Monday, October 29, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS—IT'S ALL ABOUT THE ANATOMY



Getting the book discovered:

   Write a good book

                           Invest in a good editor

                                             Effective packaging

                                                                  Cover art is a selling tool


                                                                         Branding


… of the book. J

Sorry, folks, to tease you like that, but I've been asked to talk about what it takes to bring a self-published book to an author’s readership.


Let me preface this by saying that I’m both traditionally and self-published, and I own a business where I help authors get their books to market, www.formatting4U.com. It evolved because I was listening to authors on my loops talk about paying astronomical prices to have someone else do what I’d figured out how to do on my own. I couldn't see paying for it; I also couldn't see paying what those authors were talking about to have it done. So, I popped in to the conversation, said that I’d do it for $XX and dontchaknow? A few people contacted me.

The business has grown from a part time, help-out-my-fellow-author-and-earn-some-cash-doing-so hobby, to a business that I’m hoping to make full time. It’s grown from formatting books for Kindle, Nook and Smashwords, to more platforms, to doing print-on-demand layouts, to covers (both electronically and print), to editing, to PDF-to-text conversion, children’s books, and text books, services all requested by my growing client base. (Testimonials are at: www.formatting4U.com/testimonials).

The hardest part, of course, is writing the book...


So what all is involved? First, you have to start with a clean MSWord document. There are numerous theories and practices out there where people say you shouldn’t use a Word doc as your source, that you should convert to Kindle from Mobi Pocketcreator or Calibre and Sigil, to using Smashwords’ nuclear method, to a whole host of other options. And you know what? Each one is right for that individual. Depending on your level of technological know-how, you can find different ways to get your book online. There’s no one way.

This is actually the easy part of self-publishing. The hardest part, of course, is writing the book. The second hardest part is having your book get discovered online. If only I knew the secret to that…
The landscaping is changing daily on what works and what doesn't  Prior to June 2012, free promos worked well on Amazon. But they've changed their algorithms supposedly and I know from first-hand experience (with a book I put up under a completely different name and a different genre), as well as from fellow authors, that the KDP Select free promo days don’t have the same impact.



One of the biggest draws is going to be your cover...

So we have to look at all the other packaging for the book. One of the biggest draws is going to be your cover. You want to invest in a good cover artist. This is not the area to skimp. Actually, none of the areas are areas to skimp. You've spent how many hours writing the book and while I’m sure you love that you have a finished product, most of us do want people to buy it so we can recoup our investment and make some money. Spend money on an editor: you may only get one chance to capture the reader if you can get them to download your book. If you have shoddy editing, you’ll ensure they won’t pick up your next book.

Find a cover artist if you’re not familiar with graphics programs, or if you don’t have a good handle on marketing. Because covers are your selling tool. They need to look good in thumbnail sizes, they need to show the genre, and show your target audience that this book is one they will want to read.

There’s the front and back matter. Do you want to include cover quotes? Review quotes? A dedication? A glossary? Author bio/photo? Acknowledgments, dedication, links for other books in the series or your website? All considerations that help the reader experience and the author experience (if you can get the current reader to click over and buy your backlist/sequels, it’s definitely a good experience for your wallet!)


Branding is a consideration as well. I have two pen names. My light-hearted contemporaries (both paranormal and straight contemporary) are written as Judi Fennell and they have a certain look to them to give the reader a flavor of what they’ll get inside. As Raven Morris, my pseudonym for an erotic series entitled Tied with a Bow series, (The first book, JACKED, is free on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo and AllRomance eBooks, and that, too, was a marketing decision), I created a hotter, sexier look since it’s erotic. But I branded those covers with the same font, the same swath of satin (but a different cover) and the sexy images.

I could go on (and Sia is probably wishing I wouldn't), but I do have these discussions with my clients. www.formatting4U.com isn't just a static, put-the-manuscript-in-the-engine-and-it-spits-out-a-digital-book-on-the-other-end type enterprise. 

It’s an interactive, interdependent relationship between the author and me, with full consideration given to the reader as the ultimate beneficiary from a job well done.

You may only get one chance to capture the reader, make it count. 

  • Invest in a good editor. 
  • Don't skimp on creating a cover.
 
You want your book to stand up to the competitionnot fade out of the reader's sight. 





11 comments:

Kat Sheridan said...

And BLURBS!!! Don't forget a good blurb/back cover copy/product description! Gorgeous covers here, and great advice about finding a good editor. NEVER skimp on editing.

Liza said...

How great that a business opportunity came out of a kindness!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We all only get one chance to capture readers!

Medeia Sharif said...

Informative post and I agree on your points. There should be no skimping.

Jo said...

As a reader, not a writer, the cover certainly attracts me first, but a good blurb is essential.

Kat Sheridan said...

As occassional guest hostess I wanted to pop in to let you know I'm trying to track down Sia for you. I know her "day job" involves customer service for people with appliance issues and Sandy has taken out a lot of her east coast co-workers, so I expect she's up to her eyebrows with calls right now.

And guest Judi Fennell is directly in the path of Sandy and has had intermittant power outages. I know she'll be glad to read all your lovely comments when life is a bit less "windy" for her! Thank you all for stopping by and hope you're staying safe and warm and dry!

Kat Sheridan said...

Jo, I feel the same way about blurbs [Note: self promotion coming up!] That's why I started my own business, BlurbCopy.com, to help authors come up with the perfect blurb to describe the book. A gorgeous cover like Judi creates will catch the eye, then a good blurb will help cinch the sale.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Bless you Kat!

Yes, I've been up to my eyebrows. Actually I feel more like I've been buried alive, lol!

I have a few minutes today.

Liza, Judi has always been that sort of person. She's very knowledgeable about the publishing field and writing in general. I've learned an enormous amount from her.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Media, that's always been my thought as well--don't skimp. If you've spent all that time writing a story, with intent of building a readership for your work, why in the world would you skimp on having a good editor look it over (story editor for content, too) or on cover art?

I've seen some absolutely gorgeous covers put out by many indie/self-published authors. You can't tell the difference between the traditional pubbed books online from the independents. And really? Isn't that want you want?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, cover catches my eye first then I read the blurb. I glance inside next. Without a good cover you won't even get my hands or my eye on your book. The blurb, as Kat mentions, is the cincher.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex, that's very true. So why minimize ones chances by producing shoddy work, is my opinion. :-)

Hope Sandy's rains and winds have left you safe, warm, and dry!