What if bookstores accepted self-published books?

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If a bookstore would agree to carry your self-published book, what kind of world would that be?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is the one we’re living in!

Here’s what you do: walk into any bookstore, speak to someone in charge, and ask if they sell books from local authors on consignment—an arrangement where you’re paid once the books sell, and unsold stock is returned to you. And guess what? Chances are not too shabby that they’ll say yes.

But they’ll want to inspect the book beforehand to make sure it’s something that will represent their store image and brand well, and that won’t stick out like a sore thumb among all the attractive, traditionally published books.

Here are the basic requirements:

It has to be beautiful. Bookstores want books that entice customers to buy, and if your book cover or binding looks like that report on parakeets you handed in in the third grade, chances are a bookstore will take a pass on it. But if the cover is gorgeous, your professional author photo is on the back, and you’ve got an engaging description, they’ll be glad to take a closer look at the inside.

It can’t have grammatical errors. Speaking of the inside, nothing screams amateur like typos and grammatical errors. That’s why if there’s one service you spring for, it should be professional editing. A second pair of eyes is extremely important, both for spotting the errors you’ve become blind to, and for saving you the embarrassment of printing up a batch of 100 books with otherwise avoidable mistakes. Famous authors all have editors, why shouldn’t you?

It needs to have an ISBN and barcode. This is the only way they can ring it up at the register! The ISBN—International Standard Book Number—is an identifying number unique to your book that helps track sales. The barcode contains information about the price, and without it, a bookstore would be very hesitant to carry your book, because it would cause confusion at the checkout counter.

The good news is that all these requirements can be fairly easily met, so that your book will pass inspection with flying colors. But don’t hold back—make it look like it came from a New York publishing house, and bookstores will jump at the chance to display it on their shelves.

By the way, I’ll be teaching a course on how to (affordably) publish a book that bookstores will love, starting with a free, week-long publishing camp that starts in October. Get updates here!

Ready to publish a book? Join our exclusive community of authors

Not everyone is publishing a book, you know. Some are only dreaming of it, saying they’ll do it “someday.”

But you—you’re actually doing it! You’re not afraid to make your dream reality. And as such, you truly are part of an elite group.

Going from manuscript to published book doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s sure nice to have guidance, support, and a sense of community.

That’s why I created a new Facebook community, Published Author VIP, specifically for you, the writer that wants to be more than “just a writer.” You’re ready to be a published author, to see the book you wrote on the bookstore shelf.

Your future as an author looks bright. Come and meet others who are also destined for greatness!

Here’s how our exclusive community can help with your publishing journey:

  • Ask questions and get answers
  • Connect with other great, up-and-coming authors
  • Get encouragement regularly
  • Learn from those who have gone before
  • Avoid mistakes that could cost you

Request your community invite here, and welcome!

Editing: an investment you can’t afford to skip

You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: it’s not a great idea to edit your own manuscript. Revise, yes—as much as possible. Polish that sucker up! But editing is a very demanding, tedious process that must be done right, and as such, should be done by a professional.

And it’s an investment you can’t afford to skip.

Here’s why: it’s a fact that you are much less likely to catch your own mistakes, whether we’re talking about little typos, or bigger issues such as plot holes, factual errors, or improperly developed characters. But why is this? Because once you’re intimately familiar with a manuscript, and you’ve been over it a thousand times, you simply don’t notice these things anymore. They fade into the background.

So you definitely want another pair of eyes on your work. And it really should be a trained pair of eyes. Your friends can beta read it and offer feedback, and that feedback will certainly be valuable in its own right, but an editor knows precisely where the problems lie and can articulate exactly what needs to be done to fix them.

Good editing isn’t dirt cheap, but it can be affordable when you choose the right editor. Prices run the gamut, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association (and total investment will also depend on how quickly an editor works, and what type of editing you need), but I’ve listed some averages below.

