6 Things Indie Authors Should Do to Kick Off the New Year

6 Things Indie Authors Should Do to Kick Off the New Year

Since launching black CATastrophy, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with authors from all around the world. Even better, I have the special honor of calling a few of them friends and colleagues.

During this time, I watched authors push through their novels on their worst days. Battle depression, anxiety, and constant self-doubt. Scrap novels halfway through, and then start over from scratch. Mourn the loss of major characters they hadn’t intentionally planned to kill, but it happened anyway…

Believe me when I say, the world of writers is varied and full of intrigue. After observing the struggles and triumphs of fellow writers online and in the office, here are six things I think independent authors should do to start the New Year off on the best note possible! 😃

1. Finish that Novel You Got Sick Of

One of the main struggles I watched indie authors face this year was the drive to finish that novel they had grown tired of.

Let’s be honest, here. Whether it’s a new article, a new short story, or a new book, most —  or even all — of us have gotten to that point where we couldn’t stand to see the words arranged in that order anymore.

It’s perfectly fine to set work aside when you’ve done all you can. What isn’t fine is never getting back to that project. Many authors I talked with were almost terrified to revisit that book sitting on their hard drive from months — even years — ago, that they had yet to finish.

Don’t be that author.

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to pull that book out of the shadows, dust it off, get yourself together, and get back in the game. What once seemed like an atrocious piece of crap, may be brilliant with fresh eyes, and a rewrite.

Give it a try!

2. Suck It Up… and Edit, Edit, Edit

Some authors look forward to the editing process. Most don’t.

The editing process requires us to criticise our own work, and later to accept criticism from everyone else. Whether we do it ourselves, ask a friend for help, seek out beta readers, hire an editor, or all of the above, editing is never easy.

But while difficult, it’s totally necessary if you want a book without plot holes, typos, poor grammar, cliches, and repetitive gestures. So as much as it sucks, if you’ve already finished your novel, it’s time to suck it up and get that editing done.

Without successfully completing this step, you will never be able to hold the finished masterpiece in your hands.

3. Create a Marketing Plan for Your Books

Since working with independent authors (including bloggers!), we have only met one or two who had a marketing plan; and only three, who ever had any intention of making one. A lot of indie authors spend months planning their books, but then toss it out into the world with no clear plan.

In your marketing plan you need to know who your target market is, not based on who you want to reach, but who you’re most likely to reach. You must understand that audience. Where do they hang out? How do they speak? What’s the best way to reach them? What colors, graphics, symbology will appeal to them?

Why is this important? The decisions you make while working on marketing plan will set the tone for everything from your book cover design, to your font size and style, to the social media platforms you choose to use for your marketing.

Don’t leave marketing up to chance, especially on a limited budget. Make every penny count, and if time is all you’ve got, don’t waste that either.

4. Hire an Indie PR Firm

For the authors who have more than just time and pennies, it’s worth considering an independent public relations firm, like us, to represent your brand and your books. An indie firm can also help with the marketing plan, book cover design, and many of the other tasks that will make your book successful.

Even better, by hiring someone else to do the boring tasks of marketing your book, you have more time to focus on what you do best: work on your novel, short story, poetry, blog. You focus on your strengths, and we do the same.

As Michael Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers shared:

I no longer have to do everything myself! Alexis Chateau PR has been a godsend with online marketing, social media, and helping me to create a game plan for moving forward. They have almost single-handedly made my Facebook and Twitter pages relevant.

5. Save Up for a PROFESSIONAL Book Cover

I’ve seen some pretty terrible book covers this year, and if I’m being honest, all of them belonged to indie authors. The old cliche line goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But who has time to read 100,000 words before purchasing a book? So, potential readers will naturally judge the contents by the cover.

Give your writing the chance it needs to succeed by investing in a quality cover, created by a professional designer, with more than just public stock pics. The last thing you want is to get that awesome book cover, only to find that ten other authors around the world have the same one.

