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If you’re looking for information and advice on writing and self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place. You can browse our growing range of articles on writing, publishing and marketing books by using the nagivagation links at the top of the page or or scroll down to see the most recent posts.

You can also search our database to find the right editor, designer or illustrator to help create your book.

Understanding publishing jargon

Whether you are self publishing or taking the traditional route, you are likely to come across many words that you haven’t heard before. Here are the meanings of the ones you are most likely to meet.

Advance
A payment made by a publisher to an author before the book is published.  It’s an advance on future earnings (royalties) from the book but, provided you keep to the terms of the contract, it’s usually non-returnable, even if the book turn out to flop.  Once the book is on sale, any royalties will be offset against the advance until the full amount has been recouped by the publisher. When this has happened, the book has ‘earned out’

Advance Review Copy (ARC)
A copy of a book sent to reviewers, reporters and other relevant people before the official publication date. This helps build interest and enables reviews to be available when the book launches. Continue reading

Public Lending Right

When a library buys a print book, it can lend it to as many people it likes. The only restriction is the physical strength of the book – lending ends automatically when the pages fall out. To compensate for any resulting loss in sales, the UK government puts aside a chunk of money each year which is divided up amongst the authors whose print books have been borrowed.

This is called Public Lending Right (PLR) and the  system works like this:

  1. Authors register their books with the Public Lending Right office.
  2. The PLR office collects data on loans from a selection of libraries around the country.
  3. The PLR office extrapolates from that data to work out an estimate of how many times each book has been borrowed in the whole country.
  4. They calculate how much they can afford to pay per loan and pay that to every author in the scheme. To stop the most successful authors taking nearly all the money, no one can be paid more than a set maximum. (£6,600 in 2014). There’s also a minimum threshold of £1.

PLR is a great system for authors. It works extremely well and provides a welcome income boost. It’s also very gratifying to see how many times your books have been borrowed, especially those that are long out of print. So make sure you register each edition of your book that’s available in the UK.

The UK isn’t the only country with a PLR system. The Irish system works in a very similar way and is administered by the UK PLR people so you can opt to join that when you register your books in the UK.  Other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, pay out their PLR money to UK authors through the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

There is currently no PLR paid for ebooks or audiobooks although this may change in the future.

Diana Kimpton

 

How to build traffic to your author website

In a recent edition of Dragon’s Den, one of the dragons declared that you couldn’t launch a website successfully with a budget of less than £100,000. That may be true of big price comparison sites, but it certainly doesn’t apply to author websites. Here are seven ways to promote your site that are easy, effective and completely free.

Email signatures
An email signature is a piece of text that’s automatically added to the end of all your emails. Make sure you put a link to your site in yours so every message you send is helping with your promotion. Continue reading

Ten tips for finding a good ghostwriter

Advice from top ghostwriter, Andrew Crofts

Picture of Andrew Crofts

Photo from Petteri Kokkonen

Ten years ago virtually no-one outside the publishing industry knew that ghostwriters existed. Thanks to Robert Harris’s bestseller, The Ghost, (and the subsequent film starring Ewan McGregor), and thanks to the openness of celebrities like Katie Price, Keith Richards and the Beckhams, a lot of people now know that we exist, but there is still a great deal of confusion about what it is we actually do.

I receive two or three emails or phone calls a day from people who think they might need a ghostwriter, either for fiction or non-fiction, but who aren’t quite sure how the system works. So here are ten tips on finding a good ghostwriter. Continue reading

Planning your non-fiction book

Although some people manage to write novels without advance planning, that approach doesn’t work so well for non-fiction. You need to organise your thoughts before you start writing or you may end up with a jumble of facts that no one wants to read.

Step 1: Choose your subject
The usual advice to authors is “write what you know”, but I’ve successfully written books about topics I knew very little about initially. So I’m amending that advice to say “write what interests you”.  Then your enthusiasm will show in your book and be passed on to your readers.

Once you have decided on a possible subject, do a search on Amazon or Google to find the books that will be competing with yours. How will yours be different and/or better? Can you find a different angle or aim at a different audience. Which brings us to… Continue reading

Search Engine Optimisation – is it worth paying for?

If you have a website, and quite often if you don’t, you are sure to receive emails offering you search engine optimisation (SEO). These services vary in price, but they all cost money you can ill afford. So are they worth it, especially for an author?

Personally I don’t think they are. Steve and I have built websites for plenty of authors and nearly all of them rank number 1 or close to it for a search of that author’s name. One didn’t because he had the misfortune to have the same name as a top American footballer. Another didn’t because she was so well-known that there was masses of other information about her online. The footballer issue was hard to overcome, but the famous author’s problem was easier – we solved it by adding the word “official” to her site name.

To understand how to get good rankings on search engines, put yourself in Google’s shoes. Their reputation is based on providing good search results – useful sites that provide the information searchers want. So what Google is looking for is good, relevant content and that is what pushes you up the rankings. As a result, the best way to optimise your website for search is to provide good content and make it easy for search engines to find. Doing that is straightforward and, if you’ve built your own website, it’s something you can do for yourself without much trouble.

SEO companies don’t share Google’s goal. Their aim is to get their clients’ websites to the top of the search results, even if searchers won’t be pleased to see them. To achieve that, some SEO experts come up with ways to fool the search engines and, as Google discovers what these tricks are, it changes its search system to stop them working and penalises sites that use them. As a result, SEO tricks can backfire and count against you. Continue reading

What editors do

An editor works with you to make sure your book is as good as it can possibly be, but there are different types of editing that come in at different stages of your book’s creation.

Structural editing
As the name suggests, a structural editor gives you feedback on the structure of your book. For fiction, this can include plot, pacing and characterisation while, for non-fiction, the editor can look at the way you have organised the material and the clarity of your information. For both types of book, they can also look at the way you use language and how suitable that is for your readership. Continue reading

10 mistakes to avoid on your author website

Your author website will be much more effective if you avoid these mistakes.

1: Making it hard for visitors to find their way around the site
If you don’t provide a clear way for visitors to get around your site, they won’t find many of your pages. What you need is a clear navigation on each page that lists the main links along the top of the page or down the left hand side where people expect to see them.  To work well, they need to be in the same order in the same place on every page to avoid confusing your visitors or leaving them stranded.

2: Using confusing navigation links
Although you might enjoy thinking up imaginative names for your navigation links, you risk confusing your visitors. They might not realise that “Shelf Space“ is your Books section,  “Inside Secrets” means  “About Me” and “Out and About” contains information on your speaking events. The situation gets even worse if you decide to use pictures instead of words.  Remember that the visitors to your site are just one click away from going elsewhere, and that’s what they will do if you ask them to play a guessing game in order to find their way around. Continue reading

Planning your author website

This is the second in a series of posts about author websites. If you have never had a website before, you may want to read Author websites – the basics first.

Before you or your web designer start to create your site, you need to plan what will be in it. The bare minimum is

  • A page about you
  • A page about your books.
  • Contact details, either on a separate page or as a clickable link on the other pages.

(Of course, we’re talking about web pages here which can be as long or as short as you like. In theory, you could put the whole of War and Peace on one page, but no one would be likely to read it.)

You may also like to have

  • A blog
  • Information about speaking events
  • Extra book pages if you’ve written several books or write in different genres
  • Sample chapters
  • Information about the topics you write about. This is especially useful if you write non-fiction as it can help establish you as an expert in your field.

So let’s look at all of those in more detail. Continue reading