by Jane Monica-Jones
I believe we live in the most fortunate and opportune time to be a writer. From the world’s insatiable need for written content through a multitude of online and printed channels to the rise of easily accessible resources for writers to fund, print and market their stories.
As the publishing industry continues to grapple with the ever changing landscape, the writer has emerged as the self determining victor.
No longer is our publishing success determined by a publisher’s letter or offer. Through the phenomena of crowdfunding and self-publishing, the publish, market and sell model has been jumbled. Now writers can market the story idea first, sell and then publish.
Although the writer has to wear new hats as marketer and salesman, we now get the opportunity to transform our words and ideas into something we can hold, without anyone else telling us yes or no.
In 2003 I self published a small kids picture book, before I knew anything about crowdfunding and paid for the printing out of my own pocket.
There was something so magical about opening the cardboard boxes that contained my little book. The smell of ink and paper has been burnt into my nasal cellular memory. What was once a hazy string of words and ideas in my mind was now something real in my hand.
Ten years ago it was pretty unique to self-publish and I was fortunate enough to have the help of my sister who owned a magazine at the time, to do the desktop publishing. But the magical feeling still remains every time I look at the last few copies of my book that I haven’t sold.
Fast forward to today after years of working in corporate and arts marketing and with the discovery of crowdfunding, I have changed my view of how to self-publish successfully.
Self-publishing is more than just the self-printing of a book. In order move those boxes that will be filling up your spare room, it is vitally important to dedicate a sizable portion of your resources, financial or otherwise, to marketing.
In the crowdfunding model, we market our idea first through the crowdfunding platform, sell it in the form of the money raised and then create the book.
I believe it is vital that you factor in book marketing costs into your goal amount and outline this in your campaign message. You do this by mentioning your desire for the continued success of the book with further marketing and promotion to the greater market, outside of just your backers.
Informing your potential backers of your need for a marketing budget builds credibility for you and your campaign. It shows your dedication and professionalism to the success of your book.
Running a crowdfunding campaign is a wonderful process of gauging the market for your work. It is also a great way of honing your marketing skills. If you able to raise your self-publishing funds through crowdfunding, through all your efforts in promotion, networking and marketing you not only have an audience for your book through you backers but also evidence that there is a market for your book.
But one big word of warning to the artist in you. If it appears that you haven’t been successful in reaching or coming close to your goal through crowdfunding, please do not think that there is something wrong with your book. I am a great believer that there is a market for pretty much everything. You just have to find your customers and touch their hearts. And you do this by crafting your crowdfunding campaign through the platform, your pitch and your story.
So before you press the go live button on the crowdfunding site, get as many people as possible to review your pitch, tweak it, work on it and put as much passion in as possible. Also prepare, prepare, prepare how you are going to get the word out that your crowdfunding campaign has launched and why people should contribute. You do all this, and you will be having the sweet smell of ink and paper wafting up your nose in no time.
Jane Monica-Jones is the author of “How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign” available on Amazon.
Traditionally, authors have sought the assistance of publishing houses to produce, market and distribute their books. However, traditional publishing is an extremely difficult industry to break into and, as a result, many aspiring authors are choosing to self-publish. Self-publishing, although more work for the author, also provides the author with more freedom to produce the book they want. Many authors are choosing to self-publish for that reason, and with the recent developments of social media, now is the best time to be your own publisher. Social media provides authors with a direct connection to their audience and they can market themselves widely at no cost.
The ability to connect with so many people for free can help authors to more successfully self-publish their book, and now, with the introduction of crowdfunding for writers, social media can also help to mitigate the financial risk of self-publishing. Crowdfunding is a way for a writer’s personal and professional networks to financial back their book project, helping to eliminate the out-of-pocket expenses of self-publishing. The writer’s ability to develop a strong social network through social media can help their crowdfunding campaign and, ultimately, the overall success of their book.
Every facet of social media is important when looking to build your following as an author and it’s important to build that following before the launch of your crowdfunding campaign. With the ability to connect with readers, writers can market themselves on websites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Wordpress, and Tumblr…and we’ll tell you how!
Twitter: The Future of Authors and Crowdfunding
Twitter is the perfect way to begin the branding of yourself as an author and gain a following before you begin your crowdfunding campaign. Letting your personality shine through your tweets and the individual interactions you will have with your followers will help to build your audience organically. The best way to get your readers excited about your book is to develop a personal bond with your audience—then their interest in your book will grow from that bond.
Searching hashtags that are related to you as a writer and the subject of your book will help you connect with your audience. Searching relevant hashtags will provide you with an immediate pool of people who may be interested in you and your book. There are over 200 million users on Twitter today, just think of how many opportunities you have to make connections with your audience!
