Always Walking Toward the Setting Sun

One of many fine original photos that will appear in Double Take

One of many fine original photos that will appear in Double Take

One of my favorite bloggers wrote that Adventure = Risk plus Purpose, and suggests as many have, that if something scares the beejesus out of us, then “it” is something we should probably be doing. That leads me to wonder, is the way we live our lives mirrored in our style(s) of writing, or never the twain shall meet, or sometimes yes, sometimes, no? Do we crawl snake-belly up under the barbed-wire fences hemming in the confines, and thus the safety of our minds, or do we do the Star Trek thing and go beyond to worlds we have never explored, visited or perhaps even imagined? Is the sky the limit, or are there no limits to the Universe? Do we feel more secure beginning our writing journey with an outline of our story, however sketchily drawn – an end in sight, or do we rely on our characters, fictional or real, to guide us where they want to take the reader. Or is that all literary hogwash and do writers write what and how they want to write, and do they alone deserve the credit for astonishing some readers, disappointing some others and wrestling with the unrest that visits like Scrooge’s ghosts in the thick of night, creaking the boards and causing the author to wonder what if, should I or maybe even, I don’t give a damn if they like it – my writing is my therapy and if it is published, that’s just frosting on the cake? Please weigh in with your comments and visit again soon. R.R. Harris author of Double Take, soon to be published on Amazon

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

                                                                                                                                        

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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

Building Your Author Platform – Part Two

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, most recent book by Barack Obama, with Loren Long

An Author Platform is a way to quickly communicate your genre and entertainment value if you’re writing fiction, and your expertise and credibility if you’re writing non-fiction. Here are additional suggestions on how to achieve an “Expert Author” status:

1) Grab a Partner or Two – Find a few friendly authors in your niche or social media circles and reach out to them. Find them by replying to commenters on your blog or those how have opted-in to your menu of scrumptious freebies. You can help each other by reviewing each other’s books, doing guests posts on each other’s blogs, and participating in each other’s promotional activities.

2) Invite Guests Over for Tea – List a series of questions being asked on forums and blogs. Then, entice media pros or top-selling authors to guest blog with their thread focusing on the interests of your list. Ask them to share in advance with their readers where they will be blogging that day. The advice they leave behind will not only set up your blog as a repository of memorable content in the reader’s mind but your work will be introduced to the guest’s following, hopefully luring some of them to join your ranks too.

3) Ask, Don’t Tell – Use a poll to get your readers involved by querying them for an answer to an obstacle you have faced, perhaps even one you have already solved. Publish a summary of their submissions, and include what worked best for you.

4) Wind the Clock – “Host” a contest on a regular basis with a writing prompt specific to your genre. Frame the contest rules with a firm time deadline and give away a prize related to your niche, or a book bag, workout shirt or coffee mug imprinted with the cover of your book. Ask the winner to send you a photo of them with the item and publish it to gain momentum for the next contest.

5) Get a Second Opinion – Use the free tools at www.grader.com to optimize your website, author ranking or SEO. For example, the analysis may conclude that your website/blog needs more content or inbound links or that your Twitter presence is weak.

6) Be a Gatherer, Not a Hunter – Compile a list of resources such as websites, free downloads, social media, publishing or marketing advice and share it. Ask your readers for their reviews and experiences.

7) Save Yourself – Know that building your platform will take time and effort so decide how much of both you are willing and able to expend, then create a schedule and stick to it. Being a successful Indie author is a marathon, so save some energy for Heartbreak Hill and your run to the finish line.

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

 

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

How to Market Your Book or Put Books into the Readers’ Hands

Pulled in too many directions? Get professional help in publishing your book.

As I write my new book, I’m glad I like to multi-task, because I’m reminded by the guidelines in the “Novel in A Month” program that it’s never too early to start getting your message out there. Writing a self-help book means I want to help make the world and the people in it happier and healthier – but it will only happen if they know about my book.

I wish that publishing and marketing your book would be fun and a labor of love like writing the book. But make no mistake, it is labor. If you are pulled in too many directions and do not want to do it yourself, there are dozens of individuals and firms, like www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com, who will be glad to assist you in any and every phase.

Back on the sunny side where a mountain of books and eBooks are filling brick-and-mortar stores and virtual marketplaces like Amazon, let’s discuss some tried and true methods for maximizing your visibility as an author to the reading public. Can we call it the Books in Carts strategy?

