We’re back… :)

Well, the team have spoken, we’re updating the site, and there’s a lot of fun changes coming up.
I thought today though, I’d share some of our best bits on the site.

Resources for miles

At the core of things at the Indie Author Group is our mission statement. Both Valerie Douglas and I felt, early on, supported by the rest of the team, that a safe space to get advice as an indie author. We don’t believe in judging others for their choices and are firmly all about making the most of everything. So, in 2011, when she set up the group, I was one of her first moderators, and we’ve gone on to build a really great resource. And we have an amazing team of moderators too!
We founded the site late 2011, but the group will be 10 May 2021!

What you can find in the group

Honestly? A little of everything. We have resources that range from advice and support, to sharing information and tips and tricks. And a listing for the group’s Twitter list, Facebook pages, service providers (cover designers, editors, formatters, audiobooks, and more).
If you’re not there already – why not? (tip, if you’re not, answer ALL the questions, and be aware we don’t allow advertising, at all, bar in communal documents for those reasons).

So…there’s more? YES!

So, we have other resources! Our pages are the main one – Indie Author Group, and we keep a page just for the blog, Indie Author Group Info.
Then we’ve got the main blog (here).
Then, there’s The Writer’s Information Reference Library – short answers for simple questions 🙂
We’ll also be adding a tech page, a news page and more…
Finally, we keep a newsletter, and Twitter 🙂

Please check out our resources and let us know what you think!

Happy Birthday, Valerie!

I’m not sure if many of you know, but one of our driving forces, a founder, and an amazing indie writer, is celebrating her birthday, during lockdown. She’s not able to be with the people that care for her, so I thought, well, we’re a community that wouldn’t exist without her, so why don’t we stand in for her family.
Please join me in wishing the AMAZING Valerie Douglas a very happy birthday.

If you like, you can comment here, follow her, (look at the front page, at the top!) or grab a book or two.

Help the team, make her day as special as possible and please do join me in wishing an AMAZING woman a really special day!

The Indie Author Group will be back in a few days, till then, please do lavish some attention on those you care about and stay safe and well in these trying times!

Happy birthday to the Indie Author Group. Founded just as the trend of self-publishing took off by Valerie Douglas, and her co-founder Kai Viola, we are a vibrant team of writers and artists that look after one of the oldest communities for self-publishing and hybrid publishing on the Facebook.
It’s our birthday today! We’ll be celebrating next week though, so watch the blog, group and page! (or the blog page!)
To celebrate our 9th birthday, we’ll be overhauling, adding resources and doing a lot more, so watch this space!

How the three laws of robotics apply to writing and planning

Today is National Sci-Fi day, and while we’re not on Sci-fi this month (that’s later in the year) as our featured support genre, for advice Mondays, I thought I’d share a bit of a thought experiment.

First though…

Today would be Issac’s 100th birthday, and there’s little denying the impact he had on the world of sci-fi and writing. But the thing that always stuck with me the most was his three laws of robotics.

The three laws

(from Gismodo, who cites his story Runaround)

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Issac Asimov

Later, Asimov added a fourth, or zeroth law, that preceded the others in terms of priority:

0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

Issac Assimov

I have many theories on AI, given I’m eventually doing a Ph.D. on it (hence the combined STEM degree now), but I’m not going to address the fallacies and intricacies of why the three laws (and the additional zero law, which is almost the same, but not quite, as law 1) fail and cause problems. If you want to know why there’s a plethora of books out there exploring that and similar issues.

No, instead, I wanted to talk about how the three laws apply to writing.

But I’m not a robot…

As you’re quite right to observe, it’s highly unlikely that you are a robot. You might be, but then, that opens up questions, again, not for a writers’ blog. But when you look at the three laws of robotics and change the context to writing, something interesting happens.

