Results of my ad with Freebooksy

I figured with a few books out now, I should do a little marketing. I’ve been against it, claiming I needed a backlist before I started putting money into my career, but I thought since my trilogy was done, I could do a little promotion.

I’ve heard about various book marketing websites where you pay for exposure, and that’s what Freebooksy is. Essentially, you’re paying to advertise your book in their newsletter for one day. There are other promotions run by the people of Freebooksy if you don’t want to to go free with your book, but I did because 1) it didn’t bother me to give my book away and 2) I was hoping for a little read-through since the other two books were available.

My trilogy is enrolled in KDP Select, and I had never used any of my free days for any of my books before, so I went ahead and chose five days for my book to be free, then I went on Freebooksy and chose a day that I wanted my book in their newsletter. In the future, if I do this again, I’ll plan ahead to give myself time to promote the promotion.

A rep reached out to me, and she was very nice, but she wanted to put my book in the sweet category romance newsletter. I replied that it didn’t belong there as the book had four open door sex scenes. I’m not sure why she wanted to do that, unless she mistook my cover. Nikki and Dane do look cute together, but I didn’t choose to put a steamy couple on the cover because there is a fine line between contemporary romance with sex, and erotica. I didn’t want anyone mistaking my trilogy for erotica. I’ve written erotica, had my “taste” so to speak, and I’m more comfortable writing contemporary romance.

Anyway, this is what the ad looked like that went into their newsletter:

freebooksyad

You’re the one who writes the blurb, and I was afraid I didn’t spend enough time on it. You only get so many characters, and it’s difficult to try to convey what the book is about and still make it interesting in that short space.

My book was free from February 6th to the 10th. I started getting downloads even before my book went out in the newsletter. In total, while my book was free, I gave away 4,458. Between February 6th and today, February 15th, I have sold fifteen of Book 2 and six of Book 3, so you can see there was a small amount of buy-through (not necessarily read-through), and I lowered the prices of those books to .99 to go with the free promotion. Also, my page reads for Kindle Unlimited for all my titles went up from 0 to this:

page reads for KU

It’s not the best, of course, since even all those lines only represent $25.00 in sales. If you do the math, that’s a horrible ROI, at least, on paper.

Return on investment comes in many different forms, monetary being only one of them. I’m hoping now that I’ve given away so many books, people will remember my name, I’ll begin to foster some lifelong readers for future books.

My sales ranking did go up for a little bit, and I can give you a snapshot of those, though I didn’t take a picture every time my book moved up in ranks. And as everyone congratulated me, going up in rank in *free* books looks nice, but it’s not the same as going up in the paid lists.

awesome stats!3

These are the best stats the book got. I don’t know if it did much more than earn me a few bragging rights, but there it is.

Amazon did a nice thing, too and put my books together in an ad on my Author page.

tower city box set

You can’t buy them that way–I haven’t created the box set yet, and that is on my to-do list after I figure out my stupid cover for book three. (Yeah, still wrestling with it to get it exactly how I want it in paperback.)

If you were to ask me the best part about this whole promotion thing, I would have to say that it’s that people are starting to read my work. We all want people to read our stuff, but when they actually do, it’s nerve-wracking. So far I’ve been getting decent reviews. They’ve been saying my editing is solid, and there hasn’t been a complaint about formatting, which is a relief since I do all my own formatting myself.

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Overall, I would say the experience was a positive one.

If I were to give any advice to someone doing this I would say:

  1. Have more than one book out. I did prove that if you spend money advertising one book, you’re really advertising your whole backlist. Not many people bought books 2 and 3 who downloaded book 1, but it was enough I was happy they were available.
  2. Having a good cover is no joke. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when no one is looking at your books, but the minute you realize people are going to be choosing your book among a selection, suddenly you’re hoping it’s good enough. Be sure it is.
  3. Have a decent blurb. I shortened mine from what I wrote for Amazon, and I worried I didn’t spend enough time on it. Had I spent more time on it, maybe I could have gotten even more downloads.
  4. Have people willing to spread the word. I don’t know how many downloads came from my Twitter followers, or my followers willing to tweet about it. I don’t know how many downloads came from the people who liked my FB Author Page. I was also naughty and told everyone on my personal FB page that my book was free, and I know it’s against TOS to do that. I only did it once, on the day the newsletter went out. And I was lucky a few people shared that post.

