Psychological research can help us, to a point. Actually, the truth is the opposite. Other mode is not a single technique or principle. Here’s an example: His guts twisted in fear. There are three primary paths to producing an emotional response in readers. Stop your story at any point, ask the point-of-view character what she is feeling, and it’s never just one answer. “Why didn’t you replace the pictures of Nikki and me?” I ask. The pink face of Beatty now showed the faintest panic in the door. When all the instruments work together, they lift our hearts. Here’s an example from a master of secondary emotions: Ray Bradbury. It explains that when showing works the thing we should look at is not why it works but when. The woman who lives in the house is warned to leave but refuses and holds up …
An ordinary kitchen match. We are open. The first is to report what characters are feeling so effectively that readers feel something too. Our emotions can be profoundly trivial or so elevated that they’re silly. There are emotions that embarrass us, reveal too much, and make us vulnerable. Each reader has a unique emotional response to a story. He knows the thrill of watching books burn. In this horrific situation we are forced to measure Montag’s emotion against our own. It actually can. God, thought Montag, how true! What we feel is inescapably influenced by our history, morals, loyalties, and politics. Pat’s delusional refusal to accept that Nikki is not coming back to him is plainly evident. A story situation is an emotional elephant. But that way of thinking surrenders too much to chance. Is his excitement what we would feel? The reader reacts, resists, and sometimes succumbs, but thanks to the author’s skill, she can never escape the churn and ow of her own feelings. When outward actions stir us, it’s not the actions we read that have stirred us but that we have stirred ourselves. Human action is also driven by need. Nikki had given Mom the other non-wedding pictures of us, and well, we aren’t in touch with Nikki or her family right now because it’s apart time. Creating that type of experience for readers requires more than just walking them through the plot. It leads to the erroneous idea that emotional effect is accidental. Yes, but it’s also important. It is a vast array of elements tuned like the instruments in an orchestra to create a soaring emotional effect. Do you feel simmering rage? Put on the page what a character feels and there’s a pretty good chance that, paradoxically, what the reader will feel is nothing. To put it simply, when character emotions are highly painful, pull back. With so much rich human material to work with, it’s disappointing that so many manuscripts offer a limited menu of emotions. Research shows that readers want this, too. Do you hope that your fiction can change people or maybe even history? Characters’ emotional states also, by themselves, are limited in their impact. Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook is a novel featuring a protagonist, Pat Peoples, who is certifiably crazy. Probably not. Other things on the page also provoke readers, and these things are the greater part of the equation. Photo credit: jan buchholtz via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND
Today’s post is adapted from The Emotional Craft   of Fiction   (Writer’s Digest Books) by agent Donald Maass (@DonMaass). When readers chew on a story, they are getting not only what they want, but also something good and healthy. Inner Mode: Telling
Writing out what characters feel ought to be a shortcut to getting readers to feel that stuff too, shouldn’t it? Human beings are complex. Instead he portrays a feeling that we don’t expect: Montag’s excitement. So how does one create emotional surprise? That power, however, cannot exist unless and until a story has a strong emotional impact. What is actually happening inside readers as they read? While it’s true that you cannot control what each reader will feel while reading your work, what you can control is whether they will feel something in the first place and how strong those feelings will be. A careless writer would have focused on Montag’s horror at what was about to happen. Other Mode
None of readers’ emotional experience of a story actually comes from the emotional lives of characters. Remember that Montag is a reman who has enjoyed starting fires. There are many ways of looking at and feeling about what’s happening at any given moment. Medically speaking, this is actually necessary for human health and well-being. What gets readers going are feelings that are fresh and unexpected. Or maybe yes, if we were Montag. Meh. She tells me our house was burglarized a few weeks before I came home and the pictures were stolen. Ask two characters what they feel about what’s happening and neither will ever say the same thing. There’s no need. But is that what authors want, too? There’s always a different emotion to use. Or this: Her eyes shot daggers at him. When you read that, do your own guts twist in fear? Yet those feelings also need to be real and true; otherwise, they will come across as contrived—they’ll ring false and fail to ignite the reader’s emotions. All three paths to producing emotional responses in readers are valid, but all three have pitfalls and can fail to work. They want to feel like they’ve been through something. There are emotions that we minimize, hide, and deny. The painful emotional lives of such characters need to become tolerable for readers. That should come as no surprise. It might seem that you shouldn’t worry about what readers feel; they’re either going to feel what you want them to feel or not. In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is a futuristic fireman who burns books. Mom says the burglar stole all the expensive frames, but she had the negatives for the family portraits and had them replaced. Montag felt the hidden book pound like a heart against his chest. Readers read under the influence of their own temperaments, histories, biases, morality, likes, dislikes, and peeves. This is outer mode, the showing of emotions. Research shows this: Readers expect their experience, naturally enough, to be a positive one. Is it because fire is prettier by night? These are the feelings writers believe they ought to use if their stories are going to sell. Yes, showing and telling are part of what provokes readers to feel, but they are only a part. Mom says she did not have the negatives for the pictures of Nikki and me, especially because Nikki’s parents had paid for the wedding pictures and had only given my mother copies of the photos she liked. The second is to provoke in readers what characters may be feeling by implying their inner state through external action. No! Your hope is not in vain. Pat Peoples amusingly refuses to give up his dream of reuniting with his estranged wife, Nikki, and is convinced that their “apart time,” as he calls it, will end. Captain Beatty, keeping his dignity, backed slowly through the front door, his pink face burnt and shiny from a thousand res and night excitements. They make judgments that don’t agree with yours. Authors want to challenge readers. Action is an opportunity for us to feel something, not a cause of feeling something. After his transformation begins he’s called to help burn a house full of books, and Montag secretly takes one. To learn more about how to make a strong emotional impact in your fiction, check out   The Emotional Craft of Fiction   by Donald Maass. No. Others, like thrillers, either have no time to dwell on characters’ feelings or their authors regard such passages as artless and possibly repellant. Skillful authors play against expected feelings. How can we not? It comes from readers themselves. Not so much. This is other mode, an emotional dialogue between author and reader. Entertainment works best when it presents consumers with novelty, challenge, and aesthetic value, which in turn cause cognitive evaluation. Humor and objective showing create a safety zone. Because Bradbury goes sideways from an expected feeling, we cannot help but feel something ourselves. They go down several emotional layers in order to bring up emotions that will catch readers by surprise. In plain language that means thinking, guessing, questioning, and comparing what is happening to one’s own experience. This objective, wry, reportorial approach serves Quick’s purpose well because if we were asked to swallow the inner emotional life of Pat Peoples, we couldn’t. In that zone readers can process their own response to emotional conditions that are extreme. Quick knows the trick of making a mentally ill protagonist enjoyable to read about: Make him funny. How can that be? Never by day! All evidence is to the contrary, of course, as we see when Pat returns home:
When I finally come out of the basement, I notice that all the pictures of Nikki and me have been removed from the walls and the mantel over the replace. Don’t do it! The feelings that writers first choose to write are often obvious, easy, and safe. Research shows that consumers of entertainment are seeking, more than anything, to have an experience. It’s unpredictable but it’s real. What all that means is that readers fundamentally want to feel something, not about your story, but about themselves. We have emotions on the surface and emotions underneath. This is inner mode, the telling of emotions. The sight of it rushed the men out and down away from the house. The woman’s hand twitched on the single matchstick. Such feelings fail to excite us because, of course, we’ve read them too many times. The fumes of kerosene bloomed up about her. Bradbury, however, knows that the obvious emotion will not have the desired effect. Does “an experience” sound simplistic? I ask why a burglar would want pictures of Nikki and me, and my mother says she puts all of her pictures in very expensive frames. The distinction matters. Some story types, such as romance fiction, necessarily rely on inner mode. Once you know the underlying cause behind the surface effects, you’ll know whether the approach that you are taking on a given page will reliably move readers’ hearts. To successfully use each, it’s necessary to understand why each is effective when it is. Nothing is more valid and vivid than what we can see and hear, right? Outer Mode: Showing
Outer moments in many manuscripts can feel small and self-consciously “written”; in other words, arty more than artful. Pat begins the novel in a neural health facility, from which he is released with the help of his mother. I ask my mother where these pictures went. He enjoys his job until he meets a seventeen-year-old girl who awakens his mind. That’s not really true. An experience, sure, but what kind of experience? “Why didn’t the burglar steal the rest of the family pictures?” I ask. Always at night the alarm comes. This chewing effect has another benefit: Readers are more likely to remember a story when it has made them chew. Notice that Quick does not try to convey what Pat is feeling in this farcical passage. That in turn should stir our own imaginations and churn up our feelings, shouldn’t it? The third method is to cause readers to feel something that a story’s characters do not themselves feel. That need is sensed in subtext and revealed through what people say and do. Sometimes, but not always. More spectacle, a better show? The expression on the face of his chief, Beatty, ignites that feeling again, briefly, even while Montag’s heart is changing. The choice between inner and outer modes is a central one. So how can a writer predict, never mind control, what readers feel? The house and its contents are then doused with kerosene. They want to connect with your characters and live their fictional experience, or believe that they have. They transport us to a realm of wonder. It’s too crazy and painful. They work only with primary emotions because that is what everyone feels, which is true, but this is also a limited view.

