It has been a hot minute since I had my last guest post by an indie author, right? But don’t worry, I am not going to make you wait any longer, for we have Sue Gilad writing about “Paid to Proofread”, which happens to be her book’s name as well. Let us get reading shall we?
Say hello to Sue!
Balancing a career as a producer, a mother, and a professional proofreader, Sue Gilad is a living example that you can have full-time income without having a full-time job. Gilad began freelance proofreading to subsidize her acting career, and has proofread over 1,200 books.
Gilad’s proofreading endeavors evolved into copyediting and content editing, eventually becoming a full-service editing company. Her client roster of book publishers includes Random House, Simon & Schuster, John Wiley & Sons, St. Martin’s Press, Oxford University Press, Workman Publishing, and Kensington Publishing, among others.
Do you feel as though the stress of a nine-to-five work ethic takes too much time out of your day? The time that you would like to use for reading books or discovering new pieces of literature based on your favorite genres? Or perhaps you are now realizing that you want a career where you can work from wherever, yet still have the ability to make a six-figure income?
Well my friend, if you said yes to any of these questions, then it looks like you are on the right path to becoming a paid proofreader. And guess what? We are here to be your three-step guide.
I’m going to share all the information you need to start proofreading professionally so that you can get paid to read all day long. So let’s get started.
1: HOW to do the job
Just like me, you may be thinking, “But where do I even learn how to become a paid proofreader Where do I begin?”. The simple answer to this is to just START.
Sure, you can spend money on classes and read endless “how-to” books, but you won’t get the practice you need until you just do it. As my favorite teacher once said, “the best way to learn is to do.”
Let’s be real here. Not everyone gets the best proofreading jobs right off the bat. Your first few proofreading gigs may not be as prestigious or lucrative as you’d like, but remember that it’s EXPECTED and ALRIGHT to be in this starting level.
Believe it or not, these small gigs are super important because they are there to add experience and worth to your resume to then get those big paying/incredibly interesting proofreading gigs.
2: WHO can get you the job
Reaching out to friends and family is the place to begin in any experience-building adventure. To put this in simple terms, it’s all about networking. This is the most productive and successful form of spreading your name in order to land opportunities that’ll inch you closer to getting that dream proofreading gig.
Who knows, maybe that aunt that you haven’t spoken to since she drank a little too much wine at the family get-together is a friend of someone who works at your favorite publishing house! Maybe that friend can land you your first big proofreading gig.
It’s also super important to focus on lending a hand to people that work within fields that require any form of writing. This act exercises your skills and adds to the strong portfolio you are trying to build.
Reaching out to friends in the business, law, and/or creative industry is a great starting point when offering your services. Even the simplest task of looking over a business card can take you a long way.
3: WHERE to get the jobs
Reaching out to friends and strangers isn’t the only way to network. Put yourself on blast by using social networking apps. Post Instagram stories that focus on telling your followers that you are now pursuing a career in proofreading.
You can screenshot and share that post so that your proofreading services get spread around. Write up a nifty Facebook status or Tweet on Twitter that highlights the proofreading services you are willing to provide.
Even a goofy TikTok that showcases your proofreading skills can go a long way!
Profile building on job-networking sites is also a good free advertisement. LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Handshake, you name it! Apply, apply, apply.
Send a warm email to the company in order to inform them of your interest in proofreading for them. Make sure you are aware of current events, such as having COVID-19 etiquette during the current pandemic. Make sure you are both friendly and professional.
I had some fun reaching out to potential proofreading companies: I liked to add at the end of my missives: “P.S.: Forgot to mention, I never make mistakes.”
Don’t be afraid to cold call/email companies even if they aren’t hiring. Don’t hear back? Email or call again. This is a standard business convention.
So there you have it, three easy steps to get you on the right proofreading professional track. Always remember that the internet is your oyster. Building experiences means building referrals which results in more proofreading gigs.
Before you know it, you’ll be getting paid to sit on a beach and proofread a piece from your favorite genre.
I wish you all the best in your journey to discovering the gifted proofreader within yourself starting with these three steps.
Thank you, Sue!
And I am back to thank her for taking time off her busy schedule to write us a guest post. You can follow and contact her through these links.
If you have something to add to Sue’s story, drop a comment here or send her a word of thanks on the social media. Both of us would love that.