I won’t be doing this again anytime soon, but it was fun to try something new and to get my feet wet. A little snowflake can cause an avalanche, and I’m hoping this is true in my case. But now that my trilogy is over and done, I need to relegate it to my backlist and move forward. I’m 31,000 words into a new WIP, and I can’t wait to share with you!

Happy writing Vania Margene

Who Are You Writing For? Yourself or Your Readers? Be Honest.

There’s a lot of fear in a writer’s heart. Lots of it. Am I good/smart/brave/pretty/handsome/wistful/*insert adjective here* enough to be a writer? Am I writing books people want to read?

I see this all the time. The fear. The agony of publishing. The waiting on pins and needles for reviews to start coming in. If they do. Then we have to wonder, is a bad review better than no review? Bad reviews mean that someone read my book, right? Or *gulp* tried to.

I have to admit, I see this stuff and I go wwwwwhhhhhhyyyyyyy?

Why_

There shouldn’t have to be this crippling anxiety when you write and publish a book. Not if you do it right. What do I mean by right? Well, I have some ideas.

The first and foremost is be honest who you’re writing for. Are you writing for yourself? Because if you are, then you have no justification to piss and moan when someone doesn’t read your book or want to read your book. Because after all, you wrote it for yourself so what do you care if no one else is reading it? So, be honest. I find that with a lot of indie myths floating around out there that this isn’t so easy. Some of my favorite indie myths? Indie myths

  1. Build it and they will come.
    This is the stupidest thing I ever heard. Your book is not a sports stadium. (And even sports stadiums are built with specifications. Could you image a stadium built with no bathrooms because the owner didn’t want to pay to put them in?) No one is going to find you unless you push your book out there. Even publishing houses make you do most if not all of the marketing for your book yourself. If you’re an indie, this means contacting book bloggers, paying for ads, hosting events on your FB author page. Setting up your own signings at bookstores. How does this fit in with writing for yourself? You can write what you want all day long, but if you’re writing what no one wants to read, why bother?
  2. Writing to market is a cop-out.
    I love this one the most. Do you know what writing to market even means? My friend Holly put it like this: Writing to market isn’t being a sell-out. Writing to market is writing what people like to read. That’s it. It’s not any harder than that. So what does that entail significantly? Knowing your genre. What tropes are used? What kind of characters are in that genre? It can even come down to how many pages does a book in that genre typically have? Know the genre. It’s why your reader picked up your book in the first place.
  3. Experimenting is okay/write what you love/it’s your book.
    I agree up to a point. You have to experiment to find your voice. You have to love what you’re writing because this is your hobby, this is your passion, and if you hate it, you might as well go to work instead and hate it there and get paid for it, too. And it is your book. Absolutely. The choice of genre and POV is in your hands. But you have to stay within the confines of the genre you choose. I don’t know how many more times I can say it. And if, for God’s sake, you have to experiment with a medieval Zombie sex plot, no one is saying you have to publish the *insert derogatory adjective here* thing.
  4. And the worst indie myth of all:
    I DO WHAT I WANT
  5. I’m an indie and I can do/write/publish what I want.
    This is hurtful for so many reasons. One, because what you do affects all of us. You know that saying “one rotten apple poisons the barrel?” It’s true. Indie publishing already has a bad enough reputation, do we need to add to it by publishing whatever crap you decide to write? You hurt me, and I hurt you. And if you think I’m full of crap, think again. Another reason this hurts is because you are hurting yourself on a personal level. One crap book and your reputation is on the line. Readers remember you. Don’t think they don’t. I have a list of readers I don’t like, both indie and trad-pubbed, and you know what? I don’t buy their books. Easy-peasy.

So what does all this have to do with the fear I was talking about earlier? Well, I’m willing to guess and say, if you follow the rules (yep, I went there) and produce a good book, you may find that the idea of people reading your book won’t scare you as much as it did.

