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By Ben Cameron, Jan 24 2018 03:10PM

By "Gareth Williams"


There are many reasons why you might want to write under a pseudonym: you may need to protect your own identity if you’re writing non-fiction about something particularly sensitive; or if you want to write books in different genres then you may want a name “brand” for each type of book; or you may associate certain kinds of limitations with your name: you may just not like it, or for publicity and marketing purposes it may be difficult to spell or pronounce, or possibly you may not want to be identified as a particular gender.


In my case it is a combination of the first two. I have written and just published an account of my work in various household name international development charities (and other rather obscure ones) over a twenty-year period, but I am bound by an extremely tight thirteen-point confidentiality clause in the employment contract of my last major job in that sector, which covered three years of some of the most interesting work I had undertaken.


Last year I looked at obtaining legal advice to help navigate my way around the confidentiality clause, and after saving up the necessary cash (this kind of advice doesn’t come cheap), I engaged media and communications legal specialists with the brief that I wanted to make the minimum number of changes necessary to the text of my book, whilst staying on the right side of the law in terms of privacy, defamation and confidentiality.


The resulting advice recommended name changes for the confidentiality-obsessed organisation and all the individuals working for it, and also that I use a different name when referring to myself in the text and as the author, so adding a further obscuring layer between the eyes of the reader and real identities. So ultimately using a pseudonym has freed me up to write in more precise detail using more “real” information than if I had used my own name.


There is also the second reason why for me using a pseudonym is desirable. My international development charity work represents the first employment phase of my life, and I am now embarking on a second career very different to this, and I want to keep these two identities separate, so they don’t clash with one another.


I had thought that making the necessary changes to the text would be the end of my concerns, but at nearly every stage of the pathway to e-book publication I have had to have my wits about me to avoid my identity from being disclosed. Firstly, when compiling the information for the book preamble, I needed to put my pseudonym, ‘Gareth Williams’, as the publisher, and for contact details I put the bare minimum so that they would not easily lead back to me: an old but still functioning gmail account which didn’t contain my real name.


Next, it wasn’t until I was looking at the second draft of cover designs I had commissioned that I realised the designer was using my real name on the cover rather than the pseudonym I had given him to include; so that required a re-draft. Then, more damagingly, the distributor I contracted to load my e-book onto the Amazon, ibooks and Kobo retail platforms included my real name under ‘Product Details/Publisher’, despite the very explicit brief I had given them.


For a few days therefore, my real identity was exposed online until I happened to notice, and sent a stiff email to my distributor demanding they make an urgent correction. I questioned their competence at the time, but looking back on the experience more charitably, I think it just reflects that writing under a pseudonym is a rarity, and therefore publishing industry professionals are not always attuned to meeting such specific requirements; the accidental unmasking of J.K.Rowling’s alter-ego Robert Galbraith being a case in point. Checking someone’s work, even when you’re paying a fair amount for it, would always therefore seem to be necessary.


In my case there were other potential pitfalls: I bought my own ISBN number from Nielsen’s so that I would legally be recognised as the publisher of the material, but once I had registered I needed to advise them that I didn’t want my real name and contact details made available to the industry; I have received a confirmation from Nielsen’s that they are suppressing the data. Similarly, as the publisher, I was responsible for depositing the e-book with the British Library, so I needed to identify my pseudonym as the publisher, to avoid my real name appearing on the British Library catalogue.


Whatever publicity and marketing you are planning to undertake will also need to be “pseudonym-friendly.” In terms of social media, using your own Twitter, Facebook and other mediums will obviously give you away, so you are faced with either foregoing these publicity channels or setting up book-specific accounts solely for the purpose of plugging the book.


In my case I chose to engage Cameron Publicity and Marketing to launch the book via NetGalley and to promote subsequent reviews via its own social media platforms. Whereas most authors would relish the opportunity to give interviews, in discussion with Ben Cameron we decided to treat this with caution, not proactively offering interviews, but being prepared to consider requests on a case-by-case basis, perhaps undertaking them by phone, audio-only Skype, by email exchange, or face-to-face if the professionalism of the interviewer is assured.


