Guest Post: “Self-Publishing: How I Came Full Circle” by Elana A. Mugdan

Guest Post, Writing

Author Elana A. Mugdan picture.jpgMeet Elana A. Mugdan.

Elana A. Mugdan is an author and semi-retired filmmaker based in New York City. She has received many accolades in the film industry, including a number of awards for her feature film Director’s Cut, which she wrote, directed, and produced by herself. Currently she is working with a production company in California which has optioned her newest screenplay, a sci-fi action triller called Paradox.

In 2016, Elana’s debut novel, Dragon Speaker, was published in the U.K. Dragon Speaker has enjoyed critical acclaim, and is the first in a 5-book Young Adult epic fantasy series entitled The Shadow War Saga. The second installment, Dragon Child, will be published worldwide in May of 2019. She is currently doing her final round of revisions on book three, Dragon Blood, which has a projected release date of March 2020.

An avid reader, Elana is a lifelong fan of fantasy stories – particularly ones which revolve around dragons. She is described by her friends and family as “the weirdest person I know”, and wears that weirdness proudly on her sleeve. Some of her favorite authors include J.R.R. Tolkein, Peter S. Beagle, and Robert Jordan.

Elana currently resides in New York, living a quiet but eccentric life with her adopted pet snake, Medusa.

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ShadowWarSaga/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/dragonspleen
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/officialdragonspeaker/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42967730-dragon-speaker
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Speaker-Shadow-War-Saga/dp/1532387938/

Dragon Speaker Cover - Web.png

The Guest Post.

Self-Publishing: How I Came Full Circle

Back in 2015, when I had just put the final-FINAL-really-final-for-real touches on my manuscript, I decided I would go the self-publishing route. I’d spent a couple years in the query trenches and I hadn’t gotten any good bites. The few nibbles I had gotten hadn’t panned out, and I was tired of waiting. Self-publishing, I reasoned, would ensure that my book would get out into the world and be found by readers near and far.

This was a terrible idea for a whole host of reasons, the main two being that (a) I am not good at marketing, and (b) I am not good at socializing. But hey, I had a Facebook account and that should be enough! Surely the book would sell itself, right? All I’d have to do would be to throw up a link to the thing on Amazon and people would flock to it.

Oh, how naïve 2015-me was.

Fortunately, I was saved from the agony of self-publishing just in the nick of time. Shortly after I came up with my brilliantly bad idea, I linked up with a small press publisher based in the U.K. He loved my book, and in 2016, he published my debut novel, Dragon Speaker, Book I of The Shadow War Saga. My publisher and I worked closely together for the next two years, organizing reading events across England, recording an audiobook, and preparing for the release of the remaining books in the series.

But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men will often go awry. Despite my publisher’s best efforts, he wasn’t able to bring the book out in America (he only had the rights to publish in the U.K.), and we also failed to achieve a release of the second book in the series. 2018 was fraught with roadblocks and disappointments, and I learned a series of hard life lessons.

But not all was lost. I remembered that I’d once thought it a good idea to self-publish, and I decided to revisit that concept. I’d learned a lot over the two years I’d spent in the world of traditional publishing. More importantly, I’d gotten an inside look into the world of marketing, and I now had a much better understanding of how to make that process work for me . . . and how much work I’d actually have to put in if I wanted to see tangible results.

Thus, I began my research. A big step forward was attending the annual Writer’s Digest conference, last year hosted in my hometown of New York City. There I connected with IngramSpark – a printing company only slightly more expensive than Amazon’s CreateSpace, which offers comparable quality and is infinitely better to deal with. Through IngramSpark, I self-published Dragon Speaker in America and worldwide last October. Finally, my book was available to all audiences!

Also during the Writer’s Digest conference, I linked up with a company called DartFrog, which is a purveyor of “outstanding independent books and talent”. Since they were also experts in marketing, and marketing was my major weakness, I figured it would be a good idea to work with them. Through them I was able to gain additional exposure for my book and my brand. Not only that, DartFrog helped place Dragon Speaker in 50 brick-and-mortar independent bookstores nationwide.

