RSS

Tag Archives: self-publish

It’s a Process

It really is a process. First the writing, then onto the publishing. My wife recently started a local women’s book club. Her first one was a huge success. She found out that the author of the club’s first read is actually local to us, contacted her and was able to have her attend their first meeting.

She’s traditionally published 10 books I believe. I’m envious that I wasn’t able to attend because she took the group through the entire writing and publishing process.

For instance, she is currently working on a new book. The main character in this book works a trade in which the author really doesn’t know much about. To learn about the trade, she spent a day with an expert and learned enough, enabling her to write about knowledgably the subject.

I’m sure there was more, but that’s what I learned second hand from my wife. J

The publishing process is really what intrigued me the most. First, the author reads back over her manuscript 8 times before she sends it to the publisher. Yes, 8 times. Once she’s satisfied, off it goes. It’s first sent to someone that checks over her facts, to ensure accuracy. Okay, I must admit that this is something I’ve never thought about with the traditional publishing process however it does make sense.

Once the accuracy of actual facts is verified, it’s passed on to the editor and so forth.

Suffice it to say that I wish I could have spoken directly to the author myself. In fact, I’m thinking about trying to find out if I can score an interview with her, so you just might actually be reading one soon; one that I’ve conducted myself.

Another thing that can be said for this is to realize that although this author is traditionally published, she is marketing. My wife said she spoke off and on about her latest book that is soon to be released. Let’s also realize that she attended my wife’s book club. Goes to show that regardless as to whether or not an author is traditionally or self-published, that marketing is a must.

Okay, so no new great words of wisdom in this post. I wish I could tell you more about the process, but I’ve shared what I’ve learned and hey, maybe I’ll find out more from the author soon!

 

Have a good Tuesday! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Cover Design

Hello and a beautiful Tuesday morning to you all. Today’s topic is none other than cover design which I personally feel is a topic I probably haven’t covered enough, if ever.

I will begin by saying this….I always feel you should have your cover professional designed unless you are a graphic artist or know someone who is. Why? Your cover is the first thing potential buyers will see. Chances are that it will go right back up on the shelf if it doesn’t look professionally done. I’m not just talking about the actual artwork itself, I’m talking about the decision as to what should go on the cover and so forth. The professionals are trained with this knowledge, so I say to let them do their job!

On the flip side however I know that cover design can be expensive and well, not all of us have enough to drop on a professional cover right off the bat. So…keeping that in mind I have found an article that will hopefully help.

This article is titled, “Judging a Book by Its Cover.” Unfortunately I am unable to find the author of this article however if you’d like to view it, please click http://www.completelynovel.com/self-publishing/writers-toolbox-cover-design. You will also be able to view a video. Enjoy:

 

“The cover of your book is very important so it’s definitely worth spending some time on. It is probably one of the key areas that self-published writers fall down on. If what you have produced doesn’t look great on the outside then people are going to be much less likely to take a peek inside.

The cover of your book is the first thing people will see – so you want to make sure that it looks professional. Bear in mind the people that it will appeal to: what kind of image would draw in the right readers? Whilst we would always encourage you to be creative and original, you should be mindful of your customers and remember that if someone is looking, for example, for a crime/thriller, there is a certain type of cover that will attract their attention. Emma Barnes, the co-founder of the award-winning Snow Books offers some excellent advice on this theme on the Snowblog. She stresses the importance of a cover positioning a book in its genre:

“Take a copy of your book cover into the store, go to the relevant shelf and see if it fits. Does it stand out? If it does, it’s probably wrong. The blurb and the cover and the writing is unique, but the only way the reader will discover it is if the packaging explains, at a subconscious level, what the words are about. You wouldn’t expect to open a cornflakes pack and find pasta, would you? Same deal.”

Scott Pack, the head of the innovative publisher The Friday Project and a former book buyer at Waterstones also has some great tips on cover design in this short video.

Diy cover design

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create some great results if you have the time and the tools to do so. Perhaps the most important and striking part of a cover is its main image. Take your time to select a good photo and your job will be half done. For even more professional results, programs such as Adobe Illustrator are great for creating graphics. Adobe Photoshop or its free alternative Gimp are excellent for manipulating photos to make them look great.
Although Gimp has a useful online users’ guide, it and the Adobe programs are quite complicated and will require quite a lot of time to learn to use them properly. If you are after a quicker solution it might be worth using a program you are more used to such as a word processor or a simple graphics application. With a bit of time and effort you can produce good results yourself.

Titles – big and bold!

