Tag Archives: indie authors

Tips & Tricks

Get reader reviews by running an online book giveaway

How do you get readers to review your book? You give it to them for free. Hosting an online giveaway is one tactic that will provide a bit of extra publicity for your book.  Goodreads, Facebook and Amazon have functions on their sites that give writers the opportunity to organize their very own book giveaways. The question is: which platform is best for you?

Goodreads Giveaways

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Goodreads boasts over 55-million members, with 1.5-billion books and more than 50-million reviews. So, this may be one of the most viable ways to reach your target readers. Running a giveaway on Goodreads is straightforward and easy to set up. The great thing about Goodreads is they promote your giveaway, helping drive entries and then randomly select winners once the giveaway ends.

How it works
When participants enter in a giveaway, your book automatically gets added to their “want-to-read” list promoting your book via updates in their friends’ feeds, building exposure for your book. About eight weeks after the giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read the book too. Goodreads also features their book givewaways on a section of their website, allowing new readers to discover new books.

The Goodreads giveaway process is simple, allowing authors to gift ebooks through their KDP account and print books to American or Canadian residents. The fee of $119 USD (approx $150 CDN) allows you to gift up to 100 copies fo your book. 

Giveaways for Kindle ebooks are fulfilled directly by Goodreads, while authors are responsible for mailing print books to winners. Take into account shipping costs when deciding how many print copies to gift. Giving away ebooks is much more cost effective as you only pay the giveaway fee, and do not have to pay for each ebook copy you gift. 

Goodreads also offers a premium giveaway valued at $599 USD which includes all the above benefits plus premium placement on the Goodreads’ giveaway page and a customizable message sent by Goodreads to entrants who don’t win.

FAQs

  1. How many copies should I give away?
    Goodreads allows you to give away up to 100 copies of your book. If you are gifting ebooks, then decide how many copies you are comfortable giving away. You are not paying out of pocket for the ebooks you giveaway, only the $120 USD fee. So if your goal is to generate reader reviews, then I would encourage to give away as many of those 100 copies as you can.
    But if you are giving away print copies of your book, then you do have to take into account the price of the book as well as shipping costs. In this case, limit the copies to the amount you can afford, taking into account the Goodreads giveaway fee. You can limit the giveaway to only one book.
  2. Will each reader who gets a free copy leave a review?
    No, Goodreads clearly states that people who receive free copies are not required to leave a review. And this is a good thing because if someone doesn’t like a book, sometimes they choose not to leave a review, and that is better than having a negative review. Books are given in the hopes that the reader will leave a positive review.
  3. Who can enter giveaways?
    Giveaways for print books are eligible for entry by Goodreads members who are residents of the US and/or Canadian residents. (During the setup process, giveaway hosts can select to offer print giveaways to U.S residents, Canadian residents, or both.)Giveaways for Kindle e-books are eligible for entry by Goodreads members that are residents of the US.
  4. Do I have to pay for the ebooks I’m giving away?
    No. Kindle Direct Publishing authors and publishers with ebooks available in the U.S. can run giveaways for up to 100 copies of Kindle ebooks. Whether you choose to give away 1 ebook or 100, it will always cost $119 USD. We automatically deliver the ebooks to winners at no additional cost, meaning you are not responsible for paying for each copy of the ebook. And the more books you give away, the more reviews you’re likely to receive, which will help create buzz around your book!

Take a look at the books currently up for grabs on Goodreads.
If you want to read more about creating an online giveaway on Goodreads, click here.

If you want Tellwell to setup a Goodreads account and run a giveaway for you, then fill out this form.

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Guest Post

Learn about the self-publishing process from Tellwell author Frank Cardinale

By Frank Cardinale

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Why did you chose to self-publish?

As a father of four young children and cyber security consultant with multiple projects on the go, I wanted to finish my book as soon as possible before it remained an idea on my computer for eternity. While one of the editors of my book recommended trying the traditional publishing route, I felt that it could delay it indefinitely if I were to get into a rejection and re-edit situation. Most importantly, as I feel strongly about the theme of the book and often found myself discussing it with other parents and students, I wanted to get it into their hands as soon as possible.

What inspired you to write your book? 

When I became a parent, the concept of education became important again, wanting to give my children the best education possible. I wasn’t the best student and after a little reflection, something stood out. While I was receiving bad grades for messy handwriting and the inability to sit still for long periods of time, my teachers were bringing in their computers for me to fix, and asking me how to install programs and write scripts. I was being graded on my ability to write reports on books I had no interest in, but not on the ability to configure MS-DOS, RAM and hard drives. My report cards began making me feel incompetent, and worst of all, I began to believe I was.

