Category Archives: Publishing

THE ROAD TO LAUNCH – PART THREE: PRODUCTION

IAAW3 copy

These steps are a guide to aid you in a successful book launch. If you missed the first steps, you can find them here:

THE ROAD TO LAUNCH – PART ONE: CONCEPTION

THE ROAD TO LAUNCH – PART TWO: WRITING

untitled-1-copy

You read all the time about book promotion or book marketing and I know it sounds like a helluva lot of work. It is. There’s no way around it. But if you want a successful book launch or your best chance at becoming a bestseller, then you need to take a look at your options and get organized.

During this stage of your book launch, you want to build interest in your book. You will want to share the process to get your followers more deeply involved and to create demand for your book.

  • You can start by getting your followers engaged in the production of your book.
  • Seek and publish interviews with the leaders in your field.
  • Start getting review commitments.
  • You should also begin laying the groundwork for a book marketing and publicity campaign.

untitled-1-copy

ENGAGE YOUR FANS AND SET THE GROUNDWORK FOR LAUNCH

It’s time to make creative decisions like what to edit, which cover to use, and what the title of your book should be. Document that process and get your fans involved in key decisions, it will pay off on launch day.

Facebook Live Video

Facebook Live video generates massive engagement within the platform. In fact, according to Facebook’s own data, Live videos on the platform are watched on average three times longer than regular videos. Take advantage of this during the production process by live streaming as you make key decisions about the book such as choosing the artwork, title, and launch date.

Poll Your Fans

Polls are an incredible way to better understand who your audience is and what they actually want. Try coming up with three or four different title options and see which performs the best in your communities. Doing so will lead to more informed decisions while simultaneously giving your potential readers some sense of ownership.

Split Test Your Creative

In a similar vein to polling, it’s a good idea to use advertising tools like Facebook as a way of testing titles and cover artwork in a much more public setting. Run an ad split-testing multiple title choices, the one with the most engagement wins. Doing this will give you a better idea of what the entire market is looking for.

Create Q&A Videos

Q&A is a fantastic format that people tend to gravitate towards because it provides specific context. Using Facebook Live, or regular video, try taking the time to collect a few questions about your topic or your book from your community and give thoughtful answers to them.

Create a Q&A Podcast

The beauty of video is that once you are finished with it you will have perfectly good audio to use. If you’ve done the Q&A video I would suggest that you pull the audio from those files and turn it into a podcast for some additional reach.

Create a Book Trailer

If you have the time and the dollars to spend, creating a book trailer can be a fantastic way to promote additional excitement for your book launch. The best book trailers focus on the main problem that the book intends to solve while not giving away too much information.

Create an Explainer Video

If you don’t have the dollars to get a professional book trailer done or if you want to create more videos, consider getting in front of the camera and explain what the book is about, what problem it solves, and who it’s for. It may not be fancy, but clearly explaining your book is never a bad thing.

Work With Your Book Launch Team

As you move into the pre-launch stage of your journey you will need to start recruiting people to be on your book launch team. These are the people who will be your biggest advocates. They’ll write your early reviews, they’ll introduce your book to their friends and audiences, and they’ll help you get the initial rankings that you’ll need to build a sustained machine. Reach out to the community you’ve built thus far in order to recruit.

Send Out Review Copies

Don’t wait until two weeks before the launch to send review copies to people who have the power to drive massive awareness. Your goal should be to send them review copies with more than enough time for them to go through it and formulate an actual opinion. Once your final draft is done look into sending them out immediately to get that process started.

Get Early Amazon Reviews

This is the same concept as above, send members of your book launch team early copies so that they can have honest reviews prepared for launch day. The trend with Amazon is proof of purchase to give a review. There is a way around that but I forgot what.

Create a Media Kit

As you move into the pre-launch stage you are going to be doing quite a bit of “pitching”. Take the time in this stage to create a media kit that will save you time and energy in the long run while helping you look more polished when compared to other self-published authors.

CREATE A PROFESSIONAL MEDIA KIT

Use HARO to Get Media Mentions

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) can be a fantastic tool for getting media mentions and getting featured on various websites. By signing up you’ll receive an email whenever a reporter is looking for something you may be able to weigh in on so it’s a fairly “passive” source of gaining additional exposure before the real push starts.

line orange

More to come on “Your Road to Launch” – stay tuned 🙂

THE ROAD TO LAUNCH – PART ONE: CONCEPTION

writer

These days, a lot goes into publishing a successful book. This series of articles discusses the stages of writing from conception to launch.

