Let’s get Marketing

Today I will be revisiting a book earlier discussed, Write Publish Repeat, by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (with David Wright). Most of the information below is pertaining to e-books and not print, so if I say something confusing about a link at the end of a book or anything equally as improbable, you know why. Enjoy!

I will be touching on two major aspects of fully sustaining yourself as a self-publisher in this post. 1) Project Funnels and 2) Mailing lists. The author’s do a great job in both exampling these topics and emphasizing the importance of them, if you want more in depth explanations on either I highly recommend reading their book.

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In my first post about this book I hinted at the fact that project funnels are very important to a self-publisher, but didn’t go into much detail. This would be because although they where mentioned every five minutes, not much detail was given. Now having read the whole thing, I agree. Project funnels are ESSENTIAL to being a successful, full time self-publisher, and it involves making some of your work free. I know, it sounds crazy, making your priceless work literally priceless makes no sense, but it will, trust me. If you don’t think you could ever do this, then full time self publishing isn’t for you. Here’s what Sean and Johnny have to say about funnels:

Simply put, a product funnel is way of organizing your works so that one product leads logically into another. You’ll do this by setting up a series of pointers – in the back of books, in product descriptions – in order to steer readers to the places you want them, and to give them compelling reasons to do so. Understand: A good funnel isn’t a straight chain where Product A simply leads to Product B. It’s  a funnel – which, like a kitchen funnel, is wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. You want to scoop as many people into the funnel as possible..” (273)

~ Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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Yes, I am aware there is a typo in the beginning of this quote. No, it was not me. Yes, I somehow managed to find a typo in this book, which emphasizes the necessity of producing professional looking, error free content. To be fare, I only noticed the typo when re-typing the quote for this post, so it’s not earth shattering. I bet you didn’t even notice it until I just pointed it out here. Ha!

An even easier way to understand, if that was too confusing, can be found in the below quote. Sean and Johnny are huge fans of real life example’s, which are sprinkled throughout the entire book, and can be very helpful. Although often related to and promoting their own work, sometime’s something truly great is thrown in there: (not to say their work isn’t great, but come on, Friends is great, which is what they are referring to below)

“At first, the networks gave that show to us for free. Sure, the show was getting paid, but we didn’t pay that price. We just sat back on our -over-the-air-with-no-digital-converter TVs at the time if that’s all we had, and absorbed all of the entertainment for free. We said yes to the show over and over, because there was no barrier to entry. And then in the end we bought it because we’d been given a taste and knew we liked it.” (277)

~ Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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My Breakdown of Funnels:

  • The top of your funnel needs to be easy to say ‘Yes’ to, it need’s to draw readers in so that they can be lead to items further down. This often means making the first book in a series free, or making a short story that spins off your series free. (This can also be a nice bonus for your loyal fans, or incentive to join your mailing list, explored briefly below)
  • Once you’ve capture a reader, give them a very easy way to stay. Someone who loved your book may be willing to seek out the next one’s on their own, but you’re going to have to make it very very easy for someone who simply enjoyed your book but isn’t totally sold yet to find the next one.
  • To do this, include a link at the end of your book to the next book, or another similar work if it’s the end of a series or a standalone. Make sure the link leads to the book in the same platform the current one is from. If the book was purchased form Amazon the link should lead the the next book on it’s Amazon page, as well as Barnes and Nobel etc.
  • Make sure to offer and mention bundles or potential discounts, it’s easy to say ‘Yes’ to a purchase that seems worth their while. Offer bundles like a three in one for the next three books in the series, which is cheaper than it would be to buy them individually, or offer a discount on their next purchase. Be careful with discount’s, however, as you could possibly lead your reader into expecting one at the end of every book.
  • Make sure to direct readers to your mailing list, which is a vital tool for self-publishers

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Mailing List Tips and Tricks

