Today we are featuring an article by Amber, owner and co-creator of Me, My Shelf and I blog, MMSAI Designs, and Book Nerd Tours. Amber has a lot of great insights about the art of marketing and selling eBooks, and the eBook self-publishing world in general, so we’ve asked her here to shake some sense into you. She wants to share some wisdom, gained through years of experience with Independent Authors, hopeful that it will rub off on at least a few of you.
WHY YOUR COVER MATTERS
I’m going to tell you something that might come as a shock to you, and maybe sound even a little harsh. But it’s the truth and frankly someone needs to say it. No matter how well your book is written or how intriguing your synopsis is, no one is going to even think about buying your book if you have a poorly crafted cover.
No one is going to even think about buying your book if you have a poorly crafted cover.
I know, I know, we constantly spout the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ but let’s face it, when it comes to using this phrase about actual books, and not as just a vague mantra about life, everyone really does judge a book by its cover. Book Buyers. Book Readers. Book Bloggers. Book Sellers.
Think about it, it’s the books first impression. When someone is scrolling through an eBook store, what do they see? Not the synopsis, not an excerpt. They see the cover. Your cover is the difference between someone clicking on your book to see that masterfully crafted synopsis, and them scrolling past and never thinking another thought on it again. First impressions are everything and if you are not using the cover to your advantage, you have no one to blame for poor book sales but yourself.
Independent Authors have a wonderful opportunity that traditionally published authors don’t – they have 100% full control over their cover art. Do you know how many traditionally published authors would kill to have even a tiny say in their cover?
Independent authors constantly waste this opportunity by looking at their cover as a way to save money. Instead of spending a few days looking around the millions of able bodied and extremely well priced graphic designers on the internet, they blow the dust off that version of Paint Shop Pro that hasn’t been used since Madonna had her last top 40 hit, and put something together themselves.
Independent authors constantly waste this opportunity by looking at their cover as a way to save money.
These very same people who would never consider doing heart surgery because they weren’t trained as a doctor. People who wouldn’t even entertain the idea of teaching an advanced English class because they do not possess an English degree. These very same people are more than willing to jump into the shoes of a Graphic Designer without batting an eyelash and think they can do that job, maybe not as well, but well enough. In any job, “well enough” is never a good option and it never works.
Not only can this be detrimental to your book sales, but quite possibly to yourself personally. Did you know nearly all photos on the internet are copyright protected in some fashion? If you’re just grabbing things willy-nilly you could get sued. And that if you are buying stock images, you could be wasting money. A designer already has accounts with all these stock places, they get the images for far less than you would and generally they come as part of the cost you pay said designer!
I know you believe you book is great, and if people could just read it they would love it. I don’t doubt you – but let me share with you something to think about before you dismiss the thought that the marketing that comes along with a book cover isn’t as important as I make it seem. Before you fully subscribe to the idea your writing style alone will carry your career remember this: JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter Series published a book under a pen name recently. Even her fantastic and multi-award winning writing could not sell more than 1500 copies of that book in 6 months. When it was leaked she was in fact the author her sales jumped 500,000% in 48 hours. That day JK helped prove that writing doesn’t sell books – marketing does. You’re not JK Rowling, yet. Your name alone won’t sell your books, and it’s not ever going to if people don’t want to read them in the first place.
That day JK helped prove that writing doesn’t sell books – marketing does. You’re not JK Rowling, yet.
And make sure to stop by the Art Writers group if you need help with your cover!
Getting published by a traditional publishing house these days is tough. Ask any writer about their publishing experience and you’ll hear a variety stories with poor results. The process can induce nerves and anxiety, even for those who have a thick skin. But when you think about celebrities and the famous people of the world, it’s hard to imagine them on the receiving end of a rejection letter from a publishing house. After all, they’re popular. Don’t people want to read about them? That’s what we thought. But yesterday we learned about Patti Davis, Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s daughter, who struggled to find approval with her latest book. Although she sings her literary agents praises in interviews, she says she was unable to get a book deal for her latest book Til Human Voices Wake Us. This fictional piece focuses on a mother who falls in love with her sister-in-law while mourning the loss of her husband.
