Patsy Porco

Posts Tagged ‘self-published books’

Free (and worth it!) Advice to Self-Published Authors

In Books, libraries, Self-Published Books on July 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Being the genius Being fairly adequate at marketing self-promotion, it occurred to me that if I had self-published a book, I would offer it to my local library, and to every library that responded to my inquiry emails, for free. Most self-published-authors (known as SPAs in my head) all-too-soon discover that, once their relatives and friends buy their books, their selling days are over. In fact, they will probably never sell another copy ever again. That’s what marketing departments are for, and most SPAs don’t have one.

If SPAs gave their books to as many libraries as possible, however, they might at least find readers, albeit cheap ones. Once an SPA has acknowledged that he or she isn’t going to get rich from a book, he or she will settle for readers, of any ilk.

I was on my local library’s website last night, perusing their digital library. The inventory was sparse and consisted mostly of books with lurid covers, i.e., bodice-rippers*. (A lot of SPAs write bodice-rippers. I know this from experience. At one time in my life, I had a website dedicated to self-published books [yes, I called them SPBs; amazingly, the word didn’t catch on] and the majority of the books submitted to me were bodice-rippers, followed by self-help books written mostly by people with no credentials.)

But, last night, I wasn’t in the mood for a bodice-ripper, so my choices were severely limited. But why, I wondered, was my library’s inventory so heavily weighted toward this type of romance novel? And then it hit me. I’ll bet the authors gave the library their self-published books. But then the question was: Why would a library download an unsolicited, and probably unreviewed, book and upload it to its website for borrowing? The answer was obvious: Because, as soon as everyone and his/her brother/sister/friend got a Kindle or the Kindle app, libraries needed to build digital libraries, and do it fast. Library bosses probably came in one morning and told their librarians, “I want a big digital library and I want it yesterday.” (Library bosses are so behind when it comes to the latest expressions.) So, in order to keep their jobs, the librarians probably downloaded every book link that was emailed to them. The next day, they had hundreds of e-books (out of millions of available ones, probably) ready for their patrons to borrow. And, they were mostly bodice-rippers. Because that’s what the librarians had immediate access to.

So, SPAs, get a move on. Send your book to your local library today. And to every library on the planet. Some librarian somewhere is bound to have a boss who is saying right now, “Our digital library is languishing! Get more books uploaded, and do it yesterday.” And whose book will be sitting on the library’s computer, just waiting to be uploaded? Yours. You’re welcome.

 

* books similar to those published by Harlequin

 

 

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Wanna Buy a Website?

In Humor, Website, Writing on May 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm

A long time ago, I remember reading a complaint by a wanna-be author about young authors who, with little life experience, wrote best-selling debut novels. The complainer said that he thought that one had to run with bulls, shoot big game, and fight in wars before writing a book. He was really ticked off that novices had the nerve to succeed as authors without emulating Hemingway. I, on the other hand, was inspired. Maybe I could write a book, too. I knew very little about anything, so I was qualified. The only thing holding me back was my innate laziness.

My personal motto is “Take the path of least resistance.” Why struggle when you don’t have to? You can get there the easy way, or the hard way. The choice is kind of obvious.

I remember being awed, many years ago, by the marketing expertise of an Avon lady in our 20-story office building. I first learned of her existence in the ladies’ room. She had put a stack of Avon catalogs next to the sink. Out of curiosity, I visited all of the ladies’ rooms on every floor, and I saw an identical stack on every counter. That was ingenious, in my opinion. With very little effort, she had reached every potential female customer in the building. She became my role model, even though I had no idea who she was.

Then the Internet came along and entrepreneurs started buying up website domains with the names of big corporations and famous people. Big corporations and famous people were not amused, but many of them were forced to pay big bucks to the domain owners to buy back their names. Some of the companies sued the domain owners, but many chose to just pay up and be done with it. A new world had opened up for me.

So, I started a website. The site, www.spbroundup.com, is a list of self-published books. I had two purposes in starting the site: to promote the work of self-published authors, who needed one site where book buyers could go and find titles for all tastes; and to have a big corporation, like Amazon.com, buy it. The big corporation would have the resources to improve my site which would benefit indie authors, as well as me.

I mentioned the site on LinkedIn.com’s author and writer pages, and received a number of book submissions. I started entering the information, and then I got more submissions. I couldn’t keep up with the demand which was, in truth, small. But it was bigger than I could handle. Now, I have a backlog of titles to post on my site—and an inbox full of annoyed emails from self-published authors who want to know what is taking me so long to upload their book information. The worst part is that the site is taking up a lot of my time and nobody has shown any interest in buying, or even visiting, my site.

I think it’s time to change my path. This one is very resistant. Maybe I’ll start selling something in restrooms. If you’re a big mail-order company looking for an indolent rep, feel free to send me catalogs.

I Have a Theory

In Humor on August 18, 2012 at 1:05 am

I love a good conspiracy theory. No matter how far-fetched it sounds, I’ll usually believe it. Sometimes I keep my opinion to myself—there’s only so much craziness one’s friends can tolerate from one person. But, in private, I do believe that JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, and other more-recently-deceased famous people could have been murdered by committee. They were inconvenient people, to paraphrase Dominick Dunne. I even have theories about who did them in, but my insurance agent has advised against my theorizing in print; apparently, our homeowner’s insurance has a slander/libel limit.

