Self-Publishing Tools. Part 1 Pre-Publishing

My two basic rules for my approach on my self-publishing journey are 1.) Learn to do it myself; 2.) Use appropriate tools for those things that are too time-consuming for me to learn or perform myself.

Every journey starts somewhere, and my publishing journey started with the willing heart of a complete novice. I’m sharing the tools I use and how I use them. Note that while I am an Amazon Affiliate I am NOT an affiliate of any of the tools mentioned below. A fan, yes! An Affiliate, no. ~ Judith

EDITING TOOL

Grammarly Premium

ProWritingAid Premium

I started with Microsoft Word to correct any of my very few spelling errors that were basically typos. Novice. I added Grammarly Free and realized my spelling errors were more prevalent than I thought. I purchased a year’s subscription of Grammarly Premium then a year later purchased ProWritingAid Premium because it wasn’t a subscription. That was a personal decision; however, a premium editing tool is a must-have.

I learned my major grammar problem is passive verbs. I speak in passive verbs and write in passive verbs. Finding and correcting passive verbs is not how I want my editor to spend her time. I’m the Super Hero Author who saves my editor for the more daunting tasks of cleaning up commas and finding plot holes.

Why didn’t the Premium editing tool find the commas? Because when I correct one thing I have the audacious skill of breaking one or two others, and commas are my second grammar problem. Every Super Hero has a flaw.

PRE-PUBLISHING TOOL

Publisher Rocket

My number one, go-to pre-publishing tool is Publisher Rocket. I first purchased Publisher Rocket for Amazon KDP keywords for my first published book in 2018. Being literal, I found seven keywords to complete the seven spots that KDP allowed. I was grateful for the help because I could think of only two or three. Novice.

Keywords

I later learned through ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, of which I’m a member, that a keyword did not need to be a single word, after all; each keyword “spot” on KDP allowed up to 50 characters and could be a list of words. My seven keywords suddenly expanded to 44-48 words, depending on the length of the word, and I had published my second novel! Publisher Rocket to the rescue!

Categories

Amazon KDP prompts for two categories for a book. My novice self dutifully picked two of the categories from the KDP selections provided. Once again, I learned through ALLi that I could list up to ten categories, and the ten categories could drill down much deeper than the suggested KDP selections. So for example, I went from Fiction>Mystery>Cozy to Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Cozy > Culinary. Publisher Rocket helped me with ten categories for each format – ebook and paperback – and for each of my books which had grown to three.

Competition

When I first started using Publisher Rocket, keywords and categories were my focus. I peeked at the competition once without any concept of what to look for or why I would care. Novice. When I discovered my competition was not the six million books on Amazon as I had originally thought, I delved into competition with the help of Publisher Rocket.  I learned my competition was books similar to mine that were actually selling, and that number was not six million. Publisher Rocket helped me to scope out my competition. I scoured book covers for ideas. I examined fonts and colors to determine the pattern for my genre. I read book descriptions for ideas. I checked the pricing of ebooks and paperbacks.

What About You?

What pre-publishing tools do you use?

 

Judith A. Barrett Books on Amazon

 

Judith A. Barrett website

DANGER IN THE CLOUDS – Amazon Discounts Paperback!

Amazon DEEP Discount for the Paperback DANGER In The CLOUDS  GRID DOWN SURVIVAL SERIES, BOOK 1

Dystopian Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction, Suspense Thriller

I might have reported this as a Leprechaun Sighting if I hadn’t heard the author-gossip of Amazon discounting a paperback with no notice.

List price $16.99

Sale price $10.94

Savings $6.05

Not only was the sale itself unannounced, but the sale also ends with no notice. Two days? Two weeks?

If you love the feel of a good book in your hands, now is your chance to have DANGER IN THE CLOUDS at a 36% discount!

 

DANGER IN THE CLOUDS LINK to the PAPERBACK

MAJOR DAVE ELLIOTT’s quiet farm life with his dog and granddaughter abruptly changes when a cyber-attack collapses the grid and the economy.  After his granddaughter’s uncanny ability to see danger thwarts attacks on the farm, will Major succeed in exposing the conspiracy where others have so tragically failed and died?

 

Do You Love or Dread Editing?

Editing is the process that helps us move from seemingly random thoughts on a page to a polished, ready-to-publish novel. It’s time to toss the Dread and hug the Edit. The following eight editing steps are more or less in order even though authors loop back to earlier steps on occasion. Note that most authors prefer step 3A or 3B, not both. Let’s don’t go edit crazy, now!

1. Self Editing

It’s natural to edit as you go along. Typical self-editing corrects spelling, rewrites worrisome sentences, and makes changes to the plot direction.

PRO: You are available whenever you are writing. A quick edit of a previous page can give you the boost to continue forward.

CON: Good for a quick check, but you are too close to the writing to see very much. There is the trap of spending too much time on perfection to the detriment of any progress.

2. Friends and Family

Asking friends and family to read opens your reading world beyond yourself. You’re well on your way to being an Author. When friends and family offer, or accept your offer, to read what you have written, they bring fresh eyes to your document.

PRO: You’ll have someone else’s perspective. When you’re overcome by doubts, they are good for a dose of kindness.

CON: Their perspective is clouded by their relationship with you, and they may or may not have the time and skill to do more than read a little, and say “That’s good.” Their schedule may not allow them to meet your deadline needs.

