Author Boot Camp

The Return of Jewball OR: How a big time author reinvented himself digitally

OR: What you lose (and win!) by being digitally successful vs successful in physical bookstore terms (if those still exist).

I think you'll be interested in this podcast from Litquake's LitCast. It's Neal Pollack speaking as the keynote at Litquake's digi.lit conference in SF this June. [Click here to download now or listen away!] This talk seems particularly relevant to me because Neal's gone down a road very similar to my own. That is, except he's packed stores, gotten six-figure deals in the past and otherwise been very "successful" in traditional NY Publishing terms. He was evan a McSweeney's child! And now he's with Amazon's Thomas & Mercer Imprint, just like me. He explains why, what he's lost by being here and what he's gained. It's very interesting and enlightening listening for any author in today's media space. So check it out. Thank me later.

I first became aware of Neal when he wrote this essay in the NY Times Book Review about why he would self-publish Jewball. He even talked about doing a Kickstarter campaign just about the same time as when I did mine. I posted about all this back here on the AuthorBootCamp site. Now this fills in the rest of the story: how even with the platform of the NYTBR (!) the self-published book didn't sell and he turned to Thomas & Mercer. Definitely a turn I didn't see coming! He didn't even wind up doing the Kickstarter campaign. Why not? Who knows.

Anyway, here's the whole deal. You'll hear a lot that parallels the path I've gone down, the one you've followed me along, and also a lot of the reasons I'm happiest now with Thomas & Mercer. How I plan to keep on keeping on. Actually, on that note, In Broad Daylight is part of Amazon UK's Kindle 100 books for August. If you're over there, drop a review and pick up a copy. It's only ONE QUID! Who looks out for you. That's right. 

The digi.lit conference was great too, by the way. Stay tuned for a future LitCast that features my panel on what writers need to know to self-publish in the new digital space. 

The Tech-Empowered Writer- AWP Panel Resources

AWP Conference in ChicagoAWP Conference in ChicagoAt AWP this year, I'm presenting as part of a panel on "The Tech-Empowered Writer: Embrace New Media, Experiment, and Earn" along with awesome writers Christina Katz, Robert Lee Brewer and Jane Friedman. Check them out, really! These three are ones to watch! The panel is on Thursday of the conference (3/1) from 1:30 to 2:45 in Boulevard Room A,B,C, at the Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor. More info is here: AWP Conference Schedule.

I'll say the names of these three again: Christina Katz, Robert Lee Brewer and Jane Friedman. Outstanding, all! And go here for where I mention Christina's awesome book, The Writer's Workout!

But what I'm really here for is to add more content to the panel presentation so folks can find more links to others I think are doing a great job. I'll be talking about how I raised significant capital for my last two novels This Is Life and Young Junius by doing a highly successful (if I do say so myself) Kickstarter Campaign and a Special Edition Pre-Order event that I ran through PayPal. Both of these really put me in good shape to work with a publisher and to do a lot of the freelancer-comissioning myself! Totally awesome! Of course, none of this would've been possible without the support of my awesome group of fans, the Palms Mommas and Palms Daddies, who I connected with through producing my novels as free, serialized audiobooks (podcasts) that I distributed here and at iTunes. For more on how I did that, see this link and the upcoming online Author Boot Camp class I'll be teaching in April and May. Hurry, just a few spots remain!

So, what other writers are doing awesome stuff?

First, I'll start off with Jeff Shelby, who blogs here about how he set up his eBook Thread of Hope on Amazon's Kindle store and planned a release all on his own. And then guess what? Thread of Hope hit #1 on Amazon!! Yes, it did! Slid right past Stieg Larsson and everything! Jeff tells all in this easy to read and understand blog post about how he listed the book, made it free on Amazon to jumpstart sales, then contacted biggie blogs like Pixel of Ink and eReader News Today to let them know when it'd be free. Next up... well, read it all here. How Thread of Hope Hit #1 on Amazon

Second, let me tell you about Neal Pollack, whose piece in the New York Times Book Review here tells about how and why he decided to leave traditional publishing to put out his book Jewball himself. Neal used Kickstarter to build a source of funding and Createspace to publish the book in Print On Demand format. Know what? Both of these are totally easy to do. Read more about Neal in my post at AuthorBootCamp here.

Mur Lafferty, a fellow podcasting author, really rocked the Kickstarter world and broke the mold when she did this wildly successful campaign. Just look at the funding: 969% funded! Wow!

Want more? Check out podcasts by students of my recent Author Boot Camps and how they're connecting with an audience using just their voice, their words, and a little technology! That, plus more info and lessons from J.A. Konrath, Barry Eisler and Paolo Coehlo are at the site AuthorBootCamp.com. If you're interested in learning how to podcast and release your own eBooks, consider joining me for the online installment of Author Boot Camp in April and May. Filling fast!

Finally: Author Boot Camp Online Class!! Enrolling now!

This has been a long-running request from many of you and I'm happy to say it's finally here: I'm finally teaching a fully online 4-week Author Boot Camp class!! It's this April and May through the Stanford Online Writer's Studio.

The class covers methods and practices for podcasting, but also a lot more: we're going to get into eBook production and distribution, social media (Twitter, Facebook and Google+) as well as blogging and community-building strategies.

This course is limited to 21 students and filling fast, so sign up now!

Course title: Getting Your Story Out There: Social Media, eBooks, and More

Dates: April 16th to May 11. 4 Weeks, all online, all at your schedule and convenience No Matter Where You Are!

