Self-publishing 101

  1. Looks like a good bookWrite a good book and finish it. Do not even consider self-publishing until it’s finished, with good cover art and editing.
  2. Write at least two and up to five more books before releasing Book One, even if it’s in another genre – nothing sells Book One like Book Two, Three, etc.
  3. Give the first book to beta readers for evaluation – give them a time to return it to you with their critiques/evaluation.
  4. Hire an Editor (there’s a list in Files)
  5. Find Cover artist (there’s a list in Files). If money is tight, find an artist you like and see if they offer pre-made covers.
  6. If you’re not a geek, hire a formatter (A good formatter will prep for all sites.)
  7. Write your bio in something like Wordpad (text files are easy to copy paste.) Write it in the third person, as if someone else was describing you. Try to keep some of it light and a little humorous.
  8. Write the blurb for your book(s). There is no easy way to do one. Keep it concise – give hints to the genre, make it enticing, give a little information on your main character(s). The object is to entice readers to want to read your book, don’t give away the entire plot. (ex. Jack, an expert hill-climber, and Jill, a novice, are climbing a difficult hill, will they make it to the top?)
  9. When the book has been edited, the cover is complete, it’s time to set up promotion. (*grins* List in Files, but apply to Bookbub or E Reader News Today)a.) Set up a release date for at least three weeks in advance. b.) Decide whether to use Kindle Direct Publishing Select (recommended) or other venues. c.) Decide whether to do a pre-releasec.) Send out ARCs (Advance Release Copies) to other authors, bloggers, etc.d.) Decide which promotion sites to use (List in Files)e.) Do a cover releasef.) Set up an event page – with your blurb, the inspiration for characters – and offer a free copy as a prize for one of the people who responds.
  10. Post to Amazon KDP Select.
  11. Categories (genre/subgenre. See list of BISAC codes here in Files. Ex. Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, and the subgenre – Fantasy *Urban* or *Epic* or Mystery *hard-boiled*) and keywords (special tags that describe your book – Fantasy – Epic – keyword Arthurian or Sword & Sorcery.)
  12. Use the Kindle Select free days – split 3-2. (Save the two spare days for a special occasion or to boost sales)
  13. Set up an Author Central page on Amazon.
  14. Set up a separate Facebook author page.

Take off the check-mark to automatically re-enroll in KDPS if you choose. Upload to other sites – B&N, Kobo, D2D, Smashwords when your Select days are finished.

Pinterest – A picture is worth a thousand words

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially with Pinterest. This is where having a great cover makes a tremendous difference.  An intriguing cover will draw the interest of Pinterest viewers As with all social media, though, it is social media. It’s not just about promoting your books, but about getting to know you, the author, so you need to post more than just your covers. Post about you. What inspires you as a person or what inspired your book. Upload pictures of your pets. Post anything that intrigues you. If you write historical romance or steampunk, post pictures of clothing or carriages. If you write fantasy, then include images that will bring viewers into your story.

Pinterest

So, how do you use Pinterest?

  1. First, you have to join Pinterest and create a profile. Remember that your listing is to promote your books, so use your pen name or call it Author John Smith, or Jane Smith’s Books. Pinterest provides a location for adding your webpage or Facebook page listing.
  2. It will also ask if you want to add the “Pin it” Pinterest button. Add that button. It will make it much easier to add images.
  3. Pinterest supplies a few standard ‘boards’ where you can add listings like Favorite Places and Spaces or Places I’d like to go, but there is also a box at the left with a plus sign in it where you can add/create your own boards. Add one for your cover art, for instance.
  4. To add your images go to the board you created – Cover Art – or – Images for Books – or Recipes – or Pets. Now the box with the plus sign will say Add a Pin.
  5. To add an image from your computer click the plus sign. It will ask you whether the image is found on the Web, Your Computer, or Pinterest. If you’re reasonably computer literate, choose the appropriate location and find your image. Otherwise, use the Pinterest Pin It button.
  6. Do you want your cover art linked directly to the site where your book is sold? You can. Using Amazon as an example, go to your book page and click the Pinterest button. It will bring up a number of images, including one for your book. Click on it, and it will say “Pin It”. Click on that and it will give you a drop down menu listing all your Boards. Choose your Cover Art board (or whatever you called it). It will also give you a box with a link where you can add a brief description of your book.
  7. To return to your page and your other boards, simply click on the name you called your page.
  8. Remembering that Pinterest, like Facebook and Twitter, is a social networking site, connect to other pages. On the upper left is a search box. Search for Indie, Self-published, your genre(s), and add them.

Pinterest, like all other social networking sites, can be a bit of a time sink. It’s worth it at first to learn how others use Pinterest, and to add pins from other sites to your boards. If you hover your mouse over the image it will allow you to choose Pin It, Send (to Google+, G-Mail or Yahoo) or Like (a heart). If you Like it, it will show up on your Facebook page.

