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The Write Publishing: Judge A Book By Its Cover

They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but in the world of self-Publishing the right or wrong cover can make or break you. In the saturated world of eBooks having an eye catching cover is everything.

Choosing the Right Cover

Research book covers in your genre – not saying you need to get a cookie cutter copy that will blend in with the masses but at least make sure that your cover has similar themes as the top books in your genre.

Consider your theme– Make sure your cover conveys the theme or tone of your novel. You don’t want to confuse readers before they even open your book. I made this mistake with my first covers. While I thought they were awesome they made my book seem like a comic or manga and possibly turned off readers in my genre, paranormal romance.

Repeat Covers– Unless you are writing a serial try not to use the same cover for all the books in your series. While they need to have some similarities to show that they are part of the same series. It’s not good form to keep the same exact cover for each. Also if you are using stock photos you would need to purchase a license for each book anyway so it doesn’t save you too much cost wise either.

Model Drama– There are only so many models available in the stock world. Especially if you are on a tight budget. If you use popular sites like iStock or Deposit Photos, don’t be upset if you see multiple books with your same model and pose.

DIY or Not– You may opt to create your own covers to reduce the production cost of your book. If that’s the case be sure to do your research on basic design principles like the rule of thirds. Don’t forget to check the licensing on any stock photos and fonts used in your work, especially from so-called free sites. Not all of the photos and fonts have free commercial use licenses and most have limits on how many copies can be made with the image even with a paid license.

Custom and Pre-Made Covers– If you don’t feel like figuring out how to make your own cover or just don’t have the required skills, there is nothing wrong with buying a premade cover or hiring someone to make the cover for you. A lot of authors, including myself choose this option. Premades can range from $25-$250 based on the detail of the work, quality of the stock photo, and type of cover (eBook, Print, audiobook). Custom covers vary in price based on the same criteria although custom artwork for your cover increases the cost exponentially. Custom covers range from $5-$500+.

Credit your artist– If you choose to buy premade or have custom work done, best practice is to credit the artist or firm in the front cover of your book as well as in the book data. Some artists even require this in their contract with you. As an author, it is important to credit those you have worked with not only to show support for your team and the other artists involved int he project but also to cover yourself in case of copyright issues involving the art.

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The Write Publishing: Self-Pub Socially

So you want to go for it on your own? Let me tell you that self publishing is definitely not a solitary act. You will need a solid support base in order to achieve your goals of self made stardom.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. Self Publishing is not a get rich quick scheme by any means. It is a lot of hard work but with the right attitude and effort, it can be a very rewarding experience.

In part one of Self-Publishing I will discuss mostly the marketing and budgeting aspects of self publishing. Even though its called self publishing to be successful, however that looks for you. There is a heavily social aspect to the job.

Things to Consider

1.) Self Publishing is not an excuse to produce sub par work!

Your reputation as an author is everything in Publishing. So don’t skimp out on editing to meet some arbitrary deadline. One of the perks of being self-published is being on your own schedule. If you need more time to put out a quality product take it. If it’s an issue of money, that can be worked around too. There are tons of blogs like this one with ample resources to help you put forth a quality product no matter you time and budgetary constraints.

2.) How good are you with budgets?

You aren’t going to have the privilege of an advance or the resources of a major company behind you. All of your production and marketing costs will come out of your pockets. That’s why it’s important to set a budget, figure out what services you are willing to pay for and which ones you can DIY. The lower your costs, the higher your profits if any. Gig sites like Fiverr can come in handy for discount book covers, and marketing graphics but I wouldn’t suggest them for an editor.

You will also need to learn to budget your time. It’s very easy to get caught up in the social media and marketing aspect and lose sight of the actual writing, or vice versa. Setting a schedule for writing, marketing, and networking will go a long way in easing the burden of the multi hat wearing self publisher.

3.) How are you with self promotion?

Being shy about promoting yourself and your work will not go over so well in the self-publishing world. A lot of your sales will come from people who feel connected to you in some way. There are ways to maintain a level of anonymity, but the more outgoing you are, the easier it will be to reach and attract an audience. On the flip side, you also don’t want to be that person that doesn’t interact with others but is constantly posting promotional material. You will quickly be labeled a spammer or worse a scammer.

Outside of the digital realm, be sure to have some sort of card or flyer to hand out to people who may be interested in your work. The boots on the ground method is often more effective than wading through the depths of social media. Cards can be placed at local businesses (with their permission of course), handed out by your personally, and/or given to friends or family to help spread the word in your community.

4.) Are you good with social media?

Social Media will be your number one avenue for marketing. You don’t have to be an expert or a master of all platforms. Just find one or two that you are most comfortable with and start building your audience. By audience I mean readers! While having a bunch of writing friends is excellent, and some authors do support other authors. You don’t want to get caught in a trap of groups and spaces of authors promoting their work without reaching actual readers.

