Online Courses Now Available at Professional Author Academy

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to learn more about writing, finish your book or maybe even to self-publish, you’re in luck. I’m now offering online courses on writing, business and publishing for authors of all experience levels, from aspiring to multi-published, at Professional Author Academy.

Here’s a look at the courses:

Business Courses 

Audio Books for Indie Authors
Audio books are the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry and are a relatively easy way to make money on books you’ve already written. The process may seem overwhelming, but Nicole Evelina will guide you through a few of the ways of getting your book from page to earbuds. She’ll help you understand your options for production, the cost involved, how to audition narrators and guide them once you’ve selected your talent, what the recording and editing process entail, and how to get your books out to your audience.

Basic Branding for Authors
When we hear the word “branding,” most of us automatically think “logo.” While that is one part of it, branding is actually so much more. It includes the way people feel when they interact with you, your “voice” both in your writing and online, and the image you project online and in person. In addition, branding encompasses your logo, author and book taglines and the fonts and colors you choose for your web site and marketing materials. Drawing on 15 years of professional experience in marketing and a master’s degree in public relations, as well as her own experience as an author, Nicole will help you understand branding through case studies of authors who do it successfully, as well as offer tips and exercises you can employ to discover your own brand.

Business Plans for Authors
A business plan is a roadmap to success. Whether you’re published or not, indie or traditional, a good business plan helps you in defining your goals as well as action steps you can take to reach them. In this course, you’ll learn an 11-step process for writing yours that will take only an hour or two to complete. Plus, you’ll get to see a real-life example of a business plan from your instructor. You’ll also learn how to set your budget and think through your long-term and short-term goals, uncover additional merchandising opportunities that could lead to income, and plan for your next year’s worth of book releases.

Legal Issues for Indie Authors
Being an indie author is more than just writing and publishing a book. Regardless of whether or not you choose to formally start your own publishing imprint, as soon as you make your first sale you are a business in the eyes of the law. This means you’ll have to pay taxes and make sure you follow local, state and Federal laws. In this course,* award-winning author and owner of Lawson Gartner Publishing, Nicole Evelina will walk you through the ins and outs of copyright, PCIP information and Library of Congress numbers, things to consider when starting your own publishing imprint, taxes and proper business record keeping. *This course should not be taken as legal advice. Please consult an attorney and/or tax expert before taking any action.

Marketing Plans for Authors
In today’s publishing world, it’s not only indie authors who have to handle the lion’s share of marketing their book. Increasingly, traditionally published authors are being asked to shoulder the burden. So where do you start? Drawing on 15 years of professional experience and a master’s degree in public relations, as well as her own experience as an author, Nicole Evelina will lead you through creating your own marketing plan. You’ll learn how to:

  • Get an idea of the market for your genre
  • Research competitive and comparative books
  • Identify your strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats
  • Identify your target audience
  • Develop key messages about your book and yourself as an author
  • Plan what tactics you will use before launch, during your launch and after to gain and sustain sales:
    • Distribution – online and physical stores
    • Getting endorsements
    • Paid advertising
    • Social media
    • Your web site content
    • Guest posts/writing articles
    • Events/speaking engagements
    • Media relations
    • Tapping into online and real-life organizations
    • Using giveaways and ARCs to build buzz
    • Getting reviews
    • Supplemental materials you’ll want to have on hand
  • Measure for success and evaluation of ROi

Nicole will share her own marketing plans with you, so you can see how one looks when complete, as well as provide handouts you can use as templates to create your own plan. Nicole has won international communications awards for her marketing plans and regularly writes them for her day job.

Self-Publishing 101
Self-published authors are more than just writers. We’re our own business managers, sales force, distribution team, marketers and more. This course will teach you everything you need to know to self-publish as a professional and produce books of equal or greater quality than traditional publishing houses.

This course is actually several courses in one, as I offer many of these modules separately. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The benefits of self-publishing
  • How to write a business plan
  • Budgeting
  • How to handle editing/proofreading
  • How to get a great cover design
  • Options for interior book formatting
  • Distribution: Ebooks, print and audio
  • How to sell your book to libraries and bookstores
  • Legal issues for indie authors: copyright, Library of Congress, forming your own imprint, taxes, recording keeping and expenses
  • Marketing and PR basics
  • Your digital media strategy: website, social media and branding

Steps to Self-Publishing
Self-publishing a book is more than uploading it to Createspace and clicking “publish.” There are several steps necessary in order to produce a book that is equal to or better than those from traditional publishing houses. In this course, award-winning self-published author Nicole Evelina will walk you through everything you need to know about professional editing, cover design, interior formatting, production​, sales and marketing in order to make your book as professional as possible. She’ll also teach you how to budget for the expenses involved and cover the advantages and disadvantages to choosing to publish independently.

