Category : Tips & Tricks

Guest Post Tips & Tricks

Tellwell editor Simon Ogden’s advice to first-time authors

By Simon Ogden, Tellwell Editor

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WELCOME
Welcome to the band, we’re delighted that you’ve decided to join us. We’re a bizarro group and legion; all of us completely, utterly, fantastically, bewilderingly unique, except for one very specific idiosyncrasy—we all have a story screaming and punching and kicking inside of us that we need to yank out and release into the world. There are people out there with the same constipation as us, but they may let it loose through interpretive dance or by singing it out or painting it or by yelling it into the faces of people in line for the bus. But not us. Not we. We’re the scribes, the men and women of letters. We adore specificity and nuance. We love the tranquility of words nestled onto a page, the calm, rational and quiet way they float over to our audience. That alchemic translation of feelings and imagery and diaphanous emotion into the solidity of language. We’re the Hobbits of the storytelling tribe and we don’t give a fig if you haven’t yet been paid for your writing—if you’ve somehow managed to set a word down on a page and followed it like a tentative footstep into the great unknown with another, you’re one of us and are welcome here. Make yourself comfortable and we’ll put the kettle on.

The first thing you should be very clear on as a brand-new author is that all those concerns you have right now about what comes next and exactly how this whole writing puzzle works … samesies! We’re right there with you, in one way or another. This, like all the great and worthy art forms, is a mentorship trade. Like sculpture or carpentry. The longer you do it, the more sense it makes and the more your own lovely, unique, necessary voice rings out clearly and melodically to find its way to those readers who need to read that thing in that way at that exact time, and they will be grateful in ways none of us can hope to fathom. And delightfully, unlike most mentorship trades, our mentors are all around us: our bookshelves groaning under their weight, our end tables apile with them, our bathwater occasionally reshaping them for us

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READ AND FIND INSPIRATION
So, the all-time, number one, pin-it-to-the-top-of-your-list chunk of writing advice from anyone worth listening to will always be to get your nose in as many books as possible. Find the authors that talk in the way you want to be talked to and ingest their work.

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE
The second piece of advice towards becoming a better writer is—no surprises here—to write a whole bunch. It’s a close number two but make no mistake—number two it is. It would be hard to build a nice house if you’ve never been inside of a nice house, no matter how many nails you’ve hammered into a board. However, following these two rather obvious pearls of wisdom the sea of writing advice starts to get a little choppy. What is revelatory for some from here on forward may be pure bilge for others. There is a freakish amount of writing advice out there to shovel up if you choose to go digging for it. Give it all your best consideration but understand as you do that there is no specific method that originates from another artist that is also your method. This is the very essence and provenance of art. If some “genius” advice doesn’t resonate with you, it ain’t your soup—chuck it and move on.

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Book Marketing Tips & Tricks

How to market your book while on vacation – Tellwell’s book marketing tips

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School’s out and many are packing up the car en route to their next summer vacation. Meanwhile, the book you’ve spent the winter editing, revising and finalizing was just released this spring and your marketing plan is set and ready to be executed. As you glance at the calendar you realize the 3-week overseas holiday you booked a year ago is fast approaching. Your first thought is: Well I guess my marketing is just going to have to wait until the fall…

As an author, you’re not immune to taking a well-deserved holiday, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your book marketing on hold. So, before you jet set off on your next summer adventure, check out Tellwell’s top 5 marketing tips to keep the momentum going from wherever your travels may take you.

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Tips & Tricks

What is 49th shelf and how can you be using it?

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In celebration of Canadian culture and talent, allow me to introduce you to 49th Shelf – an online database designed to make it easier for readers to find Canadian books by Canadian authors.

Similar to Goodreads, those who sign up for a membership (which is free,) can populate a user profile and use the website to search for new book titles. 49th Shelf features reading lists and new releases, and you can also search for books by author or by book title. Each book listing includes the cover, description, publisher and retail information and links that redirect to the outlets carrying the title for purchase.

While it isn’t necessary to become a member, joining the 49th Shelf community allows you to contribute reviews, comments and book ratings, create and share reading lists and recommendations, and enter to win advance copies and new releases through their giveaways.