Using a pseudonym can therefore help an author to disclose material which it may otherwise be inadvisable to write about, but you need to keep your eye on the ball with any people who are providing a service to you along the pathway to publication, and any publicity and marketing work you do directly may have to be a bit convoluted to protect your real identity. Alternatively, employ an industry professional, but be clear with them what you are - and are not - prepared to do to publicise your book. Good luck!


About the Author


Gareth Williams worked for NGOs and volunteered for campaigning organisations from 1984 until 2001, after which he undertook work on a consultancy basis for NGOs internationally from 2002 to 2005. From 2006 until 2014 he worked in the British trade union movement in the areas of international development and environmental sustainability, and is now pursuing a second career as an environmental historian.


Get his book, Collection Tins, Grenades and Rock 'n' Roll: Twenty Years of Trying to Save the World on Amazon here




By Ben Cameron, Jan 4 2018 12:06PM

By Ben Cameron


Newspapers are one of the key sources of publicity for authors. However very few writers take the time to understand the types of content that make up a newspaper (either the printed or the online version). If you understand what kinds of stories make up a newspaper, you can see where your book might fit in and how to position it to optimise your opportunities. And, if you are working with a publicity company, a decent working knowledge of how papers work will help you to brief and communicate with them.


So, let’s take apart a newspaper and see what makes it tick! Get one and play along if you can - preferably a printed newspaper as it is easier to see everything at once. And the bigger the better, ideally something along the lines of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post or the UK’s Sunday Times.


There are publicity possibilities that all newspapers, big national newspapers or small local ones have in common. Larger newspapers have more opportunities, sure, but there is also more competition for that space and a greater need to ensure that you are pitching the right ideas to the right people.


First, you will find throughout the paper that there are three main types of coverage – news, features and reviews:


News

News is all about the things that are happening now and news can be local, regional, national or international. The fact that you are publishing a book is not news. However it is possible to get a mention for a book or yourself as an expert/author in the news section of a newspaper if your book or personal expertise relates to a newsworthy topic.


Even something like the anniversary of an event that is related to your book can get you into a news story. For example, this year is the anniversary of the end of the first World War. If you have a book about the Great War and have done a great deal of research about it then you need to put yourself forward as an expert. You may find yourself quoted in the news.


Some larger papers also have a separate ‘news review’ section. The articles here are still news-related but can be longer and more subjective. If you are an ‘expert’ with an opinion you can possibly contribute articles or provide in-depth analysis and quotes for pieces in this area of the paper.


Features

Features are articles about a person, place or topic that can contain more depth, emotion or humour than news articles. This includes interviews, personality profiles, topic-related pieces and even photographic features. Features can be ‘longform’, lasting several pages, or very short ‘sidebar’ formats that appear in every issue with a different person or topic each time.


Features are ideal for a book or an author with a backstory or a topic that readers will find interesting. While feature writers may cover many subject areas, sidebars are great for opportunities as you can easily see what the journalist is looking for before you contact them.


Reviews

Turn to the book section of the paper and you will generally see two types of book review. The first are solo reviews where each review is about a single book, usually a major title by an already-known author or expert. These reviews are usually detailed, aimed at people who are already interested in the author or subject and can be quite long.


The other kind of review that you will often find are combined reviews - shorter reviews of 2-6 books about a similar subject or genre in a single article. These reviews have less impact in terms of sales but can sometimes get you that stand-out quote that can help you to sell you book and your future books for many years to come.


Sections of the newspaper

The three types of articles - news, reviews and features - permeate the entire paper, so each section of the paper can contain any or all of them. For example, in business you will most likely find news (the latest company events), features (profiles of people or businesses) and reviews (resources for business people, including business books). The same goes for travel, sports and other sections.