If this all seems overwhelming, schedule one day a month for updating Pinterest, it’s not a site that requires constant maintenance. Everything you add, though, helps readers connect with you.

Indie author group roundup, week ending 26th January

Welcome to this weeks’ ‘weekly round up’. Featured moderator of the week is Valerie – please pop on over to her profile and say hiya, ask a question, let her know about your favorite book of hers. She loves to talk to other writers and readers!

It’s been a busy week here at IAG HQ, with blog updates and new features for writers that blog for us regularly.  Now your profile can include your Amazon page link (after a minimum of one submitted article, you can have a login for the site), and we’ll soon be adding a way to feature up to five books on your profile.  All you have to do is create a post for us and the bio and links back are all yours!

This week on the Indie Author Group

We’ve had some amazing questions on the group.  Some really good answers too, so do click through and read the comments and add your own!
Rick Gualtieri asked where your sales are split by market.

Isabelle Leroux asks about Songs in Books.

Christina Bates asks if you indent character dialogue.

Great advice from Valerie Douglas about Proof copies….

A discussion on ‘unexpected character moves‘ by Elaine Angelus Kehler

And Do you need an MFA to write?  by Peter Bahi

 

This week on the Blog

We’ve had a fairly quiet week on the blog, but we did launch a whole new column type – the Quick Indie guides to….
Twitter!  We’ll be sharing a new one every Friday.  Next week is part 1 to the Facebook guide.

This week in the community and beyond

Rachel Thompson says ‘If you’re not reading Indie books, you’re missing out…’

Mark Coker offers predictions for 2014 from Smashwords.

Chuck Wendig features a fun flash fiction challenge and “something, something blah blah author income.”

Universal Grammar from Tzarzul Nicolai.

Featured community.

NEW feature – every week we’ll highlight a subgenre community.  This week it’s the turn of the Sci-Fi community.
WE’ve got some great sci-fi writers there, who love to talk hard and soft sci-fi, world building, writing and more.  Come join in! (all of our groups are featured here)

Featured Quote

 

King-on-writing

Find more at The Daily Write.

Weekly roundup, week ending 19th January

Last week’s roundup

Every week, one of the IAG moderators will round up what’s gone on, on the group and in the Indie community as a broader view.  If you’ve been busy writing, editing, or promoting, let us catch you up and find conversations and blog posts that should interest you and dive into the information you’re really keen to see.

On the group

Nikki Broadwell started a conversation about Createspace versus LSI last month, which concluded here.  All great information if you’re stuck with the decision.
Valerie Douglas shared a link discussing Pintrest and what it can do for writers.
Denise McGee shared a ‘How to write a one page synopsis’
Alison S Moore asks how a writer can get the most out of Goodreads
Brian Margraff asks whether free or deeply discounted is better (there will be at least one post on that in the coming weeks on the blog!)
We discussed an Eventvwr scam, raised by Valeire Douglas
KDP formatting tips from Rik

Resources and more

We’ve been cleaning up and setting up discussions on the Subgroups.  Come join us and see if there’s anywhere you’d like to join!

On the Blog

We launched our Twitter listing – come and join in (but read the instructions first!)
Formatting by Paul Kater
The Four E’s of Indie Publishing, by D Kai Wilson-Viola
The blog Two Midlist Indies merged into the archives 🙂

In the community

A great article from Bookbub partners – 5 Test Results To Help You Market Your eBook
Hugh Howey’s 13 Publishing Industry fixes

Repinnable images

Posted by Valerie Douglas, originally from the Random House page.

readers

 

Until next week,
Kai

Don’t just sign, read the contract

Contracts

Everyone has been getting very excited about the new options available to Indie writers – KDP Select and iBooks. I’ve been a little surprised by how few people really understand what they’re getting into, really look at the contracts they’re effectively signing, despite all the fuss some people kicked up about KDP. Remember that – a few weeks ago? OMG, they are the devil, they’re requiring authors to be exclusive with them! (Only for 90 days.) They’re big corporation taking advantage of authors!

Then Apple came along and upped the ante with  iBooks – there’s a clause in their contract that implies you might be signing away the rights to your work for the ‘life of the book’. That’s a lot longer than 90 days. According to their reports they signed something like 90,000 authors within days. I wonder how many understand all the procedures necessary to get their book back, should they so decide? And that’s the price of not reading the contract.

