DOs & DON’Ts for a Street Team

DOs&DON'TsA street team is a group of fans who come together to support a you as an author or in support of a specific book or series of books you’ve written. They’re all about creating buzz for your books and sharing that passion for your stories with you.

When establishing an official street team–however that looks for you–it is always a good idea to establish a basic set of DOs and DON’Ts for the team members. Below we’ve collected a general set for you to consider and to help get you started.

 

DOs

Do…feel free to post on the street team board any time. Please keep posts clean and PG.

Do…stay active and engaged. I love interacting with my Street Team!

Do…help me promote in any way you feel comfortable with (creating your own posts, sharing my posts, leaving reviews, telling your friends, tweeting to the world, etc.).

Do…share your thoughts on my books with the team and me. We all have this in common, and so we can enjoy discussing together.

Do…invite your friends to events like Facebook parties.

Do…know how much I appreciate you! I put my heart and soul into my books, and anyone who loves them and is happy to join me in that passion is a friend indeed!

Do…have fun!

 

DON’Ts

Don’t…use this forum to sell or promote yourself, other authors, or other items.

Don’t…join only for the freebies. Part of the fun of this group is a shared passion!

Don’t…bash other authors or leave dishonest reviews about their work in an attempt to pump up my brand. We love other authors!

Don’t…share anything I’ve specified as either exclusive content OR as a sneak peek or preview. I’ll let you know when things are ready to go live to the public!

Don’t…share anything that might hurt my brand. Think about how people might react to a given post and make sure it’s appropriate.

Don’t…do anything that makes you uncomfortable. The point of a street team is a shared passion and getting the word out, but not when you don’t have fun!

Memes as Marketing Tools

self-publishing

Memes are a fun way to engage with readers and/or other writers on a casual level while still effectively branding yourself.

What is a Meme?

First, the newest definition is that a meme is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

The majority of modern memes are captioned photos that are intended to be funny, often as a way to publicly ridicule human behavior or commonly shared life situations. Other memes can be videos and verbal expressions. Some memes have heavier and more serious content.

 

Why Are Memes Effective?

Have you enjoyed a quote that spoke to you? Laughed at a picture with a funny caption? Felt your heart warm at a sweet image that reminded you of something fond in your own life? Then a meme has been effective for you.

Memes are effective because they are:

  1. Easy to Create – Usually a single image with a quick quote.
  2. Easy to Consume – Again, single image with a quick quote.
  3. Sharable – Most memes are shared via social media, which makes them easy to  like, share, repost, retweet, etc.
  4. Familiar/Relatable – Typically memes are images, quotes, or situations that are familiar to most people.
  5. Funny – Most memes lean toward humor, though they can also be heartwarming or serious.
  6. Attention Getting – Because of the above reasons, memes easily grab the attention of your followers.
  7. Branding – Memes for marketing purposes can help you brand yourself.

 

Using Memes as Marketing Tools

Memes as a tool of marketing can either be very specific and similar (look at big brands like Geico or Progressive), or they can be general but still point to a theme (like being an author). When you use social media as your main means of marketing, then memes become an excellent tool to connect with people. Each time you post a meme, then, ask yourself the following questions

Why Are You Posting a Meme?

Are you short of other things to post that day? Memes are great fillers. Or are you using a meme to help you make a point or an announcement? Why you’re posting will affect the type of meme you’ll use.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Are you aiming at readers? Other writers? Readers of a certain age? Readers of a certain genre?  Your audience will affect the type of meme you use.

What are Your Goals for the Meme?

Is your goal to sell something? To connect with readers? To share your personal life? Your goal for a given meme will affect the type of meme you use.

How Can You Make It About You/Your Books?

This is all about marketing in the end, which means the mean should point back to you somehow. As authors, there are many ways to do this. General memes about your writing life. Memes specific to your genre. Memes specific to your books. Memes about you as a person. Making the memes about you will affect the type of meme you use.

 

Popular Ideas

Just for fun, think through different ideas that are currently popular in the meme world. Take some time to search for memes. Make note of the ones you connect with or enjoy. A few examples include:

  • Animals saying human things.
  • Babies saying or doing adult things.
  • Sayings from popular television shows or movies.
  • Popular images of characters from television shows or movies.
  • Popular or classic quotes.
  • Puns or joke punch lines.
  • That moment when. . .

