Thursday, January 31, 2013

Is independent publishing right for you?

Last Saturday, Writer Abroad attended TIPE, The Independent Publishing Event in Zurich. Here are some of the things she learned:

  • Independent publishing is great for niche books or books with smaller markets that may not (at least initially) interest a large publisher.

  • To make a living as an independent author, you probably need not just one, but several books for sale on amazon. Series seem to work best in this case.

  • To make $2 a book, you can sell an ebook on amazon yourself for $2.99 OR a publisher can sell it for you for $12.99.

  • The ebook market is almost non-existent in the German-speaking world (about 1% of book sales). But ebooks outsell regular books in the U.S.

  • There is a lot of potential for ebook growth in Asian markets. Who cares if no one knows your book in the U.S. if you’re a bestselling author in China!

  • You can self-publish your e-book and still get an agent to sell other rights, i.e. print, audio, foreign language, film, etc.

  • The Kindle is the leading eReader. The Nook is dying.

  • Amazon is where you will probably sell the most ebooks. But you shouldn’t ignore other platforms like Kobo (Canada/Asia) and there are websites like smashwords and bookbaby that will format your manuscripts accordingly for all of these platforms.

  • Beware of agents who want to help you self-publish as this is easy to do yourself (and keep the 15%).

  • Getting an agent will be easy if you are a successful independent author. But by then, you may not want one. Or you may just want one for certain projects or to sell certain rights.

  • The three main people you need to hire as an independent author are editors, proofreaders, and cover designers.

  • Reviews are critical to selling books in an online platform.

  • The right keywords are also critical to selling books in an online platform. Use them in the book title whenever possible.

  • Printing on demand makes it possible to sell printed books without having to invest a lot up front. You should consider a printed book if your book would do well in European markets since print still outsells digital formats in Europe (especially in Switzerland).

 Anyone else have things they find interesting about independent publishing?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Home Country Writer’s Block

Writer Abroad has never believed in writer’s block. People that claim they have it? Well she has kindly always considered them lazy and unmotivated.

But after being in the U.S. for three weeks this winter, she realized something: she is sometimes one of these lazy, unmotivated people too–at least when she is visiting her home country. Because the moment she gets off the boat from expat land and steps onto her "home"land, she goes mute on the page.
Where do you write best?

Blame vacation. 
Blame jet lag. 
Blame being distracted by conversations she can understand and stores that make 24-hour shopping possible.

But partly, it’s difficult to explain why her home country gives her writer’s block. So instead, she’s trying to determine what it is about being abroad that makes Writer Abroad prolific.

So here are the reasons Writer Abroad thinks it’s easier to write from abroad:

-She’s often alone (family is 5,000 miles away and six to seven hours behind, so if they call or e-mail, it's not until after her writing day is over anyway)
-There aren’t many distractions (if you don’t count a baby, a clock tower that dings every 15 minutes 24/7, and a part-time job)
-Small problems often become big issues in a foreign place, leading to many instances necessary for creative problem solving
-She is usually hypersensitive to situations since she still can’t comprehend a lot of the local dialect, which makes her use more of her senses on an everyday basis to interpret things
-She is in her own apartment, the place where she feels the most free creatively (she can stare into space or make faces when thinking without fear of the consequences)

Anyone else out there have home country writer’s block? Or know why they are more prolific abroad?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

5 Jobs that will make you a better writer

Most writers know this sad truth: it’s hard to make a living. Many of us work other jobs to support our writing, at least when we are starting out. But which jobs are best for writers? Writer Abroad has complied a short list of jobs that may improve your writing, along with successful authors who have done them.

ESL Teacher
How better to understand the English language than to try to explain it to others? Teach English to non-native speakers and you’ll also discover a new world of characters and cultural understanding.
Successful author example: Peter Hessler

No one hears more of life’s little stories than a hairdresser. Become a one and you’ll probably also become a better storyteller.
Successful author example: Deborah Rodriguez

Expat at Large
Take any job or maybe no job at all, but do it in an entirely different country. Your old world will become clearer to describe and you’ll have a brand new one open to you as well.
Successful author: Janet Skeslien Charles

Take a complicated business problem and solve it with a one liner that entertains. Oh, and do it in an hour, please. Become a copywriter and you’ll write succinctly and be able to handle deadline pressure.
Successful author example: Augusten Burroughs

No writer knows what other writers are publishing these days more than a bookseller. Become one and you’ll know the trends and markets that are important for writers today.
Successful author example: Diccon Bewes

What are some other good jobs for writers? Why?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Will your bookstore become a museum?

Something strange happened to Writer Abroad this Christmas. She went to the United States and she didn't buy any books.

She visited several bookstores. She celebrated all the English on every shelf. She found a few books she'd like to read. But she didn't buy any of them.


Writer Abroad got a Kindle for Christmas.

She never thought this day would come, but in an attempt to keep up with the times, not to mention make her suitcase a little lighter this year, Writer Abroad converted to digital reading.

This brings up a lot of questions.
How will this digital stuff change her reading habits?  Are devices like the Kindle great for us Writers Abroad, who will now have English books available no matter what country we live in? Or will digital readers have unfortunate effects like making our beloved bookstores obselete? 

Writer Abroad couldn't help feeling bad for the bookstores she visited. Many are now selling toys as well as books. And can you blame them? If Writer Abroad, a reader and writer who is 200% more thirsty for English-language books than the average American, isn't buying any books at American  bookstores, who is?

Are you still buying books at bookstores? Or have you converted to digital too?


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