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Why Your Social Media Campaign is Not Working – Gary Vaynerchuk (JJJRH)

If you’re wondering why your social media campaign is not selling any books, you might want to take a look at Gary Vaynerchuk’s amazing new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World.

As authors, we’re taught by our publishers, literary agents and every writing blog known to mankind that we need to spend more time on social media but what does that mean exactly?

Many believe that means tweeting more or posting more updates on Facebook about buying their book and when they do that very thing, they begin to find out real quickly, no one’s listening and worse yet, their campaign is not working.

But what’s an author to do? In Vaynerchuk’s book, he argues that long gone are the days when we used to spray and pray emails and social media updates to sell products or books in our case, but rather, we’ve come full circle to a time when we need to go back to doing one-on-one personable messages, taking an interest in the other person and building a long term relationship, one tweet, one Facebook update, one email a time.

Slower, more time consuming? Yes but Vaynerchuk argues (and has the case studies to prove it) that it’s a lot more effective.

If you’re feeling stuck in any way and frustrated about your own marketing efforts, I highly recommend his book. (5-stars)

Interview with Indie Bestselling Children’s Book Author AJ Cosmo

I love this author so much. As an uncle of 12 nieces and nephews all over the world, and a kids and YA author, I’m always on the look out for great kids book. I’ve found them in AJ Cosmo and what I love about AJ’s books is not only are they funny books but AJ is also an indie author who has quietly done VERY well with kids books. I had to know more and I have what I believe is one of the few interviews with AJ online.

 

I’ve been admiring your work for the last few months. You’ve managed to sell thousands of copies of your kid’s books on Kindle.  For those not familiar with your work, what are your bestselling books about?

Thank you, Jeff! I’ve been very blessed so far with the Kindle. I’m best known for the Monster series that started with my best seller The Monster That Ate My Socks.” Other favorites include the controversial The Hope Flower and one of my all time favorites The Truth Fairy.

 

How many copies have you sold so far?

It’s just shy of seventy thousand. :)

 

I’m assuming you write under a pseudonym. There’s an air of mystery about you. What is something people don’t know about the real AJ Cosmo?  And why do you write under a pseudonym?

Correct. I do write under a pseudonym but it’s not to hide some deep dark secret, okay, you got me, I’m allergic to gluten, rather the name was created in order to split my work into recognizable divisions. I don’t just write children’s books and I want to make sure that people know what they are getting from me. I am also a shy person by nature, so I wanted the work to speak for itself.

 

What made you want to write kids books? Why not thrillers?

Children’s books were a natural fit for me because I both write and illustrate. When I only wrote, I felt like I was missing something. Same thing when I only illustrated. Combining the two as well as my natural goofy worldview somehow equaled children’s books. Monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, and imagined worlds have all been a part of my life since the beginning. Children’s literature is also one of the most difficult forms to write for.

 

The audience is demanding and way smarter than you’d think. They want original, compelling, well-crafted stories. You must also follow an unspoken rule book on words and actions that you cannot use. I think I’ve learned more from writing simple 450 word stories than I did from any of the writing classes I have taken.

 

As far as thrillers are concerned, I have written them as well as several other genres, but those have been released under different names and more are still to come. I love children’s books too much to ever stop writing them. However, I do want to push the boundaries of them and bring readers something that they haven’t seen before.

 

 

Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline? Do you rewrite? Do you use an editor? 

Each book starts out as an idea, usually just a sentence like “a princess who is cursed and can only say words that start with the letter P.” From there I extrapolate the plot and write a beat-by-beat outline. (I wrote a blog post about this here.) I then write a draft, usually in a day or two, and let the text cool for at least a few hours. I’ll then go back over it and tweak here and there. I rarely, if ever, re-write the entire thing because most of the issues that cause total re-writes should be addressed in the outline. Then it’s off to my readers.