Twitter contests are also a great way to get your readers excited about your upcoming book. Offer up free book giveaways, or even something more creative, in exchange for retweets and you’ll organically develop new followers and potential future readers. Contests will help to create a conversation and maintain a buzz around your upcoming book.
Twitter provides an instant connection to your audience and the ability to forge relationships with potential readers, so it’s naturally also a great place to link to your other social media sites. For example, linking to your blog will give your followers access to longer posts and enjoy more of your writing instead of being limited to your Twitter personality.
All of these free tools available give writers the opportunity to produce something they might not have had the chance to, had they been forced to follow the route of the traditional publisher. Building your following through interactions on Twitter gives you the chance to create a readership all over the world. Seeking out your audience and connecting with them is crucial if you’re thinking of crowdfunding for your book project because crowdfunding requires having a strong personal and professional network.
Adela Crandell Durkee
1. At what age did you begin writing? Is writing your sole career or do you have other jobs in addition to being an author?
I “wrote” my first published piece (in The Flint Journal) when I was six years old. I dictated the story to my mother, who took it all down in shorthand. She taught me the values of trusting myself, and of self-editing. I remember her erasing her mysterious short-hand scratches when I corrected myself hand changed “the little girl lifted her hands like this,” to “the little girl lifted her hands over her head.” Mom clipped the story and saved it for years, giving it to me just a couple of years ago.
I always loved story-telling and writing. That said, I most of my career is in science: microbiologist, chemist, quality assurance professional. I held leadership positions in large and small pharmaceutical companies. There I honed my writing skills by creating protocols, reports and procedures. Writing instructions is a great way to build skills in writing details: turn the black knob one-quarter turn counter-clockwise or until you hear a faint click and see a faint stream of steam escape.
I also love my vocation as wife and mother, which requires a lot of upfront investment and pays wonderful dividends.
2. What are some of the struggles that you have faced in the writing process? How were you able to overcome them?
The hardest part is getting started, and the second hardest is stopping. I cannot write too close to bedtime, or my mind won’t relax. Sometimes just the process opens up a flood of ideas. This can have a paralyzing effect. Now I keep an electronic journal of ideas for later.
3. How do you see writing as an empowering experience for yourself and other women?
I just love to write, it’s part of who I am and how I ground my thinking. It’s a wonderful feeling to organize all the mish-mash of my thoughts into words on paper. Sometimes, just putting a pencil in my hand helps me to coalesce my thoughts. When recognizes me for my writing, it’s the best feeling in the world. The only thing that beats that feeling, is holding one of my newborns for the first time. Come to think about it, the process may be the same: lots of gestation, waiting, and wondering, and finally, something I can share with the world.
4. If you had to describe yourself in three words only, what would they be?
Tenacious (I loved it the first time someone described me as tenacious. My heart shouted out a big “YES!”)
Passionate (My sister pointed out that characteristic as so much more satisfying than emotional.)
Imaginative thinker (Sometimes I imagine what the squirrels and birds are thinking as they scamper around my yard. On a serious note, I love logic and following a thread to imagine various consequences, intended and unintended.)
5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?
When I met my husband he promised we would visit the seven continents. We’ve gone to North America (!), South America, Europe, and Africa. I hope either Australia or India is next. (I know India is not a continent, but it surely warrants a trip of its own.) I’ll save Asia for last. And I’m not going to Antarctica, although I’m game for Alaska for my dose of the cold-cold climate.)
6. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? Do you have any exciting plans or projects coming up?
My first novel, A LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, will be finished by the end of March. I plan to get a boat-load of rejection letters because that’s the best way to get published. Anyways, that’s what Stephen King and Anne Lamott both tell me in their books on writing. I am putting my tenacity to work by submitting short pieces and I’m learning how to monetize my two blogs The Black Tortoise and Once a Little Girl. Eventually I plan to transform Once a Little Girl into a memoir. In my free time, I’m editor of my ASQ Chapter’s Newsletter (http://www.asq1212.com) and I love to garden, play with my grandchildren, adventure with my husband, George, and of course, read.
95Notes is a creative literary journal based out of Chicago, but operating on an international scale. The magazine is in the final stages of launching an online edition, and submissions can be made here. We got a chance to speak with Shaunwell Posley, president of 95Notes, about his take on the industry.
How long has your journal been running?
