BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT: What is Your Fodder for Writing?

Double Take, a mystery thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii is loosely defined by a love triangle that devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and anger.

Double Take, a mystery thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii is loosely defined by a love triangle that devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and anger.

CSI, Law & Order, Criminal Minds and NCIS are all shows that have thrilled, enraptured and captivated audiences and garnered ratings and the all-important advertising dollars, but as a budding writer of thrillers, I don’t watch them. Am I making a mistake? Could they provide me with who-dunits and how-dunits and the all-important why-doits?

I just served as a criminal trial juror on a case in U.S. District Court that was 2 ½ years in the making. Not a capital murder case, there were no bullet-riddled bodies growing fish at the bottom of the bay, no double-crossed drug deals, no vengeful ex-lovers with long memories and arsenic on their breaths and definitely, no smoking guns – only an empty magazine for an elusive automatic weapon that was never recovered.

Instead, even in a short, four-day trial, there were reams of transcribed phone conversations, dozens of photos of suspicious individuals at crime scenes, a hard-working, flat-footed waitress with a floor safe bulging with $171K in tip money, exhibits of boxes, briefcases and bags in the hundreds, some damning, some almost peevish in nature. The only knife in the case was an all-pink one (I am not making this up) brought in by a well-meaning juror to cut the red velvet cake that she baked to share with the jury members and court staff.

In short, it was not a front page case, especially since during this trial, a nationally notorious, fugitive ex-policeman was holed up cross-country in a mountain lodge, perhaps with hostages and seemingly bent on suicide by cop. So, no bleached-blonde reporters in dangerously high heels lurked outside our hulking courthouse, no helicopters buzzed insistently overhead or satellite trucks dotted the manicured lawn like mushrooms after a rainy spell. Inside Courtroom #6, a usually smirking defendant twirled his caterpillar of a moustache and pulled up his mismatched socks, the harried public defender’s neckties were more convincing than his arguments, the spit-n-polished prosecutor suffered not even the tiniest detail out of place, and a note-jotting jury hoped their kids made it home from school and that their forgetful spouses remembered Valentine’s Day.

Food for fodder? Write and tell me what sparks your mystery-writing juices? What are your ideas for getting ideas?

Thanks for stopping by.

R. R. Harris

Author of Double Take

Bad Covers = Bad Sales or Why it is very important to Hire a Professional Cover Designer

                                                                                                                                        

LoveSin_SmallLilith's Secret_SMALL

While writing your novel, you are a creator. A wordsmith. An artist. But, as soon as that novel’s finished, you’re about to take the next step in publishing business. Yes, you’re becoming not just an author, but an entrepreneur. You are creating a product that has to contend with literally thousands of other products.

Our guest blogger today is Jeanine Henning, whose extensive professional background includes 15 years experience in cover design, children’s book illustration and publication, comic book publishing and editing, as well as console game design and writing. Her work with editors, authors and artists on many continents has added to her diversity and flexibility as artist and designer. In addition to her Indie Author clients, Henning continues to work closely with traditional publishers on cover and book art.

Recently Jeanine published her 1st Kindle book on Amazon – Nhakira “Chosen” – 4 more books are soon to follow!

Can you, as author, afford for your product – your work of art – to be any less than visible or desirable? No.

What is one of the key selling points of any product? The packaging.

What is a book’s packaging? The cover.

So, what’s the purpose of a cover? Many writers will say: “To get customers to pick up the book, or click on the download button.” This is true. BUT, if the customer is to pick up or click and read the book’s summary, and realize that the cover and story have nothing to do with one another, then back goes book to shelf, or, the next eBook is clicked on. You lose a sale.

Yes, the cover must entice the customer. But the full purpose of a book’s cover is to:

  1. Get the customer to notice the book;
  2. Pick up or click on the book;
  3. Buy the book;
  4. Read the book;
  5. Talk about the book;
  6. Repeat for next customer.

If your name is “Stephen King”, then that book can have a blank cover with his name, and it will sell. But until you reach such status, your name is not yet known, so your book’s title and cover art alone carries the day.