6. Travel More

In 2015, our Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR, quit her dayjob doing payroll for Delta Airlines, to travel and write. Staring at excel spreadsheets, data reconciliations, and ledgers, just weren’t providing her with the inspiration she needed to finish a novel she had been working on for three years.

While not everyone has the will to risk bankruptcy and failure by quitting a steady job, almost everyone has the opportunity to take some vacation time. It’s tempting to spend that time unwinding on the couch at home with a bucket of ice cream, or a glass of wine, but don’t do it.

See more of the world you live in — whether it’s a trip out of town, a flight out of state, or a cruise through the Caribbean. You would be surprised at how much inspiration you find yourself with when you broaden your horizons to include new faces and places.

Are you an independent novelist or blogger? What are your goals for 2018? What advice would you give to other writers for the new year?

Black Catastrophy

About the Author

Shadow the PR Cat is the Goodwill Ambassador at Alexis Chateau PRand head of the firm’s indie author division. His job includes tweeting, taking selfies, rolling in catnip, and advocating for animal rights and social equality. Follow his kitty adventures on Twitter as @ShadowThePRcat.

About Alexis Chateau PR

Alexis Chateau PR is an independent public relations agency with its own built-in travel agency. We have a special interest in independent writers and lifestyle brands. From education to entertainment to travel, we’ve worked with clients in all areas of the lifestyle industry since 2006.

About black CATastrophy

black CATastrophy is a special division at Alexis Chateau PR for independent authors. We provide the same services to indie writers as our corporate clients, but at discounted prices that suit a serious indie budget.

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The Top 5 black CATastrophy Posts of 2017

The Top 5 black CATastrophy Posts of 2017

On August 13th 2017, we launched the black CATastrophy special division for independent authors. Since then, we’ve published dozens of book reviews, marketing tips, and writing advice. Some of these posts came from in-house, but many also came from readers like you, and the blogs we read.

And though this blog has only been active for 6 months, some blog posts stood out more than others. Curious to know which ones? Check out the most popular posts we shared in 2017.

5. Book Review: Harry Potter 1 – 7

Harry Potter JK Rowling

I would have been very surprised if this post didn’t made the list, as it’s a book review of an all-time favorite for fantasy lovers around the world. The review was submitted by our Managing Director, Alexis Chateau, who decided to [re]read all the Harry Potter books in one go, as an adult. What an adventure!

4. Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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Published within our first month, this book review was contributed by Marwa Abdeen, an 18-year-old book-lover and reviewer. The book follows the mysterious story of Nella, her unfulfilling marriage, and how her marriage gift takes on a life of its own.

3. black CATastrophy Writing Prompt: The Flood

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For the past 6 months, we’ve been publishing writing prompts almost every Sunday morning, and this one seems to be the most popular overall. The prompt states, “I watched the stream turn into a waterfall, and then the water began to rise.”

2. How to Market your Book Blog

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Published before we even officially launched black CATastrophy, this blog post was an instant success on the blog. It was contributed by marketing guru, Deborah Griffith Kehoe. In the article, she offfered practical advice on how writers could amp up their marketing efforts for their book blogs.

1. Beneath a Scarlet Sky

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A review of one of the most popular books this year, it comes as no surprise to us that this blog post tops the list. In fact, Pascal Pictures secured the movie rights for this book in August, so if you don’t have the time to read the book, stay tuned for the movie!

What was your favorite of the posts we published in 2017? What changes would you like to see in 2018? Would you like to contribute posts to our blog for the coming year?

Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Meow!

Black Catastrophy

About the Author

Shadow the PR Cat is the Goodwill Ambassador at Alexis Chateau PRand head of the firm’s indie author division. His job includes tweeting, taking selfies, rolling in catnip, and advocating for animal rights and social equality. Follow his kitty adventures on Twitter as @ShadowThePRcat.