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Tips & Tricks

The Art of the ARC – How advanced reader copies can add buzz, publicity and reviews to your book before the official release

There is nothing better than the smell of a freshly cracked book spine – unless of course, that book is an advance reader copy (ARC). ARC’s are copies of a book that are given to certain people who are permitted to read it before its scheduled release date.  They are typically given to bloggers, critics, and other online influencers to review and promote the work to a wider audience.  For authors, sending out an ARC is a great way to gain buzz and publicity before the big release.  Although this may open the door to potential negative criticism, this also gives authors the chance to make last-minute changes before releasing their book to the world. So how do you create an ARC for reviewers?

 

Making an ARC

An ARC does not need to be fancy, however, there are additional elements that need to be considered:

  • Disclaimer – A complete cover is not necessary, but there should be a disclaimer stating that this copy of the book is an advance reader copy that is not for resale.
  • Quick facts – Include a list that has information like: number of pages, price, release date, ISBN etc.
  • Formatting – While this may not be your final copy of your book, you should still make sure it appears clean and professional. Reviewers may have several ARCs to review, and an aesthetically appealing file could boost your chances of getting read first.

When it comes to distribution, you can choose an electronic copy, such as a PDF, or a print copy. Digital distribution is inexpensive and easy to deliver, however, this also makes it easier to leak. Print is the traditional route, but it does take more effort and time to produce.

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Tips & Tricks

Should you consider joining a writer’s organization?

Much like running, writing has a tendency to be a lengthy independent exercise. The road can often get lonely and desolate, and it can certainly be reassuring to see some fellow runners, or in this case writers, alongside. Regardless of which publishing route you choose – traditional or self-published, there’s still a long journey of self-promotion that lies ahead.

As a self-published author, you’re essentially taking on a new profession, and if this is your first book, there can be a steep learning curve ahead. But, having an outlet to gain advice and support from other writers can help drive momentum and establish a solid foundation as a writer.

Many authors look to a writer’s organization as an opportunity to turn an independent effort into a team sport. Whether it be a national organization with smaller regional branches, a provincial organization, or a niche specific group, you may want to consider joining one as part of your marketing and promotion strategy.

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Here are some of the advantages of becoming a member of a writer’s organization:

  • Support from a community of writers – In any given writer’s group, you’re guaranteed to have the opportunity to connect and interact with other authors, many of whom will have unique insights to bring to the discussion based on their own publishing experiences. In essence, they’re a great forum to gain feedback from fellow members of your craft.
  • Networking opportunities – Most writer’s organizations arrange events and other interactive opportunities for you to meet with professionals in the publishing industry. Whether they be editors, reviewers, booksellers or other high-profile authors, writer’s organizations offer good settings to increase your author network.
  • “How-To” guides and instructional information – One of the greatest advantages of writer’s groups (particularly at a national level,) is the knowledge base they can provide, especially to newcomers. From contracts and legalities to marketing and promotion, writer’s organizations are a great preliminary source for best practices in publishing.
  • Access to readings programs – Some writer’s organizations provide their members with the opportunities to participate in pre-established events and speaking engagements. These can include subsidies to invite writers to perform at a school or public reading, which can act as a great gateway to showcase your book to appropriate markets.
  • Access to apply for awards – Many writer’s organizations offer awards to recognize contributions to the literary industry, but the committee’s considerations are often limited to members only. By joining one of these organizations, you’ll have the opportunity to submit your work for award consideration.
  • Writer’s Coalition Benefits – Many writer’s organizations include eligibility to participate in the group health and dental benefits plan through the Writer’s Coalition. If your principal profession is writing, it may be worth your while to have access to benefits, which aren’t usually available at a group rate in this trade.
  • Credibility – In the publishing realm, having a membership to a writer’s organization can enhance your status and clout as an author. As a self-published author in particular, this can be an extremely valuable confidence boost when you’re first starting out.
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Tips & Tricks

Pave the way to literary success with a pre-marketing strategy

Your phone rings; your best friend is calling. You answer and the congratulations and celebratory cheers pour in. The day has come, the daydreams have become reality. You’ve made the Globe and Mail’s bestseller list! The book you spent months crafting has gone viral and new readers are multiplying by the second! You’ve reached celebrity author status.

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It may seem far-fetched, but it’s certainly possible. The question is: how did you get to that unforgettable milestone?

