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Showing posts from August, 2009

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Seven - Downloading, Proof, Acceptance, Publication

I’d set up the publishing company, registered at Lightning Source , finished my edits, gotten a cover together, set up a home for Choice One Publishing Company , and much more. I still had changes and decisions to make. They pertained to the part of the book my readers would spend the most time with – the print pages, also known as the book block. My manuscript was double spaced, as many are, with one inch margins all around, designed for an 8 ½ by 11 inch paper. Not only did I need to reformat the page to the dimensions of my chosen size, 5 by 8, I needed to single space it, and decide on a font. Although many trade paperbacks used smaller fonts, I chose Times New Roman 12 for the same reason I’d chosen the crème paper – it seemed easier on the eyes. I also needed to design headers. They weren’t the kind I was used to. These had to alternate, with the even numbers containing my name, the odds, the book title. Fortunately my Word program had templates I could use. The margins also need

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Six - Promo

My book was almost ready. How could I let people know about it? I needed to get my promo started. Choice One Publishing Co . needed an Internet home, not just a snail mail address. I fiddled with the idea of starting a new website other than my author site at Morgan Mandel.Com , but decided for the time being I'd try something else. I already had a personal blog , plus contributed to a number of group blogs, which were all Blogger/Google related. Why not try a new look to set me apart as a publisher? I decided to go with Word Press, picked out a template I liked, and paid a little extra for the .com option. That way, if people wanted to comment they could, but the site would basically be used for advertising Killer Career , with buy links to distributors, book descriptions, news about the book, and other salient information. Later I could use it for my other self-pubbed books, if I chose to continue in that vein. I bought stationary and envelopes with the publishing name on them an

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Five - Setting Up Cover Art and Logo

The great thing about self-publishing is you get to choose your own book cover. The not-so-great thing about self-publishing is you get to choose your own book cover. It’s wonderful to get a choice. It’s scary to get a choice. From blogging, I’d met many capable artists, and had seen the beautiful covers they’d created. I could have approached one of them to do a cover for Killer Career. I may even have done so, if not by chance. By a stroke of luck, I found just what I wanted online at . Once I saw it, I knew that was the one – kind of like my wedding dress. I had more decisions to make. I wanted the back of my book to be striking so it would get noticed. When I’d first spoken with a rep. from Lightning Source, I’d learned that color on the back cover would not cost any more than on the front, because actually they were considered part of the same thing. If you’ve ever seen a cover flat, you know what I mean. It’s all spread out – back to spine to front. An

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Four - Choosing a Printing House and Getting Familiar With It

It’s important for a publisher to produce a quality product. Since self-pubs are especially scrutinized by book industry members, it’s even more important for a self-published book not to look home made. Bindings, paper, all the things that contribute to the look and feel of a book, need to be just right. I had a good idea which printing house to choose, but asked around to make sure. Book Surge didn’t seem popular. Lulu fared better, but I heard grumblings that made me pause. Lightning Source appeared to be the leader. My small press publisher, Hard Shell Word Factory, had used the same printing house for Two Wrongs and Girl of My Dreams , and I was pleased with the result. Not only that, Lightning Source belonged to Ingram, which meant a great distribution base, including not only Ingram itself, but, Barnes &, NACSCORP, Rittenhouse and even the Espresso Book Machine. That was just in the United States. In the United Kingdom,, Bertrams, Blackwell, B

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Three - Why Use An Editor

I’d gone through Killer Career countless times checking for mistakes in punctuation, spelling, repetitive words, phrases and sentence structure. I’d been confident enough to submit it to a few publishers and agents. None of the feedback I’d gotten mentioned errors in punctuation, spelling or sentence structure. One agent did mention my novel was too dialogue driven and could use more description. Where and how should I insert it? Were there other problems I didn’t know about? My novel had to be as perfect as possible to buck the climate against self-pubs. How could I achieve that? What did other publishers do? Good ones hired editors. That’s what I’d do. An editor could objectively scan my manuscript, find weak areas and suggest possible fixes. Where would I find one? It didn’t take long for the obvious answer to pop into my head. I’m a contributor to a blog spot crawling with wonderful editors, namely The Blood-Red Pencil. Of all the fine editors here, the one I knew best was Helen G

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Two - How To Get Started - Legalities, Technicalities, References