Web Sites and Social Media for Authors
By now we all know that web sites are a must for anyone who wants to be taken seriously in any field. This is especially true for authors whose sites function as not only as virtual calling cards, but as portals for sales and interaction with fans. In this course, award-winning author Nicole Evelina will walk you through everything you need to do to set up a site of your own, from choosing a hosting company and buying a URL to deciding what information to include and how to organize your pages. She will also show you how to incorporate branding and marketing best practices into your social media. In addition to using her own site and social media examples, Nicole will offer best practices from famous authors and show you how to emulate them.

Writing Courses

Self-Editing
Editing. That one little word conjures a range of emotions in writers. Some love it. Some hate it. No matter how you feel about it, it’s a necessary step to get your novel ready for publication. Nicole Evelina will teach you some tips and tricks she’s learned over the last several years that will make self-editing a much easier step. Highlights include how to:

  • Break your editing into rounds so that you don’t have to tackle everything at once.
  • Examine dialog, description, characterization and action.
  • Use a beat sheet to check pacing and balance of power.
  • Make every word count without having to agonize over every sing word.
  • Use advice from beta readers and contests to strengthen your novel.

Setting and Description in Fiction
Setting and description are key to immersing your reader in the world of your novel. But how do you accomplish this without overwhelming your readers with pages of flowery prose? Nicole Evelina shares her tips for writing description that will leave your readers wanting to live in the world of your book without sacrificing pace.

Writing Historical Fiction
Ever wanted to try your hand at historical fiction but didn’t know where to start? Award-winning historical fiction author Nicole Evelina will show you it’s not as intimidating as it may seem, even if you’re not a fan of research (though it helps if you are). She’ll cover research methods and sources, how research informs plot, how to handle characterization in other time periods, how to bring the past to life, mistakes to avoid, and more. Whether you’re just dipping a toe in the historical waters or have already published in this genre, you’re sure to learn something new.

Convenient and Reasonably Priced
I know what it’s like to try to fit learning into a life already filled with work, family, writing and other responsibilities. That’s why these courses don’t require any homework and can be taken at your own pace. All courses include a welcome video and narrated Powerpoint slides. Many also include a recommended reading list and other handouts for reference or use as a worksheet or template.

Plus, they are cheaper than your average college course, which runs about $1,500/course (at $500/credit hour), or even many Writer’s Digest Online Workshops, which average between $200-$600+. I offer a tiered pricing structure based on the amount of information in each course. You can pay all at once or installments.

Basic – $100/course

  • Legal Issues for Indie Authors
  • Writing Setting and Description

Standard – $200/course

  • Audio Books for Indie Authors
  • Business Plans for Authors
  • Self-Editing

Advanced – $300/course

  • Branding for Authors
  • Website and Social Media for Authors
  • Steps to Self Publishing

Premium – $500/course

  • Marketing Plans for Authors
  • Writing Historical Fiction

Premier – $1,000/course

  • Self Publishing 101 (This course is several courses in one, including Steps to Self Publishing, Business Plans, Marketing Plans, Legal Issues, Web and Social Media. If you bought the classes separately, you’d pay $1,400.)

To register, just head over to Professional Author Academy.

Stay Up to Date
I’m planning to add new courses several times a year, so if you’d like to be notified when there is a new course or a current course goes on sale, please sign up for my course newsletter.

Future Planned Courses

  • Advanced Author Branding
  • How to Use Pinterest to Develop Your Story and Career
  • How Acting Can Make Your a Better Writer
  • Public Speaking for Authors
  • Starting Strong: Tips for Honing Your Novel’s First Chapter, Page and Line
  • Resources for Self Published and Hybrid Authors
  • Working with a Publicity Company: What You Need to Know
  • Building Strong Characters
  • How to Write a Query Letter That Goes You Noticed

If you have any suggestions for future courses, please email me at nicole[dot]evelina[at]att[dot]net. I’d love to know what you want to learn about!

And please spread the word about this new resource to all the writers in your life.

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Madame Presidentess is Now Available in Audio

 

I’m so excited to share that Madame Presidentess is finally available as an audio book!

