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Posts Tagged ‘See that Indie Go!’

“Starting your book is only the first five miles of a twenty-six-mile marathon that’s one-third of a triathlon (authoring, publishing, and entrepreneuring).”

― Guy Kawasaki, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

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Hello fellow writers and publishers,

Since the completion of my first indie publication, my focus has been on marketing. Oh joy! I’ve spent a good amount of time studying the topic through online courses and video presentations.

One of my favorite sites is LiveWriteThrive, an excellent writing blog by C.S. Lakin. Take a look at her current and past blogs for whatever fictional element you are studying.

I’ve also become aware of some good writing and publishing courses through Shelley Hitz of Author Audience Academy.

A few of my main conclusions from these various lessons are:

  • Selection of genre categories plays a huge part in book accessibility and sales
  • It’s important to identify niche genres that sell well but don’t have tough competition, as well as larger categories (requires a balance here)
  • It’s important to narrow our focus to target a specific audience rather than casting too wide a net
  • It’s important to understand how to analyze books in our niche genre with regard to cover design, keywords, and description, so we can categorize our books alongside best sellers in that genre
  • It’s important to keep praying as we do our best to follow trends and suggestions
  • Amazon marketing can be elusive, and sometimes downright ridiculous. For example, the first edition of my book, Other Side of the River, is currently listed at $1009.67 (for the paperback). Wish I could share in the royalties for that sale!

I am seated precariously on the wagon of building my email subscriber list. I have questions as to how assertive I want to be in collecting subscribers, because I react negatively to pushy emails. So that’s something I’m still working on.

I came across a suggestion to do one thing every day for three years (yes, it said years) with regard to marketing my book. Yesterday (May 16) I emailed reviewers of my first edition and asked them if they would be so kind as to transfer their reviews to the site of the current edition. Sometimes Amazon does this automatically, sometimes not.

Here’s one more thing required from the indie author: legal deposit of every form of your work. In Canada, where I live, I was directed to Library and Archives Canada—Legal Deposit. Since my print book is POD (print on demand), I was only required to send in one copy of my book. Make sure you check this out according to the law of the country in which you reside.

I found out that for the print version, I was able to send a gift copy to the address in Ottawa (gifting seems to be available for print books on amazon.ca but not for digital format). That meant purchasing the book and paying for shipping, but it was fairly easy to accomplish this online. In the process, I spent a few minutes on the phone with a lovely French woman. She was so much fun to talk with, which is highly unusual in the arena of governmental beaurocracy, that I just had to call her a second time!

For the digital format, all I had to do was send a .pdf copy of the book after registering with the digital records division.

Meanwhile, I think the best thing I can do as an indie author is to get back to work on the sequel.writer-1129708_960_720

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There’s no time like the present


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Have I used that line before in my blogs? Probably. And I’ll most likely use it again.

I use Scrivener to write my books and short stories. It works extremely well, I can store everything related to the project in one place, and it saves my work (I also use an external storage device to make sure it’s saved). But I have neglected to learn how to create the appropriate files directly from Scrivener to Kindle…until this week.Scrivener Logo

What do you do when you don’t know how to proceed? First, you pray. Then you sleep on it. Then (please forgive the sense of flippancy; it’s not intended), you google it. I discovered several great videos on how to use Scrivener Compile, besides the lengthy notes I had from the online courses I had taken some time ago.

The best site, in my estimation, is http://susanrussoanderson.com/2014/02/18/how-to-compile-a-sparkling-mobi-in-scrivener-for-windows/. (I use a Mac, but it still worked fine.) To be honest, I found it even more user-friendly than the Scrivener how-to videos at Literature and Latte, https://www.literatureandlatte.com/videos/CompilingUsingFormatPresetsLarge.mov, although they work too. So take your pick or combine them, whatever works best for you.

The Susan Russo Anderson video mentioned above requires that front and back matter be formatted in the Scrivener program and included “As Is” during compile. But I discovered that the Literature and Latte site explained how to make the text editing usable during compile. So, either way, it works. And the more you play with it, the more comfortable and less confusing it becomes.

I think the secret to learning how to work with a new program like Scrivener Compile is to start small. I have a short story I’ve been wanting to publish for a while. It’s 10K in length, so it includes all the elements I need to practice on, but it’s not novel-length. So I worked with that story. I only Compiled it seven times before I was reasonably happy with the outcome! I have yet to press Publish, because I need to do some promotional things, but it’s saved in draft.

So, if you’ve been procrastinating in some areas of your indie writing, press on today. There’s no time like the present.

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“The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

—Wayne Dick, my ever-patient and supportive husband

 (who may not be the originator of this quote)

www.morguefile.com

Last month I was full news about my new self-publishing imprint, acquiring a graphic artist for my covers, and updating my author photo. Among other things.