We are actually just celebrating our 5th year in existence. 95Notes Literary Magazine has been running November 2007. We began as an idea between students in a poetry class at Chicago State University and it is heartwarming to see how much we have grown since our founding. We have received over 15,000 submissions from all over the world from locally in Chicago, all the way to Japan. For the last five years, we have featured the works of some amazing artists and writers like Quraysh Ali Lansana, Frank X. Walker, Adrian S. Potter, Randall Horton,Veronica Bohanan, R.S. DeFrance, Tara Betts, C. Leigh McInnis, Sara Wang, Leila Emery. We have also published the first works of many up-and-coming writers. 95Notes Publishing is looking forward to the future, where we will launch, 95Notes Literary Magazine Online.
What is the focus of your journal?
95Notes is a platform focused on showcasing quality creative writing and artwork. We represent all creative writers and artists within the literary community. We are dedicated to bringing quality writing and artwork to the brink of the creative world starting in the heart of communities where literature is needed most to educate young minds. We are providing all individuals with creativity a chance, as we believe that literature and art is a part of everyday culture and it must be represented in all communities. We truly let artists and writers be themselves.
What defines quality writing for you?
Quality writing is extremely hard to define because it includes so many elements, but I will try my best to make a complete and sufficient definition. Quality writing is writing that is unique containing detailed and specific information that clearly emphasizes and showcases a coherent purpose. The word choice must be concise, strong, and vibrant. The style and setup must be distinct. The grammar must be clear of errors or if errors are present, then the consistency of errors must be at a minimum. Also, the information being presented must show a connection. Overall, writing is complex and practice is essential in becoming excellent at the trade.
How important is a support system for up-and-coming authors?
I believe that it is essential for writers to have a support system as this is needed in order to stay actively encouraged while writing and also if assistance is needed, someone who has experience in the craft of writing can provide help and guidance. I believe that all writers need to support each other and becoming a part of a local or national community is necessary. 95Notes will feature a community area on the website specifically designed for writers to make connections with others. Also if writers and authors have suggestions on how they would like to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues, they are free to submit their suggestions to 95Notes@gmail.com and we will take all suggestions seriously in order to create the perfect experience.
What resources do you recommend to writers looking to improve?
I believe that one of the best ways for writers to improve their craft is by consistently writing and reading. It is hard for a writer to truly become an expert in their craft, especially if they are not practicing with a goal to improve and also by reading the writings of other authors. But in regards to the initial question, I believe there are multiple, actually, an unlimited amount of resources for writers and I will list them below:
· Pw.org (Poets & Writers)
· Purdue University Online Writing Lab (owl.english.purdue.edu/)
· Blogs of fellow Writers / Teachers
· Stanford’s Resource Center – Standford.edu
· World Wide Web is filled with resources for writers
· PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!
What’s the best way to purchase your journal?
At this time, the journal can be purchased by sending queries to 95Notes@gmail.com but will be available for purchase at website once complete, which will be by end of year. Also, if interested in subscriptions, queries can be sent to 95Notes@gmail.com.
Running both online and in print, 491 Magazine is always look for talented new poets and artists. Those looking to submit their work can do so here. We got a chance to speak with Caitlyn, editor at 491, about what she sees in the industry.
How long has your journal been running?
Since May 2009.
What is the focus of your journal?
We publish poetry and art.
What attracted you to working on this journal?
I’ve been in love with print for as long as I can remember, and I’ve watched quite a few print magazines cease publication. I wanted more poets and artists to have a chance to hold their work in their hands.
What is one mistake you see many fledgling writers making?
Fledgling writers often focus too much on publishing instead of honing their talents. There’s no race to get published. I’ve heard many experienced writers talk about regretting pieces they placed early in their careers. My advice is to read more than you write. Write a poem and put it away for a while. Give your work space and time.
What resources do you recommend to writers looking to improve?
I’m a big proponent of classes of any kind. That could be anything from an MFA program to a local workshop. It’s important to build a community of writers who help each other grow. Classes are a great way to meet like-minded writers.
What’s the best way to purchase your journal?
Pubslush had the chance to speak with Dianne Goettel at Black Lawrence Press, an independent press that runs frequent contests for literature and poetry. Authors looking for more details on these contests, as well as the press itself, can get more details here.
What criteria do you use as a publisher to choose projects?
The only criteria that is important to us is literary merit. We do not choose books based on commercial viability. If a book sells well, we are pleased; but the most important thing is making wonderful volumes of contemporary literature and non-fiction available to readers.
What does your company do that makes it unique?
We work very hard to support our authors. We are a small press with a shoestring budget, so we are not able to sink funds into advertising or travel, but we work hard to get our books reviewed, to set up local events for our authors, and to get the word out about their books. We also work very closely with our authors on their cover art. It is important to us that our authors love their covers as much as we love their poetry and prose.
Talk more about your St. Lawrence Book Award.
