Saturday, 29 September 2012

Preparing an eBook for Publishing

You have written your book and it's a real stunner. You have the text in MS Word (or OpenOffice, or equivalent) and now you are ready to get your eBook off the ground.

You've converted it to ePub format (eg with Smashwords' aggregator and you have uploaded your book onto the Amazon kdp books page). Now you sit back and wait for the sales to flood in... but nothing happens.

Maybe it's a slow start, so you wait a week. But still nothing happens. So you reckon this whole writing thing is a con and you give up.

I've heard this story over and over. Indeed, I fell into this trap myself with my first book. Thankfully it was a volume of poetry that I knew would not sell much anyway.

But can you spot the fundamental mistake made in this scenario?

Authors are writers. They love writing and the book is their 'baby' and they expect everyone else to love it as much as they have. And if you have written a book then you have spent months living and breathing that book to the exclusion of all else. The book has been your whole life.

It's easy to forget that as far as the rest of the world is concerned the book might as well not exist. If you're a beginner writer, then you will not be a household name and no-one will know about your book at all.

So, if people do not know about you, how are they going to know about your new book?

The truth is that if you are an author, then you need to make yourself into a brand and you need to market your book. This is the only way that people will find out about you and what you write. If you do not do that then you will not make any sales.

You are the authority and your book is your business and sales mean an income. Even before you start writing you book you need to establish yourself as a 'name'. Improve your exposure and brand awareness by starting a website or a blog. Write about what you love (even better if this is the subject of your book), get your name recognized.

Just before you are ready to publish your book begin marketing. Write about it to local newspaper, write about it on your blog, submit on-line press releases. Offer discounts on your blog or site to the first 100 that buy it. Get people to write reviews (especially before publication).

One the book is out, write articles about it, put links to sales pages on your web and your blog.

The more you market, the more your book will become known and the more sales you will make.

Remember, you are not just an author, you are a business.

So, if you are preparing an eBook (or any kind of book for publication) get your marketing right before anything else.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Yes, You Can Be an Author

I have been writing for years... more than twenty now, if truth be told. I began by using poetry to alleviate stress and that evolved into writing short pieces mainly for my own enjoyment. Over the years I amassed mounds of paper, then piles of floppy disks, piles of CDs and now piles of DVDs.

In 2004 I got my first domain and my writing went on line. I was still writing for my own enjoyment in the main, researching things that interested me and putting the findings up on the web. I began with Celtic stuff, translations and research on Celtic gods in the main.

This evolved into writing historic recipes and the Celtnet Recipes site was born. I kept on adding content and used the site to learn PHP and MySQL as well as honing some of my writing skills. But the main thing was to put up more and more content and to research things that interested me in more and more detail. Historic recipes evolved into wild food recipes then a specialization in African recipes and the site kept on growing.

The first year I made no money from the site, the second year I got a cheque every now and then from Google and the third year I was getting a cheque almost every month.

I had so much content that I did not know what to do with it. Then, a couple of years ago over a couple of beers I showed a friend a lot of what I had written and he came out and asked my: Why haven't you written a book?

To be honest, the thought had never really struck me. But that conversation planted the seed in my head. I dug out some of my early writings and went through them. Finally I decided to gather together a volume of poetry that I titled 'Memories of Myth and Man'. I put together a small print run and sold the copies to family and from my website.

All the copies sold! Of course, poetry will never make anyone rich, but it did bolster my confidence. I started putting together a volume of Christmas recipes. This I put together as an eBook and solid it for Amazon's kindle platform.

I was a real novice then and, basically, I sold nothing. This year I re-visited the entire scenario, wrote 7 other books and began selling them on Amazon for kindle, whilst actually putting effort into marketing them.

It does take a lot of effort to get a book from where it's written down on a page to where it can be published and marketed. It's not just the writing, it's the editing and re-editing then the typesetting and finally the publishing (it does not matter whether you are publishing an eBook or a physical book, the process is essentially the same.

