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Emily Eddins stops by to give 10 Tips for Indie Authors

Today former Boot Camp student Emily Eddins stops by to share 10 tips on what she learned self-pubbing her debut Altitude Adjustment, which recently hit the Top 5 in New Releases for short bios and memoirs on Amazon (here). 

Here's a free look at the first chapter! Click to download or open and read about how she attacks Wolf Blitzer. Enjoy!

Here are her tips for YOU:

Top Ten Pieces of Advice for Independent Authors

My book, Altitude Adjustment, hit the market this summer. It is a series of “laugh-out-loud funny” vignettes about life in a ski town in California. It took me a really long time to get from writing to publishing – ten years, in fact. Along the way, some of the essays that make up my book were published in literary journals. This helped me gain credibility as a writer. I did this with the help of the very awesome Writer’s Relief submission service. Check them out if you would like to publish with literary journals to build your resume.

While I eventually published three of the pieces in different literary journals, I originally created them as part of a collection. I wanted to send them out into the world that way. Rather than spend the next five years looking for agents and publishers, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge as an independent author. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.


Emily EddinsEmily Eddins1. Keep your budget in mind before you hire a company to publish your work. Weigh the pros, cons and costs of having a self-publishing company print your work for you, upload your e-books for you, etc. Decide whether you have the tech savvy to do it all yourself, or whether you need help. If you are buying services a-la-carte, they can add up. Estimate how many books you think you can sell.

2. Do your research before you hire a company. Check with the Better Business Bureau and other authors who have used them to see if they come recommended or have had problems delivering a satisfactory product in the past.


3. Pad your schedule with extra time. I originally thought it would take me around six months to put my finished product out into the world. Due to printing problems and other delays, the reality was closer to nine months.


4. Err on the side of caution when timing your media releases and book launch. Due to a printing problem, I had brick and mortar stores lined up to buy books that the printing house temporarily delayed. Some media was launched before bookstores were able to get the books in stock, thus affecting my ability to maximize book sales to my target audience. I should have played it safe and waited to schedule media until my books were all in house.


5. Leverage your own network for book sales. Ask all of your friends and family who love you and want to help to forward your Facebook page, Amazon link, etc. Get in touch with anybody you think might be able to help spread the word, like former teachers such as @sethharwood who asked me to guest blog!


6. Understand how on-demand printing works. In some instances, large book dealers like Amazon order a small batch of your book right when it becomes available. Until those sell out, they can be sent to prime customers within two days. After that, books can take 1-3 weeks to ship and send.


7. Find a publisher and printer near your brick and mortar stores. My publisher is in the mid-west, and my printer is in Tennessee. This added to shipping delays to the brick and mortar merchants carrying my books, who are all in California.


8. Don’t be afraid to ask your local bookstore to carry your book in the Local Authors section. Everyone I have asked was happy to do it!


9. Don’t get mired in the glitches. Shit happens. Don’t be surprised when it does. If your Twitter link doesn’t work right or your Nook book randomly disappears from the Barnes and Noble website, get into problem-solving mode, but don’t get down in the dumps.


10.  Celebrate! Bask in the love of your friends and readers who connect to what you’ve written. Congratulate yourself for achieving your dream. You’ve worked hard!

[From Seth: throw a release party and have a great time!]


Thank you Emily for stopping by!

Join Seth for a Novel-Writing Course at the SF Writers Grotto

Writing the Crime Fiction or Thriller Novel: Practice Makes Plot Perfect with Seth Harwood (4/26 & 5/3)

Hey folks, this month I'm teaching a class on how to write the first draft of your novel (crime or otherwise) at the legendary SF Writers Grotto in downtown San Francisco. I'll be talking about how to develop a practice for your writing that both keeps you producing new pages and helps you explore the story of your novel when you may not even know where it's headed. What's really exciting is that you can find your own novel's story just like a reader does -- and that it can be just as thrilling!

Here's further info on the class: (feel free to comment here or email me for more information)

Number of sessions: 2
Meeting times: 2 Saturdays 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Dates: April 26 and May 3
Class Limit: 15 students
Course Fee: $165, $100 required to register
Description: Do you outline and pre-plan your novel or write boldly into the void? This class exposes the reality that you can write a book when you don’t know its ending. What’s more, this practice will generate lively and exciting writing for writer and reader alike. Don’t let your book idea die on the vine because you haven’t envisioned where it leads. This class goes over the steps to writing a novel and demystifies the process of finishing your first draft. By challenging you to write 5-days a week to a reachable goal each day, you’ll see the way to uncover your book sentence by sentence.  Come to believe and trust in your own creative process; stop staring at your screen and start getting your book done.Readings from Stephen King, Frank Conroy and Flannery O’Connor accompany in-class exercises, lecture and examples from published work.

Instructor Bio: It's your boy! Seth Harwood has published four crime novels—Young Junius, This Is Life and the bestsellersIn Broad Daylight and Jack Wakes Up, as well as the short story collection A Long Way from Disney. He holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught creative writing at Iowa, University of Massachusetts – Boston, Stanford Continuing Studies and City College San Francisco. Serialized versions of his work as audio podcasts have been downloaded over one million times.