  1. An author may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    I would argue this is common decency, but when there’s little of each online, it’s a good thing to bear in mind. It goes into a slightly broader concept though.
    While there’s no admonition to not harm our characters (cause we might), there is a duty in every community for the weakest to be cared for by the stronger. Writing is not a zero-sum game, so, if anything, I’d argue the first of the Writer’s three laws is that we need to work to prevent bullying. As we watch the mess with the RWA unfold and look back on Cockygate, I wonder why it isn’t a credo adopted by more.
    Beyond that, it also tells you not to hurt yourself. Planning and self-care are critical.
  2. An author must obey the rules of its community, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    I think the easiest way to explain this one is 1) Don’t pick on someone for upholding rules on a group, even if you personally think they’re not fair. It’s their group, you agreed and continue to agree when you joined, and to be frank, bullying a moderator is something that we’re going zero tolerance on – and that includes if we *hear* of it from a friend that’s a mod. Beyond that, mob mentality is dangerous online – there’s a difference between defending the downtrodden and forming a lynching mob, and I think this law aptly states that. If an author is unhappy with a review and asks their tribe to retaliate, maybe question the worth of that tribe, and the person leading it?
  3. An author must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
    Ah, you may say, doesn’t that mean if I don’t agree with people, I get to retaliate?
    Nope.
    You need to protect *your own existence*. What Jilly, Bob or Timmy does, as long as it’s not hurting you, isn’t important to you. I’m actually interpreting this one to be ‘don’t compare yourself to others, someone will get hurt’.

Law 1, Kindness. Law 2, fair play and Law 3, personal obligation. All three make for the best writers and the best communities. Personal obligation does mean sticking up for the rights of others if you’re sure you should, but it also means accepting that you ‘do you’. One of the hardest lessons I learned last year was that if I’m not careful, I will stay away for too long because I have nothing to give. My personal obligation became to me and only me for a while, and that was ok. But I have an obligation to you guys too. So, Law 3…it could also be read as ‘help yourself, help others’.

I don’t really agree that the zero law exists in the case of writers, but there is one final one I think all writers need to follow.

Law 4 – An author must ensure that everything they put out reflects the best of their work and the best of them.
Each and every one of the team knows
it’s hard to get things done in a budget, and we all sacrifice, but we are calling each and every one of our members to consider their reputations this year. Build good things, save and make things to the best of your ability, and only release books when they are professionally edited, covered and formatted. That way, you’re already ahead of a lot of people out there, who might see your example and follow suit (thereby helping you with the second and third laws ;)).

Yes, I belabored that one a bit, but I’m sure Asimov would forgive me.

Do you agree with my three laws of writing? What would you add?

January is National Braille month.
Check out January’s Posts to see what we’ve covered.

Coming soon….

  1. Why making a five-year plan *after* New Year might work better for you
  2. The ins and outs of organisation
  3. Calendars and the two radical ways to use them
  4. Bullet journal layouts for writers…
    And more….

Welcome to 2020! Let us help you make it your year! #IAG2020

IAG Happy New Year 2020

Hi guys! I know it’s been a while that we’ve been writing regularly here, but we’ve got an actual editorial calendar and a plan now, and we’re back. Valerie and I will be blogging and we’ll be introducing the mods that are around, old and new, throughout the year. We’ll also be looking for guest posters, but I’ll explain more on that in a few days 🙂

In 2011, Valerie Douglas put out a call for moderators. I think I was either first, or one of the first to say ‘I’ll help’. We’ve run this site, and others for almost as long, but we took a sabbatical last year, to think about what we wanted to do. And now….we’re back!

But first….
This year is a fun year for us. Not only are we NINE in May, but Valerie is a stone’s throw from 30 books, unless I miscounted, and that’d be funny cause I’m doing a Combined STEM degree, mostly maths. No, we’re not back in 2011, when this all started, but things are very similar again.

So…to start with, we thought we’d invite you guys to share your goals. Same rules as always, you can use the link in the form that you fill in to make a comment, but any URLS in the comment bodies will be rejected.
And if you’re not sure how to make goals, hang around this week – we’re doing a crash course on this, and some other stuff that might help.