About Alexis Chateau PR

Alexis Chateau PR is an independent public relations agency with its own built-in travel agency. We have a special interest in independent writers and lifestyle brands. From education to entertainment to travel, we’ve worked with clients in all areas of the lifestyle industry since 2006.

About black CATastrophy

black CATastrophy is a special division at Alexis Chateau PR for independent authors. We provide the same services to indie writers as our corporate clients, but at discounted prices that suit a serious indie budget.

Guest Post: Good News for Indies by Sheron McCartha

Guest Post: Good News for Indies by Sheron McCartha

Some much-needed words (and numbers) indie authors must see to believe!

Myths of the Mirror

Sheron McCartha is a science fiction author, reader, and reviewer who blogs over at Scifi Book ReviewShe does a great job keeping track of what’s happening in the indie publishing world and has stopped by to share some good news. Take it away, Sheron…

Numbers. Bah! I work with words. So what can a bunch of numbers tell me that could help with my writing?

Well…

The Written Word (Freebooksy, Bargain booksy and other ad sites for authors) surveyed 38,000 authors. They compared a group of authors who made $100k or more a year (called $100k Authors) to authors making $500 or less a year (called Emerging Authors). Note that their group of authors are skewed toward the romance genre. Also note that a portion of the blockbuster authors didn’t engage in the survey as they were out on their boats drinking champagne, but still some interesting facts…

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Special 15% Discount for NaNoWriMo 2017 Winners

Special 15% Discount for NaNoWriMo 2017 Winners

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It’s December 1st! For an elite group of writers around the world right now, this signals the end of a long hard 30-day road to follow through on a challenging commitment. Now, after 50,000 words or more, you finally made it to the end with your novel in hand.

Congratulations!

When you tell your non-writing friends that you’ve won NaNoWriMo 2017, they will look at you with confused faces. What is NaNoWriMo? And what have you won? Many will find it difficult to understand why this is so important to you, and how it counts as a win at all.

As a kitty who spent the month cheering on NaNoWriMo participants around the world, I understand perfectly what you’ve been through. I’ve seen the struggles to catch up after illness or family emergencies set some behind. And I’ve seen some magicians somehow finish 100,000 word counts in the first 3 weeks!

Having witnessed these wonderful bits of perseverance in the creative community, I want to reward you!

For the rest of December, I’m taking 15% off your quoted hourly rate to all NaNoWriMo 2017 winners. You must submit proof of winning to be eligible.

This discount is available for new and current clients. However, new clients must sign their contract and pay their first installment by December 31st.

Email me for details!

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PR Puss

Shadow Chateau

 

Michael Fedison Pens Follow-Up to The Eye-Dancers

Michael Fedison Pens Follow-Up to The Eye-Dancers

In 2012, Michael Fedison took a leap of faith and published his science fiction novel, The Eye-Dancers. While not new to the world of writing and publishing, this was Fedison’s first full-length novel, and his first foray into self-publishing. Now, half a decade later, Fedison is prepping for the launch of its sequel, The Singularity-Wheel.

The Eye-Dancers focuses on the tale of four preteen boys who are sucked into an alternate universe by the mysterious Monica Tisdale. The unlikely group of four must band together to save the little girl, and perhaps more importantly, save themselves and find their way back home.

The new sequel itself takes place five years after the events in The Eye-Dancers, allowing Fedison’s YA fanbase to grow into the tougher topics tackled in The Singularity Wheel. The new book tackles teenage angst, the pursuit of happiness, and the unfortunate fact that when friends grow up they sometimes grow apart.

Despite the five years since his first published novel, Fedison has used blogging and social media to connect with his readers, and generate renewed interest in both the old book and the new sequel.

Fedison’s The Eye-Dancers has attracted not just young boys, but also moms, and older men who can relate to the struggles the four main characters face in their youth.

“I bought it on my birthday a couple of years ago and truly enjoyed it. Awesome work. I am definitely waiting on book 2 and will be there for the next adventure with bells on!” one of his readers tells him on Facebook.