I learnt a lot during this time, and here are some of the main lessons:

1. Start small. Whenever yo do something new there is always a steep learning curve. It's better to do the learning using a short book or pamphlet rather than a full volume. Shorter books are easier to complete and get published. You are less likely to get disheartened and you are more likely not to give up.

2. Enlist the help of people with experience. If you know anyone who has published before, enlist their help. This will save you a lot of heartache and mis-steps along the way. Otherwise you will have to find out all the traps and pitfalls for yourself.

3. Be prepared to deal with disappointment. When you put your heart into something only to hear, "We're not interested," it is easy to take it personally. But, you must continually remind yourself that this is part of the package deal in self-publishing. For every "yes" you receive at least five "no's" (or so it seems). Learning to humbly and graciously accept rejection, not let it get you down, and keep pressing forward is an absolute must in self-publishing, especially at the beginning.

4. The more you market, the more you sell. You can publish an excellent book, but unless people know it's available, you cannot expect many buyers. The good news is that the possibilities for marketing are endless. Check out all the books on marketing your local library offers and all the articles on marketing available on-line. These will give you some great starter ideas. Send out an e-mail to friends, family, and business associates announcing your book's publication date. You could even offer a limited-time pre-publication special. Join self-publishing groups and let them know about your book. Ask others to promote your book. Submit on-line press releases just before your book is published. Be pro-active and do not be afraid to try novel ideas!

Remember, even when you have finished your book, the journey is not over. If you do not market, you cannot sell.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Using Writing Exercises for Focus

I heard a story once about the great American author, Sinclair Lewis. He had been asked to give a lecture on writing to a group of college students. He walked up to the podium, gripped the sides then addressed the assembled students: "Looking out at this gathering," he addressed the students, "makes me want to know how many of you really and truly wish to become writers?"

Instantly, every hand in the room shot upwards. Lewis gazed at each and every one of them for a minute and then he tidied his notes, folded them and put them all away, saying: "If that's true, then the best advice I can give you is to go home and start writing." He then turned on his heel and left the room.

He was pointing out the one thing every writer should know, that the first secret of writing is to sit down and actually write. For many that means setting out some kind of writing schedule and sticking to it. The next step is to actually figure out what to write.

Whether you use a computer or an old-fashioned pen an paper (I use computers for most things, but always a fountain pen and paper for poetry) for many writers just being faced by a blank piece of paper they freeze, like a rabbit caught in headlights. The brain locks up and 'writer's block' overcomes them. Unable to start they stare at the screen and the brain goes into freefall.

It's in this kind of situation that writing exercises really can help. For me, I try and write poetry, and this poem, entitled 'Blank Paper' is something I wrote whilst facing this exact same situation:

Blank Paper
Paper — accusing blankness
bewails the wood from which it's made
Cries: 'who are you to think
you can create your art
on rolled-out pulp?
Engender novelty
on slaughtered wood.

You can reed more of the Blank paper poem on my poetry site.

Writing exercises really can help and many writers incorporate them into the very beginning of each day. The aim of a writing exercise is to allow you to open your mind and to allow you to hone your skills and experience. You are taking time to write for writing's sake. You are now writing 'for real' in that there is no editor to please and no deadline to meet. You can write about anything you want, in any style you want.

Indeed, for a writing exercise it's better to write about something completely different than what you normally write, to free up your mind. Typically they should only take between 10 and 15 minutes and then you can turn to your normal writing schedule. After a couple of days I like to go back to the exercise to edit and go over what I wrote before.

Use writing exercises in your writing schedule, as a natural part of your writing discipline; use the exercises often and watch your writing improve.

A writer I knew and who used writing exercises religiously called them 'mini-meditations' where you can think, feel and express yourself about something completely tangential to the everyday. It's like clearing away the cobwebs to give yourself a clear view before you start work.