What are these blasphemous rules I speak of?

  1. Know the genre you’re writing in. When a publishing professional asks, If you were to put your book on a shelf in a bookstore, where would you put it? That’s a serious question. We all dream of being in a bookstore, and I don’t think that means being in the back room because the manager hasn’t got a fucking clue where to put your book. Follow the tropes and expectations of that genre.
  2. Get the thing edited. I don’t care by who. Just do it. You have a typo on the first page, and it can be something as simple as using a period in dialogue when it should have been a comma, you lost me. And probably about 100 other readers who were interested. They aren’t anymore.
    And if this is your first book and you have no idea what you’re doing? Get a developmental editor, too. Your plot needs to move, your characters need to grow. If you have trouble crafting a good plot (ie no plot holes) and your characters are flat out boring, don’t publish.
  3. Have a cover that matches your genre. Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many authors do what they want with no sense of what is going on in their genre. This could be because they don’t have a genre, and well, that sucks. No genre, no cover, no bookshelf space, no book. It takes two seconds to Google the hot 100 on Amazon in your genre. If your cover looks like a sweet romance, but you wrote erotica, you’ll piss off a lot of people. And you know that means? Bad reviews.
  4. Write a decent blurb.

If you do all these, and yeah, it takes work, time, and money, and you publish the best book you can, there is no reason why you should be scared people will read your book.

Let me tell you a little story.
A someone told me they were petrified people were going to find and read their book. This puzzled me, as they published the darn thing–they should want someone to read it. Naturally, I looked them up on Amazon. The cover was okay; it prepped me for a chick-lit plot with some naughty bits. Can’t beat comedy and sex. The blurb sucked, but well, writing them is hard, so I gave them a pass. Their author bio was written first person, a no-no, but well, I guess some people don’t know that. I used the look inside feature that Amazon has so graciously set up for us so we don’t waste money, and I found the book was a mess. Their cover didn’t match the serious tone of the book, the formatting was horrible, and it was evident from the first paragraph they didn’t have an editor. They’re scared people are going to find their book? They should be.

There are things you can do to control the quality of your book. Find an editor/critique partner/beta reader who will teach you things, not just blow smoke up your bum. Read craft books. Go to writing conferences and have your first pages critiqued. Read in your genre. For the love of God, choose a genre. It makes writing a lot easier, trust me. And after you hit publish, you did it. Own it.

And seriously. If you are writing for yourself, when you’re done, print it out and shove it under the bed. Maybe the monster under there can edit it for you.

Am I too harsh?

Tell me what you think!

Vania Blog Signature

What Draws a Person to Buy Your Book: A VERY Scientific Poll and Results

Your first pages do a lot of work for your book, and this blog post was going to talk all about it. This very scientific poll I ran on Twitter was going to lead the way. But it bought up way more than just first pages, and this post turned into an overall-type thing. I’ve always enjoyed knowing how others make decisions, and here’s a small idea of what attracts readers to your book.

twitter poll

What I found was that some people are really brutal with a book. You get the first sentence with some, others, maybe the first paragraph. That’s it–if your potential reader even gets that far.

If you have a typo anywhere, forget it. I have little patience for typos. I’m starting to feel quite agent-y about the whole book-buying thing. All it takes is one little nope, and I’m done.

this-is-the-cutest-nope-ever-5457814

I would imagine though, that if an author knew how many readers s/he was losing due to a small error, it wouldn’t seem so cute.

The picture above was just a poll, but there were a lot of comments, too:

first lines twitter poll 7

This is a great thing to keep in mind. Your writing style won’t hit home with everyone. I dislike first person present. There is only one author I will read who writes that way. I’ve turned down beta requests and review requests because of this. I might as well be reading something like, right?

first lines twitter poll 5

Reviews were one aspect of the whole thing that I didn’t consider. Mainly because I don’t look at reviews unless it’s a non-fiction book. Taste is subjective, and unless the reviews say it’s poorly edited, I don’t think someone’s opinion would have much weight with me. And I would know if it’s poorly edited by reading the first couple paragraphs.