Make Your Workshop Notes Work for You

Workshop-NotesWho loves to take workshops? *Raising hand and waving it around!*

Who has random notes on paper that either get stuck in a desk and never looked at or thrown away? Who took notes on a computer but never accessed them or used the again?

How about we make what we learn from those workshops easily accessible and useful?

By taking the below steps you will maximize what you get out of each workshop because you are immediately incorporating it into your daily use. In addition, you’ll have those notes already organized and summarized with easy Search capabilities to quickly locate information.

 

Step 1: Where We Take Notes

Step number one is to bring a computer with you to every workshop, every time. You will rarely get a spare moment to transfer all those hand-written notes to your computer. Taking notes directly into your computer has the following benefits.

  • Saves you time transferring/makes sure your notes make it in to your computer
  • Mobile and more easily accessible from anywhere
  • Notes become searchable = more useful

*If you are a non-computer person (I know many authors who still prefer to hand-write), consider making a binder to hold your notes similar to how we set up Notebooks/Sections/Pages in OneNote.

 

Step 2: How We Take Notes

I’m going to use OneNote as my example. I use OneNote because it keeps my notes in one place (rather than opening multiple files) and is easily searchable. However this method can also apply to other note-taking apps/software as well as Word.

  1. Create a Notebook called “Workshops” (if you don’t frequent workshops often, then your workshop notes could be a Section in another notebook like “Writing”)
  2. Create a new Section for each workshop you take
  3. Create Pages for each topic in that workshop
  4. Type your notes directly on the pages

 

Step 3: Always Summarize & Follow Up

businessThe next step in taking your workshop notes is to summarize. You’ll want to do this immediately after finishing the class, while the material is still fresh in your mind. A summary can take several forms:

  1. Create a Page in that workshop Section with a summary of the information that stood out for you
  2. Add to any running “idea lists” or checklists you have in other notebooks/sections of OneNote
  3. Add to any “process” notes you have in other notebooks/sections of OneNote
  4. Favorite the important links or copy them into any link lists in OneNote
  5. Go take any actions that don’t involve notes:
    • Sign up for other suggested workshops you think you’d like
    • Purchase books or materials they suggested that you think you’d find useful
    • Research anything they mentioned (tools, book cover designers, editors, local book stores, you name it)
    • Check out links they mentioned as helpful (save them to your links list if you find them helpful)

 

Step 4: Create Usable/Repeatable Tools

If you really like a concept from a workshop, try to create a reusable template that you incorporate into each new book project as you start.

For example, after taking a “Save the Cat” workshop, I created a template for my personal use that breaks down the different beats, timing for those, has notes to remind me of important details, etc. I fill that template out for every book now.

If you have a template on that subject, add to it with any details that you feel you want to incorporate into every project you do.

KEY: when you start a new project, check through your lists, templates and the notes summaries to fresh those concept in your mind. You can also do this mid-project when a specific topic applies (like ideas for humor, or ideas to get past writer’s block, etc.). When stuck, reference your notes!

 

In Conclusion

You’ll be more likely to incorporate what you’ve leaned from your workshops you into your method if you consciously review your notes. Making your notes as easy as possible to review and use will make you more likely to do so.

Best of luck and enjoy those workshop!

Create a Cover Wrap for Print

Create aWRAPfor PrintA cover wrap is a graphic design of the book cover intended for print books. It includes not only the front cover, which is used for all ebook sales, but also a spine and back cover.

The tricky part with wraps is getting the sizing and image quality correct, otherwise it looks awful in print. Even trickier, there is not a standard size for templates for 2 reasons. First, print books come in several sizes. Second, each book will have a different number of pages depending on the lenght of the book, additional front/back matter, formatting, size of the book, etc.

So let’s talk about the basics of creating a cover wrap. For the purposes of this post, we’ll be using CreateSpace as our example Print-On-Demand tool.

Image Size

Get the following information from the final formatted-for-print version of the book:

  • Interior Type — The type of pages it’ll be printed on.
  • Trim Size – The size of the book (Ex. 5″ x 8″)
  • Number of Pages – The # of pages after formatted for print in that size/style of book.
  • Paper Color – The color of the paper you will select for print.

Plug the above information into the below tool.

https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

The above tool will generate a template (PDF or PNG) for your book which will show you where the front and back covers, spine, bar code, and bleed areas all go.