As an author, whether you’re self-published or not, one of the most important things you’ll need to do to work towards that bestseller status is build an audience of readers who would be most interested in your book. But, growing a target market is no easy feat, and it definitely takes time and committed engagement.

And, if you want to hit the ground running when your book is launched, you’re going to need to get started sooner rather than later. Enter pre-marketing.

Having and executing a pre-marketing strategy is extremely important to build initial momentum – whether it’s your first book, or your sixth. Here are Tellwell’s top ten tips to consider when putting together your pre-marketing strategy:

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Tips & Tricks

Three tips to increase book sales for first-time authors

As a first time author it can be daunting stepping out with your story and trying to successfully earn money selling your book. Here are three tips to help increase book sales before your book hits the stands.

Always check your blind spots

Authors, who have spent so much time in the process of writing their books often are so intricately connected with the content and structure of their book that they can miss blind spots that a trained eye would catch.  Whether you have someone who is trained to look for blind spots review, or have some peers review your content before publishing, don’t rely on just yourself to catch everything.

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Tips & Tricks

How To Take Your Book Tour Online

In a digital age, it should come as no surprise that in addition to designing, publishing and marketing their books electronically, authors can also take their book tours to an online interface. Imagine executing a series of tour stops right from the comfort of your own home. Sounds too good to be true right? While for some, the traditional, in-person events and signings work best, others may want to consider adding a blog tour to their marketing plan.

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What is a blog tour?

An online book tour, commonly referred to as a blog tour, is a modernized way to connect with new readers without traveling from city to city. Blog tours usually occur over a two to four-week period where the author is featured on a different relevant blog each day for the duration of the tour.

The features of each stop on the tour can vary, but usually share information about the book and its availability and exclusive information about the author. Similar to having one on one conversations with the authors at events, the blog content is meant to incentivize readers to want to get more from the author, through buying their book.

The main idea behind organizing a book tour, is to capitalize on each blogger’s audience to gain exposure for the book in the early stages of its release. Online tours can be arranged at any time, but work most effectively with new releases. In comparison to in-person tours, where building a strong following and some momentum reinforces the value of holding events, blog tours are meant to help grow an audience for a new book.

Blog tours have been known to work best for genre fiction or YA books because it’s one of the best ways to engage with that audience.

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Tips & Tricks

To Blog or Not to Blog

Once you’ve created an author website, you may be wondering what content to include and how to use it to gain more online traction. One of the best ways to do this is by starting your very own blog! A blog is a web page that is regularly updated with informally written articles, usually centered around a broad theme. Tellwell’s blog for example covers the publishing industry, with specific focus on self-publishing. Many blogs are in first-person and seem conversational.

You may be wondering how a blog will help to increase your book sales. Blogs are known to be one of the best tools to increase reader engagement and give readers a continuous reason to come revisit your site. Your blog is a preview of your writing style, so if readers enjoy the content you post online, they’re more likely to invest in your book. As with most online tools, blogs do have their own set of pros and cons. Keep reading to find out if blogging is a good option for you!

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Tips & Tricks

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

1. Write every day

A study conducted by University College London claims that there is no definitive amount of days required for a habit to stick; it varies depending on the activity. However, most habits will become a part of your daily routine after several weeks. Once you have your flow going, it is easy to produce dozens of pages in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, the hardest part is getting started. Depending on your writing objective, your quota can be something like a blog post, diary entry, or a page towards your novel. What you write does not have to be Shakespearean quality. In fact, this resolution focuses more on the process of writing by encouraging you to incorporate this activity into your everyday routine. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this goal:

  • Schedule in time – Commit time in your agenda that is strictly dedicated to freewriting
  • Start small – Spend 10 minutes per day on writing for the first week but gradually add more time as this becomes a regular activity
  • Create projects – It might be difficult to write something if there is no purpose for the work. Write for a reason. Submit your pieces to a writing contest, start a blog, or send reviews to a media publication.

 

2. Read every day

Reading is just as important as writing when you are trying to perfect your craft. Similar to the tips mentioned in resolution one (see above), you are going to need to dedicate a bit of time out of your day to reading. Most people will choose to read for 15 minutes before hitting the hay to calm themselves before bed. Reading on a regular basis can help make you a better writer, since it will expose you to new words, writing styles, and perspectives. Additionally, reading makes you more intelligent, empathetic, and relaxed.

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