The St. Lawrence Book Award is an annual award for a first collection of poetry or short fiction. From the very beginning, Black Lawrence Press has been equally committed to poetry and short stories. As such, a number of our contests are open to both genres. We just closed the ninth annual Saint Lawrence Book Award and look forward to announcing the winner and finalists soon. Previous winners include Marcel Jolley (fiction), Stefi Weisburd (poetry), Jason Tandon (poetry), Fred McGavran (fiction), Yelizaveta P. Renfro (fiction), Brad Ricca (poetry), Katie Umans (poetry), and Adrian Van Young (fiction).
What is one mistake you see many aspiring writers making?
The most important thing is to send a polished manuscript. Errant apostrophes and spelling mistakes often belie a manuscript that still needs revising and, therefore, ends up in the rejection pile.
What resources do you recommend to writers looking to improve?
Find a good writing workshop in your area or save up and go to a well-respected writing conference. To find out more about the opportunities available (and to learn about what editors are looking for at the moment), check out Sapling: http://blacklawrence.homestead.com/Sapling.html. If there’s nothing great in your area and you are not able to travel, check out the Dzanc Creative Writing Mentorships: http://www.dzancbooks.org/dcws
What’s the best way to support your publishing company?
Anderbo is a well known and renowned e-journal that accepts both fiction and non-fiction. We got a chance to speak with Rick Rofihe, Editor-in-Chief and accomplished author, about his experience in the publishing business.
How long has your journal been running?
I started the first Anderbo—Anderbo Books—in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1971; it was my second publishing company. There were some problems choosing a name for the first—Straw Books—so I decided to “invent” a new word, like “Kleenex”, you know. Because my thinking was, why “ruin” a word? Like, “mustang” used to be a horse, but now it’s a Ford car. In any case, when the e-version of Anderbo was conceived in New York City in 2005, I had wanted to call it “Virtue”—as in “Virtue is its own reward”—but that domain-name was already taken, so I went back to Anderbo.
What is the focus of your journal?
Anderbo appreciates diversity in voice and style, delivered in high-quality prose (fiction or nonfiction) or poetry.
What attracted you to working on this journal?
E-publishing itself. Because, in a practical sense, the paper book or journal or magazine or newspaper is already as obsolete as the vinyl LP-record is, especially when it comes to the time and costs devoted to their manufacture and, especially, distribution. I was born into an era in which recorded music still came on heavy 78 rpm discs—now even my compact discs are passe. When Kindles and Nooks started popping up around me I figured their users to be odd show-offs, parading their electronic affectations. I still don’t own an e-reader, but soon I’ll be the one, even to myself, appearing strange, cluttering up my environment with hard-copy newspapers and magazines.
Any advice to authors looking to get published?
My advice is: ENTER LITERARY CONTESTS! It may seem like a long shot, but your odds of winning or at least having your work published are actually much, much, better than through a regular submission.
What resources do you recommend to writers looking to improve?
Lorin Stein, the current Editor of the Paris Review, has put all the interviews with writers and poets that that magazine has ever published up on their website—that’s a good place to start. Also, if an aspiring writer ever gets a chance, by having their writing accepted at a publication, to observe a professional editor at work—my own have included The New York Times’ Charlotte Curtis in the early 1980’s and Open City Magazine and Books’ Joanna Yas in this century—a lot can be learned about dealing with the written word.
What’s the best way to purchase your journal?
Anyone, anywhere, anytime, can read it on a computer or smartphone without charge at http://www.anderbo.com.
Rick Rofihe is the Publisher & Editor-In-Chief of Anderbo. He is also the author of FATHER MUST, a collection of short stories published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Editor: Jonathan Galassi; Agent: Gail Hochman). Rick Rofihe’s fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Grand Street, Open City, Unsaid, Swink, and online at fictionaut, slushpilemag and epiphanyzine. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, SPY, and online at mrbellersneighborhood. A recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award, he has taught MFA writing at Columbia University, and currently teaches privately in New York City. He is a member of PEN; was an advisor to the Vilcek Foundation for their 2011 prizes in the field of literature; and is the judge of the annual Open City Magazine No-Fee Rofihe Trophy Short Story Contest, now in its ninth year.
What is LitReactor?
LitReactor is an online community for readers and writers. It was born out of Chuck Palahniuk’s official website, huckalahniuk.net, which grew to host interviews by other authors, a writing workshop, and online writing classes. It was growing so fast, the decision was made to spin some of those elements off into their own entity, independent of Palahniuk (though indebted to his influence).
LitReactor offers a lot of great things, but essentially, if you want to be a better writer, find something new to read, or connect with literary-minded individuals, this is where to do it.
How does the online classroom environment help writers meet their goals?