 

Image Type

Create a blank image in whichever graphics tool you use that matches the size of the template provided. You want it to be:

  • 300 DPI
  • 16 bit color

 

Wrap-Example

Dealing with Placement & Trim/Bleed

Bring the CreateSpace template into your image. In Photoshop make the template layer opaque so you can layer it over my cover design and make sure all my elements are places properly.

In addition, I like to add a rectangle outline to where the spine goes–matching it to the spine lines on the opaque template, so I know where the spine is at all times.

I turn the template on/off as needed, allowing me to design without it in my way, but still check placement.

Per instructions from CreateSpace:

The artwork should extend to the outside edge of the template’s pink zone to ensure a white border will not exist within the printed work. Do not move the guide layer, as it is properly aligned for printing specifications.

Ensure text and/or images that are intended to be read do not appear in the pink zones of the template.

The barcode area is indicated in yellow on the template. Do not place important images or text intending to be read in the barcode location. CreateSpace suggests filling in this area with your background color or design.

 

Saving & Uploading

Once you have your design exactly as you want it, I suggest you upload it in CreateSpace using the online Cover Creator tool. While the dimensions using the cover creator are slightly different, this will still allow you to couple check your bleed areas.

As soon as the image is finalized…

  1. Hide (or turn off) the opaque template layer as well as the spine rectangle (if you used that tip). You don’t want those elements printing on your cover.
  2. Flatten the layers
  3. Save the file as PDF (In Photoshop, select PDV/X (the most recent year available))

You’ll upload this custom PDF directly to CreateSpace.

 

 

Buy Links for Books

Buy LinksMany authors believe that all you need to do is find your book on a retail site like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, copy that link, and voila, you have a buy link!

That is partly true, but there’s one small problem with that method which will cause problems on several (if not all) of those retailer sites.

When you copy the link, you are including coding for your original search terms. First of all, this makes for a very long, inelegant URL. (There are rumors about the search terms also messing with stats or verified purchases on Amazon, but I have not confirmed those.)

Let’s focus on making usable, readable, elegant URLs for your buy links. You have multiple options!

OPTION 1: SHORT LINK

Create a short URL for your book using a tool like Bitly.

But personally, I like to be able to see the destination of my book URLs so that I make sure I am linking the right icon to the right destination. Short URLs tend to hide the destination so you can’t look at the link and easily know where it’s going.

OPTION 2: MANUALLY FIX THE LINK

For each of the main retailers, you can pull out parts of the link that are unnecessary (like the search criteria) resulting in a shorter link, but one that is obvious what retailer it directs readers to.

Below shows you how to get a working link that only has the important information. With each example below, I’ve included the original longer ULR. The parts you care to keep are highlighted red. Then I show the shorter URL.

AMAZON

You care most about the AISN (a unique combo of letters and numbers that always follows the “dp” in the URL. It is also listed in the Product Details section (if you scroll down the book page).

LONG URL
https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Violet-Svatura-Book-1-ebook/dp/B014T3FNNW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492223239&sr=8-1&keywords=blue+violet+by+abigail+owen

SHORT URL
https: //www.amazon.com/dp/B014T3FNNW

BARNES & NOBLE

You care most about the first combo of numberes listed before “?ean=” (not after.

LONG URL
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hyacinth-abigail-owen/1115836064?ean=2940151181594

SHORT URL
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1115836064

KOBO

Kobo already nicely shortens their links for you, but you can shorten a little bit more.

LONG URL
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/crimson-dahlia

SHORT URL
https://www.kobo.com/ebook/crimson-dahlia

GOOGLE PLAY

You care most about the id= and the letter combo following it.

LONG URL
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Abigail_Owen_Blue_Violet?id=qiSjCgAAQBAJ

SHORT URL
https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=qiSjCgAAQBAJ

APPLE iBOOK

Apple is it’s own kettle of fish. With Apple, because of how iTunes works, it’s easier to create the link from scratch. What you need is the ISBN #.

See the link before for the US. Replace the “1111111111111” with the ISBN # for your book. Do NOT include spaces or hyphens.

CREATE THE URL
http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn1111111111111

OPTION 3: EXTERNAL LINK PAGE TOOL

If you don’t want to take all the time to shorten the links yourself, you can use a tool like Books2Read.com.

