Three Articles on Publishing and Money

I am nowhere near ready to even think about the publishing process for NEXT BOOK, aka A COINCIDENCE OF DOORS — I’m still hacking at my first draft and turning it into a more cohesive second draft.

However, I read three articles this week that harmonized in an interesting and/or disheartening way, so I wanted to share them with you. How do we get our books into the hands of the people who might appreciate them? Does the capitalistic model, especially when combined with the algorithmic model, “just not work”?

Reedsy: The Ultimate Guide to KDP: How to Succeed on Kindle Direct Publishing

Once you’ve got your KDP book’s product page polished for maximal conversion, it’s time to get as many eyeballs on it as possible. While there are plenty of ways to market your ebook off-platform, this section will focus on how to boost its Amazon discoverability — how to make it easy for relevant readers to find it on-site.

Remember, when it comes to books, Amazon is the world’s leading search engine and recommendation system. There are many ways to send readers to your book page. But what you really want is to reach the point where Amazon does the bulk of the marketing for you.

Seth Godin: Surrendering Curation and Promotion

Facebook, Linkedin, Google, Apple and Amazon have very little ability to promote a specific idea or creator.

That sounds crazy, but culturally and technically, it’s true.

[…]

The platforms are built on the idea that the audience plus the algorithm do all the deciding. No curation, no real promotion, simply the system, grinding away.

This inevitably leads to pandering, a race to the bottom.

Longreads: The First Book

Jennifer Matthewson: As I’m sure a lot of first-time authors will say, I expected to have more management from my publisher. It was a small publisher in D.C., but there was no marketing at all, so I had to do it all myself. I think it’s a complete shift of expectations once you realize you’re the one salesperson for your book.

[…]

[Sophia] Shalmiyev: My number one myth is that the publishing house will pay for your travel. I have maxed out all my credit cards to go do the gigs I wanted to do, and I gave up many many more because I was not encouraged in that direction. A book tour for an unknown author sells no books, not enough to justify it. Yet, sitting at home and doing nothing would have been a new low. The other myth is that you can be honest and be yourself. You cannot. You will get in trouble. I feel like I am in trouble every day I speak and have my book anywhere in proximity. I have a lot of negative feelings about the industry treating its editors and agents like rags to be used and wrung out. They are overworked and exploited, and for what? The capitalist model just doesn’t work. Plus, the schmooze is incredible. You have to like talking to strangers nonchalantly about craft and sales.

I do love talking to strangers nonchalantly about craft and sales, so I guess that’s a start. ❤️

Book Review: Freak, Geek, Goddess by Jessica Lincoln

I recently started reviewing books for Reedsy Discovery, and here’s my first review, for Jessica Lincoln’s Freak, Geek, Goddess; Tales of Survival From Trust Fund High.

I gave the book three stars — ⭐⭐⭐ — and summed it up as follows:

Jessica Lincoln brings a unique voice to the often-told tale of learning to be true to yourself.

Full review below!

“What if being me makes me Freak Girl?”

Riley is worried about high school. Nobody likes her new haircut, she doesn’t know how to get to class, and her best friend Kaitlyn is obsessed with the Dukes and Duchesses — high school royalty. Kaitlyn wants Riley to skip fifth period and drive around with a couple of Dukes who tell sexist jokes and keep lumps of chewing tobacco in their mouths. Riley wants… well, she wants to be herself, but she’s afraid that it’ll make her look like a freak.

While Freak Geek Goddess could be the type of coming-of-age story appropriate for fans of Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF, be aware that Lincoln’s novel goes a little darker than comparable titles. Early chapters find Riley getting pressured into a navel piercing that promptly becomes infected, and earning a poor grade on a project after skipping class. By the end of the book Riley has experienced alcohol poisoning and sexual assault.

The story, told through Riley’s voice, is engaging; a reader may correctly predict that Riley will overcome her insecurities and triumph, but the path Lincoln takes to get there is not so predictable — and, in some ways, more realistic than similar high school narratives.

The book’s biggest flaw? Riley is just as judgmental as the Dukes and Duchesses. Readers who prefer their protagonists not crack jokes about “over-eager anorexics,” “popularity whores,” or “gender confusion issues” may want to look elsewhere; readers who want their heroines to show as much compassion to others as they wish they had been shown will be disappointed by Riley’s lack of character growth. Being true to yourself doesn’t always mean being a good person.

