I recently had the opportunity to work on a nonfiction formatting and cover design project for the lovely Margaret Cheasebro. I love how the covers turned out and I had a lot of fun working on a more complex formatting project.
Margaret is a master level reiki instructor, so if your interested in learning more about the topic, check out her books here.
Whether an author hires out marketing duties or takes them on personally, it’s important to understand the basics.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is still the best way to sell anything because the recommendation is coming from someone the person likes and trusts.
To get good word or mouth for your books, you need a professional, high quality product. Make sure your editing is clean and the book cover does not look homemade.
You should also actively encourage readers to share your book and talk about it publicly. This can be accomplished through street teams, contests that require sharing a post or writing a review, or putting a reminder the back matter of the book.
Post on your social media platforms regularly to keep people engaged. Utilize a mix of informational, funny, promotional, or talking point types of posts.
Utilize social media ads to sell directly to interested readers who already like/follow you. You can also target lookalike audiences of similar authors and unique to reach new customers.
Free advertising options including posting to book-related Facebook groups (there are tons of these), newsletter swaps, blogging, creating Pinterest boards for your books or characters, and adding books to book sites like My Book Cave and Goodreads.
Paid advertising options include social media ads (pretty much all platforms are willing to take your money in the form of ads hosting), Amazon ads, book-related paid newsletters like FreeBooksy or BookBub, print ads in literary magazines or your local newspaper or circular, sponsorships, and paid online takeovers and parties.
DON’T pay for reviews, ever! It’s against retailers’ terms of service and you can be penalized. Paying a fee to have your book listed in a review catalogue is okay because you are not paying for individual reviews, just the listing.
Get involved with group promos and events with other authors. You can usually find out about these by joining online authors groups like Alessandra Torre Inkers. These types of collaborations expands your reach and allows you to share fans with and of other authors.
Learn to write engaging ad copy and book cover copy in order to catch the interest of readers. Blurb writing is challenging, and can be hired out if you don’t feel comfortable writing in short form.
Test different ads through A/B testing and determine what type of wording and what styles work best with your audience. Update your ads often because tastes change frequently. Study blurbs for books in your genre to learn more about the style and conventions readers will look for.
Use professional graphics (Pixabay, Canva, Deposit Photos) in all promotional material. DO NOT pull images from a Google search, because the may be copyrighted and you could end up with legal action and fines. There are plenty of free options out there, like Pixabay, if you’re on a tight budget. The same rules apply to music if you post videos.
Determine how much time you REALISTICALLY have each week to put toward marketing, and build your marketing plan around that. Set daily, weekly, monthly tasks AND stick to them. Good things to include are social media posts, submitting books to newsletters, reviewing and updating ads, and engaging with readers.
Plan major campaigns (new releases, holidays, etc.) at least a month in advance, more if possible. Holidays need advanced planning more than almost anything else because newsletter slots will fill up quickly and ad costs may be higher than usual. Bloggers are also much busier and so are readers.
Ideas for major campaigns include hosting virtual parties, running giveaways, participating in takeovers or having other authors takeover your pages (especially popular on Instagram lately), running sales on your books, or hosting a live or online event to celebrate new releases or writing milestones.
What does it cost to be an indie author? It’s question many new writers want to know. When you take on the production cost of a book, you need to know where those costs will fit into your budget.
***Quick note to say I will be moving my weekly posts to Tuesdays***
The cost of editing depends on what type of editing you need for your project.
Developmental editing is the most involved and the most expensive. A developmental editor will help you work out problems with the story/characters and help improve the flow and style . It will cost you about $0.08/word or $20/page.
Copyediting is less involved and doesn’t dig into story or character problems. It mainly deals with improving sentence structure and readability, as well as generally tightening up the writing. It will cost you about $0.02/word or $5/page.
Proofreading in the least involved and least expensive, but requires the writer (or a previous round of editing) to have cleaned up the manuscript as much as possible. Proofreading aims to catch typos and punctuation errors, not fix major issues. It will cost you about $0.01/word, $3/page.