1. This is the most sensible approach if you put very little time or effort into self-publishing your work, haven’t been on the market very long, and believe self-publishing was a mistake. The entire book? Then pitch and see what responses you get. In other words, if you’re doing well enough to merit a traditional deal, agents and publishers will come to you, not the other way around. It’s important to note when you released the book, what price it’s selling at, how many copies you’ve sold, how many reviews you have on Amazon or Goodreads, and your average rating. Query agents as if you didn’t self-publish. Do not send a copy of the book with your query. If   you’ve given up on the self-publishing route and want to try traditional, then there are several approaches you can take. Do not attend writers conferences or   industry events with your self-published book in hand and try to sell agents or publishers on it in person (unless there is an explicit invitation to do so). The honest truth is that most agents (and publishers) have little or no interest in acquiring self-published work unless it’s receiving significant attention in the media or hitting bestseller lists. Continue marketing your self-pub work. Other times, the author’s plan was to self-publish first and magically attract attention that would lead to a traditional book deal—something that is even more of a rare occurrence than landing a book deal through the slush pile. One of the most frequent questions   in my inbox is: “I’ve self-published, but now I want an agent. If your self-publishing effort has resulted in some recognition or sales, then you should query agents just as you would for an unpublished work, but mention in your query what success you’ve enjoyed with the project. Do not lead your query or your pitch with “I self-published this book and thought you might be interested.” The immediate reaction will be   I am not interested in your self-published book. In other words, the fact that you self-published is NOT a selling point. How to Secure a Traditional Deal by Self-Publishing
Self-Publishing to Land a Book Deal Query with a   new project. Query and mention your self-publishing effort. 2. 3. Aside from hitting bestseller lists, perhaps the best way to land a traditional deal for a self-published work is to secure an agent for a brand-new work. Approaches   to avoid

As stated before,   do not send the book to the agent unless they specifically request it. If interested, the agent will closely scrutinize the work on Amazon and Goodreads—and probably thoroughly research your online presence—so make sure that you’ve spiffed up your website and are putting best professional face forward. It is a negative or at best a distraction if you’re addressing someone in the industry. If that seems like   an exercise in futility, then…
4. Should that happen, the agent will have a conversation with you about your vision for your   career and all of your existing work—and will strategize with you to decide how to handle your existing self-published oeuvre. Pitch the merits of the work, not its self-published history unless you can say, “I self-published this book and have sold 50,000 copies so far.”

For more advice

Should You Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish? (I would also advise taking the work off the market entirely before you query, but that’s not required.)
Prepare a query letter and synopsis (or a book proposal for nonfiction), and   research agents who are interested in your genre, just as you would for an unpublished work. Be prepared to send the work in manuscript format if requested. Usually, your best bet is to continue looking for ways to gain attention and visibility for your work—to try and make waves. First 50 pages? Instead, wait for the agent to indicate in their response what they’d like to see—the first chapter? How do I get one?” Usually the writer wants an agent because they’ve been disappointed by their   sales or have experienced frustration in getting readers. If you’re able to secure interest, you should disclose the history of the project; if the agent is genuinely interested, that history is unlikely to affect their enthusiasm for the work, especially if the work received little or no attention while it was on the market.

Chris Brown flexes Dancehall prowess with Konshens

by Biko Kennedy
Dancehall, the difficult to quantify and forever shape-shifting genre, finds Konshens consistently evolving with its sound yet remaining true to his core fanbase. With a little over a year since its debut, his single Bruk Off grabs an irresistible remix from RnB crooner Chris Brown. “Me love the way your legs slide up,” he croons. “Bruk off yuh back / I love it when you watch your back / Show me that you care when you throw that ass.”Check out the single below and let us know your thoughts! SHARE / Mar 21, 2017 04:55 pm

Breezy flips the original single and gets very explicit with his patois (Jamaican accent).

What should go in the first line of your description? How do you research appropriate categories and keywords? My free half-hour session was on Improving Your Book Descriptions and Audience Targeting. Over the weekend, I was proud to be a participant in the London Book Fair edition of Indie Author Fringe, sponsored by the Alliance of Independent Authors. I review principles and tools to help independent authors master the power of descriptions and reach their target market. If you don’t see the video below, click here to watch for free. I answer such questions as:   Is it better to have a   long or short book description on Amazon?

You pay nothing upfront   and they do not take a cut of your sales. Apple iBookstore. Repeat. Choosing Your   Ebook Retailers and Distributors
Ebook distribution to major retail outlets is free and fairly straightforward, at least once you have ebook files ready to go. For example, you might sign up with Pronoun (because they offer the best royalties   on Amazon ebook sales), but then add in Smashwords to get the library market that Pronoun doesn’t cover. They also offer   data-based marketing insights and tools to help you better sell. Truant
How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
Let’s Get Visible   & Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran
Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl
Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success by Mark Coker (free)

To Find Freelance Help
Usually a referral is best; ask successful authors in your genre who they recommend. They take a cut of your sales. (While most retailers and distributors try to offer good Word-to-ebook conversion, results and quality vary tremendously. The good news is that you don’t have to choose between working directly with online retailers and using ebook distributors, since it’s rare for any distributor to demand exclusivity. Lan)
10 Ways to Find Reviewers for Your Self-Published Book   (Empty Mirror)
The Indie Reviewers List   (The Indie View)
Author Tools and Promo Sites (Martin Crosbie)
7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers   (Digital Pubbing)
Are Paid Book Reviews Worth It? Gaining ground, international presence. You can also change your   mind   at any time (although not without some administration hassle and sales downtime). Putting Together an ARC Team and Getting Lots of Reviews (SFF Marketing Podcast)
The Ultimate Guide to Goodreads for Authors   (The Creative Penn, Mayor A. Reedsy, a vetted marketplace of publishing-focused freelancers
Bibliocrunch, another marketplace
Editorial Freelancers Association, where you can post your jobs on their job board for free