Reedsy Discovery Wants to Match Indie Authors to Readers

You already know that I am a huge Reedsy fan; they’ve got a wealth of tools to help writers draft, edit, and market their books, including the plot structure infographics I wrote about earlier this month.

Reedsy also featured this very blog as one of their 12 Author Websites That Get It Right, putting Nicole Dieker Dot Com on par with David Sedaris and J.K. Rowling.

Plus, in 2017, they invited me to judge a short-story contest.

So yeah, I’m all in for Reedsy, and as soon as my NEXT BOOK draft is at the ARC stage — which, since the draft is currently at 6,908 words, probably won’t happen until next year — I’m going to submit it to Reedsy’s new indie author service, Reedsy Discovery.

Reedsy Discovery lets reviewers share their favorite new indie books with an audience of eager readers

Here’s how Reedsy Discovery works (I’m going to go ahead and quote Reedsy here):

When you sign up to Discovery, your book will be presented to a pool of experienced and relevant reviewers that have been hand-selected by the team at Reedsy. For maximum suitability, they get to choose what they review — so make sure that your title, synopsis, and cover catches their eye!

Then, on the launch date of your choice (which, we’re imagining might coincide with your publishing date) your book will be promoted to thousands of registered readers who can then:

Browse your sample chapter 👀

Comment on it 💬

Lovingly admire your cover design 😍

Read your review (if you have one) 🤓

Upvote the book 👍

And purchase it through your chosen online retailers 💸

The Reedsy Discovery service costs $50, and I’m betting that being an early adopter might get your book a little more visibility, so if you’ve got fifty bucks and a book that’s in the ARC-and-marketing stage, why not give it a try? Use the Reedsy Discovery Launch Prep Checklist to make sure your book is Discovery-ready, and then send it out and see what happens!

Reedsy Discovery is also looking for talented book reviewers

You can also apply to be a Reedsy Discovery reviewer and get paid to read and review books — which is something I’m considering doing, but I don’t know if I can both be a reviewer and an author. (THIS IS A GOOD QUESTION FOR REEDSY, IF YOU’RE READING THIS BLOG POST. OR I COULD JUST EMAIL YOU.)

The reviewer payout doesn’t come directly from Reedsy; it comes from readers who can give you tips in exchange for your reviews:

When readers enjoy your work, they can send $1, $3 or $5 your way. These small thankyou’s can help you earn money from your reading addiction / passion.

I’m not sure how many people will tip Reedsy Reviewers — that’s still to be seen — so for me the draw isn’t the money. It’s the ability to grow my blog readership by getting Nicole Dieker Dot Com in front of a larger audience. (Remember that series of posts I wrote about audience-building?)

After all, every author whose book I review will share my review with their audience, and every author looking for a book review blog that’s still actively posting* will give Nicole Dieker Dot Com a visit, and so on.

But enough about me. This post is supposed to be about Reedsy Discovery, after all.

So go check it out — and then leave a comment if you’re interested in submitting your book and/or becoming a reviewer! ❤️📚💸

*If you’ve ever clicked through one of those “lists of book review blogs” — and Reedsy has such a list — you’ll learn just how many of those blogs are no longer actively posting reviews or no longer accepting submissions. But I love doing book reviews, and I’ve already decided that I’m going to do a weekly book review on this blog, so… let’s see if Reedsy Discovery wants me on their team.

I’m Taking Over Reedsy’s Short Story Contest Next Week

This post was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.

Each of the chapters of The Biographies of Ordinary People can be read as a very short story about a single moment in a person’s life.

Which meant that when Reedsy reached out and asked if I’d like to host/judge their Short Story Contest, I knew exactly the types of stories I’d be asking for.

Here’s what you need to know:

Reedsy is a publishing startup, home to a community of over 40,000 authors and publishing professionals.

Every Friday, Reedsy kicks off a weekly short story contest by sending out a newsletter that includes five themed writing prompts. Subscribers have one week (until the following Friday) to submit a short story based on one of the prompts. A weekly winner receives $50 and publication on Reedsy’s Medium blog.

Head to reedsy.com/writing to subscribe. On Friday, October 20th, subscribers will receive a newsletter that includes the five writing prompts I have personally created. To enter the contest, just respond to the newsletter with a story that’s between 1,000–3,000 words before Friday, October 27th.

I built two entire novels out of 1,000–3,000-word stories. I’m very excited to read yours. ❤️