Be sure to have a look at each section of the newspaper and think about how your book may fit in. In a large newspaper you will more or less find the following topics:


News

Travel

Business (companies, management, careers and money/personal finance)

Culture (movies, art, books, television, music, theatre)

Sports

Fashion and Style

Home (cooking, gardening, interiors, buying and selling houses)

And often a magazine (Usually a couple of columns, some long feature articles and a few short features)


These topics are included in smaller local newspapers as well, even if they do not have their own special areas.


There are far more opportunities than you would expect in a newspaper. If you are creative, have a good understanding of what journalists and editors are after and make a great pitch (or hire us to do that for you) you may well get your book in places that you never thought that you would.


Comments or questions? You can contact us at info@cameronpm.co.uk, Twitter: @CameronPMtweets or Facebook: www.facebook.com/CameronPublicity



By Ben Cameron, Dec 22 2017 03:09AM

By Laxmi Hariharan


As authors and entrepreneurs we spend so much time driving our own time and businesses that it is easy to overlook the crucial work-life balance. But there is never a better time to step back from your work than during the festive season.


For authors who are far along the growth curve it is tempting to still push on to hit the wordcount every day, to check the performance of your advertising, to continue to check email, and your KDP dashboard and… yeah, I feel it too!


However, after cycles of creative burn out, and a year when I have been plagued by RSI and other work-related injuries I now understand the value of downtime.


So, as the year draws to the end, these are my tips to survive the festive season and to find the space to recharge in a constructive way.


Vision board

December is a great time to revisit the vision board of your life. It’s a pictorial representation of the life you want and a visually stimulating way to get down your blue sky thinking and a roadmap to where you want to go.


It helps put the past year in perspective, and gives you fresh thoughts that you can mull on during the actual down time days, over Christmas and New Year. I credit the vision boarding exercise with feeding my subconscious mind with enough impetus to help achieve my goal, to becoming a fulltime author.


Whatever stage of the writing cycle you are in, I’d recommend this exercise.


To find out how to create your own vision board click here



Unplug

There, I said it.


We spend so much time online - On social media, and with digital marketing tools to drive our business. The only way to feed the creative energy inside is to unplug over the holidays.


Switch off the wifi, put away your devices, focus on people, family, friends, the trees, the scenery of the place you are on holiday. Anything to get away from the desk, the screen and reconnect with yourself.


It’s okay if you get bored. Boredom is what leads to fresh thinking and breakthroughs. If you can’t do this, then perhaps you can simply carve out portions of the day when you must connect back.


Me? I am not going to be writing or digital marketing during my holiday time. But I will cheat and post pictures on Instagram. That’s my compromise.


Tapping into your subconscious mind

If you have a concept or a plot line that you haven’t quite resolved, then this is the time to mull it over. While cooking the Christmas lunch, or spending time with family or taking a walk on the heath...do consciously pull out the projects you are working on, and think it over. You’ll be surprised how often it will end up in your finding a solution or simply giving you fresh thoughts for your project.


For more on how to tap into the power of your subconscious mind click here



Starting the new year

On New Year’s Eve I almost always put down the five things I want to achieve that year. It may sound new-age but somehow putting down my intentions, seems to kick start the road to achieving where I want to go. Do it, you’ll be surprised. More on this in the next post.


Have any other tips on how to use the downtime over the festive season in a more constructive way? Do tweet me @laxmi and let me know


Laxmi Hariharan is a New York Times bestselling author. Join her newsletter to get her starter library free here


Comments or questions? You can contact us at info@cameronpm.co.uk, Twitter: @CameronPMtweets or Facebook



By Ben Cameron, Nov 20 2017 11:27AM

By Laxmi Hariharan


As someone who is about to move from a full-time day job to becoming a full-time author, self-publishing is a definite yes for me. I did have an agent and had a book published through a mainstream publishing company, only to realize quickly that publishing model wasn't for me.