Great Sites That Cover Self-Publishing and   Ebook Publishing

Alliance of Independent Authors
Joanna Penn
Joel Friedlander
Sell More Books Show (podcast)
David Gaughran
Kristine Rusch
Lindsay Buroker

News & Trends About Ebook Publishing

Digital Book World
The Digital Reader
The Independent Publishing Magazine by Mick Rooney
Mike Shatzkin
Kindle Boards Writer’s Cafe (popular hangout for self-publishers)
The Hot Sheet (my email newsletter for authors, subscription required) No upfront cost; they take a cut of your sales. KDP Kids’ Book Creator: for creating children’s picture books
Apple iBooks Author:   will limit you to Apple iBookstore, but the software is free; supports multimedia
Blurb: produces print + digital full-color books, with distribution to major retailers
Book Creator:   iPad app for illustrated books, great for children’s authors
Again, if you need assistance preparing your ebook files, try eBookPartnership. Creating Basic Ebook Files
Assuming you have a finished and polished manuscript ready to be published, your first task is to create an ebook file; EPUB is the industry standard ebook format accepted by nearly all retailers. About the only thing that remains constant in ebook publishing is that it changes—everything from the services to marketing strategies. Sales have been dropping significantly over the last couple years. Ney-Grimm)
Read in-depth analysis and overview   of major book promotion and discount sites (ALLi)

Getting Reviews
Wondering how to   get readers (and others) to review your book? Write. The largest ebook distributor of self-published titles that’s been around the longest and has the widest reach, particularly to the library market. The Strategic Use of Book Giveaways (Jane Friedman)
Do Goodreads Giveaways Work? Draft2Digital. Publish. Kobo. (Rob Kroese)
How Authors Can Find Their Ideal Reading Audience (Angela Ackerman)
Hit the eBook Bestseller Lists with Preorders (Mark Coker)
Social Media Marketing That Reaches Your Audience
Six-Figure Book Promotion Strategies for Authors (Written Word Media)
How to Write and Market Romance with J.A. For example, you could choose to work directly with Amazon KDP to sell your ebooks on   Amazon, then use an ebook distributor such as Draft2Digital or Smashwords to reach other retailers. Working directly with online retailers usually means better profits, more control, and more access to marketing/promotion tools (but not always). Similar to Smashwords, but smaller and more customer-service focused. 2 ebook retailer in U.S. Key ebook distributors

Smashwords. 5 Ways to Use Facebook Groups to Build Book Buzz (BookBub)
Facebook Advertising for Authors with Mark Dawson (The Creative Penn)
How to Get Your Book Sales Moving with Facebook Ads (The Creative Penn)

Advertising and Other Monetary Investments in Book Marketing
Before you pay to hire help (or to advertise), make sure you’ve identified very   specific goals you want to attain (beyond “sell more books”), and a very specific audience you’ve   decided to target. Creating Enhanced, Multimedia, or Full-Color Ebooks
If you’re publishing a highly illustrated work, such as a children’s picture book, an enhanced ebook, or need to have a fixed layout book—where text doesn’t reflow from page to page—you’ll either need to hire someone or use a special portal for publishing and distributing your work. Optimizing Your Product Page and Description
When you upload your ebook to retailers, you need to craft   strong book descriptions, research your best categories and keywords, and do whatever you can to increase the likelihood that someone who sees your book page on Amazon will make a purchase. Bottom line: There’s no one right way to go about it, since it depends on your time and resources, your books, and your marketing strategy. Working with ebook distribution services usually means giving up a percentage of your profits to the distributor, in exchange for the centralized administration and management of all your titles. (J.M. To work, it has to be done thoughtfully and strategically. You could even choose to use two ebook distributors. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Huss (The Creative Penn)
98-item list for planning a book launch or re-marketing your book   (BookBub)
How an Enterprising Author Sold a Million Self-Published Books (Copyblogger)
How to Self-Publish Children’s Books Successfully (Darcy Pattison)

Giveaways and Discounts
Most self-published authors gain visibility in the market by giving away their work or offering discounts. Or you could choose to distribute directly to Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Nook (by using their do-it-yourself portals), then use Smashwords to capture the rest of the market (such as Scribd and libraries). Important for the Canadian market. Writing Your Book’s Back Cover Copy (Jessi Rita Hoffman)
The Importance of Categories, Keywords, and Tags (M. But it requires you to acquire new skills if you don’t want to waste our time and money. Louisa Locke)
How to Improve Your Amazon Book Description and Metadata (Penny Sansevieri); also here’s another article by Penny on the same topic
Amazon Sales Rank: an explanation of what it is and what you need to know about it (ALLi)

Sales, Marketing, and Promotion
By far the hardest part of ebook publishing is making readers   aware your book exists—then convincing them to buy it. Probably sells 60-80% of all ebooks, more for some authors and titles. Widely considered the No. Otherwise, here are a few options for finding editorial and marketing assistance. Why (Many) Publicists Don’t Work With Self-Published Authors (Dana Kaye)
Top 5 Money Wasters in Book Publicity (Dana Kaye)
Using Amazon KDP Ads to Sell Your Ebook on Amazon (Rob Kroese)
How to Sell Books With BookBub (Skipjack Publishing)
Case Study: Using NetGalley and Goodreads for Book Marketing and Publicity   (Jane Friedman)

Excellent Book-Length Guides on Self-Publishing
These guides give you an overview of what you need to learn and accomplish to sell books, in any format. Here, I regularly update   best resources I know of related to learning   to publish an ebook, finding the right e-publishing distributors and services, and staying on top of changes in the industry. Most important ebook retailers in the English-language markets

Amazon. Some ebook distributors can also reach outlets you can’t on your own, such as the library market, and may offer you helpful tools to optimize book sales and marketing. Use them with caution.)

Vellum: easy-to-use software for Mac users only to produce EPUB files
PressBooks:   a WordPress-based system for producing both EPUB and print files
Scrivener: this writing software is not free, but it can export EPUB files
Apple Pages (can export EPUB files)
Sigil: an open-source software for producing EPUB files, requires some tech savvy
Reedsy: you can copy/paste your work into its free online editor, then export EPUB files
Draft2Digital: you can upload your Word doc for EPUB conversion even if you don’t use them as your distributor

If you don’t want the headache of creating your own ebook files, check out the services at eBookPartnership. An ebook distributor that reaches the key players: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Apple, and Google. Unfortunately, this cannot be done through a simple Word export, but many tools and services will   help you prep an EPUB file. (Your upfront costs are almost always connected to   the effort of designing, formatting, and producing   those files, whether the cover and the interior—not distribution.)
Assuming you have ebook files ready to go, you have a choice to make: Would you rather deal with each online retailer directly, or would you rather reach them through an ebook distribution service? Indie author Nicholas Erik   offers loads of advice on book marketing and promotion
Is Amazon Exclusivity Right for You? Barnes & Noble Nook Press. (Jane Friedman)

Facebook Strategies
Facebook has more than 1 billion users and can be an important part of your book marketing arsenal. Pronoun.