Here are the most common types of editing:

Developmental editing. Need help with your plot, the structure of your story, or character development? This “big picture” service will help you organize your novel and tie it all together nicely. It is quite time consuming, therefore requires the highest investment. Expected investment: 3.5¢–10¢ per word

Substantive editing. Okay, you have a story written. But you know it’s not perfect—the narrative could flow better, some paragraphs could be rearranged, sentences rewritten, or it may need a little something extra. Hire a substantive editor to help with this. Still time-consuming, but cheaper than developmental editing. Expected investment: 2.5¢–8¢ per word

Copyediting. Let’s drill down to the sentence level. Do the words flow? Do the sentences have rhythm? Any grammar or punctuation issues? A good copyeditor will also keep a keen eye out for dangling modifiers. It’s like a car wash for your writing. Expected investment: 1¢–5¢ per word

Proofreading. All the major work’s been done, so now let’s sweep up and mop the floor, leaving it sparkling clean. Any remaining (minor) issues such as misspellings, extra or missing words, punctuation errors or anything else that shouldn’t be there are wiped away, and you’re left with the final text for your book. A proofreading pass takes the least time, therefore costs the least. Expected investment: less than 1¢ to 3¢ per word

Your investment will depend heavily on the editor’s experience, how polished your manuscript is going in, and the time frame you give the editor. And some charge by the hour, not by the word. But as you can see, this doesn’t have to break the bank, and you’ll end up with a much better finished product, very much worth the investment.

Remember, your reputation is at stake!

Need a recommendation? Martine Bellen and Jennifer Silva Redmond are excellent editors that I wholeheartedly recommend.

I’m Timothy Pike, a publishing consultant based in Philadelphia, PA, specializing in helping you publish a beautiful book and grow your audience. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter.

Are you “self” or “traditionally” published? Doesn’t matter, you’re published!

As a community of writers, our deepest desire is simple: we want people to love what we write. Your journey to becoming a published author reflects that.

But you may feel stuck, you may feel discouraged, you may feel uncertain. Sometimes all you need is a little knowledge, sometimes guidance. Other times just a fresh outlook.

And other times, you want to be on the front lines of a revolution.

How? With a new monthly magazine, created specifically for you, the self-publishing author.

Looking directly toward the future—while acknowledging the challenges of the present—this new magazine will give you the information, tools, and resources you need to move forward with your novel, step over the stumbling blocks life throws in your way, and become what you’ve always wanted to be: a published author who’s widely read.

I don’t want anything to stand in your way, so I’m not just clearing the path for you—I’m paving the road.

I believe that self-publishing is the future. I believe that in a few short years, self-published authors will command just as much respect, get reviewed just as often, and occupy the same bestseller lists as traditionally published authors.

The self-publishing industry is getting better—but it needs a big boost. As a self-published author, are you ready to reap all the rewards of traditionally published authors?

Join the revolution! I’ll keep you posted:

4 reasons to take self-published authors more seriously than ever

Nowadays, it’s quickly becoming the norm: before their stories are even finished, writers are already considering their self-publishing options. And who can blame them? From speed-to-market to more creative control to no rejection letters, it’s an enticing prospect.

But some are quick to thumb their noses at these writers, believing them to be going rogue, bucking the system in the name of vanity.

News flash: the 90’s called. They want their stereotype back.

In fact, self-publishers of today are to be taken very seriously indeed. Why is this?

1. They’re raking in the dough. Self-publishers tend to be financially smart, understanding that in a traditional author-publisher relationship, the money flows mostly one way: to the publisher. So they’re being proactive, and reversing the equation. Now, they’re collecting up to 85% of retail price in royalties, instead of giving up about that same amount—for life!

2. Their books look fantastic. In some cases, even better than books that come from publishing houses, who, surprisingly, can even mess up the classics. Case in point:

Let’s get real: everyone judges books by their covers, so the interesting—shall we say liberties?—the designers took with this cover will probably cost them sales on this print run, even though it’s a well-known book.

Compare that to Allison Marie Conway’s recent self-published poetry book, Vein, which positively oozes sensuality.

Talk about a sexy book cover. And very inviting. Who wouldn’t want to read?

What today’s self-publishing author realizes is that when you have a book that radiates, not only does it attract more readers, it’s a lot more likely to get shelf space in a brick-and-mortar bookstore like Barnes & Noble (which won’t accept anything that looks homemade). And here’s how to publish a book that radiates.