So where do you start? You start by pretending you’re telling someone why they should buy your book. Point out the book’s strengths, its genre, its core, what it’s about and what makes it tick. These elements are your unique selling points, and should be conveyed through your title and cover art. And the ultimate purpose is to precipitate an emotional response from your customer. And the outcome? A sale. This is exactly why a professional designer is needed.

Starting to re-realize the importance of your book’s cover? You should. Because it’s not just about a pretty cover anymore, is it?

A good cover will reinforce the customer’s initial attraction. We also do this by adding blurbs – which will tell the customer; “Yes, you have made a good choice, and this blurb rewards your decision, as the book is THAT good.” Every detail on a cover must be thought out and planned. Even the placement of the title and writer’s name is extremely important. Again, this is exactly why a professional designer is needed.

Look at your current book’s cover. And if you don’t yet have one, then think about book packages that work for you. Are all the elements of the cover presenting accurately, attractively and powerfully the appeal of the book?

So, in designing your product’s package, or, framing your work of art, realize the importance of your book’s cover. You must not just want a pretty cover – your book deserves a professionally designed package that will represent you, your story and product congruently.

And YES, you can get an exclusively designed cover by an industry professional for your book:

 JH ILLUSTRATION & COVER DESIGN offers:

  • Cover design for any genre including mystery & suspense, thrillers, horror, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, young adult, non-fiction and poetry.
  • Illustration and digital painting for exclusive and one-of-a-kind special covers.
  • Young Adult Fantasy & Fiction cover design and interior art.
  • Children’s book illustration and cover design.
  • Graphic novel cover design.
  • Different file formats and sizes of covers to assist authors with their marketing strategies.

And perhaps most important of all, Henning, still believes in “the personal touch” when working with clients, and creating covers that represent the true story of the book

Visit http://jhillustration.wordpress.com/ to view book cover samples and illustrations.

And for more information on Jeanine’s background, testimonials and main art gallery, visit her site at: http://www.jeaninehenning.com

Connect with Jeanine on Twitter: @JenVinci

Thanks for stopping by. Please consider Indie Author Counsel for your Copy Editing, Manuscript Critiquing and Proofreading needs. We offer professional service with a quick turnaround at reasonable prices!

R. R. Harris, Editor and Author of Mystery Thriller, Double Take

info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Why Self-Publish?

Kris Wampler, author of Love Train, interviewed Becca Chopra on why she chose to self-publish. Kris is an author and provides an e-conversion service, E-Literate. Here’s what appeared on her blog: http://kriswampler.wordpress.com:

Becca Chopra chose self-publishing rather than bother with sending out query letters to traditional publishers.  Find out which vendor she recommends for her marketing materials and learn about a website with free advice for indies.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

Chakra Secrets is a memoir and more.  Follow me on my path from aspiring actress to yoga teacher and chakra healer.  Navigating betrayals and loss, tormented by guilt, I explore kundalini, tantric sex, past-life regression and mind-body tools as I earn my credentials as an energy healer and finally find love and light.  You’ll not only learn my personal secrets, but the “instant” healing tool I learned in Hawaii that you can use anytime, anywhere to eliminate pain, stress and clear the path for healing on all levels.

 

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I didn’t have the patience to send out query letters to agents.  Rather, I decided to self-publish and save myself a lot of time.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

No.  I haven’t tried – but I won’t turn down a traditional publisher if they approach me.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

There was a learning curve, of course, to make sure my books looked professional, but I’m happy with the results I’ve gotten from my editors, book cover designers and CreateSpace publishing.

5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?

While my books are dramatic stories, they weave in chakra and yoga wisdom.  And I find most of my audience is interested in just that – being entertained while learning how to balance their lives.  So, I’ve offered free chakra meditations for download on my website and offer lots of useful information on both my website and blogs – resulting in a list of people interested in my next offering.  Also, using KDP Select to offer free books has helped my Amazon rankings and word of mouth about my books, increased customer reviews, and resulted in more sales.