She adds, “Book one is on my literature list for my boys this year (home school). This is right up their alley so I know they’re gonna love it, and book 2 will be right on time for me to enjoy first and enjoy again during our discussions!”

Fedison says of the older male crowd who reads his book, “I think it’s the nostalgia that draws them.” He adds, “As for the women, I have no idea why the book draws them, but there are a lot of moms who buy it, and I’m really glad they do!”

Fedison is currently polishing up The Singularity Wheel, with a tentative release date scheduled for January 2018.

Book reviewers who would like a complimentary copy for review purposes are encouraged to contact his publicists directly at Alexis Chateau PR.

The Singularity Wheel will be available on Amazon and CreateSpace at $2.99 for the eBook and $14.05 for the paperback.

Update 02.09.2018: This press release was updated to reflect the new paperback pricing of $14.05, as supplied by the author.

The Eye-Dancers Logo

MEDIA CONTACT:

Alexis Chateau, Managing Director
Alexis Chateau PR, LLC
Email: alexischateaullc@gmail.com
Phone: 404-519-0245

Here Comes NaNoWriMo 2017!

Here Comes NaNoWriMo 2017!

It’s Halloween — a time of morbid celebration for many of us!

But in the world of writing, today also signifies the very last day of sanity for many of our family, friends, and social media followers who write!

National Novel Writing Month is an international writing affair, featuring participants from all around the world. The traditional goal of NaNoWriMo is simple: write 50,000 words in just 30 days. Actually attaining that goal? Maybe not so much…

The Long Stretch

For those of you who are participating, I wish you endless inspiration, nimble fingers, peace of mind, bottomless coffee… and then a smooth recovery! I hope that you’ll complete that novel you start in NaNoWriMo, and then move into the editing phase by 2018.

By the time you make it all the way through to the publishing process, you’ll find yourself in need of book promo and PR services, like the ones we provide at black CATastrophy. I hope you think of us me!

And if you get stuck along the way? You can find plenty of writing prompts here!

Peace of Mind

For the sane ones, who would rather grab some popcorn and watch the madness unfold, join me on Twitter at @ShadowThePRCat. Let’s cheer them on, inspire them, have a few laughs at their expense, and then congratulate their bravery when it’s all over.

For My Human

I would also like to deliver a special dose of good luck to My Human, and the Managing Director at the firm, Alexis Chateau. For years, she stood back and watched the madness of NaNoWriMo unfold on social media. But this year, she decided to suffer along with fellow writers.

I promise, I will be laughing at her the hardest. And who knows? Maybe next year, I’ll want to suffer alongside her, too. 😅😂

Good Luck!

Shadow the PR Cat

Goodwill Ambassador at Alexis Chateau PR
Head of black CATastrophy

Black Catastrophy

5 Tips to Help Indie Authors Gain Publicity

5 Tips to Help Indie Authors Gain Publicity

When I was first promoted to head black CATastrophy, the indie author division of Alexis Chateau PR, I thought my life would revolve around working with indie authors. While this is a part of what I do, it’s just a fraction.

A greater portion of my time is spent connecting with, and getting to know indie authors. Through these connections, I’ve learned their personal struggles and fears; and brought that information back to the team to see how we can better help indie authors to grow and find a stronghold in the market.

The main problem is that everyone wants to be a best-seller, but few indie authors ever get there. So here are five ways indie authors can ramp up their PR game.

1. Paid Promo

We tell our clients all the time:

If you won’t spend money on your own book, why should anyone else??

Literary agents and publishing houses are no longer looking to make you big. They want to hop on your bandwagon of success, and take advantage of your momentum. Because of this, it’s important to build up a large following online and off. And in order to do this, you have to be comfortable with spending some money.

For instance, even $25 per month spent on boosting Facebook posts can make a difference. It won’t take you as far as $100 or a few thousand dollars, but it’s definitely a start. There are also other paid advertising opportunities on websites. Not to mention making merchandise to sell or give away.