How a bigtime author revinvented himself digitally

OR: What you lose (and win!) by being digitally successful vs successful in physical bookstore terms (if those still exist).

I think you'll be interested in this podcast from Litquake's LitCast. It's Neal Pollack speaking as the keynote at Litquake's digi.lit conference in SF this June.[Click here to download now or listen away!] This talk seems particularly relevant to me because Neal's gone down a road very similar to my own. That is, except he's packed stores, gotten six-figure deals in the past and otherwise been very "successful" in traditional NY Publishing terms. He was evan a McSweeney's child! And now he's with Amazon's Thomas & Mercer Imprint, just like me. He explains why, what he's lost by being here and what he's gained. It's very interesting and enlightening listening for any author in today's media space. So check it out. Thank me later.

I first became aware of Neal when he wrote this essay in the NY Times Book Review about why he would self-publish Jewball. He even talked about doing a Kickstarter campaign just about the same time as when I did mine. I posted about all this back here at AuthorBootCamp. Now this fills in the rest of the story: how even with the platform of the NYTBR (!) the self-published book didn't sell and he turned to Thomas & Mercer. Definitely a turn I didn't see coming! He didn't even wind up doing the Kickstarter campaign. Why not? Who knows.

Anyway, here's the whole deal. You'll hear a lot that parallels the path I've gone down, the one you've followed me along, and also a lot of the reasons I'm happiest now with Thomas & Mercer. How I plan to keep on keeping on. Actually, on that note, In Broad Daylight is part of Amazon UK's Kindle 100 books for August. If you're over there, drop a review and pick up a copy. It's only ONE QUID! Who looks out for you. That's right. 

The digi.lit conference was great too, by the way. Stay tuned for a future LitCast that features my panel on what writers need to know to self-publish in the new digital space. 

Scott Hits Yahoo News!

Scott's new book Nocturnal is doing big things: selling lots of copies, tipping scales, and shipping all over the world. It came out this month from Crown Books and, like always, Scott is rolling out a major bucket of promotion around the release. This week he wound up in a cool piece from Yahoo News written by Eric Pfeiffer.

The piece is called, How Scott Sigler used free media to become a best-selling author pretty much everything we say and discuss here.

Here's a great quote from Scott, "If they try you out for free, they become lifelong customers. There are so many affordable ways to go find people. For readers, they are respected as intelligent consumers," Sigler said.

Enjoy the rest of the article here. For more on Nocturnal, visit Scott's main website or watch the awesome book trailer below:

The Tech-Empowered Writer: AWP Panel Resources

At AWP this year, I'm presenting as part of a panel on "The Tech-Empowered Writer: Embrace New Media, Experiment, and Earn" along with awesome writers Christina Katz, Robert Lee Brewer and Jane Friedman. Check them out, really! These three are ones to watch! The panel is on Thursday of the conference (3/1) from 1:30 to 2:45 in Boulevard Room A,B,C, at the Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor. More info is here: AWP Conference Schedule.

I'll say the names of these three again: Christina Katz, Robert Lee Brewer and Jane Friedman. Outstanding, all! And go here for where I mention Christina's awesome book, The Writer's Workout!

But what I'm really here for is to add more content to the panel presentation so folks can find more links to others I think are doing a great job. I'll be talking about how I raised significant capital for my last two novels This Is Life and Young Junius by doing a highly successful (if I do say so myself) Kickstarter Campaign and a Special Edition Pre-Order event that I ran through PayPal. Both of these really put me in good shape to work with a publisher and to do a lot of the freelancer-comissioning myself! Totally awesome! Of course, none of this would've been possible without the support of my awesome group of fans, the Palms Mommas and Palms Daddies, who I connected with through producing my novels as free, serialized audiobooks (podcasts) that I distributed here and at iTunes. For more on how I did that, see this link and the upcoming online Author Boot Camp class I'll be teaching in April and May. Hurry, just a few spots remain!

So, what other writers are doing awesome stuff?

First, I'll start off with Jeff Shelby, who blogs here about how he set up his eBook Thread of Hope on Amazon's Kindle store and planned a release all on his own. And then guess what? Thread of Hope hit #1 on Amazon!! Yes, it did! Slid right past Stieg Larsson and everything! Jeff tells all in this easy to read and understand blog post about how he listed the book, made it free on Amazon to jumpstart sales, then contacted biggie blogs like Pixel of Ink and eReader News Today to let them know when it'd be free. Next up... well, read it all here. How Thread of Hope Hit #1 on Amazon

Second, let me tell you about Neal Pollack, whose piece in the New York Times Book Review here tells about how and why he decided to leave traditional publishing to put out his book Jewball himself. Neal used Kickstarter to build a source of funding and Createspace to publish the book in Print On Demand format. Know what? Both of these are totally easy to do. Read more about Neal in my post at AuthorBootCamp here.

Mur Lafferty, a fellow podcasting author, really rocked the Kickstarter world and broke the mold when she did this wildly successful campaign. Just look at the funding: 969% funded! Wow!

Want more? Check out podcasts by students of my recent Author Boot Camps and how they're connecting with an audience using just their voice, their words, and a little technology! That, plus more info and lessons from J.A. Konrath, Barry Eisler and Paolo Coehlo are all below. If you're interested in learning how to podcast and release your own eBooks, consider joining me for the online installment of Author Boot Camp in April and May. Filling fast!

The Writer's Workout!

Today, Leap Day, is the time to mention a great book I've been learning a lot from of late: Christina Katz's The Writer's Workout.

Whether you're working to complete your masterpiece, putting your nth book up on Amazon's Kindle store, or just trying to get into the chair every day to meet your word count, I think this book can help you. It's been helping me to focus on what I need and want to do.

Each day it offers a brief lesson on an aspect of the writing life--everything from how to get noticed, sell a piece, find an agent, write that proposal, build a website or write those pages you need to get down to finish your project. There are 366 lessons here (one for each day on a Leap Year such as this) and Spring winds up being the perfect time to start. I'd recommend buying this one in print so you can thumb through it and annotate it up.

Enjoy! You can thank me later. Buy on Amazon here.

Finally: Author Boot Camp Online Class!! Enrolling now!

This has been a long-running request from many of you and I'm happy to say it's finally here: I'm finally teaching a fully online 4-week Author Boot Camp class!! It's this April and May through the Stanford Online Writer's Studio.

The class covers methods and practices for podcasting, but also a lot more: we're going to get into eBook production and distribution, social media (Twitter, Facebook and Google+) as well as blogging and community-building strategies.

This course is limited to 21 students and filling fast, so sign up now!

Course title: Getting Your Story Out There: Social Media, eBooks, and More

Dates: April 16th to May 11. 4 Weeks, all online, all at your schedule and convenience No Matter Where You Are!

Cost: $300 - a steal for the amount of community, guidance and strategy you'll be getting! Download the Syllabus here to learn more. 

Visit the Continuing Studies website to read more about the class, see the full description, and enroll.

Two Great Student Podcasts

I've recently had the chance to reconnect with two past students and found out they're both doing great, interesting podcasts that I want to tell you about.

Gwen MinorGwen MinorThe first is Gwen Minor, who podcasts stories and discussions of the Ancient World! She's at http://gwenminor.com/, where she's steadily building a strong fan base and putting out content so regularly that she's already up to episode 50! My hat is off to her!

Gwen's scholarly book is here and you can find lots of great stories at her site.

Heather StallingsHeather StallingsThe second wonderful author and podcaster I want to tell you about is Heather Stallings. Her novel is called False Alarm and it's available here via Amazon. She's been podcasting for 9 episodes now at http://heatherstallings.com/ and will get you right into her story with ease and to your delight! False Alarm takes place in the world of elite athletes and bigtime sports management.

ESPN's own Rod Gilmore said of False Alarm, "it is absolutely dead on."

So check out both of these ladies' websites:

http://gwenminor.com and http://heatherstallings.com/ You'll be glad you did!

Are you a past student who has a podcast to tell me about? Drop an email and let you know! I'd be happy to put your work in an upcoming post. Up next: Jay Langejans!

The Rise of eBooks and Self-Publishing (Last Homework for Fall Class)

This is the last homework assignment before our next session at Stanford on 10/22 and 10/29. More info on that here. Spaces are still available.

Authors JA Konrath and Barry Eisler are trendsetters in the self-publishing and eBook marketplace. Last spring, Eisler made big news by turning down a $500k contract for two books with St. Martin's Press to go the self-pub route. He later signed with Amazon, but that's another story. Here, he and Konrath talk over the changing face of the market, why Eisler did what he did, and the long-term prospects for making money in eBook sales. Some might say this is a great time to be an author. I hope you'll come to agree!

On a side note, I'm so convinced by what these guys have to say that I've jumped into the affordable eBook marketplace myself with both feet. I've just released THIS IS LIFE for Kindle and Nook, and plan to follow it with three more eBooks over the next 4 months! Stay tuned!

I've trimmed their Google Docs discussion to a more ABC-appropriate size. You can find the original material here.

The Rise of eBooks and Self-publishing

Joe: To the casual observer, you appear to be heavily invested in the legacy publishing system. They’ve been good to you, they helped you get onto the NYT bestseller list, made you wealthy with several large deals, and seem to have treated you fairly.

Barry: Well, I don’t know about wealthy, but I’ve been making a living writing novels for almost a decade now, which is a pretty great way to live.

Joe: You had six-figure and seven-figure deals. Logic dictates anyone offered a deal like that should leap at it.

Barry: You wouldn’t.

Joe: But I never had the treatment you had from legacy publishers. I would walk away from a big deal now, most certainly, because I have two years of data proving I can do better on my own.

However, what if a NYT bestseller were offered, say, half a million dollars for two books?

Or, more specifically, let’s say you were offered that.

You’d take it. Right?

Barry: Well, I guess not… ;)

[For more, read on, after the break! or Download the full PDF]

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