I also believe that I’ve been a victim of a conspiracy. This is another closely guarded secret, because I wouldn’t want to be called paranoid, or worse, egocentric. One might ask, “Who would conspire against you?” while another might query, “Why do you think you’re so important that someone would want to kill you?” I never said that anyone wanted to kill me, at least not today. But, they might want to conspire against me. Don’t you think it’s odd that my website was recently hacked and eliminated from cyberspace, or from the more trendy “cloud”?

Yes, I’m aware that websites are hacked every day. But the difference is, there is no reason to hack my website, www.spbroundup.com (gratuitous mention), unless you are my competitor and want my site gone. My site was not a repository for credit card information or email addresses, so no identity thief would be interested in it. Only people with similar sites would want to eliminate mine.

I’m not actually aware of any competitors, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. My site is the only website I know of that is dedicated to the promotion of self-published books. Well, in truth, I don’t exactly engage in any actual promotion, per se, but I do offer a place for unknown authors to list their self-published books so that readers can find them. Okay, again, that was my original intent. Actually, it would be a place where unknown authors could list their indie books for others to find, if I dedicated the time necessary to upload their information onto my site. Regardless, I believe that my rivals, who probably exist, are jealous of the potential of my site and had to have it removed.

“Why would they be concerned about a half-baked site when they could offer a fully baked one?” you ask. I don’t know, especially about the baking part. But that’s the great thing about conspiracy theories: one never knows the truth. All one can do is guess, and one guess is as good as another.

(P.S. my site is back now, thanks to some fancy code work performed by a whiz named Larry.)

What the Hack?

In Humor on August 16, 2012 at 12:27 am

I’ve been hacked. Well, I haven’t personally been hacked. No hooded assailants wielding hacksaws and machetes have lopped off any of my limbs. To be more specific, my website has been hacked. It no longer exists, which means hundreds of hours of work were all for naught.

I started my site, www.spbroundup.com, last October. In truth, I worked diligently on it for months and then lost interest in it. It’s a site for self-published authors to display their books. I still think it’s a great idea. The authors who listed their books seemed to love the site. But it was a lot of work for one person, especially since that person has a lazy bone in place of a spine.

I kept meaning to get back to it. I told myself that I definitely would, once I found a full-time job, got a passport, lost 15 pounds, started jogging, and weeded my garden. Definitely then. “Then” turned out to be too late when my brother informed me that my site was gone and in its place was an announcement that someone at the David Geffen School of Medicine was using my URL, and that his information would be posted “eventually.”

What? My first reaction was to find the guy who stole my site. His name was provided in the announcement, along with his school. But then I figured that he would hardly give me his name if he were the site stealer. My husband told me that I should alert the Secret Service; they have a cyber crimes unit. What I ultimately did was tell my neighbor. He had helped me get my site up and running, so I figured he’d know what to do. He told me to contact my website’s host.

I did, via email because they don’t have a phone number (!), and they provided detailed instructions on what to do to fix the problem, as well as a heartfelt wish that all went well. Again, what?

Aren’t website hosts supposed to be more helpful than that? The detailed instructions they sent were Greek to me. I informed the host of that and was told that I might need to hire a web developer. They fervently hoped, however, that I wouldn’t write the site off as forever lost. I’ll tell you one thing, if I ever get my site back, I’m going to start speed-dating web hosting companies. Then I’m going to pack up my host’s belongings in boxes and throw them out the window onto the lawn. This relationship is over.

But, back to the present. You know how it’s said that you don’t miss something until it’s gone? That statement is pretty idiotic, in my opinion. Of course I didn’t miss my site when I had it. But I did neglect it and take it for granted. Now, it’s gone and all I want to do is have it back. I imagine hours of joy and fulfillment working on it and making it the best it can be. But it might be too late. Maybe the expression is that you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. That would make more sense.

My helpful neighbor gave me the name of his coder, a guy who will probably be able to help me reunite with my site. I think I will also contact the Secret Service, though. Having a bunch of men in black, wearing ear pieces and sunglasses pull up to my house in black government cars would be interesting and exciting. I know I’ll miss them when they leave. Maybe I’ll offer to go with them to hunt down my cyber criminal. I know one thing for certain: if I catch him, I will be wielding a machete and a hacksaw.

Brain Candy

In Books, Humor, Reading, Self-Published Books on December 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’ve always been proud to call myself a reader. Smug, even. For some reason I still can’t fathom, when people refer to another as “a reader,” a hush falls over the room and everyone stares at the reader with admiration. I am a voracious reader of books, but considering that I read solely for entertainment and to escape from reality, I hardly deserve any approbation. Okay, reading has improved my vocabulary, but that’s the only benefit I can credit to the thousands of hours I’ve spent ignoring my family, and my ever-increasing laundry pile, to live vicariously through the characters in books.

