a beginner's guide to self publishing part 3

Guide To Self-Publishing: Being Superficial

This post continues from a previous one: Beginner’s Guide To Self-Publishing: Making a Book


“I have a photo that would make a really great book cover!”

Beginner’s Guide To Self-Publishing-good book cover

An example of a great book cover. At least in my opinion. Links to not-so-great ones to the right.

No you don’t. If you’re not a professional photographer, or have professional level skill, no you don’t. Don’t take your cute photo, type on the title and upload the sloppy image on to Amazon as your cover.

Your cover is the first thing people see when browsing for your book online or in stores. I mentioned this in a recent interview on the Author’s Show when asked about what makes my new collection’s cover stand out. The fact is that people judge books by their cover, and they are so right to do so. If you haven’t taken the time to get a professionally created book cover then you probably haven’t taken the time to have your content edited for story and simple grammatical mistakes. To take this line of thinking to the next logical step, potential readers might also assume that you aren’t taking writing in general very serious if you’re willing to put up a cover that took all of 5 minutes to create.

Fix all of the above by getting a professional to create your book cover. It’s actually not very expensive, so look around. Find someone who can show you examples of past work and someone who has actually done book covers before-a great artist isn’t necessarily a great book cover designer and it’s up to you to pick.

Once you have someone, there are a few things to keep in mind. For one, trust them. Don’t be so stuck to your vision that you don’t let your designer be as good as they are. Also, and a good book cover designer should already know this, but make sure your cover art is reducible. That is, your cover can be shrunk in size without losing the title or other core elements of its design. Online retailers like Amazon will squeezed your cover to thumbnail size for customers to browse through.  If your cover turns to mud at a reduced size you’ve lost the edge over other books.

If you just really, really have to do your own book cover, then I would suggest you familiarize yourself with Adobe Photoshop. Once you get a handle on that, browse through examples of other titles in your genre to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t (If you’re writing a memoir, for example, it might be a good idea to keep vampires off your cover). While you find what works keep in mind some strategies for making a good book cover and you’ll be on your way.

“How do I get people to buy my book?”

It’s a scary idea to think that you’ve written this wonderful thing and spent money to get it polished, but it might just sit on the proverbial shelf, never to be bought by anybody, aside from your significant other and your mama. In this instance self-publishing is just like traditional publishing. There are no Dream Eaters, but things don’t always work out. Hell, my mama hasn’t even bought anything I’ve written. There are, however, a few actions you can take to help move things in the right direction.

God bless’em, but I don’t suggest it if you’re an independent writer.

You want to establish an author platform. It’s the term used to describe the presence you create through various sites and social media. Basically, your marketing voice. You need to let the world know how cool you are. Creating an author platform, like most topics listed here, is a book in and of itself. What I can do here is say “try this” and give you some ideas.

Try this: be active on your social media. Use tools like HootSuite, Tweepi, Iconosquare and instamacro to grow your base. Social media isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. There are several writers whom I’ve met who couldn’t give me any info on their social media or their presence on the Internet. Not even a website. It’s a bit frustrating to encounter, and I’m forced to assume that they are wildly content with what they have, or that they are wildly ignorant of how to reach potential readers. Who knows? Maybe they know something I don’t. Maybe their goals are different. God bless’em, but I don’t suggest it if you’re an independent writer. You need people to find you so they can buy your stuff.

Try this: get a website and/or a blog and publish regularly on it. This site is me doing just that. If you don’t know any html, don’t worry. There are basic out-of-the-box website packages that you can use for WordPress or Squaresoft. Promote your blog posts within different online communities that you are involved with, as well as the social media accounts that you own.

Try this: Get as many reviews as possible. Search the blogs and sites who review books like yours. Contact them with a warm solicitation letter like the one below I got from a Bibliocrunch webinar:

Beginner's Guide to self-publishing: review solicitation

What you also want to do is target Amazon reviewers. Many of whom are professional or semi-pro reviewers with their own sites and readership. Simply look on Amazon for books like yours and reach out to any of the Top Reviewers or Hall of Fame reviewers. Their words are gold, and who doesn’t want more of that?

Try this first: create an email list of people who are interested in what you have to say, promote and sell. Start with your mama and add on until you have a healthy list of folks who give a damn about what you’re doing with your writing. Use free services like Constant Contact, Vertical Response, MailChimp and others to reach out to that list with news concerning your newest project. For several reasons, soliciting through an email list has a much high rate of return than other forms of direct advertisement. One reason is that people are actively signing up for it. They like what you do and want to know more. Those folks are much more prone to respond to info about your next book. Start with a list and go on from there.

The more you know

The more you know, the more you grow : )

There’s more to creating an online presence and you should make an effort of focusing on marketing yourself as much as possible. If you write it, they will not necessarily come.

In total, these articles are a skeleton of what should be done if you want to self-publish. It’s meant for you to flesh out on your own. If you do want to know more follow the links and do the research. Remember, the more you know the more you grow.

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