My Self-Publishing Mid-Life Crisis

By Paul Samael

The typical male mid-life crisis seems to involve things like buying a sports car and generally behaving embarrassingly for your age. It’s often prompted, so I’m told, by a fear that time might be starting to run out to do all the things you want to do with your life. Somehow, the sports car bit never really happened for me – but roundabout 2010, it was that feeling of not getting any younger which finally made me resolve to try to publish a novel that I’d been writing, on and off, for about 15 years.

The first step was to finish the accursed thing – which took longer than expected. Then there was the question of how to get it published. I had written a couple of non-fiction books already which had been conventionally published. Although they hadn’t proved to be very successful, I had acquired an agent as a result of that work. Brimming with optimism, I sent her a sample of my newly minted magnum opus. The answer was not very encouraging. What market was I aiming at? I didn’t really know. The novel fell into a kind of godforsaken “no man’s land” somewhere between sci-fi and literary fiction and she didn’t think she could get a publisher to take it on.

I could then have hawked it around other agents or sent it directly to publishers. But I suspected that the responses would be similarly negative; indeed, trawling the internet turned up some research suggesting that on average, it took about 11 years for authors to get their first publishing deal for fiction (which was not good for my sense of time running out….). I also knew from the experience of my non-fiction books that even when publishers do take you on, they rarely do much in the way of promotion and quickly lose interest if sales fail to take off in the first 12 months. Was I really prepared to spend around a decade trying to get these people to publish my stuff?

The alternative was self-publishing. At first though, I was a bit hesitant. My inner literary snob told me that it was little different from paying a vanity press to publish my work – which they will do regardless of whether it’s actually any good. So I felt in need of some kind of external validation. I could have asked friends to read the novel – but it’s a lot to expect of people and I had a lingering concern that they wouldn’t necessarily be 100% honest about what they thought. Happily, the internet has come up with a solution to this problem in the form of peer review sites like youwriteon.com or scribophile.com. These allow you to post a sample of your work and get feedback from other users. They usually require you to provide feedback on other people’s work before you can get any on your own. But my experience was that – with some exceptions – the feedback was constructive. Crucially, it gave me the confidence I needed to self-publish and helped me to improve some aspects of the novel.

The next question was how to self-publish – do you go for ebooks, hard copy or both? For me, an ebook version was the logical first step because it’s relatively low cost – and potentially even zero cost if you prepare your own typescript for publication and design your own cover. And unlike hard copy, it also gives you global distribution – for example, my novel has been reviewed by people as far afield as Australia and the West Coast of the US.

Where possible, I also decided to make the novel available for free – which is an option on three of the platforms I have used, Smashwords, Obooko and iTunes (Amazon won’t normally let you offer your book for free but it will sometimes price match other platforms). I did this because reading a book takes a certain level of commitment and effort – and I was (and pretty much still am) an unknown author with only a few decent-ish reviews to recommend me. By offering my novel for free, I hoped to overcome some of that natural resistance to trying something new and untested.

Obviously, this involved jettisoning that long-cherished dream of becoming the next J K Rowling – but very few authors make serious money from publishing (most do it alongside other jobs that pay rather better). And no one says you have to keep your ebook available for free for all time – I’m aware of a number of self-published authors who’ve chosen to make their ebooks for free for an initial period (often to build up a few favourable reviews) and then switched to a paid-for model afterwards. Or you could make just one of your books free as a kind of “taster”, with a view to attracting readers, whilst offering others on a paid-for basis.

But for me, getting readers to give my novel a try was more important than earning money from it. Does making it free actually help with this? Well, according to Smashwords, free ebooks are on average 33 times more likely to be downloaded than paid-for ebooks. I can’t say whether that’s true for my novel because I never offered it as a paid-for download – but what I can tell you is that, since mid-2012, it has had over 8400 downloads on Smashwords alone (together with a reasonable number of positive reviews). Given that the first novel by a debut author is generally thought to have done well if it sells about 1000 copies, I don’t think that’s too bad a performance – especially when you consider that I have done relatively little in the way of promotion of the book.

As for hard copy, that’s not something I’ve tried yet – so you might be wondering why on earth I am doing a guest post on the blog of a company that specialises in printing hard copy books. But I don’t take the view that with the advent of ebooks, a hard copy is dead; I think there’s a role for both. Indeed, the latest sales figures for hard copy suggest that it has been making something of a comeback over the past couple of years.

Obviously, a hard copy will generally involve higher costs and for many authors, making large quantities available for free is unlikely to be a viable option (although it may be worth distributing a limited number of free copies for review purposes etc). But my advice to anyone thinking of self-publishing is that, if you’re worried about taking the plunge with a hard copy (perhaps because of the financial cost involved), ebooks are a great way of “testing the water” first. And hopefully, the ebook version will allow you to get some reviews which you can use to market your hard copy edition more effectively.

More generally, I think the stigma surrounding self-publishing – which I alluded to earlier – has started to dissipate somewhat. An increasing number of authors who’ve been published conventionally are turning to it, having become fed up with the often frustrating behaviour of traditional publishers – for examples of that, see my review of ”The Judas Tree” by Patricia Le Roy and this article from The Guardian, as well as some of the previous guest posts by authors on this blog.

There is an argument that self-publishing just means that the “slush pile” (which is how publishers condescendingly refer to all their unsolicited submissions from budding authors) has “gone public” – and that this is diluting the quality of books generally and dragging down standards. There is certainly a fair amount of self-published material that I personally wouldn’t rate very highly – and to the extent that the authors tried to get those books conventionally published, I can see why they got rejected. On the other hand, there are many examples of publishers rejecting books which deserved to be published. When self-publishing enables those books to find a readership, I think it’s something to be celebrated and encouraged. I have been reviewing self-published ebooks since 2012 and have managed to find plenty which in my view more than bear comparison with the output of professional publishers (click here for my recommendations). Without self-publishing, most of those books would probably just be gathering dust in a drawer somewhere (just like mine was).

Anyway, that’s quite enough about self-publishing and how it’s a surefire way to overcome your mid-life crisis – I’m off to look at some sports car websites.

Paul Samael’s novel “In the future this will not be necessary” is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, Obooko or iTunes. It’s also on Amazon (at the lowest allowable price). On Paul’s website, you can find his other fiction (all of which is free), a guide to self-publishing, his blog and numerous book reviews (including reviews of books by other self-published authors). He lives in London, UK. Paul Samael is a pen name, invented to avoid embarrassment to his real self in case his self-publishing adventure fell flat on its face (as to whether it has or not, only you can decide).
 