 

I have three trusted readers and one confidant who approves all of my work. Sometimes if an idea is too out there I get reigned in. Then it goes off to one of the three editors that I work with. Everything has to be edited, even if it is remarkably short. I send the different types of projects to different editors depending on if I’m looking for structural and clarity improvements or if I’m just looking for spelling and grammar corrections. Having an editor is what separates good self-pub from the bad.

 

 

What is your writing schedule like?

I typically put a book out every two weeks so my schedule looks like this:

Monday Write outline and first draft.

Tuesday Revise first draft, send off to readers, sketch illustrations.

Wednesday Do three illustrations. Get back notes. Revise. Send to editor.

Thursday Do three more illustrations and take a long nap.

Friday Finish the rest of the illustrations. Create a cover. Wait nervously for the editor to get the manuscript back.

Saturday Get the edit back. Compile the ebook into HTML. Upload the book to Amazon and go through the previewer with a fine-toothed comb.

Sunday Put the book on promotion and then pass out for a week.

 

 

What did you do so successfully, marketing-wise, that has made your books fly off the digital shelves?

 

Truth be told, I only recently started marketing. My books all have advertisements for other titles at the back of the book. I also put all of the title and publishing errata at the back as well. I do this not only so the reader jumps right in but also so that the Kindle “look inside” feature shows the book rather than a title page and acknowledgements.

 

Up until recently, all I needed was to put a new book on promotion and readers would find my previous work. However, the free book promotion has lost most of its power and I have started to look towards other forms of promotion. This has turned out to be a great thing because I have started to connect with my readers and learn about what they enjoy. (This has also helped me overcome my shyness.)

 

I have a Twitter account that I update daily, a blog where I write about my process and also post craft activities, and a Facebook page where I interact with my readers. Facebook has been by far the most successful and rewarding and I recommend it to every writer.

 

I also recently launched ajcosmo.com as the hub of my work. You can contact me directly there and find some neat exclusive stuff . . .

 

What can we expect next from AJ Cosmo?

I’m starting to work on more long form projects with the goal of creating something similar to “Wayside School” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I’m also highly interested in interactive media. I would like to make video games that are more like digital, interactive, storybooks; ones that still encourage reading while also offering an interactive experience.

I also think personalized content is the next logical step in the eBook market and as a proof of concept I’m offering a free personalized eBook on my website. You enter your child’s name and they become the main character in the book! It’s a simple trick but I’m hoping to expand on this and move towards more sophisticated creations.

Before I go, I just wanted to say thank you to Jeff for this interview and for creating a wonderful site in support of his fellow writers!

 

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet

Jasinda Wilder | From on the Brink of Poverty to New York Times Bestsellers

You’ve seen them on CBS Evening News, you’ve read about their success on the blogosphere but just months ago, Jasinda Wilder (and the husband and wife team that writes under that name) were about to lose their house.  Rather than crumble in a ball and give up, they did what any good writer does, they got to writing.  The result?  They wrote 20 books in 6-months including the New York Times and USA Today bestselling indie title, Falling into You and they saved their house and kept their big family from living on the streets.  Having been homeless before, I was so inspired by what this dynamic duo accomplished, I had to find out the details. Give me the details! Here is what they said:

 

What is Falling into You about?

It’s about a girl and her lifelong best friend who fall in love, and then the boyfriend dies suddenly. It’s about the way Nell deals with Kyle’s death, and eventually learns to move on and love again.

Did you have it edited? If so, how did you manage to do so affordably?

Yes, of course I had it edited. You can’t not have your book edited and expect to be taken seriously. I have an editor with whom I’ve worked for a long time. She’s wonderful and affordable, even before I started making good money at this. There are all sorts of resources for affordable editing services. Writer.ly is a site dedicated to connecting writers and freelance services, i.e. copy editing, content editing, cover art, formatting, etc. That’s a good place to start if you have no contacts.

Why writing? Why not try to start a business or get an extra job? Why did you choose the crazy business of books as a means to help rescue yourself?

Well, I already had a business. I’ve been teaching music and theater privately for fifteen years. Another job out of the house wouldn’t have worked for my situation. I was already working 60-80 hours a week, so I needed something I could from the house, and my husband and I both wanted to take a shot at writing.