Quick tips to setting goals

While I’ll be sharing many more articles on building yearly and five-yearly plans and your vision board for the decade, using free tools, the biggest and most important tip is that any goal you set (whether you call it a goal, a target, a resolution or where I’m going), is to be as specific as possible.
Whether it’s “make six figures, five figures, four figures or three”, whether it’s to write a million, half a million or any range of words, whether it’s to publish 1-100 books, put a number on it, then tell *everyone*. Stick it in the sidebar of your blog if you have one. Put it on your Facebook, your Twitter, and check out our post on making an intentions post on Canva, on the 3rd.

And, share it in the comments on the blog. We’ll be here, cheering you on.
You’ve got this – and we’ve got you.
Happy New Year, guys!

The 2018 Anti-retrospective

Where the Benevolent Dictator consolidates all the 2018 ‘retrospectives’.

Okay, first, I know it’s fashionable to bash the ‘Zon, I love you guys, but really, get over it. Bashing doesn’t help. Amazon’s primary concern is its customers, NOT its suppliers. Readers not authors. At least they still pay better than traditional publishers.

On the other hand, some books do better on some sites than others. Amazon got burnt one too many times by authors who didn’t label their erotica books correctly – and a few parents got an eyeful when they searched books about Daddy and got daddy porn instead of children’s books. So they’ve been a lot more restrictive.
Write erotica or erotic romance – especially the type some sites won’t? Smashwords is the place to go. (However, as much as I love Mark Coker, as Smashwords is where I published my first indie book – and I made good money there for a while – but that site could still use some more work. Compare with D2D.)

Another caution – if you use Amazon be careful with the ‘like’ parties. In fact, to be honest, stop liking anyone you haven’t read. There’s a glut of books out there (Mr. Coker is right on that) – and some of them are absolute dreck. Great covers are no guarantee. I saw a book with a brilliant cover, a terrible and confusing blurb, and an absolute lack of editing.

Some good writers have given up because they can’t get their well-received and well-reviewed book seen.

So, why are you killing your own book sales by promoting authors who may not deserve it? Better yet, how do you know they’ll promote you in return? Quality counts more than quantity. Quantity looks good but doesn’t always help. I used to promote other authors – but only a few returned the favor. Now I have a rule – ask me to like your page after you’ve liked mine. Promote my book and I’ll promote yours.

Audio is your new best friend. Everyone is doing it – Amazon, Draft to Digital,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is acxLogo.png

Smashwords and iBooks. For busy people trying to squeeze in time to experience new authors or books they can listen to one on their commute, on long trips by car or plane, or while cooking or doing housework. One book, with a great narrator, can entertain for hours or days.

For promotion, expand beyond Facebook – but don’t abandon it entirely. Advertise elsewhere, too – like Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. There are inexpensive options to use those sites.
New Release – try Bookbub’s new release freebie.
Shop around to find other alternatives.

Good news/Bad News
Books have always been a refuge during times of economic uncertainty, and indie authors have always offered books at a better price than traditional publishers. Which makes us the more economical choice.

BTW – the new price point of choice may be $3.99 – $4.99 for most standard genre novels like romances, or shorter mysteries.

A Writers Plan – yes, you need a plan

So, why do you need a plan?

Once upon a time, the unspoken rule for submitting to a traditional publisher was that you should have at least three books completed, and that still holds true for any writer. Why?

  1. It shows you’re a serious writer
  2. Readers like to see a writer they like has more than one book in them
  3. Each book is a learning experience, as you get the books back from beta readers and editors you’ll learn about some of your bad habits like comma splices, overused words, etc. 
  4. No book is universally loved, books two and three will give you a buffer for that rare bad review. 

Have that plan – Having a plan helps you stay focused on writing, you have a goal. If you keep your eyes on that goal, even the occasional setback won’t throw you for a loop. Things will happen.

Do not ever consider that you don’t need professional editors and cover artists, especially as a new writer. Budget for it (another part of the plan). To save money purchase a pre-made cover(s) made by a professional that fits your genre(s), you can always change it. For example, Stephen King has many times. Download a copy of The Elements of Style, it will save your editor from common mistakes that new writers (and old)  make and possibly save your wallet.  
Both will make your book look more professional. (Consider also hiring a formatter.)