Miles Jensen has a confession to make. To the “true believers”, he is the faithful guardian of a website devoted to the late Pete Novotnik, founder of a technology-obsessed internet cult. But Miles is not a “true believer” – he only got involved out of a desire to rekindle an affair with Pete’s wife, Kay. Hoping to shock the cult’s followers into a crisis of faith, he decides to reveal his dubious role in Pete’s death. But when a journalist starts to investigate, Miles is forced to confront the truth about his motives for wanting to undermine the cult and his feelings for Kay.

 

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Indie Writing for a Niche Market

 

All my life I have loved horses and dogs. I am also a Christian. When my time came to begin writing, these passions made my books. I had a very clear dream which began my first one which is now titled, Challenger. What follows may sound familiar. The sitting and writing it all out was pure pleasure, then the pain set in. Editing!

I discovered how rusty I was but found some totally honest beta readers. They spoke quite bluntly and got me editing until I was blue in the face. Then came the larks with creating the ebook and its cover. With some birthday money, I went to a book marketing company. They gave me a paid plan and nursed me through the process of making a professional attempt, more editing and checking.

Through them, I found that I had made my biggest blunder. Going for a title that I liked, but it wouldn’t catch the readers’ eye. Any of you heard of a Baize door? The book flopped on NetGalley and sales were negligible.

I relaunched the book as Challenger and the reviews began to come in. Now, here’s the crunch. Most people seem to want to read Murder/Mysteries or paranormal. This I found through some, er, review groups, but let’s not get into that. This meant some people who had never in their lives read a horse book had to, and to my relief, the majority were pleasantly surprised.

Then it was the endless publicising in Facebook groups, my blogs, wherever I could. It was time-consuming and frustrating. The only thing I found that worked was the Amazon ad that the company ran for me – I couldn’t get my head around running the Amazon ad myself!!! As the first run had flopped, they re-ran the whole package for me for free.

I had made a plan for my writing and while I hadn’t written a best seller, things moved. I had to go on. The next book, Compromise was written more quickly and this time I had it professionally edited-by a retired editor friend. But even so, more work was needed. This time when I went back to the book company, they didn’t like my cover. I argued my case as I had now thoroughly researched my genre and the cover matched this. I felt I knew my field now. It’s still early days with the Ad. I’ve written the next book and am editing it myself. I have invested in a programme, Pro writing Aid that is amazing.

Through my beta readers, research and groups, I’ve got to know other horse book writers. The thrill of chatting with them and swapping experiences have been amazing. It’s a small genre compared to some, but the books do sell.

The main problem is that Amazon does not have a category for adult horse fiction. If you want a good adult horsey read, you find them under Teenage and Young adult equestrian non-fiction books. This is where the mostly middle-aged women readers go. Daft isn’t it? My answer was to start a FaceBook group, Horse Books for Grown-Ups to match readers with writers.

I have also ruthlessly cut out anything that doesn’t work, such as the FB advertising groups. I don’t think many readers actually look at them. The only thing that got my books started, as said, was the Amazon ad, and that’s my main form of advertising now. I don’t give free books away; people just grab them and don’t read. I will reduce the price of my first book when the trilogy is complete. I do look for mainstream ideas to build my market and am honoured to be part of the Mom’s Favorite Reads emagazine team -whether they are so thrilled I don’t know!

Here are my tips – Not in any sort of priority and you can apply them to the mainstream as well.

  1. Research your genre on Amazon. Look at who is selling in the bestsellers and download samples to get an idea of what is current. Titles and covers, look at these too. Abad picture of a horse won’t sell. Check how many other people are already using your fantastic title.
  2. Categories. We get three when we publish. But you can request up to ten Browse categories, the top three are listed on your book page. The whole list is on the Amazon sidebar on the left. You do need to keep checking them though, they can get altered. Amazon gets a bad press, but so far, my experience is 90% positive.
  3. Be prepared to invest in good programmes and help!
  4. Find the specific groups on Facebook, join them and be active; you can then chat with people writing the same things. Join technical groups, such as for creating coversand mainstream author groups for support, Beta readers and moans! Maybe create your own group.
  5. Look at your genre on places such as BookBub, is it there at all? If not, don’t bother to go with them. Search for websites and blogs on your subject that might be good for promoting. Find other authors in the same genre and contact them. You can get so much good advice and support this way.
  6. Get a good editing programme. I use Pro writing aid and it’s worth every penny. If you have Word 365, use the read-aloud function that’s amazing.
  7. If you use a marketing company, remember that unless paid to, they won’t have read your book. We’re all very precious about our babies, but if they don’t know the book, they might not be able to give the right support. Also, sometimes they are heavily pressed, and you might not be happy with the work, be patient!
  8. Do set some realistic goals and keep to them.
  9. Beta readers. Friends and family are useless. Find random readers from groups who will be totally impartial. BUT don’t send an editable document to a stranger and you must set deadlines.
  10. Be tough, if an idea or website doesn’t produce sales; stop wasting time.
  11. If you blog, host other authors and hopefully some will host back. You can reach huge audiences this way.
  12. Keep writing. The more books you have in your stable brings readers who want to read all of your work. That’s how to make some money.
  13. A niche book will only hit the jackpot if you put in a homicidal, sexually active zombie unicorn that travels in time.
  14. Don’t overdo the FB/blog posts, there comes a point where people switch off.

 

Born in Winchester (UK) Anna grew up with dogs and a passion for horses which was fulfilled when her family moved to the countryside and she had her first pony. After school, she spent a year in Switzerland, then came, home met Dave in Marwell zoo, settled and raised a family. She later took a degree with the Open University, graduating with a First Class Honours in English and History. Anna worked for five years at the Fortune Centre in Hampshire as a Riding Therapist. Married for 36 years, she has two adult children who wouldn’t move to Austria when she moved there in 2007. Maybe a victim of watching too many editions of A Place in the Sun and Grand Designs, she loves Austria and has no plans to leave! She now teaches English and is concentrating on her writing novels.
 
Anna rejected faith until her own family went through the trauma of an eviction and homelessness in the 1980s. It was through these events that she found God again. Since then she’s been involved in Baptist, Anglican and Free churches, she’s now in the Anglican Church in Austria. However, she says she is just a Christian who happened to be in these churches and wouldn’t wish to be labelled! Anna also writes an Award-nominated blog about Austria which tells of rich experiences of life in a new country. This is now hosting guest blogs from other authors!
 
www.annarashbrook.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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Traditional publishing or self-publishing?

by Deborah Jay

How should you decide whether to seek a traditional publishing contract or self-publish your book? Only you can answer this question, but knowing what each involves is essential before you take the plunge either way.