The cost depends on whether you want an ebook cover only, a full wrap cover for a paperback, or both, as well as whether you want a customer cover (with stock or exclusive photos) or a premade cover.
Premade covers are the least expensive option, but offer the least ability to customize. Most quality premades are in the $30-$50 range. Most premades are only ebook covers, but many designers offer an add on option to turn it into a full wrap if you need it.
Stock photos in a custom cover will be less expensive than using exclusive photos. Custom covers are usually in the $50-$150 range for ebook covers and you can plan to add another $30-$50 to add a full wrap to the package. The range has to do with how many photos are need for the cover. More photos means more cost.
Exclusive images guarantee no one else will have your same cover, but you’ll pay for that privilege. Plan on $500 and up for a custom photo shoot.
Formatting for ebooks and paperbacks can be learned by those with knowledge of Word or the willingness to learn software like Jutoh, Kindle Create, or Calibre. InDesign is a professional level software that has a steep learning curve, but is doable if you’re on a tight budget and willing to put the time in.
If you want to hire out formatting, the cost will depend on the type and difficulty. Images will up the difficulty in any project, as will graphics like charts, table, multiple frames, etc.
For fiction ebook formatting, plan on $150-$250. For print formatting, plan on $200-$300. Most formatters will offer package pricing to do both at once.
Setup and Extra Help
Most authors with basic computer skills will be able to create their accounts and upload their documents without help. Those who run into problems or have limited computer skills or access, having someone tackle this part of the publishing process is available. An average cost is around $20/hour.
Production on a Tight Budget
If you are working with a small budget and want to do as much yourself as possible, be honest with yourself about your skill level in each category.
Learning to format in Word is a great way to cut costs. Designing your own book cover when you have no design experience is not. Start with a premade cover and upgrade when your budget isn’t as tight.
Editing your own book is extremely difficult. If you can’t afford a professional editor yet, trade with another author or see if a local teacher could help out for a lower fee.
The goal is putting out a professional product. Save money where you can, but not at the cost of putting out a subpar book.
I read “Persaded” by Jane Austen several years ago as part of my ongoing quest to read more classic literature. I’ll be honest and say a lot of the classics I’ve tried have been a challenge to get through. This wasn’t one of them. I really enjoyed reading “Persuaded” by was intrigued by the idea of making it a little more current for younger readers. It took only a couple of months to write, but it’s taken several years to get back to it for editing, cover design, and actually getting it published.
Now, it finally available in ebook and paperback!
What Had To Be Done
Everyone has bad days. Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days.
It started with her mother’s illness and eventual death, continued with a decision that ruined a friendship, and culminated in her father announcing they were broke and moving away right before her senior year of high school.
Maybe a fresh start will turn things around.
Or maybe it will put her face to face with her former best friend Felix and the hatred in he still carries for her.
The only bright spot in Anna’s move to Santa Fe is meeting her new swim coach, a long-time hero who has big plans for her athletic career. The pool is her refuge, but she can’t hide there forever. Living in a small town makes it impossible to stay out of Felix’s way, and unlikely their history will remain just between them for long. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.
Earlier this year, I got the rights back to my Date Shark series, and I knew it wasn’t going to be as simple as simply republishing them for several reasons.
The editing on the first book had been horrible, and I realized when I started re-editing that the edits I had sent back to the publisher five years ago had been ignored. I’d received multiple complaints about the editing from readers when it first published, but it was out of my hands at that point.
The editing did improve over time as the publisher I was working with upgraded their editing staff, but there were still enough errors remaining that I knew the entire series needed to be re-edited. That process took me almost five months because I didn’t have a lot of spare time after starting a new job at the newspaper and taking on a few too many freelance projects.