It is narrated by the amazingly talented Melissa Frank.

Here are the buy links:

 

iTunes takes longer to load things, so I’m not sure when it will be available there. I’ll add it as soon as I find out.

I’m in the July/August Issue of Ind’tale Magazine

Just wanted to let everyone know I’m all over the July/August issue of Ind’tale Magazine.

  1. I have an article on how to do your own writing retreat. (p. 38-40)
  2. Daughter of Destiny (p. 132) and Been Searching for You‘s (p. 133) audiobooks are reviewed.
  3. I have an ad in there as well. (p. 41)

Happy reading!

 

Camelot’s Queen Now Available in Audiobook

Camelot's Queen Audiobook IIAt long last, I’m pleased to tell you that Camelot’s Queen is available on audio book! Narrated by Serena Scott Thomas, who also narrated Daughter of Destiny, this book covers Guinevere’s life as Arthur’s wife and queen of Camelot.

At the moment it is available on Amazon and Audible. iTunes usually takes a few months to approve books, so I’ll post that link when it becomes available.

Here are the buy links:

amazon-logo-icon audible_icon_125px

Happy listening!

Been Searching for You Audio Book Now Available

Bean Searching for You AudiobookSo excited to tell you that the audio book of Been Searching for You is now available on Amazon and Audible. (iTunes tends to take about six months to approve them, so when it’s available there, I’ll add the icon to the book’s page.)

I LOVE this audio book. I mean, the Guinevere ones are great, but Ashley Clements did a phenomenal job in her narration. Her reading makes the book even better. I mean, when I listen to it, I feel like Nora Roberts. And there are so many places where I feel like she pulled the tone and voices straight from my head, so you get to hear it exactly as I intended it.

And one more plug for Ashley: if you haven’t seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, go to Youtube or Amazon now. You will laugh until you cry. And keep an eye out for her in both Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party and the romantic comedy Non-Transferable coming in the near future.

Ashley Clements to Narrate Been Searching for You Audio Book

Ashley ClementsI am beyond thrilled to announce that the audio book of my romantic comedy Been Searching for You will be narrated by Ashley Clements! She’s best know as the star of the Youtube series The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (and its book and audio book spinoffs), for which she won a Streamy award for Best Actress in a Drama. She has also narrated an audio book by Gemma Halliday and appeared in the series Muzzed, the Musical. Soon she’ll be starring in the romantic comedy Non-Transferable and playing Charlotte Bronte in the series Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party.

If you’ve seen The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (or listened to the audio books) you know she’s a one-woman powerhouse of voices and characters. If you haven’t, get to Youtube or Amazon Prime now and watch this series – it’s a hilarious modern-day retelling of Pride & Prejudice in vlog format. You will NOT regret it. That’s how I fell in love with her.

I originally had a British actress in mind when I wrote the character of Annabeth in Been Searching for You, but when I saw Ashley, I actually said out loud “Oh my God, that’s Annabeth!” And she’s been my dream choice even since. Who knows it if will ever be made into a movie, but at least I’ve got my dream Annabeth doing the audio.

We’re working with Deyan Studios and ACX to bring this audio book to you. I’m hoping to have it available on May 10 when the print and ebook versions are released, but you never know what may come up. More information as I know it.

Ashley, thanks so much for agreeing to work with me on this book!

Daughter of Destiny Audio Book Out Now + Netgalley

Daughter of Destiny AudiobookFinally, after a month of wrangling with SAG, the audio book of Daughter of Destiny is out! Here are the links for Amazon and Audible. I don’t think it’s up on iTunes yet, but it should be soon. Because of my deal with ACX, those are the only three places you’ll be able to find it. If you join Audible and buy my book first (free trial doesn’t count), I get $50, so that’s the method I selfishly recommend, but please use whatever method is best for you.

The book is narrated by Hollywood actress Serena Scott Thomas. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she is actress Kristin Scott Thomas’ sister. Or you may have seen her in the Bond flick The World is Not Enough, the Oscar-nominated Inherent ViceNash Bridges, Nip/Tuck, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  She’s a native of England, so her accent is not only perfect, it’s authentic! I hope you enjoy her performance as much as I did. She’s got all the characters down just like they sound in my head!

Serena has already signed on for the other two books in the trilogy and we’re in the early stages of production for the audio of Camelot’s Queen. More to come as that unfolds.

