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Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff - Bestselling Author, Voice Over Artist and Media Assassin

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Self Publishing 101: Dispensing with the Obvious… You Need a Finished Manuscript


When it comes to indie publishing, let’s dispense with the obvious. To sell books, you first need a sale-able book. 

Duh. 

The good news is that these days, you don’t need 75K words to make a book. There is no prejudice against a thin book spine when it comes to e-books. 

One of my most successful titles was my Bin Laden book which clocked in at about 12K words total. It proved to me that you can succeed with a short book, but just know that you may face trouble charging a lot for a short book. You may be limited by how much people will be willing to spend on something they can read in an hour or two. 

Now writing a book is one thing. Everyone has their own way of doing it. 

However, in order for your book to be market-worthy, you’re going to need the holy trinity… Rewriting, Editing and Proofreading. There are very few people who can create a first draft that is publishing-ready. It’s the kind of thing that takes not only skill, but a great deal of experience. Trust me, your written work will only get better through rewriting. 

It should also go without saying that you NEED others to read your work before it gets published. Writing is lonely work that often takes place in a vacuum. You need objective and honest feedback in order to make your book shine. 

Unfortunately, my recommendation is that you do not trust the opinions of family and close friends. They may not be completely honest assessors of your ability to succeed. They may not want to see you get hurt. They may have an agenda. They may like you just where you are.

Find a writer’s group near you or online. If you have someone who will be straight up with you, you are already ahead of the game. 

Editing and proofreading are also jobs that are too important to be done by you, not so much because you may not be qualified to do it, but because you may not be qualified to do it objectively. It’s your book, you’re too close to it. You need to find and editor and/or a proofreader for your work before it goes out into the world. 

This is actually one of the most difficult tasks in the process and in many cases, the one that will carry the highest expense. Editing and proofreading are such important jobs that you should really hire someone to do it. Thanks to the e-publishing boom, there are lots of vendors offering these services to writers just like you and I. 

When it comes time to find a editor, ask around. If you have friends who have self-published, there’s a good chance they may know someone. Sometimes people are protective of their editors, not wanting them to get too popular lest they raise their rates and lose their availability. I have an editor I like a lot. He’s someone I’ve known for about 20 years so I trust him with my work and I trust him to be honest with me. 

If you really get stuck, I may give you his contact info, but just know he doesn’t work for free. 

Looking for an editor or proofreader can be as easy as an Internet search. You can also find freelance editors at sites like ODesk.com where freelancers hang their shingle looking for gigs. On these sites, you can often put your job up for bids and the editors who have registered have also taken various aptitude tests and their scores are visible on their profiles. 

Whatever you do, try as hard as you can to put your best foot forward. An audience will be your most honest critic. If your book is bad or good, they will let you know. 

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Why do you want to publish a book?

self publishingBe honest. Do you want to publish a book to impress people or to make a living as a writer?

If your heart is set on seeing your name on the cover of a book published by a traditional publisher, then go after it with everything you have. Chase it like a dog after a pork chop.

Just realize that today, self-publishing success has become an opportunity to gain the attention of traditional publishers. It’s the new way to fight the crowded bottleneck of all those millions of others out there trying to do the same exact thing. Success in any field doesn’t go unnoticed for too long.

Of course, traditional publishing isn’t without its pitfalls. As an industry facing a great deal of uncertainty, traditional publishers have tightened the reins. New contracts can include provisions that mean less control of your work, and worst-case-scenario, even loss of your copyright regardless of whether or not your book even comes out. Feeling frisky about an education into the horrors faced by writers under contract to publishers? Go visit ThePassiveVoice.com, a site run by a lawyer who has worked in the publishing industry for decades. Often, he highlights the egregious things found in the publishing agreements sent to him by writers under contract. One thing is clear. Publishing is an industry facing drastic shrinkage, where sometimes the most creative work done by the publishers involves dreaming up inventive new ways to upend the writer by the ankles and shake until more money falls out from their pockets.