I also needed new cover art before I could republish the series. I was happy to redo the first book’s cover, but I had chosen the model art for books two through four, so at least I didn’t have to start completely from scratch. My main challenge was not being able to use the cool shark fin A in the original cover art and trying to find something comparable. My husband helped me choose a new font and rightly steered me away from trying to include any water-like effects and just go with the sketched shark logo instead.
My next challenge was when to re-release each book. I asked other authors and got advice on scheduling, but in the end, it took me so long to format each book that they ended up spacing themselves out well enough, for the most part. Books two and three released within days of each other because, honestly, I was sick of working on them and just wanted to be done.
Going back through these books was actually a fun experience overall. I hadn’t chatted with these characters in almost three years and had forgotten how much I loved them! Sabine and Michael’s story is still my favorite of the series, and rereading the books reminded me that poor Leo never got to have his own story.
I had planned to give Leo a voice as the final book in the series, but because of issues with the publisher and limited writing time back then, I stored the idea away for later. I do have some other projects that need attention, but I want to eventually come back to Leo’s story and finish off the series by giving him his own happy ending.
For now, the series is back up on all the major retailers and ready to meet new readers!
The Catalyst is available again (post-Kindle World rewrite version) for purchase as an ebook on Kindle, B&N, and Smashwords. Apple Books and Kobo are coming soon as well! The Catalyst is also available in paperback for the first time!
Looking after Eliza Carlisle is about as easy as bathing a cat!
MORE exciting news is that book 4, Incendiary, is close to being finished and will be released in early 2019!
Here’s a sneak peek!
Incendiary (Coming Soon)
Eliza Carlisle Mystery, Book 4
How long can Eliza keeping looking over her shoulder before she finally sees her own death approaching?
New Year’s means resolutions, getting on track, making decisions.
For Eliza Carlisle, starting a new year means making tough choices, even if those decisions mean losing friends and possibly getting kicked out of culinary school. She’s all set to take her life in a new direction when her demented half-brother Simon’s reappearance changes everything.
Broken and more alone than she’s been since fleeing her childhood home, Eliza struggles to hang onto the fragile threads that are holding her life together. Only a comically disastrous young chef and the threats against her life pull Eliza out of her fog of self-loathing. Saving seven-year-old Clara means ignoring the threat Simon now poses and surrendering to burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and whipped cream-splattered kitchens…not to mention family secrets, death threats, and a whole host of spy gadgets. And who can forget about Baxter?
With so much mounted against her, Eliza has as much chance of surviving the criminal elite, her psychotic half-brother, and Baxter’s determined advances as she does escaping Chef Harper’s quest to kill her culinary dreams.
Gretchen brought her car to a screeching halt in the middle of the highway, terrified she had just killed someone. The body lying on the road appeared so suddenly, she barely had time to hit the brakes. Luckily, she stopped short of him. Unluckily, someone else hadn’t. Her call for help may have saved his life, but the damage done may be impossible to repair.
Waking with no memory of who he is or how he ended up a broken mess in the hospital, he has no choice but to rely on his rescuer for help. “John Doe” is his only identity until fragmented memories begin cropping back up. They are only fleeting images of a woman, but John hides even that from Gretchen, afraid it will lead him back home and away from the woman he is quickly falling in love with.
Every so often, it’s necessary to step back and take a look at your books and see what is and isn’t working. After perusing book covers of some current young adult novels, I felt like the covers for the Destroyer Trilogy weren’t quite doing it anymore. The symbols used in the original covers are unique (I designed them especially for the books), but they weren’t really giving readers a good idea of what the books were about. So, I decided it was time for a makeover.
I’d love to hear what you all think of the new covers, featuring Libby’s fateful diktats on the cover of book one, Inquest…
…the promise of one of the worst betrayals Libby has had to face…
…and the promise of unimaginable chaos.
If you liked the symbols from the previous covers, have no fear, they’ll still be there on the back cover, slightly redesigned as well…
If you’d like to grab a copy with the new covers, you can find them all here…