  1. Have one
  2. Have one
  3. Did I mention have one?
  4. Yes, social media is good and helpful, but a mailing list is your way as an author to communicate with your loyal fans, the one’s who already like your work and are eager for more
  5. In order for a mailing list to work, you need to have people on it. Distribute a link to your website (oh yea, have a website) where someone can sign up for your mailing list. Put this in the back of books, on whatever social media you choose to use, etc.
  6. Have some sort of incentive for signing up, like a free, exclusive short story or standalone novel. Maybe cannon for your popular series. I know there’s lot’s of giving things away here, but if giving away one thing leads to selling three times as many of another, it’s a fair trade off.
  7. Once you’ve got people on your list, make sure to send emails regularly. They suggest weekly, or monthly at the very least. Have your readers expecting regular updates and get them into the habit of opening your emails every week. Loyal readers will enjoy getting little updates in your voice regularly, as it is your writers voice that has drawn them to you.
  8. Include announcements for work you have in progress or have finished, and include a bonus of some sort for those who heard about it from the mailing list. For example offer them physical books rather than the otherwise available e-book, or offer them an exclusive chance to read the work a week before it’s officially released.
  9. On weeks that you don’t have any exciting news, make sure to provide them with work in you’re voice, since that’s what caused them to want to sign up. Maybe send a blog post kind of content, or a funny life update, or a picture and short story of you going somewhere that’s an inspiration for your current project. Make them look forward to opening your emails

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Reading on a rainy day is the best, why I felt the need to go outside to take this picture IN THE RAIN I do not know

Finally, one of the most essential pieces of advice I found in reading this book, don’t let the bad reviews get you down. My favorite quote from the whole book is this:

“Understand That Bad Reviews Are a Sign That You’re Relevant” (348)

~ Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

All I have to say is this, everyone’s heard of Fifty Shade’s of Grey, it’s a very popular title, does it matter that a quarter of the reviews it had at it’s peak awareness where one star rant reviews? Nope.

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That’s all for now, I hope this helped someone out there! Have an incredible day!

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My Book Trailer – A Preview

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog trying to explain and understand the intricacies of getting published. From agents to cover design and the potential draw’s of self publishing, I’ve covered a lot. So, today, I thought I might do something different. I’m going to make a preview, similar to a movie preview, for my book. Although not available to read at the moment, it will hopefully be published one day in the future maybe (don’t get your hopes up) possibly. Thankfully I’v spent an entire semester learning about how I might go about this, and hope to continue learning in my free time. You can look for the full preview to be posted some time early next week, but until then here’s a sneak peek, and a glimpse into why I’m a writer and not, in fact, a producer of any sort.

Opening Monologue: “Do you ever wondered what your life might’ve been like if that one pivotal moment had happened differently? If you had gone to that other college, if you hadn’t skipped your SAT for a lit party, if you had asked that girl you liked out. You go back to that moment and imagine what your whole life would’ve been like if just that one thing changed. Well, I don’t have to ask that question. Instead, I have a different question. Which way did it actually happen?”

Let me start by saying it is WAY different imagining the way something will happen in your head than actually making it happen when you get down to doing it. When I’m writing, I can make anything happen that I can imagine, all I need is the right words and a good head space. However, when filming and editing actual real life content, the sky is not the limit. In fact some limits you may already be aware of as human beings but I apparently was not aware of is: time, gravity, space/having somewhere you can record, and weather. Let me repeat that, WEATHER. Gosh diddly-doo did that give me a hard time.

Anyways, I have hit many a roadblock in trying to get this preview together that my naive self had not foreseen. 1) Sitting and talking to a camera for more than a few seconds in a movie preview is not aesthetic or work well with the flow of a preview in the least, but words take much longer to get said than the actions I had imagined going with them. 2) Make sure you plan everything out to a T, like every single second, because otherwise you will have gaps, and you will be at a loss as to what to do with them. 3) Have all the content you will need before editing, because if you don’t you will have blank spaces that need filling and you will spiral into depression when you first draft looks like crap. 4) Your first draft will look like crap. There’s plenty more where that came from, believe me, but I don’t want to bore you with more facts of reality that you are probably already aware of, so I’ll leave my other short-comings up to your imagination. Have fun with that. Feel free to watch one of many cringe’s in my preview so far below:

The final moments.

UPDATE: Preview was finished and turned in, and deemed too horribly cringy and mediocre by the powers that be (me) to allow to remain accessible to the public. Sorry! Honestly you should be thanking me for protecting you from having to pretend you liked it.

Top 15 Books I Have Ever Read

The following list is, roughly, in order from absolutely incredible to just incredible. I highly recommend all books mentioned, and often re-read them. These are my most loved books, so hopefully you’ll like at least a couple too. Keeping with the spirit of my blog, I have included each books publisher and any interesting information I found on their publishing story and origins. Enjoy!

