Posted in Writers, Writing

Resources for Writers

PhotoFunia-writers write

If you love to write for the sake of writing, then you will find a way to write no matter what.

If you think that you have the great, American novel in you, there are plenty of people out there willing to take your money with the promise of helping you somehow get there.

What I love about this internet world that we live in is that we all can write and reach a fairly wide audience as long as we are willing to share our writing while knowing we may never see monetary remuneration, but only know the intense satisfaction that comes when even one person other than a blood relative has read something of ours and been moved by it.

Through the last few years of writing a blog, self-publishing novels, and studying marketing for my day job, I have come across several free services and tools that may help others with their writing goals. Here are some of these resources:

To Publish:

Kindle Scout:

If you’re willing to release some control of your book for the sake of potential exposure to readers, this program through Amazon might be the ticket. Basically, Scout allows you to put your story in front of potential readers, who vote on the books they would like to see published.

I have opted to try this for my latest project, Camden Meets His Match, which is a continuation of my last book, The Texas Stray.  You can check out my campaign page here. Thanks in advance for taking a moment to check out my book and, hopefully, vote for it.

Even if you don’t get published through the Scout program, you can e-publish your book by creating a direct account with the major publishing outlets: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Itunes. Amazon has created an e-book on how to format your book for Kindle that will help you create  novel pdfs that are compatible with any E-Reader.

PhotoFunia-Camden

Lulu:

There are several direct publishing houses on the internet. These publishing houses practice publishing on demand, so that you can have a physical copy of your book. They literally wait to publish a copy of your book when the book is actually ordered.

I have used Lulu.com for this process in the past. Besides providing the hard copy book, Lulu also has made my books available in the major outlets for either hard or electronic copies. The only cost to the writer is ordering one copy of your book to approve before Lulu distributes the finished work.

As long as you are comfortable with your editing abilities and cover design, you can create your own book with this resource without having to pay exorbitant fees.

To Market:

Internet:

If you want to have an internet presence, you need a website (like a blog), an email where readers can reach you, and at least one social media account. Each blog you post should also post on your social media sites. Most PR people would also insist you have an email list where you can send newsletters to potential readers.

Obviously, WordPress offers what I think is the best platform for blogging. I maintain a free site for my writing, but I have also created a paid site for my day job. Both have found readers and are easy to study stats, key words, etc. Google also offers a free blog service called Blogspot.

A Facebook page costs you nothing unless you decide to advertise your page. Postplanner is a low cost Facebook service that helps you find interesting things to post if following other pages isn’t sufficient for you.

If you have more than one Google+ page like I do, you might want to check out Hootsuite, a service that allows you to schedule posts for Google+ pages.

Constant Contact is a great email service, though it costs you according to how many people you have on your email list. Speaking of email, do you have your blog or web address listed in the signature line of your personal and business email? This is a simple, often overlooked, way to promote your author endeavors.

PhotoFunia-share what you love

Business Cards:

With sites like Office Depot and Vistaprint.com, you can create very professional business cards that promote a particular project or yourself as an author at rather inexpensive cost to you. These can be handed out at events you attend, in your daily course of living, and left at cooperating businesses. Let people know where they can find your books, where to find you on the web, and even your author email address in case they need to communicate with you directly.

The Library:

People do still get books from the local library. I visited my local branch and donated a copy of my first two books. After a review process, they went onto the circulating shelves. Now, I show up in any search of the library catalog, and I have made my books available to even more readers.

Pictures:

There are so many wonderful programs for designing graphics, many of which are free (especially for noncommercial use). Here are just some of the programs I have used:

  • Canva.com–graphics and pictures. Some elements cost money, but if you don’t use them, the service is free. Also, the graphics are available in pre-set sizes, including Kindle book covers!
  • Photofunia.com–upload your picture into pre-designed graphics like bulletin boards, canvases, etc. The site also has several pictures that just take text to help you make a quick graphic for a blog post.
  • Picmonkey.com–fun picture editor that has a free and paid version.
  • Freedigitalphotos.net–gobs of stock photos you can use for FREE as long as you follow the attribution requirements.

Whenever I search for images online, I always use the extra search tools in whatever search engine I am using to narrow down the search to those images which are public domain or otherwise valid for my use (not protected by copyright). I have never worried about my own images enough to figure out how to set the copyright for myself, but it’s worth some investigation if you put a lot of effort into your picture and graphics work.

Other Resources:

I have found quite a few of the tricks I have mentioned here through a couple of emails I get each week: Author Experts and Publicity Hound.

Goodreads is another great resource to connect with readers. You can easily create an author page, make your books available to readers, etc. through this free organization.