Not so good with social media? Having an active mailing list is often more valuable than a thousand followers on social media. So focus on building a list with a simple newsletter format. My newsletter is weekly but monthly is just fine if you don’t have a lot going on. Update your readers about your writing process, share some funny memes with anecdotes to your writing or daily life, inform people of upcoming appearances and events both your own and other writing-related events. There are plenty of options to keep people invested in what you have to say.

Here’s a sample of my newsletter. Feel free to join my mailing list as well!

I am one of those people who happens to be fairly social so I’m across multiple platforms. You can check me out at the following links and don’t be shy about being friendly!

My Social Media Links in Order of Activity

Facebook

www.facebook.com/stellawilliamsauthor

Instagram

www.instagram.com/stellalove4life

YouTube

https://bit.ly/2RRbd9f

Twitter

www.twitter.com/stellalove4life

Pinterest

www.pinterest.com/stellawilliamsa

Tumblr

http://serpentinecreative.tumblr.com

Let me know if this article has been helpful and post any other questions you may have in the comments. Happy Self-Publishing!

Claude’s Conquest

Maura’s Men Book 2

After escaping the clutches of the evil Vampiress Maura, three friends struggle with the past in finding a new way of life and love…

CCEbookcoverClaude is nobody’s hero, yet he finds himself saving yet another damsel in distress. He should have learned his lesson the first time. Cat had been a major thorn in his side but at least he hadn’t been unfortunate enough to be attracted to her. That had been Xander’s problem. Now he had a problem all his own. The charming and intelligent Gretchen threatens everything Claude has come to accept about himself.

Gretchen is not amused by Claude’s advances. His arrogance combined with the skeletons in her closet has Gretchen on the defensive. Dealing with Claude is merely a means to an end; she wants her independence as well as vengeance. If only her body would get on board.

 

 

Available HERE on Amazon

Xander’s Claim

Maura’s Men Book 1

After escaping the clutches of the evil Vampiress Maura, three friends struggle with the past in finding a new way of life and love…

Stella_Williams_5Xander’s nightmare past has left him with some serious control issues. Without the burning hatred that kept him going when he was under Maura’s thumb, he had nothing else to live for. Maura had destroyed everything he had once been. Jaded and closed off to the world around him, Xander is completely unprepared for the arrival of Cat.

One catastrophe changed Cat’s life forever. Cat thought her best friend was crazy for wanting to be a vampire but loved her enough to go along with it anyway. When a sick twist of fate lands her in her friend’s place, her strong personality and an intolerance for mysterious, arrogant, know it all types like Xander, are the only things she has left to call her own. She can’t possibly allow a few years of forced celibacy and tempting encounters to take that away as well.

When the past comes back to haunt them, will it destroy them or will they find the strength to claim what is in their hearts?

Available HERE on Amazon

Xander’s Claim

Xander’s Claim Maura’s Men Book 1

After escaping the clutches of the evil Vampiress Maura, three friends struggle with the past in finding a new way of life and love…

Stella_Williams_5Xander’s nightmare past has left him with some serious control issues. Without the burning hatred that kept him going when he was under Maura’s thumb, he had nothing else to live for. Maura had destroyed everything he had once been. Jaded and closed off to the world around him, Xander is completely unprepared for the arrival of Cat.

One catastrophe changed Cat’s life forever. Cat thought her best friend was crazy for wanting to be a vampire but loved her enough to go along with it anyway. When a sick twist of fate lands her in her friend’s place, her strong personality and an intolerance for mysterious, arrogant, know it all types like Xander, are the only things she has left to call her own. She can’t possibly allow a few years of forced celibacy and tempting encounters to take that away as well.

When the past comes back to haunt them, will it destroy them or will they find the strength to claim what is in their hearts?

Available HERE on Amazon

Stereo Goals Day 6

With all of my re-recording finished it was finally time to export my audio files! It was a very exciting moment but still a tedious one.  Part of working with my father is that he loves to teach as he goes. That meant while I would much rather be catching up on some market research I’m huddled over his computer screen listening to him go over every detailed step of his music editing software and how it processes my voice to be turned into my glorious audio book. No harm no foul considering one day I may need the knowledge to create a truly DIY audio book.

Finally with all my files edited and converted to the proper format it is time to upload it! I chose to use Audible.com to distribute my audio book.  I uploaded each file individually and once completed, clicked submit for their final review.  The website says it will take 10-14 business days to review my files to ensure their quality and that I will be notified immediately of any faults.  Let the waiting games begin!

Lessons Learned Day 6:

  • Listen and Learn- If your sound tech/engineer/whoever is recording is willing to teach you the tricks of the trade, GO FOR IT and be GRATEFUL!
  • Be prepared to wait- It seems I spent more time waiting than recording during this whole process.

