Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to build a dream Author E.M.S.

Five Scribes Readers, I’m in awe of our guest today.  Not only is she one of the most generous women I’ve had the pleasure to meet, she’s savvy in the world of IT and marketing, she's an award-winning author, and her newest venture is to—get this—make all of our lives easier.  See if you don’t agree.  Please welcome the extraordinary and talented Amy Atwell.

First off, a very hearty thank you to Donnell and the rest of the Scribes for inviting me today. It’s great to be back!

I recently launched a new website called Author E.M.S. (Entrepreneur.Management.Solutions.).  It’s a dream I’ve had for about a year now.

At its heart, Author E.M.S. is designed to be a one-stop resource center for all questions relating to the business of being an author. From understanding how to build your Amazon Author Central page to how to manage your Twitter feed through TweetDeck, from where to find book reviewers who love steampunk to whether you should use Smashwords or distribute directly with PubIt, we hope you’ll find Author E.M.S. is helpful in providing information, education and perspective.

Where did I come up with such a crazy dream? It’s not what I’d planned on years ago. I’ve been writing with an eye toward publication for over ten years. In the past five years, I’ve watched the publishing industry undergo changes that rival the motion of tectonic plates. I don’t know about you, but my gut knotted when I realized that my cherished dream of being published was in danger of being swept over by a tsunami of digital books and self-publishing options.

I had to come to terms with these changes, these new options, redirect my focus and decide how to steer my writing career. And I do still want a writing career—and more.

Over these past years, I’ve been lucky to make some wonderful friends with other writers. I started the WritingGIAM communities in 2004 as a place where goal-oriented writers could connect and share their progress, successes and challenges.  We got into a habit of helping each other with all sorts of crazy questions from craft to formatting tricks in MS Word to how to figure out social media. I didn’t need every tidbit of this information, but I started storing them “for a rainy day” or whatever.

As my collection of tidbits started to grow, I had emails, Word docs, bookmarked URLs, spreadsheets and more. And then I sold my first book in 2010, and suddenly I did all this info. Only, it was a garbled mess. So I sorted it by topic. I tossed stuff that was now out of date. And my system became so easy to use, I started collecting more tidbits from anywhere and everywhere and tucking them into place.

The offshoot of this was that when people on loops asked questions and I had an answer tucked away, I would grab it, copy it into an email and send it along. Many were surprised and grateful that I had this info so readily at hand.

A year ago, it occurred to me how helpful it would be if there were a library or something where everyone could access these types of little tidbits for themselves. Every author goes through a learning process. Thousands of us are asking the same questions, retracing each other's steps around the Internet, around Google searches, around various loop archives. Thousands of authors spending ten minutes each looking for an answer to the same question is tens of thousands of wasted minutes. If one person found the answer and placed it where others could easily retrieve it, think of all the time saved.

It took a few more days for me to connect the dots. I had a good start on the information gathering, and I had a vision of what it could mean as a tool for others. Therefore, if I wanted to see it done, I had to do it. Deep breath, and last March I pushed my fiction writing aside to build an online library.

So, what's in there?

The Resource Library: Sections of information that are updated and curated regularly. Our sections range from Amazon to WordPress. See them all that our Site Map.

The database of online reviewers (DOR): a fully searchable database (come on, isn't it what you wanted?) of online book reviewers. Search by genre, then drill down by format, release date, publishing platform and more. Watch our video.

Discussion Forums: reserved for authors only, these are broken into topics so you can easily follow just the discussions that interest you. Set the forums to deliver updates to you via email, if you like.

How much?

 Many areas of the Author E.M.S. Website are free to all visitors. We have public pages and a Daily Tips blog (Mon-Fri).  Registered guests gain access to the introductory pages to each of our resource library sections plus our full section on WordPress websites/blogs—all free.

Access to our full library and database is reserved for paid members. We're offering an introductory rate of $36 for a full year of access. $3/month for a full year. We hope the time you save is worth that much!

We are still in the start-up phase. Right now, it's just my husband and me gathering and vetting materials. We plan to grow and grow big. I’m committed to continuing to serve writers as they build their careers.

Amy, thank you!  Social networking for many authors is intimidating and overwhelming.  Not only is Author E.M.S. designed to make our lives easier, it's  an extraordinarily manageable cost compared to what we might pay to join a chapter or enter a contest.  Best wishes on your start up.  Readers, any questions for Amy? 


Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. When not writing, Amy runs the WritingGIAM online community for goal-oriented writers and has recently launched the Author E.M.S. online resource library. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Visit her online at www.amyatwell.com,  Magical MusingsFacebookTwitter and/or GoodReads.


Edie Ramer said...

Amy, I admire your vision and your ambition - and your ability to organize. This is going to be helpful for many writers. I bow down to you!

Amy Atwell said...

Thanks, Edie! I've been uber-organized since childhood. Then 8 years working at The Container Store really sealed it. Now it's second nature to find info and think, "Where do I put that?" And there's SO MUCH information!

Donnell said...

All right. As soon as 8 oclock rolls around I'm calling the Container store. This is an amazing resource, Amy. Thanks not only for coming up with it, for sharing. You could have just kept this to yourself!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Wow, Amy - I'm one of those uber-organized people, too, and I'm amazed at what you pulled together here. What a great way to use your hard work and talents to help others. :)

June Love said...

Amy, I thought I was organized, and then I met you. You work hard to make things easier for the rest of us. Your generosity, your devotion, and your support to writers everywhere inspires me to be not only a better writer, but a better person. Thank you!

Amy Atwell said...

Thanks, everyone. Donnell--I'm not sure I know anyone at the Denver TCS store anymore, but it's a great place to get organized on every level.
Anne Marie--glad you're finding the AEMS site full of stuff. My problem is that I still see so much more on my computer I need to add--and I'm finding new stuff every day!
June--thanks for your kind words. I learned a lot about "playing well with others" from the great examples set by other GIAMers. I hope to pay it forward!

Larissa Reinhart said...

Great post! It's nice to know there are writers running organizations like yours that will know exactly how to cater to our needs. Thanks!

Diana Layne said...

This sounds fabulous! I'm so envious of you having worked at TCS, what a dream job, lol.

Louise Behiel said...

your generosity always amazes me, Amy as does your work ethic. what a wonderful addition to our world.

Amy Atwell said...

I appreciate the shout outs. The Container Store was truly a wonderful place to work. If anything, they encouraged me to dream and dream big. AuthorEMS is still in its infancy, but I'm looking forward to feeding and grooming it into adulthood.

Laura Morrigan said...

I joined AEMS and think it is truly something every author needs!
My debut isn't until next year but I'm glad I'm jumping on the promo/blogging/ everything else info you have on the site!
All I can say is thank god there are organized people like you, Amy, to help people like me!

Sandy said...

Woot! I'm after the info on Tweet Deck. Thanks, Amy. You're a Godsend.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

I'm late to the party. You are creating a wonderful resource and I'm going to take full advantage of this! Watch for me :)

Right now I'm using OneNote to put all this stuff together, but then as you mentioned, I'll spend huge amounts of time trying to find the answer, and not only the answer, but a qualified correct answer.

I'm going to sign up. Yay for you!
~LA one of the scribes