Author Photo – Part II

Ingrid Haunold
Photo Credit: www.fotoschuster.at

Back in June 2016, I wrote about the need for a new author photo, and my desire to hire a professional photographer “soon.” It only took ten months, and here it is: the photo was taken a few days before my 50th birthday on April 18, 2017 (do the math!), and I have to say I am quite pleased with the result.

I lost most of my hair to a chronic illness and some very nasty medication, and what little hair remains has turned grey, but I look happy in this photograph – and I am. I’ve learned to manage my illnesses; I freelance as a writer (and am able to pay all my bills); I work from my home office (dress code: pajamas), and I am working on a new project. The last 15 years have not been easy, but I’ve come out on top. So happy 50th birthday to me – and I look forward to the next 50 years.

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Ghostwriting

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I’ve been doing more and more ghostwriting lately. I enjoy the work, but there’s one drawback: I can’t blog about what I do, which explains my lack of blogging activities on this website. Ghostwriting requires discretion; whatever I write doesn’t belong to me – somebody else gets the credit. I am blogging more frequently on my two other websites, though: The Vegan Tourist and Austrian Politics.

Ghostwriting is fun. Every few weeks, I get to work on a new project. I’m never bored. Since I work with an agency, I have very limited contact with clients. I’ve never been a team player, and ghostwriting is solitary work. It suits me well.

As I’ve been writing non-stop for other people, I haven’t worked on projects of my own, which is a shame; but I want to take it easy this year. Work less, relax more; I plan on taking long walks with my two dogs, concentrate on my health, and just enjoy life.

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Amazon Author Central: Author Pages

© http://www.vegantourist.com

© http://www.vegantourist.com

If you are a self-published author, whose book is sold on Amazon, you should sign up for Author Central accounts and set up Author Pages on various international Amazon sites. It’s a free service provided by Amazon, which lets you promote yourself and your books to readers.

As I write this article in August 2016, Amazon has 14 international sites: in addition to the main website in the United States, there are websites in the United Kingdom, in Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, India, Mexiko, Japan, Brazil, and China. You can buy my books on all sites, except China. I’m not sure why my books are not sold in China, I’ll check that out at a later date.

In the Netherlands and in Australia, you can only buy eBooks for Kindle on Amazon’s sites, but not printed books.

You need to set up separate Author Central accounts for separate Amazon sites, and not all sites offer Author Central accounts. You can set up Author Pages for the following Amazon sites, these links will take you directly to the separate Author Central sign-in pages: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan. Your Author Page in India is automatically supplied with information from your US Author Central Account. However, your Indian Author Page will only show images and videos from your US account, your Biography and Blog RSS feed will not show up on your Indian Author Page.

I expect that more Author Central accounts will be made available in the coming years, and you should set up as many Author Pages as possible, as it’s a free marketing tool. You need to do everything you can to promote your self-published books.

The information displayed on your various Author Pages is linked to the information provided on the respective Amazon sites. When you self-publish a book on Amazon, you can specify in which countries you want your book to be sold. Not all books are sold in all countries, that’s why you need to set up separate accounts.

On your Author Pages you can add a biography, photos and videos, you can list upcoming events, and – only in the United States – add a Blog Feed. Readers, who are interested in buying your books, will find your name linked to your Author Page when they click on the detail page for a certain book. Here’s a link to the detail page for the 2nd, updated edition of “The Vegan Tourist: Vienna“, which I published in May 2016. Right below the book’s title my name is listed, and linked to my Author Page on Amazon.com. You can also click here to check out my Author Page for Amazon’s US website.

You’ll notice the Blog Feed, which is linked to my website The Vegan Tourist. I blog on two other sites, Viaduct Dreams and Austrian Politics, but I’ve published only one book so far – a vegan restaurant guide for Vienna -, so it makes sense for me at this time to link the blog feed to the website where I exclusively blog about vegan issues. The Blog Feed is a feature that is only offered by Author Central in the United States.

Start out by setting up your Author Central account for the United States, and pay close attention to the separate steps. You might even want to take notes while you set up your account. Unless you speak German, French, and Japanese, you’ll struggle with the set-up for those sites, as the instructions are only provided in these individual countries’ languages. There are no instructions in English. German is my native language, and I have rudimentary knowledge in French, but setting up the Japanese Author Page was a struggle. I used Google Translate to set up this account, and struggled for half an hour before I succeeded. I think I might have set up a second account on Author Central Japan by mistake, with a different Email address.

My advice would be to set up your accounts in the United Kingdom and in Japan concurrently. Whenever you click on a button on the site in the UK, immediately repeat that step on the Japanese page. That way you should be able to set up your Japanese account with fewer problems than I experienced. If you speak no German or French, try setting up all those accounts at the same time.

During the set-up process, you need to “claim” all your books, so they can be linked to your Author Central pages. For each book, there are two tabs: Book Details and Editorial Reviews. The Book Details are automatically provided by Amazon, but you can enter a lot of information in the Editorial Review tab: there are separate categories for reviews, product description, notes from the author, information from the inside flap, information from the back cover, and you can also add an author biography. I only entered “product information” so far on all my Author Pages, so I have more work to do.