What was your game plan when you decided to buckle down and write books?

Game plan? Write. Publish. Repeat as quickly as possible. The plan was to write as many damn good books as we could, and put as many out as quickly as possible. We wanted titles earning across the board. We wrote book in various genres to see what worked.

What is it about your books that you think that people have really latched on to?

I’d like to think it’s about the characters being real people, and about the stories being based on real life. I write about life, about people. I tell stories that move me, so hopefully they move others, too.

If you were to talk to yourself, the you back then, what advice would you tell yourself?

I’d warn myself about some of the associations I made early on.

What is your writing process and schedule like? Do you outline? Do you rewrite?

Our process is simple. We come up with an idea, we brainstorm until the characters feel good to us, until the story seems compelling and complete. This is all verbal. We don’t outline or plot or anything. We talk it through until it feels right, and then we start writing. When it’s done, we both read it through several times and fix things that aren’t right, and then we have it edited, have a few hand-selected friends read it, and then we publish.

What did you do, marketing-wise, to make your book take off? 

Social media. We have a FB and Twitter account, and we’re on them consistently. We answer all emails personally. We answer all tweets and posts personally. Readers/fans are what make this career possible, so we treat them each as friends, as family. We stay humble and personable. We don’t bash other writers or industry pros, we stay out of drama and politics. We do giveaways (no silly gimmicks like epilogues for reviews or anything). We do a newsletter, and we link the newsletter and social media accounts in the back of each book, making it easy to find us.

With such a big family, how do you manage to fit writing in?

We have a friend who helps us with the kids during the day so we can work. Also, we’re always working. I’m answering emails and social media all the time. During dinner, while watching TV, in the bathroom, all the time.

What is your next book about?

Our next book is Falling Into Us, a parallel follow-up to Falling Into You. It’s follows the story of two characters from FIY, Becca and Jason. The story takes place at the same time, and encompasses the events of FIY, providing more insight to what happened to Nell and Kyle, and it also tells more of Nell and Colt’s story after the ending of FIY. It’s NOT A SEQUEL. There’s been a lot of discussion about this. It’s NOT A SEQUEL. It tells a new story, but it DOES give you a lot more Nell and Colt.

Coming June 21st!

How Indie Authors Can Work Together | Interview with Indie NYT Bestselling Author Jana DeLeon

Being an indie author can feel like a lonely cause sometimes.   You spend most of your time in front of your computer typing away (when you’re not procrastinating on Facebook).   And then, when it comes time to launch, you tweet the night away; hoping and praying that all your efforts will pay off.  But what if there was a way you could harness the power of other authors and work together to launch your novel?  That’s exactly what today’s interview Jana DeLeon did to help re-launch her book which lay dormant for years.  The result? It hit the USA Today bestsellers list and went on to hit the New York Times bestsellers list as well; all with the help of her sisterhood of indie authors.

Could you do this too to launch or relaunch your book? I had to find out how she did it and here is what she said:

You resurrected your traditionally published book from the dead and it became an indie bestseller. Why not just let it rot? What motivated you to breathe new life in it?

 

When I first suspected my former publisher was circling the drain, I immediately told my agent to watch for any breach of contract and get my rights back. That was early 2010 and although indie publishing was not the huge business it is today, I already knew I was going to release the books myself as soon as I had the rights.

 

I wanted to self-publish because I didn’t believe that my traditional publisher had reached the limits of the audience that my books appeal to, and as I’m still selling thousands of them each month, I am certain I was right. Not only did self-publishing allow me to get my work into the hands of more readers, it pays so much more than traditional publishing that I was finally able to quit my full-time job at the end of last year and write full-time.

 

It’s said that you banded together with other authors to give the book its boost. What did you do specifically step-by-step to make it a USA Today bestseller?

 

The group I’m part of, The Indie Voice, was instrumental in gaining the momentum needed to make RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU a USA Today bestseller. All ten members of the group have established readership that trusts their opinions when they recommend books, and by cross-promoting, we all get ten times the social reach we would have otherwise.