As I believe many students go through this experience, I decided to write a story that highlights the issue and wrote Gift From Above. My goal with the book is to reach students or parents with children that are struggling with school, and highlight to them that the education system isn’t a good fit for everyone and that there are many ways we can still obtain a high-quality education.

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Author of the Month

From historical research to staff-picked, award-winning novel – Renée Veillet shares of her accomplishments as an indie author

img_0002-180x300What started as research into her own family’s history during the settling of Western Canada in the 1900s, transitioned to an award-winning historical fiction novel and a long-term career as a writer and published author for Renée Veillet.

Inspired by the stories she learned of her ancestors, the Calgary-based author sought out to honour Canadian history in a medium that might be more entertaining and enjoyable for young adults.

“My ancestors endured hardships that were unimaginable; my great grandfather was forced to leave his family behind in order to seek work in Canada. The first family member he could afford to bring over travelled in steerage class on the Titanic and did not survive,” explains Veillet. “I feel a debt of gratitude towards my ancestors and want to honour them by sharing their stories with my children and the generations to come.”

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By the fall of 2017, Veillet was a published author and Rings of Time quickly began to receive high praise. The book, which has been compared to the popular TV series Outlander, has been described by Goodreads readers as “[p]erfectly paced and beautifully descriptive” and “an entertaining escape into another time.”

Local bookstores have also expressed interest in the book, and it was even featured as a Staff Pick at the Crowfoot Chapters in December 2017.

“As a first-time author, having my book on the shelf of the local bookstore was a huge milestone,” says Veillet. “Having it chosen as a staff pick was an unexpected surprise.”

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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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Design Showcase Guest Post

The behind the scenes creative process to achieve this incredible YA fantasy cover design – Demons at the Doorstep

Guest post by Tellwell designer Tara Price

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Demons at the Doorstep is a young adult urban fantasy. Written by Rachael Bell-Irving, the story follows Jessica, a witch who must team up with her mortal enemy to stop mutated demons from destroying her city. Hard copies and eBooks are now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters Indigo.

Why did you choose this cover as a monthly focus?

This was a book that I started working on at the end of last year that wrapped up mid-April. It was a little out of our normal process because it required a custom illustration. A lot of the time, the cover is either done first or designed in tandem with the interior. For this one the interior was formatted well before the illustration was done. I had an initial idea of what I wanted for the title, but I knew that it may change drastically when the cover was on my plate. However, once I saw this amazing image, I was able to work in the title surprisingly well, with only minor re-working on spacing.

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Author of the Month

Tellwell author Kristin Pierce ignites self-discovery in children through Inner Compass Books

Soul-searching, finding yourself and self-empowerment are often facets of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, but Tellwell author Kristin Pierce wanted to spark the journey of self-discovery earlier on.

As a mother of two, she sought out to find picture books with empowering messages to share with her children. But the nature of the subject matter left her with few options. Drawing from her personal journey of self-discovery, Pierce transformed some strong, thought-provoking life lessons into a beautifully illustrated children’s book titled Your Inner Compass That Could.

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“As a mother, I thought that if I was craving books with deeper learning messages for my kids, maybe there were other parents out there wanting that too,” she explains. Her goal in creating the story was to use the book to bring empowering messages to the world in an inspirational, understandable and relatable way.

The messages conveyed are concepts that Pierce began unraveling when faced with ovarian cancer at age 21. Self-reflection and inner confidence were pivotal throughout her experience, and are topics that she felt when described appropriately, could resonate just as strongly with children.

“What I uncovered along the way is that we all have this inner wisdom that we can use to help us navigate life from a place of alignment and truth. I realized that this was something I had been ignoring in myself for so long that I felt very disconnected from my truth and who I really was. In the process of getting to know myself better, I knew I was not the only one who felt disconnected or lost along the way,” she says.

To adapt these seemingly abstract concepts into a children-friendly story, Pierce knew the illustrations would carry a significant amount of the messaging.

“I had to dig deep into my creative depths to bring my illustration vision to the surface for Your Inner Compass That Could,” she explains. “The illustrations are infused with symbolism and meaning, and that process required a lot of reflecting, but it was so worth it in the end!”

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Meet the Team

Meet Project Manager Alison Strumberger

alison-1How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

Multifaceted. As a project manager it is my job to educate and support authors through their self-publishing journey, assisting with everything from manuscript formatting and submission, to illustrations and editing and design, and finally to book distribution. In addition to working closely with authors to bring their books into the world, I manage the editing department here at Tellwell. In this part of my role I draw on a decade of editorial experience to focus on refining our services, recruiting the best talent around, maintaining quality assurance, and supporting a team of thirteen dedicated editors who are passionate about helping authors tell their stories well.