6. Which services or vendors do you recommend for the marketing methods you used?

For giveaways, such as yoga tote bags, note cards, T-shirts and calendars with the cover of my book on them, you can’t beat the prices at Vistaprint.com.

7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

That you have to find your niche and continually interact with it.  You need to set aside time for social networking and marketing efforts as they are just as important as writing a great book.

8. Indie authors face the challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie just starting out?

Read all the free advice online from other indie authors.  For instance, download the free book marketing checklist from IndieAuthorCounsel.com.  Even most traditionally published authors have to do their own marketing these days.  So we all need to be experts at writing press releases as well as books.

9. What are you currently working on?

Now that I’ve published Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life on Kindle to expand on the self-healing technique I describe in Part II of my memoir, Chakra Secrets, I’m producing a DVD which will take viewers step-by-step through the process.

10. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?

Balance your chakras, balance your life!

THANKS FOR THE GREAT ADVICE,

Roger Harris

info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Is It Time to Have your Book Edited?

Dear IAC, I’ve finished my first draft and would like to have my novel edited. And I don’t want to miss your summer sale. Should I send you my manuscript now or wait till I’ve revised it as well as I can myself?
Confused at the Computer

Dear Confused, It’s always better to refine your script as much as possible before forwarding it to an editor. Then, they can offer a fresh eye on your plot and characters if you’re writing fiction, or the organization of your information if you’re writing non-fiction.

Here’s an excerpt from Joanna Penn’s blog, The Creative Penn, in which she interviews editor Matt Garland, that explains this further.

“If you want to be a successful independent author, I believe that editing is one of the top things you can do to set yourself apart from the pack.

There’s only so far you can go with self-editing, and critique groups sometimes don’t quite hit the mark. In today’s interview, I talk with Matt Gartland from WinningEdits about his tips for editing.

What should you do before engaging an editor?

  • A certain amount of editing should be done by the author before it is handed over to an editor. A good editor still can’t save a bad book, or bad writing. But a book after editing should have more ‘weight’ to it in terms of the characters for fiction, or the content for non-fiction. A professional approach to maturing the concepts as well as the language of the text is part of the editing process. But we sometimes lose perspective when we try to continue editing on our own. We fall into patterns that sometimes it takes someone else to see.
  • First drafts vs. what you give to an editor. Matt quotes Neil Gaiman – first drafts don’t matter but it is a continuous struggle to think this. We naturally want to self-edit as we write that first draft material. But take what’s in your head and as a non-sequential, creative process, just get it on the page. Worry about refining later. The first draft is just about getting something down so you can work it in the subsequent drafts. I talk about struggling with my own first drafts in terms of getting the stuff from my head onto the page. But no one is going to see this draft so we should stop worrying so much. 
  • It is important to only engage an editor when the book can’t go any further in your own hands. You need to mature your ideas on your own. Then pay someone to take it further. This will mean you get the best service and the editor can do the best job.
  • Try using beta readers, lovers of your genre who will read and critique the book which will help improve it before using an editor. Matt recommends friends and family but I think it must be people who enjoy your genre first. They read for free and often, finding authors in your genre to swap books with will help. They give feedback from a reader perspective e.g. plot points, characters, what they liked, what they skippedThen you can revise from there.”

Check out The Creative Penn – Joanna inspires us all to reach for success as Indie Authors. And be sure to create a market for your work as you pen your masterpiece. Download our Free BOOK MARKETING CHECKLIST and other useful info, available when you join our Indie Author Council FaceBook community.

Happy writing!
Roger Harris, editor and consultant

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

CHECKLIST FOR BUILDING YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM

Q: I’m writing a self-help guide; what marketing activities should I be starting now, before publication?

A: Building your author platform is the first step to find your readers. Here is a checklist of activities from our Free Book Marketing Checklist.

The goal is to create and launch a platform that quickly communicates your genre and entertainment value if you’re writing fiction, and your expertise and credibility if you’re writing non-fiction, such as your self-help guide.