 

To hit the bestseller list, I scheduled a Bookbub ad to run on a Monday. USA Today counts sales from Monday through Sunday, so it makes the most sense to schedule your ad for the first day of the counting period in order to get the most push for the week.

 

I released a newsletter to my subscribers Monday morning to announce the sale on Rumble.

 

I contacted Pixel of Ink, Daily Cheap Reads and ereader News Today and told them about the sale. Two of them picked it up and posted about it later in the week, which gave me additional push.

 

All members of The Indie Voice tweeted and posted on Facebook about the sale on Monday. Toward the end of the week and on the weekend, members posted again to remind readers that the sale would be ending soon. I tweeted and posted the sale on my own Facebook page and Twitter feed also.

 

The Indie Voice has managed to get a boxset of eight suspense/mystery novels by eight of the members to number seven on the New York Times bestseller list and we hit the USA Today bestseller list two weeks in a row. The strategy for this was the same as I used for Rumble except that Amazon gave us a pre-order button. So now, all ten members of our groups are NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors. We couldn’t be happier.

 

How did you choose these authors in particular to work with?

Actually, they chose me. Four of the authors, Denise Grover Swank, Debra Holland, Liliana Hart and Jane Graves met at the NINC conference in 2012. Because they were serious indie authors, they decided to form an author support group to help promote their indie work. Each of those four recommended other authors that they knew were serious about the business, produced quality work and already had an established readership, and The Indie Voice was born. We limited membership to ten because it seemed the most manageable number without spreading ourselves too thin.

 

Lots of authors would love to do what you did. What mistakes do you see many authors do?

The number one mistake I see indie authors making is failure to learn craft. Craft is the difference between a nice story and a professional product. Sure focusing on things like pacing and passive voice may seem irrelevant, but once applied to an entire novel, they make the difference between a reader loving a story and struggling to finish a book. A writer’s first book is almost never good enough to publish and even worse, many don’t have beta readers and don’t pay for professional editing. If writers don’t take their business seriously enough to invest time and money, why should readers pay for their slipshod product?

The second biggest mistake I see indie authors making is releasing one book then spending all their time marketing it. The first principal of marketing is that product sells product. And with books, series sells. Write a series. Release a book, post it on Facebook, and write another book. Stop paying for ads. Stop putting a first book for free when you have no other product to sell. Why spend time, money and effort to draw people to your digital store when you have nothing else to offer? Attention spans are shorter now than ever. Don’t make a huge effort to get noticed before you have more product to offer customers.

The third biggest mistake – and I’ve seen a lot of this lately – is indie authors selling to New York houses and making bad deals that have damaged some careers short-term and will do worse long-term. Successful indie writers are in the driver’s seat. If a publisher doesn’t offer you a deal that’s as good or better for you as it is for them, then give them a polite “no thanks” and walk away until they become realistic about what they need to offer.

 

What promotional efforts did you try that you would not do again?

 

I have tried everything at least once. I think indie authors should try everything because what works for one author will be a complete fail for another and vice versa. I have found that advertising with banners on websites yielded the lowest return of my investment. Something great would have to happen to change my mind and get me to do that again.

 

What books will you be launching/relaunching next?

 

I put up all of my backlist in 2010 as soon as I got rights back, so no more relaunching. But I started a new mystery series, the Miss Fortune series, and I’m bringing back my bestselling traditional series, the Ghost-in-Law series, with a new release June 2013.

Indie New York Times Bestselling Author Elisabeth Naughton!

PhotoShe is absolutely amazing and the perfect example of an indie author that made it big. I had the opportunity to touch base with indie New York Times bestselling author, Elisabeth Naughton about her success and her advice for aspiring authors as well.

 

For those who are not familiar with your Eternal Guardians books and other series, what are they about?