first lines twitter poll 3

Liking the blurb makes sense–if that is poorly written, there’s a good chance the book will be too. But blur-writing is a skill in itself, and you need to either pay someone who has the skill to do it or learn it yourself.

first lines twitter poll 8JPG

Being swept away by a book is the best sign. If you’re reading on Amazon and you run out of the free sample and you want more . . . that’s the goal of every author right? Because it’s not such a long stretch from being sad the sample has run out to clicking the buy button.

first lines twitter poll 6

Some people give their books way too much of a chance–and I think this happens when someone has already bought the book and doesn’t want their money to go to waste. That’s one thing you have to watch out for when buying indie books from Writer Twitter. We’re all friends, but just because that person is a friend, that doesn’t mean what they’ve written is any good. It’s an unfortunate fact that some of your friends will publish crap. Be it because they can’t afford hire an editor, or didn’t want to take the time, didn’t take the time to have beta readers weigh in on their book, or because they don’t do anything in their non-writing time to get better, (reading craft books, reading other fiction) sometimes you just can’t trust the people you know are good writers (or know how to format correctly, either).

first lines twitter poll 4

While I was thinking of mainly indie books, Jamie brings up a good point. Trad-pubbed authors don’t control the book cover or the blurb. If you’re turned off by those two things, you won’t make it to the inside. Although, if you are trad-pubbed and have a little marketing power behind you, maybe a high number of good reviews or positive word of mouth would counteract a cover you don’t like and a blurb that sounds boring.

first lines twitter poll 2

Leanne brings up the book’s title, something else I didn’t think of, at least for this poll. I’ve lamented in the past about my title for On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton. I loved it then, not so much now. I don’t think the title has helped sales. *Laughs* But I bought the ISBN number for it so to retitle it I would have to trash the number, and that’s a waste of money. But anyway, to get back to Leanne, she likes the title and the cover.
If you want to laugh at some, look here.

first lines twitter poll 1

And last, but not least, Laurie likes the blurb as do most of us.

This poll surprised me, but it shouldn’t have because it’s a no-brainer to have a decent cover and a good blurb. But taste is subjective, and what you like for your own book may not be the best for your genre or your book’s content, so it’s always a good idea to research what is selling in your genre and try to fit in and stand out at the same time. Got it? Good. 😛

If you have a poor cover, some won’t bother with you at all. If you have poorly written-blurb, that’s probably a good indication the inside isn’t written well either, and potential readers will pass you by.

Publishing is a cutthroat industry; readers don’t have time for your poorly written book.

So, what makes a reader buy your book?

  1. A good cover. Something that fits within your genre.
  2. A good title.
  3. A good blurb. Hire someone. Learn how to do it and get honest feedback from people you trust.
  4.  Have awesome first pages.
  5. Format it correctly. Your book could have won the Pulitzer, but if you leave the automatic 8 pt. space between paragraphs, I’m not reading you. Simple as that.
  6. Decent reviews won’t hurt. At least one five star review so when you tweet the link to your book the five stars will pop in the tweet. I’m kidding. Kind of.

I rarely tweet my own books, but this is what it looks like:

never tweet my own books

Might not help if someone found your book on Amazon, but if you tweet it now and then, it can’t hurt.

This blog post was going to be about first pages, but I wanted to feature my Twitter poll, so I’ll write about first pages another day.

Thanks for reading, and tell me what you think!

Vania Blog Signature

 

 

 

Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg?

This is going to be a touchy post. Not uncomfortable touchy-feely like your creepy neighbor, more touchy-feely like you’ll probably get mad. At me, at my thoughts about the indie-publishing industry, whatever.

Indie writers are famous (infamous?) for not liking being told what to do. They don’t like being told to write every day, they don’t like being told not to genre-hop, they don’t like being told write to market. No head-hopping, no weird 1st person to 3rd person shifts in the middle of a novel, no using their artistic license to do what they want.

And that’s really great–up to a point. Yes, write what you love. For sure. Use 100 POVs in a novella because you think they fit, do that crazy cover because you want to stand out. Do whatever the hell you want because it’s your book, you’re self-publishing it, and you don’t have to answer to anyone.

