary evil I was forced to accept as well. I was trying to be so clever in my writing that the reader would intuitively know who the character speaking was – that this was now their perspective. But it was too high a bar for me and maybe an unnecessary bar at that.

Elisa: You can’t expect the reader to do too much work themselves.

Ash: Well that was probably the final thing I relented on. I wanted it to be more work than it eventually was – for the reader. I wanted them to really pay attention like one would with a textbook or work of philosophy. But in the end the need to relate overcame the desire to be very serious.

Ash Borodin’s book is available here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NAPZWB8

http://ashleyborodin.weebly.com

© Ash Borodin 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.




Guest Bloggers Wanted

Guest bloggers wanted for the PPG Publisher’s Blog! If you have some truly helpful advice to share with aspiring and established authors, we’ll consider it. Here are our guidelines.

Guest Bloggers Wanted

Guest Bloggers Wanted to Inspire Budding Authors

There is already plenty of guidance out there (and on this blog) that warns authors about the possible difficulties they may experience during their book publishing journeys. This type of advice has value, for sure. But your guest post should be inspirational rather than cautionary.

Do you have a success story of your own to share? If you landed on a bestseller list, which one was it? Did you sell more copies of your book than expected? Did you receive some great book reviews from your fans? How did you do it? Share your inspirational advice with others so they can learn how to achieve the same. Show them the wonderful possibilities that will help them keep themselves inspired.

Guest Bloggers Wanted to Educate Indie Authors

Some authors prefer to start with self-publishing and build a solid fan base before approaching trade publishers to take on their books. This way, they’re more likely to sign a traditional publishing deal.

Others prefer to remain independent. Once they see how much success they can have on their own, why share their profits by handing over the reins to someone else?

What tips do you have for these indie authors? Where can they find the best book cover design templates for free? How can they convert their manuscripts into .EPUB and .MOBI ebook files for publishing on Kobo and Amazon? Do you have any helpful book printing tips for paperbacks or hardcovers?

What advice do you have that will make life easier for indie authors everywhere? Share it here so you can help them to self-publish more easily.

Guest Bloggers Wanted to Share Writing Tips

The purpose of this blog is to provide free tips that help aspiring and established authors with every aspect of the book publishing process from conception to publication. Writing. Graphic design. Editing. Proofreading. Indexing. Publishing. Printing. Sales. Marketing.

Since I’m a TESOL-certified sales coach for authors, my blog already contains lots of post-publication content regarding book sales and marketing. More pre-publication advice, specifically tailored toward helping writers complete their manuscripts, is also very welcome here. (Click here to view examples of past writing-related posts.)

How Do You Submit Your Original Content for Consideration?

If you have a guest post that meets all our criteria, please contact us here to tell us more about it. If we like the idea, we’ll ask you to email it to us in Microsoft Word format.

To keep the flow of information open and easy for everyone involved, there aren’t any hard and fast deadlines to meet nor specific word counts that must be met. We ask only that your guest post contains more than 300 words. And it must be original content that has never been posted online anywhere else.

Please provide an author photo along with your post. To ensure all guest bloggers receive as much value from this experience as our subscribers do, you are free to promote your own books/websites/projects here. Place links and information of this variety within an author bio at the bottom of your post.

Can You Re-post This Content Elsewhere Online?

You will remain the copyright owner of your guest post on the PPG Publisher’s Blog. However, to protect the SEO of both this blog and your content, please refrain from reposting it anywhere else within 60 days of it being posted here. If/when you do share it elsewhere, you must attribute the original source by including the following message at the top or bottom of your re-post:

This post first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog:
insert direct link to the original post here. It has been republished here with permission.

Why do you want to refrain from re-posting it anywhere else within 60 days of it being posted here? And why do you want to include that notice on your re-post? There is a very good reason that will protect your own blog’s ranking on search engines such as Google. This ebook provides important details as to why. Protect yourself! Make sure you read it before guest-posting or sharing anyone else’s content on your own blog.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Writer School

Michael LaRocca Talks Writer School?

In this guest post, Michael LaRocca talks writer school. Is it necessary?

