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

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

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

Building your Author Platform, Part One

An Author Platform is the cornucopia of ways that we make ourselves known to our readers. Like Rome, it does not have to be assembled in one day, BUT it does have to be built, if you want to be an effective and popular author. 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.

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.” ~ Roald Dahl

1) Be Alert – Setup a virtual Nanny Cam on the web by signing up for a Google Alert (google.com/alerts). At periodic intervals that you set, Google will email you any mentions of your name, your book’s name, your blog, your Twitter handle or whatever URL you set. You can mine this information by becoming friends with those who are talking about you and share ideas, guest blogs, back cover blurbs or reviews.

“In truth, I never consider the audience for who I am writing. I just write what I want to write.” ~  J. K. Rowling

2) Don’t Play with Every Stranger – Get to know your social media contacts before allying with them because, just like in real life, there are web predators mucking about that will take advantage of the unwary and you could become guilty by association. Basically, if you could not or would not be friends with this person or support their cause off-line, look elsewhere.

“To create something you want to sell, you first study and research the market, then you develop the product to the best of your ability.” ~ Clive Cussler

3) Know your Competition – Study what they do and how they do it. Emulate what you admire, discard what you don’t, but above all, come away with an improved product or outlook.

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it be heard.” ~ Allen Ginsberg

4) Go Madison Avenue – No need for loose morals, freely flowing whiskey and Mad Men here. Although posting affiliate links or ads on your site probably won’t buy you a penthouse on Park Avenue, consider them as another way to get yourself in front of the reader.

“It had better be quirky or perverse or thoughtful enough so that you hit some chord in them. I mean we’ve all read pieces where we thought, ‘Oh, who gives a damn.’ ” ~ Nora Ephron

5) Build your Bio – Succinctly tell people about you and your work, including your credentials, credits and awards. Keep it to one page and use it in your book, whenever you pitch your book, in your publicity package, on Amazon Author Central as well as on your website and blog.

“A reader reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.” ~ Lawrence Durrell

6) Give It Away for Free – Create a signup list on your website/blog by offering a free excerpt of your work, a newsletter, an article, eBook, or video/audio product. The payoff will be a list of people who are interested in your book or product (readers = sales.) Integrate your e-mail marketing by using Aweber or Mail Chimp to handle your lists, newsletter, emails, and auto-responders.

“Like a small animal burrowing into its hole, I shift furniture around, and back myself into a cozy corner, with my back to the wall…and then I can write.” ~ Danielle Steel

7) Reel in the Reviews – Having a high number of reviews will attract new buyers because they are proof that your book is worth the reader’s investment of time and money. To get started, offer to swap reviews with other authors. Post your musings on Amazon, Goodreads and Red Room.

“Remember: A best-selling book usually follows a simple rule, It’s a wonderful story, wonderfully told; not, It’s a wonderfully told story.” ~ Nicholas Sparks

Watch for Building your Author Platform, Part Two, where we will discuss ways to put your best foot forward, make engaging offers and sustain your author platform over the long haul.

Ready to start your marketing plan? Get our free Book Marketing Checklist.

Thanks for stopping by.

Roger Harris , www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Why do I write? Advice from Pearce, Hemingway, Capote, Maugham and Goldberg

Their surnames might adorn an oak-panelled wall where back-room deals are consummated over hearty handshakes and cognac-infused cigars, a place where billable hours litter the hardwood floors like so much confetti but, instead, these authors will help us answer our burning question of today, our raison d’etre as writers.

 

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

“What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“A writer need not devour a whole sheep in order to know what mutton tastes like, but he must at least eat a chop.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

“As writers we live twice, like a cow that eats its food once and then regurgitates it to chew and digest it again. Slow down now, touch what is around you and out of care and compassion for every moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

The following is an excerpt of a poem (untitled, I think), by Laura Pearce and partially answers our Topic’s question for me. Namely, because I want literary magic like this to gurgle forth from my keyboard and scribble pad.

When the gypsies came, your grandmother

made me promise not to go to the woods

where fires blazed and music played

and dark-eyed women danced in coins.

She said they’d steal a girl like me

with golden hair and flower skin

and make me beg in filthy clothes

and feed me scraps of moldy bread.

Thanks for stopping by.

Roger Harris, editor and marketing consultant

http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR BOOK LAUNCH?

The face of publishing today is changing – brick and mortar stores are closing, traditional publishers are looking for celebrity authors and sure sales, and Amazon Kindle and indie eBooks are taking off.