3. Their books are professionally edited. Big publishing houses employ armies of editors, red pens at the ready. Sadly, self-publishers would often skimp on this very necessary step, believing that with a few read-throughs, their manuscripts would be ready for the limelight.

Not anymore.

Today’s savvy self-publishers recognize that it’s very difficult to pick out all of their own typos and dangling modifiers—especially in manuscripts they are so intimately familiar with—and even more difficult to spot inaccuracies or errant assumptions. They know there’s no substitute for a trained, careful eye on their work, and as a result, any self-published book you pick up nowadays is much more likely to be a great read.

4. They’re getting movie deals. From Andy Weir (ever seen The Martian?) to E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey, but you’ve probably never heard of it) to Amanda Brown (Legally Blonde), self-published authors know that with a few beta readers, an honest critique or two, and a thorough markup by a freelance editor, their promising story can turn into a phenomenal, polished work that gets talked about and passed around—all the way to the silver screen.

Would any of this have been possible twenty or thirty years ago? Maybe, but it would have been much harder. The advent of e-books, blogs, social media sharing, and websites like ChapterBuzz have all made it much easier for the self-published author to reach readers and sell books.

Self-published authors know they have something to say, and nothing will stop them from saying it. When properly produced, a self-published book will stand out from the crowd, and could rake in thousands, even millions.

If you’re still stuck in that old mindset of ten years ago where expectations for self-publishing authors were much lower, wake up and smell the coffee. Heck, it could even be the self-publishing author next door who’s brewing it as she sits down to write.

And take her more seriously than ever—she could be the next big name.

I’m Timothy Pike, a publishing consultant based in Philadelphia, PA, specializing in helping you publish a beautiful book and grow your audience. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter.

Wanna make (great) money as a writer? 5 beliefs that are holding you back

I know you’ve dreamt of it.

Making a full-time income as a writer, that is. Spending your mornings in PJ’s at the kitchen table, steaming mug in front of you, beautiful words flowing onto paper. Or the stolen afternoon hours at the coffee shop tapping away on your laptop as your story takes shape.


Like so many writers, you probably harbor some long-held beliefs about writing (and publishing) that are only holding you back from this dream life of making money with your writing, watching as it slowly replaces your day job and becomes your full-time hustle.

I’ve got news: this doesn’t have to be a dream.

Let’s get started. Do you lack confidence in your writing? Our first wrong-headed belief is that only an immensely talented writer can make it big. Wrong! That’s what editors are for, and by the way, all great writers have editors. Stephen King has an editor. And there are all different types of editors: editors who can help you simply put story ideas together, editors who can help you structure your novel, and editors who can help tighten up your sentences to make your writing crisp and concise. Need a recommendation? I’ve got plenty!

Plus, in the end, people aren’t looking for perfection, just your best effort, and—most importantly—authenticity. (Fifty Shades of Grey became a huge hit even though E.L. James’s writing is generally considered middling to poor.)

But that being said, your first book will give you that burst of confidence you need to keep writing others.

Besides, how cool would it be to see the stranger next to you on the plane totally engrossed in your book, not even realizing he is sitting right next to the author? Imagine his surprise when he finds out you wrote it—and imagine your ego boost!

You may also think that you need to focus on hitting the jackpot with your first book. Again, this is wrong. It’s not about striking gold with that one “big hit,” it’s about steadily producing quality work, time and time again, that is authentically yours. Readers respond to authenticity, and will enjoy your work because it’s written in your voice, and they’ll keep coming back for more. Readers also love watching a novelist improve his or her skills over time.

Authenticity and effort. That’s what sells.

Even if you are hell-bent on “winning the lottery” with your first book, the fact remains, you can’t win if you don’t try, right? And getting started is the most important part.

Maybe you think you’ll get less respect as a self-published author. Honestly, I don’t think this has ever been true. It is true that traditional publishing opens some doors more easily, such as reviews in large media publications, but no one is going to actively look down on you just because you chose to be an independent author. Let’s face it: these days, lots of people have lots of things to say, and spending months or years hunting down a publisher or literary agent is a roadblock that many wish to skirt.

Speaking of reviews, consider Tracy Bloom, a successful indie author who busies herself cranking out romance novels during the day while her children are at school. She gets tons of book reviews! And she’s even more in control of the process because over the years she has developed great relationships with book bloggers.