Once I’d decided to take the plunge, I had my work cut out. What did I need to do? In what order? A helpless feeling washed over me. I told myself to calm down and consult the experts. Austin had done it before. If I got stuck, I’d cry to him for help. I did, believe me. He and his wife, Denise, received many a frantic e-mail. I couldn’t bug them every minute. Luckily, I found this great book for reference, called Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual . While eating breakfast and every other chance I got, I consulted that book. I still do. It contains more suggestions I still plan to implement when I have time. Between my common sense, the manual, Austin and Denise, I could make it through. Piece by piece, I’d get it all done. Here are some of the pieces: Decide on a publishing house name – I kind of liked the name, Gamut, since I planned on writing and publishing a variety of genres. I Googled it and didn’t see any other publishing companies with the name. Get an address for the compa

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day One - Why Self-Publish

I can’t tell you why everyone self-publishes, but for me it was a combination of factors. The germ was planted in my head at the Love is Murder Conference in February, 2009, in the booksellers’ room. Popular mystery author and book promotion guru, Austin S. Camacho , and I were discussing our books and the industry in general. I mentioned I’d made the mistake of spending too much time promoting Girl of My Dreams instead of ensuring a home for my next novel. My present publishing house had apparently stopped publishing. I was stuck. Readers were asking when my next book would be out. I had no answer. Austin asked me why I didn’t self-publish. He did. That was a surprising admission. I knew he was doing fantastically well at Echelon Publishing. He admitted that was true, but publishing his own books was also netting him great rewards. In fascination I listened to Austin explain the basic fundamentals. It sounded possible, but could I afford it? He ran the numbers by me. The cost was les

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide To Self Publishing - Schedule

I published my own book and you can, too. The week of Monday, 8/24, through Sunday, 8/30, I’ll share a bare bones description of my experiences with self-publishing, touching on its good and not-so-good aspects. I could expand much more on the subject, but it would take up too much space. Someday, I might write a book about it. (G) If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask; or, if you’ve already self-published, your comments and/or suggestions are welcome. I’ll get right on with the first post after the schedule. I’ll keep them separate, in case anyone wants to print out the list. Monday - Why Self-Publish Tuesday - How to Get Started: Legalities, Technicalities, References Wednesday- Why Use An Editor Thursday - Choosing a Printing House & Getting Familiar With It Friday - Setting Up Cover Art & Logo Saturday - Promo Sunday - Downloading, Proof, Acceptance, Publication ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Morgan Mandel

Top 9 Things to Do With Review Snips

Welcome back, Elizabeth Spann Craig with Part 2. ~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You’re fortunate enough to get some good reviews from top industry reviewers, or book review blogs. You’ve got the long snip (“Jane Doe has once again proven she’s a master of English literature. This is an extraordinary book that will be loved and pondered for generations.”) You’ve got a tiny snip (“An extraordinary book,” or “This…book will be loved…for generations.”) You’ve got the perfect, glowing snippets—now what? Tweet and Facebook it. Wow! Kirkus calls An Introduction to Boll Weevils "An extraordinary book"! Put it on bookmarks . Bookmarks are especially handy to put in your promo mailings to libraries. Bookstores may sell bookmarks of their own. Put it on postcards. A pithy review snip may help influence a bookstore or library when they’re considering purchasing your novel. Put it on your tag line. Might want to make it a short snip, otherwise it could seem over the top. Put them in your on-

Book Tours and Book Reviews: When to Give Up Control

Today we welcome guest blogger, Elizabeth Spann Craig. First, a bit about her latest mystery novel, and then her advice about blog book tours and the reviews an author might expect. ~~~~ No one in Bradley, North Carolina, is exactly crying into their sweet tea over the murder of Parke Stockard. Certainly not retired schoolteacher Myrtle Clover. Upon discovering the corpse, Myrtle is struck—not with grief, but a brilliant idea! Solving the murder would prove to everyone—especially her son, Red, the police chief—that this eighty-something-year-old is still as sharp as a tack. Heck, going from crosswords to crime investigations isn't such a stretch. The old biddies of Bradley can waste away in blissful stagnation, but Myrtle's not ready to be put out to pasture just yet. The victim, a pretty but pushy town developer, had deep pockets and few friends. Myrtle can't throw one of her gaudy garden gnomes without hitting a potential suspect. Even when another murder takes place, pr

Writing for a blog tour vs. writing for a book

Here are five essential skills required to pull off a successful, well written virtual tour. They cover both the planning for and organizing of it, as well as the actual writing for it. Let’s examine them one at a time and compare them to writing a good book. 1. Planning Ahead . Virtual tours don’t organize themselves. You do it. You do all the work. And I do mean work. Lots of it and way before the proposed opening date. I recently went on a blog tour in December, 2008. When did I start planning the tour? In August of 2008. Yep. Four months in advance. I was researching blogs, clicking all over the blue nowhere, networking, looking up lists, Googling, twittering, finding top quality blogs with high traffic that were on topic with what fit the demographics of my intended readership. When I found a good fit, I started visiting often, leaving comments, getting my name and what I do known by the blog’s host and readers. For writing a book, planning ahead has some relevance, but not