I have now gotten in touch with many of those stores, and have been cultivating my relationships with them – something that has been difficult, but very rewarding, and undeniably invaluable to my progress. I’m pleased to report that I single-handedly organized a book tour spanning from January to May. I’ll be stopping at The Next Chapter Books & Novelties (El Dorado, KS), The Book Rack (Cincinnati, OH), A Freethinker’s Corner (Dover, NH), and Cupboard Maker Books (Enola, PA), which are just a few of the DartFrog stores currently stocking Dragon Speaker.

On the surface, it seems like things are going swimmingly. Compared to last year, they are. But I know the road is long and the war will be bloody. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I will need to market (shudder) and communicate with people (oh, the horror!) if I want to continue gaining momentum. And while self-publishing has certainly had its downsides, it has its perks, too. The best thing about self-publishing is that you are your own boss. Your fate is entirely in your own hands. You’re on no one’s schedule but your own, and that gives you the most wonderful sense of freedom. It creates a lot of anxiety and stress, too, but personally I think the trade-off is worth it.

You must be prepared to work harder that you ever have before. Your success – or failure – is riding on  it, after all. But if you go into the process knowing that, then you stand a fighting chance. 2015-me was not prepared to make this journey, and she would never have survived it. I’m not sure present-day-me is adequately equipped for the cutthroat world of marketing, but she’s doing a damn fine job pretending she is.

Despite the anxiety, the sleepless nights, and the crash course in marketing that I never wanted, I’ve ultimately enjoyed this process. I’ve learned many useful skills along the way – by necessity rather than choice – but I believe the hard work has made me stronger. While it’s still difficult to tell if any of my efforts have improved visibility for the book, I can say without hesitation that they have improved me as a person. I am older, stronger, a little wiser, a lot tired-er, but unarguably better.

And that has made it all worthwhile.

 

Thank you Elana for sharing your journey with us!

Guest Post: Harsha Sheelam’s Self Publishing Tips

Guest Post

Meet Harsha Sheelam.

Author...JPG

Harsha Sheelam always had the passion for writing. In the year 2016, she practiced writing more extensively. This led to her recognition in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and digital content. She possesses versatility in writing stories, debatable topics, politics, social, fashion, entertainment, reviews, fashion and lifestyle. Today she is a children’ book author, she debuted in 2017 with the book ‘Beautiful Inside and Out’ which is a collection of short stories. She launched it with the aim of empowering young girls and boys. She has the dedication to her craft which makes the children believe that they are beautiful inside and out. Same year her juvenile fiction novel, ‘Good Exists in all that Exists’ released. As the title suggests, the book is based around the theme of ‘good overpowering the bad’. There is a hidden meaning for every action. The book does not fail to enhance the enchanted experience of the reader.
Beginning of a new year, in 2018 ‘The House of Terry Atterberry’ made it to book-selling portals. Terry’s tales champion hard work, perseverance, honesty and compassion. The riches that kids gain through this book are overcoming fear, not undermining people, understanding no one is perfect, knowing your true friends, and more. The book is a collection of 15 inspiring fables from the life of a fictional character.
Today, 3 books old, and anticipating more, this is Harsha Sheelam for you.

Social links:
www.sheelamharsha.com
www.facebook.com/harshasheelamm/
www.instagram.com/harshasheelam

 

Guest Post

How can a self-published author market their book?

Self-publishing is a DIY platform has provided a new path for aspiring writers. Many authors have ditched vanity press, or publishing houses who take about a year to get a book into the market.

Thanks to the advancement of creativity and technology, self-publishing is now available at fingertips without the involvement of an established publisher, known for zero loyalty towards royalty. In traditional publishing, the publisher bears the costs and reaps substantial share of profits by comparison, in self-publishing, the author bears all the costs, and is the sole proprietor for all the profits.