Regardless, with a publisher behind your book you may even be forced to wait 12 to 18 months to be released. In some cases, books are never released for whatever reason… even after the contracts are signed. This is the pure definition of literary blue balls.

Plus, to make things even more difficult for the writer to make a living doing what they do best, uh, writing…the contract you affix your John Hancock to may prohibit you from, uh, writing anything else. At the very least, you will be under embargo against competing against yourself.

All in exchange for an advance and the hope there will be more royalty checks coming.

How big of an advance? Well, it seems the days of windfall advances to new writers is past history. Today, advances for new writers now average in the mid-five figures and are shrinking faster than Luke Skywalker’s junk after a cold dip in a Degoabah swamp. Now, I realize that a few thousand bucks may represent a life-changing sum of money for some, but it seems a paltry sum to sign away nearly all control of something you devoted so much of yourself to create.

You also have to take into account that your advance is recoupable against future royalties. That means the 8 to 10 percent royalty per unit sold they’ve given you in that contract has to earn back every penny of that advance money before you see another dime. That is if you even get an advance. Some publishers have started to move away from handing out any upfront dough and are instead basing their deals on royalties alone.

In a way, it’s almost like religion. It’ll work out better for you if you have faith there’s a reward at the end.

Yes, dear writer, the deck is stacked against you. However, those awful publishers put up the financial risk and you signed the contract allowing them to do whatever they want.

A deal with a major publisher can open doors for you. Maybe even lead to bigger opportunities. The sad truth is that because publishers release so much content every month, not every one of their books will succeed and not every writer under contract will make a living. Some writers succeed with major publishers and go on to have those careers the rest of us drool over. Most however, do not. That’s the way it has always been.

Can you make a living self-publishing? Yes.

Be your own boss. Write what you want to write. Be on your own schedule. Just remember… if you don’t sell books, you don’t make money.

How much can you make through self publishing your own books?

Possibly the best-known examples of DIY self-publishing success are John Locke and Amanda Hocking. Both were making six figures, monthly, on their self published books. That’s right, hundreds of thousands of dollars a month! Look it up. Both eventually signed big deals with major publishers. Google the term: “self-publishing success” and you’ll find the latest person to use their self-publishing efforts as an audition to land a major book deal — because a writer with an audience and the know-how to make it happen on their own is a much more attractive proposition for a risk-adverse industry. 

The good news is that you don’t have to be today’s buzzed-about indie author to make a decent living at this. Because e-books are being sold today in mind-blowing numbers, you can stay under the radar and still move enough units each month to make a living. It takes luck and perseverance and a growing catalog of content.

Me? I’ve had my own indie publishing imprint since 2005, and have been doing this full time for the last two years. I can tell you it’s thrilling to be able to write what you want, how you want and sell it to book buyers without a middleman screwing everything up or putting their hands in your pocket.

If you could do anything in the world, anything at all, what would it be? Personally, I’d want to do exactly what I’m doing now. The only difference is that it would be from a desk with a view of the beach.  

*****

I’m a full time writer, publisher and digital content creator. I’ve been marking the 8th anniversary of the launch of my indie imprint, Glenneyre Press by sharing some of what I’ve learned about about digital publishing. 

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Go Forth and Kick Some Ass: Book Preview

“Life is tough and this book reminds you of that, but it also reminds you that YOU are tougher than anything life can throw at you. Mark has taken years of experience and boiled it down to an inspiring, humorous and dead on serious look at what you need to do to be successful in life. It isn’t as difficult as you might believe.”
- C.C. CHAPMAN – New Media trailblazer and bestselling author of “Content Rules”

Go Forth and Kick Some Ass
by Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff

YOUR MISSION

Beware the Boogeyman for he is real.

Not flesh and blood, for flesh and blood can be stopped with a silver bullet or a stake to the heart; the Boogeyman is as real as any monster you can imagine and believe me, twice as dangerous.

No matter how far you run, he can catch you.

No matter where you hide, he can find you.