The classes are highly collaborative. It’s not a couple of written lectures and then you’re left to your own devices. Our teachers answer questions and critique work. There are phone conferences and video chats. We’re introducing new formats, and covering different disciplines and genres.
The online environment is flexible, too. If you have to work during the day and you can’t check in until later in the day, or even the middle of the night, the lectures and assignments are there.
The most important thing, though, is that you’re not just interacting with your instructor—you’re working with your classmates. They’re critiquing your work, taking part in discussions, and encouraging you to push yourself.
What can writers expect to get out of the classes you offer?
Our goal is to provide writers with an a la carte approach to a writing education. Going to an MFA program is out of reach for a lot of people—they’re expensive, they’re a huge time commitment, they’re far away. We wanted to do something a little more democratic. If you want to work with a particular author, or focus on a particular discipline, you can do it here. If you want to take one class or all of them, you can do it.
Ultimately, we want writers to leave these classes with confidence, with polished work, and with better tools and resources.
Who teaches the classes?
Our teachers are established authors and industry professionals—from writers like David Corbett, Jack Ketchum, Craig Clevenger, Lidia Yuknavitch and Christa Faust, to agents and publishers. You can see the full run of courses that we’ve offered at this link. We’ve had some really fantastic people teach for us, and we’ve got some exciting people lined up.
Do you offer any other resources for writers?
We have an online workshop, where in order to post your work, you have to review the work of other people. You earn points based on how helpful your critiques are, and when you earn enough points you can post your own piece. This is to encourage people to engage, rather than post their stuff and move along.
We also host essays and columns on craft and the publishing industry. There’s also a discussion board, which has a life of its own. We have a very close-knit community, and they host flash fiction challengesdevelop projects together.
How can writers sign up for classes?
We put out new classes through the website, as well as our social media accounts and our newsletter. If people are looking for a particular class, or want to learn more, they can visit the site, or just e-mail us, at email@example.com. We try to take requests into account—we’ve gotten a lot of requests for classes covering erotica and non-fiction, and we’re working on developing them.
A Beginner’s Guide to eBook Publishing
(Excerpted from “” by Steven Spatz)
The digital book — or eBook — is now the preferred choice for millions of readers. Walk through any airport waiting area or Starbucks and you’ll see a growing number of readers enjoying new levels of convenience, portability, access, and affordability with their Kindles, iPads, Nooks and more.
Today you can publish your eBook for a fraction of the cost and time it once took to bring a book “to market.”
Empowering the independent author
Beyond the exploding sales numbers, the electronic publishing age offers opportunities for new and prospective authors that have previously been open to a relative few.
Authors are in control
Creative types — artists, musicians, sculptors, authors — have almost always been at the mercy of others controlling and profiting from their art. It’s been that way since Michelangelo was painting ceilings in Rome.
With eBooks, authors can finally have as much control as they want because of their direct access to their reading audience.
It can take anywhere from 12 to 15 months for a traditional publishing company to get an author’s work into the marketplace. Compare that with the 3 to 4 weeks it takes to see your BookBaby eBook on Amazon, Apple and more.
Special interests can be special
With eBooks, even tiny niche titles are economical to produce, satisfying small yet potentially profitable reading audiences.
Last but certainly not least:
The old payment formulas are completely upside down in the eBook world. Instead of accepting miniscule royalty percentages going through old school publishers, authors are seeing up to 70% of sales receipts through some of the online retailers. Even when eBook authors bring prices way down to 2.99….$1.99….even $.99…they’re realizing much higher revenue totals because of increased unit sales.
Why publish eBooks through BookBaby?
Authors hold all the cards at the eBook table. There are dozens of options available to you, ranging from a Do It Yourself (DIY) project that costs next to nothing, all the way to an expensive and elaborate suite of services for authors.
Right in the middle of those offerings sits BookBaby. We’ve helped thousands of authors get their books into the digital marketplace.
Publishing your eBook with BookBaby is easy. How easy?
• Upload your eBook and pay as little as $99. Sign up is fast and intuitive. You set the selling price, supply book descriptions, author bio — even list out keyword search terms. You’re in control from start to finish, and retain all publishing and ownership rights.
• Sell your eBooks worldwide. We convert your original electronic files so that your eBook can be read on every reading device — Kindle, iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and more.
• Get paid 100%. We collect your net sales from the online retail stores. A few days later, BookBaby pays you every last cent. Our cut of your sales? 0%.
But there’s more to BookBaby. From supplying ISBNs and Cover Design services to eBook conversions from PDFs and for titles with massive amounts of pictures and graphics, we’ve got everything an aspiring — or established – author could need.
eBook editing —More Important Than ever
When authors work through the traditional system, editing is one of the most important elements that publishers or agents bring to the process. Just because you’ve chosen to go another route doesn’t mean that the requirements for editing are any less strict. In fact it’s even more vital for you to have a set — or sets — of other eyes on your prose because your writing reputation is on the line.