 

Stereo Goals Day 5

In the beginning, when I gave myself two weeks to record my audio book I hadn’t given a thought to the long editing and publication process. I thought it would take the whole two weeks to finish getting one recording from the beginning to the end of my book. However, since Day 4 was so productive, Day 5 in the studio I finally read the last paragraph. At least I thought I had. Silly me!
Major setback, SNAFU, WTF moment. The version of my book I had recorded turned out not to be the final version of my book as published! I know you are probably thinking, “How in the world did you not know/notice that?!” Well to answer your question. This was my first book ever published and I self-published it with absolutely no clue what I was doing initially. So the book had undergone many, many updates the last and most polished of which only had a few changes, mostly formatting changes, made to it. So while the majority of the story is the same, I may have switched around a paragraph or two. On top of that, I had split my chapters up slightly different in the final version than the version I recorded.
Lucky me these changes could easily be made without too much additional recording since I had the forethought to record in paragraphs instead of long sections. The fix was just a matter of moving around a few audio files and adding a couple minutes more of narration. Still the process is time-consuming and currently ongoing.
Lessons Learned Day 5
Make sure you are recording what you meant to record- It’s seriously embarrassing and extremely costly both in time and money (if you are paying a producer/voice actor) to go through what I am going through now.

Stereo Goals Day 4

I stepped into the studio ready to go. I’d warmed up my vocal chords beforehand by singing while getting ready and was able to do most of my narration with only one or two repetitions of each paragraph. My deadline was still a heavy weight on my shoulder but not because I wasn’t sure I could get everything recorded in time. My worry at this point was mostly editing. After day 3 my father spent three more hours in the studio cutting out extra-long pauses and making sure there was enough air space at the beginning and end of each recording.
It’s important to note that I did let my Dad do this on his own without my input because he wasn’t actually cutting anything important and we had strict guidelines on just how much space was needed for chapters, sections, paragraphs etc. Depending on who you are working with you may want to be a little more hands-on with the editing process and if you are doing everything on your own maybe editing as you go so it’s not some monumental task at the end.
By the end of Day 4, I’d managed a big jump from 30% to 82% complete.
Lessons Learned Day 4

  • Warm Up- Sing a couple of songs and stretch your body out a little helps to minimize how many takes you do and keeps your body from getting too stiff from sitting or standing for too long.
  • Wear quiet clothing- Bulky sweaters and jogging pants might not be the best comfortable clothes for recording unless you want to stand like a statue while recording to minimize excess rustling noise.
  • Edit as you go- A few small tweaks while recording can save hours of time editing later.

Stereo Goals Day 3

The third day in the studio was a lot easier in some ways and harder in others. The pressure of having such a short time frame to complete my audiobook was getting to me. I rushed through my narration and it ended up taking longer than it should have because I kept getting tongue-tied. There were whole sections that had to be recorded over and over again because it sounded forced or rushed.
Day three was also the day I got to my first sex scene. It is infinitely easier to write a sex scene in the comfort of your own space. Publishing them is easy too because although you hope your readers enjoy them, you aren’t there to see their reactions to them. Reading them out loud was a bit embarrassing. Well, to be totally honest, it was extremely awkward and embarrassing, due greatly to the fact that my producer just happens to also be my Dad. I hadn’t thought about that part when I jumped at the opportunity to use his studio and expertise to record my audio book for free.
Despite everything, I still managed to get another 15% recorded which brought me to 30%. Not bad for all my setbacks.
Lessons Learned Day 3

  • Don’t wear earrings- the headphones crushed my studs into my ears and it was very uncomfortable.
  • Don’t rush- it doesn’t sound right in playback and you are more likely to make mistakes.

Stereo Goals

Whoever said, “writing is the easy part”… Well, I’ve said it a few times myself, but lately, I feel like it’s actually the hardest. So in order to keep my brain from shorting out with writer’s worry, I’ve decided to brush off a few projects I had sidelined in my quest to maintain my writing goals. Keeping up with my blog is one of them but also creating an audiobook for my already completed work. I will be documenting my DIY audio book journey in subsequent posts, thus checking both boxes on my “To Do” list.

There are a lot of things that go into creating an audio book that a novice like me hadn’t thought about. The cost of a producer and voice actor can be insane. Still, recording one with my laptop’s microphone and some random free software just wouldn’t be a very good product. Without any clue how to edit it properly my work wouldn’t be accepted on any major audio book site like Audible.com or Audiobooks.com.

So what exactly is needed to create a professional DIY audio book? Well, there is plenty of really good information readily available through google and audiophile blogs. Since I am an admitted Amazon junky; Audible’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) blog is where I got all my information. They did it so well I highly suggest browsing here.

The short version.

You will need:

1.) A quiet place to record
2.) A decent microphone
3.) Audio editing software like Pro Tools
4.) A reliable computer
5.) Lots of time and patience

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