Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Self Publishing Isn't For Sissies

I read yet another article today about the pitfalls of traditional publishing by an author who has more than 100 titles with the big 5. The more I read articles like this the more I wonder why authors bother.


It sure is difficult to get noticed in the self-published realm. I decided to experiment with Goodreads ads. I picked one of my clients for the experiment (the author does not know, nor will the author ever know). I wrote 3 ads with the help of an experienced copywriter, and targeted the ads by both subject and genre. I took the Goodreads default for the maximum bid per click (50 cents). So far, the ads have been shown 1,536 times and not a single click. None of the people that viewed my ads have seen the great cover or read the scintillating book blurb. Nor would the price of the book be an issue. People just didn't respond to my ads and give it a chance.

Maybe my ads suck, or the targeting is all wrong. I'll try new ads, tweak the targeting -- maybe I'll eventually find something that works. If I do, rest assured that I will be on this blog letting you all know! Wish me luck.

Self Published? Own It!

I uploaded a book for one of my clients today and she elected to use the free ISBN provided by KDP Print, as I did for my printed book. There are two alleged downsides: this ISBN can only be used at Amazon and your online listing on Amazon will say "Independently Published" as opposed to showing some fake, made-up publishing company.

As I thought more about this today, I realized that these are not downsides at all.

So what if the ISBN is only good at Amazon? Seriously, where else would you want your self-published title? Amazon is where the action is - for both print and ebooks. You have to be on Amazon. If you do decide to put your work elsewhere, you will have to pay the fee (but you would not have to pay the fee twice in any case), but putting your book elsewhere will not generate more sales than Amazon. If you can't sell it on Amazon, it's not going to sell.

As to the second issue: if you are an indie publisher - own it! Be proud of it! Don't try to hide that fact behind some fake publishing company. It isn't going to help. You won't fool anyone. My books are listed under Voice of Doom and Gloom Publishing. Cute. How many readers think that is a real publishing company? Does putting a fictitious publisher on my work actually make me more pathetic than just admitting it's self-published? I'm starting to think yes. Plus, it would cost me $99 (or more) for the privilege and since I'm cheap - that would hurt.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Design Going the Way of Web Design: I Do Not Approve!

I left the web design business partially because new services like Wix and Squarespace made it so easy to develop a nice looking, functional website. Now I am seeing the same thing happening with book design – especially Kindle design. The Kindle Previewer, or Kindle Create tool, make going from a Word document to Kindle book like falling off a log! It still takes a bit of savvy to get a well-formatted print book, but it won’t be long before that is ridiculously easy too. I will be out of this book design business by 2020.

I guess I’ll have to write my own books. Hopefully the computers won’t be able to write better than people anytime soon.

Here is the article that triggered today's rant:

"DIY for writers: now produce and publish your book in 30 minutes flat!

How does it work? Once you have your edited content segregated into chapters and have the pictures, figures and tables ready, you can start loading it on to Xpress. The software runs you through each page and lets you choose the layout design (including size of the book, font type, page format and also the paper quality if you are going for a print book).

The last steps include the design of the cover page and inside covers. Then a set of rigorous checks are performed to satisfy publishing requirements. An error report is generated based on this check. Once you fix the errors, your book is done - in under 30 minutes!”

Read the entire article.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Writing a Book Description That Sells

I ran across an article today about writing book blurbs. I believe that authors tend to write book blurbs that are more like a synopsis, rather than creating copy that sells the book.

From the article:

  • Successful indie author Mark Dawson surveys his readers via email every year. In his recent survey he asked his readers what convinced them to buy one of his books. Of the 5000+ readers, the overwhelming majority said the book description. 
  • The book cover gets them to read the description and the description makes them click the buy button. 
  • Think of your copy as a compelling story. But story does not mean regurgitating the book’s plot. It’s about the story of the reader experience. 
  • Remember people don’t buy stuff, they buy an experience. Where is your book going to take them? What problem will it solve? What emotions are you going to connect with? 
  • The biggest mistake I see fiction authors make is just regurgitating a plot summary complete with at least four character full names and one or two towns thrown in where the action takes place. This is a mistake.

The blog's author mentioned a copywriter that will write your book blurb for $297: http://www.bestpageforward.net/blurbs/ .

Read the entire article; it's worth the time:

Friday, November 2, 2018

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

1954 Austin Healy 100-4 BN1

1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL

1937 Alfa Romeo 8C2900A

1953 Jaguar C-Type XKC010

1954 Ferrari 375MM

1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa

1928 Auburn 8-88 Boattail Speedster

1933 Squire Roadster

1966 Ford GT MKII

Halloween 2018

Friday, October 19, 2018

Waterline Happening This Sunday: October 21, 2018!

Caroline Johnson, Patrick Parks, Lenora Murphy and Christine Swanberg will be the featured authors at Waterline Writers on Sunday, October 21st at 7 pm. 

