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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.