Slow and steady wins the race. Cliché? Yes. True? Absolutely.

Once published, you may think you can rely on word-of-mouth to sell copies. Yes, it’s an important component of sales, but by no means the whole story. As we saw in Tracy Bloom’s case, she doesn’t hesitate to reach out to bloggers, and in this way, presides over very effective book launches.

But here’s the thing: you don’t have to know how to do all this. I can match you up with a marketing strategist who will help you set up a promotional campaign that plays to your strengths. After all, nothing is more counterproductive than feeling overwhelmed. If you’re an introvert, for example, you may wish to use a more low-key approach than an extrovert might.

The greatest part of book promotion is that it’s on your terms, using only tactics you feel comfortable using.

Meanwhile, you’re working on your next novel. Many writers believe that you shouldn’t bother to start writing another book, at least not right away. But I say please do, now that you have one under your belt! You want to get another book out there as soon as you can, because if there’s anything we know about Amazon, it’s that they love making recommendations to customers about what to buy next—and what better to recommend than one of your other novels? Great way to double your sales.

With time and determination—and getting past bad beliefs—the money will roll in. I encourage you to get started today!

Need a recommendation? Have a question? Comment below or shoot me an e-mail!

To your success,

This author is winning the game. Are you?

For me, there’s a palpable, almost electric feeling of excitement in taking on a new publishing client, and listening carefully as they describe their perfect book to me.

And it’s intensified when working with a brand new author, especially one as talented as Allison Marie Conway.

When I say brand new, don’t misunderstand. Allison is no stranger to writing; she regularly crafts fabulous blog posts on her popular—and by all appearances very successful—website, Glory Begin, where she’s amassed a substantial following. (She also hosts a podcast and sends out a phenomenal newsletter, and if you haven’t subscribed to either of these yet, you simply must.)

But with Vein, Allison takes her writing—and her business—to the next level. And she stands to gain a lot: A great way to instantly showcase her writing talent to new blog followers. Even more credibility as an author, photographer, spiritual teacher, and podcast host. A new passive income stream as copies of Vein are snatched up. With this project now complete, she can continue to give herself fully to producing daily content that’s “focused on spirituality, sensuality, creativity and inspiration.”

From the very first page, you get the sense that your presence was destined, like you’ve arrived just in time for a meeting of souls arranged by some cosmic force. Each poem, seductive in its minimalism, seems to speak to you on a primal level, leaving you simultaneously satisfied while still wanting more.

Indeed, each word is to be savored, as Allison’s readers can attest. “I am drinking it in slowly,” says one. “Like a fine port.”

Check it out:

If you can manage to take your eyes off the gorgeous cover long enough to open the book, the introduction alone will give you insight into why Allison writes, and what inspires her poetry.

Here’s how she puts it:

I know exactly when a poem is about to pour through.

There is a splitting moment just before it comes that is the most pleasurable frustration.

It’s a ripping surge and an ecstatic tug at the veins. Something physically moves the words into being.

I believe that at some level all artists are physically in tune not only with their work but also with the inspiration that comes before they begin the work.

Before we even pick up a pen or a paintbrush or a camera, we are touched by something.

We are sensationally alerted to the inspirational messages and in some strange way we are guided, prodded, coaxed, tempted, seduced, fingered, stroked, shocked, shoved, and caressed into birthing our mystical creations.

Something outside of us reaches in and decides to do whatever it takes to grab us.

I am completely bewitched by this mysterious flow of energy that moves through my body whenever I have the privilege of writing something that begs to be written. I can’t tell you what that energy is as sure as I can’t tell you what put the blood in my veins but I do promise you this: I can feel it.
I promise you it exists.

And I believe it reaches for all of us in the hopes that we will reach back. We want to touch each other in the most beautiful, intimate, and loving of ways. It is affection, it is reverence, it is selfless, it is real.

Now, if that doesn’t make you want to tear open the book and devour it, nothing will.

You can support Allison by ordering your signed copy of Vein now, and by sharing this post on Facebook:

By the way, how’s your manuscript coming along? Let’s talk about your perfect book.