How often do you abandon an early draft? Writer David Ebenbach discusses the wisdom in abandoning a draft—in not seeing it as wasted time, but as an inevitable part of the creative process that produces great work. This observation was a revelation to me. I’d been worried about how many of my stories were falling by the wayside, but…I needed to write them not for their own sake but so that I could eventually get the right angle on the material. He writes:
[In some]   cases I had to write several stories that were about more or less similar things (all about dating, say, or childhood confusion) until I found one that was worth sticking with. For more from this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin:

Your Family, My Family, and the Human Family   by Doug Crandell
All In by Kimberly Bunker Sometimes I bore myself and lose interest, other times I find a fundamental flaw in my premise. Read his full essay, Try, Try Again. Maybe most often I just lose track of time,   and by the time I return to the piece, it doesn’t feel relevant any longer. I have abandoned far more drafts of personal essays and short stories than I’ve ever completed. In fact, the ratio is rather embarrassing—maybe twenty   starts for every finish.

One might argue a writer on display in a mall isn’t an appropriate means of exposure or engagement for art, but again, I think this falls back on outdated or at least not-useful ideas about what writers are “supposed” to be like. Given the decline of malls and the related decline of the middle class, a curious and thoughtful writer might be   inspired by this opportunity. One of my go-to examples is Mark Twain, whose bestselling book was peddled door-to-door, and more recently, Alain de Botton, who once held a writing residency at Heathrow airport (which produced this book), and whose work has exemplified some of the wonderful things that can happen when you’re open to art informing business and vice versa. Writers have some responsibility to cultivate a culture that’s exposed to and engaged with art and artists. As someone who grew up in rural Indiana, I spent far more time in a mall as a young person, partly because no bookstore could be found within a two-hour drive except for the one in a mall. (For those who are unaware of the literary ties of Warby Parker, read this). But the mention wasn’t an enthusiastic presentation of an opportunity that might play to the strengths of some writers. I do wish the Mall weren’t claiming all rights to the work produced during the residency, but given the overall offer—expenses paid, $2,500 honorarium—it’s not a bad deal. I’d find the Mall of America writer   the far more interesting person to talk to, and more demonstrably interested in examining and creating for the greater world they live in, rather than the too-often insular literary world. Before joking about these opportunities as hellish, we should pause to consider how prone the literary community is to   mock or shame those involved in “low class” opportunities, particularly those that might appeal to people from more diverse backgrounds. Warby Parker and its ilk shouldn’t be the only commercial ventures “approved” for involvement with writers and the literary community. They mix with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous.” In order for Henson’s art to have the universal power it did, this mixing had to include “the establishment”—what we could call “the business class.” But today—especially with Generation X and Millennials—serious artists often refuse contact with business. The tone was one of mockery and incredulousness, because, obviously, writers and malls don’t mix, and no “real” writer would sit in a mall and write or produce something of value in such a capitalist context. And even if you could, how debasing! While I’m sure Mall of America isn’t looking for a writer to poetically give expression to its impending decay, a writer should still find this a rich moment in time to immerse herself five days in such a place—and have more reflection than will fit into 150 words, three times a day, over five days (the requirement of the residency). Writers have something to gain from interacting with the more diverse audiences found at a mall, and mall goers similarly have much to gain from having writers in their midst. But it’s the right opportunity for someone, and I hope that it helps not only support their art, but that it accomplishes something we very much need right now: a feeling of connection and community. Earlier this week, I saw mention in my social feed of a new writer-in-residence opportunity at Mall of America, to celebrate its 25th birthday. Mall of America / photo by Jeremy Noble
In my keynote talks at writing conferences, I frequently point out some of the innovative ways—across publishing history—that writers have supported their art   and engaged in business activities that are sometimes seen by their contemporaries as commercially crass and low status. Is it a worse deal than working a three-month internship for no pay at a literary journal with a tiny circulation? I can’t look into the souls of the Mall of America marketers or PR team who conceived of this idea, but let’s assume some good faith intentions here, with a meaningful desire to see a writer manifest some work of creative or artistic value out of this residency that reflects on the environment and community of the Mall of America. After all, the mall is becoming a place of the unhip, as evidenced by more art photography devoted to its cultural decline. Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, in her wonderful book on Jim Henson’s career, writes:
There is a saying that goes like this: “Beware of artists. Rather, it was framed more as: What writer in his right mind would ever raise his hand for this position? I might even argue that it is incumbent upon writers to take these opportunities seriously and to apply, because writing for and among the literary cloister (or isolated garret if you don’t like your fellow writers) is one of the harmful myths about how writers should act and behave in the world. In my professional opinion, no. Large numbers of liberal arts graduates bristle when presented with the corporate world, rejecting its values to protect their ideals….Yet Henson’s work suggests that it is possible to heal America’s split personality.”
The Mall of America residency isn’t going to be an appropriate opportunity for even a majority of writers. Just because a venture is sponsored by a business does not make it automatically opposed to a writer’s existence or ideals.

9. Amazon has an estimated 65 million US Prime members. KU costs $9.99/month and is strongly dominated by self-published books—none of the major publishers participate. In partnership with Porter Anderson, I write and edit The Hot Sheet, an industry newsletter for authors. 6. 8. 5. In 2016 alone, it’s believed Amazon Publishing released more than 2,000 titles. In 2014, AmazonCrossing surpassed all other US imprints and publishers in releasing translated fiction. The most popular Prime feature remains free two-day shipping in the United States. Ebook sales at Amazon increased by 4% in 2016 (again, as estimated by Author Earnings),   despite Big Five ebook sales declining. KU’s biggest US competitor is Scribd. 4. Eight of the top 20 Kindle sellers in 2016 were from Amazon’s own publishing imprints. In 2015, it published 75 translated books, 50 more than the next biggest publisher, Dalkey Archive Press. Prime memberships are now believed to account for $7 billion in revenue each year, and a recent survey showed that Prime memberships are popular with the more affluent. Audible’s customers are estimated to have listened to 2 billion hours of programming in 2016, double the 2014 figure. Barnes & Noble’s sales declined by 6% in 2016, and sales from mass merchandisers (Target, Walmart, etc.) also declined. All the books are face out, so the emphasis is on curation, and no prices are listed. Amazon owns and operates three bricks-and-mortar bookstores, with five more on the way in 2017. If you enjoyed this post,   take a look at The Hot Sheet and sign up for a 30-day trial. 1. To the extent that print is “back,” one can connect it to Amazon’s discounting. They’re relatively small (3,500 square feet); the average Barnes & Noble is ten times that size. 2. Amazon’s print book sales grew by 15% in 2016—as estimated by Author Earnings. 7. Meanwhile, other bricks-and-mortar retailers are suffering. 3. Kindle Unlimited (KU), Amazon’s ebook subscription program, is estimated to represent about 14% of all ebook reads in the Amazon ecosystem (according to Author Earnings). However, print book sales have grown   largely because Amazon sold more print books. This gain was primarily driven by Amazon’s own discounting on print. If print is back, it’s partly because consumers are unwilling to pay more (or about the same price) for an ebook. 1 retailer in the US of audiobooks. Nielsen’s Jonathan Stolper said at Digital Book World, “Price is the most important and most influential barrier to entry for ebook buyers, and the increase in price [at publishers] coincided with the decrease in sales.” Any talk about digital fatigue, the consumer’s nostalgia for print, or a preference for the bookstore experience isn’t supported by the sales evidence—which Author Earnings’ Data Guy was eager to point out. Amazon now has 13 active house imprints. Over the last year, here are some of the most important things we shared   about Amazon that every writer should know. Since 2013, the traditional book publishing industry has enjoyed about a 3% increase in print book sales. Amazon is adding   100,000 jobs   in the next 18 months. (Audible is owned by Amazon.) Audiobooks are the largest area of growth for the book publishing industry, and Audible is the No. Furthermore, Amazon is the largest publisher of literature in translation. Prices are variable and depend on whether the customer is an Amazon Prime member. When it comes to print book sales for the major publishers,   Amazon represents roughly 50% of the pie; wholesalers, libraries, and specialty accounts are 25%; Barnes & Noble is in the teens; and independent bookstores are about 6-8% of the print book market. Read more about this trend in the New York Times.