Here’s something from my mailbag. “Dear Michael, do you need to do good in school if you want to be a writer? I stink at school and all my friends laugh at me when I tell them I want to write, but I’m serious.” Followed by a sentence or two of “I need your words to encourage me” or some such nonsense.

Fortunately, a writing sample is rarely attached. If it is, either it’s excellent or it stinks like rancid yak butter.

Do you have to be good in school? Given what’s passing for English in some places, I’d certainly like to see more effort given to school. If you’re a student reading this, please try to learn something while you can.

If you aspire to be an author and you did poorly in school, or if you’re just plain uneducated, don’t let it stop you. What we do as authors isn’t taught in school. They teach grammar, and bless them. I can’t teach that subject. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll stumble across some teachers who teach you how to think. But thinking is the beginning of writing, not the end, and grammar can be fixed later if you find some long-suffering editor who’s willing to do it.

In other words, school can help you with the first step or two of your journey to becoming an author. Considering how many steps come after those, don’t be discouraged by test results and report cards.

To distill what you think, feel and believe from all the trash floating around in your head, and then to actually put that on paper the way you mean to put it, is a skill that only comes from years of practice. They don’t teach it in school. At least, no school I’ve ever attended.

Also, remember that you can never learn how to write books. You can only learn how to write the book that you are currently writing.

Our emailer then mentions that her friends laugh at her when she tells them she intends to write. Why does she care? I’ve lost count of how many projects I’ve undertaken despite criticism. Not just writing, either. Life. But let me narrow my focus so I can end this rant.

I shouldn’t have to tell you why you write. You don’t need my vindication or anyone else’s. If those who haven’t even read your work can discourage you, maybe you should give up. Or leave it all in a file cabinet somewhere for people to find after you die.

But I can tell you this. If you’ll let something as silly as your grades in school stop you from even beginning to write in the first place, nothing you have to write is worth finding after you die. And if you’re angry at me for saying it, good. Prove me wrong. Write a book.

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I’ve been paid to edit since 1991 and still love it, which has made people question my sanity, but they were doing that before I started editing. I got serious about my writing in 1978. Although I’ve retired more times than Brett Favre, I’m writing my 19th book. Learn more about me at MichaelEdits.com.

© Michael LaRocca 2019

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.




Car Horns

{Author’s Note: I wrote this piece called Car Horns in 2005. I live in North Carolina now. One day I’ll write about turn signals.}

Car Horns by Michael LaRocca of MichaelEdits.com

Let’s pretend that you live in China. Let’s also pretend that, unlike me, you own a car. A Volkswagen Santana, of course. Who do you honk the horn at?

Well, you honk at everyone who’s in your way, and who you think is in your way, and who you are passing, and who you think is trying to pass you. Every bicycle needs a honk in case the driver can’t see you. Every pedestrian, most definitely, because they’re not looking at anything except their feet as they float out in front of you, or the text messages they’re sending on their cell phones.

Every car does this, and the roads become a constant cacophony of car horns. The noise is such that everybody tunes it out in order to function, so the horns are pointless. Nobody is listening to the horns. Some of us wear MP3 players cranked up to full volume specifically to block the noise, which is why we’re deaf. But honking is a habit the Chinese driver can’t break. It’s like breathing.

Okay, now here comes a legitimate reason to honk the horn, an emergency, perhaps some fool walking right in front of your car. What do you do? Flick the headlights. Just how stupid is that? If he can’t hear your horn, he sure can’t hear your headlights. Of course he can’t see your headlights, because he’s not looking at you. That’s what caused the crisis in the first place. Plus, it’s daytime. Nobody can see headlights in the daytime when he’s facing the other direction.

I offer this little tale for authors who wonder why I prefer understatement. Exclamation points and superlatives are your car horns. Save them until you actually need them.

{Author’s Note 2: I gave this to one of my Advanced English Writing classes in China. They weren’t offended. Hey, it never hurts to check. Beep beep!}

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I’ve been paid to edit since 1991 and still love it, which has made people question my sanity, but they were doing that before I started editing. I got serious about my writing in 1978. Although I’ve retired more times than Brett Favre, I’m writing my 19th book. Learn more about me at MichaelEdits.com.

© Michael LaRocca 2018/2019

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.