Amazon has become almost synonymous with self-publishing. And if you are planning to or have already self-published on Amazon, I am sure you are always on the look out for more tips to reach the best seller list. Don’t you?
Let us hear from an insider from the business, shall we?
Say hello to Lucia!
Lucia Tang is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers.
Lucia covers various publishing-related topics on the Reedsy blog. In her spare time, she enjoys drinking cold brew and planning her historical fantasy novel.
Shall we get on with it?
What’s the indie author’s answer to a spot at the head of the New York Times Best Seller list? A correspondingly lofty perch on Amazon’s Best Sellers list, of course. If you opt to self-publish, you won’t be looking to the Gray Lady but the online retail giant for proof that your book has made it.
Luckily, self-publishing on Amazon is easy and fast — and that’s exactly why everyone seems to be doing it, from savvy genre geniuses to silly secessionists and DIY coffin-builders. The platform’s accessibility means both boundless oppo rtunity and bitter competition.
You might assume that the quality of your book, with its riveting plotline and tightly edited prose, will speak for itself. Not so — but there are few tricks you can use to help it on its way to the top. Without further ado, here are four tips every indie author should know when they self-publish through Amazon.
Tip #1. Think about your categories before you publish
Like every indie author, you know that writing your book is just the first step to seeing it on readers’ shelves (or in their Kindles). As your word count ticks upward and your plot winds down, you might already be envisioning (with either relish or dread) the marketing phase of things.
As you write, think about your anticipated audience: what genre’s readers are you targeting, and how will they relate to your book? How is the story you’re telling similar to the ones they already love — and how does it stand apart from them all?
Thinking about this broadly is a good starting place. But because you’ll be launching your book on Amazon, you’ll have to look beyond, to a platform-specific consideration: Amazon categories.
On Amazon’s Kindle Store, books are divided into a number of categories, from those as broad as “Romance” and to those as specific as “Multicultural & Inspirational Romance.” Some are overpopulated, leading to cutthroat competition. Others get almost no shoppers — meaning it’s exceedingly difficult to get any actual sales volume, even for a “Best Seller” within the category.
To strike a happy medium, your book should aim for categories where demand is relatively high but the competition is relatively manageable.
It’s important to start thinking about these potential categories before you publish. Your book will naturally evolve over the course of the drafting process, and you might find that a plum category that was once a stretch is now a natural fit.
Tip #2. Make sure your cover isn’t too unique
Once you’ve written your book, it’s time to make sure it looks as beautiful as it reads. That means nailing the packaging. But as you craft (or commission) the perfect cover, there’s one counterintuitive tip you absolutely have to follow: make sure your cover isn’t too unique.
I know that sounds weird. Given how competitive Amazon is, shouldn’t you do everything in your power to stand out from the crowd? Well, you do want your cover to draw attention. But there are certain visual conventions you should follow.
Books draw upon an intricate visual code in their cover designs, even if they don’t belong to a highly pictorial genre like the early reader. For picture books and philosophical novels alike, there’s an established repertoire of typefaces, layouts, and other visual elements that makes each book’s genre apparent at a glance.
As a reader, you’ve probably used these conventions to inform your own book-buying choices. If you’re in the mood for, say, a beach-read romance, you’ll keep your eyes peeled for a whimsical, curlicued font. If you’re looking for military sci-fi, on the other hand, you’ll be primed to click on bold, sans-serif titles against cool-toned backgrounds suggestive of outer space.
Now that you’re an author, you’ll want to tap into these same assumptions to sell your book. So take a look at the top performers in the categories you chose for your book earlier. Pay attention to what their covers have in common, and think about how you can use them in your cover.
Tip #3. Write your book description with a three-part structure
When your book is polished inside and out, it’s time to head over to Amazon and set it live. f course, that isn’t a simple matter of mashing a big “Publish” button. You also have to generate all the content readers will see on your product page. That’s right: it’s time to write a snappy book description.
To succeed, your book description has to be two slightly contradictory things at once: a sales pitch for your book and a preview of your writing skills. This can be a challenge — after all, good ad copy and good prose don’t always look very much alike. But there’s a way to nail the sale without betraying your stylistic integrity as a writer: follow a three-part formula at the structural level, while using all the literary artistry at your disposal at the sentence level.