The Boogeyman lives in the shadows of your mind, in the dark crevices of your consciousness waiting to spring out and kill your happiness. Kill it dead. Slice its beating heart out and show it to your face as your terror scream is locked in your throat with no escape.

And the Boogeyman does this by way of its two greatest spells that it will attempt to cast upon you like some kind of evil wizard in the night.

Fear and Doubt.

You know the Boogeyman. You have met him. You have felt the touch of his icy fingers against your skin and watched the gooseflesh raise upon your arm in tiny bumps.

The Boogeyman is your mortal enemy. If you let him close he will keep you from that which you desire most:

Success. Happiness. Contentment.

If you let the Boogeyman control your actions, he will take over your life and treat you like a puppet on a string. He will destroy everything you work to create. He will strangle your hopes and dreams.

Fear and Doubt. Doubt and Fear.

Those two things will derail you from your path and once the Boogeyman hits you with one of these debilitating emotions, it’s not long before the other will breed inside of you like a blackened evil seed full of poison.

Fear and Doubt are the most powerful forces that can keep you from finding success. Alone or together they can paralyze you.

Close your eyes. Imagine the following:

Red wire. Green wire.

Timer counting down.

You gonna cut one or just watch the clock run down to zero?

Can you even imagine having to ever make a decision like that?

Red wire. Green wire.

Let’s just hope you’re not colorblind. This will be pretty difficult, as is.

Pick the one you think is right. Say a small prayer that you have chosen correctly. Use your cutters. Do it fast.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that chances are good you won’t be faced with anything quite literally as harrowing as disarming a bomb. Although, and this is just my opinion, if you happen to be using this book as part of training yourself on explosive ordinance disposal you may want to consider reading faster.

Since the path to success is often fraught with chaos, you can never account for every possible variable. Because shit happens, you evaluate your best mental snapshot of the situation, weigh it against your goals and then take your next step with full commitment.

Do you hesitate? Do you falter under pressure to succeed?

Perhaps the effects of your past still weigh heavily upon you. So much so that it hampers your ability to make progress.

Repeat after me: I am my own worst enemy.

I do things to sabotage myself.

Sometimes I even realize I’m doing it and I still can’t stop myself from monkey-wrenching the whole damn thing.

That’s right, monkey wrenching: the act of screwing yourself out of what you have worked so hard for.

We have somehow conditioned ourselves to accept that we can, might, and will cause the gears of our own progress to come grinding to a halt because that’s just who we are.

That’s how we are wired.

One day I gazed at the face looking back at me in the mirror and asked it a couple of tough questions.

Hey Face,

How hard should it be to find a life I can truly be passionate about?

If happiness isn’t going to find me, how will I find it?

Face had no answer.

So I sat and I thought.

Understand that I had realized early enough in life that happiness is tied hand-in-hand with self-worth, and by that I don’t mean what you have in your bank account, but by how you feel inside about the progress of your life, and the trajectory in which it is headed.

My happiness rises and falls with the successes I have—in work, in love, and at play.

As I looked at Face in the mirror, I wondered which Face would be staring back at me in the years to come and I realized whatever I was going to do with my life, I just truly wanted to be successful at it.

Face agreed with me, even if he was just along for the ride.

Success breeds confidence.

Success breeds opportunity.

Success breeds more success.

And above all, success breeds happiness and some of the deepest satisfaction you can ever know. It is just that simple.

That being said, don’t ever mistake simple for easy. The only thing in life I ever had that was easy required a penicillin shot afterwards.

Look, if all you want out of life is fame and fortune then you should just go wait in line to buy a lottery ticket or get on a reality TV show; basically just punch your one-way ticket to the magical land of Dipshitville. Just because you think you should have success doesn’t mean it will come to you. Success, for the most part, requires effort and I have to tell you that a lousy work ethic along with a sense of entitlement is not life’s perfecta, my friend.

To find success in this world, you have to be willing to accept an uphill climb. You have to want it.