Before you sign up for Author Central accounts and set up your Author Pages, check out your book listings on all the 14 Amazon websites. I am selling all my books on all Amazon sites (except China), so I was surprised to notice that the availability of my books differed on the various Amazon sites. This had to do with the fact that I “retired” the first edition of “the Vegan Tourist: Vienna” – I want customers to buy the 2nd, updated edition, and not buy the outdated first edition by mistake. (If you retire a print-on-demand self-published book, no more copies will be printed.) But there was some mix-up in regard to the editions, so at this time the first edition is still available on some Amazon sites, while the German-language edition shows up as unavailable on one site. There are a few other issues that I still need to take care of in regard to my book listings, and I am working with Amazon’s (very helpful) customer service representatives to correct wrong information for book listings on 13 different Amazon sites. I should have done this a long time ago, and am only now realizing that I need to pay more and closer attention to all my book listings. This is a prerequisite for all press & public relation activities, and I didn’t really start paying attention to my book listings until a few days ago. Don’t make the same mistake I did, and make sure that your book listings are all correct and up-to-date before you set up your Author Pages.

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Goodreads Author Program

When I finished writing The Vegan Tourist: Vienna and started to promote it, I signed up for the Goodreads Author Program.

Goodreads is basically an online book club. The site was launched in 2007, and it is described as “the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.” But Goodreads isn’t just a great site for readers, it also helps authors promote their books through its Author Program.

Authors get their own Dashboards on Goodreads, where they can present themselves and their books. They can answer questions from readers, write a blog, and list their books in the “giveaways” program. After I listed one copy of The Vegan Tourist: Vienna as a giveaway, almost 600 people requested it during the two-week promotional period. That’s pretty good exposure for a non-fiction book aimed at such a specific, small target audience. (Several thousand people sign up for works of fiction).

Both readers and authors can join numerous groups, where they can connect with other readers or writers. I joined the “Mystery, Crime and Thriller” and the “Historical Fictionistas” groups, and the “Indie and Self-Pub Book corner.” I also joined the “Promote Your Self-Published book” group, which gives writers the opportunity to promote their own books to other members of this group.

Ever since I joined Goodreads, I read more (and watch less television). Being able to promote my own books on this site is a bonus. It’s a great way to connect with readers.

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Self-Publishing: Promoting Your Book Takes A Lot of Time

When you self-publish a book, the work isn’t done when you finish writing it, and finally manage to publish it. About half of the work involved in the self-publishing process is still ahead of you: promoting your book.

When I wrote and self-published The Vegan Tourist: Vienna (and a German-language edition, The Vegan Tourist: Wien), I knew that this book would never be a best-seller. It’s a restaurant guide for vegetarians and vegans visiting the City of Vienna. That’s a very small target audience, and I knew that I would never be able to count on book royalties from The Vegan Tourist: Vienna as a means of income. But I didn’t care. I started writing the book shortly after I became a vegan myself, after 29 years of living as a vegetarian. I wanted to learn about the various (non-food) aspects of veganism, and explore everything the city had to offer for vegans. Since I was doing all this research anyway, I decided to write a book about it as well.

I decided on self-publishing early on, before I wrote a single word. During a business trip to New York City, I bought books about self-publishing, and the whole process immediately appealed to me. I like learning new things, doing them step-by-step, and I don’t mind making mistakes along the way. I decided to self-publish through Amazon’s Create Space platform, and loved the whole process. I plan on writing many more books, and plan to self-publish every single one of them.

But as I pointed out at the beginning, you’re not done when you finally manage to publish your book. Self-promoting it is a huge part of the whole publishing process, and I am only just beginning. I’ve learned everything I needed to know about self-publishing, now I need to learn about self-promoting books on the Internet. I am impressed (and a bit intimidated) by all the options available to me.

The Vegan Tourist: Vienna has such a specific target audience, anyone who searches for “vegan Vienna” or “vegetarian Vienna” on Amazon, will immediately find my book. It comes up as the first search result (or nearly first, if you type “vegetarian”), and everyone searches for books on Amazon these days. Vegans, who are looking for a restaurant guide about Vienna, will find my book, guaranteed.

So my self-promotion efforts aren’t primarily aimed at this particular book. I am using The Vegan Tourist: Vienna to learn about the whole online promotion process while I write my next book, which is a work of fiction. By the time I finish my second book (in about a year, I hope), I should have a Press & Public Relations plan all worked out – something I am lacking right now.

Self-publishing a book is a lot of work, and if you are not prepared to learn every single aspect of it, and do all the work yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it. Are you just starting out? Are you writing the very first words of your first book? Learn now how you can best promote it, not after you finish writing it. Do not underestimate the time and effort necessary for this step of the self-publishing process. My advice would be to set aside as much time for promotion efforts as you use to write your book.

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