Here’s how to approach each section:
This section appears above the “read more” that pops up when a shopper loads your product page. You want it to grab their attention enough to click that “read more” — instead of hitting the back button. Choose a short and sweet tagline that distills your sales pitch. Has it already gotten rave reviews from a blogger you hooked up with an ARC? Is it perfect for fans of a buzzy series or hit TV show — but with much better gender politics and less shoehorned romance?
Here’s the part where you tell your readers what your book is actually about — without giving away too much, of course! This is a good place to introduce your protagonist. What makes them interesting? What kind of problems will they confront over the course of the book, and what’s at stake for them?
Your book description is, ultimately, a call to action. You don’t want your readers to merely luxuriate in your prose and move on — you want them to buy the book. Explain why they should pick it up.
At the end of the day, your book description should still sound like you, albeit at your punchiest. You don’t reader to feel disoriented and wonder whether you engaged a ghostwriter once they actually start reading your book.
Tip #4. Use HTML to make your product page pop
Over the course of self-publishing your book on Amazon, you had to grapple with a number of big-picture considerations, from the importance of visual convention to the dilemmas posed by commercialism in art. I’m delighted to end on a much lighter note, with a tip that’s far less philosophically fraught.
Now that you’ve got a punchy, three-part description that wraps your unique literary style in a charmingly commercial package, you’ll want to optimize how it looks on your product page. To really make your description pop, mix it up with some HTML. You’ll be able to add visual interest — important for your headline especially — with the following HTML styles:
<b>Use this for bold text<b>
<i>Use this for italicized text</i>
<u>Use this for underlined text</u>
<q>Use this for block quotes</q>
<ol>Use this to create a numbered list
<li>Each element of the list will start with this tag
<ul>Use this to create a bulleted list— just like this one!
<li>Use this, again, for each element in the list>
With a book description full of vim, verve, and visual interest, you’re ready to start reeling in sales. Now, off to write your next book!
Thank you, Lucia!
And I am back to thank her for taking time off her busy schedule to write us a guest post. You can follow and contact her through these links.
I know it has been a while since we had an author speaking to us about the craft of writing and we have Beatrice who will talk to us about a topic that is very relevant today – writing diverse characters and poverty as a diversity factor.
I will let Beatrice talk now!
Say hello to Beatrice!
Beatrice De Soprontu began writing at the age of four, when she scribbled on the walls with a crayon. Now an adult, she mostly scribbles on her home computer surrounded by her noisy children and their less noisy father.
Born and raised in New York City, (which includes: Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, maybe even Staten Island – a.k.a. the real New York and not the tourist trap that is Manhattan), she enthusiastically travels the world on a budget whenever she gets the chance.
You can find her book Vices/Virtues on Amazon or B&N
Let’s get on with it shall we?
One of the greatest tenants of fiction writing is that a strong character needs to overcome major adversity. In modern literature these hurdles can stem from identity markers such as race and sexual orientation, or they can be of a more fantastic nature such as aliens or monsters. Oddly however, being impoverished is rarely depicted as a problem.
Roughly a third of the world live in poverty and that’s not just in the “third-world”. In the arguably wealthy United States, roughly 40 million people are impoverished. That’s a lot of poor people. All of them differ in their backgrounds, beliefs and lifestyles, yet they face a common foe: grinding day-to-day poverty. Their stories are important and should spur us as writers to represent them in our tales.
Hence, for authors who wish to incorporate the struggles of being destitute into their fictional works here are 5 easy suggestions.
Separate poverty from race
In many fictional works race and/or ethnicity are linked to poverty, especially “urban” poverty. It’s understandable given that disproportionate numbers of minorities are poor. However, the problem is that this merging of class and race easily leads to stereotypes.
When poor characters live in rural areas, they become hillbillies, when they reside in urban areas we get a scene from “Boyz in the Hood”. Please just don’t.
Separate poverty from crime
Newsflash: lots of rich and even middle-class folks commit crimes. While poorer areas might be affected by higher crime rates, illegal activities don’t have to define the characters’ lives.
Remember the very admirable Evans family from “Good Times”? The episode titled the “Debutante Ball” is all about how the older son J.J. tries to date a young woman whose family feels his is not good enough for her. Their opinion isn’t based on anything he’s done, but solely on the fact that he lives in the “ghetto”.