BEFORE THE WRITING STARTS

The Benefits of Getting Organized

As a writer, you may know all too well the disappointment of a project that has gone awry. Without a clear plan of attack sketched out from the beginning, it can be easy to lose your initial momentum. Writer’s block may occur from a simple lack of knowing your next move. Without some sort of map to guide you, your writing could drift, losing clarity and effectiveness.

Knowing what comes next is helpful because it gives you a list of manageable goals and provides you with direction. Planning ahead can help to keep you focused and strengthen your writing. Breaking down your project with an outline is the most efficient way to accomplish your goals and meet your expectations.

There are many steps in any writing project and taking the time to address them beforehand can get you to the finish line in a timely manner – knowing you’ve done your very best.

Build a Community Around Your Ideas

Nothing great has ever been built alone so the community you build in this initial stage will serve as your first buyers, your first reviewers, and your support system throughout the entire process. Find your potential readers and ask them questions. Tell them you have a product to launch and you want to share some of it with them to get their opinion and maybe they might buy it. But in any case, it would be great to have their help while you’re putting it together. Over time it will build you up as an expert in your niche.

There are many steps that go into building excitement and interest for your project before the process of writing begins. It’s a good idea to create a schedule to tackle the following objectives while at the same time, creating a writing strategy.

  • Talk to Your Potential Readers
  • Research Similar Books
  • Practice Strategic Networking
  • Build an Email List
  • Document the Journey
  • Build a Launch Team

Depending on your goals, it may be a good idea to become even more involved with your community. Here are some other options to consider:

  • Join Facebook Groups
  • Join LinkedIn Groups
  • Message Group Members Directly to Create Authentic Connections
  • Do Some Market Outreach
  • Attend Local Meetups
  • Join Relevant Forums

Not only will these methods help grow your network, but they will grow your knowledge base, your understanding of your audience and your genre, improve your skills, and will help expand and refine your ideas.

Create Yourself a Schedule

I know first-hand how overwhelming things can get when you start to take your business of writing seriously. The best way I’ve found to keep it all in perspective is by creating a weekly excel sheet that lists all of my goals for each day.

I record my time spent on each activity to manage my time, stay on task, and reach my goals that much quicker. Like most others, I manage a day job, family, fun, and other responsibilities as well as my writing career.

Prepare a Writing Strategy

For your best chances of success, whatever your subject matter, start with an outline. An organized and detailed plan that tells you what to write about and when. A strategy that can be broken down into manageable parts that can be written each in one sitting.

By creating your outline, you tackle the difficulties of theme, character development, and plot from the beginning. Breaking down your writing goals into smaller sections or scenes makes it easier to tackle one piece at a time. This enables you to know exactly what to focus on at any given moment. Knowing what is needed and when helps keep your writing focused without the stress of the entire undertaking weighing you down or misdirecting your train of thought.

Outlining works with all genres. Keeping pace with an outline that has proven successful in your genre can help you captivate your audience and keep them reading. Although there’s no rule that you have to go with any particular style, so feel free to create your own. Be mindful that it’s a good idea to know what has worked for others before you get started.

Focus on the Task at Hand

Always refer back to your schedule and focus on the task at hand. It’s best to start with the most difficult tasks first and limit your time spent on each. It can all become overwhelming without some degree of discipline.

Consistency is key. Relationships are formed over time through participation. Knowledge is gained by being open to the ideas and insight of others, questioning and commenting on what you learn along the way.

Taking time to create your outline and flesh out your story will make it that much stronger when it comes time to write.

Reward Yourself

Reward not only feels good but reinforces behavior and helps create habits. Create a system of reward for accomplishing your goals, like an espresso or something else that feels good.

Take a Break

As you embark on your journey there will be much to accomplish, all of which requires some hard work on your part. Be sure to take days off on a regular basis to rest and rejuvenate so you don’t run the risk of becoming burned out.

I set a stop time each day no matter what. If something doesn’t get done, it moves to the next day’s schedule. I try to accomplish the most important things first, so critical items don’t get overlooked.

When my weekend rolls around I leave the business of writing on the back burner and give my mind a couple of days to recover.

Making the most out of your off-time will keep you happy, healthy, and more productive.

🙂

 

 

 

A New Map Illustration

I’ve created a new map illustration. You can see how it turned out below. I am especially happy with the compass in this map. I create each one from scratch, hand drawing them first and then taking them into photoshop for the final touches.

compass copyHere is a copy of the compass I designed for this map. I think it looks kind of steampunk. What do you think?

Map illustrations are one of my most favorite types of projects to work on. There is just something about maps that appeals to my creativity.