Often they will give you a new view of things, a new perspective that can actually help you with the remainder of your writing work. They can even give you a new clarity of expression.

Of course, not every exercise blows your mind every time. Sometimes you are just not ready for the challenge presented, but even then, the seed is planted. Sometimes you are simply not up for doing a writing exercise, which is okay too. Again, simply reading can set some new thoughts in motion. And that is why I like to review, edit and analyze what I have written before.

It's all part of the process of honing the art of being a writer.

If you enjoyed the poem fragment given here, then it is available in complete form as part of my eBook Memories of Myth and Man which contains over 60 poems and illustrations, many of which are not on this site, and is sold via Amazon (so you know your purchase is secure and safe) for only 99 cents. Sales of the eBook go towards supporting this site. The eBook is also available to borrow via Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

You can find the Memories of Myth and Man on Amazon and you can also find Memories of Myth and Man on

Monday, 24 September 2012

Earning Money from Articles — Part 2 Article Revenue Share Sites


Welcome to my second article on making money from articles. This article deals with Revenue Share article sites. Those sites where you post your content and you take a share (typically 50% of the advertising revenue that your article generates).

This will never make you rich, but writing a number of articles will bring you a residual income every month. How much you earn depends on how many articles you submit and the precise topics of those articles. The ones to target first are the ones where you can add your own URLs either to the article body or to an author signature associated with the article.

This way you get a residual income from pageviews to your article, you get referral traffic and you get link juice to your own site or to the affiliate products you are marketing. Even if you are purely an author, this is a great way of getting more links to your author blog, twitter feed or Amazon author page.

Here are some of my favourite article revenue share sites:

1. Yahoo! Contributor Network (formerly AssociatedContent). Here you are paid on a performance basis and they give you tools to help drive traffic to your articles. My overall experience is that the site’s potential for freelance on-line writers is there. But they do not buy your articles (at least for non US contributors). Still, this is a Yahoo! company, so exposure and link juice to any URLs you add to your articles is excellent.

2. Helium. The problem with Helium is that articles are listed in categories according to the rating they receive by other members of the site. As a result only a couple of the 15 articles I submitted came up in the first five in their lists of articles with the same topic. This effectively means that unless your are part of the 'clique' of the site your articles are never seen and they can never be sold. There are article topics that you get paid for, but they only give $1 and most of these articles you have to research. I have given up on helium.

3. Hubpages. This is one of the classics and I have had hubs for a long time. The site has great spontaneous response to your input. It shows you other hubbers’ activities which enrich your experience with the site. It shows your statistics clearly and allows you edit your work instantaneously. You may add pictures or advertising capsules (segments) anytime you like. For those who are keen to make a passive income here, they make it easy for you to become affiliates to Google Adsense, Kontera context link, and It can be hard to get some hubs noticed and I tend to submit spun content there. However, hubs can be profitable for diligent and money-conscious writers who put effort into search engine optimization (SEO) and write hubs around the more profitable Google Adsense Keywords.

4. Lifetips. Only for US authors at present. They sign-up writers as 'Gurus' in their particular fields of expertise (from accounting, acupuncture…, to writing and yoga). You can share your 'lifetips' and be paid up to $10 per tip, or allow them to compile your tips into an ebook or a printed book. They will market the book and award you your royalty at an agreed percentage.

5. Sqidoo. This is very similar to hubpages, except that articles are called 'lenses'. Unfortunately, for the beginner, the competition is really hot. Unless you do something nice and get recommended by one of the editors, your writing gets lost in the ocean of lenses created every day. Still, there are many other lens producers who will share with you how interesting and addictive publishing at is. I am sure it will turn out great for many of you who try it hard and long enough. One of the issues is driving traffic to your lens so you need to be proactive about that. Also writing seasonal content seems to be a good way of getting noticed. A few of my recipes for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Hogmanay have been picked up.