All courses to be effective must incorporate regular opportunities for Q&A with the instructor—basically, office hours. Images help engagement a lot. Zippy allows you to pre-load lessons and assignments and schedule them for release on specific days. It’s also easier from a marketing perspective to teach topics you’re well-known for, that you have demonstrated success in, or that you know would interest your   community or clients. What constitutes a lecture can be very flexible. Later on, using Screenflow or Camtasia, you can break up a long video into the intended lessons.)
For live lectures, build in question breaks. Almost every live lecture should leave 5-10 minutes at the end for student questions. Camtasia or Screenflow: both are excellent tools for recording audiovisual lectures but require purchase. The instructor needs to provide writing instruction in some form, usually on a weekly basis. Students   can dial in through a phone number for audio only, and you can record sessions for students who miss. Most online courses are best when there’s   one goal, focus, or lesson per week. For this to happen, the course needs a discussion and community area for posting. This would include critique/feedback, live office hours of some kind, forum discussion, or even an in-person component. If you’re new to online teaching,   choose a class you’ve taught multiple times, where you have confidence in your approach and knowledge base. Students can tell when you’re phoning it in, or just posting lessons then   disengaging. For   Video-Based Lectures or Lessons
These are some of the principles I encourage you to adopt. Always build in next steps or actions. There are other teaching platforms available—some with wonderful features—but (1) they’re probably more expensive and (2) they may not support having specific start and end dates to your course. This is usually the most intimidating for new online instructors, as well as experienced—it’s more or less like doing a live webinar. Private Facebook groups work great for the discussion and community aspect of an online course because nearly everyone is familiar with it and logs in at least once a day. Make them put what they’ve learned to work, or get them writing. And usually, it’s not desirable to mandate feedback unless the students are insightful in giving it. I use the   Zippy Courses   plugin installed on WordPress. Course Lessons or Lectures
An online writing course can’t just rely on student production of material for critique. Course   Benefit and Structure
With writing courses for adults,   it’s important to focus on what the students will achieve or have in hand at the finish line. Attention will skyrocket. The primary motivation for adult writers who take online classes is to:

Acquire new skills
Complete a writing project (be motivated and be held   accountable)
Get personalized feedback and instruction

People also appreciate the immediacy of online education in serving their needs. How long will the course run? Written lecture: using PowerPoint or Keynote helps incorporate visuals (preferable for some types of material), but text only can work well. When students register for a course, they receive login credentials and can immediately access any   curriculum made available prior to the official course start date. More often, and students won’t be able to keep up; less often, and students will become disengaged. Unplug your phone and turn off your cell phone ringer. For me, the latter is essential if you want all students to go through the same experience together with you, and if you want to avoid doing a self-study or a continuous course that’s always open for enrollment. This would ideally be halfway through, but you should base it on when you think the most questions are likely to arise (e.g., during the most confusing or complicated material). If you’ve ever used Lynda, you know the model. I recommend about one live session per week, whether through text-based chat or audio/video conference. Freedom and flexibility are often critical for adults deciding to take an online course—more important than even price. It allows everyone to see and hear each other (assuming you have a webcam), plus you can   share your screen and do text chat. Course Community and Discussion Area
Students will find a course more valuable if they meet other like-minded people with whom they might even continue a relationship after the course ends. Ideally, your lecture doesn’t consist solely of audio with a static visual (or a talking head); this leads to student boredom and distraction. And so I came up with the following tips. I also build in at least one additional opportunity for students to ask questions. Rather than using your computer’s built-in external microphone, you may need to purchase an external microphone for best possible results. (Only half joking.)
Break up your lecture into 3-6 minute increments. The more interactive the course, the more expensive it generally is, but obviously the more time the instructor must commit. You could also choose to create a self-study, but this post focuses on writing courses with a specific start and end date. It might be:

A live video conference session using software such as Zoom   (and recorded for students who can’t attend). If not, I suggest you develop slides unless you have other visuals. This will depend on the nature of the session, but one of the first things students will ask for is a copy of your lecture. I don’t recommend that you be merely a talking head, but that you have visuals to share, and budget plenty of Q&A/break time. It’s Your Turn
If you’ve taught online writing courses, I’d love to hear what has worked (or not) for you and your students. When you can’t think of anything, add a cat GIF. Be prepared to share your slides in PDF form. Deciding What to Teach
Here are some starting questions for those who have never taught online before. Prior to that, my experience and prepared curriculum was entirely centered around the traditional classroom. (The best writing classes have interaction and engagement with an instructor who can offer feedback/critique.)
How much personal attention will be offered? The easiest method by far is to create a   private Facebook group for the course, but you could also create a private WordPress site with forum capability through a plugin such as BBPress. And if you’ve been a student in an online writing course, tell us about any positive experiences—what made the course valuable to you? Apple’s standard-issue earbuds—the ones with a built-in microphone—also work very well. While readings can help illustrate important principles or lessons of craft and technique, any energy devoted to group discussions about readings   are   almost never a good use of student time and energy. Good feedback doesn’t happen   by accident, and writers need training in how to give it, which may be outside the purview of the course being taught. The course might focus on one large-scale project (first 25   pages of a manuscript, a completed essay or story) that is   worked on and submitted to the instructor for feedback; or it might focus on completing a series of smaller assignments. If necessary, post a sign on the door that says, “Recording in progress.” There is nothing worse than being distracted during a live session or recording, trust me. Having something in writing, like a tip sheet, is very helpful with online courses, so that students don’t have to search through recordings to find that 1 minute when you referenced a particular resource. Unless you’re enthusiastic about “boot camp” style courses that run in a weekend or a week, I recommend a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of twelve weeks. For audiovisual lecture delivery: Hopefully, you already use PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or some other slide-based presentation tool to accompany your lectures. A critique can be   written or audio recorded and delivered in private, and/or   done in a more traditional workshop manner, where all students can see and benefit from observing the instructor’s critique of the work. What will the course focus on? (For efficiency, when you record a lecture, you can certainly do it all in one take, while giving yourself a pause between lessons or sections. One big caveat is that I am not an expert in curriculum design or creative writing pedagogy (either online or offline!). Find an enclosed room where you will not be interrupted. As I gained experience managing and evaluating online education through Writer’s Digest—and teaching online courses myself—I began to field more questions from authors   who were curious about doing it themselves, but didn’t know where to start. If it makes sense, build in a third break for questions. Student satisfaction is often tied directly to how they feel the instructor interacted with their work, their forum/discussion posts, and/or their questions during office hours. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, you should prepare a handout with the key ideas, lessons, resources, websites, or tips from your presentation. A   course’s success depends greatly on understanding or anticipating the needs of students, creating and delivering material that leads to learning and engagement, and thus producing   the outcomes they most desire. Recommended Technology
I favor the following tools for online courses. Photo credit: joe bustillos via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
My first exposure to online writing education—for adults outside of degree programs—was Writer’s Online Workshops, a division of Writer’s Digest. In any event, in most   non-degree writing courses, the students are seeking the insights of the instructor, and not the other students. I’ve found that—unless students are in a university program—it’s very hard to mandate that other students give feedback. Zoom: This is a simple teleconference tool ideal for office hours or even live lectures. Instructor Critique and Engagement
Instructor feedback or interaction is critical to a writing-focused course. So I invite those who have more formal study and knowledge to share suggestions in the comments. Protecting Instructor Time
I recommend two levels of registration for any class involving critique:

Basic registration: All curriculum, lessons, community discussion features,   instructor office hours or Q&A opportunities, plus a basic amount of critique/feedback
Premium registration (usually limited in number): Everything in the basic, but   allows for more material to be critiqued, more revision and feedback, or more one-on-one time with the instructor

Students love having a choice because they may not have the time or ability to produce a large amount of work during a particular time, and/or may be mainly interested in the curriculum. Progress toward goals is very inspiring. It’s less daunting to tackle a video lecture when things are broken down into their smallest steps or components. Responding in the forum or otherwise being present in the forum, proactively posting questions and doing check-ins, and in general “showing up” is vital. Recorded audio or video lessons   using software such as Camtasia or Screenflow. By incorporating action steps into your curriculum, you will see satisfaction skyrocket, because people feel like they are accomplishing, creating, or learning something. Students will learn better if they’re given a specific task or action after watching a lecture or series of lectures. Use summary lists, imagery, graphics, and other visuals to reinforce the points you’re talking about.

This is   not a good opportunity for   an author who has just published their first book, and   thinks visibility at BEA might fix their marketing and promotion problems. It will not. If that is indeed your goal, you should have a   very polished pitch, and demonstrate a   successful track record. As far as I’m concerned—as someone who attended this show for 10 years, mainly as an editor with a traditional publishing house—it is not worth the investment. I have updated this post since so much   has changed in the last five years, both   in regards to this particular trade show, as well as the publishing industry. It started off as a convention for booksellers (the American Booksellers Association), and it’s attended mostly by people inside the industry, including literary agents, booksellers, librarians, and the media. Should you exhibit at Author Market? The bulk of BEA consists of an exhibit floor where publishers purchase booth space to show off their upcoming titles (and authors), sell rights, and network with colleagues. It is a New York industry event where traditional publishing insiders talk to other traditional publishing insiders. If you—the author—are not present to advocate for it, your book doesn’t stand a chance. Remember that “visibility” in this context means visibility to the trade (the industry), not visibility to consumers. Here’s why. Still, while BEA attempts to educate and protect authors from making expensive mistakes, be smart and do your research before you make BEA part of your strategic marketing, publicity, and PR plan. If you’re a professional, independent author with a significant history of sales, and already know of other professionals   you could potentially meet and network with at BookExpo, then   it may be a good opportunity for you. (I challenge anyone in the comments to provide evidence that a self-published book gained traction at BEA because the author paid a fee to secure placement—and the author was not present.)

BEA is a quality industry event, and it is a legitimate marketing and promotion opportunity. Best-case scenario: set up meetings in advance and don’t ambush people. It was initially known as “Author Hub” and is now called “Author Market.” This is not an opportunity to sell books—selling books is not allowed at   BEA. Yes, but usually at the invitation of their publisher. Imagine setting a copy of your book down in the world’s largest book fair, and expecting someone to not only notice it, but be entranced by it so much they can ignore 10,000 other things happening at the same time. It’s the largest industry trade show in North America focused on   traditional publishing. Nobody is going to notice your book there. But for the majority of indie authors, it does not make sense to invest   what are likely your limited resources in BEA. There’s a separate event—BookCon—that focuses on consumers. Your book is likely to be promoted with many other books, with no way of attracting attention even if someone did pause for a second within 50 feet of your book. But they will be happy to cash your check and say that your book had a “presence” at BEA. Important: In the past,   BEA has   taken steps to ban companies/organizations   who resell BEA marketing opportunities at exorbitant prices. You can give away copies, though. But it’s not going to lead to meaningful sales. You can see the unwelcome mat reflected in these 2017 registration prices (highest for authors!); authors must also be “approved” for a badge. Here’s the Author Hub sales sheet for 2016. There’s also a separate rights area where literary agents   often   have tables. In 2014, in acknowledgment of the growing indie author market, BEA opened up an exhibit area where indie authors could buy affordable tables to conduct meetings and network. Do authors attend BEA? BEA is generally not interested in unaffiliated authors walking its floor, because every editor/agent hides from the author who is pitching their self-published work. Services that offer to promote your book at BEA are rarely, if ever,   hand-selling or promoting your book in a meaningful way. Every year, traditional publishers decide what specific titles they want to push heavily at BEA, and will often invite the authors to do signings or events meant to bring visibility to the work   pre-publication. Avoid paying to have your book promoted for you at BEA
Aside from the Author Market, there are a handful of opportunities for authors to get visibility for their work at BEA. Yes, there are librarians and booksellers, but they’re rarely   paying attention to the places where   an indie book may be   showcased or promoted. For more insight and advice

Read Orna Ross at ALLi on what book fairs (may) offer indie authors
Indie author David Gaughran has long warned against book fairs You’ll greatly annoy people   if you go pitching on the floor, unless it has to do with subrights or licensing. Photo credit: Clarissa Peterson   / CC BY-NC-SA
In 2012, I wrote the following post as a warning to self-published authors who fall   prey to scams that take advantage of the highly recognized industry trade show, BookExpo   (BEA), previously known as BookExpo America. If you want to satisfy your ego, go ahead. The   emphasis   of the show is on traditional publishing,   rights sales and pre-publication marketing, and does not favor indie title promotion. First, a little background: What is Book Expo (BEA)? Whether or not you exhibit at Author Market, BEA is not a shortcut to getting   up close and personal with traditional publishers or literary agents, in the hopes one of them will publish   or represent your book.

Sarah Miniaci at Smith Publicity and Kristina Radke at NetGalley review the   marketing and publicity strategies that can help increase your book’s discoverability, word-of-mouth, and reviews. Today I’m happy to share an exclusive with my readers: a case study on the book launch for   Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe   by Robert Matzen. Here’s an overview of what you’ll find in   the hour-long discussion, with time stamps:

4:05: Getting to know the project   and determining goals
9:05: What goals were set for the book
11:15: Action item #1: Create pre-publication buzz with consumer market targets (using NetGalley and Goodreads)
25:40: Action item #2: Obtain book trade reviews to establish visibility with buyers (librarians and booksellers) for holiday 2016 season
34:30: Action item #3: Generate major media coverage around release through Christmas 2016
42:15: Results obtained from action items #1 and #2
45:45: Results obtained from action item #3
49:00: Results recap
50:30: Key takeaways And   Smith Publicity is a full-service book publicity firm which, since 1997, worked with thousands of authors and publishers in promoting books from every genre—from New York Times bestsellers to first-time, independent titles. Over 300 publishers and hundreds of indie authors use NetGalley to offer advance review copies of their books and generate early buzz in the book community. Any publicist or author can implement the tactics covered in this case study, which include (but are not limited to) how to incorporate NetGalley’s tools into wider campaigns.