Some things to keep in mind:

Click on pictures to see their Goodreads page and description

PRH = Penguin Random House, because apparently they own everything and their name is super long

YA = Young Adult

See a short list of my token disclaimers before reading please and thank you!

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1. Captain’s Fury

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Author: Jim Butcher

Series: Codex Alera (Book 4)

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

(Book 1: Furies of Calderon)

Publisher: Ace books (PRH imprint)

First Jim Butcher book: Storm Front, part of the Dresden files series (Roc Books – PRH imprint)

Other Work: Just started a new series Cinder Spires, first book is Aeronaut’s Windlass

Author has publishing links to many other publishing houses as well (Ex: Simon and Schuster)

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2. Heir of Fire

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass (Book 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA

(Book 1: Throne of Glass)

The first workings of book one were original posted on FictionPress.com, where it became immensely popular and was removed when she decided to pursue publishing.

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Other Work: A Court of Thorns and Roses, currently a trilogy

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3. The Hunger Games

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Author: Susan Collins

Trilogy: The Hunger Games

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance, YA

Publisher: Scholastic Press

On The Screen: This is one of very few book to movie adaptations that I actually enjoyed! You should check it out if you haven’t already, you can bond over it with your non-book loving friends.

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4. Outlander

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Series: Outlander

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy

Publisher: Dell (PRH imprint)

On The Screen: There is currently a TV show based off of this series on STARZ, I have not watched it but my mom read the books and vouches for the show at least through the first couple of seasons. Do with that what you will.

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5. Cinder

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Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar Chronicles

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, YA

Publisher: Macmillan

Other Work: Heartless (I highly recommend if you enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles, it follows the same idea just in a new setting), Renegades trilogy

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6. The Hate U Give

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Author: Angie Thomas

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Harper Collins

Other Work: On the Come Up

On The Screen: This movie was AMAZING; good all on it’s own, good after reading the book. Just brilliant.

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7. Illuminae

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Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Genre: Science Fiction, YA

Trilogy: The Illuminae Files

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (PRH imprint)

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8. Never Fade

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Trilogy: The Darkest Minds (Book 2)

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA

(Book 1: The Darkest Minds)

Publisher: Disney Hyperion at time of publishing, now Hachette Books

Other Work: The Darkest Legacy (technically part of the same series with the same characters, but many years later. I’m listing it as other because in my head The Darkest Minds is a trilogy)

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9. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

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Author: Jenny Lawson

Genre: Memoir, Comedy

Broke into the writing world by became a very successful blogger (and still is), a theme that I am finding is pretty common in author’s journeys to publishing a book

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group (PRH imprint)

Other Work: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (follow up memoir esqu feel, could be read as a sequel or as a stand alone)

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10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Fantasy, (some say Horror)

Publisher: William Morrow and Company (Harper Collins Imprint)

Pretty well know author, but I’m not generally his biggest fan. I read this work for a class and it was not something that I expected from him or easily connected to his other works of fiction. Very thought provoking, very intriguing, very good.

Other Work: Coraline

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11. The Kill Switch

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Author: James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

Series: Tucker Wayne

Genre: Thriller, Adventure Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins

Other Work: Bloodline (Part of the Sigma Force Series; I have not read the rest of the series and only read this one because our favorite duo from The Kill Switch make an appearance as main characters in Bloodline. Wasn’t bad, may be inclined to read the rest of the series from the beginning)

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12. His Majesty’s Dragon

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Author: Naomi Novik

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Series: Temeraire

Publisher: Del Rey Books (PRH imprint)

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13. Ready Player One

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Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Publisher: Penguin Random House

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14. Graceling

Author: Kristen Cashore

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA

Trilogy: Graceling Realm

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Published/Numbered Order: Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue

Chronological Order: Fire, Graceling, Bitterblue

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15. Eragon

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Author: Christopher Paolini

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Series: The Inheritance Cycle

Originally Self Published

Publisher: Knopf Books (PRH imprint)

On The Screen: Amazing movie, watched it before reading the books for some reason. Did not make me enjoy the book any less. No sequel movie.

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Honorable Mention: The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction

Originally Self Published

Publisher: Broadway Books (Crown Publishing Group imprint)

Although this is not one of my top 15 favorite books, it’s an incredible piece of fiction and is definitely pretty high on my list. I included it to show that, like Eragon, widely popular and established books can, indeed, be self published.

On The Screen: Spectacular, as I’m sure you know.