There’s disdain for the traditional publishing industry. I know there is because I’ve felt it myself. When I attended the Minnesota Writer’s conference I went to a workshop on how to self-publish your novel. That she ran her own self-publishing firm seemed a conflict of interest to me, but anyway, her firm hired out everything. She hired out the editing, the proofing, the formatting, the cover. They did it all for you for a hefty tune of $5,000-$10,000. I could hear dreams shattering around me like fragile champagne glasses thrown against a stone fireplace mantle. (Romantic, yes?) Having already published 1700 for free (I only paid for my ISBN number) I sat there shaking my head.

But between then and now I had a realization. She wasn’t trying to rip anyone off. On the contrary, what she was actually trying to get across was that when you self-publish, especially when you self-publish, you are in charge of the quality of your book.  You are in charge of how good the story is, you are in charge of how eye-catching the cover is. You are in charge to make sure the inside of your book is not a hot mess. The speaker of that workshop discouraged a lot of people from ever trying to self-publish because they didn’t know where else to look for information. They didn’t realize that you could self-publish for free (or for cheaper than $5,000!).

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It’s too bad because the only thing she was trying to press upon the attendees of her workshop was that a certain standard is expected when a reader opens a book.

Traditional publishing is under a lot of fire lately for not being flexible and not changing their ways to adapt to what the publishing industry is turning into. I agree that to keep up with the output of indie authors they are going to step up their game and do things differently. But while distribution and output may change, the point is, quality is something a reader can always expect from a traditionally published book.  And whether you want to believe it or not, a reader is going to want that same quality from your book, too.

Oh, I know, you’ve found typos in books. I read a book recently and a whole speech tag was missing in a sentence. I don’t know how it slipped by an editor, but it did. There have always been typos. And there will be more as the publishing industry has to tighten their bootstraps and make budget cuts. But for every little mistake that slips by in a trad-pubbed book, there things a reader can expect to get from a book they bought from a big publisher:

  1. A story that makes sense in terms of plot, characters, and POV.
  2. A cover that looks nice that will hint at what the book is about.
  3. A blurb that also makes sense and makes a potential customer want to read the book.
  4. Formatting inside that doesn’t distract from the reading experience.

An author who is traditionally-published doesn’t have to worry about that stuff, and unless they go hybrid and self-publish as well as have their books trad-published, they won’t have to.

But you will. Not knowing isn’t a valid reason. If you want people to read your book, and read the next one you write, and the next, you have to take ownership of your work. It isn’t unheard of for indie-authors to revamp their first books as they publish more and learn more. I redid the cover for 1700, fixed typos, and fixed some formatting errors.

Anyway, the point I’m getting at with this post is that you are responsible for the quality of your book. Going rogue in the name of artistic license may feel good at the time, but how good is it going to feel if it ultimately means giving up sales and maybe even sullying your reputation as a writer?

The best way to know how to format your book is to look at one. Check one out at the library, or go to the bookstore and look through several in your genre. When I wrote my front matter for 1700, I took the book I was reading and copied it. You’ll notice in a trad-pubbed book the margins are justified, there are pages numbers, the book’s title and author name in the headers. There aren’t any spaces between paragraphs (this is a big pet peeve of mine).

There’s no doubt that the publishing industry is changing. But like anything that changes, you want things to get better, not worse.

Tell me what you think! Am I being too picky?

Other articles on self-publishing quality:

http://www.writing-world.com/publish/lulu.shtml

http://www.writing-world.com/publish/format.shtml

https://self-publishingschool.com/5-book-formatting-mistakes-to-avoid/

https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/thread/1434?start=0&tstart=0

 

Don’t Rush to Publish!

Probably the best advice I can give you about publishing is not to rush.

I’ve always promoted doing as much as you can yourself—especially since your first book is pretty much a loss until you write more and have more books available for purchase. When it’s when it’s your only book available, you’ll never get back what you put into it. (Unless you have a tangible way to measure pride and satisfaction.)