I began writing back in the days when the only alternative to a traditional publishing contract was vanity publishing – an expensive, and most often, disappointing venture. My campaign began well, acquiring an agent at first attempt, but although all the publishers she submitted my novel to (in those days, the ‘Big Six’), replied favourably regarding my style, I had made the mistake of writing what was popular at the time, and not what they wanted – that much sought-after ‘next hot potato’.

Discouraged only a little, I gained a two-book contract for non-fiction titles (on horse training – my day job), in the hopes that publication of some sort would make placing the next novel easier.

How wrong was I? I’ve since learned about such things, realising that even a well-known novelist may struggle to break into a different genre, where they will be considered a debut author all over again.

I did, however, gain plenty of experience of traditional publishing. My books have been well received, both have earned out (recouped their advances) and the first is now in reprint, so all in all, they are considered successful. Most of that, however, has been down to my own marketing efforts, because unless you are one of the biggest names, publishers allocate little or no finance for marketing.
Enter self-publishing. Still enamoured of the idea of a publishing deal for my novels, I was somewhat late to the party. Annoyingly so, as I had novels ready to go, and those earliest independent authors made names for themselves with far greater ease than we do today, because there was so little competition. However, when I self-published my first novel, (the one that had gained me the agent), I was ready to do the hard marketing, and was rewarded with an Amazon Hot 100 New Release in my genre (epic fantasy – a large and tough category to figure in). Whilst not stellar, the book gained a solid number of sales and reviews.

Rustam Chalice, gigolo and spy, loves his lifestyle just the way it is, so when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, his spy master teams him up with an untouchable, beautiful, aristocratic assassin who despises him.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.

Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings – a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with a pinch of romance.
Before I released it, I’d spent an entire year researching such topics as formatting, covers, blurbs, editors, outlets, pricing, and the ever-increasing intricacies of marketing. I’d already put in place the start of my author platform – a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter profile.

Things have changed a lot since I published my first novel in 2013. It takes continual effort to keep up with all the latest trends and sophistications in platform and marketing, but although I don’t personally earn a huge sum (by today’s standards, I’m a slow writer, taking upwards of a year to produce a new book), I’m happy to build my readership gradually.

One of the beauties of self-publishing e-books is that they never go out of print, so your catalogue only ever increases.

Another is the difference in royalties, and the level of control I have over my own career. I don’t have my books in bookstores (although I do sell paperbacks online, and in the flesh at events), but where my traditionally published books earn me 10% (and I’m lucky that my equestrian books are relatively highly-priced, bringing me £2.50 per sale, or £7.50, if I sell hardcopies, face to face, bought with my author discount), my self-published e-books earn me between 60-70%, (depending on sales platform) with no upfront costs other than what I choose to spend to produce a professional product.

So, what are the costs of self-publishing? This depends upon what you are prepared to spend your time learning, or sourcing, which in turn depends on how much time you want to devote, what skills you may have in design or tech use, and how much control you want over your project.

  • An excellent, genre-specific, cover is essential, and for me, buying professionally designed covers is the only money I willingly spend.
  • Formatting can be learned, or paid for, or you can buy formatting programmes.
  • Editing and proofreading are also essential, but if you are willing to work with other authors, you can frequently swap these services (assuming you find highly professional partners).
  • You can learn to write your own blurbs, or you can outsource to those who specialise in this tricky area.

Regarding outlets for e-books, you may choose to go exclusive with Amazon and join KU (Kindle Unlimited), which offers advertising advantages, or you may decide to ‘go wide’, and place your book with as many outlets (including Amazon) as there are out there. Even within this, you have the choice to learn how to upload to each individual platform (oh yes, everyone is different), or you might go with an aggregator, who takes a small percentage of each sale for the service but removes the bother of learning so many sites’ requirements.

And then, there is marketing. You can pay someone else to do this, but realistically, unless you are earning bucket-loads of cash, this option isn’t really viable. So that means taking the time to learn, experiment, and keep up to date with the various options, alongside keeping your social media platform up to date. Oh, and writing the next book!

This may all sound overwhelming, and for most of us, we’d rather be writing than marketing, but personally, I’ve found the effort worth it. I own my own words, my books are as I want them, not as a publisher instructs, I can change them even after publication, I set my own deadlines, and I can get them made into other formats, such as paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks, as I choose.

I am in control of my marketing – I can run promotions when I like, and how I like. And at the end of it all, I reap a far larger reward than the pittance paid by traditional publishers.

Don’t forget, even if you get a traditional deal, you’ll still need to keep up your author platform, and do your own marketing – unless you are the next Stephen King, or JK Rowling, they won’t do it for you – fact.

As I said at the start, only you can make this choice for yourself; both options are available to you. With traditional publishing, the reward of seeing your book in bookstores and not having to deal with the physical requirements of producing the book may still appeal, assuming you are willing to try surviving the submission and rejection process, and actually secure a book deal, then continue to sell well enough they don’t cancel your contract. Or you may decide to embrace the brave new world of self-publishing, with the challenges it brings in terms of time and learning required to succeed.

Either way, you have a chance for success or failure, but only in self-publishing are you in total control, and the independent (indie) author community is hugely supportive and generous, because success breeds success, and we’ve recognised that we are not in competition with each other – the more people we encourage to read, the more readers there are for all of our books.

I think you can tell which choice I made!

Deborah Jay writes fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
 
Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she has time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many horses, and her complete inability to cook.She has a dream day job riding, training and judging competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.

A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, she started writing her first novel aged eight, and has never stopped. Her first published novel is epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN, #1 in the Five Kingdoms series, and winner of a UK Arts Council award. #2, THE PRINCE’S SON and #3 THE PRINCE’S PROTEGE are both available.
 
Her first urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, about a Scottish water sprite, is the opening novel of the CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES. The companion Short story, SPRITE NIGHT is available FREE on most ebook retailers.

Stalk her at:

https://deborahjayauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

https://www.pinterest.com/debbylush/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

Amazon author page: https://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay

Newsletter sign up and FREE short story: http://eepurl.com/bPZcmT

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Five FREE Tools for New Authors

By Ronesa Aveela

When I started writing with a friend of mine a few years ago, the only authoring tool I had was Microsoft Word. The following are various tools I’ve come across since those early days. Many, if not all, have been recommended by other authors. They cover design and many other areas of the writing process. There are many more out there, but these are a few FREE ones that can get you started.