I found that I had better knowledge of my genre, cover look, pricing and readers than my publisher. I also didn't have any control over pricing, technical issues and received very little money from the publisher beyond the small token down-payment. I found that I liked being in control, including the business side of selling my books.


So, I decided to self-publish. But self-publishing isn’t without it's pitfalls and there are three key marketing questions that I think you must answer to be successful in self-publishing:


Are You Willing to Experiment?


In author circles you hear about a lot of things that work for other authors. Fact is, what works for someone else and their book may not work for you and you probably won't know till you try it. This means that you may have to spend money and/or time on a marketing activity to understand if it can be effective for you.


And then, even if you determine that an activity can be effective, you still need to tweak it relentlessly to make it work as well as possible (for example testing Facebook ads or mailing list services). This is fundamental. If you are afraid of experimenting, afraid of investing money to research then self-publishing may not be right for you.


Can You Enjoy the Marketing as Well as the Writing?


I do enjoy the marketing part of the author business. I like trying out new marketing tools as they come up, all the while knowing that it's helping to build my platform, so the money I spend is not being wasted.


If you view marketing as a chore or an afterthought you will always struggle because you will be doing it half-heartedly. You can hire someone to do many of the marketing activities for you, but even then, you still need to be involved in the process to manage it effectively.


The good news is that marketing really is both fascinating and creative. Many authors who never wanted to market their books have stepped into it to find they are quite effective at it – because they jumped into it with the same passion that they brought to writing their books.


Can You Treat Your Author Identity as a Brand and a Business?


This is tough but essential. An ‘author brand’ helps you to step-back from your book and view your work impartially and dispassionately – so that you make better marketing decisions.


One way to help distance yourself from your author persona is to have a pen name. I admit I made a mistake here - if I had published under a pseudonym it would be easier to take criticism and to treat my author output as a business. If I branch out into new genres, I plan to use a pen name. ‘Till then, I try to keep a respectful distance between me and my author self. It helps bring more discipline to my writing too - while the writing is always personal, treating the author self as separate to myself helps me to focus and write faster.


In the past, publishers traditionally took on the marketing chores for authors so that they could concentrate on the writing. The degree to which that is still true varies from publisher to publisher, but authors with publishing contracts with even the largest publishers are finding that they need to do much of the marketing themselves. It may soon be impossible to avoid marketing your books.


If you are thinking of self-publishing and want to ask me any questions, tweet me @laxmi


Laxmi Hariharan is a New York Times bestselling author. Find her at http://www.laxmihariharan.com


Comments or questions? You can contact us at info@cameronpm.co.uk, Twitter: @CameronPMtweets or Facebook: www.facebook.com/CameronPublicity





By Ben Cameron, May 26 2017 02:20PM

We are very excited to announce a big new live event coming to London on September 23rd!


The Self-Publishing Masterclass is a special full day event that will guide authors through the entire self-publishing process, from first draft to publication date. Led by highly experienced and well-known self-publishing professionals, the Self-Publishing Masterclass will be an invaluable day for any author interested in publishing their book.


Wherever you are in the publishing process, you are sure to get helpful advice and techniques to improve the quality of your books and to find your audience.


Speakers:


•Roz Morris (Author, Editor and Writing Coach): Editing a Manuscript to a Professional Level


•Jessica Bell (Vine Leaves Press: Publisher, Author and Designer): Creating a Quality Product - Cover, Design, Formatting and Blurbs


•Ben Cameron (Cameron Publicity and Marketing): Reaching Your Audience - Book Marketing and Publicity


•Robin Cutler (IngramSpark): Printing, Distribution, Pricing and Metadata


Special 10% off Discount code for our blog readers! Use code CPM10 at checkout!


To find out more and to book your ticket visit www.selfpublishingmasterclass.org



Blog Archive

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  • Book Publicity: Five Top Tips for Success for Independent Publishers

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