The best book covers, particularly those that are going to be seen as thumbnails on a computer screen as well as across the floor of a bookshop in hard copy, should have a large, easy-to-read title and author name on them. This makes it much easier for the reader to identify the book.
Emma Barnes (of
Snow Books) has some excellent advice on titles: she warns against covers where the title looks “plonked” over the background image. The font and the text spacing and position should be integrated with the image. She also has some helpful rules of thumb to make sure your cover typography observes the conventions of the genre.

Finding Images for your book cover

Perhaps you have a great photo that you think would be perfect for the cover? You can use programmes such as Adobe Photoshop, widely used by professional designers. If you are looking for a cheaper option, there are a few web-based photo editors that you might like to try:

Image Resources

If you don’t have exactly the right photo, remember that the internet has some great archive images that are a great resource. Some you will need to pay for, others are free. If you do use someone else’s image, just check that you have permission to do so! Make sure you get an image that is 300dpi as this is the standard resolution used by printers. To get a decent sized hi-res version of an image on these websites you might only need to pay £5 or less, so it’s definitely worth investigating.

How CompletelyNovel can help

If you publish your book yourself on CompletelyNovel, you can use the CN cover creator for free. If you don’t have your own complete design, you can either choose from a selection of stock images or you can upload your own picture and then add the text.”

 

Get to it! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Amanda Hocking – An indie mega author

I would imagine that most of you have heard of Amanda Hocking. If not, stop what you are doing and Google her. Right now! You will find that she is an indie wonder and should be an inspiration for all of you who are working hard on your novels. Although this is an older interview (2011), I thought it would be a great read.

(Tonya Plank – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tonya-plank/meet-mega-bestselling-ind_b_804685.html):

Amanda Hocking is really something of a wunderkind. At only 26 years old, the Minnesota native has written a total of 17 novels. Since self-publishing eight of those books in April 2010, she’s sold over 185,000 copies, making her indie publishing’s latest star. Most of us are familiar with J.A. Konrath, who, after self-publishing several of his unpublished novels in ebook form and realizing how much more money he could make on his own than with a traditional publisher, became indie publishing’s most vocal champion. But many are quick to point out that Konrath had already been traditionally published when he decided to self-publish, so he already had an established fan base. Hocking, on the other hand, was an unknown, until April 2010.

Here is my interview with Ms. Hocking.

TP: You write a couple of bestselling series – young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Can you give us an overview of those series, what they’re about and their themes?

AH: I have three series out now – My Blood Approves is the first one I released, and it’s about vampires in Minneapolis. There are four books in that series, plus a novella. My other series, the Trylle Trilogy, has the first two books out now, with the third book coming out soon, and that’s my best selling series. Hollowland is the only book I have out now in a series about zombies. This one has a really tough heroine, but it’s still romance-y.

TP: You began self-publishing these series in April 2010, correct? How many copies have you sold at this point?

AH: As of Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 9 PM, I’ve sold over 185,000 books since April 15, 2010.

TP: And are the sales a combination of ebooks and print books?

AH: Yes, they are, but the majority is ebooks through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve sold about 2,000 paperbacks since October, and prior to October, I sold maybe 20-50 paperbacks.

TP: Where all are your books available?

AH: All eight of my books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Several of them are available at the iBookstore and Sony ereader stores, but I have to upload them through Smashwords there, so it takes longer to get them uploaded there. All my paperbacks are available through Amazon only.

TP: How long did it take for sales to really take off?

AH: I published to Kindle in April, and I haven’t sold less than 1,000 books a month since May. So my sales took off somewhat quickly. They didn’t really start to explode until November. I published the second book in my Trylle Trilogy mid-November, and my sales really began to take off after that.

TP: When did you begin writing, and what inspired you to become a writer?

AH: I was always writing. When I was a little kid, before I learned how to write, I would tell stories. But as soon I as capable, I started writing. I filled notebooks and notebooks until I got my first computer when I was 11. It never really occurred to me that I would do anything else.

TP: Who are your favorite writers, or filmmakers or artists, or anyone else who inspires your writing?

AH: I think I draw most inspiration from writers like Richelle Mead and filmmakers like John Hughes. They both really understand the experience of being a teenager and how insistent and intense everything feels, but they’re also smart, savvy, and fun.

TP: Have you been published before or done any previous writing, or is this your first experience being published?

AH: This is my first experience being published. I did publish books through Lulu prior to going to Kindle in April, but I sold zero copies. I did it so I could get copies of my books for my mother to read, but I didn’t think self-publishing was a viable option. The first I ever sold a copy of anything I’d written was in April 2010.

TP: Do you have any “training” as a writer? Did you take any workshops or college classes?

AH: I’ve taken every writing class I’ve had available. I took classes in high school, and I took English and writing classes in community college, but I dropped out of college. I also attended a local writing workshop two years ago.

TP: What made you decide to self-publish? Did you try to go the traditional route at all or did you know from the get-go you wanted to be an indie?

AH: I tried to be traditionally published for about eight years. For years, I’ve listened to a lot of indie music and watched a lot of indie films. In high school, I was obsessed with IFC. But when it came to writing, I never thought it would possible to go that way.

Everything I’d heard about self-publishing is that it was impossible to make a living, reach readers, or produce a quality product. But last year, I heard about how some other authors like Joe Konrath and Karen McQuestion are doing well with ebooks. So I thought that I had nothing to lose. I’d written about 12 books when I decided to self-publish, and I thought it would be better than them sitting on my computer. Worst case scenario, nobody would read them, and that’s what was happening anyway.

TP: You’re so young and you have such an extensive body of work already! What is your daily writing routine?

AH: I don’t really have one, haha. I haven’t exactly figured out how to get into a writing routine yet. I’ve always kind of wrote when I wanted to. Once I get the idea in my head and get it outlined out, I usually just sit and write until it’s done.

So much has happened so quickly, it’s really hard for me to have established a routine yet. Most of my day is spent on the computer, though.

TP: Do you have a day job, or did you have a day job before you became a bestselling author? Or did you start writing right out of school?

AH: I worked full-time in group homes for people with disabilities for the past five and a half years, so the majority of my writing was done then. In high school and right out of high school, I worked as a dishwasher, and then I went to work at the group home. I always wrote in my spare time, but I had to pay the bills, so I had to keep my day job. Until August 2010. That’s the first time I made enough money off my writing that I didn’t need to work anymore, so I’ve been writing full-time since then.

TP: What has been your strategy for marketing and publicizing your books?

AH: I didn’t really have a strategy. I think one of the advantages I have is that stuff considered marketing is stuff that I do a lot anyway. I’ve been active on social networks and blogs for years.
I also send ARCs [advance review copies] out to book bloggers. Book bloggers are a really amazing community, and they’ve been tremendously supportive. They’ve definitely been a major force that got my books on the map.

When I first published, I did do a bit of promoting on the Amazon forums, but they’re not really open to that, so I haven’t really interacted there much at all in months. I hang out Goodreads, Kindleboards, Facebook, Twitter, and I blog. And that’s about it.

TP: How do you handle the editing? Do you hire your own editor or do you use beta readers?

AH: I’ll be honest – when I first started publishing in April, I thought my editing was fine. The first book I published – My Blood Approves – had been read by me about fifty times and also read and edited by about twenty other people. So I thought that all the grammar errors would be taken care of. But I was wrong.

Since then, I’ve tried to utilize beta readers and hire people. But so far, people are still finding errors. It’s not from lack of effort on my part, though.

I am now looking for a professional editor – as in the kind I would get if my book were to go through a publishing house. What I find most frustrating about editing and being indie is that everything else I can do myself. Writing, covers, marketing, etc. But I cannot edit properly myself. It’s just not possible.

TP: You’re now published by a traditional publisher in at least one European country, right? Have any of your books been released there yet?

AH: I haven’t been published yet. I’ve had some offers and some deals made, but the books haven’t officially been printed or put on the shelves yet. I am really interested to see how it all goes when it’s done.

TP: You’re now represented by a literary agent, correct?

AH: Yes, I am represented by Steve Axelrod. He became my agent in August, after I’d been approached by foreign publishers.

TP: What are your publishing goals at this point? Do you want to continue self-publishing here in the U.S. while your agent works on selling the foreign rights to your books?

AH: I don’t know what my goals are right now. Everything has already far surpassed my original goals, and it’s hard for me to figure out what can happen next. I do plan to continue self-publishing, but I’m not turning my back to traditional publishing.

As amazing as this ebook revolution has been, it’s still only 20-30% of the market, and I’m not going to ignore the possibilities to reach the other 70-80% of readers. However, it is hard to compete with what my books are already able to do with Kindle and PubIt.

TP: What are you working on now; do you have any soon-to-be-released books?

AH: The third and final book in the Trylle Trilogy will be out very soon (before January 15th). But that’s the only thing I know for sure right now. It’s really hard for me to set release dates, because I can publish whenever books are ready. So it just depends on how long they take to get ready. But I have many more projects I’m working on.

TP: What has been your most memorable experience in publishing so far? An early review or fan letter, getting contacted by the European publishing house?

AH: I’ve gotten several emails from wives and mothers whose husbands are gone because they’re soldiers and marines. Those ones I think really strike me the most. These people are sacrificing so much, and they’re using something I wrote to escape for a minute. And that really puts the pressure on me to put out something that’s worthy.

TP: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

AH: Write a lot, but read even more. Learn to be open to criticism. And research as much as you can before making a decision about where you want to see your writing career. The internet is filled with information that will help you become a better writer and make better decisions about publishing.

For more information on Ms. Hocking’s books, visit her website, or her author pages on Amazon and Smashwords. Her books are also available at Barnes & Noble.

You can do it too! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Retail stores and the self-published book

Many authors feel they have made it when they are able to walk into a brick and mortar store and find…their book on the shelf! Well heck yeah! This is one big achievement but I personally feel it has a lot more emphasis placed on it than it should. I’m going to go out in a limb and say that I personally feel I’ve made it when my material is being read and either useful to someone or entertaining someone (depending on the subject of course).

Okay, okay. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at me right now so I’m going to give you some info that should make you truly happy.

Yes, it is a hard task to get indie books and/or self-published books into brick and mortar chains however (and yes, there is a however here), times are changing. As you all know, the world is a digital place and becoming more so every day. You also know that many people are buying books online which is precisely why, many of your chains are now accepting *drum roll* self-published books into their online inventory.

Here’s an article on the very subject, right off of the Huffington Post, written by Smashwords Founder, Mark Coker (www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker/ebook-publishing_b_2663965.html):

If anyone doubts the speed at which the epicenter of book publishing is shifting from publishers to self-published authors, look no further than the Apple iBookstore.

Last week, Apple’s iBookstore launched Breakout Books in the U.S., a new book merchandising feature that showcases books from popular self-published authors, including several that have already achieved New York Times bestseller status. The New York Times covered the story last week, as did The Wall Street Journal.

Apple’s merchandising team hand-picked the titles, all of which have earned high ratings from Apple customers.

Disclosure: Many of the eBooks featured were distributed to Apple by my company, Smashwords.

Although the iBookstore has always carried and supported self-published eBooks, last week’s launch signified an escalated commitment on the part of Apple, whose iBookstore currently sells books in 50 countries. The iBookstore first piloted the Breakout Books feature in their Australian store in late November and has since implemented similar ongoing features in Canada and the U.K.

A retailer’s merchandising decisions are among the most important levers driving book discovery and sales. Whether you’re a traditionally published author or a self-published author, such placement can make your book stand out in a haystack of millions of other books competing for your reader’s attention.

Why are retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Amazon giving self-published ebooks such merchandising love?

eBook Retailers and Readers Are Embracing Self-Published Authors

Over the last few years, I’ve written multiple posts here on The Huffington Post articulating the advantages of eBook self-publishing from the author perspective, such as the opportunity to bypass publishing gatekeepers; faster time to market; access to global distribution; higher royalties; and greater creative control. Many other industry watchers have covered the same.

Few in the publishing industry, however, have examined why retailers are stepping up their support for self-published books, and why readers are purchasing them. When we examine the myriad reasons, we see the playing field is likely to continue tilting to the advantage of self-published ebook authors.

Here, I’ll outline why retailers and readers are supporting self-published books, and what it means for authors:

  • Quality. The job of the retailer is to connect readers with books they’ll enjoy reading. The quality of self-published ebooks — measured by reader reviews — has increased significantly over the last few years as indie authors publish with greater professionalism, from editing to cover design to pricing and promotion. The most successful self-published ebooks often match or exceed the quality and desirability of traditionally published ebooks.
  • Low prices. The average Smashwords ebook is priced around $2.99. Readers love low cost books, especially if the quality is as good as or better than what’s released by traditional publishers. High quality books sold at low prices make customers happy, and what makes the customer happy makes the retailer happy. Low prices make self-published authors happy too, because a self-published author earns about $2.00 selling a $2.99 book. In order for a traditionally published author to earn $2.00 per ebook sold, the book would have to be priced over $11.00. Why the disparity? Most publishers pay authors 25 percent net for retail sales, which works out to 12.5-17.5 percent of the list price, whereas self-published authors earn 60-70 percent of the list price.
  • Diversity. Publishers are in the business of publishing books that they think will sell. In the end, the publisher can only guess what readers want to read. By rejecting most authors, publishers deny readers an incredible diversity of high-quality books that can satisfy both large mainstream markets as well as thousands of smaller micro-markets. Retailers know their customers appreciate the broadest possible diversity and selection of quality books. Indie authors deliver it.
  • Readers are the new curators. Readers — not publishers — have always been the ultimate arbiters of what’s worth reading, and reader word-of-mouth drives book sales. In the old world of publishing, publishers and retailers could only guess what readers wanted to read. Today, each time a reader downloads, purchases or reviews an ebook, this data becomes an expression of reader sentiment that ebook merchandisers can mine to identify books worthy of extra promotion. I predict the long-admired gatekeeping function played by publishers will eventually be viewed as detrimental to the future of the written word. Yes, publishers can add incredible value to books, but by making their publishing decisions through a myopic prism of perceived commercial potential, and by pricing their books too high, they’re denying readers great books, and thereby denying authors the readers they seek. These authors are learning they no longer need a publisher’s blessing to publish. Authors are bypassing publishers and publishing directly to readers with self-publishing platforms.
  • Unlimited shelf space. In the old print world of brick and mortar book retailing, retailers had a limited amount of shelf space, so they could only stock a small fraction of available books. In the new world of democratized ebook publishing and distribution, self-published writers have the freedom to publish what they want, and readers have the freedom to read what they want. Unlimited shelf space enables more books to be published, and some of these books will go on to find large audiences.
  • eBooks never go out of print. In the old world of publishing, if a book sold poorly at first, the retailers would pack up the books and return them to the publisher. These returns would essentially force a book out of print. With ebooks, the books are immortal. They never go out of print. They’re always available to be discovered and enjoyed by new audiences. This means retailers can sell them for as long as the author wishes them to be sold. It means every ebook represents a permanent annuity stream for the retailer, the author and the author’s heirs.
  • Sales!. Self-published books are selling. Self-published ebooks are hitting all the bestseller lists. Smashwords retailers are selling millions of dollars of our authors’ books each year, and that makes me happy because it gives our retail partners strong financial incentive to support our authors with new merchandising opportunities in the future.
  • FREE series starters. Many of the bestselling indie authors are writing full-length book series, and they’re pricing the first book in the series at FREE. FREE series starters give indie authors a significant discovery advantage over traditionally published authors who invariably see their book’s full potential squandered by high prices.
  • High unit volume. Follow the eyeballs. Since Christmas, iBookstore customers have downloaded an average of over one million FREE and priced Smashwords books each week. For indie authors, the high unit volume enabled by low cost, high-quality books means that the indie author can develop fans and author platforms faster than traditionally published authors. Apple — like Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Amazon that also produce their own e-reading devices — gains two benefits from every download or sale: 1. They sell a lot of books and satisfy a lot of customers; 2. The millions of hours customers spend each month to browse, download, purchase and enjoy self-published books on iPhones, iPads, Kindles and Nooks make these devices that much more essential to the customer’s life.
  • Rapid publishing helps authors be more responsive to a retailer’s customers’ desires. Indie authors enjoy faster production schedules, which allow them to satisfy reader desires more quickly, or to cater to hot trends before the trends fade. Indie ebook authors can transform their fully edited manuscript into a professionally published ebook in a matter of minutes, and in a matter of hours or days achieve worldwide distribution at major retailers. Most traditionally-published writers must wait a year or more before their book reaches the market (imagine all the missed sales!).
  • Indies are always iterating and evolving. Unlike traditionally published print books which remain relatively static and unchanged after publication, indie authors are iterating their books. As I documented at the Smashwords blog, after R.L. Mathewson uploaded an improved cover image, the book broke out at Apple. A couple of weeks later, her book hit the New York Times bestseller list. Since indie ebooks are immortal and never go out of print, the author can always experiment with different covers, pricing or book descriptions. I document these and other discoverability levers in my free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success. The book identifies the 28 best practices of the most commercially successful indie authors.

The revolution has begun. The self-publishing revolution and it’s big! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

How to promote your book on a low budget

Remember I mentioned that I would give you tips on how to promote your book on a low or shoestring budget? Welcome to the first in my series.

Does the word “touring” scare you as an indie author? Do you see nothing but dollar signs and high credit card debt running through your head? Many indie authors do BUT, this does not have to be the case and yes, you CAN promote your book without raking up the credit card debt and in fact, you can actually tour for FREE. Yes, for free.

Let me introduce the *drum roll* blog tour! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the blog tour. This is a free and exciting way to promote your book. BEFORE I delve into this, let me warn you of one thing. You will find services out there that want to charge you to set up your blog tour. The costs can be big. I found one that offers a paid consultation and then $1000 down to even begin the start of your blog tour. This is not necessary. Should you choose to pay someone to help you, find someone that has legit references that you can contact AND, does not charge you an arm and a leg so to speak.

I’m going to share a video from Stacy Cochran, a self-published author. He will explain blog tours from his own experience, along with other low cost book marketing ideas. It’s about 20 minutes long but well worth the listen!

Happy blog touring!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,