  • Build your bio – Succinctly tell people about you and your work, including credentials, credits and awards. Turn it into a one-pager to use in your book, whenever you pitch your book, in your publicity package, on Amazon Author Central and on your website.
  • Author website – You need a hub, a place to connect with your audience, offer free information and excerpts of your book, and sell your book and other services. If you use a blog-based site, such as WordPress.org, which is easy to set up and use, you don’t need an expensive setup or a webmaster to update your site – you can get going immediately.
  • Author blog – Your blog could be separate or a page of your website. It’s an important place to connect, enlighten, entertain, and capture a following of readers interested in learning more about you, your topic and your books.
  • A signup list – Create a list of future readers by offering a free excerpt of your work, a newsletter, eBook, or video/audio product on your website/blog. This allows you to start building a list of people who are interested in your book or product. Check out Aweber or Mail Chimp to handle your lists, emails, autoresponders, and newsletters.
  • Follow other blogs – Stay up-to-date with the latest information in the industry and to leave comments that establish your platform.
  • Join professional associations – Seek out and join ones related to your topic, target audience or professional goals.
  • Establish your expert status – Teach through workshops, online webinars, podcasts and/or videos, in-person speaking engagements, articles using tips from your book to industry publications and other print and online media sources. This provides you the ability to establish yourself as an expert, and market your book in the author’s information box.

If you’ve started writing, it’s never too early to start building your Author Platform. Download your Free Book Marketing Checklist from Indie Author Counsel.

Happy Writing!

R.R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

SIX SUPER INGREDIENTS TO PUBLISHING SUCCESS

Into your literary cauldron, throw locally-grown talent (raw, fresh or seasoned in with the right dash of character traits and a generous dollop of opportunity, stir in a finely diced cast of characters or a paste of must-know, how-to. Cook over a carefully tended, dancing flame of desire until it’s “ready” and you’ve got a stew that may be the Brunswick or Irish Stew of books or…

1) TALENT

“Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

 

2) RESPONSIBILITY

“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.” ~ William Faulkner

 

3) PERSONAL EVOLUTION

“The truly wise know that what is behind them could just as easily be in front of them. What successful people possess in abundance is the ability not only to survive adversity but to be transformed by it.” ~ Jeff Herman

 

4) PLANNING

Once I planned to write a poem entirely about the things in my pocket, but I found it would be too long and the age of epics is past.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

 

5) SHOWING UP

“Many writing books advise writers to figure out their most productive time of the day and to set out to write during that time or times. Experts also say to find the place you are most comfortable when writing and match time and place. Great. It does work for some. Not all.

“I do have a place where I write. It’s my local coffee shop. I write at different times during the day: morning, afternoon, evening. So, I do the conventional writing with time and place matched.

“But. Yes, there’s a ‘But.’ Many of my poems, and a short story recently, have been written in bed at two in the morning. I spring out of bed sometimes to write down an idea, or a rough draft of a poem or story. I keep a notepad with a pen resting on it near my bed. No coffee, no table, no laptop, and very little light.

“Some of the poems I’m most proud of have been written on the subway, in parks, in stairwells, and on my bed. No specific time, no specific place.

“Be flexible. Set your time and place, have no time and place, just write.

Show Up: read, re-read, write, re-write, submit, publish, and do it all over again.”  ~ published by Blackcoffeepoet.com

 

6) PASSION & INNER ALCHEMY

“The fire of one’s art burns all the impurities from the vessel that contains it.” James Lee Burke

 

(Adapted from Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents: http://amzn.to/L1px0G)

 

Happy Writing!
Roger Harris, editor and consultant

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

 

 

Writing a Mystery or Suspense Novel – Suppose, What if and Why?

“Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.” Paula Danzinger

One of a writer’s most precious resources is the world that lives beyond the creaking gate, borne in a fog of ideas that seeks the low places. Here, sometimes in the din of dank recesses, other times in bright, golden light, march a legion of the hopelessly lost and unceasingly forlorn. They bang their dented tin cups so that we might notice them. Their tatters of spirit overpower and wrest control of the rules of engagement we have posted in our heads and tattooed indelibly across our common sense. Yet, we ensnare and assail them without conscience. The meat of their souls will sustain us until we have had our fill.