Now I won’t say I understood all the clauses in the KDP contract when I joined but I did read it. I understand the basics of it and the iBooks contract. If you elect to go with either you’re obligated to be exclusive to them. That means that before you sign with them you must take your book down from any and all sites where you had it uploaded, not after.  And when they say all, they mean all – Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, anywhere. There’s also a clause that goes like this – “You must set your Digital Book’s List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book.”  And another that states that they can change the price at any time. So if you had it listed elsewhere for $.99 cents but raise the price prior to uploading to Amazon, they can and probably will list it at the price you had listed elsewhere.

Another clause that’s common, certainly with Smashwords and KDP, is that the reader will get the version they purchased. If you uploaded a newer version in between purchase and download, or if they’re reading a downloaded version on-line from Smashwords or the Cloud then that’s the version they’ll get.

You can make changes, but according to the contract it may take as many as five days before the changes show up on the system. (I have to say in my case they did update my version within 12 hours but not the ‘Look Inside the Book’ feature, and I’m okay with that.) Unless you specifically write Amazon and ask them to send the change to those customers, they won’t. With hundreds of thousands of books it would be cost prohibitive for them to do so. Oh, and by the way, they can make changes, too. Yep, that’s in there.

So be smart, read the contract, understand your obligations. And then sign up.

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Sign of the Times?

English: Eslite Bookstore in Taichung Chung-yo...

Image via Wikipedia

Okay, I’ll admit it, it’s been a while since I was in my favorite bookstore. (That picture isn’t it, by the way. ) Even so, I was shocked.

Where were the fiction books?

They were tucked away in a back corner of the store on the second level.

Oh, there were the New Release tables on the first floor, and two long shelves of New Release Hardcover fiction, but other than that there was only the discounted book racks. I had to go looking to find the rest.

Nothing on the first floor, only non-fiction, self-help, travel etc.

Children’s and YA were on the second floor as you stepped off the elevator.

Toys now filled the space Mystery had once occupied and educational toys where shelves filled with fantastic flights of the imagination had stood. Philosophy and psychology where Romance had once filled the aisles. (Are they trying to tell us something?) Then, finally, fiction. Four or five lonely aisles in the upper back corner of the store.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I own a Nook, and I love it. I know I’ve also debated a time or two whether to buy the cheaper e-book or the slightly more expensive paperback, and I’ve set down the much more expensive hardcover of an author I collected for years (although it was because their child wrote it, and I’m not sure it’s as good as the parent’s books were). But, but…. but… This was a bookstore! Yes, they were still selling books – but not much fiction. The last time I was there four or five rows was the space allotted to Romance alone, not all fiction. Were they just pushing their latest gadget? What about the folks looking to purchase a bunch of romance novels for their non-e-reader friends?

Exactly who is to blame here? Bookstores or publishers? (It’s not the writers, in most cases we have no power.) Was the low number of print books a business decision on the part of the bookstore? Or was it because the price of those books from the publishers has gotten so high the bookstores can’t afford to keep the stock?

I have to admit that part of my problem with print is the same – it’s too expensive. Personally I believe that’s why so many discount bookstores have popped up and the popularity of e-books has taken off – and not just because of the new gadgets. Like so many other things, movies, sports games, what used to be a cheap form of entertainment has now become expensive and all of that increase can’t be blamed on electronic devices. A standard paperback novel now costs $10 and a hardcover at least $16. Even a Harlequin romance is $5. When mon is tight, that’s a hard hit to the wallet. And they wonder why sales of print have fallen off? It makes far more sense to put your name on the waiting list at the local library…or wait until the TV movie comes out. Books are starting to compete with video games in price – especially if you’re not a re-reader. As libraries close or cut back due to budget cuts that effects far more than just the bookstores or publishers, that effects literacy. Books have now become a luxury where once they were the refuge of the poor.

Rather than making books more appealing or offering more selection – taking advantage of computerization and logistics – instead publishers are increasingly dumping their backlist books rather than pricing them at a discount. Thereby giving more fodder and more fuel to the growth of discount book franchises, e-books and companies like Amazon. A tragedy to all of us who love books, but a blow to the campaign to increase literacy.

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Press Release

Nike's Wings

www.valeriedouglasbooks.com

 

Fall in love with reading this Labor Day

And let an expert writer lead you all the way through till Christmas…

 

Place and date   Multi published Author Valerie Douglas is dipping her toes into sizzling, breathtaking thrillers again with her latest book, Nike’s Wings.  Available from Labour Day weekend, this book will set your heart racing and pull you into a world of desperate intrigue.  A substantial read pulls you into the heart of redemption, trust and honour.

