Sara Marks
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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

I do much of my research by watching YouTube videos. They are a good way to get an idea of people’s experiences in the world. The YouTube algorithm decides videos to suggest based on what you’ve been watching and then tries to anticipate your next interest. For example, when I was researching MLMs, it would suggest pro- MLM videos and make-up tutorials, neither of which interested me. This is how people deep dive into harmful videos and conspiracy theories. I’ve been waiting for it to suggest the latter to me but it’s not there yet. …


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Photo by Alejandra Cifre González on Unsplash

The real work of being a published author is not the writing, the abuse your ego will take during the editing process, or even the stress of the actual publication (which will be higher for self-publishing authors who do this themselves or pay someone else). For me, it’s been entirely in the marketing of my books. With ten books published and more on the way, I can tell you that I spend more time marketing my work than I do at any other phase. It’s not just marketing the books that are already in the world, but building interest in the others in different phases of development. One of the most effective tools I have for marketing is my mailing list. …


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Photo by Distingué CiDDiQi on Unsplash

If you look at the reviews for my second audiobook, you’ll notice some really bad reviews for the reviewer. That was probably my most difficult audiobook production and one that has been resolved. Last month I shared the basics of creating an audiobook. Today I’ll share the problems I’ve faced and possible solutions you can consider if you’re in the same position.

The most common problems stem from the royalty sharing program. You tend to get newer readers/producers who aren’t as professional as others. I have read about many people losing touch with their reader/producer with others can’t seem to get them to agree to changes that need to be made. I once dealt with a producer who agreed to my original time frame but kept pushing out the deadline longer and longer. …


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Photo by Ursula Castillo on Unsplash

I learned to knit to cope with being broke during my first real Massachusetts winter sixteen years ago. I never considered knitting when I lived in Miami. I didn’t need scarves, hats, sweaters, gloves, or shawls. Suddenly I was stuck in a city that was in a snow bowl. This means it’s in a valley between the hills and mountains and got wicked bad snowstorms. Being stuck inside all day and leaving only to brush the snow off my tiny Civic was a culture shock. This is why I convinced my colleague to teach me to knit.

For many years I could only afford the cheapest yarn, not even bothering to fantasize about natural fibers or fancy blends like cashmere or mink. Sometimes I would splurge for a special project and get a more expensive acrylic, but that would take weeks of saving, and it would need to be a time consuming project. …


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Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

It’s almost the new year and, as I assess my goal accomplishment for this chaotic year, I also reflect on the ways I work to accomplish those goals. Toastmasters has been an off and on part of my professional development. I’ve been a member for at least 10 of the last 20 years. I’ve completed the education program twice, earning the status of Distinguished Toastmaster.

Last week, after my post about outcome and output goals, I realized I can often get obsessively focused on output goals without thinking of them as a means to the outcome goal. When I joined Toastmasters I did it for personal and professional reasons. I was new to a city that was far away from my family. Joining a local organization helped me meet people and I could use professional development funds to pay for my membership when I had very little income to afford other purely social items. …


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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Fifteen years ago I did an immersive educational experience designed to teach librarians how to develop better teaching skills. One of the activities was setting outcomes for our programs and workshops. As we worked on setting these outcomes, we were taught to do two things:

1- to think about what we wanted people to do able to do because of our programs.

2- to use Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs to describe the actions of these outcomes.

I’ve used this process for years when it comes to the work I do in libraries but rarely for setting personal goals. That is until my friend Rona mentioned a workshop she did. The person teaching the workshop talked about setting outcome goals instead of output goals. …


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Photo by Lena Kudryavtseva on Unsplash

One of the first things I considered after I had finished publishing Modern Persuasion, was producing an audiobook to go with it. I love audiobooks. In fact, the vast majority of the books I read are on audiobook. I can listen while I knit, while I clean, while I drive, or while I get ready for bed. I love being told a story just as much as I love reading for myself. As the market for audiobooks grows between Audible, iTunes, and even Overdrive (for libraries), a smart author won’t dismiss the option. I took the chance and a fantastic audiobook was created for Modern Persuasion, my first book. Since then, all my novels and the horror story collections, have audiobooks made. …


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Photo by Leighann Blackwood on Unsplash

It typically takes about 100 hours of practice to create a new habit. After sixteen years of writing, I have so many writing habits and find shifting habits is the key to remaining comfortable with a changing life.

A few weeks ago I shared a post, in the middle of NaNoWriMo, about my anxiety regarding the challenge and my ability to successfully write 50,000 words in one month. Of the past 16 years, there is only one where I didn’t win. It was early in creating my writing habit and I didn’t know why I had been successful in year one. …


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Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Every person I know what told to not judge a book by its cover. I think we all know that we do judge a book by its cover every time we consider reading a book. If a cover is our first draw to a book, it’s critical to make sure you have a cover that communicates the important information about your book. Today I want to share my tips for cover design.

1- Even if you aren’t writing to a market, your book cover needs to communicate the genre and what readers expect to see. For example, romance readers don’t always respond well to illustrated covers. They assume it’s Chick Lit. Science Fiction readers want to see space, planets, or spaceships. Thriller readers want a foreboding aura on their covers. …


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Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash

I decided to self-publish my books in 2017 when, just a month before the release of my first book, my small publisher shut their doors. My romantic ideals of the traditional publishing industry were squashed when I learned they hadn’t finished the cover design, they hadn’t edited my manuscript in the year they had it, they hadn’t done any formatting, and they had done almost no marketing about the release. At the time, I had a decision to make. Do I put the release on hold, or do I try to do it myself in the month? You should know I’m the worst at changing course mid-stream, especially if I’m close to the end of something. I was more willing to learn everything I could about self-publishing in one month than to take a step back and reevaluate my options. …

About

Sara Marks

Sara Marks is a librarian and multi-genre author from Massachusetts. She’s been a self-publishing her books since 2014.

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