The Eternal Guardians series centers around the descendants of the famed heroes from Greek mythology. They protect the mortal realm from threats of the Underworld and the gods’ vicious schemes to obtain the Orb of Kronos, a magical object that has the power to release Kronos from his prison in Tartarus. The being who controls the Orb, controls all the power in the universe.

 

 

Since you used to teach middle school, have you ever given thought to writing middle grade books or YA?

I’ve considered it. I even have a YA book mapped out, but I haven’t found the time to write it. I think it’s entirely possible that I spent so much time with middle-schoolers, my brain is rebelling against the idea of being immersed in that world again.

 

 

What is your writing process like? Do you outline first? How long does it take you to write your first draft? And what is your rewriting process like?

I don’t outline on paper. Book ideas come to me after characters are developed. Story grows out of character for me. I often ponder a book plot in my head for months before I start writing. I’m an organic writer which means I let the story drive itself. Whenever I get stuck while writing it’s because I’ve tried to force a story in a direction it didn’t want to go.

 

As for my drafts…I’m a pretty clean writer and revise as I go, so my by the time I finish a book I usually only have to do one pass for major plot/character revisions, and another for mechanics. After that it goes off to my editor. I can usually write a book in about 4 months if I have everything figured out ahead of time.

 

 

Why did you decide to switch from traditional publishing to indie publishing? Will you ever write directly for traditional publishers again or will you only sell the print rights and keep the eBook rights?

The first books I indie published were books I originally wrote for Dorchester. After getting my rights back on those books, I knew no publisher would reprint them, and Indie publishing was just taking off. Because I was continuing my Eternal Guardians series with a traditional publisher, I didn’t want books one and two in the EG series to disappear. So I thought, “Why not?” Those books went up in December 2011. By the following summer (2012) I’d indie published six books – the first two Eternal Guardians books, the three Stolen books, and a never before published story called WAIT FOR ME. I was actually making money–good money–for all my hard work, and I was getting paid monthly, not twice a year. It became very clear, very fast that Indie publishing was far more lucrative and rewarding than writing for a traditional publisher. I found I worked harder because I saw direct results, and I was happy being in control of my career and not leaving things in the hands of a publisher. When my contract with Sourcebooks was up for renewal, I turned down an offer because I knew I could do better on my own.

 

The most important thing I’ve learned about publishing is that readers don’t care how a book is published, they only care that it IS published. My goal for being with a traditional publisher was to have my books available in print. But these days, shelf space is shrinking and bookstores are disappearing. And I make all my books available in print for readers who don’t have ereaders. My Eternal Guardians series is continuing with me at the helm. The sixth book (and the first straight to Indie release in the series) – BOUND – releases on March 26, 2013.

 

Interestingly enough, my the book that propelled me onto the New York Times Bestsellers list wasn’t a traditionally pubbed book. It was an Indie book – WAIT FOR ME. Had I not gotten my rights back on my Dorchester books I don’t know that I ever would have published that book. I’d been told by agents that no NY publisher would want to read it. Readers have proved differently.

 

As for whether or not I’ll publish with NY again…I’ll never say never to anything. I’d love to have a magic ball to see what publishing will be like in the future, but no one knows. The industry is constantly changing. I left my last publisher not because I was disenchanted with NY, but because the terms of the contract they were offering weren’t in my best interest. At the end of the day, I have to look at a contract from a business perspective, and if a NY publisher were to offer me a contract that I deemed positive to my career, I would definitely consider it.

 

What did you do step-by-step to get the word out about your books? What worked and what didn’t work?

The single biggest thing I’ve done is give books away for free. Free is a powerful tool to get new readers to try your work. Every reader who loves your free book will go and download everything else you’ve ever written. NY hasn’t figured this out yet, but Indie authors know the power of free promotion.

 

Did you stand up and do the “happy dance” in the middle of the street when you hit the New York Times? Who was the first person you called to tell?

I did. I have to admit it was always a goal of mine, so when I got that call, it was a pure thrill. I was actually at a coffee shop working when my husband called with the news. My agent had called my house, and since I wasn’t there, she told him. It was pretty special that he passed the news along to me because he’s my biggest fan and has always been supportive of my dream.