But this wasn’t Patti Davis’ first literary rodeo. She penned her first book Home Front back in 1986. Unfortunately, it was not well received. This was rumored to have been caused by her families’ political involvement. Since then she has written 8 more books. Her struggle with publishing Til Human Voices Wake Us was the motivating factor behind self publishing. “With each of my traditionally published books”, says Patti, “I felt like I was dropping off my child in a strange city, in the senseless murder district, with, ‘Hope you make it’”. Sadly, many authors are familiar with this feeling.
BookRix was created to give writers a platform to publish and distribute their work while having a sense of control. Self publishing also eliminates the waiting game many encounter with traditional publishing houses. Getting your book out there shouldn’t be that hard. And when people, even famous people, are taking control of their book, it’s really encouraging.
“There is now a boundary line in my career separating being conventionally published and self published”, Patti says. “And I’m very much at peace on this side of that boundary line.”
Good for you, Patti. Your determination is commendable!
With the weekend approaching, that means more reading time. So let’s take a moment to focus on BookRix author Stanley McQueen and his witty tales of the people within the Muddy Fork community. He has penned a variety of enjoyable eBooks on our site. Today we recommend Mail Order Bride.
Willie North is a successful, hardworking pig farmer, known all around Muddy Fork as a kind man and a good neighbor. However, due to his weight and looks, Willie couldn’t attract a woman, no matter how hard he tried. He was the only single man in Muddy Fork, so in an act of desperation, he pays $1000 for a mail order bride. When word spreads, the whole of Muddy Fork is at the train station to greet her. Will she turn out just as he imagined, or will he end up with a broken heart? A Muddy Fork Short Story.
For those of you who don’t already know, Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Their mission is to help people find and share books they love. Basically, they are making reading more social and it’s working! If you’re an author who sells your books through Kobo, you’ll know just how important Goodreads is. At the moment, only people with Goodreads accounts can leave a book review at Kobo. You have to sign-in to your Goodreads account, search for the book, add it to one of your bookshelves (read, to read, currently reading), give it a star rating and then, if you want, leave a personal review about the book. This review will then automatically show up on the book’s Kobo page.
For indie authors, reviews can make or break the success of a book. Most readers find new books through word of mouth or recommendations from a friend. The great thing about Goodreads is that your friends can share their reviews and recommendations with you, or you can visit their profile to see what books they’re reading or read (and enjoyed) in the past. BookRix is similar, we add books to our favorites and add our reviews to the book info pages – then our friends can see what we think about other books on the site. Leaving a book review on BookRix is easy because all the free eBooks are already available on the site, and the self-published eBooks have accessible shop links. However, more often than not, indie books won’t be found in the Goodreads search. If a reader can’t find your book to leave a review, then other Kobo readers won’t know if anyone likes or dislikes your book. Without a review to read, they might not buy your book.
The simple thing to do is add your book to the Goodreads library. To add your book manually, here is what you do. You can visit the Goodreads Home Page, then click on the Find and add books to your shelves button which will take you to the search page. Then simply click on the Manually Add a Book button on the top right. Next, you just need to input your book info.
Here’s what you need:
1. Title and author name (*If your book is part of a series, you should add “Part One” or “Part Two” to the end of the title to alert the reader.)
2. ISBN (If you don’t know this, you can find it on the Imprint page of your BookRix book, you can also usually find it on Amazon – if not, contact our support and we’ll help you.)
3. Publisher (BookRix GmbH & Co. KG)
4. Date published (Again, if you’re not sure of the exact date, you can find it on Amazon, or on the imprint page of your BookRix book.)
5. Number of pages (If your book is a short story, just leave this part blank.)
6. Format (In this case, you would always select eBook.)
7. Edition (You only enter information here if you have published more than one edition.)
8. Description or Blurb (Just copy and paste it!)
9. Edition Language
10. Cover image (This is so important – it’s on the top right hand side and allows you to upload a jpeg from your computer. Don’t skip this step or your book won’t have a cover and we all know how important that is for potential readers.)