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Thanks for reading!

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Token Disclaimers

Some of the books listed above are not the first in their series, although I love all the series that those books are coming from the book listed is my absolute favorite in the series. However, books that aren’t first may or may not have spoilers in their descriptions, in which case the first book will also be linked for you to follow.

A few of the books listed above were written by my absolute favorite authors, and it seemed unfair to include more than one book by the same author, so I’ll be letting you know when you should check out that authors other series and books in the descriptions as well.

Some authors may have other work not listed, but if I have not included them I probably have not read them; all books mentioned are books that I thoroughly enjoyed and vouch for.

Genre will generally be speaking to the series genre as a whole, so if say I list romance as a genre that does not necessarily mean there is heavy romance in that specific book. Also, I KNOW young adult isn’t a genre, it’s a category or whatever you wish to call it, it was just easier to list it next to genre. I’m sorry.

Back to Top

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Picture Sources: http://www.goodreads.com

Why I Love Books

Follow the hyperlinks for various book recommendations, all loosely related to the words they’re attached to. Some make more sense than others, and some might not make any sense unless you’ve read the book or, frankly, are in my head. Enjoy!

A Poem About Escape

I have spent close to twenty years on this planet

In that time, I’ve loved lots and lost plenty

I’ve changed and adapted to the environment around me

I’ve done my best not to complain

To be grateful for what I have

But there are days when it’s hard

And days when I long to explore far off shores

On those days, there’s one thing that always gives me solace

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Books

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I have spent close to twenty years on this planet

But in that time, I’ve lived many a life

I’ve met amazing new people

I’ve explored whole new worlds

I have spent my time exploring what is unknown to me

And making friends with those who live differently than me

I get to leave the real world for just a little while

And finally Live A Little

Self-Publishing is, Apparently, a Viable Career

What I Learned Reading Write. Publish. Repeat. By Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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I, one day, would like to self publish a book, as you probably do to if you’re reading this. If I could make a living out of self-publishing, that would be great, but my expectations to be able to sustain myself through writing are little to none. At least, that was true before I read this book. The most mind bending and enlightening thing I found in reading this book was, as long as I’m willing to put in the work and I’m not an absolutely horrible writer, I can without a doubt succeed in the self-publishing business.

“A traditional publisher would never want to touch a few-hundred-copies-per-month book, but you and I can build a full time income on books like that, doing it over and over… Maybe a given book will only make you $200 per month. But what if you had 10 such books and they all fed into each other? What if you had 100? Write. Publish. Repeat. That’s all you have to do. Done right – as described in this book – you’ll start to see something very interesting: Success comes from hard work and the accumulation of small numbers. Unlike yesterday, today’s prosperity can bloom from continuous intelligent production. For the first time in history, life as a full-time writer has become about simple math.”

– Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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Yes, there is hope for you indie writers out there who can’t or won’t publish traditionally. That’s another thing this book told me I was getting wrong, yes traditional publishing can be good, especially for well known or top selling authors, but it actually may not be the best option for your average jane or joe. That does, of course, mean that you’d actually have to write 10-100 books, which is a lot of work, but that’s not something they try to hide, self publishing is tough. Notice the use of the title in the quote above? Golden. In fact, the cover itself is pretty great, very simple, but still informative in it’s subtitle and promising results if you’re willing to spend the time reading it. In my head it’s almost formatted as a blog post might be, with a section break between the title and the rest of the content. Both Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant did, after all, both start as bloggers, and make money off of it too. Maybe this isn’t a total waste of my time! Although their cover is rather simple and could probably be done by someone who is not a professional, they’re advice on creating a cover as an indie author is very similar to mine, don’t.

“The cardinal rule in creating book covers is this: Unless you are totally and completely certain you can do a good job, don’t even try. Seriously


– Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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This advice, coming from successful and established Self Publishers who also publish other authors now using their company Sterling & Stone, is much more credible than mine. All the advice that is given throughout is generally just very trustworthy, as they are telling you what they actually do to sustain themselves as writers successfully, and the use of personal examples and dialogue makes the information all the more compelling and interesting. Writing, as described in the voice of
Johnny B. Truant and with the ghost writing of Sean Platt, can obviously be both a team sport and a predictable, dependable business. This is only true, however, if you’re willing to sell your books as products once they’re finished, rather than as your precious creations.