6. Triond. I have just joined Triond and had my first couple of articles published. They have an interesting model, whereby the site acts as a portal that distributes your writing to various sites and blogs that cover a whole range of topics. Triond accepts articles on all topics and sorts them out to distribute through the appropriately themed article sites. You can even write in a language of your choice (other than English) and they’ll find the right place to publish it. They also try to find an image to match your content and attach this to it. It should be noted, though, that they are very strict about duplicate content. You are likely to have your article declined even if it has been partly duplicated somewhere on the internet (or possibly, in print). Still, their reputation is that they are very efficient at paying authors. I am getting to like Triond and this is one site I will be sticking with.

7. Seeking Alpha. They require articles about stocks, investment and stock tips. If your article is unique and you submit to them only then you get $10 per article per 1,000 page views. They also have other work from home jobs that you can check out, if interested.


I have tried to present sites that actually pay you here, and where possible I have presented sites that I use myself in my on-line campaigns. Where I was not able to use the site (because it's for US authors only, I have indicated this and tried to speak with someone who really uses the site).

None of these sites will directly make you rich (no site will do that) but they will help you get your name known and they will help bring traffic to your own site. You can also use them to provide a cascade of links (squidoo and hubpages to triond, triond to your main site, for example) that can help in your link-building campaigns.

This is based on personal experience, and sites I do not like may be ideal for you. So give them a try and see what happens.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Earning Money from Articles — Part 1 Getting Paid Directly for Your Articles

Article writing is a great way of getting backlinks to your websites and of promoting yourself as an author and an expert in a given field. If you are a writer or want to make a living from freelance writing on the web then it's an excellent way of promoting your work and yourself as an author.

If you want to make money from articles, then there are three main models:

1. Sites that you can sell your work to, or which will help you directly market your work.

2. Revenue share sites. You post your content and you take a share (typically 50% of the advertising revenue that your article generates).

3. You submit articles to article directories. You do not get paid for the articles, but the links in them promote your own site or affiliate partnerships. These are intended mainly to drive traffic to your sites or your affiliate partners.

Which one you chose depends on what model you are trying to use to earn a living on the web. Many internet marketers like a combination of 2 and 3 and they submit to revenue share sites that allow you to either add your own links to the content or where you can put links in an author signature.

The first model is probably the most difficult to break into, and you need to write very well, but it is this area of freelancing that I will be covering in this article. Below are 10 sites that are some of the best sites and systems that I have come across. These actually, really, do pay you for your articles:

Article Sites that Pay You Directly (and Immediately) for Articles

1. Constant Content. The editorial requirements are quite stringent, but once you get used to the house style then you can easily submit. It can take a long time for articles to be accepted (5 or more days) and you can initially only submit 3 articles, then 6 per day after the first article is reviewed. You set your won price points ($20 to $30 per article is typical), but the site takes 35% of the total earnings. There are wants and if you write for those, your articles are reviewed quicker. The slow start can be a problem, but this site has real earnings potential.

2. Article Content Provider. It can take a while to be accepted and they pay $10 per article and $100 for blog postings.

3. Developer Tutorials. Developer Tutorials is a programming/web design blog. You can submit articles to Developer Tutorials on anything from programming to web design, and you will be able to get $30-$50 for list articles, and $50-$100 for tutorials. For those looking to increase links, Developer Tutorials also allows you a bio with a link back to your blog. So, you can easily build your portfolio, and as a result expose your work to thousands of people.

4. Dollar Stretcher. Dollar Stretcher is an online website that is in need of freelance writers to submit articles on saving money and living frugal. They pay $0.10 per word! Average articles range from 500-700 words and up.

5. Sitepoint. Sitepoint is currently one of the leading websites online when it comes to web development, and they are interested in paying quality freelance writers to contribute to their growing network. Your article must be over 1,500 words, and upon acceptance, you will be paid a $100 flat rate. If your article does really well and is able to generate up to 100,000 page views you will be paid $250 more.