What do you look for in an editor? Most editors concentrate on one or a few genres, and that’s a good thing. So start your search for an editor that’s experienced with your type of subject matter.
To search for a professional editor, you can start with listings at Writer’s Digest’s site or Media Bistro. You can also check social sites like LinkedIn to contact best industry professionals. You can search the site to find dozens of user groups or communities within the publishing world such as:
• LinkEds and Writing
• Publishing and Editing Professionals
• Writing and Editing Professionals
• Freelance Editing Network
Another good source is the Editorial Freelancers Association, which has a directory of EFA members that you can search online. The EFA also has a great list of typical rates for various kinds of editorial services at http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php.
eBook file conversion 101
Your manuscript has one final hurdle to jump before it is eReader-ready: You’ll need to have your Word, Text or other electronic files converted into a file format compatible with the most popular eReaders.
There are three main file types currently associated with eBooks:
• epUB (.epub) - The most popular open standard format for eBooks that allows Digital Rights Management (DRM). This is the format used with all the major retailers EXCEPT Amazon/Kindle.
• Mobipocket (.mobi) - An eBook format that allows users to add a blank page at any point in the text for notes, bookmarks, corrections, and drawings.
• Kindle (.azw) - Amazon’s proprietary format is based on mobipocket, but with their own DRM protections.
Which brings us to the first fork in the road for independent self-publishing authors. Do you want a professional file conversion house to produce the necessary digital files for Amazon, Apple and the rest? Or do you want to save the expense and do it yourself?
Plenty of authors have gone down the DIY road and found success. There are dozens of websites, author forums, and whitepapers available to guide you through it. But converting your Word file into ePub and .mobi isn’t for everyone.
With the technology, standards, and best practices for eBook conversion constantly in flux, it’s tough for authors to stay abreast of all the latest developments. And frankly…that’s our job. Writers should be doing what they do best – write. Leave all of the technical details to our eBook conversion experts and your book will look great on all the different eReaders in the marketplace.
Do’s and Don’ts — eBook File Format Fundamentals
No matter what path you choose for ePub conversion, you can go a long way to make the process easier by following some basic formatting guidelines:
• Use basic text files to upload. Our experts have learned that eBook formatting works best when authors can supply original files in .doc, .html or .txt file formats.
• Don’t use tabs or the space bar to format paragraphs or individual lines. Use the format paragraph menu or the alignment buttons in the toolbar of your text-editing program.
• Use standard fonts for your document, like Times New Roman or Courier New. Don’t use very large or very small font sizes. We recommend 12pt. font size for body text and 14-18pt. for chapter titles.
• Resize large images to 300 pixels high if you would like them to display in-line with text.
• Do all image resizing work outside of the document, then reinsert them before saving. All images must be in .png, .jpg, or .tif format, 72 dpi, and in RGB color mode.* Cover and full- page images: 800-1000 pixels tall by 550-700 pixels wide. Logos or simple images: 75 - 100 pixels high.
• Don’t wrap text around images. All images (except full-page images) should be set “in-line” with text.
• Need more info? Additional information about how to best prepare your files for ePub conversion can be found at http://www.bookbaby.com/help/preparingforconversion
13 very important numbers for every eBook
The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique 13-digit code assigned to your book to identify it amongst all the others in the digital marketplace. Retailers use these codes to track and report sales. Every book — physical or eBook — is required to have its own number if it’s made available for sale. In fact: If you’ve already published your book in physical form, you’ll need another ISBN for the electronic version.
R.R. Bower is the official agency in charge of assigning and maintaining these numbers.
Publishers and authors can buy blocks of their own numbers.
A self-published author can buy just one ISBN for $125.
BookBaby.com sells ISBNs for $19.
Cover Design — Stand Out On Crowded Virtual Bookshelves
Most of your readers will view your book’s cover art as a tiny little postage-stamp sized image on an eBook retail site.
Given that, put your cover art to the test:
• Is it big and bold? The cover design needs to clearly display the book title and author name so that they can be read even when the image is small.
• Does it pass the “2 second” test? Can a potential reader understand what your book is about with a quick glance at your cover? Does your design quickly convey the vibe and tone of your work?
• Do you look like you belong at B&N? If you think your writing is world class and belongs on the shelf along with the literary greats, your cover needs to hold up its end of the bargain. If your cover art looks amateurish, the customer will assume the writing is too.
If you’ve already got a cover design that you think passes all those tests — great. If not, BookBaby has you covered.
