When I began first began my journey as a self-published author, I knew a lot about writing but very little about publishing. I can honestly tell you it's been quite a learning curve, but I have learned so much about so many different aspects of being an author that I don't regret the headaches that I endured during the process. I will always be learning and improving my skills as a writer and publisher, but I can confidently say that I'm in a much better place now than when I started.
Along the way, I have discovered many resources that greatly helped me, and I would like to pay it forward by sharing what I have learned. Below are a few websites that I helped me grow as an author, publisher, and photographer.
I can't remember exactly how I found CreativeLive, but I was looking for online classes to improve my photography skills. This website offers a wide range of classes that teach various artistic disciplines, such as photography, scrapbooking, and drawing, as well as courses that teach you how to run a successful business in the arts. The classes are very affordable and once you purchase the class, you can rewatch the sessions as many times as you like. Each class session ranges from about 30 minutes to an hour, so it's easy to fit the class videos into your schedule. Over the past few years, I have taken classes from amazing teachers like Brooke Shaden, Ben Willmore, and Lisa Congdon.
I think my favorite part of Facebook are the groups. There are a ton of different groups, so I highly encourage you to take your time and find the right one for you. The two Facebook groups that have really helped me are Self-Publishing Support Group and The Authorpreneur Club - Marketing for Self-Publishing Authors. I have learned so much from these two groups, and it's the fastest way to find your answers. Most likely someone has had the same question and you can find what others have said very easily by typing the subject matter in the search box. A list of previous posts will show up and you can see what others have written about the topic. Or, you can simply post your question in the group's feed.
In addition, there are many experienced authors and other professionals from the publishing world who belong or have even started these Facebook groups. From my experience, these individuals have been very generous in offering their insight and knowledge. For example, Eric Van Der Hope (Self-Publishing Support Group) and Lisa Frederickson (The Authorpreneur Club) have frequently helped me when I was struggling to self-publish my book. I do highly suggest that you do your research first and narrow your question so that you don't take advantage of their time.
In a previous post I discussed the advantages to publishing an ebook. One of the advantages to doing so is gaining access to Amazon Advertising. I was initially pretty nervous about running an ad on Amazon because it's very easy to spend a lot of money if you don't know what you're doing. To learn more about advertising on Amazon I watched the videos from Kindlepreneur. Dave Chesson is the founder of Kindlepreneur, and he has a slew of helpful marketing tips. Chesson's videos are very easy to understand. You don't have to be a veteran author to get something about of his program.
I recently purchased his program, Publisher Rocket, which helps authors generate and identify relevant key words and categories. You don't have to purchase Publisher Rocket in order to benefit from Chesson's online classes. However, when you learn how intricate the process is to create a list of keywords, you might change your mind about the expense. In fact, since purchasing Publisher Rocket, I have increased my sales for all of my books and improved my rankings. It's one of the best purchases I have made.
Book Brush is a very handy website for authors who want to easily create professional looking ads for various platforms such as, Amazon, BookBub, Facebook, and Instagram. Before I had learned about Book Brush, I had used Canva and Picmonkey. While those two apps were useful for creating Pinterest Pins and Instagram posts, I found that Book Brush offered more templates that applied to the kind of work that I do, which is creating ads for my books.
As with most of these types of apps, Book Brush does allow the user to try their program for free. In order to unlock some of their tools, you do need to sign up for an account and pay an annual fee. However, the membership fee is about the equivalent to what I was spending per month to use PicMonkey. Plus, when you consider how much money you're saving by not having to hire a graphic designer or pay for stock images every time you want to create an ad, you'll quickly see that you're getting your money's worth.
One of the things that I really appreciate about Book Brush is how easy it is to create professional looking ads and book covers. Once you upload the cover of your book (which would come from a jpeg image), you can insert your book into any one of their mockups, which includes templates for both books and ebooks. I will say that the one complaint I do have about Book Brush is that their mockups and templates work best for books that fit the standard book dimensions. Therefore, if your book is a square, like mine, the image of the book cover gets smooshed. For some of the templates, I have managed to adjust the images so that my book doesn't look as distorted, but it's definitely something to consider if you create books that are square.