Voila! A plot that tackles urban poverty minus the gangbangers!
Poverty is relative
A person might not even realize how poor they are. Curious but true, if everyone around you lives a life just like yours, you probably won’t know life could be different. Especially when you are young, it’s easy to imagine those wealthy people you read about or see on television are fictional. (I’m a grown woman, yet I still find it hard to wrap my head around the flying airplane suites of “Crazy Rich Asians”.)
Likewise, you might have quite a number of conveniences (clean water, free schools, tv, cell phones, microwavable pizza, really fancy sneakers, etc.) and still consider yourself to be quite poor, leading to the next point…
Poverty can damage a person psychologically
The impact of poverty in a character’s life doesn’t have to be confined to the tangible here and now. Psychologists have written extensively on how prolonged impoverishment results in long lasting detrimental effects.
Increased stress and internalized shame are just some of the possible legacies. It’s juicy stuff for an author, real psychological foes that need to be vanquished. Why not mine the possibility?
Characters are more than identity tags
We are all more than our identity markers. Never trap a character in a label. Your poor character is more than that, he or she also has feelings about religion, sexuality, and ethnicity. This person may be irked by the incorrect positioning of toilet paper. (What’s best rolling over or under?)
Write to all of it. Don’t feel you have to explain every decision they make. Fictional characters, like all people, are mysterious creatures and that complexity is part of their beauty.
Make your characters diverse. Make them interesting. Make them struggle. It’s easier than you think. Just rob them. Take away all their cash. You’ll find that when resources are scarce, your characters become richer.
Thank you, Beatrice
And I am back to thank her for taking time off her busy schedule to write us a guest post. You can follow and contact her through these links.
The online lives of writers (published or not) is quite hectic, right? While you might feel the need to be everywhere, most of us do not have the time to do that. Some of our favorite guest bloggers posted on their marketing techniques here. But here are a few more websites for the unpublished writers, especially if you are unpublished yet. Shall we talk to Victoria already, shall we?
Say hello to Victoria!
Hello, I’m Victoria Jayne, a writer. For the longest time, I couldn’t even identify myself as a writer. I struggled with the title fearing I lacked the clout to call myself such.
I’ve since learned that to call oneself a writer, one must simply write. I do that. I am a writer.
Websites for the unpublished writers
With that sorted, I moved on to another handy dandy self-identifier, author. Ohh, this one is tricky. In my head, this one required a bit more validation than a writer. For me to refer to myself as an author, I decided I needed to get published.
This post is going to focus on some of the tools I used on my journey to calling myself an author. Translation: here are some websites a previously unpublished writer used before publication and will continue to use for future works.
This little gem has a lot to offer unpublished and published authors alike. The main thing I took away from Scribophile was the ability to get feedback on my writing. A writer can sign up for free with Scribophile and get an author page where you fill out all sorts of nifty things about yourself. You gain access to works by other authors both long and short.
Scribophile works on a critique system where you earn “karma” by critiquing other writer’s work. The amount of karma you earn is based on the length of critique and whether or not the work is “spotlighted.” You need five karma (points?) to post your piece. When a work is spotlighted, more karma is awarded. There are several avenues to “spotlight” your work.
I like to think of Scribophile as a way to get honest beta readers. Scribophile also offers a paid version allowing to post an unlimited amount of works, and other things. Scribophile also offers writing contests frequently which can earn you karma or cash! Yes, cash! It also has forums, comments sections on profiles, and a messaging system.
Finding ManuscriptWishList.com was like finding gold! This website contains the profiles of people in the publishing industry telling the world what they want. It is their manuscript wish list. In their profiles, they talk about what they want right now.
Writers can search by name; they can search by genre; they can search by keyword. As far as I can tell, this resource is free. This is a wonderful resource when you are at the query stage. This leads to my next two suggested websites.
I like lists. I like spreadsheets. And I like to track the crap out of things. That said, query tracker is a way to track publishers and literary agents you think might be interested in representing and/or publishing your work. You can search by genre, company name, agency name, location, and whether or not someone is open to queries.