Combining the fact that this is your first book with doing it all on your own is dangerous. You’ll never be sure if your book bombed because you’re an unknown author and this is your first book, or if it’s because your book sucks. Publishing a superior product rather than a POS will take some of the guesswork out of the question.

You want to put your best work out there, so when you have more books available you don’t have to waste time fixing it. Being it is so easy to update files in Kindle Direct Publishing, you may get into the habit of updating your files and covers all the time. It’s a waste and you’ll never move forward. Fixing your files in CreateSpace is easy too, but your book isn’t available until your files are approved, and CreateSpace’s approval time is longer than KDP’s. People still can buy your Kindle book while the new file is being approved, but it will be your old file.

Here are some tips to not rush:

Cover

Never publish your first attempt at making a cover. Make many covers. Many, many, many. Try different pictures, fonts, and color themes. Take your best two or three and turn them into a contest on Facebook or Twitter. Enter all the names of the people who chose the one you decided to use into a drawing and give a signed copy of your book to the winner. Ask for lots of feedback. There are plenty of people online who are willing to give you an honest opinion.

Research your genre, watch picture manipulation videos to learn how to do what you want. If your idea is too much for you to do on your own, or you just can’t get your vision from your head onto the computer, ask for help.  Don’t publish your first attempt. Keep it clean, keep it professional. One day you may change your cover to bump up sales, or because your skills have improved, or because you found a better picture. All I’m saying is, don’t make it a habit. You’re supposed to be writing more books.

Formatting/Book Interior

The inside of your book needn’t change much. As you grow your library you may want to add those books to a list in the front or back matter letting your reader know they are available. Maybe you’ll want to fix typos, but don’t get caught up with this. You’ll never stop editing, and I feel it’s disrespectful to the people who previously bought your book before your fixes.

CreateSpace takes 12-24 hours to approve files, and your book is not available during the approval process. You can lose sales going into it to fix to too many times.

KDP takes five hours, but don’t use this as an excuse to fix every little thing. Plus you want your paperback and Kindle files to match. Publishing your book as close to perfect as possible will save you lots of time in the long run.

Blurb

Changing your book’s description is simple enough, but if you offer a paperback you’ll want your product information to match the blurb on the back of your book. Again, CS has to approve any changes and this takes time. Blurb writing is difficult, every writer loathes it. I find it easier to write blurbs for others than for my own books. Research how to write one and get plenty of feedback from people who both have and have not read your book. The people who have read it can tell you if it’s accurate. The people who have not read your book can tell you if the blurb makes them want to read it.

Editing

I’ve written a lot about editing in my publishing series, and in two prior blog posts. Editing is the worst because of all the waiting, waiting, waiting. For other people. To read your work. You’re waiting on someone (or hopefully many someones) to read your work and you can’t say anything or you’ll seem rude. If you pay someone, hopefully, you come to some kind of a time agreement. If your friends are doing you a favor, you need to be patient. I’ve edited for people who have published before I was done. Please don’t do that—especially if they keep you updated and they are finding things. It’s rude, and frankly, it hurt my feelings. What I advise you to do is forget about publishing it. Work on something new. Work on your cover—can you make it better? Work on your website, or write a few blog posts and schedule them out so you’re ahead. Try to get into a blog tour, or ask some of your friends who run blogs to interview you. Beta-read or edit for someone else. There are plenty of ways to fill your time and still feel like you are moving forward career-wise.

Be patient.

Don’t rush into publishing. It will save you a lot of time down the road, and a lot of regrets, because you’ll never now how many sales you lost because of a poor cover, or your first 20% in the Look Inside feature has typos in it and a potential reader didn’t want to take a chance on the rest of your book.

It took a year or more to write your book. Waiting a bit longer won’t hurt.

What’s your biggest publishing regret?

Kindle Cover

That’s great, you say, but paperbacks don’t sell, the cover looks too complicated, and I don’t want to do that right now; I would just prefer to publish on Kindle and be done with it. What do I need for a cover then?

If you’re not interested in doing CreateSpace, then you’ll need to do the cover, yes, and it will just be the front, or rather, the picture customers will see on Amazon. You’ll still need to write the blurb for the product information, but you won’t have to worry about it being put on the back of a paperback.