“We could say that writing is primary and business is secondary, but that’s not entirely true. IT’s more accurate to say that writing comes first and business comes second. First and second here aren’t about which is more important; they’re about chronological order. When you write, your creative mind is in charge, and your business mind needs to get out of the way. But when you’re done writing and editing, those two have to flip. Once the book is complete, it’s product more than art, and you need to let business dictate how you present it to the world.”


– Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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I found on multiple occasions that this book echoed what I have found and written in past blog posts, obviously I didn’t cover nearly everything that is discussed in just the first half of this book, but the two or three times I felt my words in what they where saying I gave myself a huge pat on the back. You’re on the right track, Kyra, good job. But beyond that I was blown away by the amount of information I received from this book, and we haven’t even gotten to the real selling part of it yet, this book gives you hope and knowledge and can be used as a reference even if you don’t read it all the way through. My two favorite tips where as follows: You’re not going to get rich quick, if you write crap books that you haven’t put time and effort into or heard you could publish things you find in public domain, then you aren’t going to be able to make a self publishing career, it takes time and effort.

“You’re not going to fool a reader more than once, and you deserve to fail if you try”


- Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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My second favorite tip came from the extensive writing tips included throughout, tips that I honestly wasn’t even expecting as the book started out laying down the line that this book would be on how to self-publish as a business venture rather than a hobby. They include tips on how to get time alone so you can get in the writing zone, make your character come to life, and explain the multiple different reasons why Scrivener should be your go to writing platform (it was created specifically with writers in mind, it’s almost impossible to lose any content, easy to organize, track progress/goals, and allows collaboration much like google drive, not to mention there’s a free trial). But my favorite advice by far would have to be the following:

“Force yourself to make fantasy worlds real, and you may find ways to articulate them as if they were”


- Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

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It’s structured so that each section focuses on an aspect of self-publishing, and each chapter is self contained, telling you one important thing about self-publishing. So if you’re not reading the book all the way through, although they recommend you do at least once,  you can still understand everything that is happening. Often even the chapters are broken down into sections or list that help narrow down what you might be looking to learn about, for example in part 2 there is a chapter titled ‘The List of Myths’ where they include in larger fonts a common myth about self-publishing and in regular sized fonts below that explain why it isn’t (or occasionally is) true. Since this book can be read in sections rather than all the way through, it is not all that different than reading a blog or short form texts. This, as a structure for a full book, can be somewhat annoying at times as there is some repetition, and is easier to read in short bursts rather than long periods of time. I look forward to getting to the second half of the book, where I expect to learn more about these funnels they keep bringing up, and how to encourage my books to sell once I get them out into the world.

A look at the people behind Sterling & Stone, and the three influences behind this book. Johnny B. Truant on the left, Sean Platt in the middle, and behind the scenes companion David Wright on the right. If you decide to read the book, it makes the common references to each other so much funnier if you have what they look like in your head. I highly recommend.

Cover Your Art With Cover-Art

As a reader, I’m sure you know that the cover of a book is important. If you’re a writer who isn’t also a reader, maybe you should re-evaluate your career as a writer, chefs don’t cook food without first eating it. Being a reader is a big part of being a writer, unless your writing a memoir or non-fiction, in which case you could probably slide by without reading much because your plot is already built in. Anyways, tangent aside the cover of your book is important, especially for a new author. It’s what grabs a readers attention, makes them pick up a book when perusing the shelves; anything that makes it stand out as special is good. I know I always pick up a book that has sprayed edges, it makes it different and exciting. For an author who doesn’t have established name recognition, the cover can be the difference between success and not-success (it’s not failure, just a setback). So in today’s post I’m going to go over the three basic ways of getting a winning cover for your book: get published by a company who does it for you (the Big 5), hire an expert (if self-publishing), or create your own cover.

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Companies

The way to go, if you have a choice

I’m pretty sure almost everyone in the world has at least heard of Harry Potter, whether they’ve read the books or watched the movies or just heard the crazy fans everywhere talking about it. Given this popularity, it’s no wonder that publishers are wiling to put the time and money into constantly releasing new versions and sets of the series, there are so many collectable covers for the Harry Potter series that not even the most avid fan could justify buying every single one. Just check out a few of my favorites below:

Notice how the red and orange Order of the Phoenix book has a castle designed into the fiery wings? Yea, that’s cover art at it’s finest. And that’s cover art that exists because of the resources available to the publishing company. I know that Harry Potter might not be the best example, it would have collectors editions at this point even if it was self published, but I’m just trying to get across the seemingly limitless resources and man power available to publishing companies like the Big 5 that you just won’t have access to as a self-published writer. I know that it can be hard to get published by a company and that waiting for your moment to shine can be frustrating, I understand the draw of self-publishing and it’s benefits, I’m just saying keep the door open, because these companies know what they’re doing.