What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

My days almost always begin in my inbox as I make my way through emails, answering questions from my authors and acting as a liaison between them and our designers, illustrators and editors. Quite a bit of my time here is spent collaborating with the rest of the in-house team about ways to improve on our processes. Invariably in the afternoon, I will find myself embroiled in an intense game of foosball in the break room. I prefer to play defence.

What is the most common misconception when it comes to editing, in particular in the self-publishing industry?

There are a number of misconceptions about editing, I think because the results of professional editing are often intangible. I would say the biggest of these is “I don’t need editing.” Every author has an editor; it is an essential stage in the publishing process. David Foster Wallace had an editor. Michael Ondaatje has an editor. Editing is so much more than adding missing periods and removing comma splices. Editing is also about style and nuance, it’s about the big picture of a narrative, it’s about character and logic and removing embarrassing unintentional puns, it’s about a fresh set of eyes reading your work as a reader would: critically, looking for the meaning, and really working to draw it out.

It is true when self-publishing that deciding to have your book edited can add substantially to your initial costs, but the investment will increase the quality of your final product exponentially, thereby setting your book apart from the rest. As Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying, “The difference between the nearly right word and the right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

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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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Guest Post

Conversations from a Coffee Shop: Transforming my Personal Struggles into Success through Writing by Jason Lee

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“Why don’t you write a book about your life?” asked my ex-wife as she poured herself a cup of earl grey tea one summer afternoon.

We were sitting on the empty patio at Gallagher’s coffee shop in Port Moody, listening to the sounds of birds chirping in the background of our conversation.

“Nobody would want to read about my story,” I chuckled shaking my head. “No one cares about my childhood abuse, or how my anger destroyed so many relationships.”

She grimaced and coyly nodded in agreement about how my anger ripped apart our marriage over 15 years ago. She took a sip of her tea and smacked her lips. “You never know. I think you’re not the only person who’s struggled. And how you’ve turned things around for yourself can be uplifting to so many people and can bring hope.”

I looked up and stared into the bright blue sky. A gentle breeze brushed against my face as I paused for a moment in deep thought.

Later that evening in my apartment, I continued thinking about our conversation. Was she right? Do other people also struggle managing their emotions, namely anger? Does depression and anxiety affect others making them feel helpless and lost, just like how I felt? I picked up a pad and pen and began jotting down notes. Somewhere in there, I scribbled the words, “recovery…anger…abuse…mental health and living with the dragon.”

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Author of the Month

Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs shares of caregiving to mental illness

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In light of Bell Let’s Talk and a growing conversation on mental illness, Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs offers her perspective as the caregiver and loved one to a partner who was mentally ill.

She shares with readers her escape from a significant other with a narcissistic personality disorder and mental illness, in her memoir INHALE.

 

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Through this book and her signing career, she aspires to ignite the voice of the caregiver – who suffers a great deal of abuse and heartbreak as the person they’ve grown to love disappears so suddenly.

“They can transition in a heartbeat,” says Songs. “The quickest thing could shut him off, and I could see it on his face,” she adds.

But, it’s equally important to the author to use her creative gifts of writing and music, to inspire those who are mentally ill to tap into their talents and passions.

“Witnessing the mentally ill exercise their gifts and talents confirmed their happiness and awakening desire to live,” explains Songs. “They can cope better.”

While this has been an extremely cathartic exercise for Songs, writing, and then publishing and promoting this book has brought forth a plethora of emotions, doubts, fears and hesitations about how the telling of her story will affect her loved ones.

Songs says she’s been especially concerned about her children, and how publishing her story will affect them.

“I was afraid of hurting them to the point of almost not publishing. But inside I kept having this feeling that it would release them too. And sure enough, it did!”

Songs says her son, who was 12 when she left home to care for her late ex-husband, felt the book gave him clarity and filled in the gaps he never understood about the relationship that took such a toll on their family.

Her daughter, who was in her late teens at the time, felt the book relieved her of the guilt she’d been carrying, having seen things in the relationship that at the time she didn’t know what to do about.

Beyond the opportunity to reflect and gain clarity, Songs needed to write to gain closure from the past, and talk about how her family got to where they are today.

“With every word I felt such a release of pressure off of my chest, heart, mind and conscience! I carried so much guilt, so much survival-fear for so long that I wasn’t even really trusting nor enjoying my current state of healthy-love and life,” she says.

And finally, she’s starting to let go. “I thought there was enough closure when I finally left. I thought there was enough closure when I heard he’d died. But I only gained a sense of closure through writing,” says Songs.

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