Finally, I’m convinced that Amazon has some of the best SEO practices on the planet, which means establishing an author page with them is very helpful. They send regular emails with helpful tips. You can also increase traffic/interest in your own site by doing other authors the great favor of reviewing their books.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but hopefully I’ve mentioned a few resources you did not know about. Also, please share any resources you regularly use that I have failed to mention.

If you don’t enjoy writing, do something else. If you do enjoy writing, make full use of the variety of resources available to modern writers to make your finished works the best they can possibly be.

 

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Posted in Romantic Fiction, Writing

A Moment to Celebrate

Even though I have been able to publish my books through Lulu.com and at Barnes and Noble, it took me a while to get everything prepared properly for the novels to get onto Amazon for the Kindle. Finally, this weekend, I sat down and finished the process.

You can find the official Kindle page for each one at the links below:

  • THE TEXAS STRAY

    MACY’S TREASURE

  • I applaud all the writers who are going to be taking on the challenge of November’s National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo. Since I am about two-thirds of the way through my third novel, I am going to forego the challenge this year and hope I can finish the first draft of this novel.

    “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
    —Catherine Drinker Bowen

    Here’s to hoping that you find more than just a few of the right words in my writings. Thanks, as always, for the opportunity to be read.

    ~Ramona

    Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

    One Small Step. . . .

    Potential cover for "The Texas Stray"  Writing even a decent story takes time, especially when writing is the thing you do because you love it, the thing you do when you have finished doing all the tasks required of you for the job that pays the bills.  Even when you put the final period to a manuscript over which you may have slaved for definitely months and, more often, years, your work is far from done.  I would argue it is at that moment that the really hard work for your writing actually begins.

    It is difficult to be one’s own editor, but the best of writers do just that.  Being a good editor means first giving yourself time between finished first draft and beginning revisions.  You need to be able to hold your finished work at arm’s length to view it, not still be in the stage where you are cuddling your words to your breast like a new-born child.

    Once you have given your work a good three- or four-time-critical eye, it’s a good idea to have some test readers before you unleash your latest jewel on the unsuspecting public.  These test readers are ideally not your grandmother, who loves everything you do, or even your best friend.  The best test readers are people just like the ones you wrote your book for in the first place.  If you can manage it, a quick critique form to go along with your test book might offer you some very valuable information about just what your book needs to take it to that next level.

    But still, your job is just beginning.  While others are perusing your work, you should be writing up the cover material for your work, the synopsis that will give the readers an idea of what your book is going to be about and that will make them want to read it.  What is the gist of your story?  What is the main thing readers will get out of reading your book?  Does your main benefit actually appeal to your target audience?

    Next, you get to become a marketing expert as well as a writer.  You need to design cover art that will appeal to people flipping through ebook lists or scanning shelves at a physical bookstore.  Are the images you are using legal for you to use?  Again, does the art work convey a message that meshes with what happens between the covers?  Will it appeal to your audience?  How many possible great reads have you passed up because the cover did nothing to compel you to read more about it?

    Besides the visual appeal of the cover, the actual title of your novel needs to be catching.  It is your hello to potential readers.  A dull title gets you ignored every time.  Titles are a bit easier to test than other aspects of your book.  People in your church, a survey of your friends on Facebook, even a few phone calls, can give you a pretty good idea if your title makes people interested, confused, or bored.

    Of course, all this action has to proceed as you also strive to live your life.  You still have to earn a paycheck, wash the clothes, feed your family, clean your house, work on your blog and other outreach vehicles, keep up on paying your bills.  And, probably, you’re also already beginning the next, great project–for who among us doesn’t always have at least two or three ideas rumbling around in our heads that we want to finish some day?

    As you might have guessed, I am finally reaching the point where I am closer to publishing my second novel, The Texas Stray.  The picture above is my second cover.  I’m not sure it will be the cover.  I still need to write up a decent sales pitch, and I am just beginning my third serious edit.  So, now is the time for me to practice patience.  I want to offer fiction that is worth reading and that gives a positive message about living a Christian life, even as it looks at the challenges every Christian faces.  Just because it is easy to self-publish these days does not mean that I should jump so quickly into publishing that I actually offer an inferior product.

    So, here’s to all of us trying to grow an audience of readers who enjoy what we do, wearing all the hats in the publishing spectrum while we do so.  Thanks to all of you who support this blog by reading it each week.  I hope that your experiences are enhanced by what you find here.  I know my writing and life journey have been greatly blessed through the gift of having the opportunity to do this–on my own terms and in my own time.

    God bless.