 

 

How many copies did you sell of your book(s) the first week they hit the New York Times and how many have you sold thus far?

The first week WAIT FOR ME hit the NYT list it was selling 5,000-7,000 copies per day. I think that week it sold about 40,000 and debuted at #3 on the ebook bestsellers list and #5 on the combined list.

How to turn your indie book into a film

Bestselling author Jeff Rivera will interview Professor Marilyn Horowitz today, Friday April 12th at 12pm PT/3pm EST on his weekly Google Hangouts workshop series.  In the event, entitled: Indie Authors: Would your Book Make a Great Film? Professor Horowitz will discuss how writers can break into Hollywood. Professor Horowitz’ latest book, How To Sell Your Screenplay in 30 Days using New Media offers a 30-day marketing plan which includes a step-by-step guide that shows you how to Copyright your script, how to save lawyer’s fees, how to set up a website and a Facebook page that will capture the attention of the industry, as well as a detailed crash marketing course.  The Google Hangout will include a live Q & A.  after the presentation. If you want to join the event live,  visit this link where it will be permanently hosted: http://JeffRivera.com/indie-authors-would-your-book-make-a-great-film/.

 

Interview with Emlyn Chand

Emlyn Chand, author of Farsighted (1)Juggling teen and kids book simultaneously ain’t easy but bestselling author, Emlyn Chand has it down.   Whether it’s teaching young people how to say, “Please” and “Thank you” or dealing with school bully’s, Emlyn is able to write both with ease. I had to find out how she’s able to do it all and in my interview with her, she explains it all.

You write both kids’ books and YA, how do you approach each differently?

Oh, the writing process for these two types of books is completely different. For the children’s books, I start with an initial idea and mull it over for a few weeks or months until I know the story well enough to write it. I’ve tried this method with my YA, but it only results in an endless period of procrastination and a litany of excuses not to write.

I generally write my kid lit within the span of a day or two; whereas, my novels take about two months of active and feverish writing to reach completion.

Still, I love both genres. Trading off between the two keeps my writing fresh and enjoyable for both me and my readers!

 

What is it like for you to see kids respond so well to your books?

It’s been an absolute joy! My favorite reviews, of course, are those that come from the children. I’m so delighted that they connect with the feathery goofballs in my Bird Brain Books and that they also take time to reflect on the lessons within. I’ve heard there are quite a few children out there asking Mom and Pop for their very own pet birds. I think I may have started something here. 😉

 

What’s your writing process like?

To write, I always have to leave my desk and go somewhere else. I’ve tried writing in my office, and it’s simply impossible. Favorite haunts include Panera, Caribou Coffee, and—most recently—in my bed with a cushy lap desk. I tend to write in large chunks and have penned many of my children’s books within a single afternoon.

 

What have you done to promote your books that has worked and what has not worked?

Marketing is another area where children’s books differ vastly from novels. Still, I’ve learned that the best way to get people talking about your books is to offer something special to readers. Don’t just publish and wait for people to buy your books—engage. My pet sun conure, Ducky, serves as the spokes model for the Bird Brain Books (and my business, Novel Publicity). He even keeps a weekly blog that discusses issues real kids face from a birdly point of view. I also like to offer giveaways to fans of the series. What’s more fun than reading a book while hugging a plush version of that book’s hero, after all? Coming soon, the Bird Brain Books will have read-along audio versions for children to enjoy with or without their parents. I can’t wait!

 

For those aren’t familiar with your most recent kids’ books, what are they about?

Ever noticed that dogs, cats, and teddy bears get all the attention in kids’ books? I have, and while I love these furry creatures, I’ve made it my mission to give our feathered friends the spotlight they so rightly deserve.

And so the Bird Brain Books were born. Six are available now with three more coming in 2013. Each of these books teach important lessons in entertaining beak-sized bites. Remember to say thank you when someone does something nice for you, know who you are—rather than what you look like—is what makes you special, appreciate love, friendship, and beauty where ever you can find it, and enjoy the simple bliss of being a kid.

