I could give you a pretty long list of the mistakes I made when I self-published my first novel, but in this blog post I want to focus on one specific area where I could (and should) have taken a completely different approach. If you're moving toward publishing your first book, you can learn from the mistakes I made and set yourself up for more success... or at least less grief. Certain things about publishing deserve great care the first time, because there won't be a second time.
As a relevant example, I can't start over with the books I have on the market under my own name. "Stuart J. Whitmore" will always have novels about Dan Starney, even if I were to decide to take those books off the market or re-release them under a new name. The existing ones are out there, and will always be out there (even if only as "out of print" listings). They will permanently act as a potential distraction or point of confusion for potential buyers as I try to focus my writings—and my audience—more on my "true loves" in writing, i.e., fantasy and science fiction.
Read on for three facets of managing your author identity now so that you can avoid causing problems for yourself later.
Are you an indie author? Maybe you self-publish your books, or maybe you publish through a small publisher that leaves you with most of the burden of selling your books. If this describes you, then you have a job to do—the business of publishing needs your attention! You can't just occasionally publish a title and hope that it somehow finds readers. This can happen, but if you don't put much effort into publishing then you shouldn't expect much out of it.
Since it can be hard to know what to do, to maximize your sales, I set up a new forum specifically to discuss the business side of indie publishing. There are many places online where you can engage with other writers to talk about the craft of writing, but it's good to have places to talk about the business of publishing too. My new forum certainly isn't the first, there are others. Read more to see why you might want to join Indie Authors United.
Note: The "conversational" tone of this post is a result of how it was "written." Read on to see what I mean.
It has been a while since my last blog post so I thought it would be a good idea to write a new one. In this case, writing means dictating, as I am experimenting with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Premium edition and its ability to transcribe audio that I record when I'm away from my computer. As you might know, late last year I decided that I wanted to upgrade my copy of Dragon because the old version I had did not support transcription of that kind. As I dictate this blog post, I am washing dishes.
This is actually my second full take on this blog post because the first one was a big mess. It takes a lot of practice to be able to dictate while you're doing something else, especially if you aren't really that comfortable with dictation to begin with. I hope that I am able to be more productive in the long run with more practice, but the experience I've had today with dictating while I wash dishes has not been particularly encouraging. However, this is only the second thing that I have dictated away from the computer so I need to try a lot more before I really get discouraged or, hopefully, find that I can be more productive.
I'll lay it out straight: My fan newsletter is really the best way to stay on top of what I'm up to writing-wise. It doesn't cost anything, and there's no effort involved, it just shows up once a month in your inbox. But backing up a step, why would I talk on this blog about alternatives to this blog? One simple reason: I've decided to pare down the amount of time and attention that I spend on this blog so I can focus more on writing books instead of blog posts. This change is one aspect of a strategic shift this year, to produce a lot more book-ready content.
I will continue to post here, but I will no longer stress about making a post every Friday (which I was never good at anyway). I've removed my "post weekly blog entry" recurring task on Todoist. So if you want to stay informed about my writing, I highly recommend subscribing to my fan newsletter! Read on for two other alternatives.
For a while now, I have been hearing from other authors about how useful Canva is for designing book covers as well as other book marketing materials. The first time I went to the site to check it out, the site pages would not load properly. The home page seemed to load fine, but anything else was simply a blank page other than social sharing icons on the right-hand side. Eventually I got around to trying a different browser in a different operating system. That seem to make all the difference. As my first experiment with designing a book cover on Canva, I created a new cover for my book of photo tips: Take Five! for Better Photos You can see the new cover here. Read on to see the old cover that it replaced, and my thoughts on using Canva so far.