Stanford Workshop on Self-Publishing – Feb 9, 2019

I’ll be teaching a one-day workshop at Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, on how to self-publish a book. Registration started on Monday, Dec. 3.

The workshop is designed to give you a clear overview of the self-publishing process–how it works, and what it requires of you.

Joining me will be author Anne Janzer who has self-published several books (including The Writer’s Process, The Workplace Writer’s Process, and Writing to Be Understood). A Silicon Valley marketing expert, Anne will be talking (from deep in the trenches) about what she has learned about marketing self-published books, and how she was able to reach #1 bestseller in her category on Amazon.

Enrollment is limited to 25. If you’d like to join us, act quickly as the workshop often fills to capacity within a few days. Register at Stanford Continuing Studies.

BookExpo 2015 Connects Writers with Publishing Services

Photo by Rod Searcey

Book Expo America, the big New York show for publishers, featured several new resources for self-published writers. Here’s a roundup:

BookWorks founder Betty Sargent and BookDesigner founder Joel Friedlander have teamed up to publish The Self Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide. The new book contains over 800 curated resources, including editors, designers, and book marketing experts by name. BookWorks also offers an online database of vetted publishing professionals, as do Bibliocrunch and Reedsy.

Publishers Weekly now offers “first reads” and “evaluations” of your manuscript by professionals in the book business. Through its Booklife site for self-published authors, PW experts will provide feedback on a treatment plus the opening 1,500 words of your manuscript for $79; or the entire manuscript for under $600.

TextCafe is one of several new companies making it easier to create samples of your book to tweet, post or email to potential readers. You control the percentage of your ebook you want to reveal and which online bookstores to show your readers. Your sample goes out with front cover intact. TextCafe is offering a free 21-day trial. Litlette is offering similar sampling services through Facebook.

BookBub, the company that offers new titles to readers at discounted prices, provided a glimpse at their own reader demographics during the Expo. Turns out they are strongest at reaching older women “empty-nesters”who are heavy readers of genre fiction (romance, mystery, thrillers, fantasy). Fifty-nine percent of their readers read over 4 books per month. You must be accepted into the BookBub program and you must pay for the promotion, but once accepted, you have a better chance of reaching the readers you want.

SelfPubBookCovers featured at BookExpo a sampling of their large collection of inexpensive pre-made book covers. Such covers (which start at $69) are becoming a bigger part of the picture for authors on a budget, especially those writing genre fiction. Once a cover is sold, it is never sold again.

Vellum offers a variety of templates to make your book interior look as though it has been professionally designed. As costs start at $29 per template, that makes Vellum’s templates less expensive than TheBookDesigner’s.

How to Talk About Your Novel in Public

Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler)

The best novelist I’ve ever seen present? Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) … especially when he brings his accordion.
(Photo by Rod Searcey)

Because I spent 16 years running the Stanford Publishing Courses, I’ve seen far more than my share of book talks–the good, the bad and the ugly.

It’s tricky, creating a talk that pulls people in. You can’t just read passages from your book. You’ve got to give them some kind of show. Or you’ve got to reveal some part of yourself–real or imaginary–that relates to your book.

And if you’re talking to a literary crowd, it’s also useful to tell the tale of how the book came to you, how you got it down on paper, and what your writing process looks like.

Count on this: your audience is far more interested in you than they are in your book.

Check out this thoughtful advice on how to talk about your novel from Josh Cook, author of An Exaggerated Murder.

 

The “Truthiest” Font Is…

Sample typefaces: Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans, Trebuchet, BaskervilleIf you don’t think fonts matter, take a look at the article in Friday’s New York Times. Errol Morris describes the informal experiment of a university student who found that he could raise his grade average just by doing one thing: changing his essay font.

“[The student] had written 52 essays in total. Eleven were set in Times New Roman, 18 in Trebuchet MS, and the remaining 23 in Georgia. The Times New Roman papers earned an average grade of A-, but the Trebuchet papers could only muster a B-. And the Georgia essays? A solid A.”

Intrigued, Morris created his own experiment. He tested 45,000 readers’ perceptions of the “truth” of a passage when presented in one of six randomly assigned fonts–Baskerville, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans and Trebuchet.

Turns out, if you want your writing to emit an aura of truthiness, Baskerville is your font. Who knew?

Author-envy: We All Have It

Erik Larson

Erik Larson

I’m a huge fan of Erik Larson. Devil in White City kept me spellbound–in part because I grew up near Chicago and my great-grandfather lived less than six blocks from the serial killer in that book. Wish I could write like that.

I’m also a big fan of Nora Ephron, whose career I tracked for decades because she spoke so well for a generation of young women writers entering the workforce with new expectations of their own capabilities. How I envied her early columns for Esquire!

Nora Ephron in 1975

Nora Ephron in 1975

And so it amused me to find a recent post by Erik Larson on Goodreads where he pays tribute to Ephron, and tells his own story of author-envy. Gives me heart. And hope.