Netgalley
Those of you who want a free look at Daughter of Destiny (in exchange for an honest review) should check out Netgalley this month. It’s available for download all month. Please, please, if you take this option, leave a review if you liked the book. That’s the whole point of making the book available there.

Web site Updates
Between coughing fits, I’ve been updating the site to include things of interest to those who have already read Daughter of Destiny. You can now read deleted scenes and help me cast the book over on Iflist. I’ve filled in who I picture for the characters, so I can’t wait to see how you see them!

Book Clubs
A reminder that if you’re in a book club, I’m happy to visit with you in person or via Skype. Here’s the link to all the resources for book clubs.

There’s been so much going on that I’m afraid I’ll miss something. But I think that’s everything for now. Once book stuff slows down, I will go back to blogging about history, I promise. There’s plenty I haven’t told you about Victoria Woodhull…

Daughter of Destiny Audio Book and Possible Foreign Translation

One of these days, I will get back to historical posts, I promise. But right now there’s so much exciting stuff going on that I feel like it’s more interesting to talk about that, especially as we’re getting closer and closer to January 1, when Daughter of Destiny comes out.

Serena Scott ThomasIf you follow me on social media, you may have already heard, but last week I signed a three book deal with Serena Scott Thomas through ACX to narrate and produce all the books in Guinevere’s Tale. I am super excited! Serena is a seasoned actress – you may have seen her in the Oscar-nominated movie Inherent Vice, in the Bond film The World is Not Enough, or on Nash Bridges, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Nip/Tuck, just to name a few.

But I didn’t know any of that (other than she’s an actress) when I auditioned Serena – I only knew her voice seemed just right for Guinevere. Let me tell you, she nailed her audition! We signed the contract and I have listened to the first 15 minutes of production (which is the first step in the approval process). I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect Guinevere! She is sooooo talented. I love how she manages to emphasize just the right words and give a special spark to even small, secondary characters.  Anyway, I’m sending a few notes back to her today, and then she will record the rest of the book, which I’ll get to hear around the first of December. That means the audio book will be ready to go on sale January 1 with the print and non-Kindle ebook formats! (Plus, Serena is super nice to work with!)

Foreign Rights
Amazon Crossing (the foreign translation division of Amazon’s publishing arm) has opened its submissions to indie authors. This is a major coup because foreign rights are one of the hardest for an indie author to sell. Yes, a lot of the world speaks English, but who wouldn’t want to read a book in their native language? (It’s got to be easier.) So, I submitted Daughter of Destiny today for consideration. I have no idea if they will accept it or not (partly because it hasn’t even been published in English yet, but then again, some traditionally published authors have gotten foreign deals before their US/UK versions came out). But I feel I made a compelling case as to why Arthurian legend is appealing to a worldwide audience (thank you Tyler T. for your post on King Arthur in Turkey, which helped me make my argument) and why this book in particular would do well around the world. I’m supposed to hear back in 5-8 weeks, so cross your fingers!

Cover Design
My cover artist, Jenny Q., begins work on the cover for Daughter of Destiny on Monday. Hopefully I’ll see something by the end of the month and you’ll see the official cover in early November.

Other Books
While all this is going on, I’ve been editing Camelot’s Queen, the second book in Guinevere’s Tale. It’s not due to my editor until the beginning of December, but I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, so it and Been Searching for You need to be pretty much ready to submit by the end of the October so I can make the December editing deadlines.

My NaNoNovel is going to be the other side of the coin to Guinevere’s story – it will tell Morgan’s story. Once you read the first two Guinevere books, you’ll see why that is important. Because my books are all first person POV, you only see Morgan through Guinevere’s judgmental filter. There is so much that you don’t see because Guinevere was either wrong (but sometimes she was right) or she wasn’t there and so didn’t know how certain things went down. I will release this one only after the last Guinevere book is out because it gives away the plot twists in the three Guinevere books. I would advise that you read it only after reading the Guinevere books for that reason, as well.

Why didn’t I choose to work on Guinevere Book 3 during NaNoWriMo? Well, for one, that one is mostly drafted and doesn’t have another 50,000 words in it (which is the goal of NaNoWriMo), and also Morgan is demanding I tell her story. Once I’ve got her story at least drafted, she’ll be quieter, which means I’ll only have Isolde and a historical woman fighting in my head over whose book is next. Plus, if I get the residency I applied for, I’ll be working on Guinevere 3 at Hedgebrook next year.