A great eBook cover is one of your best sales tools, instantly conveying the key thoughts, messages and images that sum up your book. On those crowded eBook retail sites, it’s essential for you to stand out from everyone else. An eBook cover created by the BookBaby Design Studio will ensure you make a professional impression.
Our designers have years of experience creating packaging for authors, musicians and filmmakers, so rest assured you’ll get a cover that’s been designed with one thing in mind: Getting you more sales!
Check out our gallery of cover art examples and testimonials at
Data about Data — Why Metadata is crucial for your eBook
Metadata is one of the least understood components to publishing an eBook, but it’s critical to your marketing and sales efforts.
Metadata is all the information related to a specific book, including:
• Author biography
• The genre and subgenre of your book
• Short and long book descriptions
• Keywords that will aid readers searching for your book on Amazon
What’s so important about metadata? Browsing through the online bookshelves usually begins with a search. If your metadata does not reflect what someone is searching for, no one will ever find your book.
So how do you go about creating good metadata?
Here are a few ideas:
• Research retailers. Go to Amazon.com, Apple’s iBookstore or BN.com and look up books like yours. What categories are they in? Study the book descriptions. See what words they’ve used to describe their books. Then search for books using the keywords you found using the keyword tool.
• Use google’s keyword tool. It’s a tremendous window into the world of what people are searching for through Google. Look up words you feel describe your book and you’ll quickly see whether people are searching for those words and what other words they are using.
• Be consistent. Don’t put one book description on Amazon and change it around for B&N. Use similar wording for the boilerplate on your press release, book flyer, etc. Create a document or spreadsheet documenting the metadata and where you used it. This is especially important if you have several titles and a huge time saver as you expand your marketing.
Time to publish — Some final notes
The eBook world is very young. But as the sister company to the musical powerhouse CD Baby, this feels like very familiar territory. Today’s publishing world is eerily similar to the music world of the early 2000’s, when the marketplace was in a state of flux and confusion as musicians, agents and record companies were forced to react to the rapid change in technology.
Likewise publishers, agents and authors are currently scrambling to understand this new eBook world. BookBaby is here to help authors capitalize on new publishing opportunities.
No one can promise you that your book will be a best-seller, of course, but by reading this guide, I hope to have shared advice that helps you publish a truly great eBook.
By R.S. Guthrie, www.robonwriting.com
I admit, years ago—we’re talking, twenty-plus—back when there really was no alternative to the cycle of write a book, submit it to an agent or publisher, wait weeks to months for a likely rejection slip, then rinse and repeat, I was unsure if I would ever realize my dream to become a published author. I imagine I was feeling the way a lot of writers were feeling back then (and it was not a pleasant thing to face).
Enter the digital publishing revolution. Suddenly, it wasn’t simply the striving, struggling, (hopefully talented) writers who could get their works out in the marketplace, but also any other person who had the whim to do so.
Many of us leaped. I did. For too long the dream of having even one reader buy my book, read the words, and actually love them, had been nothing more than myth. Or at least it felt like one. To have that technology and ability to make that happen, literally at an author’s fingertips, well, that was a temptation too incredible to resist.
Now it’s been a year. I have three book out there, wishing they had a bigger audience. I wrote once in a guest post that I had always believed the hardest part of the equation would always be writing the dang book. Not just writing, of course, but proofing and editing then reproofing and re-editing then rewriting and starting the whole cycle again until the work felt finished (which it never actually does). But finishing a book is nowhere near the hardest part of the process. Honestly, I wish I had time to write. Just write, like before.
Oh yes, I have completed three books, and they’ve been reviewed incredibly favorably by those who have read them. And I have far exceeded that “one reader” finishing and loving my book one day. Yet I still feel lost in the middle of the Amazon forest (pun intended), thousands of miles from the reading civilization, trying desperately to put my books in their hands and let them decide whether or not I deserve to be a published author.
That decision used to rest in the hands of the aforementioned agents and publishers. The slush-pile was on their desks. Now it has simply moved to the marketplace and has, in its own way, constructed the jungle prison in which the majority of us now eke out our days as (self) published writers. By the way, there is a reason I put (self) in parenthesis. I grew up learning that you don’t use words like “step” for a brother or sister unless you are writing a thesis or composing a medical history or a family tree. I don’t like adverbs or adjectives that have a negative connotation, thus branding the (self) published author before he or she even really emerges from the crowd.
But every writer who finishes a book has a decision to make:
Traditional versus Self.
And oh how the arguments jump forward from that point on. There are more than two camps—there are a hundred. Maybe a thousand. Because it’s simply not clear anymore what the marketplace looks like. It’s in a constant state of flux. Most can agree that it’s changing, rapidly, and that when it settles it’s going to look vastly different than it does today—but few seem to be able to agree on what that vision is. Will a company like Amazon be the monopoly in control? Will the Nook die a horrible death or will it whip the pants off the Kindle and dominate the marketplace?