This site allows you to plug in the URL to one retailer (like Amazon) and it will go find your book on all the other retailers. It then creates a single page and provides a link to that page.

This is an excellent option to use for things like a QR code, or to announce new releases. However, please remember that you will be directing readers (new and old) to a page that is NOT part of your own website. So it is up to you if the convenience is worth that.

INTERNATIONAL SALES

One final trick that has to do with selling your book to multiple countries worldwide (primarily via Amazon). You do have to have a separate Amazon link for each country.

MANUAL FIX

Change the “.com” part of the Amazon URL to the following:

  • US: .com
  • Canada: .ca
  • Brazil: .com.br
  • Mexico: .com.mx
  • Australia: .com.au
  • Japan: .in
  • India: .jp
  • Great Britain: .co.uk
  • Spain: .es
  • Denmark: .de
  • France: .fr
  • Italy: .it
  • Netherlands: .nl

ANOTHER OPTION

If you don’t want to take the time to try this, you can also use a tool like BookLinker.net. You plug the .com Amazon link into the tool and it gives you a new link which will redirect readers to the appropriate country based on their location.

OTHER RETAILERS

Note that with most other retailers, you can also create links to other regions (if sold outside the us). Replace the “us” part of the link with “gb” for Great Britain, or “ca” for Canada, and so forth.

FEEDBACK?

What other linking tools do you find helpful? We’d love to hear from you!

The Power of an Old-Fashioned Checklist

The Power of an Old-FashionedI have yet to find anything better than the old-fashioned checklist for keeping track of daily tasks. This is a very powerful tool that keeps my life sane, no matter how many deadlines and things-to-do that crop up both professionally and personally.

I’ve tried just about every task list software/app I can get my hands on for cheap or free, and none of them meet the needs and convenience of simply writing it down in a notebook – one which is portable. Usually, I’m a huge advocate for going digital when you can. But, for daily tasks, the notebook is your best friend. (Caveat – there is a tiny bit of digital cross over. Keep reading.)

Benefits

There are several benefits and impacts of using an old-fashioned check list in this way…

  • You will better be able to prioritize your day, when you see both meetings and tasks on paper. (Like using a map to plan a route.)
  • It helps prepare you for the next day. You know what’s coming. You even know if you need to adjust your usual routine.
  • You’re more likely to get all those little things done. (I find anything that doesn’t get written down doesn’t get done. I like to think of myself as a reliable person. The checklists help.)
  • There is proven psychological impact to checking things off. It helps you realize just what you’ve accomplished for the day. (This is so satisfying to me, that I’ll even write down tasks I’ve already completed just so I can check them off.)

Your Daily Checklist

A daily checklist of tasks to complete is something I employ both at work and at home (these days that’s both).

Checklist-Example

Here’s how it works:

  1. Use a spiral notebook (or something similar).
  2. Use your last 15 minutes of work and/or the last 15 minutes of your day to write tomorrow’s list.
  3. At the top of the page, list all your meetings or scheduled events.
    • Include the time, location (address or phone # or conference room #)
    • Include events that even happen daily 
  4. Below the list of meetings/events, write your task list for the day

    • Put your most critical 2-3 tasks at the top of the list, then…
    • Include daily tasks (those that happen every day)

    • Add tasks that are weekly that happen on that particular day

    • Add tasks that are monthly or yearly that happen on that particular day

    • Look at the previous day’s task list – anything that didn’t get completed needs to be transferred over to the new list

    • Even small items should make the list – reminders to yourself to call the dentist or pay your bills

    • If your day is lining up to be on the lighter side, then add tasks that are preparatory for upcoming things (to get a head start)
  5. At the beginning of your day, double check your list.

  6. Add to it anything that came through since the day before (emails that popped up overnight, etc).
  7. As you go through your day, check things off, adjust, cancel, and add to your task list as needed. (The BEST part is the checking off. It’s addictive.)

A few extra tips:

Bite-Sized

DO break larger tasks into their individual steps. If your task is “write a book” every single day, then you won’t check that task off for weeks, months, or even years, which is demoralizing. Make your task “write 3 pages” or “write 1000 words” or “write scene A” etc.