Also in this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin:

My Grandmother’s Cigarette Box   by   Karen Brown
Pleasing Contradictions by Joshua Henkin Any accomplished writer is also a reader—and usually a reader first. At the end of a semester, he wrote to me: “There’s a very specific world that only you can write about, a map that only you can make…”

Read the rest of Danielle’s excellent piece. This is an area that Steven Pressfield is well known for covering (see   The War of Art), and in this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin, fiction writer Danielle Lazarin shares how she deals with the challenge:

I was only halfway through Stuart Dybek’s I Sailed with Magellan when I decided I should just give up on writing altogether…and I wanted to leave it to him, a far more lyric, braver writer than I would ever be. At these humbling moments, I remember advice I received from Dan Chaon while studying fiction at Oberlin. For the writer who is the least a bit humble, this sets up one of the most significant psychological barriers to pursuing a writing career: How could I ever produce something as wonderful   as [admired writer / admired book]?

(PDF files consist of an interior file and your cover file.) IngramSpark does not offer any editorial, design, and production services; you have to come prepared with your files ready to go. Visit this post for background on how to self-publish. If that’s not a possibility for you, then you’ll have to find a formal distributor who can help you, and that’s a difficult challenge for the first-time author. A key difference between IngramSpark and CreateSpace:   CreateSpace offers a   range of paid services to help you prepare printer-ready PDF files. I recommend that authors use CreateSpace to distribute their print books strictly to Amazon (do not choose their “extended” distribution), then use IngramSpark to distribute to the universe outside of Amazon (bricks-and-mortar bookstores, including Barnes & Noble, and more). The end result of using either CreateSpace and/or IngramSpark is that your print book will be available to be ordered by nearly any retailer, as a print edition, and available for sale through their online storefronts if they have one   (such as barnesandnoble.com). Working directly with online retailers usually means better profits, more control, and more access to marketing/promotion tools (but not always). Bottom line: There’s no one right way to go about it, since it depends on your time and resources, your books, and your marketing strategy. This will maximize your reach and your profits from each sale. Today, the most important thing any author needs to know about distribution is that   more than half of all book sales (regardless of format) take place online. IBPA has some recommendations of who to approach. These files are   required to make a   print edition of your book available and on sale through retailers. Print-on-demand printing means that your book isn’t printed   until someone orders and pays for it; when an order comes through, one copy will be printed and shipped to the customer. Photo credit: The City of Toronto   / CC BY
Note from Jane:   This post is part of a 101 series on self-publishing. If not, it’s probably best to go with print on demand. As far as reaching other retailers with your print edition, it’s far better to use IngramSpark’s print-on-demand service. Working with ebook distribution services usually means giving up a percentage of your profits to the distributor, in exchange for the centralized administration and management of all your titles. There’s nothing to stop you from ordering 50 or 100 copies at a time if you want to sell books   to local or regional stores on consignment. Also think it through: If you did invest in printing 500 or 1,000 copies, do you already have customers or accounts that you know would purchase those copies? This will reduce your profit and also risk returns, but these are the industry standard terms required if you want bookstores to   place an order. You do   not have to hire an expensive self-publishing service to get your book distributed through Amazon and   other online retailers; you can secure distribution on your own   at little or no cost for both your ebook edition or print book edition. Parting advice
A self-published author can quickly get their print and ebook distributed to the most important online retailers by using just a couple services, all of which have no or very low upfront costs. Would you rather deal with each online retailer directly, or would you rather reach them through an ebook distribution service? Both services allow you to purchase copies at unit cost plus shipping. You could even choose to use two ebook distributors. This access is also largely without upfront costs, making it straightforward for any author to begin selling their book at Amazon, the No. Print-on-demand distribution
Assuming you’ll go the print-on-demand route, then you have two key distributors to consider:

IngramSpark, a division of Ingram, the largest book wholesaler/distributor in the US; distribution fees cost about $60 per title
CreateSpace, a division of Amazon; no upfront fees

Again, as with the ebook distribution decision, you don’t have to be exclusive with either. It does require buying your own ISBN numbers from Bowker—you cannot use a CreateSpace-provided ISBN with any book you want to distribute via IngramSpark. Or you could choose to distribute directly to Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Nook (by using their do-it-yourself portals), then use Smashwords to capture the rest of the market (such as Scribd and libraries). You can also change your   mind   at any time (although not without some administration hassle and sales downtime). How to distribute when you have a print run
If you do invest in a print run and are comfortable fulfilling orders from your home or office, then you’ll need to sign up with Amazon Advantage to distribute and sell your print book through Amazon. If books are printed only when they’re ordered, that reduces your risk, but it also means that you’re probably not going to see your books sitting on bricks-and-mortar retail shelves nationwide   (or even regionally)—that’s the drawback. You can use both and benefit from both. Distribution used to be   the biggest challenge that self-published authors faced in selling their work—at least   before online retail   came to dominate bookselling. Today, the most   critical distribution is within the reach of each individual author at no cost. Don’t be fooled   by expensive self-publishing packages that claim to distribute your book to thousands of outlets. You must also pay for shipping your books to Amazon. 1 retailer of books in both print and digital format. Do you have speaking or event opportunities where you could sell them? For example, you might sign up with Pronoun (because they offer the best royalties   on Amazon ebook sales), but then add in Smashwords to get the library market that Pronoun doesn’t cover. Print book distribution
Print book distribution   is fairly straightforward if you’re making use of print-on-demand technology to print your books, rather than investing in a print run (where you produce hundreds or thousands of books at a time). It costs $99/year and they require a 55% discount off the retail price. If you really, really want to encourage bookstores to order and stock your print-on-demand book:   Make sure you use IngramSpark, and set the discount at 55%, and make the books returnable. First-time self-published authors rarely have a sufficient marketing and sales plan in place (or a sufficient track record) that would justify bookstores ordering and stocking books on their shelves. The good news is that you don’t have to choose between working directly with online retailers and using ebook distributors, since it’s rare for any distributor to demand exclusivity. Some ebook distributors can also reach outlets you can’t on your own, such as the library market, and may offer you helpful tools to optimize book sales and marketing. However, don’t assume that if you do a print run, that means you can get distribution into physical retail stores. Self-published authors have the same access to online retail distribution as the major publishers. Here’s how. For example, you could choose to work directly with Amazon KDP to sell your ebooks on   Amazon, then use an ebook distributor such as Draft2Digital or Smashwords to reach other retailers. Ebook distribution
Once you have ebook files ready to go (EPUB and/or MOBI files), you have a choice to make. You can always order print-on-demand copies at a reasonable unit cost if you want 50 or 100 copies on hand to sell at events. My book,   Publishing 101, costs about $3.60 per unit if I want a copy, plus shipping.

In my latest column for Publishers Weekly, I discuss the potential of online education for book marketing, particularly prior to publication. I mention   three distinct strategies:

Create a free email-based course leading up to your book release. Read the entire column. Create a free webinar series leading up to your book release. Offer an interactive online education opportunity to readers who buy your book by a particular date.