Because being a reader is regarded as a noble thing, I can’t help but wonder why others proudly proclaim that they don’t read. Don’t do whatever you want in the privacy of your own home, but I would think it would be wiser to keep your non-activity private in a world where readers are revered.

Among readers, there’s a hierarchy. If you exclusively read nonfiction, then you’re considered an elite reader. Literary fiction is next, followed by other fiction, and the rest. There are many other categories, but I’m not going to try to think of them all for fear I’ll get side-tracked with categories, subcategories, genres, subgenres, etc.

Regarding my own reading habits, I  freely, yet sheepishly, admit that I ordinarily do not read nonfiction. I also don’t read to purposely learn anything. Whatever I inadvertently learn while reading seeps into my brain without any encouragement from me. That puts me, I shudder to acknowledge, on a par with someone who doesn’t read and only watches TV for entertainment. TV watchers who limit their viewing to political or learning channels fall higher on the Media Consumer Scale (which I just invented).

So, you ask, what am I trying to say, and why is it taking so many words to say it? What I’m saying is that books to me are brain candy: sweet and satisfying for the moment. I rarely recall what I read the day before and it’s even rarer for me to read a book that stays with me for days or weeks. Therefore, readers of my caliber do not deserve to be worshipped and adored by nonreaders, especially those who watch The History Channel or NOVA. (Worshipped and adored might be overstating the case, but permit me some hyperbole, since I know, from reading the word and then looking it up, what hyperbole means.)

To address the second part of your question, it is taking me so many words to make my case because I’m obfuscating the true purpose of this post: to promote my website, www.spbroundup.com, to all of the readers out there, regardless of where you fall on the Media Consumer Scale. My website is home to the works of self-published, or indie, authors. The quality of the books varies greatly, but so does the variety of topics. There are many fresh voices out there that, heretofore, were not heard—some deservedly. But there are many authors who have created quality works which deserve a look. So, do yourself a favor, and take a look. You’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.

 

Check out what indie authors have to offer at www.spbroundup.com.

Sticking it to the (Publishing) Man

In Books, Publishing, Self Publishing, Self-Published Books, Website, Writing on October 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Publishers used to be the last word in getting your book into print. Once you were rejected by one and all, you pretty much had to shelve your book and give up on it, or start over with a new book or a rewrite. People actually lived entire lives trying to get published and died trying. Now when publishers say, “No!” you can say “Oh, yeah?”

Your book’s future is in your hands now. Self-publishing your book may not have the cachet that a big (or small) publishing house’s backing does, but it does guarantee a reward for all of your hard work and dedication. After you sweat blood (or vodka) over the writing, rewriting and editing of your book, you know that you will eventually hold a completed, bound copy of your book in your hands–unlike the legions of authors who up until recently poured their hearts and souls into manuscripts only to have them, and their dreams, end up moldering in desk drawers. One guy I know said that when he received copies of his self-published book, he was so elated he could’ve cried. Before the advent of self-publishing, there was a lot of crying, but the tears didn’t stem from joy.

Once the elation of being a published author subsides, however, you are left with the monumental task of marketing your book. This is where having an established publisher comes in handy. Big publishers have departments that schedule author tours and advertise their authors’ books. You have none of that. But, if you think about it, even if your book were represented by a large publishing house, there’s no guarantee you’d get a lot of attention. Most of their money is spent on publicizing their best-selling authors. The rank-and-file authors don’t get much notice from their marketing departments. And if you were picked up by a smaller, more obscure publisher, they wouldn’t have the resources to promote your book in a big way, so, you’d probably be in the same boat you’re in now. So, forget about the big publishers’ big money and focus on your next step: marketing and selling your book.

By now, you’ve probably hit up all of your friends, relatives, coworkers and acquaintances to buy a copy of your book. You might even have blogged or tweeted about it or started a Facebook page for it. These are all drops in a bucket, but without drops, how do you expect to fill that bucket? Drops are essential. So here’s another one: List your self-published book on my new website, www.spbroundup.com. It stands for Self-Published Book Roundup, or maybe Self-Published Books Roundup. I’m not really sure; that’s why I used the abbreviation SPB. Anyway, email me the title of the book, your name or whatever name you used on the book, and a brief summary of the book, including the category or genre of the book. Also include contact information and a link, if any, to a site where the book can be purchased. Then tell people about the site. Blog about it, hang signs about it, tattoo the URL on your forearm, whatever it takes to get the site noticed. Of course your efforts will help my site and why should you do that? Because your book will be on it. And every time someone goes to the site, there is the potential for a sale for you. So we help each other. There’s no financial cost to you at all to have your book listed, so what are you waiting for?

Oh, you’re waiting to hear why I’m doing this? That’s simple. I want to stop commuting two hours each way to work. If the site becomes successful and attracts an advertiser or two, then I can stay home and maintain the site full time. I love to read, so helping you sell your books to other readers while I make a little money seems like a win-win proposition to me.

Okay, my cards are on the table. Now please put your cards–i.e., book–on my list. Send your entry to patsy@spbroundup.com. And if you like my site, please add a link to it on your site. And good luck to us all.

 

Check out what indie authors have to offer at www.spbroundup.com.

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