If you are looking for a custom designed map for your book that will bring your world to life, I’d be happy to illustrate it for you. Have a look here for more information.

map copy

The Importance of Your Book Cover

 

212207-1n7PI81398662065

The cover of your book is important because it’s the first thing a reader sees. You’ll want it to have a design that grabs their attention and portrays an accurate idea of what your book is about. Your book deserves an exceptional cover—a cover that you feel proud of—one that reflects the quality of your book, as well as the commitment and attention to detail that went into writing it.

The more general your cover idea is, the more likely I’ll be able to create a successful design. If your cover idea is too detailed, I may have difficulty creating a design that looks professional. For example, if you want to see a man and a woman on the beach, this is a general idea that can probably be turned into a very attractive cover. But if you want a man and a woman of very specific ages, ethnicities, hair color, and clothing, we may have a very hard time finding images that match your description. My covers are created from stock images and photography in a large subscription library. While I’m able to manipulate these images to an extent, it is still a good idea to keep your cover idea as general as possible.

Also, try to be as open minded about your idea, and if possible try to think of more than one possible design concept. This will keep my options open, allowing me to pursue the idea or design that can be completed the most professionally and attractively.

Don’t Show Too Much of Your Character

It may be tempting to show your book’s main character on the cover but this usually isn’t a very good idea. Most readers prefer to use their imagination to depict the story and characters in their head. In addition, it can be very difficult for a designer to find a stock-image that lives up to your expectations of what your character looks like. If you want a face on the cover, it’s a good idea to be generalized as far as looks are concerned. Woman with red hair is a good example and still gives me room to find good images for you.

If you think it is important for your main character to be represented on the cover, there are ways to do this without revealing the whole character. Consider using a silhouette of the character or perhaps showing them in either small part or from behind. These alternatives will spark your reader’s interest without limiting their imaginations.

Be Simple, Strong and Symbolic

Refrain from depicting a specific scene on the cover of your book. A specific scene is often difficult to assemble using stock images and is usually not the best way to tell potential readers what your book is about. Remember that the front cover is the first thing that most readers will see. Without the proper context, a specific scene may not have any meaning to them.

It is better to be more symbolic or iconic with your cover design. Try to come up with a simple eye-catching idea that anyone will understand upon first sight. Keep in mind that most people will see your book as a tiny picture on a bookstore website or out the corner of their eye in a bookstore. In either instance, a strong, simple, symbolic cover is much more likely to catch their attention than one that is complicated or cluttered.

Research at Your Local Book Store and Browse Stock Images

If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea for your cover, it may be a good idea to do some research. Go online and examine books of the same genre. This can give you some ideas or suggestions for your own book’s cover design. Once you have an idea in mind, you can browse and purchase stock images on the web or give some sample covers to your designer and let them find the perfect stock-images.

Don’t Forget the Technical Stuff

There are a few technical guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to your book’s cover design. The first is to be aware of copyright issues when submitting images for your cover. If an image appears to be copyrighted, we will not be able to use it without written permission from the copyright holder. Submitting copyrighted images without permission may also delay your book’s production. You can avoid potential copyright infringement by submitting images you have taken yourself or by choosing licensed images from stock-image websites. Or better yet, as mentioned before, let the designer choose the best stock images for you. They are professional designers with an eye for detail and would know what would create the right emotional response from the viewer.

It is also important that your images be high resolution. Resolution refers to the crispness or quality of focus in your images. Cover images must have a resolution of no less than 300 DPI. In addition, they must be a size suitable for their intended use.

Click here if you’re looking to hire an award winning designer and illustrator.

 

Free Book Cover Design

ETW copy

I am happy to be gearing up for the next drawing with the Indie Author Advocate.

This is a drawing which is held four times per year for a free book cover design and more.

Everyone is welcome to enter for a prize of a free design package that includes both your Trade Paperback cover and eBook cover as well as some of our most popular author graphics.

line orangemichellerene00_closeup 03 copy

Once every three months I volunteer my design services to help an indie author get their book and their brand off to a colorful start.

I have been so blessed by, and so welcomed by the indie author community, that I thought this was the least I could do to give back to them.

I do not publicize that I volunteered my time and services to you, so your privacy is respected.

MRG copy


WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU WIN

This package saves you $700 in design fees, which gives you more to invest in the remainder of the publishing services you might require.

line orange

The next drawing takes place on October 1st 2016 and the prizes can be claimed anytime. Send me an email telling me a little about yourself and your book to enter.

TrademarkB copy