Classes
If all this wasn’t enough, I’m currently taking a Margie Lawson class on being an independent author. Next week, I am one of 8 authors who will pilot an online mystery writing course through Hedgebrook taught by legendary author Elizabeth George. (Fun fact: 5 out of 8 of the pilot authors were in my Hedgebrook class with Deborah Harkness!) “But, Nicole,” I hear you say, “you don’t write mysteries. Why are you taking this class?” Ah, good question. Besides the fact that it’s an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the best, there is a mystery in Isolde’s story, so I want to learn how to do it right.  And you know, I’m crazy and have to fill up my-non day job hours with as much as possible!

So, enough about me. What are all of you up to? Any thoughts/questions on the above? We’re getting closer and closer to publication, and 2016 has many exciting things in store, so I can’t wait to share it all with you. And thank you all again for all of your support!

Don’t forget to pre-order Daughter of Destiny on Kindle or mark it as want-to-read on Goodreads.

Confessions of an Audio Book Junkie

This was taken in my kitchen. Because you wanted to know that, right?

This was taken in my kitchen. Because you wanted to know that, right?

When I don’t have an audio book going, I get the shakes and my personality…well, it’s a little jumpy, too. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t listen to the radio in the car. I’d much rather have an audio book (always unabridged, please).

It all started nine years ago when I had a horrendous commute to work. It was (on a good day) about 40 minutes to an hour, almost all in stop and go, cut-you-off-constantly highway traffic. To ease the stress level, I started listening to Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who mystery series (thanks, dad!). Then I went all the way through the Harry Potter series (best narrator ever!). Since then, I’ve done the Hunger Games trilogy, The Chicagoland vampire series, Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instruments and many others that way. One of the best compliments I can give an audio book is when I can’t to get back in the car to hear more.

Needless to say, it saddens me to hear that some people still don’t consider audio books “real” books or a legitimate way of consuming literature. Why shouldn’t they be? For thousands of years, listening to storytellers, bards and minstrels was the only way to know a story. Comparatively speaking, this eyes-across-paper/screen concept of reading is relatively new. Heck, even in the early 1900s, a lot of people got their stories via radio. I think, as humans, we’re wired to want to hear stories. Think about when you were little. The first stories you encountered likely were read to you by your parents.

That’s not to say that reading doesn’t have merit or isn’t important. Of course it is. I still have at least six paper books going at once (fiction and non-fiction). But the truth is, I’ve found that audio books help me read twice as much at any given time. While I have the hard copy book for times like lunch or before bed, I’ll have another book in audio form for when I’m in the car, cooking, cleaning house, folding laundry or working out. I love that it gives me more time to read, as it were. In some cases, I think audio books even help me to appreciate the poetic quality of writing better than reading ever could (The Thirteenth Tale and The Shadow of the Wind come to mind for those).

The main downside of audio books for me is that it’s not easy to rewind or “flip back” to something if you need clarification or have forgotten who is who. That’s one reason why I’ve found non-fiction doesn’t work for me in that medium. I can only do fiction. That and having to remember which track I was on when I switch from the car to listening in my house is a pain (my car only takes CDs) The price can also be a deterrent, but the cost has decreased dramatically in the last few years. I get most of mine from the library anyway, so they’re free.

The biggest thing that makes or breaks an audio book for me is the narrator. At the time Twilight first came out, the audio book version was terrible. Seriously, the worst I’ve even encountered. Thank goodness I had already read the book (yes, I did that one in both versions – that’s how obsessed I once was), otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to tell who was speaking. The actress didn’t vary her voice for characters at all. I’m hoping with the success of the series, that they’ve re-recorded it. The best narrators I’ve encountered (besides Jim Dale, who did Harry Potter and is in a class by himself) are Jennifer Ikeda (A Discovery of Witches and its sequel) and Khristine Hvam (Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequel). If the actor or actress can bring the characters to life and make you feel emotions with their voice, you’re in for one hell of a ride. (I envy people who can voice act.)

I’ve been wondering about the future of the audio book lately, especially with the popularity of e-readers (I don’t have one yet, but am slowly heading that way). Someone pointed out to me that audio books likely will continue to be produced, if for no other reason than to give the visually impaired an alternative to Braille. (I hadn’t thought of that. What a wonderful reason!)

As for whether it is “real” reading, that’s a debate that’s likely to continue for some time. I say, reading is wonderful, so do it in whatever form you can.

What about you? Do you listen to audio books? What are some of your favorites? Do you consider books you listen to really “read?” Why or why not? If you don’t listen to them, why not?