I haven’t made any giant leaps during the course of February, but I’m very happy with the latest cover proof, so that is a tremendous relief. I think that project went smoothly. Once I’ve finalized it, I’ll let you see the cover I’ve chosen.

The next step is to review my back cover copy, snag an ISBN and barcode (for which I’ve already acquired access through Library and Archives Canada), and get that onto the back of the cover.

I have opened an account with CreateSpace for the print copy of my book(s), and I will load the manuscript into that as soon as the cover is ready. Although, I could do that anytime and revisit when the cover is secured.

In my research, I’ve discovered that although CreateSpace is fine for my paperback books, I will need to use Kindle Direct Publishing for my digital copies. So I will need to create an account with KDP shortly. Please feel free to keep me accountable on what I’ve proposed to do this month.

A lot of time has gone into SEO—Search Engine Optimization— research this past month. I’ve discovered that it’s supremely important to study the genres and sub-genres in order to find the ones with the maximum leverage. I need to study genres used by books similar to mine and how well they are selling. I need to create not only keywords but keyphrases in order to optimize the sales potential. I’ve just taken a free online course by C.S. Lakin of LiveWriteThrive, which has been an informative and encouraging experience. Lakin is also offering a more in-depth course which can be accessed through her website.

Today I attempted to create an email list from my website/blog signup list. After bouncing back and forth from one to another of about eight open google sites, I closed the whole thing down in favor of maintaining my sanity for another day. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow when the little gray cells are rested. I’m a lateral thinker, so when every option opens to a dozen more options, I become quickly disoriented.

If you’d care to pray for me on this journey, I’d appreciate it. If you’ve walked this way before me, you will understand. If you are a step or two behind me, keep tracking. It’s a fantastic adventure. Keep in touch.

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“The good news about self-publishing

is you get to do everything yourself.

The bad thing about self-publishing

is you get to do everything yourself.”

Lori Lesko

I suppose it’s the price of freedom, this doing everything yourself. I’m still happy to be independent, but the weight of responsibility is heavy on my shoulders and I wake up at night worrying about it. But it also results in frequent and fervent prayers for help from the God who knows all, even technology.

Enough about theory. What happened this past month that furthered my indie career?

The first step in my personal plan was to acquire a logo and a tagline. Something to use on my book spines and inside page. I worked on this in November and December of 2015. After trying about fifteen million ideas for a press name, all of which were already in use, I began to believe techy spyders had invaded my brain.

I finally settled on one that was truly original, and hired a designer from a far country to create the logo through an online company called Fiverr. It was relatively painless, and turned out okay. What was supposed to cost $5 (hence, Fiverr, Seven-oh-fiverr if you’re Canadian), actually came to $80 USD, but it was done. I then managed to design a simple business card with the various formats I’d paid for. It’s not perfect, but it serves the purpose and I can print as needed.

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Real Time Addition: I had scheduled this post several weeks ago, but decided to have another look at it before it goes live. So much has happened in the past few weeks, and I want to keep you up to date…

I found out from talking with various author friends, and from researching, that I needed to register my logo and tagline. It is essentially my business name. I spent more time than I had anticipated, but have now requested a search of this name, then reserved the name for a maximum of three months, in which time it needs to be registered.

I did that too, for a reasonable fee of just over $50 CDN. This  registers my business name for three years, and I will be notified when renewal comes due. Please note that I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. Provinces differ in their systems, as do countries.

Next step: the cover(s). I am not a visual artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I bravely tried a free design-it-yourself site and created a so-so cover in about five minutes. Then I remembered that covers sell books, and decided to explore another option.

I tried Fiverr next, but the designers were so diverse and many lacked proficiency in the English language. How would I effectively describe my expectations? I followed through with one, with unacceptable results. I think I prefer my own feeble attempt to what I received from him. That unfortunate venture cost me another $50 or so CDN. Lesson learned? I’m not sure.

Meanwhile, the God who uses ink (if I may borrow a phrase from the original Word Guild), intervened. I had queried about my covers to a designer I know who lives nearby and has both skill and experience. We emailed and I knew I did not have the funds to hire his design services. I have about eight covers queued up, and my book funds are insufficient for the lot. That’s when I jumped ahead on my own and tackled Fiverr, with previously stated results.

The following week the local designer contacted me and offered a deal I couldn’t resist. In short, it is a miracle. We met in person on Friday and shared ideas and expectations. I’m very excited. My word to you is this: if you are a Christian author, pray. God hears, He knows when we are pitifully inadequate for the task, He sends ideas and options, and sometimes He works miracles for us. Thank you, Lord.

Now there’s nothing to keep me awake at nights…except formatting. Sigh. My next report will be up March 8. Until then, keep pressing on, and praying.

P.S. I forgot to mention that I called a camera-proficient neighbor to update my author photo. It’s about time, after more than a dozen years. She offered her services pro-bono, but there are always ways of thanking people and thus acknowledging their skills.

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