Pen and paper, recorders and our brains are the simple tools we have packed for this hunt. When we return from the fray victorious, our prey in hand, chafed but unharmed, the camp is pitched with sturdy folders, and staked in neat rows by organizational software. Lieutenant Scrivener cages our captures, tarping the rough edges with a well-stitched backstory, calming, nurturing, grooming them. No meal tonight, only a fortune cookie that teases, promising ultimate release into the light of day. Cynics among the group argue that this is largely hot air and not to be trusted.

Suppose they escape while we go about our daily affairs? It simply will not happen. Resolutely prepared for their struggles, we observe them unnoticed, peripherally, boldly, one eye to life’s knothole. They huddle as if to gain strength by association and we hear their whispers, indistinct and largely unintelligible. We bait them to be more forthcoming and revealing by releasing a few of them at a time. Wary of yet another trap, at first, they peek out with pinpoint pupils. Once they see the fire-breathing dragon is only papier-mache and has human feet with yellowed toenails, they rush out pell-mell, leaving behind a boneyard of dangling participles, split infinitives and tired cliches. Their fires of determination are stoked with dreams of literary stardom, their tickets punched on express trains to glory.

It’s like the stories are already there. What they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: “If I sit down and do this, everything will come out OK.” Stephen King, author of 11/22/63: A Novel

Need Marketing, Editing or Proofreading Services – Professional Quality, Quick Turnaround, Reasonable Prices? Doors open early at our May Madness Sale.

Happy Writing!

R. R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

BOOK COVER DESIGN BASICS

Cover created by Joy Sillesen

Joy Sillesen, our guest blogger today, is a publishing industry veteran who has designed everything from websites to event posters, but her real love is book cover design. At last count, she has designed over seventy-five covers, with no signs of stopping any time soon. She is also a multi-published author under the pseudonym Christine Pope. Visit www.indieauthorservices.com for more information and to view her portfolio.

Some Basic Cover Design Rules of Thumb

by Joy Sillesen

The indie publishing movement has empowered many people, giving them the opportunity to take the publishing process, from writing to editing to cover design, into their own hands. As exciting as this hands-on approach can be, it can also lead to covers that look downright amateurish. If you need a cover but can’t afford a cover designer…or just want an excuse to start playing with Photoshop…then there are a few basic rules you should keep in mind.

—Typography that’s easy to read

Although it can be tempting to plaster a bunch of fun fonts all over your cover, it’s not recommended. I know fonts are fun (I have tens of thousand of them in my own font library), but it’s generally recommended that you use at most two. Most of the time the title should be bigger than the author’s name, unless the author is a household name. The title should be the first element to help sell your book. If you choose a curly script font because your book is a historical romance, make sure it’s readable even at thumbnail size. A large number of people do their book buying online, and they’re confronted by rows of thumbnail-sized images of book covers. If your title is unreadable, there’s a good chance they’ll pass right over it.

—An image that’s recognizable at thumbnail size

Again, because people tend to browse online, the image on your book cover should be something that can be processed quickly. If people have to squint to figure out that that green shape is a dragon, then you have a problem. This is where learning the most effective way to crop an image becomes so important. You can be working with the most beautiful image in the world, but if it’s not placed so it creates the maximum impact, then it’s not going to do you any good.

—A professional image that’s appropriate for your genre

The images used on your cover can create a visual shorthand for a book’s genre. A woman in a big pink ball gown being embraced by a bare-chested hunk signals that you’re probably not looking at an espionage thriller. Most people these days use stock images, since the cost of custom art is so high, and there are many stock image websites out there that provide literally millions of images. However, make sure the image you select effectively conveys the essence of your book. In many cases, layering multiple images can help to customize the look of stock so it’s not immediately recognizable. Also, unless you’re a professional photographer, avoid the temptation to use your own images on a book cover. In general, snapshots can’t replace photographs taken under controlled studio conditions or by photographers with specialized equipment.