Each agent gets a snippet of information about how they like to be contacted, and there is a comment section. This was invaluable. I got a peek at what this agent received. I got a glimpse at response times. In the free version, you can sort of gauge response times, or lack of response, by users updated their comments on the agent. In the paid version, you have access to this in graphs. I like graphs.
Additionally, querytracker hosts forums where you can feedback on your opening paragraph, chapter, your title, etc. You can also get some insight as to what it is like to work with some agents or agencies — a wonderful tool.
Social media? Come on Victoria, that’s where I follow celebrity meltdowns and get my sports news. Well, this is where you are going to get your agenting information too. Agents and publishers have a twitter presence.
They often post about what they are looking for using #MSWL (manuscript wishlist, see how that ties in?) and they discuss horror stories. They talk about querying pitfalls and also provide updates as to where they are in their queries. You follow an agent you will get a lot of information about who they are and what they want.
Additionally, Twitter has a very active writer presence. #writingcommunity #amwriting These are other writers sharing their experience and supporting one another. There are also pitch parties. You can use Twitter to pitch agents. Yes, you can get published by reaching out to an agent via a hashtag!
Also, if you are struggling with getting into the mind of your character, #authorconfession and #writerlywipchat offers daily exercises geared toward putting you in your characters heads. You can connect with your characters by answering questions like “what video games does your main character play?” or “who does your main character have a crush on?” These questions, while the answers may not appear in your story, will help you get a better understanding of your characters as well-rounded people and make them fully dimensional in your writing.
The wealth of information that is Reedsy, I really can’t begin to explore in this post. There just isn’t enough time in the day. As an unpublished writer, what can you get out of reedsy? Resources. You have access to articles about writing, some of which can be emailed directly to you.
You also have a directory of editors, promotion experts, and anything you can think of that will help you get on the road to publishing and if you have already been published. Seriously, this is a one-stop shop where you can get almost everything you need to get published.
So that’s my top five. Those websites for the unpublished writers were a gift from the heavens. I learned a lot along this journey. My debut paranormal romance novel came out on December 4, 2018. It’s been a wild ride where I have learned more than I ever thought possible.
It’s all worth it to hold my first book in my hand. That was something I never thought I’d be able to do. Now, it is done. You can do it too. Happy writing.
Thank you, Victoria!
And I am back to thank Victoria for taking time off her busy schedule to write us a guest post. You can follow and contact her through these links.
If you have something to add to Victoria’s story, drop a comment here or send him a word of thanks on the social media. Both of us would love that.Also, if you are interested in writing a guest post for the independent publishing community, write to me right away. I am still accepting guest post submissions.
Let us chat
Authors, what are your go to sites for resources, motivation or maybe just networking? What are your fave websites for the unpublished writers? And readers do you even spend time scoring out Social media to read about the writing community? Let us talk.
I have not met any indie author who thinks marketing their books easy, yet. I know marketing the book can daunting and tiring. And any number of articles you read about it is not enough at all. And let us not even talk about the cost constraints.
That is why we are here with yet another article on marketing for indie authors. And we have Eden talking about branding for an author and creating the brand YOU!
Say hello to Eden!
I’m an indie author, (with a marketing background) and keep finding posts on writer’s forums like ‘so I published my book, but only sold two copies in the last year, I don’t know why I bothered….’
Contrary to some people’s opinion that “when the book is written the work is done”, self-publishing isn’t just about writing, finding a good editor, choosing a publisher, getting an ISBN, formatting the book, designing the cover and choosing your price. It also needs to about becoming your own agent, marketing department and cheerleeader. You can throw lots of money at marketing, but that might not help – what are you spending your money on?
This is a step by step guide to getting started, using things that anyone can do, that cost nothing. Marketing means publicising your name and work, it is everything you do that gets people’s interest. Which can lead to them buying your work – it’s not selling, which is a different skill, and doesn’t relate to books.
You will need: a calendar, notebook, two pens one colourful, and off we go…
Imagine your ideal reader, now make a note of their gender, age, occupation, relationship status, pets, where they live; When you have a detailed picture then we can work out where to find them.
Set up a Facebook page with privacy set to friends, people must be your friend to see your content. Invite people you know, and ask these people to invite their friends – don’t randomly add people you have no connection with, they are unlikely to be your ideal reader.