Open a Word document, make a text box of your chosen trim size, being 5×8, 6×9, whatever. I advise you to do it this way in case you decide down the road to offer a paperback after all, then all you will need to add is the spine and back cover and adjust the page layout (remember all that math . . . yeah . . . ).

When you’re done, saving it in a photo format can be a bit tricky, however, if you’re doing it in Word because there’s no option to save as a jpeg, jpg, or a tiff file, the only files being accepted by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). They don’t take a PDF like CS does.

What I did when I made the cover for Under Lock and Key, was after I made the cover, I used the Snipping Tool and “snipped it” and saved it as a jpeg. After I did that, I ran it through GIMP and made sure it was 300 dpi. Always make sure your images are 300 dpi or dots per inch, so your picture is clear online.

Cover basics are the same for Kindle: you want your cover to look pleasing, your name and title clear as a small thumbprint for a potential reader to see.

I made a quick one for my e-reader story using a photo I here found so I didn’t have to pay money for a blog post.

2017-03-28

This is a screen shot of the cover I made in Word. There is a lot wrong with it. The title isn’t legible that small in that font, and my name is too dark to be seen. But I’ll leave it this way since this is only an example. Plus the bottom of the Y is cut off (it seems like I like doing that) so you would want to adjust that text box. 😛

Now use the Snipping Tool: 2017-03-28 (2)

And be as precise as you can. If you get some of the white in there, you can crop it out with GIMP when you check it for dpi:

2017-03-28 (3)

Save it as a JPEG file in the Save As Type:

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Right now it’s going to save as a PNG, so you need to change it to JPEG using the down arrow on the right:

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That will save it in the file you need. Now you can upload it into GIMP and crop it if you need to, if you accidently snipped some white, and make sure it’s 300 dpi. That’s all you need to do for a cover for your Kindle:

Make it in Word
Snip It
Save it as a JPEG
Run it through GIMP.
Export it under the Save AS so the change in dpi sticks

My picture was only 72 dpi, so I changed it to 300. I exported it to save the changes and this is it:

gimp picture

And that’s all you need. It’s a lot less involved than doing a book cover, and there are a lot of authors who only offer an e-reader option for this reason. Under Lock and Key is a short story, so I didn’t do a paperback for it. But I like paperbacks, and I will probably always offer them to my readers if I can. It might be an expense because I do purchase my own ISBN numbers, but it’s a personal choice.

You can make your cover as simple or as involved as you want. You can buy a template, hire an artist, whatever you choose to do.

When you offer both paperback and Kindle, the thumbnail that shows up is for your Kindle. It’s easy to make a new cover, for the Kindle, but if you’re going to do that you have to decide if you’re going to change the cover in CreateSpace. You don’t to make your readers angry thinking they’re going to get your new cover but they get a completely different one in paperback because you didn’t change it in CreateSpace. I like to keep all my things the same. When I redid the cover for 1700, I changed both. I think it’s courteous that way. I don’t want my readers not to trust me for any reason.

I think that’s it for Kindle Covers. I only need to tell you how to format your Kindle file, and that’s up next!

Until next time!

CreateSpace Recap

I started this publishing series eight months ago. Sorry about that. But in that time I’ve published a book (two novellas together), wrote 150,000 more words (in the form of 6 novellas that will be published together), and fixed 1700’s typos inside and the cover. I have also started fixing my 2015 NaNo project just so I can say it’s done and move on.

When I started this series, it was my intention to tell you how to publish a quality paperback cheaply and easily.  I think in this recap you’ll see I did that. Even now, I am so tired of hearing that you need to pay for this, pay for that, to publish a quality book.

Indie publishing went from, “It’s not a real way to publish” to “It is a real way if you pay for everything.” No one can afford to pay for the ISBN number, the editing, the formatting, the file conversions. And believe me, there are people who will do it all for you. For a price. But the sad part is if you are willing to take a few minutes (okay, hours), read a few books,  you don’t need to pay for anything.

Let the recap of eight months begin.