There is one more thing that you should know about Goodreads – it was just bought by Amazon. That’s one more major reason why your eBook should be in their library. Just because you’re an indie author, doesn’t mean you should be left behind!
*Don’t forget to sign up for the Goodreads Author Program – then you’ll be able to create a personalized profile page and promote your books.
The BookRix Young Adult Contest: Be The Best (Seller) You Can Be
Writing is your talent, your skill, and your greatness! Unfortunately, being an Indie Author comes with a downside: The grueling task of self-marketing. It’s a big, book-filled world out there, and without marketing, readers won’t know about you or your work. It’s kinda hard to be a Best Seller when nobody knows about your book, so let’s get you noticed!
Entering this contest could ease some of the pressures of marketing because BookRix will help you get your eBook out there to the world. Yes, we’re cool like that!
The top 2 winners in this “Be The Best (Seller)” contest will each receive a MARKETING PACKAGE for special book promotions, when their winning eBook is distributed via the BookRix Self-Publishing Service. This Marketing Package includes being featured on the BookRix website /blog/Twitter & Facebook fan pages/newsletter, external book reviews, possible blog tours and exposure on external sites with a possible feature in an eBook shop. A custom cover and editing service could also be thrown into the mix because, like we said, we are cool like that!
* You can only submit ONE entry so make sure that it’s your best work
*Anyone can enter however your story should be written for YOUNG ADULTS (YA) which is typically 13-17.
* Your entry CANNOT BE A BOOK FOR SALE
*Your entry MUST HAVE A COVER
* Your entry should be a novelette, 7,000 – 17,000 words and be a complete story (beginning, middle and end)
*Your entry should be PART ONE OF A SERIES with a minimum of 4,000 words
*If you are an over achiever (which we love!), feel free to enter a novel length book.
Submit your story in the thread, between April 3, 2013 through June 27, 2013 11a.m. EST, 4 p.m. London Time/GMT in the BookRix Free Writing Contests Entry Thread.
* One winner will be chosen by the BookRix Team and another winner will be chosen by the BookRix writing community, in a separate voting thread, from June 28 through July 8, 2013 11a.m. EST.
* Only quality books will be chosen so make sure that your entry is 100% proofread for spelling, grammar, syntax, etc.
HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST:
Submit a link to your eBook in the contest entry thread, on or after April 3, 2013, in the group Writing Contests on BookRix.com.
BookRix is always looking for great books to have published and we are there to help you get the exposure you need to market your eBook to become a more successful author. This contest is designed to inspire great writing to give you the push that you need to get your best out there and for us to help you get it further.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Creating beautiful eBooks is EASY!
It seems like the easiest way to create an eBook exactly how you want it to look would be to create a stunning PDF, right? WRONG! At this point, in the world of eBook technology, it is impossible to convert a PDF directly into an ePub. A PDF is a print format, so PDF documents are basically less-structured versions of their word-processor originals. While PDF content is made to look really good, it actually includes very little structure. And by that I mean that it doesn’t contain enough clues about the function of text elements (like bold, italics, spacing, line breaks, indentation, paragraph alignment, etc.,) or how they should be displayed in a different context (I.E. YOUR EBOOK). This means that converting a PDF document to ePub first requires conversion to a more structured text format, like Microsoft Word… So now you’re back to the basics.