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Hire a Professional

The next best thing if you’re going to self publish

I’m not going to give you detailed directions on how to hire someone to do your cover art, but I will tell you why you should strongly consider it and point you in the right direction to get started. A professional cover designer will better understand the intricacies and art of making a book cover; they will know what the right balance between image, text and information is and have experience wielding more advanced software’s. If you pick a cover designer well, they will have experience in and an understanding of the technical aspects involved in designing and creating a cover that will actually work, and work for you, in a much better way than you could given the same amount of time.

Finding A Cover Designer

Simply google searching freelance cover designer will get you a lot of results, but only a small handful of those results will likely be legitimate designers with years of experience. When picking your cover designer make sure to find one with a great portfolio that you like and can groove to, someone who’s on the same level or in the same headspace as you, but who also has a good track record of creating covers in YOUR genre. A good cover designer will be well versed in the trends and tropes common to your genre and what your target audience is looking for.

Cost

I didn’t do extensive research here, and only cross checked two websites which both had similar information. Take these prices as ballpark, just a vague idea of what this might cost you.

Adronauts Berlin – “An attempt to visualize ‘Big Brother is watching you’ with only a few signs.”

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Standard stock image manipulation:

Relatively new talent –> $300 – $500

Experienced –> $500 – $800

Top-tier –> $800 – $1500

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A beautiful, simplistic, yet eye catching rendition of George Orwell’s 1984 done by someone you too could hire.

Inclusion of Original photos or Illustrations – if you do not have your own source of artistic content or are not providing it on your own, but expect or ask for it, then the service can jump up 50% to double in price. This entails more work on the designers end or may require hiring other talent

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Create Your Own

Not highly recommended but definitely possible

I’m going to approach this possibility in a more step by step style rather than a here’s why you should do this approach. As stated above, I don’t personally recommend this approach as it could result in a huge flop; a professional in the field will most likely do better than you in creating an eye catching, appealing cover. But if you’re on a budget, or you’ve got some artistic talent under your belt, here’s what to do:

(I am by no means a professional, do not take my word as fact, this is simply what I have found in my own research. As always, I encourage you to do some of your own research, and only intend to give you somewhere to start)

Step 1: Look at other books in your genre

Find some successful books in the genre you’ve written in, look for patterns or common styles in their cover’s. There’s a reason these covers are designed this way, and there’s a reason they’re successful. You want to be original, of course, but you need to start somewhere, and every good beginner needs to looks to the professionals sometimes.

Step 2: Choose a software

The better the software, the steeper the learning curve. A good software is desirable, the better the software the more options and detail your cover has, but in order to create a good cover you need to know how to use your software to the best of it’s capability. A good place to start if your not very tech savvy is Canva, easy to use and free if you’re quick about it (30 day free trial). Other softwares include Adobe’s InDesign and Photoshop, both of which also have free trial options. Photoshop is the hardest of the three to use well, but if you’re willing to put in the time to learn then it could be worth the effort.

Step 3: Images and Art

Contrary to what your instincts might be telling you, you can’t just use any random google image on the cover of your book. Most images you come across probably have some sort of copyright, and you could get a letter in the mail the day after publishing your book asking for damages. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go around taking your own pictures or anything, you just have to get your images from the right place. Some free stock image libraries include Pixabay, Unsplash and Shutterstock. Shutterstock images may cost a few dollars but it has the wider, more extensive platform. Another option, if you have artistic talent beyond writing, is taking your own photography, or getting a gifted friend to lend you some of their time. This grants you more artistic freedom and liberty, and may also give your friend some recognition if your book does well. You could also draw or paint or do whatever you feel comfortable with, it can’t hurt to at least see how something works out. Don’t be afraid to ask your artistic friends for some help! Having cool, personalized art can make your work stand out. If you didn’t want to hire a professional cover designer but are willing to shell out a couple bucks for a cool little cartoon on your cover, go for it! The sky is your limit. I asked my friend for a sample drawing to really drive this option home, and got the image below, which only took her about ten minutes. Picture the title being shouted in a speech bubble, or a dramatic little sub title about love lost or something equally dramatic. Have some fun with it!