Oh, and I love to chirp about my books with anyone who will listen and have special sections on my website for readers, parents, teachers, librarians, and more. I hope you’ll stop by and visit me and Ducky at www.EmlynChand.com.

How to Get a New York Times Bestselling Quality Book Cover for Next to Nothing | Steph Cover Designs

As an indie author, your book cover can make or break you.  On some level, most authors know this but their concern is that to get the cover that they envision, it’s going to break the bank. That doesn’t have to be true, as Steph from Steph Cover Designs explains in my interview with her below.  I was first turned on to Steph by New York Times bestselling indie author Shanora Williams who used Steph’s services on her New York Times bestselling book, Hard To Resist.

Why shouldn’t authors just save a buck or two and try to create the cover themselves?

A lot of authors do, but a cover needs to look professional and fit the genre that the book is intended for.  This includes the use of the right font and the right placement of the title and author name.  Also, If the cover looks like a professional book cover instead of just a picture, people tend to take the author more seriously. We are all very visual creatures and we do buy with our eyes. If you feel like your book cover is lacking something it’s likely others will too.

 

What does it cost to do a really great cover?

Well, it’s different for every book cover. If you have to pay a model or buy exclusive stock photos it can get pretty pricy. A lot of people don’t realize that if you do a cover that is legally able to be copyrighted under the author’s name you have to purchase a license to use just about every element that goes into it. It can cost me anywhere from $20 to $50 to get the pictures and things that I need for one cover.

 

The cost for the author can range very widely. You can spend up to $500 for a cover. I like to keep my prices low because I started out doing cover work because I was writing. I needed a cover and like most authors couldn’t afford to pay someone $200 to $500 for a cover.  My prices vary depending on the work I will have to do and what I have to buy. I charge $90 to $185 for my covers. I hope to help those who struggle with the costs get their work out there in the best light they can.   

 

Do you create the covers without the authors input or do you collaborate?

I always listen to the author’s opinion and what they would like to see on the cover. Their input is a very important part of the process. If they have an idea of what they want and I think that it won’t work I usually try to explain why and give them an idea of what I can create.  The more insight I have about the characters and the story line the better!

 

How long does it take for you to create a cover?

It can be a very long process. I have all my clients sign a contract and they pay a deposit on the cover that gets me my materials. I take the time to discuss and look at pictures with them. The actual creation of the cover is usually the shortest part. I can do a cover in a few hours if it is simple and if it is complicated it can take a few hours a day for several days. The longest it has taken me I think was about 17 hours on the actual photoshop work. The whole process can take a couple of weeks.

 

 What are the important elements that belong on a cover?

The most important thing, I think, is the feel of the cover and if it matches the writing inside.  Also a lot of people would think that the picture is the most important part, but I feel that the typography (the title and author name) is extremely important. The title should be designed and somewhat original. The font is very important to the feel of the entire cover. It should send the right message and fit the picture and the book.

 

Is Shanora Williams’ cover your first New York Times bestseller? What does it feel like to be part of that success?

Yes! Shanora Williams is my first New York Times bestseller! I am so happy to be a part of her success! She has come so far and I am very proud to be her cover artist and friend! She is truly an amazing person!

 

What should not be on a cover?

Well, I say if it fits the book and the story it belongs there. Never put elements on your cover that has nothing to do with the book itself. Putting every single element from an entire scene in your book can be a bad idea also. Some scenes may work but for the most part you want to keep it clean and simple not cluttered. It really is all about getting a message across in an attractive yet simple way!

 

What are some of the biggest mistakes authors make when creating covers?