Use this page to talk positively about your book, your writing process, your inspiration, good books you have read – absolutely no negativity allowed on this page. If someone is unkind or abusive, block them, don’t get into arguments that make you look unprofessional.
Remember this isn’t the page to share private photos or air dirty laundry, keep your private life just that.
Join every writer and reader group that you can find on Facebook, this is where you connect, and let likeminded people know that you exist (no bombarding anyone with links or information on the book).
Back to your ideal reader, we know who they are, now we need to think about where will they hang out online, parent groups? Ones about pets, gardening, music, interior design, travel, local history, or issue groups?
Apply to join the groups where your readers are. If you get accepted introduce yourself with a question to engage interest, ‘Hi, thanks for welcoming me into the group, I am writer what do you do?’ ‘Hi, I love history/travel/music it inspires me to write, what does it inspire you to do?
You get the picture – do not add your book information unless someone asks for it. You are marketing yourself and your work; NOT COLD CALLING (remember those annoying people who used to telephone while you were eating?).
Set up a Twitter account in the same name as your Facebook page follow authors who are in your genre, or people who would be your target readers and make pleasant comments on their posts – don’t mention your book unless asked, just be an interesting person.
On all of the above use the same profile picture, you need to be instantly recognisable. Make sure you look smiley and approachable – if you write horror or sci-fi you can afford to look serious, but still approachable. Ladies, no cleavage or poute-y poses please – we know sex sells but we are marketing your book, not your personal wares.
Congratulations you now have a brand – BRAND YOU!
To begin to build on this, you need to be like healthy bowels (nice and regular); mark on your calendar exactly when each week to update your social media. Give yourself an hour to post and respond to messages. When complete give yourself a tick with your colourful pen; it is important to notice and record when you are working on your writing career.
Now you have a cohesive image and a social media following which will be organically growing while you go to the next phase.
Sixth belief, in yourself and your book.
Have you told everyone you ever met that you wrote a book? Think of this information as a pebble dropped into water making bigger and bigger ripples. I’m not talking about becoming a bore, but if anyone asks what you’ve been doing lately, tell them you wrote a book. Your family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours, sports team, hairdresser, dentist, librarian, mechanic, the person on the bus next to you… everyone should know.
People you know are more likely to buy from you just because they know you, they might want to hear what you have to say, or they might not. It doesn’t matter why they use their money to buy your book, it just matters that they do.
Never forget to ask people who buy your book to leave you a review (give the exact addresses of your FB and Twitter to post their review online). Suggest they invite other readers they think might like the book to try it – consider how many of the last 10 books you bought came from personal recommendation?
This is one for the calendar, once a month ‘put a message on Facebook tagging anyone who has bought your book’; then do it, and tick with your colourful pen.
If you have an ISBN and are on Ingram’s then email bookshops, (start in your town, then county and work outwards) introduce yourself and the book. There are templates online of what you need to include. If you have physical copies offer a three book discount to buy direct from you. Any deals or prices must be agreed in writing – so get emailing.
Don’t just drop into shops, it looks unprofessional and is generally a waste of your time and theirs, the person responsible for buying will need to check your book out before they can make a decision.
If a shop wants to stock your book ask to be featured on their social media, and ask to add their links to yours. When they agree (in writing) post on Facebook and Twitter “Head to BOOKSHOP (link) to get your copy of TITLE” or “Thanks to BOOKSHOP (link) for stocking TITLE”.
Make friends with your booksellers, they can recommend your book, or give you a reading / signing event. Independents are better than chains, as they have autonomy.
Do all this, and then keep doing it every single month, and then do it all again, and again. Your name will be out there as a cool writer who behaves with professionalism rather than a nightmare spammer. Potential customers can look you up, see what you have written….and buy your book.
Please remember why you started writing, if you were thinking you’d written an indie bestseller, and you’d make your millions, I admire your spirit, but you might want to adjust your reality. Enjoy the process, including the marketing, or why do it?
Thank you, Eden!
And I am back to thank Eden for taking time off her busy schedule to write us a guest post. You can follow and contact Eden through these links.
If you have something to add to Eden’s story, drop a comment here or send him a word of thanks on the social media. Both of us would love that.Also, if you are interested in writing a guest post for the independent publishing community, write to me right away. I am still accepting guest post submissions.