(1) Prepare a marketing plan

Start this well in advance of launch of your book.  Start with Where and How you will market your work. For example, where will you place it – Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords? Where will you Social Network? Choices may be Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in addition to your blog and/or website.

Identify the marketing issue, and create an action list with a schedule for completion or the amount of time you will spend daily or weekly, if it is a repetitive task. It is human nature to do tasks that we enjoy first and to delay the others interminably.

(2) Request Reviews

Gather a list of reviewers so that you may request reviews the second the ready-to-be-published copy is in your hot little hands. Create a professional review request document that includes an image of your book cover, a cogent, yet concise synopsis, (Imagine you are standing in line at the DMV or post office, carrying a tote bag that advertises your book and a woman who is reading a book on her Smartphone, looks up and asks about your work – you have 15 seconds to schmooze her or lose her. What will you say?) and pertinent details such as genre and number of words.

(3) Become a Chatty Cathy

Put up a thread about your book on a readers forum even if you have not completed it yet, and get to know people. Some of them will end-up reading your book, and if they like it they will recommend it on other forums too. Offer them incentives to be an advanced reviewer such as a PDF download to gather blurbs for your back cover.

(4) Get tangled in the Web

Write about your projects and comment on others’ work. Pass on advice on what helps you and what does not. Post sections of your work and invite comment. However, just like a date from hell who refuses to quit talking about themselves, websites that are solely a self-serving vehicle are a bore and will sit home many a lonely Saturday night without even a visitor.

Thought for the Day: To write, all you have to do is to open a vein and let it bleed. Red Smith

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in trying to write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here.

Becca Chopra

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Day One

Whether you are writing a self-help work, like I am with Balance your Life or fiction, as my colleague R. R. Harris is penning with Double Take, it pays dividends to be organized.

“An outline is crucial and saves so much time. It tells you where the story is going.” John Grisham

So, we begin at the beginning.

TITLE: Give your work a name, or something that can reference your project.

GENRE: Be flexible as this may change as the plotline and characters and your thoughts morph and develop. List all of the genres that your story might fit into.

POINT of VIEW: Will it change from scene to scene or will the main character narrate in first person throughout? An author friend of mine said that when she began her autobiographical “coming of age” novel that her original intention was to have the first-person voice change as her character grew and matured. However as she drove further and further into the hinterlands of her work, she realized how maintaining that direction complicated her writing and de-railed it from flowing freely from her consciousness. For example, she would have to ensure that her teenager was not speaking with the voice of a worldly and wise, middle-aged maven or vice versa.

Some authors choose voice from scene to scene by weighing what character stands the most to lose. Although unless skillfully written, this approach can leave a reader wondering what is going on and especially, who is talking.

WHO wants, WHAT do they want, WHY do they want it and What/who stands in your character’s way? Not sure where to begin?

“What if X happened? That’s how you start.” Tom Clancy

“Don’t wait to be struck by an idea. If you are a writer, sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” Andy Rooney

SETTING: Can make a story gel into a dish fit for the Queen or alternatively turn it into cold tasteless soup that even hungry flies shun. Of course, there are endless possibilities. You can create memorable characters as at home in the book’s setting as a well worn slipper, but who enliven it and blaze brightly at the slightest provocation. Perhaps others triumph despite all odds or seemingly invincible villains meet their match in a unforeseen avalanche of choices that could not have been forecast.

“Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” John Updike

HOOK/SPARK: Yeah, the night was dark and stormy and she came to the door with nothing on but the radio, but then what? What will I write in the second paragraph and on page 87 that will keep my reader into the book? Will the last sip of my book be as satisfying as the first, or even more so?

As an author I must constantly ask – have I set-up conflict, created suspense and action and left the reader panting for more? Am I solving a problem the reader has, conveying knowledge or fulfilling a need?

“I want the reader to turn the page without thinking that she is turning the page. It must flow seamlessly.” Janet Evanovich

DON’T QUIT: “Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Quick Quips on Creative Writing

Choose a peaceful setting for planning, writing or revising a book, whether in nature or your attic retreat.

“The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.” ~ TRUMAN CAPOTE

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts” ~ LARRY L. KING

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” ~ HARPER LEE

“Read in order to live.” ~ GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

HAPPY WRITING,

R. R. HARRIS

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com