And who will the big publishers be? Will the Big Five still be the Big Five or will they succumb to some new and as yet unidentified model of publishing?
I chose to publish on my own for several reasons. Yes, a big one was being able to put my goods out there and not have to face rejection.
NOTE: I had never actually submitted a novel to an agent or a publisher. I had sent in a few short stories in my youth, but I had studied the world of publishing, waiting, looking, wondering, and when my first novel was written, I chose to put it out there under my own label. The reasons?
1. Unless you are already known (either a well-known author already or a celebrity), most large publishers are going to put much of the burden of marketing, etc. on YOU. Writers grew up with this vision of “once I am accepted into the fold, that’s it—all I ever have to do then is keep writing more books.” No. If you are an unknown, you are treated that way (unless you happen to write one of the handful of books each year that go to auction). That’s the author’s equivalent of winning the lottery. Big publishers literally bid on the rights to your book, so sure are they it will be a huge seller. HINT: that rarely happens, so it’s really not worth a prudent writer’s consideration as a viable option.
2. All work rejected by agents and publishers is not poor quality. Many books have eventually reached bestseller status that were rejected many times. Just Google “famous authors rejected” to read the lists. It is staggering. There’s never any guarantee that a form rejection means your work was ever even read. And it is a very, very subjective process. So much so that I decided I didn’t want to chance it; that if my writing was good enough and out there, one day someone would see it and believe in it.
3. Agents and publishers take cuts. Big percentages. You cannot make anywhere near the royalty a company like Amazon (right now, anyway) is willing to pay you for each unit sold.
4. When you sign with a publisher, you lose the right to market your book the way you see fit. You can’t just join a great promotion. You also can’t set the price (and in most cases, you are no longer even in charge of the words). What if a publisher sets your book at a price that is much too high to expect very many sales for an unknown author? You can ask; you can even complain. But ultimately, you lose much control of your work: the price point, the creative process, promotional specifics, and other important post-production decisions.
5. The publishing process itself can take years. You might sign in 2012 and then not see your book actually in print until 2014. It’s hard to stay topical and fresh with lead times like that.
So ultimately I figured “why would I give a percentage of my profit to others in the flow when they make the decisions, I lose much of my control, and they aren’t going to spend much on marketing me and my brand anyway (and they get to choose how—-if at all—-that happens)? The decision came down to this: the prestige of having a name like Penguin or Simon & Schuster behind you.
Believe me, I am not trying to make the case that having a big-name publisher on the jacket of your book and on the banners at your book signings is not a big deal. I believe it is definitely worth something, just not enough for me to go through the long, arduous, potentially rejection-filled process when I have something much more accessible right in front of me.
Now for the million dollar question: has it all been worth it? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that yet. It’s still too early. Success takes time no matter what it is you are chasing. It’s fair to say that I don’t believe I’d be any further with a traditional publisher (and more than likely my books wouldn’t even have hit the market yet), so from that perspective I am way ahead. But as I mentioned before: I am still in many ways lost in the forest, looking for the pathway out. I still have not reached my readership. I’ve sold a nice number of books, and I have come a long way since May of 2011 when I published my first book (and AUGUST, when I finally started blogging and getting on Twitter and Facebook and marketing my brand—ME). But there is still a long road ahead. The bottom line is that by doing it myself—getting the books out there as soon as they were ready and learning the marketing ropes earlier rather than later—I feel I made the right decision. It’s happening, it’s just happening slowly, which any good thing will.
Either way you go, however, just know this: you are in for a ton of work, post-production, and no one ever tells you that. Too many authors think that if they’ve written the next great novel for the world, the rest (sales, money, book deals, fame) will happen eventually. And these things very well might happen for you (and for me). It is nearly a guarantee that to reach your audience, at the very least, it is going to take a monumental amount of work on your part. Just be prepared, that’s all I am really trying to say.
An unknown is an unknown no matter whose imprint is on the cover. And to become known in this world—-even just to be noticed; a distinguishable needle in an infinite (and ever growing) pile of needles—-may well be the hardest challenge you will ever undertake. Yet there is only one certainty—-one guaranteed thing every author must do or never succeed:
About the Author
Mystery writer, dog lover, author of Dark Prairies, five-star thriller set in in his home state of Wyoming, and two in the Detective Bobby Mac Mystery series set in Denver: Black Beast& LOST. The author currently lives in Colorado with his wife, three Australian Shepherds, and a Chihuahua who thinks she’s a 40-lb Aussie.