6. NetTuts+. Net Tuts+ is for good coders who want to share their experience with others through their writing. You will be paid up to $150, depending on the quality, for every tutorial that is accepted.

7. PSD Tuts+. PSD Tuts+ — if you’re an expert at Photoshop, or if you have some cool tricks you think a lot of photoshop users will love to read about, you can create a tutorial and submit it to PSD Tuts+. For this kind of tutorial you will be paid anything from $50 to $150.

8. Digitalpoint Forums. Digitalpoint forums is an excellent forum to sign up for. They will not pay you for anything, but they have a jobs offered and wanted section and this is an excellent place to get writing job leads.

9. Postloop. With postloop, you sign up, pass an editing test, then you have to write 10 posts on their own forum. If you pass, you are allowed to write posts on a range of blogs and you get paid for each post you make. OK, this is not a great earner, but if you have the odd hour or two of an evening to spend on it it can be good.

10. World Start. World Start is another great website providing freelance writers with several options to make money from their writing. There are various payment options you can get with them. They have the $25 option for 250 words article, the $40 option for 400 words articles, the $45 option for 600 words articles and the $50 option for 800 words articles. They pay for computer tip related information.

I hope this helps in your quest to making a living from writing.

On to Part 2 of the Guide to Earning Money from Articles...

Thursday, 13 September 2012

How to Write an Article from Scratch

If you are a writer, even if you are an expert in some domains, you will always get topics or article titles offered to you that you are unfamiliar with. Alternatively, you may be offered a block of articles to write or you may be asked to write an article on a topic that you know nothing about.

Here is my guide to writing an article from scratch:

1. Do your Research.

You know the general topic or area you want to write about... but you are not completely familiar with the domain or topic of the article. The first thing to do is to perform some basic research. Google is invaluable for this, as are domain-specific websites and blogs. For more general information, and to find out what kinds of things puzzle people then Yahoo Answers is a great resource.

Remember that this is only general research. You are trying to get a feel for the topic that you want to write about. You are trying to learn the terminology of the field and trying to get a feel for how easy (or hard) it will be to write an article in this area.

2. Brainstorming

You now have a basic understanding of the area you want to write about. The temptation is always to use the information you have gathered and dash-off a quick article. But if you use your down time... or when you are cooking or driving or last thing in the day to think about the topic you have just researched you can produce an outline for an article in your head.

You may even come to the realization that you can spin several articles from the information you have researched. This way you already have an outline for the article (the skeleton if you will) in your head.

3. Outline your Article

By now the framework for your article will be in your head. I like to do this next step on paper, so I can doodle... that is producing an outline. This is basically a map of the main topics and ideas you want to cover in your article.

Now, the temptation is to just sit down at your computer and to write the article there and them. But if you write an outline first then you can find out your own strengths and weaknesses in the area you want to write about.

Writing an outline also helps you tease out the main topic areas in the subject you researched. This way, you might end-up with ideas for five or six articles, not just one. The more articles you can spin from a single area of research, the quicker you can write them.

Once this is done, I go back and I write the headings and the main bullet points of the topics I want to cover in each of those articles. This may sound tedious, but it definitely helps with the next point.

4. Do your research once more

The first time, you were performing general research on the entire subject matter that you thought you could write an article for. Now you have five or six concrete ideas for distinct articles. You need to do a little more in-depth research for these topics.

This means that you have the proper coverage of your subject matter. I use Google for this and I always try and mix general information sources like Wikipedia with more in-depth sources like academic papers, trade journals and manufacturers' sites.

A broad overview is always best and will give more depth to your writing.

5. Start Writing

Now it's time to hit the computer. One you have done your more in-depth research, sit down and just start writing. I find that the words almost flow through me without my own volition. The topics and areas I have researched come together and the article itself takes shape.