The ways to market books are also changing with new online tools, many with little cost associated with them… just some hard work and organization.

For non-fiction authors, here’s a checklist of the actions to take to ensure a successful launch and sales of your new book:

I. BUILDING YOUR EXPERT AUTHOR PLATFORM

Create and launch a platform that quickly communicates your expertise, creativity and credibility. An author website and blog are two “musts.”

II. SOCIAL NETWORKING

Through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Goodreads (choose which venues suit you best), you can connect with people who like what you share, they will share it with their friends and you are exposed to a wider audience. People may then click through to learn more about you, go to your blog, buy your book, or take your workshop.

III. BOOK REVIEWS

Having a high number of book reviews will attract new buyers because they are proof that your book is worth the reader’s investment of time and money. If you have no reviews, sales will be slow.

IV. VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR

Several months before launching your book, start organizing a virtual book tour, through online blogs.

V. AMAZON

Rise up the Amazon rankings by using Author Central to promote yourself and your work, use Listmania, and KDP Select free promo days.

VI. PUBLICITY

All the previous marketing tactics will garner you publicity. Journalists may find your book, read a comment you made on a social network, and contact you for an interview. You can actively promote yourself to the media as well, sending out press releases about your new book or hiring a PR professional to write your release and send it out for you. In either case, be prepared with your unique “hook” and your press kit.

VII. ADVERTISING

Use paid advertising to garner attention and sales… you might try Facebook Ads, Google Adsense, or advertising in Kindle Nation Daily and also Pixel of Ink for Kindle audiences.

Need more help on specifics? Request the free pdf: MARKETING YOUR NON-FICTION BOOK ~http://indieauthorcounsel.com/MARKETING_TIPS.html

Please share your favorite marketing tips in the Comments section.

Happy writing and marketing!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.thechakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Don’t Trip Over These Words – Proofreading 103

It's worth bending over backwards to keep misused words out of your text.

I’ve spent the last week editing a book and five articles for clients, and was amazed how easy it can be to stumble over synonyms, and trip over typos.

“There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.” ~H. Murakami

But, you want your readers to understand and be awed by your prose, not upset by your misused words. Here’s a quick checklist for your next writing gig, offered by Ezine.com.

affect vs. effect

affect – is a verb that means to have an effect on; to touch the feelings of or to make a difference to.

If Penelope wrote, “I love Chocolate Mint ice cream and I think that eating it effects my behavior.” You might reply, “Uggh Sister!!, please do not write that way again. Obviously, eating Chocolate affects your writing.”

effect – is a noun that means to cause something to happen; a change, consequence, outcome or conclusion that is a result of an action or cause.

Incorrect: Chocolate had an incredible affect on Willy Wonka’s behavior. Correct: Chocolate had an incredible effect on Willy Wonka’s behavior.

allot vs. a lot

allot – To give or to apportion something to someone as a share or a task.

Incorrect: I will a lot a prize to each of the top-three finishers. Correct: I will allot a prize to each of the top-three finishers.

a lot – (never alot) A large amount, very many; also, very much. NOTE: the phrase “a lot” is vague and not very precisely descriptive, so its use should be avoided.

Incorrect: I like monkeys allot. There are alot of them at the San Diego Zoo. Correct: I like monkeys a lot. There are a lot of them at the San Diego Zoo.

then vs. than

then – At that time; at the time in question; after that, next, afterward.

Incorrect: I went to the San Diego Zoo and than to Balboa Park. Correct: I went to the San Diego Zoo and then to Balboa Park.

than – Used in expressions when introducing an exception or contrast.

Incorrect: Micheal is shorter then Christopher. Correct: Micheal is shorter than Christopher.

lie vs. lay

lie – To be in or assume a horizontal or resting position; the way, direction, or position in which something lies.

Incorrect: I am going to lay down for a nap. Correct: I am going to lie down for a nap.

lay – Requires an object, to put down (generally carefully or gently).

Incorrect: I am going to lie the baby down for a nap. Correct: I am going to lay the baby down for a nap.

desert vs. dessert

desert – as a verb, to abandon; as a noun, a dry, barren area of land; barren.

Incorrect: I felt desserted when my family went away for the holidays and I had to stay behind to work.

Correct: I felt deserted when my family went away for the holidays and I had to stay behind to work.

dessert – The sweet course at the end of the meal.

Incorrect: My grandmother always baked mouth-watering deserts.

Correct: My grandmother always baked mouth-watering desserts.

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

HERE’S TO GREAT WRITING!
R. R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com