Book Trailers That Answer the Buy Questions

Today we welcome Lisa Gottfried to the Blood-Red Pencil. She shares her professional advice about book trailers and how you can make yours stand out from the crowd. I am dangerous in a bookstore. My husband and I have a deal that we will not step through those glass doors to literary heaven unless we have earned enough extra money ahead of time to pay for at last fifteen or twenty books in one visit. I am a serious book buyer. My general game plan goes something like this. Go to the genre I adore and stand amongst the shelves scanning for titles and covers that appeal to my interests. Zero in on a small section and start reading titles. Pull out a few that draw me in and read the jacketflaps or backcover synopses. What happens next is the part where I decide to buy or not. I flip open the book and read a few random pages. I decide right then and there whether I like the writing, the illustrations and the essence of the book. From there the book either comes with me or gets quickly plac

Promoting on the Internet

I received a review copy of Penny C. Sansevieri's revised Red Hot Internet Publicity: An Insider's Guide to Marketing Your Book on the Internet so I could review it on -- which I will be doing soon, honest. Penny Sansevieri is with Author Marketing Expert s and her book is chock full of good tips and advice , as well as giving links to Web sites with more good tips and advice. It is a wonderful resource for any writer, and I am already highlighting points to use when I start promoting my next book. The author uses bullets and lists, which makes it easy to pick out the points to highlight, and this list really caught my attention: Golden Rules of Social Media and Internet Marketing 1. Listen: listen and observe, see what's being said online and how you can participate. 2. Participate: join in, share stuff, be helpful. 3. Give first, ask later. The best rule of thumb is to give more than you take. 4. Dialog: communicate (don't j

What Kind of Promotion Works Best for Authors?

That’s a question that is asked a lot, but the better question might be what promotion will you be the most comfortable doing. When approaching a publisher these days, most of them want a marketing plan submitted along with the manuscript–and the plan plays a part in whether or not the publisher accepts the manuscript. Probably you, as the author, will put everything down you can think of as part of your plan: bookstore signings, library talks, appearances before service and social groups and all the online venues you can think of. Doing book signings is what most authors used to do and some still successfully plan and go on book tours. Though I do a few book store stops when a new books comes out, for me, that’s not my best promotion effort, unless I can give a talk along with the signing. Anytime I can give a talk along with a signing, I know I’ll be more apt to sell books. That’s also why authors like to be on panels at writing conferences and conventions because if they can interes

Thank you!

We officially have 400 followers today. We are thrilled spitless and blushing as red as our pencils. Thank you all, over and over, for visiting us every day. We love it! Dani & editors

Weekend Wisdom

It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. — Mark Twain ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Public Speaking for Authors: Giving the Talk

So far in this Public Speaking for Authors series, we’ve covered Organizing Your Talk , Practicing Your Talk and Preparing for a Reading . Now it’s time to actually give the talk. You’ve done your preparatory work. You decided what to speak on and the points you want to cover. If you’ll be doing a reading, you’ve brought your book with the marked pages. You’ve put your talking points or keywords on note cards or a single piece of paper. You’ve practiced and timed your talk. Now, the day has arrived. It’s time to actually talk to an audience. 1. Dress comfortably. Look nice, but you don’t have to wear high heels or, for men, a suit, unless you’re comfortable in them. One time I was emceeing an awards event. When I got to the venue and saw the stage with its stairs, I did a U-turn, went back to my car, and changed my heels for flats. Very, very glad I did. 2. Get to the venue early. If it’s at a bookstore, introduce yourself to the CRM or booksellers. Thank them for hosting the even

Public Speaking for Authors: Preparing for a Reading

Welcome to Part 3 of Public Speaking for Authors. We started with Organizing Your Talk , then moved to Practicing Your Talk . Today, we discuss doing the prep work for a reading. Sometimes you’re asked to do a reading, either as part of a talk or as strictly a reading. Even though you know your book - you wrote it, after all - you still need to practice. 1. Find out how much time you’ll have for the reading. Deduct time for someone to introduce you - or for you to introduce yourself. Deduct time for questions and answers. Now, you have an idea of how much time you’ll have for the actual reading. 2. Choose a passage from your book that’s appropriate for the expected audience. If it’s an open audience or children might be there, choose something G-rated. I remember an author reading from a book as part of a Writers’ League event. He was hooked up to a microphone in an open space at Barnes & Noble, our host for the night. Everything was going fine until he got to a tense part of th