 

Against a backdrop of current events, this fantastic novel takes you deep into the world of ‘Nike’, an assassin’s assassin – one of the inner circle that takes down those that have become too dangerous to remain out in the world.  Nike’s Wings isn’t the usual take on the now traditional leather clad kick-ass heroine with nerves of steel, Nike is an empathic, interesting, engaging character, with a flawed personality that makes her all the more relatable.
Trained by the CIA, she walked away when her conscience started asking questions she could not comfortably answer. The chance has come to find a new direction, one that may bring her face to face with an old enemy. Torn from today’s headlines, follow Nike from the jungles of South America, to the war-torn Middle East, and back to the home-grown battle with the Mexican drug cartels.

Valerie Douglas said “What was the strangest thing for me about Nike’s Wings was learning how much of what I imagined might have existed in reality, exactly as I proposed it, right down to the secret  group within the CIA,” and continued “My success as an Indie author has let me explore new storylines, and given me the freedom to lead others into escapes they may not otherwise find,”

Valerie Douglas has published numerous books across several genres, and enjoys chart topping success with her ‘The Coming Storm’ series on Amazon.  Her books are elegantly written, and get to the heart of the story, while giving readers characters to root for, believe in and revile.  Designed to set pulses racing, and create dramatic worlds for readers to explore, Valerie Douglas is a strong writer that will go far.

Missed out for Labour Day ? You can still grab all of her books from www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.smashwords.com and www.allromanceebooks.com.

# # #

If you’d like to contact or interview the Valerie Douglas please contact her at [email protected] gmail.com.

How to Create a Book Cover – Cheap and easy

Paint (software)

Image via Wikipedia

Cover art requires a little creativity but if you’re a reader (and you must be if you write) you have lots of samples around you in the books you’ve read. Find a cover by a writer whose style is similar to your own, or the style of book you wrote, and look for art like it. Google can help you here.

  1. Google the general description you’re looking for (guy with gun for a mystery, embracing couple for a romance) and go to Images at the top left of the screen. Scan the images that pop up. If nothing clicks, change the wording of your search.
  2. For the cover of my book A Convocation of Kings, I wanted something similar to the cover of the first book, The Coming Storm (at left), which had a simple image of three swords – representing the three main characters. So I typed  ‘three swords’ and found a number of images – including the one I used. Double-clicking will take you to the site where it’s available. (DO NOT USE ART FOUND BY GOOGLE unless there is no disclaimer for copyright. You don’t want your work used for free and neither do they!) Always, always, always, credit the artist in your book, if you know their name. That promotes them and they might just promote you.
  3. There are a number of stock photo sites, Dreamstime and 123rf are the cheapest I’ve found, but there are others. DeviantART is great for images for fantasy novels. Most  charge a nominal fee for groups of pictures – a medium sized image may cost as little as three or four dollars, some quite a bit more. The cover for The Coming Storm I purchased for three credits, about three dollars, from Dreamstime. Many fantasy artists do charge more. One of my most beautiful covers, for Not Magic Enough , I purchased for $60.00 from a wonderful artist I found on the internet.
  4. To adjust your image without it costing an arm and a leg try a free program called Picnik, available from Google. You have to get a bit creative with it – I use the eye color, hair highlights and a lot of other features there as my paintbrushes. If you look closely at the image on the cover of Song of the Fairy Queen, you’ll see that the stone she sits on, as well as her wings, reflect a reddish light and that she has a pendant on a chain in her hand. Both are key elements of the plot of the book. The pendant existed in the original picture but I highlighted it to emphasize it and added the rest by using a combination of red and reddish gold highlights. The effect is subtle but it is eye-catching, and that’s what you want to do – catch the eye. You can also use Microsoft Paint but it’s clunkier. Don’t make your cover art too busy either, because once you add your title and name, they could disappear in all the visual noise. (You can also purchase better photo editing software, but the purpose of this article is to create covers inexpensively.)
  5. Picnik also allows you to add text and has a number of unique fonts available. Don’t get too creative with fonts, it needs to be readable and eye-catching as a thumbnail image on sites like Amazon and B&N amid hundreds of other books. You don’t want people to bypass yours because they can’t read the title or author. And it’s usually best to stick to only one or two fonts (I tend to use only one for a unified look). Oh, ummmm…. it’s been suggested that you should check your ego at the door until you’ve hit the big time. No one knows your name yet, they want the title of your book. That should be larger than your name and easy to read, whether it’s at the top, bottom or sideways. Once people start to recognize who you are, then you can switch things around.
  6. Each of my covers is perfectly evocative of the stories contained within them. It did take some time to find them and a few false starts but the advantage I had and you have is that no one knows your stories as well as you do, so you can find just the right art for your book. And, as an Indie author, you can always change it if you find a better one (In fact I did). Even the big name writers do it with new editions, why can’t you?
  7. If you want to also do a Print on Demand paperback, format the cover art to the size of your book either to 4 X 6 (paperback) or 5 X 8 (trade paperback) in Picnik, that will cover most book sizes, both are easily adaptable to e-books.
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