The author controls the design, cover, interior, marketing and public relations. Though it’s a fairly easy task to get the book out for readers, marketing is not a small man’s job. Marketing and promoting the book is the best way to get new readers looking at your work. Without it, you will only have a niche customer group that includes your family and friends.

The most effective ways to push the sales, generate traffic on your website, and make your book a success are-

Pre-Book Launch
Cover reveal– Cover reveal is preferably done before the launch of the book. Here the authors try to build curiosity among their readers and new audience. The bloggers write about the cover and make it very intriguing for the readers. The cover reveal is the best way of pre-marketing the book.
Post Book Launch
Early Stages
Book reviews– Book reviews are the most traditional way of reaching out to readers. No author is unaware about book reviews. There are many who earn a living just by doing book reviews, while others do it out of interest. The critical analysis of the book through the review is helpful to generate feedback and interest about the book. Book reviews should be taken up during the early stages of the book launch.
Facebook Groups– Numerous groups on social media, most preferably, Facebook, provides a platform of discussion for authors in every genre. With no doubt, these groups are the most efficient way to build public relations, not only within your country, but globally as well. A global audience is what every author should aim for and not feel restricted to one territory.
Book Tours– Book bloggers have made it simple for authors to market their books. Few of them provide their services at a cost while others are kind to do it for free. Book tours are blog posts about the author, synopsis of their books, cover design and content of the book. Few bloggers also write a small review for the book. On the whole, the book tours are a complete package for authors. Websites with a lot of traffic are highly recommended for book tours even if it comes at a cost.

 

Later Stages
Author Interview– Author interviews are conducted by authors, virtual assistants and book bloggers who like to feature and support authors on their blog or website. The interview questions give the readers an answer about your work and what it’s all about. Not only do the interviews provide the author a push, but also help them to gain new followers and readers. Every blog or website has their followers and readers, when they learn about the author through the interview; it only attracts new people to the author’s website.
Podcasts– Author interviews through podcast channels are yet another way to put yourself out there. Podcast industry is growing on a daily basis with many author interview channels being labeled as No.1 on iTunes, and iHeartRadio. The audio files are posted on many podcast featuring online portals and also downloaded by listeners. This is the most modern way of promotion for authors. Few podcasts I’m aware of are Reading with Jedlie and The Author’s Show which provide an interview and book reading platform.
Guest Writing– Inviting guests to your website to write a blog suitable for your readers draws attention of the guest’s readers as well. In this way, a new audience is generated. Writing guest posts for another blog or website helps to gain unique readers and generates traffic on your website. When you do this, be aware of the genre you want to write about and if the website accepts posts in that genre. Also, when you’re doing the same for your website, do not drift away from your said purpose, and the kind of audience you would like to have.
Blogs– Traffic can be increased on your website by writing daily blogs of all the things you find interesting and will ‘fit in’ with your website. Blogs help in interaction between the writer and the reader. Allowing comments, likes and shares helps to build social presence, and is an efficient way for maintaining public relations.

-Harsha Sheelam

 

Check out Harsha’s other guest post published on A New Look On Books here!

 

Guest Post: Harsha Sheelam’s A Story Exists in all that Exists

Guest Post

 

Meet Harsha Sheelam.

Author..

Harsha Sheelam always had the passion for writing. In the year 2016, she practiced writing more extensively. This led to her recognition in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and digital content. She possesses versatility in writing stories, debatable topics, politics, social, fashion, entertainment, reviews, fashion and lifestyle. Today she is a children’ book author, she debuted in 2017 with the book ‘Beautiful Inside and Out’ which is a collection of short stories. She launched it with the aim of empowering young girls and boys. She has the dedication to her craft which makes the children believe that they are beautiful inside and out. Same year her juvenile fiction novel, ‘Good Exists in all that Exists’ released. As the title suggests, the book is based around the theme of ‘good overpowering the bad’. There is a hidden meaning for every action. The book does not fail to enhance the enchanted experience of the reader.
Beginning of a new year, in 2018 ‘The House of Terry Atterberry’ made it to book-selling portals. Terry’s tales champion hard work, perseverance, honesty and compassion. The riches that kids gain through this book are overcoming fear, not undermining people, understanding no one is perfect, knowing your true friends, and more. The book is a collection of 15 inspiring fables from the life of a fictional character.
Today, 3 books old, and anticipating more, this is Harsha Sheelam for you.

