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.

I Made a BookRiot List (!!!) and Other Fun Updates

So I made my first list today! Bookriot does all kinds of cool book lists, and this one, Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurum: Arthurian Legend in History And Literature, is even cooler because a) it’s about Arthurian Legend and b) I’m on it for Daughter of Destiny! It is so thrilling to be in the company of major award winners like Kazou Ishiguru, legends like Persia Woolley (to whom The Once and Future Queen is dedicated) and my real-life friends like Helen Hollick. Plus, I added Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell to my TBR list.

If that isn’t enough, I’ve got an article on author branding in the November issue of InD’tale Magazine (p.23-27). This article is also the basis of one of the online classes for authors that I’m developing with Teachable. Hoping to have those available to you by the end of the year.

And I have the next to final layout of The Once and Future Queen in my hands. I have two days to proof and index it. If you don’t hear from me for a while, that’s what I’m doing.

Plus, I am toying with the idea of exhibiting next year at Wizard World convention in St. Louis, where Sebastian Stan (the inspiration for Nick in Been Searching for You) is slated to appear. Yep, I’m going to go all fangirl on him. Actually, I’ll be more crazy author “OMG-you-are-my-character-come-to-life,” which I think is worse! We’ll see if it works out.

Oh and speaking of 2018, I found out that the Historical Writers of America conference will be in Rhode Island, which is the major place I need to go to research my biography of Marie Rose Ferron. So that book may be finished much sooner than I anticipated.

On a Mission from…the Muse

Source: Wikimedia Commons: "Uffizi Gallery - Daughter of Niobe bent by terror" by Petar Milošević - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uffizi_Gallery_-_Daughter_of_Niobe_bent_by_terror.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Uffizi_Gallery_-_Daughter_of_Niobe_bent_by_terror.jpg

Source: Wikimedia Commons: “Uffizi Gallery – Daughter of Niobe bent by terror” by Petar Milošević – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

While that headline doesn’t have the same ring as a certain Blues Brothers quote, it does get the idea across that I feel like my writing comes from a higher source – and for a purpose.

Lately, I’ve realized that while I started writing books just to tell the stories that were in my head, it’s come to mean more than that. While I don’t intend to start a Hemingway- or Pound-esque writing revolution, there is a deeper reason behind my writing, one I want to make sure everyone knows.

I’ve distilled this into two mission statements, one for each genre I currently write:

Historical fiction: To rescue little-known women from being lost in the pages of history. While other writers may choose to write about the famous, I tell the stories of those who are in danger of being forgotten so that their memories may live on for at least another generation. I also tell the female point of view when it is the male who has gotten more attention in history (i.e. Guinevere to King Arthur).

Women’s fiction: To create strong female characters who are role models for women of all ages in stories that are fun and romantic. These women represent the modern independent female spirit and are meant to appeal to women who feel they are outside of the norm of society whether by age (my heroines are almost always over 30), race, sexuality, or natural inclinations (we all have things that make us feel like freaks, right?). I hope my readers can find something in my books that makes them think, “Oh, thank goodness, I’m not alone.”

If nothing else, I figure this gives people (readers, potential publishers, etc.) an idea of what to expect from my writing. It also helps keep me focused and reminds me on the bad days exactly why I thought it was a good idea to become a writer in the first place. And yes, it doesn’t hurt as part of my “brand” to know what sets me apart from other writers. (If you want a good resource on author branding, I recommend this post by author Jami Gold.) But did you notice that I listed that last? It’s because it’s not nearly as important to me as making things clear for myself and my readers.

I all of you feel like you know me just a bit better now.

What’s your personal mission statement? No matter what you do for a living, it doesn’t hurt to know why you feel like you’re here, on this planet, in this life. Give it some thought and share with me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

 

The Author Platform or “What Is It You Do, Again?”

It takes more than just writing a great book to get published nowadays.

If you’ve ever explored what else goes into it, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded “author platform.” It’s really just a way of answering the questions, “What is it that you do?” or “Why I should care about anything you say?” Your platform is how you get yourself out there and try to cultivate an audience well before your book hits the shelves. And there’s a lot of contradictory advice on how to do it.

“Talk about your expertise.”

“Be human – show people you have a life.”

“People don’t care about your personal life.”

Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m following a crazy director whose next command/advice will be, “Show me spirit fingers!” (Please tell me you’ve seen Bring It On.)

There are as many ways to build a platform as there are writers, but in this digital age, chances are social media will play a big part in it. I’m by no means an expert, but I am slowly learning as I continue to blog and tweet as a writer. Here are a few conclusions I’ve come to about building a platform/brand/name for yourself:

Not everyone is going to like you. Shocking, I know. For a perfectionist like me, this is tough to swallow. Sometimes when I notice my Twitter number is down or I don’t have as many blog hits as I’d like, I wonder what I said to make people leave or why they aren’t visiting. Then I realize that one tweet or blog post may have made them think they were getting one thing, when reality is really another. Or maybe their timeline was just getting too full. I’m learning to not take it personally. And there will always be people who either flat out don’t like you or are contrary just because they can be.

Being yourself is important. I’m not a writing machine and neither are you. I think it’s important to show that you have a life outside of your writing. I don’t know about you, but I love it when a writer I follow gives me a little glimpse into their real life. I don’t do it much here (other than by recommending books and the occasional manifesto), but I do tweet about my favorite TV shows and bands, in addition to writerly stuff. If you don’t like it, you can always scroll through it, but for me it’s a way to be relatable.

Speaking tours aren’t the only way to show off your expertise. Right now I don’t have a schedule that allows for teaching online courses or going on speaking tours (I hate public speaking anyway), so I’m using my blog to share what I’ve learned while researching. Hence, you get to learn all about the Celts and Arthurian legend. I’m also hoping that will help me find other people who love this stuff and might want to read my books. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see I try to retweet blog posts and other articles on writing that I find valuable. Pay it forward, as the saying goes.

Write about your passion and it will show. For me, that’s Arthurian legend (thank God, or I’d really be in trouble), writing, reading and history. That’s why you also see “non-educational” posts from me: book reviews/recommendations, essays, etc. I also love my cats and to cook, but I don’t think anyone would care about that. But then again, I am trying to expand my blogging horizons. Anyone have any suggestions about other things you think I should write about?

Readers, do you think I’m on the right track? What else would you like to see in this blog? Writers, what’s made your platform successful? What advice helps you? What common “words of wisdom” do you disagree with? I’d like to learn from your experiences, so please let me know in the comments.