  1. You wrote a book! Congratulations. Let it sit for a few weeks, even a few months, write something else, read it again. Have a few people read it. Ask them to look for plot holes, flat characters, scenes that don’t move the story along. If you use Word, download Grammarly. It’s a decent checker for things I miss or wouldn’t think to look for. Buy the Hemingway App for more help ($20.00 is a decent investment). Use anything you can get your hands on to make your work as clear and as typo-free as possible.
  2. Grab a trad-pubbed book and copy the front and back matter. You need the copyright page, the acknowledgments. The title page. Dedication page. The author page. You’re in charge of all it.
  3. Get your author picture taken. I want to see you sitting in a cafe with a cup of coffee in your hands, smiling. Because you just wrote a book, and you’re going to publish it, and you are proud of it, and you’re going to own it, dammit! Have your best friend take it and buy her a cup of coffee for her trouble.
  4. Buy your ISBN or don’t. At the beginning, I leaned toward buying your own, protect your work and all that. But if you’re not sure what your publishing plan is, (like one a year, if that) take the free one CreateSpace gives you. No harm done.
  5. Choose the size of your book. If you’re writing smut you’re not going to be able to choose the smut-sized trim sold in Walmart. But choose the size you want, the color (cream or white) pages you want.
  6. Based on that, download the free template from CreateSpace so you can format the inside of your book. CreateSpace wants you to have an easy experience, a good experience, so you keep using them. The template is easy. Download it, copy and paste your manuscript into it. You don’t need to copy the template exactly. Their template comes with a Table of Contents I do not use. Change the font if you want, maybe the size. And please make a couple different copies of your MS. If something goes horribly wrong, well, that would bad. Play around with the template before you copy and paste your MS into it. See what you can change and what will mess up if you touch it.
  7. Make your template for your cover. If you make changes to the number of pages in your MS, you’ll need to recalculate the spine width and change the paper layout dimensions. I forgot to do that when messing around with 1700. I changed the spine text box but not the paper layout. That’s probably why I had some of my spine color wrapped on my front cover.
  8. Write your blurb. Maybe you already did this. Have one of your beta readers read it, make sure it sounds good. I gave you some resources how to write a good one. It takes a little bit of help, though, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
  9. I wrote about your cover a lot. Remember, if you don’t like the thought of doing your own cover, don’t. Use the CreateSpace Cover Creator, or buy a cover that’s already done. Hire someone. This series was to help you do it as cheaply as possible. People *do* judge a book by its cover, so if this is something you don’t want to tackle, I don’t blame you. There’s a lot of choices out there.
  10. CS  takes a PDF of your cover (in the Save As option on Word, PDF is a choice). Submit that, submit your interior, and you’re done. They say 24 hours, but it only takes them 12 to get back to you and tell you if it’s approved or not. Remember the flattening warning you’re going to get. That’s okay. Order the proof, check it over. When I got my second proof for 1700 I read it like I was reading anyone and looked for typos. Spend some time on it, because the proof is exactly what people will be getting when they order it. It takes about 5-10 days to get the proof in the mail. If you want your paperback and the Kindle to be live at the same time, don’t go through the Kindle stuff until your paperback is ready to go. Kindle only takes 5 hours to approve your files. You can have them live on the same day. I had trouble with CS so my Kindle version was live for a couple weeks before my paperback was available. That’s up to you and how you want to do it.

 

And that’s it. I recommend Chris McMullen’s book and you can find it here. He explains a lot of the technical stuff with the template and he goes into Word a lot more than I do. There’s a lot of tutorials and YouTube videos out there. When I started eight months ago, I didn’t know as much as I do now. Indie publishing is a continual learning process because things change. I’ve learned to read only things that were written in 2016 or even more recently because old information may not help.

If you need any more help, drop me a question. I’m sure you can Google the answer probably faster than I can answer it, but I’ll be going through this whole thing in a couple more months when Summer Secrets is ready to be published. I’ve come a long way with doing covers in Word, and I’m confident that with the patience I’ve learned, the tricks I’ve taught myself playing with the CS interior template, and the tutorials I’ve watched about picture manipulation, the process will go smoothly. And I hope yours does too.

 

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