Social links:
www.sheelamharsha.com
www.facebook.com/harshasheelamm/
www.instagram.com/harshasheelam

Guest Post

A story exists in all that exists- Harsha Sheelam
Everyone has a story. People from different walks of life have a journey and experience to share. My odyssey in the writing world was something that I never expected.
When I was 9, my mother read the essays I wrote in my answer sheet of the English exam. She was taken aback with all the crap I wrote. The piece had every grammatical error that the English language could list out. She was left so shocked that the next day she bought piles of books for me to read which ranged from stories to creative writing. I found it funny because I felt she took it too seriously, though I didn’t want to read them because every child is stubborn and has a natural tendency of not obeying their parent, yet I did at the constant nagging of my mother. And I’m so glad for it today.
A year later my grandfather read an essay which I wrote about him and he was thrilled with the way I put it down. He found it to be too perfect to be true. Since that day, he always encouraged me to write. Had it not been for him and my mother, I wouldn’t have been an author today.
Years later, in 2016, I began to write professionally for magazines, newspapers, and blogs. Luckily I wasn’t restricted to a particular genre and wrote about politics, social causes, fashion, entertainment, and travel. At that time, I felt independent and was glad to be hustling at the side which pursuing my graduate degree.
Writing gave me the peace of mind. It delivered me into a parallel universe where I was surrounded by good people living in a saintly world. It had a much needed positive impact on an idle brain, surrounded by negativity from people.
Back then I never thought that I could write books. That my imagination could be so large and I would be able to write for the most imaginative and creative minds – the children. When an opportunity came knocking I didn’t have second thoughts about it and took it up immediately.
The publishing process for my debut book, ‘Beautiful Inside and Out’, wasn’t easy after all. I had a tough time finding an illustrator and getting the work done before the termination of the contract with the publisher. Apart from minor obstacles in the publishing process, I have no qualms about how the book turned out to be. I wanted the stories to be contemporary which focus on modern day issues of bullying, body positivity, loving beyond color, race or religion, and others themes, simultaneously adding traditional morals from Aesop’s times.
My debut book gave me the tag of an author and embraced my love for creative expression. The goal in all my books is to make children believe that they are beautiful the way they are, and no one can make them think otherwise. With children being exposed to different forms of media, it becomes very relevant in the 21st century.
As I wrote more I understood that my writing style doesn’t involve a plot or brainstorming. The stories are where and how my imagination takes me while writing. Though I love this way of writing as there is no plan I have to stick to, there are minor challenges. When I was writing my novel, I’d go utmost of 2 days waiting for the next line in the story. A twist, tragedy or just a continuation of the story depended on how my mind explored my thoughts in the waiting period until I sat again to write.
Today, I am three books old with Beautiful Inside and Out, Good Exists in all that Exists, and The House of Terry Atterberry solely responsible for writing, financing, and marketing. I had never known better of the things I could do had it not been for these three babies a.k.a books.
Marketing is not easy and I understand the struggle of other writers and poets. Therefore, I decided to help aspiring poets and writers by providing a platform for them on my website www.sheelamharsha.com
I used to pine over marketing the books, but not anymore. I have tried to build avenues to reach a global audience through reviews, guest posts, and blogging. In this process, I was fortunate to be interviewed by authors and book bloggers.
Albert Camus rightfully said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

-Harsha Sheelam

Meeting Author J.Z.N. McCauley

Author Interview

author pic.jpgMeet J.Z.N. McCauley.

J.Z.N. McCauley is an award-winning fantasy author residing in lovely New England, where she loves wearing jackets and boots in the unpredictable weather there. She is a wife and mother who enjoys life to the fullest. Also, being a nerd across many genres is something she expresses openly.

McCauley spends most of her spare time writing, drawing, or reading. She loves archeology, mythology, history, music and many other forms of art as well. Always having a variety of interests and talents, she could never pick just one. When the chance pops up to travel to any of her favorite places, she takes way too many pictures. Otherwise, she is exploring a mystical land in a daydream, which all provides fuel to her immense joy of writing.

She is the author of The Rituals Trilogy, A Bell Sound Everlasting, The Zinnia Queen, and more. Among several works in progress, she is currently writing an epic fantasy series for which she is seeking literary representation to publish traditionally.

Social media links
Purchase The Oathing Stone At Book Retailers: bit.ly/oathingstoneAuthor Website: www.jznmccauley.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/jznmccauley
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JZNMcCauley
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/j-z-n-mccauley
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/JZNMcCauley

The Interview.

How do you feel about traditionally publishing vs. self-publishing?
I find both routes of book publishing positive for different reasons. It depends entirely on what you want out of your publishing experience, ultimately coming down to how much control over the making and results of your book do you want? For me, it depends on the book(s) because there are certain ones I wanted to self-publish and decide everything myself, while (now that I have more experience and feel more aware of the industry than I did at the start) I’m working towards traditional publishing for several other novels.
What first attracted you to the fantasy genre? Was it a certain story or author?
Honestly, I’ve been a fantasy fan as far back as I can remember. I fell in love with a variety of fantasy stories starting first with fairy tales. As I approached my preteen years, the authors that really inspired me to write fantasy were J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
As an avid explorer, is there any specific place you want to visit to then be able to write it as a backdrop to a future story?
I’d love to visit lots more places and revisit the ones I’ve already been, but I recently added Georgia to my list of fascinating countries to one day see! Steeped in ancient history, myth and lore, and such gorgeous scenery. Just from research alone, I’ve been thinking of weaving a story together with Georgia as the backdrop!
What do you think is the most important aspect to have in a fantasy novel?
For me, as a reader, I’d say the adventure. I need to be eager to turn the page, and I long to feel the excitement along with the character on their hero’s journey or what have you.
The Fae! *dreamy sigh* What attracted you to explore the world of the faeries in your novels?
I’ve always been an enormous fan of faeries too, especially Irish fae creatures. Folklore and mythology are what brought me to them, and when writing fantasy set in Ireland, my fingers were shaking from anticipation to create my own faerie realm. Even now, my heart pounds for when I write the final book in the trilogy.
Any future projects in the works that you can share with us today?
At the moment, all but one of my current projects are still unannounced. However, I’m revealing one this month actually. My first sci-fi/steampunk story, a standalone novel called Gear Keeper. You can find out more about it on my website www.jznmccauley.com or check it out and add it to your TBR shelf on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39714081-gear-keeper)
Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today?
Just a big thank you! I hope you’ll enjoy my stories and stick with me as I plan to create many more from my lengthy list for you to devour in the future.

 

Sarah Stuart’s Guest Post: A Guide to Self Publishing on a Budget

Guest Post

Meet Sarah Stuart.

SARAH.jpg

Sarah Stuart is an award-winning author and a book reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. Her passions are theatre, music, wildlife, history, and travel, all of which come together in the Royal Command series. She writes because she enjoys it, and as a commitment to ecology.100% of her royalties are donated to charities helping endangered species worldwide. Typically, this might be reforestation to provide suitable habitats. The settings of her books, the Western Highlands of Scotland, London’s Theatre-Land, and Europe, are vivid; Sarah has lived, or spent a considerable time, in these places, and she uses insider knowledge gained from working in theatres to create the showbiz setting.

5 Star Amazon Reviews:

“The characters are relatable and Sarah weaves a story linking them in ways that reveal their ambitions, weakness, pleasure and pain. And just as importantly the love and support they offer one another. Sarah also deals with the issue of forbidden love, presenting it in a way that has the pages flying by as hitherto perfect love is put to the test by close, interconnecting relationships crossing boundaries that threaten to ruin not only careers, but friendship and family. And she does it all in a crisp, elegant style that is her very own.”

The setting in book four Sweet Temptation: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Passion, includes a hospital setting, but reviewers’ reaction has been good. “Sweet Temptation is another compelling, sizzling romance spiced with detective work from an author who has created her unique signature for the genre with her exciting characters and strong plot lines. Sarah Stuart successfully establishes herself as a mistress of the romance genre.”

Author Links:

https://twitter.com/sasspip/status/676500202551930882
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3159319.Sarah_Stuart
https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/dangerous-liaisons
https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/illicit-passion
https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/dynasty-of-deceit
https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/sweet-temptation

Guest Post: How To Self-publish Fiction When Your Budget Is Almost Nil
Editors and proof readers are worth their weight in gold: if you could afford them you wouldn’t be reading this. Now is not the time to be shy. Ask friends and work colleagues to read your book and be brutally honest about what they like or don’t like. Send copies by email; printing costs money. Thank them, but avoid promising to acknowledge them by name; it will prevent them from reviewing the published book. I know to my cost! They even banned the wife of someone I acknowledged; they had an unusual surname.
Create an Author Page on Facebook in the name you intend to use plus “writer” or “author”. E.g. Writer Jane Doe. Blog about your book to attract interest, but be careful to intrigue without giving away too much. Send friend requests to authors, buy their books, tell them how much you enjoyed them, and add a permalink to your review on Amazon. If you hated them, forget posting a review: keep quiet. After an interval, ask each if they would beta-read your book: some will. Email volunteers your book and brace yourself for criticism. Act on any made by more than one person.
Know your genre. Is everything you’ve included likely to be acceptable to your target audience? The Amazon “Look Inside” feature is free and very helpful, as are the book descriptions. Find the genre you think you’ve written, see what comes up when you try key words and compare it to your book. When you get it right, you’ll find many similar books.
Run a spell and grammar check on your document. Before you click IGNORE, Google any point of grammar that you don’t understand. Find at least one friend prepared to go through your story word by word. Whilst waiting, read it aloud; the eye sees what it expects to see. Use FIND on every name, and every common mistake you make, such as she’s when it should be she’d: “he’s” will pick up both sexes. Another tip for finding errors is to send the word document to your Kindle and enlarge the font. It makes you read every word, and helps pick up those pesky periods that should be commas.
Amazon publish a free book called Building Your Book For Kindle. It has simple, clear, instructions for formatting your document. Follow them; nothing looks less professional than an eBook without a working Table of Contents. Do NOT make the mistake I once did and forget to bookmark the Table of Contents; it looks perfect on the Amazon previewer but readers can’t find it. The only part you may ignore are the instructions to convert your Word Document to a PDF. Correctly formatted Word Documents upload more successfully.
Do not be tempted to “build a cover” on Amazon. Search out sites offering photographs and spend the “almost” bit of your nil budget, about $16, on a good one that you can use for a print book later. Use Photoshop, or any similar program, to add the title and your name. Use Facebook to ask opinions on your cover before you publish.
Uploading to Amazon, choose relevant key words: include those you used to establish genre. Spend time on your blurb (book description); it is your “shop window”. Choose the higher royalty level; you won’t be selling to Japan, yet. Do join KDP, and set a sensible price: high enough to show a worthwhile saving when you run a Countdown promotion, but leave the “free” option until you publish a second book for fans of your writing to buy.
Join Amazon Author Central and take advantage of everything you can. Editorial reviews look good and Readers’ Favorite, a very respected company, offer free reviews. The secret of attracting one of their reviewers is the blurb. It needs to intrigue, but don’t make it too long; reviewers have a huge choice of books. Think of the speed of twitter and make your points fast. You’ll be asked about sex scenes and strong language. There are two very good reasons to be honest. An offended reviewer won’t rate very high, but others may well be attracted by phrases like “graphic sex”. Readers’ Favorite don’t accept erotica but they love steamy sizzle. Note: Readers’ Favorite publish ONLY four and five star rated reviews, so there’s no risk.
Good luck!