Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Self-Publishing Bible

Let’s start off by acknowledging that the words “self” and “publish”, when used together, create something that’s been a dirty word for authors for a long time.

No longer.

While the publishing houses would very much like to keep it so, self-publishing simply doesn’t have the stigma attached to it that it used to.  We can create amazing works of fiction or non-fiction and market and sell them ourselves.  No more waiting around to see if those query letters did their job.  Create.  Prepare.  Sell.

So, that’s what I’m going to be talking about over the course of the next few (or perhaps longer.  We’ll see) weeks.

How do we create an amazing, compelling (and commercial) work?  What are the specifics of the process that can lead us to a product we’re proud of and, perhaps more pertinently, that readers will buy?

Once we’ve written our masterpiece, how do we prepare?  What promotional tools do we have already at our disposal?  What others can we (and should we) acquire?  How do we indentify, target and attain our desired demographic?  Once we’ve attained them, how do we prepare them to want to purchase our work of art?

Now that we’re prepared, how do we make sure that this primed and eager group of potential readers actually open their wallets to buy our novel?  What can we do to bridge the gap between an excited almost-reader and someone that’s willing to lay down the money to read (and review) our book?

And just so you can see that we walk the walk as well as talking the talk, we are going through this entire process ourselves.  I just released Plain Jane:  Brunettes Beware under my pen name, Cristyn West.  It’s available through here.  You can read for free more than 25% of the novel to see if you’re interested in purchasing it.  Give it a try!

Then follow us as we take you, step-by-step, through the amazing process of do-it-yourself book publishing.  Not so scary.

And certainly not a dirty word.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Zero to Sold: The New Website!

It's here! It's up and fully functional, with loads of good stuff for anyone that's looking to promote themselves and their product.

We started ZTS Promotions based on the premise that visuals matter. Press kits are important. Cover or poster art is arresting. Trailers rock out loud!

These were the tools that we wanted to deliver to any creatives that needed them. Whether it’s the beginner that’s just needing some guidance, or the seasoned pro that simply wants the best tools for their project, we consistently delivered.

After quite a while of offering truly superlative marketing materials to writers, screenwriters and filmmakers, we realized something else. Things have changed.

When’s the last time you actually watched a commercial on TV? TiVo is an amazing thing, isn’t it? It’s also completely changed the way that savvy advertisers market. TV ads are being dropped left and right. Even the Super Bowl, the Holy Grail of television ad space, just doesn’t pack the whallop that it once did.

What does this mean for us? Nothing but good things!

Social media has now become the new frontier of advertising. Now, before you turn up your nose, I want you to realize that this is actually a return to the basics. In the days before TV, promotion was done socially, by building up and maintaining relationships with current and potential clients. Parties and gatherings were as much a part of a business’ landscape as they were a filling of a human need for contact.

And our new website is all over it!

We can help you fully integrate your amazing promotional tools across multiple online platforms. We have the skills to grow your network using your website, FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. We can help you develop an integrated “brand” that fully expresses what you have to offer. Once we have that, we then target those that will respond best to that brand.

So, go check it out, right here! What do you have to lose? It’s just the click of the mouse, right?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Plain Jane--The Launch

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Here I am, going on and on about “getting your stuff out there” and what have you seen from me?


Worry not, kind friends (or skeptical passersby, whichever fits the bill). There has been a plan.

I am announcing the release of Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware, written under my pseudonym, Cristyn West. This is a wonderfully tense crime thriller with a twist. Here’s the link to our page (an amazing resource, by the way): You can read up to 30% of the book for free, and if you wish to purchase it, it’s only $2.99!

Now, there’s a twist in the actual novel itself, but there’s another one as well. We are releasing this novel as a fully self-published work with a completely online business model.

There will be no attempt to get this novel into typical brick-and-mortar bookstores. It will only be available as an on-line purchase.

In addition, we will be heavily promoting the e-book versions, eschewing the print copies almost completely.


Simple. As of March 2010, e-book sales are up 185%. Amazon is now reporting that 50% of its book sales are digital. They expect that statistic to reach 70% by next year. People are buying more e-books.

They’re easier to purchase. They’re less expensive. You don’t have to worry about shipping. You can read more than a quarter of the book first without paying.

Okay, now you know why others (perhaps even you) are buying e-books, but what about us? What’s the upside?

Ahem. Money.

We make more money per copy off of e-book sales than we ever would off of a print version. Doesn’t matter if you’re self-published or not, the amount we make off of a hardcover or paperback copy is not as much as we make off of an e-book, even selling it for $2.99 on Smashwords:

Like what you’re hearing? Like the idea that we don’t need to cow-tow to the publishers? That we can do it ourselves, through the power of the internet and social media like Twitter?

Then join us. We’re looking to form a writer’s collective. We want it to be small (no more than 10 authors). We want it to be made up of the truly dedicated. We want it to work for everyone involved. If you have a novel that you’re sitting on, hoping against hope that it’ll get picked up, why not test the digital waters?

From where I’m swimming, it’s quite refreshing!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Anti-'Borg Collective

I love Star Trek. The original remains my favorite, since it’s the one that first opened up my eyes and mind to the mysteries of a larger universe. However, some of the newer series’ episodes had some pretty awe-inspiring stuff.

One storyline that really affected me was the ‘Borg collective. It was creepy. It was inhuman. It went against everything that I believe in (pretty sure that was the point).

It was also incredibly powerful.

That kind of unification allows for a lot to get done very quickly. I started thinking that if we could form that kind of unity without giving up our individuality, we could do so much more than we can as isolated artists.

So, here’s the deal. I want to form a writer’s collective. The old publishing model is starting to feel increasingly outdated. Publishers simply don’t give the kind of attention to new writers that they need to really get their stuff out there. It’s increasingly up to the writer to make sure their books get sold.

Okay, so let’s embrace that! I have a friend who’s a mid-list author. His experiences with his publisher were less-than-stellar, so he finally got fed up. His backlist was dead in the water. It had barely made him back his modest advance and he was never going to see any royalties from it. Worse, his career was stagnate. He was LOSING his reader base rather than building it.

Then he said 'screw it,' and took over his on-line publicity. He hit Twitter, Facebook, and blogged like a fiend. He also made over $100,000 last year from Kindle alone. He’s on track to make twice that this year.

We can do that. We can come together as writers, supporting each other and our work.

Let’s form a collective!

Not a soul-crushing, individuality stealing entity, but a life-affirming, art inspiring group. We can lift one another up, offering moral support and encouragement, as well as cross-promotional marketing.

And I'm putting my money where my mouth is! Next week, I’ll be putting my novel out there for everyone to see. I'm going to be an active part of this new venture.

As part of this, we will be offering free online workshops on how to use Twitter to effectively market our novels. Leave your email address or Twitter handle here in the comments if you’re interested in joining in with our writer’s collective. We will keep you up-to-date on any upcoming workshops.

Together, we can do some pretty spectacular stuff!