Cost: $300 - a steal for the amount of community, guidance and strategy you'll be getting! Download the Syllabus here to learn more. 

Visit the Continuing Studies website to read more about the class, see the full description, and enroll.

Into the Woods! In Broad Daylight 9!

Look who's paying attention to Jess Harding this week! Are you?

Click here to download or listen to Episode 9 of In Broad Daylight.

Hope you're enjoying the story. This week, I'm mostly dormant, but next week I'll be appearing at a Literary/Crime/Noir Salon in North Berkeley hosted by the wonderful Janet Rudolph. Event is Thursday Nov. 10th at 7PM and also features great writer, racer and dog-lover Simon Wood! Come on out! Visit Janet's website to RSVP and get address details. 

This week I talk about my new recording setup, quality, and a great new podcast novel by one of my former Author Boot Camp students. We just had another session at Stanford the past two weekends and it went GREAT!!

Heather Stallings is the author of False Alarm, an exciting sports-management novel that she's now podcasting at HeatherStallings.com. Head on over and check it out! You can find episode 1 here.

Using Scribd.com to Publicize Your Book

Today I want to talk about a great new way to publicize your work online, one that's working very well for authors Kemble Scott, Hyla Molander, and today's guest Ransom Stephens: uploading your ebook to Scribd.com. Here, lots of readers can discover your work, "read-share" it via Facebook and generally help you get the word out.

Ransom Stephens uploaded his book The God Patent to Scribd in May 2009 and since then he's seen the book rack up over 19,000 reads and 80+ great reviews. This was enough for the book to get picked up and published by Numina Press (Vox Novus) last December. Billed as "The Scribd eBook Sensation," you can read The God Patent for FREE here.  

Looking ahead to publicizing YOUNG JUNIUS next month around its release from Tyrus Books, I caught up with Ransom to ask a few questions about how I can use Scribd to help: [more after the break]

Online Webinar on Podcasting -- Tomorrow!!

For those of you who've been looking for an online class on how to use
podcasting and free serialized audiobooks to create or increase your online
presence and fanbase, tomorrow's webinar is the first step in my partnership
with Writer's Digest to make this course material and content available.

I hope you'll join me for this live 75-minute webinar that goes over
everything you need to know to get your feet in the water and start building
your content and fan platform!

Here's the link to more info:
http://www.writersdigestshop.com/product/podcast-your-fiction-webinar/?r...

I'll also be following this webinar with a two four-week online courses
starting later in the summer. The first will cover how to create your audio
episodes for podcasting. It starts on Monday July 19th. I'll be back soon
with more on how/where you can sign up.

Hope you're having a great summer!

Newspaper Coverage in SF Chronicle!

In the old days - which, in this case, you might define as "two years ago" - getting your book published would entail finding an agent, sending it off to publishing houses like Random House or, when that failed, paying a vanity press to put the thing in print.

All of that has changed, thanks to radical shifts in the publishing industry and, oh yeah, the Internet.

Here are some examples of how a few Bay Area authors recently got into print:

Berkeley author Seth Harwood, who teaches writing and literature at Stanford University and City College of San Francisco, wrote his first book, the gritty crime novel "Jack Wakes Up," in 2005. He began posting 50-minute podcast episodes from it on Podiobooks.com in 2006, establishing a marketing platform for his work. He made a print-on-demand deal with Breakneck Books in March 2008, and then Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Random House, scooped him up and published the book in May 2009.

Read more here: Http://sfgate.com

Creating an Online Preorder Event: Tips & Strategies!! - Part II

Good News for Writers! (and 5 Tips on how to Capitalize on It!)

Right now there are more ways than ever to publish, distribute and evangelize your work—without spending a lot of money. Though the direction big publishing will take remains unclear, because we writers are small and nimble, we can act on as many strategies as we have time for.

Want to create a blog but don’t know what to post on it? Your best bet is to post your fiction or non-fiction—that manuscript you’ve been working hard on. You’re better off showing your work to an online audience of potential readers than struggling to get it in front of a few harried agents.

1) Post your book in installments so readers can digest it in small bites. That way you’ll also have content to spread out over a long period. It will take time for interest to build about what you’re doing, but build it will. Trust me.

Personally, I’ve used podcasting—turning my work into free audio files (MP3s)—that I distribute via my blog, iTunes and Podiobooks.com to get my novels out and build an audience. And it’s worked! My interaction with fans has buoyed my spirits, helped me write more, and landed me deals with major and independent publishers. (For more on podcasting, see my June WD Webinar “How to Podcast Your Fiction.”)

2) You might actually be better off with an independent publisher than a big guy.

Author Boot Camp IV Now Enrolling

That's right: now is the time to sign up for the Fourth Round of the Author Boot Camp Class taught by myself and Scott Sigler. We're happy to be hosted yet again by Stanford University.

This Spring's class will be on two Saturdays, April 24th and May 1st. 10AM - 4PM in Palo Alto

Register here to get into this class before it fills up.

In today’s publishing world, debut authors have to write well, but they also have to help sell their own work. Many agents and editors are looking for writers who bring an existing audience to the table. In this workshop, students will learn practical tools and techniques to build large networks of followers, fans, and eager readers. The methods discussed will include social networking, new media, and serializing novels as free audiobooks. The instructors will outline the process they used to make cheap, highly effective advertising that landed book contracts with major publishing houses. Why let a small number of insiders — agents, editors, and publicists — decide the success of an author, when the tools for building an audience are readily available?

Can't wait to see you there!

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