Beautiful art by my talented friend Olivia. Find her art on Instagram @olivia.art

Step 4: Dimensions

If you’re publishing an ebook this is the easy part, Amazon and other ebook sellers strongly suggest dimensions of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. If you’re publishing a printed book, however, this is by far the easiest part to mess up. Start by looking at the standard book size in your genre, then factor in your page count and paper density for the spine thickness, then create and typeset a back cover that you didn’t need in the creating of an ebook. If you’re creating a printed book, you should STRONGLY consider hiring a professional for your cover design. There are way too many variables at play for an inexperienced author to have a realistic shot at creating something credible and usable. If you would like to disregard that advise, please please please do a boatload of research before even beginning your design

Step 5: Typography

This may seem like the easy part, just pick a cool font, but getting your fonts to work with each other and with the cover to create the desired effect can be pretty difficult. Here are some tips I found: I know this might sound repetitive by now, but start by looking at other books in your genre, what kind of fonts do they use? Don’t use the same font for your title and name, and don’t write ‘by ______’ or ‘written by _______’, just write your name, the audience will understand. If your cover has a tag line or other information on the cover decide if it should be in the same font as the author name or in a third font, you shouldn’t use more than 2-3 fonts on your cover. Don’t use fonts that have their own stuff going on, like Papyrus or Comic Sans, which are popular in memes, it will take away from your book. Unless you’ve got a famous name, keep your name relatively small, let the rest of the cover speak for itself. Simple isn’t bad.

Step 6: Test it out

Once you have a rough draft of your cover, feel free to ask others what they think! Whether that means asking your friends and family or readers from your genre, feedback will be helpful! Social media can be a big help here, especially if you’re stuck between two cover options and you want to know which one people like more.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helped! Good luck!!!

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A lot of the above research was done at Reedsy, where you can not only find your perfect editor, designer, or marketer, but information on how to handle doing all of that and more. It’s a good place to start if you’re hungry for more information, check it out!

Image result for you can do it foxtato

Photo Creds:

http://collider.com/harry-potter-book-covers-olly-moss-pottermore/ https://mashable.com/2013/07/31/harry-potter-new-book-covers/ https://www.pottermore.com/news/new-hogwarts-house-editions-of-chamber-of-secrets-to-be-published-this-summer

Getting Published By The Big 5

A lot of the following research was done at – www.authorspublish.com – it’s a very helpful website for authors, go check it out

Anybody who’s put in the time, effort, and stress required for the making of a book (or other work of literature) probably want’s that work to succeed in the real world. I certainly will whenever I get around to it. Whether that means you want to reach the New York Times best seller list or you just want your book to be accessible to a very specific/niche reader base depends on the writer, but for those who want their best shot at fame, who want as many readers as possible to love their work, then there’s no doubt that being published by one of the Big 5 is the way to do it. For those who don’t know, the Big 5 are the big, major trade book publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster). They have access to the best marketing, publicity, and design teams (yay cover art!). It can be hard to get published by these major companies, of course, especially if you don’t have an agent. So today I will be sharing with you 7 (and a half) of the Big 5’s imprint companies who are currently accepting unsolicited submissions. These are just the ones that I found, of course, and there may be (probably are) more. Compiling this information took me literally forever (I don’t even know how you’re reading this since I’m still researching it and will be for eternity), so I hope you appreciate the effort. I would like to think that this will help at least one person out there, but I’m pretty sure no one’s ever going to read this other than my professor. Enjoy!

Some Things To Keep In Mind

If you’re wondering what an imprint company is, I found Gina Gagliano’s explanation pretty helpful, which can be found here. Basically large publishing companies like the Big 5 often have multiple imprints, the different names and operations of which create their own brands and market to specific demographics, i.e: romance, sci-fi, erotica, etc. Imprints can function on many different levels of independence, but in relation to you as an author the good thing to know  is that these imprints have access to Big 5 level production and sales (not only do each of the Big 5 undoubtedly have a relationship with Barnes and Noble but also with bookstores all over the place, as well as grocery stores and anywhere else you might find a book: airports? I think yes).