How you sit down to write is very much a personal thing. I know of many writers who need complete silence and the absence of all distractions. They even unplug their computers from the internet before they type a single character. Others have music playing softly in the background.

I always have the internet available, as I might have a fact I need to check. Sometimes I have music on, sometimes I have the TV. This is my barometer... when the words are flowing well, then all time seems to stop and all external distractions disappear. Typically, I know that something good has been set down when I look up and it's 30 minutes later and I have no idea what happened in the programme that happened to be on.

As long as the information is sin my head, I can typically write a 500-word article in 10 minutes and 5 articles an hour is well within my capabilities. But then I write constantly. I work on a few recipes every day, write a new article for one of my blogs (like this one), write a couple of guest reviews or forum posts and write some animal breed or species information for an on-going assignment I have.

Once you have the writing bug, more often than not it's taking a break that's a problem, not the writing itself.

6. Review and Edit

Yes, I know its boring, but it is very important, especially if you write as a stream of consciousness. You need to go over your work and correct any obvious typographical and grammatical errors. Now go over the article again and make certain that it hangs together and that the text flows and reads easily.

Finally, check it just one more time and ensure that any facts stated in the article are correct.

7. Review your Title

The article's title is the advert that first draws peoples' attention to your writing. You nee to go over the title a few times and polish it. Make it the best advertisement for your article's content that you can.

8. Accept the Article as it is

Being a writer means being a perfectionist and part of that is going over and over your article, polishing it a little more every time.

However, at some point, you need to accept that the articles is as good as you can make it. It is good to improve the article, as much as you can, just do not go over-board. Eventually you have to stop work on the article and you need to sell it. After all, that is the reason you wrote it in the first place.

In my writing I try to practice what I preach and this article is, itself, a case in point. It's getting on for 1500 words in length (a good length for any article) and because it's written about something I both know and love it was written in just over 25 minutes.

If I can do it with this article, I can do it on a regular basis. And, so can you!

Next on the agenda today is to get a book proposal sent to an agent. There are all kinds of writing and the more of them you are involved with, the better your earnings will be.

Know What to Charge for your Writing

Today's post is about the financial side of writing and editing. I have based these rates on a standard double-spaced manuscript page, which is assumed to have 300 words per page.

Type of WorkEstimated Pace$/1000 wordsRange of Fees
Editing, basic copyediting5-10 ms pgs/hr1$30-40/hr
Editing, heavy copyediting2–5 ms pgs/hr2.70$40–50/hr
Editing, website copyediting2$40-50/hr
Editing, developmental1–5 pgs/hr3$45–55/hr
Editing, substantive or line1–6 ms pgs/hr2.50$40–60/hr
INDEXING8-20 pr pg/hrN/A$35-65/hr
$5.50-12/pr ind pg
Layout, books6-10 pgs/hr1$45-85/hr
Layout, newsletters1-4 pgs/hr1.8$40-100/hr
Layout, websitesN/A$16-20/pg
PROOFREADING9-13 ms pgs/hr1$30-35/hr
TRANSLATING300-500 wds/hr80$40-50/hr
WEB DESIGNN/A$50-75/hr
WRITING1-3 ms pgs/hr
Writing, fiction40$40-50/hr
Writing, ghostwriting50$50-60/hr
Writing, grants/proposals/sales/PR50$50-60/hr
Writing, journalism45$40-50/hr
Writing, medical60$60-70/hr
Writing, nonspecified50$40-100/hr
Writing, technical/trade55$50-60/hr
NOTE:   ind = indexable page, ms = manuscript, pr = printed, pg = page, hr = hour, wd = word

This, of course is only a guide. I know of many technical articles (particularly in the programing field) where you an earl $250 to $500 for a 500-word article. Also, if you are just starting out and do not have a track record you will begin by charging less.

Always, always review your rates every 3 to 6 months.

I hope this helps you in choosing the correct rates for your work.
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