3A. A Local Critique Group of Authors

If you’ve joined a local group of authors, the group may meet regularly to read and critique snippets of each other’s work.

PRO: You’ll have the less personal perspective of other writers on a portion of your writing. You will learn to accept criticism rather than argue or explain. You will develop a professional relationship with other authors.

CON: You may not be available for every group meeting. The writers have a variety of skills and experience, and you may receive erroneous advice. Not everyone in your group may be familiar with your genre. Because your reviewers are reading only a small snippet, the group may hone in on irrelevant points.

 3B. An Online Critique Group

An online critique group allows you to submit your writings for critique and in return, you critique others.

PRO: You work at home on your own schedule. You submit and reciprocate on your own schedule. The critiques tend to be grouped by genre. You will learn to accept criticism from a variety of people you don’t know and can’t see which is early training for reviews after you are published.

CON: The writers have a variety of skills, and you may receive erroneous advice. The group is fluid, and a reviewer with good ideas may no longer be available. The reviewers still read only a snippet at a time and may hone in on irrelevant corrections. However, the reader who told you he found seventeen adverbs in your submission is not necessarily a bad reviewer. True story.

4. First Draft Readers

A first draft reader is one who will read your writing for the story and tell you whether you have gone awry.

PRO: You select your first draft readers from your more skilled family members or an author from your group who understands your genre.

CON: First draft readers are hard to find. Readers sometimes get bogged down by commas and grammar when you need to know whether your characters are believable and your story is logical.

5. Draft Two (etc) Readers

Readers of subsequent drafts read the story with an eye for your characters and the story. If they see punctuation or grammar corrections, they will mention them.

PRO: More eyes; more perspectives. It’s recommended to use readers who have not read along in the development process of your writing.

CON: Additional readers are hard to find. Not everyone will be able to meet your schedule or your expectations.

6. Editing Software

Editing software reviews your writing for the mechanics: grammar, punctuation and writing style.

PRO: Your editing software will help you to see your weaknesses and correct them. Do you tend to overuse cliches? Your editing software will tell you. Passive verbs? Your editing software finds them. Software is time-saving because it finds areas for correction much quicker and with more accuracy than any other method.

CON: Editing software is not infallible. Sometimes it misinterprets or is wrong and sometimes it misses something critical. It’s a mistake to change anything just because the computer said so. Your own skill and research must be applied.

7. Professional Editor

A professional editor is critical before you release your writing to the outside world. Give your professional editor the most polished document you can. One that you have scrubbed to the best of your ability by using your writer/readers, draft readers, and editing software.

PRO: After your professional editor completes the edit, and you have made corrections, you are ready to publish.

CON: Professional Editors cost money.

PRO PLUS: Your editor is your secret weapon for success.

8. Release Your Final!

Now you are ready to query an agent, submit to a publisher, or self-publish!

 

Take a peek at my books that are available on Amazon. Judith A. Barrett Books

I have a monthly newsletter that gives readers notice about the current month’s FREE book and other news. Interested? Sign up!   Judith A. Barrett Newsletter

 

 

 

Create Your Author Identity in Six Steps ~ Part 1

 

Whether your first book is published by you, an independent publisher, or a hybrid or traditional publisher, your Author-Self pops into existence. Ready or not, you have an Author Identity. An internet search on how to develop your author identity or author brand yields hundreds of articles with advice on what to do. Confusing?

Here are six practical steps that you can do yourself at low or no cost to get you started.

  1. Author Email

Create an email address for your Author-self and use it for all your author communication. Consider using your first and last name and the word author. For example, judithabarrettauthor@yourusualemailprovider.com

  1. Amazon Author Page – a Built-in Website

Rather than creating or paying for a website, create your (free) Amazon Author Page. The Amazon Author Page gives you a built-in web page where readers can find you.

Amazon has an in-depth help article. https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?topicID=200620850#targetText=Once%20we%20verify%20with%20the,have%20a%20pen%20name%20listed.

  1. Goodreads

Sign on to Goodreads and create your Author-Self profile. You may have to add your book to Goodreads, which is a good thing because then the information will be correct. Claim your book as the author. If you aren’t familiar with Goodreads, you may want to explore it in more depth later; but for now, when you set up your profile and claim your book, you’ve accomplished Step 3.

  1. Social Media

When you read the words, Target Your Readers, is your first thought: “How am I supposed to know who my readers are?” One purpose of social media for an author is to attract and engage with readers.

You probably already have a personal account on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, or others. Pick the one that you enjoy and create your author-self. Step away from the temptation to “market” with frequent Buy-My-Book posts or to pick a side in the latest controversy; instead, take advantage of this remarkably easy way to discover who your readers are.

  1. Business cards

Create your own business card with a minimum of your Author Name, the word “Author,” and your author email. You can print them with your printer on cardstock for business cards, or purchase them at a reasonable cost online. Either way is great.

  1. Leave home

Is there a writers’ association with monthly meetings nearby? Go. Does your local bookshop host authors who speak and sign books? Go. Does your library host authors who read from their works? Go. Is there a book conference with 50, 70, or 100 attending authors or a local art festival with three authors selling books? Go. Be ready to listen more than you talk and always have your business cards ready to hand out.

That’s it! Except for one more thing.

  1. Bonus!

Buy an author or writer hat, coffee mug, or T-shirt. You’ve earned it!

 

 

Did you already complete steps 1 through 6? How did it go? What did you do next? Would you be interested in Author Identity Part 2?