—A clean, uncluttered design

White space is your friend. A design needs those “empty” areas to give the eye a rest and also provide a cue as to where you should be focusing your attention. Avoid the temptation to put blurbs all over the cover or make the text so big that it overpowers the background image. For e-book covers especially, all those kudos from fellow authors or lengthy subheads are going to get lost at thumbnail size. Sometimes a subhead is necessary, but keep in mind that it probably won’t show up in a thumbnail. And while it’s great that someone thinks your book is Pulitzer material, save that verbiage for the book description or the “Editorial Reviews” section of your book’s product page on Amazon.

—Colors that complement one another

I’ve heard some people say that cool colors work better for e-book designs. I’m not going to be that narrow in my recommendations – after all, I wouldn’t give a book with a desert setting a cover done in greens and blues – but the colors chosen should work together. Also, certain genres tend to have predominant color palettes; black, red, and white for thrillers or mysteries, for example. Conversely, romances often have softer, warmer palettes in shades of pastels.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone is going to agree on what makes a great cover, since people’s taste varies so greatly. However, if you keep these simple rules in mind as you’re designing a cover, you’re much more likely to create something that works as an effective sales tool for your book. Also, don’t be afraid to look around for design inspiration – there are thousands of talented designers whose covers can help guide you as you determine what works best for your book. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make sure your book cover creates the impression you intended.

Thanks, Joy! I love the book cover Joy designed for my upcoming release, Chakra Secrets, and definitely recommend professional design as the first step to creating a best seller.

For more advice on marketing your book, download our free Book Marketing Checklist.

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Top Marketing Mistakes Indie Authors Make – A Guest Post by Marcie Brock

We are privileged to have Marcie Brock here as a guest blogger today.

Marcie Brock is the pen name of Laura Orsini, a self-publishing consultant based in Phoenix, Arizona. Download your complimentary copy of Laura’s highly useful Marketing Skills Evaluation. This will help you determine where you’re on track and where you may need a little extra boost.

Top Marketing Mistakes Indie Authors Make

by Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven

You’ve spent lots of time, energy, and perhaps money producing the best book possible. Maybe you’ve got a dozen cases in your garage or perhaps you have a PDF of your eBook on your website. Either way, you may be wondering how you’re going to get the readers to come to you.

Here’s a list of some of the top marketing mistakes indie authors make. If you find yourself committing any of these, don’t beat yourself up. Just create a plan NOW, and stick to it.

1.  Waiting until their book is done to begin marketing

The minute you commit to writing your book is the minute you should begin marketing it. Far too many authors wait until they have their book in hand to begin looking for their readers/audience. This is far too late to begin creating your platform, which is your ability to reach your book-buyers or your plan to do so. Unless you are a celebrity of any measure, you probably don’t have a built-in audience. Start early by tapping into all the ways and places you can create demand for your book before it is printed.

2.  Failing to specifically identify their target reader

You’ve written or are writing a book, so you have a message. But do you know who will receive that message? Do you know who your audience is? Do you know where they spend time, and if or where they buy books? Is your niche audience comprised mostly of men? More than 80 percent of books are purchased by women – so if your audience is mainly male, do they read, or have women in their lives who buy books for them? Failure to identify your market will make it very difficult to sell books to them.

3.  Thinking the book will market itself

One of the most difficult things for most new authors to grasp is the time/money/energy commitment involved in marketing their book. Hundreds of people write books. What differentiates those whose books sell well is not their writing talents as much as their ability to market their books. Many authors believe they should be left alone to write while someone else handles the marketing and promotion, but YOU are going to sell this book – no one else is. That means you must be as available and open as possible. If someone from the media calls you for an interview, drop everything else and get there. Become a media darling, even if you are shy! Take an acting class or join Toastmasters if you’re afraid to speak in public. Spread the word about your new title on the Web. Send preview copies to select reviewers and/or personalities with long reach. You went to all that effort to write your book. Now be fearless in promoting it.