Sometimes I see some covers that look very cut and paste. They’ve cut out a picture that is lighter and put it into another background that is darker or the pictures have different coloring. The pictures (when blending more than one) need to look as if they were always there. They should look as though someone has taken the picture with a camera. Another is stretching or squishing a picture to fit the cover. If you have a picture that is too big to fit on the cover (without making the picture look too skinny or very stretched out) don’t be afraid to cut some of it off. It will look better in the long run, but if you can’t then I suggest using a different picture.  Also, another mistake I see a lot is font usage. I love fonts and there are lots out there to choose from but some just aren’t meant to be used on a book cover. If the font is hard to read or is too curly and not bold enough to see small on amazon then it doesn’t work. Another is making the author name compete with the title. The title needs to stand out and be remembered first and foremost. Unless you are already a well-known author of course!

 

What other services do you provide?

I design just about anything. I do promotional pictures, banners, posters, bookmarks, and logos. I can also do CD cover art. I design just about everything an author might need to promote their book! 

 

For more information about Steph, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/StephsCoverDesign

http://stephscoverdesign.wordpress.com

Live Class with New York Times Bestselling Author Shanora Williams

If you’ve ever dreamed of being an indie author that has hit the New York Times bestsellers list, then sit up and pay attention because New York Times bestselling indie author, Shanora Williams spills all, step-by-step on how you can do it too.

Shanora’s recommendation for cover designs:  http://stephscoverdesign.wordpress.com/category/stephs-cover-design/

(under $100 for covers and will do payments)

 Shanora’s recommendation for her blog tour: http://www.booksnbrownies.com/

Interview with Nathan Bransford from Literary Agent to Bestselling Middle Grade Author

 Nathan Bransford’s changeover from being an agent to an author has been quite a thrill for him. Now, the proud author of the Jacob Wonderbar titles (which are everywhere here in Costa Rica),. Bransford’s career as a middle grade author is skyrocketing. 

In my interview with Bransford, he shares insight on what is really happening in the publishing industry and what we can expect in the future. 

Nathan, you began working as a literary agent but then switched to becoming a full time middle grade author. Why?

I left agenting because it had been my first job out of college and I was ready to try something new, though I actually didn’t leave to become an author. I took a job as the social media manager at CNET, where I oversee our social media strategy, which involves managing our different social accounts and making sure our content is as shareable as possible. I’ve enjoyed the move to the tech world a lot.

What has changed in the children’s and middle grade industry since you began?

If anything the children’s publishing industry has only grown bigger and popular, with more and more adults reading YA especially. I don’t know that middle grade has quite experienced this phenomenon, where adults feel comfortable reading middle grade books. Even the Harry Potter books didn’t really catch on with adults until they grew more YA-ish. But there are incredible books being written for children, and it’s great that people of all ages are finding them.

If you were giving someone advice who is interested in “breaking in” the children’s book industry today, how would that differ from advice you would have given 5 years ago?

I don’t know that my advice would be that different, actually. There may be some more opportunities afforded by self-publishing, but for now the bulk of the children’s audience is still in the print world, and thus traditional publishing is still the primary way in.

What is your creative process like?

With a busy day job I can only write on the weekends, so I have to make every minute count. I wake up on the weekend, make a pot of coffee, and work until I’m exhausted.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

6-9 months.

How do you juggle writing with a full-time job?

It’s not easy. I try to stay on track by blocking off days on the weekend and force myself to work even when I don’t want to. It definitely can be tough to work a very busy week and then wake up on Saturday and Sunday and keep on working on a novel, but it I power through on days I don’t feel like writing by remembering that it’s all worth it in the end.

Out of all the things you’ve done to promote your books, what has worked and what would you never do again?

I think my social media presence as a whole was extremely helpful because people were familiar with my writing style and were hopefully more inclined to buy my books. In terms of what I wouldn’t do again, there was a post I made where I said something along the lines of, If you like my blog, which is free, consider buying my books. The post rubbed some people the wrong way because they felt like I was guilt-tripping them or attaching strings to something they were accustomed to reading for free and which had given me a platform. I don’t know that I necessarily regret it because I still think the post was pretty harmless, but it was definitely a reminder that there’s a very fine line authors have to walk with self-promotion.

You’re published traditionally but any thought on publishing independently?

Self-publishing is definitely something I plan to explore at some point. Stay tuned!

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet