If you are an aspiring writer, you are in for a treat. Today's issue contains a first many of us want to experience, that of being a newly published author with fast-rising book on the Amazon Kindle bestseller charts. While no one can guarantee a book will become a blockbuster, we all know that in order to have a chance at success you first have to actually write, publish, and market it.
The juicy insights and insider tips from author Ingrid Ricks will motivate you to start (or finish) your book, teach you how to jumpstart your author platform, and show you just how long it takes to become an overnight success. Below are the highlights of our long and detailed interview. The book is really terrific – Betsy read it in just one weekend – and we hope you'll check it out on Amazon Kindle.
Be sure to check out the resources in the sidebar in today's issue. Not only will you get the details on our first ebook being launched next week, but you'll find special deals from the editor and designer who helped make it happen. You know, just in case YOU decide to publish your new book!
Until next time, we challenge you to try something new every day.
PS – Thanks for your submissions to the logo contest for this ezine. The winner of the free copy of Dream Save Do is Susan (who's daughter gets an honorable mention for suggesting we use a picture of someone eating a bug). Look for the groovy new design in the next issue.
"I have a voice. I have a story to tell and I can connect to really help people so I got over that fear." ~ Ingrid Ricks
Ingrid Ricks is a writer, dreamer, and author of Hippie Boy, a book about a feisty teenage girl who escapes her abusive Mormon Stepfather by joining her dad on the road as a tool-selling vagabond. She tried to publish her book the traditional route, even gaining the interest of a few major publishers, but she kept getting the same message: "the publishing industry is changing and we need a known author."
A friend introduced her to a published author to help her get a foot in the door. What she got instead was an earful of advice on why NOT to go the traditional published route: "It will take 1-2 years to land a deal. The publishing houses are crumbling, they will pay you almost nothing as an advance, they will set your book in 8-point type to save money, they will design a cover you hate, they will put out one press release, and if you don't make a splash everything will be dead in six weeks. For the privilege of all that, they will take 90% and your agent will take 15%. Why would you want to do that?" (We think her math might be off.)
Ingrid then took to the self-publishing route, getting her own designer, editor, and feedback team, and then handling all the marketing and PR herself. (After you read the book you'll find out that she's been a great salesperson since she was 13.)
When I interviewed Ingrid, her book was #3 in the young adult memoir category on Amazon Kindle. Not bad for an "unknown," eh? Read on to find out how Ingrid managed to do this and how you can do it, too. (And hey, if you have a writer friend, you should forward to a friend with the link at the top of the page.)
What did Ingrid learn?
Every author, self-published or traditionally published, needs an author platform. No matter how good your book is, if you don't have an audience you can't sell it.
Every author, no matter how good, needs feedback to make their work better. An editor, a critique group, posting online for feedback (or all three)…whatever, just get it.
Always check your work, even after editing. Everyone makes mistakes, and the final copy is your responsibility.
What did she do right?
She started posting things on Open Salon. Her most popular posts got the notice of the editorial team, who featured them on Salon. That drove incredible exposure to her website (thus building her platform). She wondered how to capitalize on this, and asked if they would cross-promote on her Hippie Boy page when they featured her. They said yes, and every time they promoted it, she got a 1000 visitors to her site. She then knew she understood how to drive a market, she just needed the perfect product.
She tapped into the ex-Mormon community because of the issues in her book – the misuse of male dominance and abuse in an extreme household. She was invited to do an hourlong podcast on Mormon Expression because someone found a book excerpt she had put on Open Salon. She started shopping it on some Mormon blogs. The response was amazing. Many people found it gripping, how similar the stories were. After this experience she gave her agent 30 days notice and said she didn't want to wait 2 years to get this book out. The story that got it started was this book excerpt.
She began posting on Scribd, getting feedback from the readers on her writing and subject matter and refining the book.
Ingrid posted her Hippie Boy Dream Path on Scribd and she has hit her first goal already to be published by Oct 1. She thought it was important to put it out to the universe and have the accountability.
She hired an editor to give her an overall critique as well as a line edit. She got back 17 pages of notes on rewrites, and she spent 6 weeks working full-time making her edits and perfecting the book for publication. She says you can't take this kind of feedback personally, and every writer needs an editor. (After our experience, I can agree.)
She hired an illustrator to design an eye-catching cover. Especially with an online market, a cover is very important to grab attention of the buyer.
Started the Dream it, Seek it blog. She started writing about and helping other people, knowing it can't be a one-way street. You can't just take and not give.
What would she do differently next time?
She wouldn't wait so long to finish the book. After years of working on it, it took some prompting from her daughter joking about her as an old lady saying "my book, my book" to get her moving. Now she realizes that she fulfilled her dream and showed her daughters they could do it, too.
What does she recommend for someone thinking of self-publishing a book?
Besides posting on Open Salon and Scribd like she did, she also advocates publishing free content on Amazon Kindle that will drive traffic to your paid work. People want to be able to check out a new author before spending money, and a group of short stories will help pave the way to sales for your main book. She recommends something around 8000 words for free content.
She thinks the same thing is happening to indie authors that is happening in the music industry. It is very hard to find a book deal so people are releasing their work directly. Publishers don't want to take a risk on a new author, so many are looking at self-published authors and when they see them doing well they then offer a deal. So you might self-publish as a way to get a traditional publishing deal.
If you want a traditional book deal, follow your gut and go after it. Be prepared to do an incredible book proposal, which is really a marketing plan. Before you even start shopping it around, start promoting it and building a platform. No matter what you do you have to have that writer's base, a community attracted to your work.
Don't fake-build your platform by inflating numbers by having your friends like your FB page. Really connect with the people who like your work. Post on sites like Scribd and Open Salon to build a following.
"Take writing classes, really hone your craft, write the best book you can, hire an editor to tell you what you did wrong, pour your heart into the rewrites, and then pay the money to get it edited and professionally designed. Then be prepared to spend the rest of your life marketing and selling it." Ingrid spent about $5000 self-publishing her book.
If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is. Ingrid spent a lot of time working to be an overnight sensation. To publish your own book and actually have sales you need to be committed to the building of your platform before you start as well as to the marketing of the book long after you finish writing it.
We'll close with one of our favorite quotes from the interview, and one we know to be true from personal experience: "When you decide you are going to put your dream as a priority and put everything else second place, things fall into place. It just works!"
Until next time, we hope you continue to Try Something New every day.
We believe the key to an extraordinary life is to try something new on a regular basis. What you'll get from this ezine is a regular dose of a beginner trying something new – from the easy to the very difficult – and information on how you can try it, too. You may not want to try everything, but we think you'll gain some insight about courage, curiosity and personal strength from reading about each experience. What do you want to try next, *|FNAME|*?
Resources for this issue
Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story What would you do if your Mormon stepfather pinned you down and tried to cast Satan out of you? For thirteen-year-old Ingrid, the answer is simple: RUN. For years Ingrid has begged her free-wheeling dad to let her join him on the road as a tool-selling vagabond to escape the suffocating poverty and religion at home. When her devout Mormon mother married Earl?a homeless Vietnam vet who exploits the religion’s male-dominated culture to oppress and abuse her family?she finally gets her wish. Ingrid spends the next few summers living on the margins while hustling tools with her dad and his slimy, revolving sales crew. He becomes her lifeline and escape from Earl. But when her dad is arrested, she learns the lesson that will change her life: she can’t look to others to save her; she has to save herself.
We loved having Shea McGuier of On a Budget Design design the cover, interior layout, and website graphics and ads for our new ebook. She's so easy to work with, creative, and fast! She has some special packages available for writers, so be sure to check them out.
For editing work, we cannot recommend Angela Barton highly enough. Besides the actual line-by-line edit, she gave us a manuscript roadmap regarding the flow and content of our book and made some really fantastic suggestions to improve it. Angela also works in film, so she really knows storytelling!
Professional Editing Services at Reasonable Rates
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You didn't think we'd publish an interview about writing a book without including our own, did ya? If you want to know how we saved the cash to take a trip around the world so you can build your own dream fund, then this is the book for you. It goes on sale October 18, but if you sign up at the site you'll get a code for a nice little early bird discount on Tuesday. What are you waiting for? That dream isn't going to fund itself!