First, take a deep breath. Now second, really and truly ask yourself, “Do I want it? Do I want to enjoy the rewards that success can and will bring emotionally and more than likely, financially?”

If you answered no, you’re too fucking stupid to read this book.

If you answered yes, I’m not going to drench you in bullshit platitudes like, “You just made the first step of the biggest journey of your life”. Hell no. This isn’t about “trust circles” and “wish penguins” or any of that sappy New Age crap.

There is no mystical healing crystal that will envelop you in a shining glow and make your life easier and everything go your way.

Trust me. I would know. If there were I would have bought the damn thing already.

If you answered, “Yes, I want it.” I want you to understand there is indeed a road ahead and it may not be all smooth sailing.

Remember, there is no easy money.

Sure, you may hear about tech workers making millions off “stock options” and wish you were so lucky. Well guess what? You are that lucky. You already have stock options in yourself.

It’s called, sweat equity, and it generally means the more work you put into your chosen passion, the greater the reward will be when those efforts finally pay off.

And what I wish to do by giving you these keystones for personal growth is make the road ahead much easier to navigate and that sweat equity much more valuable.

So go ahead and ask yourself, “Why not me?”

Though I won’t pretend this book contains a secret formula to riches, I have a feeling that by the time you finish reading this from cover to cover you’ll be on your way to never having to ask yourself that question again.

Today, when I look at the mirror, Face is much older and has its share of battle scars but I can tell you Face is happy. Face is satisfied.

I want you to be able to look in the mirror and see yourself as a being of infinite potential. I want you to be excited about the future and taking control of your destiny. This book is for those of you out there who wish to be doing or getting something you want, but are stymied from achieving it simply out of fear.

For years I allowed myself to be held back from my true potential; the forward march of my own progress stopped cold. There were things I wanted to do with my life but were afraid to.

Inside the confines of my barricades were my nest and a certain level of safety.

Outside lived a monster. I knew his name.

The Boogeyman.

Nobody is going to save you.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is no cavalry. No knight in shining armor who will come and rescue you from this life that seems like it could be so much more.

Should be so much more.

Am I wrong?

I know you have been waiting.

That, I again hate to say, as been part of the problem why there is a divide between where it is in life you wish to be and where you are right now.

You are not where you want to be.

You have been waiting for the problems and the shortfalls in your life to be taken care of by someone else:

The person who will by way of job, relationship or circumstance will turn your life around; A hero to save you from the dismal fate of an unhappy existence.

A lifetime wishing you were someone else.

Stop waiting. Life is capable of being a lot more than just a string of disappointments.

The only person who can save you is you.

I knew that if I ever wanted to achieve the things in life I desired most I would have to leave the confines of my nest and face my demons.

It would take COURAGE.

And CHARACTER.

PERSEVERANCE.

FOCUS.

But as I learned, these superpowers needed to defeat the forces that held me back were already inside me.

They are inside you, too. You just need to find them.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is one of great importance:

Find your superpowers.

Be the hero of your own life story.

You can do it. Just turn the page.

 

COURAGE

Alive in you and I is something we share with countless others. We are dreamers, but our dreams are far from aimless. Aimless dreamers stay within the confines of their nests and never dare come outside for fear of getting their hands dirty.

Aimless dreamers talk big and never do a damn thing.

Aimless dreamers want you to believe they know everything, when in fact, their bluster is only a smokescreen. Hidden behind their mask is a scared child who knows very little, or has only experienced life through other people’s eyes.

You and I though, our dreams may seem lofty, and to some pure fantasy; our dreams differ from those of the aimless like night and day. Our dreams are built upon a burning desire to rise above the status quo that surrounds us.

This is the view from 10,000 feet above the ground. It may be there over the horizon out of sight for the time being, but you know in your heart of hearts that its there just waiting for you.

Do you really want it?

*****

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This book is for anyone who has ever suffered from the crippling self doubt that comes from feeling like your life is stuck in a rut.


 

 

 

 

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