1) Let’s start with DESIGN

I’m not a designer. I create better with words than images. I’m fortunate that my writing partner is talented in this respect, and she creates wonderful images in Photoshop. But that leaves me depending on her to do any promotional ads and all design work. That’s fine for the most part: she’s artistic. However, I want to be able to create an ad now and again to post on my own social media sites. Canva allows me to do that. It isn’t as robust as Photoshop, but it has templates and images you can use for FREE. It’s a great tool to get you into the design mode.

Canva: https://www.canva.com/

Here’s a design I created using a Canva template:

2) Make it Stand Out in 3D

To go along with Canva, you can create a 3D version of your book cover, making it look as if it’s a printed copy or on a mobile device. This makes it more appealing. Some programs have fancy background images to go along with the book cover as well: showing your book on billboards or in a reader’s hand at the beach. The link below doesn’t offer that, but it does let you create various 3D representations of your book that you can combine with other images and designs. And it’s FREE, while you’ll have to pay for some of the more flexible programs.

DIY Book Covers: http://diybookcovers.com/3Dmockups/

Another one using Canva with the 3D book covers:

3) Spice up Your Book’s Look: FREE FONTS

You have plenty of fonts to choose from with your word-processing program, but sometimes you might want something a little different to fit a certain genre or mood you are trying to set. Here’s one site that offers plenty to choose from. Always check the rights usages for any fonts to make sure you can use them commercially.

1001 Fonts: https://www.1001fonts.com/

 

4) A must-have: UNIVERSAL BOOK LINKS

I was confused when I first heard authors talking about creating “universal book links” or UBLs. What were they? They are a single URL that contains links to all the digital resellers of your book: such as Amazon, Apple Books, B&N, Kobo, etc. Other UBLs might work with only specific online booksellers, such as Amazon. In this case, the UBL will bring the user to their country’s Amazon store and If you live in the US, it will bring you to the US store and If you live in the UK, it will bring you to the UK store.

I use the UBL creator from Books2Read since it not only lets you create UBLs to all the places your ebook is sold, it also provides you with an author page where you can organize your books.

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/

Image source: Books2Read

5) Going Wide: BARCODE GENERATOR

This tool is useful if you’re planning on having print versions of your ebooks, and you don’t want to be tied down to selling your books through a single outlet like Amazon. If you “go wide,” you’ll want to purchase your ISBNs from the appropriate place designed by your country.

Although you don’t need an ISBN for ebooks on places like Amazon, you will need them if you plan to distribute your ebook through other sources, and you’ll need an ISBN for each separate medium you create the book in: one for an ebook, a different one for a paperback, and yet another one for hard copy, and so on. In the US, you get ISBNs from Bowker. You can find out where you can get ISBNs from other countries here:

International ISBN Agencies: https://www.isbn-international.org/agencies
For print copies, you’ll also need a bar code. You can buy these along with your ISBNs, but I don’t recommend that. ISBNs are expensive and are cost-effective only if you buy them in batches. So if you plan to go this route, I hope you have a lot of books planned.

I use the barcode generator below. Yes, it’s free, and it works great.
Barcode generator: https://www.creativindiecovers.com/free-online-isbn-barcode-generator/

And That’s a Wrap

I hope you find some of these useful. This is just a small number of tools you can use to get you started. I’ll be posting a longer list on our website, and update it as I come across new low-cost or free tools. Feel free to stop by and browse our blog and other posts any time.

Ronesa Aveela is “the creative power of two.” Two authors that is.
Nelly Tonchev, the main force and creative genius behind the work, was born in Bulgaria and moved to the US in the 1990s. She grew up with stories of wild Samodivi, Kikimora, the dragons Zmey and Lamia, Baba Yaga, and much more.

She’s a freelance artist and writer. She likes writing mystery romance inspired by legends and tales. In her free time, she paints. Her artistic interests include the female figure, Greek and Thracian mythology, folklore tales, and the natural world interpreted through her eyes. She is married and has two children.

Rebecca Carter, her writing partner was born and raised in the New England area. She has a background in writing and editing, as well as having a love of all things from different cultures.

Be Social

Website: www.ronesaaveela.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RonesaAveela/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ronesa_Aveela
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ronesaaveela/

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A Publishing Experience by Elizabeth Hull

I can look back on my own route to publication and howl with laughter at the mistakes I made. Some of it was right, but the first steps … well. So having been inspired to write and totally convinced I could write, I set out to write a fantasy novel in a wonderfully clueless way. Not only did I blissfully commit every writing flub known to man, but I packaged the typed pages of quite a large book and posted them off to Random House without return postage or an agent, let alone an invite to do so. Bong, wrong move and yet they were champions, thanking me for my unsuccessful submission and posting the whole mess back to me. I will never forget that gentle kindness. As for the book, it was consigned to a box in some closet where I think it might still sit, a failed tome beyond help.

Having acquired a pc at this time a search of the web about writing was warranted, really, really warranted and I came across a new group just setting up called the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy. This was initially run for free by Random House imprint Del Rey for the purpose of reducing their slush and potentially finding a new writer or two for the new idea of digital books. I stayed on this site for years, long after it was dropped by Del Rey and we all chipped in with subscriptions to keep it open. Here is where I actually learned to write with the help of many wonderful fellow writers that I still count as dear friends. Here is where my next three books were critiqued, chapter by chapter. I also branched out into a new group a few years later called Authonomy, again making some dear, dear friends. Here is where I had the fantastic good luck of meeting the people who would go on to publish my two series, the science fantasy series, starting with Shadow Over Avalon and a paranormal fantasy series, starting with Darkspire Reaches under the Kristell Ink imprint of their company, Grimbold Books.

There was one other hiccup along the way to publication and it came long before Grimbold Books came on the scene. I googled my legal name just to make sure I was the one and only writer. Um no, I wasn’t. Fred Pohl’s wife, a lovely lady, was published under that name, right down to the ‘e’ on my middle name of Anne. She was also published in those genres so it would have been impolite in the extreme to continue as myself.

This is where the name C.N. Lesley came into being. It wasn’t picked at random and has meaning for me, so is appropriate. Anyone wanting to know what the initials stand for? C stands for Christine and N stands for Norma, all of them are first names.

As for marketing, I am in Central Alberta, Canada, so not really in a position to do conventions or books signings. This leaves social media, which these days means Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as my own website.

  Elizabeth Hull, writing under the byline of C.N. Lesley, lives in Alberta with her husband and cats. Her three daughters live close by.

When she isn’t writing, she likes to read and to paint watercolours. She is also a keen gardener, despite the very short summers, and now has a mature shade garden.

Once a worker in the communications sector, mostly concentrating on local news and events, she now writes full time.

You can follow C.N. Lesley on the following social media platforms;

Website: https://cnlesley.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.hull.39
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darkspires/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/darkspires

 

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The Brave New World of Publishing

By Debbie De Louise

I wrote my first novel, Cloudy Rainbow, a paranormal romance, in 2008. I decided to self-publish it with Booklocker.com, a self-publishing company. At that time, self-publishing companies were beginning to gain popularity among authors. Today, self-publishing is a whole different ballgame. Self-publishing companies are still around and continue to offer a gamut of services, most that include ala carte choices from book cover design to editing services, to marketing and promotion assistance. However, many authors are now self-publishing their own books and some are reporting success.

In 2015, I found a publisher for my second novel, A Stone’s Throw. I’ve learned a lot since then. While I was thrilled to land a publisher, albeit an Indie publisher, it might’ve been better for me to have spent more time querying agents so that my book could’ve been considered by a larger publisher. I think many new writers make a similar mistake. They don’t wait because they feel, rightly, that agents and traditional publishers receive tons of queries. They don’t believe they can stand out in a sea of authors. That’s how I felt and still feel after having published 7 books, a novella, and a dozen or so short stories and having sold my works to three publishers without advances or any substantial royalties and doing all this while working full-time and having a family. There have been rewards, though. I’ve garnered a small fan base composed of online readers as well as those who have read my books in the library, some of whom also purchase it and ask for an autographed copy.

I found my first publisher through a twitter contest. They contacted me after I posted a pitch for A Stone’s Throw. I was shocked and hurried to sign the contract they sent me. I spent time reading it and even had an attorney review it but basically jumped at their first offer. I was equally excited that I was able to see my book on Amazon as an eBook and paperback within a short, three-month period that included two months of working online with an editor. I never questioned that traditional books take about a year to be published which allows a long lead-time for promotion and opportunities for journal reviews such as the ones I read when I order books for the library where I work. It was just great to see my book in print by a publishing company. This bedazzlement wore off as soon as I submitted the second book in my series because the publisher rejected it.

At this point, I didn’t know what to do. I knew that many publishers wouldn’t consider the second book of a series. I entered another twitter contest and attracted the interest of a different Indie publisher. I was just as eager to sign with them especially when they offered to also represent my first title if I asked for my rights back. This will be my third year working with Solstice Publishing. I have the four books of my Cobble Cove mystery series with them, a standalone mystery, and a dozen short stories of various genres. They even reprinted Cloudy Rainbow.

Despite my prolific publishing, I still yearned to see my books in more formats than eBook and paperback. I wanted to see my work in large type, hardcover, and audio. I dream about a review in Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, or one of the other professional publishing journals. I hoped that I’d eventually earn enough money to list my business for tax purposes, that I’d make more in royalties than I spent on promotion, conference travel, and even the purchase of my own books. I envisioned an advance, possibly a movie or TV deal, that would make up for all my hours of non-paid work. I knew the only chance I had to achieve any of this was to keep querying agents. There was one I particularly liked. I was friends with some of the authors she represented. I sent her a proposal for the first of a new cosy mystery series. I was hurt when she turned it down, even though I’d been rejected in the past and knew that was all part of the process that all authors endure even those who are now famous.

Then I met another author who wrote mysteries and also had a cosy mystery series. I inquired about his publisher, and he suggested I might want to query them. Unlike other Indie publishers, his publisher, Creativia (now renamed Next Chapter) was planning to publish books in hardcover and audio as well as eBook and paperback. They’d already begun publishing large type books. In addition, they helped promote authors worldwide, although authors had to promote themselves, as well, something I was used to, anyway. I sent a query for my unpublished mystery, Sea Scope. It was accepted and published this past May. I haven’t yet seen any royalties from it and am not expecting a windfall, but I’ve met some great new authors and am looking forward to having my book appear in new formats.

Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she returns to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

Sarah hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father’s suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope. Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what’s going on in her childhood home.

When past and present collide, Sarah must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?

I have to admit, after all this and trying to write another novel, I still hope to land an agent one day. I’m holding on to that unpublished first book of a cosy. The problem is time. How do I prioritize my writing, promoting, querying time when there are so many other things to do? Eight hours of my day is spent at work; six or seven sleeping. I have a teenage daughter, a husband, and also three cats. I need time for them, too. I also need time for my friends and for myself. I know other authors suffer a similar dilemma. We’re told you have to write because you love it. Forget the money. Forget fame. If it happens, it will. If not, at least you’ll be memorialized. Your words will live on.

What would I advise a new author to do? It depends on what they want. There are so many options for publishing today. It’s perfectly acceptable, even admired for one to self-publish, either on their own or through a self-publishing company. It’s also great to find an Indie or small publisher, but there are so many that you can shop around. Talk to other authors. Check websites that evaluate Indie authors. If you’re determined to publish traditionally with a larger publisher, there are benefits as I’ve mentioned but also negatives. Like in any business, most people start out in the red. Don’t let that discourage you. Networking is important. There are lots of great genre and local writing groups out there. I belong to Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, Long Island Author Group, and the Cat Writers’ Association.

There are also plenty of blogs, fellow authors, and others who are willing to help you sell “the first ten thousand copies” or “turn your book into a movie,” “tweet your promo to 100,000 readers,” “guarantee a hundred new reviews,” etc. all of this at a sale or discounted price that still exceeds what you’ll make back. At the same time, there are many free or low-cost sites if you look for them and/or find them through fellow authors. Being an author is much more complicated than I ever imagined when I started writing. It’s a brave new world for authors. There’s so much to learn, and many paths that you might choose. What works for one author, may not work for another. It’s a tough field, but someone has to do it. It might as well be us.

My name is Debbie De Louise. I’m a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island and the award-winning author of the Cobble Cove cosy mystery series. I have a B.A. in English and an MLS in Library Science.
 
I’m a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, the Cat Writer’s Association, and Long Island Authors Group and have published articles in Cats Magazine and Catnip (Tufts University Veterinary Newsletter). I won the Glamour Puss special award from Hartz Corporation for my Catster.com article, “Brushing your cat for bonding, beauty, and better health,” (June 2016). My short mystery, “Stitches in Time” was published in the Cat Crimes Through Time Anthology, (1999). I have also published several other short stories of various genres in Solstice anthologies. I live on Long Island with my husband, Anthony; daughter, Holly; and our cat, Stripey.

I welcome followers at my social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2bIHdaQ

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debbie-de-louise

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.com

When Romance Perturbs

By Holly Bargo

I remember the 1970s, the latter part of which I moved from reading Laura Ingalls’ autobiographical series to Barbara Cartland’s historical romances and Harlequin romances in which nothing more explicit than some passionate kisses occurred. Romance novels at the time fell under the derogatory category of“bodice rippers.” Many books deserved such disparagement. By the early 1980s, I’d plunged deeply into fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and hardcore romance with explicit sexual content.

Establishing Expectations

What I remember most about those many, many books is that the heroines overwhelmingly fell into two categories: wealthy, pampered, and innocent or indigent, desperate, and innocent. They relied upon wealthy, powerful men to guide them and/or rescue them. They had no marketable skills other than “housewife,” “governess,” or “nanny.” Occasionally, an adventurous author cast her heroine as a nurse, secretary (relabeled in the 1980s as an administrative assistant), or grade school teacher.

That is not to say that many housewives, governesses, and nannies aren’t skilled, intelligent individuals. It simply seemed an expectation that a woman’s industry belonged in the home. A professional woman always—always—took a lesser position than a man.

By the time I reached high school, attitudes began to change. Women could do more than clean and take care of the kiddies. They could—gasp!—hold professional positions as accountants, doctors, scientists, and professors. I have yet to see a romance in which the heroine makes her living as a plumber or paperhanger or rodeo clown. Being somewhat liberated myself and quietly rebelling against an extremely traditional upbringing (My father’s words: “No, you don’t need to learn to change the oil in your car. Your husband, brothers, or I will always do it for you.”), I reveled in that development of woman as intelligent, competent individual.

In those romances I continued reading, men did not grow gentler, although they were less likely to take their heroines by force. Heroines grew bolder, stronger, kickass. Heroines acquired skills, education, and respected professions. Authors gave heroines permission to feel sexual attraction and act on it. Non-consensual sex, rampant in romance then and (unfortunately) now, receded as an expected and romantic part of the male-female relationship, because society finally began to acknowledge that women didn’t want to be raped and certainly didn’t enjoy it.

Well, that didn’t last long.

A Devolving Legacy

Over the past decade or so I have seen an upswell of romances featuring heroines backsliding into the old domestic tropes: woman as a receptacle for male passion. Then Fifty Shades of Grey burst upon the scene and the BDSM subculture went mainstream. Not only was a woman’s purpose to receive male passion, but to obey said male’s every command, too.

And I thought the Women’s Liberation Movement had succeeded. Stupid me.

Now, book advertisements flood my social media, promoting stories that disguise brutal rape as passion, torture and beating as sexual stimulation, and unquestioning obedience as natural and desirable. I cringe at stories glamorizing Stockholm Syndrome and oppression as wonderful, delightful fantasies which excuse the antihero’s selfishness and cruelty justify the heroine as deserving of such horrors as would drive any real woman to suicide just to escape. Stories of sexual slavery have ascended as the new height of romantic literature as romance authors attempt to build upon and exceed the debauchery and degradation glamorized by E. L. James.

Egad, have we really come to this?

Is this the message we want to send to the adolescent girls and young women who read our work? (Don’t’ delude yourself: teenage girls are reading these books.)

When did alpha heroes who want their heroines to be happy become passé?

I missed that memo.

Rachel’s brother uses her as collateral to settle a debt with an outlaw motorcycle gang. She flees to a local bar and pleads with a darkly handsome stranger to help her. His help results in homicide. When eagle shifter Diego’s vacation is interrupted by the innocent young woman he recognizes as his mate, he flees with her across national borders because she’s his and he’s not letting her go. 
 
Having essentially swapped one captor for another, Rachel knows the dashing, sexy Spaniard is keeping secrets from her. He showers her with kindness and generosity in exchange for her obedience. Diego’s control over her and his secrets elicit her distrust and resentment. 
 
When freedom beckons, Rachel answers its call; however, freedom brings hardship and indignity. Will she return to the controlling alpha male who stirs her blood or cling stubbornly to her freedom?

Storytelling and Genre Expectations

The premise of good fiction is to take an ordinary person and plop him or her into extraordinary circumstances. Think of the ingenue who discovers she has powers and must learn to control them, the woman who dies and arises a vampire, or the administrative assistant or waitress who finds herself the target of an elite assassin or mob boss.

Good storytelling begins there.

Considering how much romance has regressed, one might wonder why I continue to read it and write it.

I believe in love.

Furthermore, I believe in love in which the parties involved want to make each other happy. Genuine, powerful romance involves both give and take by all parties involved in the relationship.

My novel Rowan, published in 2014, features our “ordinary” heroine—actually not so ordinary, but an immortal sidhe—who finds herself the romantic target of a vampire and a shapeshifter. One’s immortal, the other isn’t. The heroes, who are friends and business partners, work out an arrangement so that each gets what he wants, but … wait for it … our heroine consents. She initially consents for practical reasons, but practicality soon gives way to romantic love. In no way does this woman wallow in victimhood or accept herself as a victim, even when circumstances exceed her ability to overcome them by herself.

This year I dipped my toes into science fiction with a reverse harem romance titled Triple Burn. The heroes resemble such antiheroes as written by other authors (whom I won’t mention) in that they endure a mating instinct that drives their actions. Yet, the heroes in this book—warriors all—can and do exert some self-control because they want a happy mate. Although they dominate her, they don’t oppress her. Their patriarchal attitudes run toward protection and coddling rather than domineering exploitation and forced obedience. Sure, they expect their fragile (compared to them) mate to obey their commands, but their goal is to protect her from harm. Of course, the heroine doesn’t understand that at first, which introduces the relationship conflict needed to propel the story along.

Even the practically-a-caveman hero of my novella The Barbary Lion who most closely resembles those antiheroes so prevalent in today’s so-called “dark” romances learns that the presence of a uterus does not nullify mental capacity or free will. The resourceful heroine teaches him a hard lesson, and he realizes that he must give in order to get. He negotiates with her and she holds him to his word. In other words, he finds redemption because he finally understands that his mate—the love of his life—is not his sex slave. He makes concessions to secure her consent to come back to him—and then he keeps his word. His rigid code of honour—keeping his word no matter what—strongly characterizes him.

Perhaps the difference between heroes who imbue the romantic alpha characteristics that romance readers love between the antiheroes who also exhibit that same dominance lies in two simple concepts: honour and compassion. Even when sexual attraction blazes hot between a hero and his heroine, he holds to honour and exercises compassion. Those two concepts lead to redemption of an otherwise irredeemable character.

Is there honour in harming or terrorizing someone weaker?

These antiheroes whose authors wallow in such cruelty and oppression are nothing more than mature bullies who add rape and violence to their repertoire. I don’t understand why some readers and authors find that romantic, especially when I’m sure they would collapse in puddles of pain, terror, and tears if they experienced even a smidgen of what those poor heroines endure with orgasmic smiles and open legs.

If romance is a genre primarily for women and focusing on supporting women, women’s ambitions, and women’s happiness, then why are romance authors writing about the subjugation and exploitation of women? And why do readers like it so much?

I wish I could answer those questions.

Love and Expectations

Romance, ultimately, is about love. I believe in love and I believe that romantic love exists, grows, and endures beyond the chemistry of gonads. It requires an emotional connection that authors and readers of sex slave stories apparently forget. The trappings of a sub-genre—science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, billionaire, etc.—serve as window dressing because they don’t change the essence of the umbrella genre. The hero is always physically powerful and handsome, even in the occasional happenstance of not being wealthy. The heroine gives up damned near everything to cleave unto him and adapt to his life. (For what it’s worth, the hero gives up his criminal life to live with the heroine in my book, Russian Gold. Many readers let me know they disliked that violation of expectations.)

That expectation that a woman leaves her family and everything else when inserting herself into her husband’s life has ancient roots in most cultures. It goes back thousands of years. So do the erroneous ideas that rape is romantic and that women like being chattel. Perhaps anticipation or actuality of reader backlash against violation of expectations prevents romance authors from writing otherwise.

Another expectation of romance is the “HEA” (happily ever after) or “HFN” (happy for now) ending. Romance readers find satisfaction in those endings, especially the HEA. Defying that convention also invites reader backlash. I learned that with Triple Burn which does not have a traditional (i.e., expected) ending.

If violating expectations garners negative feedback, then perhaps the hundreds or thousands of positive reviews authors of dark romance receive from writing sex slave stories redolent of rape and brutality feed readers’ expectations of what romance should be. Such violent treatment of women satisfies them somehow. Somewhere in the depths of their minds, they approve of it. They think it right and good.

I shudder at the thought.

About the Author

Holly Bargo is a pseudonym but really did exist as a temperamental Appaloosa mare fondly remembered for protecting toddler children and crushing a pager. The author and her husband live on a southwest Ohio hobby farm with a menagerie of four-legged beasties that, yes, includes horses. They have two grown children, neither residing in Ohio. Holly works full-time as a freelance writer and editor.

Holly writes primarily in the genres of romance and fantasy and often combines the two. Her latest book, The Eagle at Dawn, was released on July 1, 2019. She plans on publishing another short story collection of westerns with co-author Russ Towne this autumn, following their original collaborative project titled Six Shots Each Gun: 12 Tales of the Old West, which was released in February 2019.

Readers who enjoy Holly Bargo’s work can visit with her at the upcoming events listed on her website. She welcomes interaction with readers who may contact her through the Hen House Publishing website.

 

 

 

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A Publishing Experience by Dorothy A Spruzen

I started my historical novel The Blitz Business in graduate school at Queens University of Charlotte. A very early draft formed the thesis for my MFA in Creative Writing. Of course, the book went through many iterations after that in response to various nuggets of feedback I received in conference workshops and from agents who were kind enough to say something helpful. Indeed, some of the changes turned out to be seismic, others resulted in me taking a character off In another direction – particularly one, who I decided had not been murdered after all. I started submitting to agents too soon, as I slowly came to realize.

When I started writing this book, I knew two things: I would set my book in England during World War Two, and my protagonist would be a teen who was intellectually challenged. I served for ten years on the board of an organization that provides residential support services for such individuals. I wanted to show this young man as a fully rounded character who had dreams, fears, needs, talents and flaws just like everyone else.

“The Blitz Business is a tale of resilience during World War II through the eyes of Jamie, a teenager with intellectual disabilities. D.A. Spruzen’s narrative will make readers rethink their perceptions of the challenges facing people with such challenges, a bold and progressive perspective even in today’s modern world.” -Betsy Schatz, Executive Director, Langley Residential Support Services, a residential and community support provider for adults with intellectual disabilities

When I felt I had a finished product, I sent it to an editor for copy and line editing and restarted the submission process. I knew enough to check the website of every agent first, to make sure they hadn’t jumped to another firm (which they do like fleas these days), and also to double-check the submission guidelines. It’s a tough business, especially in the U.S., I think. Major publishing houses number around four – all the other names you see are imprints under a very large umbrella and the bottom line is their top priority. I probably should have tried querying British agents, since the book is set in England. I tried a few Canadians, but Canadian writers take first bite up there as the government gives certain benefits to publishers who favour their countrymen (I’m not sure of the details).

Finally, I tried small publishers as they will accept un-agented manuscripts, unlike the big houses. I found one online whose owner did a lot of ministry in his church with the intellectually challenged. Aha! And he liked it.

The first thing I had to do before getting a contract was fill in a massive questionnaire, wanting to know the target audience, marketing plans, etc. They also wanted to know how I envisioned the cover – which I described in detail. I got the contract.

As my editor did a great job, the changes the publisher’s editor wanted were minor. They submitted six cover designs to me. One was exactly what I wanted. But the publisher wanted me to pick two and put it to a vote on Facebook! A marketing technique, I guess. Anyway, my choice got the most votes. I would have insisted on it anyway. The publisher set up a phone conversation to talk about publicity. I could have opted to pay for his person to be my publicist, but it would have been costly. I have to admit that misguided faith in my own marketing prowess led me astray, too. I did hire someone to do social media posting – Instagram, Facebook author page, an Twitter. According to received wisdom, she did all the right things for several years. This month I ended our association as this has not translated into sales. A conference panel I recently attended asserted that social media is a waste of time and podcasting is the way to go. I have yet to dip my toe into those waters!

After I’d approved the galleys, the publication was set, although it was delayed for a couple of weeks – annoying because I cut short a trip to accommodate it. I set up a book launch at a local independent book store, for which I paid a fee. Over 50 people attended and the store sold all the books. They declined to keep the books in inventory, though, because small publishers often make returns difficult.

Then it was all down to me. My publisher did nothing further. No publicity, no recommending for awards, no nothing. In fact, he seems to have run into difficulties, because early this year he dropped 50 or 60 of his authors, including me. I had to pay him a hefty sum to have my book transferred to Ingram Spark. I could have taken the book back and self-published, but that would have meant losing my ISBN and losing my Amazon reviews, and losing the wonderful cover.

So, if I find a small publisher for my new novel Sleuthing with Mortals (an urban fantasy featuring a Norse goddess turned private detective – yes, really!), I will look very closely at services and contact other authors for feedback. For now, I’m querying agents and hoping for a new deal with a larger publishing house.

My poetry chapbook Long in the Tooth was also published by a very reputable small press that specializes in poetry and doesn’t have the resources to provide much support. But poetry is a different animal, at least in the U.S., so I didn’t have great expectations.

Marketing is an ongoing challenge. I will post to my website blog much more frequently so as to maximize my place in search engine queues and keep looking for the best way to promote my work. I do appear on writing panels at various meetings and conferences and am a reviewer for Washington Independent Review of Books, so that helps name recognition.

 

About the Author

D. A. Spruzen earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte and teaches writing in Northern Virginia. Her poems and short stories have appeared in many online and print publications. A historical novel, “The Blitz Business” (Koehler Books), a poetry collection, “Long in the Tooth” (Finishing Line Press), and other novels are available on Amazon.com.

You can find out more about D. A. Spruzen by visiting her website www.daspruzen.com.

 

 

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How to Create an Amazing Book Cover for Self-Publishers

self-publishing-book-cover-design

Top Tips to Create an Amazing Book Cover

We all know we shouldn’t but the majority of us do judge a book by its cover. The first thing people will see browsing through the digital shelves of Amazon or any other online book retailer is the cover. It is why many large traditional publishing companies spend thousands on trying to create a book cover that will stand out over the competition.

We have come up with some top tips on how you can design a cover that will grab your potential readers attention in a market that has many thousands of books published every week.

Consider Hiring a Professional Designer

A professional designer can be the difference between your book being looked at or skimmed over by your potential readers. They make a living creating book covers after all, and so, will understand the nuances of design. They will be able to help and guide you in creating a cover that fits in with your genre of book.

Use The Correct Typeface

With so many different fonts to choose from it can be difficult to get the right one that matches the design and idea of your cover. You will want something that is bold and that stands out above any images on your cover. Make sure to use colours that contrast well with the rest of the colours on your cover. Using more than 2 font styles can start to look messy if not done correctly.

Make sure you don’t go too small on the font size, 8pt would be a minimum. Also, any font that overlays any text or small images will also make your potential readers struggle to read it clearly.

Make sure you experiment as much as you can with the different typefaces available to you. Head over to Font Space to see more fonts available for free.

Scale Your Cover

Do you have a catchy title? Why not make your title big and bold on the cover to draw your readers attention? Maybe your an established figure in your genre, if so, having your name larger than any other text or image on your cover may work better. Whatever way you choose to have your title, name or other text and images on your cover, you want to make sure they are in different sizes.

Also, remember when your book gets trimmed that things can move tiny amounts during the process. This means any border that you have on your cover may not come out how it looks on screen. For example, a border than you design on-screen with 5mm to the edge of the book may turn out to be 4mm on one side and 6mm on the other. Not many people will notice this but it is something to bear in mind.

Keep it Simple

Don’t overthink your cover and put too much content on it. A title, subtitle a blurb on the back and an ISBN is all a cover needs to stand out. It’s how these things are put together that matters. If you overdo the design on the cover, putting in too much content then it can look a little cluttered and will give your readers too much to look at.

Highlight a Single Element

If your book is about a certain topic it could be a good idea to highlight a single element, make it pop off the cover and grab your readers attention. A bright colour on a dark background or vice versa, a single image with a plain background and a small title. There are many different ways of doing this and you can have fun experimenting.

 

 

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Top 5 Reasons to Self-Publish Your Book

reasons-to-self-publish

‘Everyone has a book in them’

Self-publishing is becoming more and more popular every year. The number of eBooks sold through Amazon surpassed traditional publishing companies in 2015 and the gap is only increasing. Self-publishing gives authors far more control over their book than traditional publishing and this control can be the difference between your books selling little copies or a lot of copies.

Here are 5 reasons, in no particular order, why self-publishing your book may be better than going through a traditional publishing company. Remember to look into each option carefully before you make your choice on self-publishing.

Full Creative Control

Now, this may be an obvious one and something which you may have come across while researching self-publishing. By publishing your book yourself you are in full control over every aspect of the publishing process. Designing the cover, laying out the internal pages, choosing a title, deciding on the price, how to distribute.
Having all this control has its benefits but also has downsides, everything is going to fall on your shoulders and if anything starts to go wrong, it could be a lot of work for one person to rectify. Obviously, if no deadlines are set then this is less of an issue.

Faster Exposure

Traditional publishing companies can take anywhere from 12 months to over a couple years to publish your book from receiving your manuscript. Whereas going down the self-publishing route, many authors are able to get a book to market with just a couple months. However, we don’t recommend doing it this quickly, even the best authors need time for editing and proofreading, something that shouldn’t be skipped. Being able to get your book to market faster than a traditional publishing company means a faster exposure and the money in your pocket faster.

Better Royalties

One of the main reasons many people opt to go down the self-publishing route is the difference in royalties they are able to keep. Traditional publishing companies on average give the author between 10% and 20% of the list price of the book. Whereas on Amazon, for example, you can expect to receive up to 70% of the list price. Not only do you have better royalties but you will also keep the full rights of your book, such as film rights, TV shows and comic’s etc.

Greater Opportunities in Your Niche

If your genre of book is targetted for a  very niche market, the majority, if not all traditional publishing compies may not be interested in publishing your book.  After all, they are looking for the next big hit and although your book may be a hit in your niche if it doesn’t generate enough revenue for a large publishing company then it may be beneficial to venture into self-publishing.

No Rejection

A big roadblock for many first time authors is the thought of rejection of their project. Being told that the months or even years that they have spent on the book is not up to standard or doesn’t fit the bill of what a traditional publishing company requires. Many authors can stomach rejection over and over again but it is not something that anyone has to go through. A self-published author can publish what they want, when they want and how they want.

Self-publishing is not for everyone and it is something which does need to be thought about very carefully. If you decide to go down the route of self-publishing and decide to try and get your next book published traditionally, after realising all the hard work it takes to go at it alone, you may find it harder than getting your first book published.

Are you a self-published author looking to get your book printed? We have a fantastic online print calculator you can use to get estimates for your printed book. Visit our online calculator and get an instant price today – Book Printing Calculator.

 

Take a look at our recent blog posts below
 
 

Do you have a book printing project coming up? Why not head over to our instant price calculator to find out how much printing your book could cost?

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