This song seeks to bring about certain conversations: to talk about what is really happening in our society.” Brazen, bold, and defiant even, Blood Money hits deep and achieves just that. From the start, Protoje’s ethos has always been one of unforgiving honesty and transparency that has helped establish his music with every listener, new and old. Protoje’s Blood Money Begs No Pardons

by Shana-Kay Hart
Every now and then, there comes a song that helps make sense of the world around us. The tune comes almost a year after the release of his Royalty Free project and the artist hints that more is to be expected. After being away from Jamaica for some time, the singer & songwriter came back with an adjusted understanding of the state of the country and uses this song as a way to address particular matters. SHARE / Feb 2, 2017 05:40 pm

As one of the world’s modern-day “soothsayer” or teller of truth, Protoje’s newest song Blood Money shines a glaring and inescapable light on masked issues plaguing Jamaica. A clear and clever work of social commentary himself, Protoje reminds us of the inherent need to be heard and speak out on injustices especially in today’s society. “This is unfair, hypocritical, and widely inaccurate. Even if just for a minute, the song transports its listeners into the depths of an artiste’s mind and soul, giving a voice to far too frequently unspoken, muffled or suppressed thoughts and beliefs. As expected, he begs for no pardons in doing so.With Blood Money, Protoje does what he is best at: mixing melodies and meaningful messages aimed at unearthing the truth. “The most I can say is Blood Money” needs a home, it will be lonely out there all by itself.”
Listen to Blood Money below: “People who have less, are made to seem like the problem in society,” he says.

It makes for a much more enjoyable listening experience throughout. 
The compilation begins with “The Builder’, a song with a strong reggae undertone but laden with the band’s own uniqueness. The drums on “No Shirt’ was the highlight of the track and was matched by the strong rock influence in “Unity” which made it a nice end to a relatively otherwise paced project. 
The standout track was however “Blue Dream”, a bluesy feel good song about the precious herb. by Susan Spencer

When one hears the name Baked Potatoes the first thing that comes to mind is not a reggae rock group out of Oneonta, New York. But alas, that is what it is! The instrumentals though more potent in this track meshed perfectly with the vocals. Each, very individualistic with strong instrumental accompaniments makes for a refreshing listen. Overall, a well-rounded production showcasing variety and fusion in its best form: with reggae always on the menu, ‘loaded’ with all the fixings and accompaniments.You can listen to the project below! Baked Potatoes on the menu! Only flaw is that the pace of the song sometimes made it hard to keep up with the lyrics but was compensated for by the flawless instrumental backing, especially with Joe Kaplan on the guitar. 
“No Shirt No Shoes” and “Unity”, the last two on the compilation adds diversity to the band’s sound which is very good at such a juncture in their journey. Pat tells classic love stories but with a certain playfulness that makes the song appealing. 
This leads to the more fast paced and upbeat “Postcard Song”. SHARE / May 2, 2016 09:17 am

Baked Potatoes, a relatively new group made their way onto the musical scene and is infusing traditional reggae sounds with ska, punk, rock and jam as they call it. 
“Loaded”, their newest project, though only 5 tracks, will have you guiltily repeating the songs at the end. The band’s lead vocalist, Pat Tierney has a charming warmth to his voice that seems to be on the cusp on the maturity but clinging to youth.

“ Our Reggae Sumfest crowd should also cross their fingers as with the likes of both Bounty Killer and Beenie Man on the show, there could be a live collaboration of their hit single Legendary, ” suggests Joe Bogdanovich, Downsound Records CEO, the festival’s new chairman. Beenie Man boasts a massive catalogue which includes Girls Dem Sugar, Who Am I, We Run Road and Hottest Man Alive. 
Bounty Killer and Agent Sasco last performed on Reggae Sumfest in 2014 and patrons will be in for a treat as both artistes are heavyweight performers in their own right. 
Agent Sasco is expected to thrill in his commanding lyrical style which has brought him rave repute as one of the best Dancehall performers of this generation. The transformed Reggae Sumfest 2016 explodes in Montego Bay, with Sumfest Beach Party at the Aqua Sol Theme Park on Sunday, July 17; the All-White Party hits Pier 1 on Tuesday, July 19; Sound Explosion returns on Thursday, July 21; and Dancehall Night revs up on the Friday at Catherine Hall. SHARE / May 20, 2016 12:40 pm

Dancehall giants Bounty Killer and Agent Sasco were notable absentees at last year’s staging of the event and will make their return to the Reggae Sumfest stage on Dancehall Night, Friday, July 22 alongside the likes of Grammy-Award winning act, Beenie Man who closed last year’s International Night 2. 
Reggae Sumfest 2016 is slated for July 17 – 23, with the live shows set for the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex. 
The King of the Dancehall, Beenie Man will rock the Reggae Sumfest stage yet again, this time performing on Dancehall Night. International Dancehall artistes Beenie Man and returning after a one year break, Bounty Killer and Agent Sasco. King of Dancehall returns to rule Dancehall Night

by Contributed

 Organisers of Reggae Sumfest, The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth, have announced their first set of artistes for this year’s festival. The Grammy-Award winning artiste has been on a recent high following the use of a sample of his hit track Tear Off Me Garment on  Controlla, a track from Hip-Hop artiste, Drake’s, recently released album Views From The 6. With a catalogue spanning more than three decades, the hard hitting deejay is expected to thrill patrons with international hits such as Down in the Ghetto, Benz and Bimma and Cellular Phone and will certainly raise the ante with later hits such as Global Gallis, Support Fi Support and Get Gyal Everyday. Reggae Sumfest 2016 will end with a bang on Saturday, July 23 dubbed as Reggae Night with performances from top Jamaican artistes.  With the recent release of his album, The Theory of Reggaetivity, patrons can expect a Mix Up of old favourites such as Idiot Thing Dat, Step Pon Dem, Talk How Me Feel and Hand To Mouth with anthems from his latest collection such as Country Bus, Day in Day Out and Stronger. 
Bounty Killer is expected to set the Dancehall Night alight as the legendary Dancehall artiste is no stranger to the big stage.

“Can’t feel no way about any of this music business thing once you have those things.” Protoje simply ‘Can’t Feel No Way’

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“Jamaica’s own Protoje returns with a new reggae jam called “Can’t Feel No Way,” premiering exclusively on Billboard. 

SHARE / Jun 2, 2016 08:24 am

“Inspiration for this song came after my return to Jamaica, feeling so grateful to be healthy and strong after a long year of being on the road and touring consistently,” Protoje tells Billboard of the track, produced by Tracker John MD, a member of Protoje’s newly formed Indiggnation producer collective.

“I just thought about how I’ve been feeling on the journey. “While trying to come up with a concept I sent the song to a friend of mine also in the music business and she replied within five minutes with the storyline. But also thought of other friends I know who feel they can’t get past certain struggles and its proven how God uses the people around you to be a helping hand.” Kristine continued, “I love working with Rory – he always pushes me to do my best and encourages me to incorporate my spiritual beliefs and church background in my current expressions.” The release, Hand Over River, is her second single from the upcoming album, Songs From Zion. 

SHARE / Jul 15, 2016 08:54 am

The beautiful music video, directed by Frederic Blake, tells the story of an aspiring singer trying and staying on track towards her dream. Kristine Alicia places ‘Hand Over River’

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Kristine Alicia delivers her best music video to date. How people have been there to help me fulfill what I believe I’ve been called to do. Hand Over River is produced by RoryStoneLove of Black Dub Movement. As soon as Kristine Alicia received the track from the producer she immediately got inspired to write the lyrics. I loved it as it’s a story that everyone could relate to.” says Kristine.