Generally I will be linking the imprints submissions page or the page where an address can be found for sending submissions, but I suggest you click around the website (accessible from the submissions page usually) to learn about the company and see if they are a fit for you and your work; not only should you be picking a company that reflects your work but it can be helpful to be aware of what a company is all about and let that leak into a query or book proposal; companies like to know that you’re aware of what kind of books they publish. Especially make sure to read submission guidelines thoroughly, some have very broad guidelines and some are very specific and have directions you should follow closely.

Many of these are digital-first, meaning they will publish an eBook version of your work and if it does well they follow it up with a traditional print version.

It is possible that some of the imprints listed are not currently open to submissions at this exact moment, but all (I’m pretty sure) plan to reopen at some point in the near future if they are not currently.

Here We Go!

Versify – Houghton Mifflin

Caters to young readers/children – looking for “books to electrify, edify, and exemplify,” whatever that means. They accept novels (entire manuscript), nonfiction (synopsis and sample chapters), picture books (manuscript, pictures not yet necessary), and graphic novels (detailed synopsis and sample pages). If this sounds like it could be a fit for you, feel free to check them out!

Forever Yours – Hachette

(digital version of Forever, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing, which is an imprint of Hachette)

Digital-first

Interested in romance of any genre, not interested in any YA, fantasy, mystery, general fiction, or nonfiction. Novels should be between 50,000-100,000 words. Novellas should be 25,000 or more words (and obviously less than 50,000 words). Sound like you? Learn more.

SMP Swerve – Macmillan

Digital-first

Looking for romance of all kinds, listed examples include: contemporary romance, new adult, category romance stories, romantic suspense, western, historical, inspirational, paranormal, time-travel, and erotica. If you want to know what all that means or feel like this is the fit for you, you know what to do.

Tor/Forge – Macmillan

Does not respond to queries – Don’t send a query letter.

Specialize in science fiction and fantasy (one of the most established in the genre, I’d be impressed if you’ve never heard of Tor, although it is right down my alley so maybe I’m biased). Check it out, I dare you.

What’s the difference between a proposal and a query? A query letter is a very short (usually one page) letter that states a books concept, gives basic information on the author, and is generally trying to interest an agent/editor enough to ask for more material. It’s like sending a resume in hopes of getting an interview. The book proposal usually already comes with ‘more material,’ and is a more detailed presentation of a book. It will include all the things the query did in more detail, an about the author section, potential audience for the book and demonstration of genre awareness, sample chapters or possibly a whole manuscript, and probably (definitely) more. More info here.

Avon Impulse – Harper Collins

(imprint of Avon romance)

Digital-first: books that do well enough to receive a print run are officially published by Avon Romance (rather than impulse).

Pretty self explanatory, they do romance. They do not publish or acquire children’s/picture books, Young Adult, middle grade, nonfiction, or poetry. You can find them here. Also check out Avon UK!

Daw – Penguin

Also publishers in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, only looking for submissions of 80,000 words or more. Here’s their submissions page and their submissions guidelines, because apparently having them on the same page, or even website, would be too simple.

Harlequin – Harper Collins

Harlequin is one of the most famous romance-only publishers out there, and are very well established (meaning they’ve been around for a veeery long time). They have a very wide distribution, and are often the kind of books you can find at the end caps in grocery stores and in the small book sections in CVS. They have both a main website and a separate website dedicated to writers and submissions.

I find this submission process to be the most confusing and overwhelming; the link above will take you to the home page for their whole writing and submissions website, and there are many categories to choose from when deciding where to submit you romance. I suggest browsing the whole website and really becoming familiar with the surplus of information, but if you want to jump right to the submissions page, who am I to stop you.

Carina Press – Harper Collins

Harlequin’s digital-first adult fiction imprint

Carina Press, unlike Harlequin, doesn’t just focus on romance, although they are open to all sub-genres of romance (contemporary, paranormal, LGBTQ+, and science fiction). They also publish ‘mysteries of all flavors,’ with or without romantic elements. Submissions can be sent here, but I suggest at least reading this first. It lays out what each of the categories are looking for and even what individual editors want.

I found this just as confusing as Harlequin, and again I can’t force you to do your research but I suggest, before submitting your work, visiting the page for the category you would like to submit to. For example Carina Adores is looking for romantic trope’s of ‘All heat levels (no, really, we mean ALL),’ as they so nicely put it, which you would find out on their specific page.