Caroline Johnson has two poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends and My Mother’s Artwork. In 2012 she won 1st Place in the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Poetry Contest and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She has more than 70 poems in print, is past president and current webmaster of Poets and Patrons of Chicago, and is a facilitator for the Illinois State Poetry Society. Her full-length poetry manuscript, The Caregiver, is forthcoming from Holy Cow! Press in May 2018.

Patrick Parks has had fiction published in a variety of journals, including The Chattahoochee Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Clockwatch Review, Farmer’s Market, B City, and had a story in the anthology, The Breast. In addition, he was editor of Black Dirt, a literary journal, edited Sarajevo: An Anthology for Bosnian Relief, and wrote reviews for Literary Magazine Review. Recipient of two Illinois Arts Council awards, he is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Tucumcari is his first novel. www.patrick-parks.com

Lenora Murphy is an English student at Northern Illinois University specializing in creative writing and teacher licensure. She has been published in the Paragon, Horizons, Towers, and Quail Bell Magazine. Her writing consists of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and drama. Lenora’s first stage production titled Pieces of Harper’s Heart debuted in 2015 which Lenora also cast and directed. Lenora’s most recent nonfiction publication can be found in Quail Bell Literary Magazine’s August issue titled Beauty Mark: http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/essay-society-self-acceptance-and-beauty-marks.

Christine Swanberg has published hundreds of poems in journals and anthologies such as Earth Blessings, Garden Blessings, Gratitude Prayers, and Back To Joy. Recent books include Who Walks Among The Trees With Charity (Wind, 2005), The Alleluia Tree (Puddin’head Press, 2012) and Wild Fruition (Puddin’head Press, 2017). A community poet interviewed by Poet’s Market 2008, she has won many poetry awards and grants such as The Mayor’s Award for Community Impact, YWCA Award for the Arts, and Womanspirit Award.

I'm going to be there and I hope to see many of my friends there too. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

October 15, 2018: The Publishing World Has Changed

From today's blog reading session:

“With the approximate THREE million books published yearly over the last three years (includes all publications—electronic, reprints, university, traditional, self and small/independent press), there are too many books. Period. Of those three million, most likely 80% plus of them shouldn’t have been. Of those numbers, an estimated one-third comes through the traditional route, the remainder of the self-published route … The truth is, many publishers have become printing houses. Yes, they do light editing (but expect the author to have around already completed before submission); yes they do the cover design and back cover copy (it doesn’t mean that you will like, much less love it); yes, they do the interior design (ditto here); and no, they don’t do much in marketing (they expect you be the lead and underwriter of any campaign).”

3,000,000 books a year! That is 8,219 every single day, 365 days a year.

Read the entire article.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Writers: Beware of Scams!

Today's review of the blogoshpere uncovered the following:

It is extremely rare for reputable publishers or a literary agent representing a traditional publishing house to contact an author with a publishing offer unless the author has celebrity status.

Read the whole article!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

September 25, 2018: Wattpad

I read an interesting article today about the website Wattpad on Forbes. Wattpad has been, and would like to continue to be, literary agents for some of their contributors. While Wattpad isn't for every author, it might be worth investigating if you write stories for their demographic! Even if Wattpad does not choose you, the publicity garnered by Wattpad's readers may help your self-published works.
"Wattpad’s 65 million active users (most of them women under 30) spend 383 million hours a month on its site and its mobile apps, reading pieces like “Brave,”a yarn about the Harry Potter character Neville Longbottom, and “Taking Selfies and Overthrowing the Patriarchy With Kim Kardashian.” Wattpad has more than 4 million writers, who post an average of 300,000 pieces a day.

Since Wattpad doesn’t own the rights to the stories on its site, it’s morphing into a talent agency for its authors, cutting out the famously fragmented and high-touch world of literary agents. By bypassing the middle man, Wattpad can funnel the most popular pieces directly to book publishers and TV and movie studios while taking a cut of the authors’ deals.

Wattpad has put together more than 100 book deals for its authors over the past four years (not including foreign rights deals), likely collecting the typical 15% commission of a literary agent."
Read the entire article.

Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24, 2018: More About Writing Than Publishing

Usually I post about self-publishing, or trends in the publishing business. But today my blog reading led me to a great post about the craft of writing. Sometimes I can get so obsessed about the business of selling bookskeywords, advertising gimmicks, cover design, the blurb on the back of the bookthat it is refreshing to read an article focused on the craft of, in this case, writing the perfect sentence. The sentence is, after all, the bedrock of our efforts.

“Orwell saw the plain English sentence as the sword of existential truth, a cure-all for the bad faith of modern life … A sentence is much more than its literal meaning. It is a living line of words where logic and lyric meet – a piece of both sense and sound, albeit the sound is only heard in the reader’s head … A good lesson for any writer: make each sentence worth reading, and something in it will lead the reader into the next one. Good writers write not just in sentences but with sentences. Get them right and everything else solves itself or ceases to matter.”

Read the entire article - it's worth it!