The only constant is change. If you’re an indie writer, you can go back and re-edit as you learn ways to make your book better, tighten your sentences, clarify your prose, develop your characters more fully.

Take half of any sales and put it in a savings account to reinvest in your books, take the rest and buy yourself a cup of coffee. 
Then start the next book.

Submissions open!

We are now taking guest posts for three of our blogs, and we’d love to see our readers and members join in.  If you’d like to guest post with us, all of the details are here!

The main rule of submitting to the blogs are that they CANNOT be fluff, no use posts that promote you.  We are very keen to keep the quality of the blog high, therefore all posts should be your original content (we do accept reprints), with links to anything that you’re asserting that is to be backed up.  So, for example, if you say that ‘The Benevolent Dictator says that nothing sells one book like the next book’, it’d be brilliant if you could also link those words to the page (https://twirl.indieauthorgroup.com/selling-books/).  This means people can see where you’re learning from.  Please do not link YOUR OWN blog unless you are an expert – you’ve got your byline at the end for that.

Main Guidelines

Aside from no ads, we also ask that people do not use affiliate links.  If you link to Amazon books, we reserve the right to change the links to our own affiliate link, per our privacy guidelines.  We do ask, on the whole that you don’t write articles with Amazon links in if you can avoid it, to avoid issues of this kind.

If you are linking to your own blog, we do ask that you link to specific posts, and that your own privacy guidelines are up to date.

Your byline can contain three links – one of which should ideally be a blog, or other site for people to follow you.  We do not allow friend request links from Facebook – you must use a Facebook page.

Finally, we reserve the right to reject any articles that don’t work for our site, or fits with our guidelines.  Full guidelines are of course listed here.
Once you’ve read our guidelines, you can submit here.  The blog posts will then be taken to tech or marketing, or posted to the main blog as the team decides is right.
Please ensure you include your email, your byline and any images when you submit.  We will not respond to return articles if we reject them, but we will of course let you know about accepted articles and your publication date.  If you do not hear back within six weeks of submission, please consider that your article has been rejected.

We invite people to submit up to three posts.  We know the categories are odd on the form, don’t worry about that, but if we reject all three, we do ask that you look at our guidelines (which are clearly listed in our post here, on the guidelines and at the bottom of the form) and then wait a few months.

Good luck, we’re really looking forward to seeing your submissions!

How to write a novel

W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Instead, take the advice of the pros:

Just write

How do you learn to write? Learn from the best – Read

Read in your genre and out of it. Read everything. Learn to love words.

Anyone who tells you how to write is lying.

There are many people, writers of all kinds, who write books and blogs about how to write, but all they can tell you is how they do it. 

Only one person can write your story, your way, with your unique voice – you.


The Myth of Reviews and Sales

A lot of people will tell you that book reviews determine whether a book sells or not, that reviews with four or five stars sell books. While reviews help, that’s not what sells a book.

What sells a book is good writing. A storyline that captures their imagination, characters readers care about – heroes they want to root for and villains they understand. (Even the villain wants to be the hero of his own story.)

It’s really that simple.

https://insights.bookbub.com/how-readers-discover-new-books-to-buy/

Reviews can help, star ratings can help, but as you can see from the Bookbub graphic here, plot, price, and quality come before ratings and reviews. More importantly, though, not just any reviews, but honest, organic ones – in other words, not family/friends but from other readers. Readers are more likely to buy because a family or friend recommended it, but not a review from yours. (With thanks to Bookbub, see the link attached to the graphic for more information.)

Word of mouth is the best marketing.

Also, see this – https://killzoneblog.com/2018/07/it-helps-if-you-can-write.html

James Scott Bell knows whereof he speaks.

Reviews and stars help, but nothing beats a well-written book.

Update and addendum – Another voice about reviews from our friends at ALLi

Opinion: Why I Don’t Worry About Amazon Reviews

 

 

 

 

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