4.  Designing their own cover

Many indie authors, in an attempt to conserve money, forgo the investment in a graphic designer with book cover expertise. This is a HUGE mistake. According to selfpublishingresources.com, 225 out of 300 booksellers surveyed identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component of the entire book. All agreed that the jacket is the prime real estate for promoting a book. If you hope to have your book make it onto bookstore shelves, you must impress the book buyers who will likely make their determinations based on just a few seconds’ glance at the cover. Additionally, a shopper will spend an average of just 8 seconds looking at the front cover and 14 seconds on the back. This is a total of less than a half-minute to decide if your book is even worth flipping through! If you do not have a professional image that is congruent with your contents, you will likely miss the sale.

5.   Failing to think like a marketer

Like other artists, many authors live for their craft but recoil at the thought of marketing their work. “I’m an author, not a SALESperson!” However, unless you want you and your mom to be the only ones who buy your book, it’s essential that you learn to think like a marketer. That means knowing WHO will read your book and HOW you will connect with them. It also means putting on your Savvy Book Marketer thinking cap and noticing all the chances for connection as they arise. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you will get at seeing marketing opportunities everywhere.

6.   Failing to create a plan

One major place where indie authors get tripped up is in understanding how long it takes to build an audience. This is why you must create a plan and dedicate time to marketing. It’s understandable that writers prefer to write, but your book won’t sell itself. The amount of time you can dedicate to marketing your book differs for each author. Even if you can only afford two hours a week, schedule that time. Put it in your calendar. Make a sign for the door: “Do Not Disturb ― Mommy’s Wearing Her Savvy Book Marketer Hat Until 2 p.m.” Get up an hour earlier. Stay up an hour later. Write a blog post during your lunch hour. Get a digital recorder and dictate your ideas so you remember them. Find an accountability partner to check on your progress weekly. Do whatever works for you – but create a marketing plan and find a way to stick to it.

7.  Spreading themselves too thin

Marketing is an unending process with virtually limitless options, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Determine ONE strategy to start with. If you already have a sizable mailing list, an e-mail drip campaign might make sense. If you’ve got a good-sized social network, you may want to begin there. If you are building your platform from the ground up, a blog may be the best place to start. Begin with ONE strategy and master it. Then explore the next strategy to add, and so on.

8.  Never getting started

Some authors let the fear, unknown, or other issues sabotage them, so they never get their marketing off the ground. Don’t let this be you!

If you’re ready to get organized, download our free BOOK MARKETING CHECKLIST.

Happy writing and marketing!
Roger Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Words of Wisdom for Self-Publishing

Orna Ross closed a week of posts on her blog, CREATIVE WRITING & LIVING, about the launch of the Alliance of Independent Authors at London Book Fair, with these words of wisdom from the attendees. We just had to share them here too!

Best Quotes from The Launch of ALLIA

  • JOANNA PENN, Author and Director of The Creative Penn: “The way indie authors are pushing the boundaries is awesome.  It’s like the sixties.”
  • MICHAEL TAMLYN, KOBO Vice President: “When authors are given control and visibility, they do amazing things that the traditional publishers out there are just not doing… You’re going to need a much bigger room next year.”
  • THOM KEPHART, AMAZON Createspace Community: “Self-publishers are extremely important to Amazon. You are the people who make it happen.”
  • JONI RODGERS: “Amazon… is like that big sandworm in Dune. Sooner or later you realize, either it’s going to swallow you up, or you’re going to get up there and ride it!  I’m riding that sandworm, baby.”
  • LINDA GILLARD: “When I finally realized that I was going to go indie permanently, I felt so elated. There was a real sense of creative freedom.”
  • DAN HOLLOWAY: “Self publishing affords the writer something that’s vital to every artist: the freedom to fail.”
  • VANESSA O’LOUGHLIN: “This initiative is just what self-publishing writers need — this nonprofit organisation of writers working together for each other is about to become a real force in publishing.”