It might be tempting to sell your merch to recoup your losses when you show up to book festivals and conventions. But at least in the beginning, consider giving them away for free, or selling them for a steal.

Why? Haven’t you ever wondered why so many big companies are only too happy to give out branded goods at trade shows and festivals? Simply put: it works! People become walking billboard signs when they use and wear your merchandise, so make the design memorable.

2. Social Media

To make up for the money you’ll be spending on promotional opportunities and goods, social media is an awesome, free tool to boost your brand.

However, social media isn’t a magic wand that you swoosh around a few times, and it immediately launches you into fame and fortune. It’s a tool, and like any other, it works only as well as the user behind it.

It goes without saying then that just having a few social media accounts isn’t enough. They should be branded. The profile pictures should all be the same one of you, and the overall color and header choices should match the design of your latest or most popular book.

In a world where your audience is constantly bombarded with other options, visual branding is your friend.

3. Website

At black CATastrophy, the first thing we do when we have a potential client is Google them. Usually, social media accounts and a few featured articles pop up. But what we’re really looking for is their website.

If you’re looking for publicity opportunities, a website is important. Here’s why. It makes the media’s job easier, and if you want to get into the media, you first need to get into the gatekeepers’ good books.

Websites mean we can find all the information we need in one convenient location before contacting you for a feature or an interview.

You might wonder, why bother? Won’t they just ask you questions? Of course, but a good journalist plans ahead, and it’s impossible to properly plan an interview, or a great review, if they have no information to go on.

4. Professional Photo

Publications these days are cutting corners every way they can to stay alive, especially indie magazines and websites. So the days of being flown to New York for a shoot, just to have one photo to include with your featured piece, are mostly over.

Many of these magazines will expect you to send a media shot. You might be tempted to just grab that photo your best friend took and posted on Facebook, but unless your best friend is a photo-wiz, think again.

Remember that talk about visual branding? Magazines have an image to uphold as well, and high quality images are a big part of that. Take the time to get some professional shots, or you may ruin your big chance to portray yourself as a serious author.

5. Publicist

It goes without saying that if you’re trying to gain publicity, you should hire a publicist. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a successful artist of any kind, without one. You focus on your writing, and the publicist focuses on getting you exposure in the media.

As author of The Eye-DancersMichael Fedison, says:

The fact is, as an indie author, and also most likely an indie author with many outside commitments from work, school, family, etc., you simply don’t have the time or wherewithal to do everything yourself. And, if you’re like me, you may not even have the faintest idea of where to start with social media marketing. It’s hard enough writing a novel and trying to market it.

I would absolutely recommend reaching out to PR firms and marketing agencies for guidance and support. 

Alexis Chateau PR has been a godsend with online marketing, social media, and helping me to create a game plan for moving forward.  

While many authors understandably hate the idea of being “branded”, this is an important part of gaining traction. This doesn’t have to mean being boxed into a certain genre to market your books. But it does mean crafting a solid identity, so you are recognizable to your readers, when they come across your work.

If you’re serious about getting your work into the limelight, then email us for a quote. If you think you can’t afford it, we might surprise you. And if we don’t, at least you know what you’re working toward.

What can we do for your book? We build websites, manage social media accounts, design book covers and merch, and help get you and your book into the media. We’ve also provided publicity opportunities on this website. You can find them all here.

The possibilities are endless, but they aren’t truly possible until you take the next step.

Black Catastrophy

About the Writer

Shadow the PR Cat is the Goodwill Ambassador at Alexis Chateau PRand head of the firm’s indie author division. His job includes tweeting, taking selfies, rolling in catnip, and advocating for animal rights and social equality. Follow his kitty adventures on Twitter as @ShadowThePRcat.

About Alexis Chateau PR

Alexis Chateau PR is an independent public relations agency with a special interest in lifestyle brands. From education to entertainment to travel, we’ve worked with clients in all areas of the lifestyle industry since 2006.