As an author, you have to remember that an eBook just isn’t a print book. Look at the books on your eReading devices and you’ll start to get a better understanding. Each eReader is different. On my Kobo, I can even change the font type, which would totally disregard whatever the author initially chose. Honestly, I love this option. Years ago (before my love affair with eReaders) I tried reading a paperback copy of Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie three times and could never seem to get into it. Then, while visiting a friend, I picked up her copy and started reading it without any trouble. Upon closer inspection of my own copy, I realized that the font was just too difficult to wrap my eyes around. It was old fashioned and looked slightly smudged on the somewhat yellowed page. My friend’s copy was crisp and clean and so easy to read. As much as I miss the smell of an old book, being able to read The Brothers Karamazov on my eReader, in a lovely modern font type, is a dream come true. The most important thing about reading is actually being able to read. It’s not the smell of the book, the feel of the pages, or even adding another title to your ever-growing bookshelf; it’s about the story, it’s about imagination, and it’s about losing yourself over and over again to the power of a good book.
I’m off track. The point of all of this is that the formatting from a PDF can’t be extracted because it just doesn’t work as an ePub. If you want nice clean formatting in your eBook, all you need is Microsoft Word (for you Mac users out there, you can save your Pages doc as a Word doc). Using the BookRix Self-Publishing service couldn’t be easier with Word, just write your story and make sure each chapter title is formatted as a “Heading” (you can find the Heading option in the same tool bar as bold, italics and alignment – just look to the right, you can’t miss it) and then, when you create an eBook our editor will automatically set all those Headings as chapters. This way, when you download an eBook you’ve got a fully interactive table of contents. Easy-peasy, right? RIGHT!
Self-publishing is about freedom and ease, so take advantage of it and spend more time writing!
While reading (and re-reading) the BookRix Marketing Guide, you learned that running your own personal website/blog is the most effective way to gain readers and then keep them interested. Sure, it’s true that you can gain readers without a blog, however, with a blog you will end up with a lot more. Thanks to the Internet, creating and maintaining a blog really isn’t time consuming anymore: There are different “model sets” and “templates” helping to conjure a blog within a few minutes.
There are also advantages to joining the blogosphere: Bloggers often connect with each other. On almost every blog you can find the so-called “link list” which directly links to other blogs recommended by the blog owner. It’s really easy to get added to these lists because between bloggers it’s common to see: “you link me, I link you” – especially for authors with similar themes and genres. The more links to your blog, the more readers will visit it. And new blog visitors are almost guaranteed to become new readers at the same time! Basically, a blog offers countless opportunities to present yourself and your work.
The great news is that once you’re inside the blogosphere, you can use your connections to get your book out there. Fellow bloggers can post reviews for your book, interviews that show off your charming answers, and guest posts written by the oh-so-clever-and-witty-author: YOU.
Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they’re simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they’re going to shake up just about every business—including yours. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They’re a prerequisite. -businessweek.com
BookRix would like to introduce one of our blog associates, Me, My Shelf & I (MMSAI). MMSAI is a blog for everything Young Adult (YA). It’s a great resource for indie authors, for several reasons:
1. My Indie Monday
My Indie Monday is a great author feature started on MMSAI. Although they host the event, many other blogs participate and share the information on their own blogs. On Mondays they feature a new indie author, providing a space for book reviews, interviews and anything else that the author feels might be helpful in enticing the reader. AND, there’s almost always a giveaway. People love free stuff, so you’ve got to make them happy!
MMSAI reviews Young Adult/Middle Grade genres. As you all know, book reviews are a great way to share information about your book and promote your work. Just be sure to check out their Review Policy before taking the next step.
3. MMSAI Designs
MMSAI offers design services for authors. If you need help creating a book cover, great. If you’re looking to create some great giveaway swag, MMSAI are there to help – anything from posters and t-shirts to bookmarks and postcards. They can even help you design graphics for your own blog or a banner for your ad campaign.
At MMSAI, you can buy ad space for your book. As an indie author, you basically need to promote your book in as many venues as possible. MMSAI has a wide following and is a great place to gain exposure for your book (Family Friendly Ads Only). They will put your book advertisement in a prime location and BookRix authors GET A DISCOUNT! The first 4 authors to sign up will get more than 50% off their month long ad! Be sure to send an email to email@example.com (or leave a comment with your contact information below) for your chance to participate.
The BookRix Team is already taking advantage of the ad space at MMSAI – check out our banner featured right below the navigation bar!
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