Best Advice for Self-Publishers

LINDA GILLARD:

  • If you don’t like promoting yourself and your work, don’t become an indy author. Achieving online visibility is our biggest challenge and there are few short cuts to this. Resign yourself to putting in a great deal of time seeking out potential readers, cultivating bloggers, joining in discussions (not just about books.) This is all part of the job so don’t regard it as a chore. See it as an opportunity to make new friends with shared interests. Even if you don’t make a sale, you might make a friend.
  • Promote by stealth. Nothing turns readers off more quickly than relentless self-promotion. They hate it because it’s selfish and boring. Instead of promoting your books, cultivate relationships with readers. Rightly or wrongly, readers assume interesting people write interesting books. If readers become interested in you as a person, they’ll be open to the idea that they might enjoy your work.
  • So engage with readers on blogs, in discussion forums, on Facebook and Twitter. In the course of chatting, tell people about your books – just a little to whet their appetite. (This is where it’s handy to have a USP, killer synopsis or tagline.) Then if they show interest, tell them more.
  • Be sincere. Readers aren’t stupid. If you engage with them solely for the purpose of self-promotion, they’ll pick up on this and resent being used. Not only will you not have sold a book, you’ll have created a bad impression. Readers don’t want authors cold calling, they want new friends. The trick is to persuade them that their new friend also writes good books.

DAN HOLLOWAY:

  • …my biggest single piece of advice to a self-publisher – remember why you’re doing it and don’t be a magpie.
  • Don’t let sales or invitations or publicity distract you – unless they were the reason for self-publishing, in which case go for it.

JOHN A.A. LOGAN:

  • Seek out online forums and groups where readers go to communicate with each other and with authors, such as Goodreads Groups, Kindle Forum UK, Kindleboards, Mobileread.com, Amazon Discussions. Also use Facebook and Twitter, and bring readers to your work with content-rich blogging, posting, forum debating, done sincerely to communicate, not cynically to “sell”. Consider the use of free promotions such as Amazon KDP Select. 18500 people now have The Survival of Thomas Ford in their Kindles or Kobos or PCs or Ipads as the result of promotional giveaways.
  • Try to get local press interest (and work on your titles). Three local newspaper articles helped generate interest that got The Survival of Thomas Ford into bestseller rankings or kept it there, all with snappy titles: “The Literary Survival of Author John Logan” – THE NORTHERN TIMES; “Positive New Chapter for Thriller Man” – THE HIGHLAND NEWS; “City Author’s Ebook Breaks into Top 100″- THE INVERNESS COURIER
  • Take your book into your own hands. Remember the maverick spirits that have gone before, in other mediums too, like Bill Hicks, or Sam Peckinpah, who would not accept the warping and tainting of their vision. The author needs to remember, now more than ever, their own power and responsibility to their own work and vision. Only in that way is the reader being respected also. Mikhail Bulgakov, John Kennedy Toole, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, they wrote masterpieces which never saw one word in print during their lifetimes. If only they had access to 2012-style epublishing that need not have been the case, so it need not be the case for you now unless you let it be.

JONI RODGERS:

  • Zealously protect your writing time. This is the greatest challenge for me. Now that I’m in charge of either overseeing or executing editorial tasks, design, marketing and PR, the actual writing too often gets pushed into a smaller space, and that’s just ass-over-teakettle crazy. If we’re not in it to write, why are we here?
  • Ignore all those apocryphal tales of self-publishing glory and riches. That’s less than a handful of success stories out of millions of self-published books. If your oncologist said, “This cancer treatment is absolutely proven effective in one out of four million cases!” would you be signing up for that? Me neither. We’re all reinventing the wheel here. Do what feels right for you.
  • When you do score that coveted book contract, sign an agent or sell your first 20,000 books, don’t let it go to your head. Keep the old Golden Rule of show biz in mind: Be nice to everyone you pass by on your way up. I guarantee you’ll be seeing them again on your way down.

Good luck to all Indie Publishers – joining the ALLIA is a good way to go!

Becca Chopra

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com