 

Pay Attention to Your Timing

Do NOT include items you know won’t happen in a single day. This will be different every day depending on your planned activities and your priorities. But if you know that you’ll be in meetings for 8-straight hours, scheduling a task that should take you 4-5 hours isn’t realistic. Any tasks which you need to put off to tomorrow you can either…

A) start tomorrow’s list and add the item(s) there, OR

B) moved those tasks to the long-term list (which we discuss in a second)

Only Immediate Tasks

 

Do NOT include items that are further out in time. If you include tasks that are for later in the week/month/year, you lose the satisfaction of getting to check it off for all that time. Plus, adding tasks you absolutely won’t/can’t get to that day means your checklist will be WAY too long. You want a checklist that is manageable (another psychological trick). Move those long-term tasks to the long-term list (see below).

DO Take Notes When Needed

The notebook doesn’t just have to be for checklists. If you need to take written notes (I use OneNote, but that’s not always convenient) write them on the back of the checklist or the next page in the notebook.

Long-Term Tasks

I gave a small caveat earlier. I do use digital task lists. As a PC girl, I’m particularly partial to the task manager in Microsoft Outlook. Don’t use the digital list for the daily stuff. Use it for longer-term tasks. Things out in time that I don’t want to forget are coming or that I want to get to, but much later than today or tomorrow.

For tasks that are recurring but only on a monthly or yearly basis, use your calendar (Google for me). Schedule something on your calendar for those items (with a reminder) so that you don’t forget it’s due on that day. (Don’t forget to schedule in time to complete the task if it takes longer than an hour or two.)

 

Okay everyone. Now that you have the tool, go out and start checking off those tasks. I’d love to hear how it goes for you! Was this helpful?

12 Tips to Tighten Up a Sagging Middle

SaggingMiddleMany writers bog down and even stall out completely when they get to the middle section of their novel. A writer may know how they want it to begin and end, but getting their characters from point A to point B is an exercise which often involves beating one’s head against the desk.

Identify a Sagging Middle

The first step to any problem is identifying the problem. So how do you know if you’ve hit a sagging middle? If you’re like me (a pantser), this happens almost every book. Some writers only hit it every once in a while. Sometimes it takes an outside opinion (like a beta reader) to point out your sagging middle (with love and respect of course).

Watch for these warning signs:

  • Writing suddenly feels harder (than normal) and you can’t get motivated
  • Even you are bored, and you’re writing it
  • You find yourself including lots of long explanations or descriptions
  • You are writing a lot of telling vs. showing.
  • Your conflict is not central to what you are writing
  • Nothing has happened for several pages
  • The tension you’ve built into the beginning loses steam
  • The conflict is already close to being solved
  • A secondary character has taken over
  • A subplot has taken over
  • What you are writing isn’t moving the story forward
  • You don’t know what to write next

12 Ways to Fix a Sagging Middle

Here are 12 tips and tricks for dealing with that sagging middle that may just give your writing the boost it needs to get over the hump.

1. Review Your Conflict

Just about every writer I’ve talked to will say the first and most common issue behind a sagging middle is that they’ve lost sight of the conflict. Give yourself a few days break (if you can), then read everything you’ve written with an eye toward when/where you lost the conflict. You may need to back up and re-write, or you may just need to bring the conflict back in focus.

2. Revisit Your Characters Goals and/or Motivations

Your characters may have lost sight of why they are on this journey in the first place. Are they staying true to who they are? Are their goals remaining consistent? Or, if the goal has changed, is the reason clear and true to the story? Is their motivation still tangibly present?

3. Remove the Boring Bits

Did your dialogue just include all the niceties like “hello” and “goodbye”? Did you just describe every move your protagonist made to walk through a room and open a door? Is the information about their backstory you just included not really central to that plot point? You might be including the boring stuff just to hit word count, and you’re losing sight of your key story. It might be time for a slash and burn.

4. Do a Quick Outline

Sit down and outline your main plot points that you know you need to hit. You might be closer than you think to the next point, and you’re spending too much time on a scene. Or you might need to add another 20 pages of plot before you get there. Either way, seeing where you need to be next may give you ideas.

5. Make a Change 

If you’re struggling, chances are your reader will to. Change it up for both of you. Switch locations, enter a scene from a different POV, revisit another subplot in progress. You get the point. Make a change.

6. Torture Your Characters / Up the Stakes

Think of the worst thing that could happen to your characters at this point in the story (something truly bad, or maybe a false high). Make a list of ideas. Pick the one that scares you. Discard your first one or two solutions for later in the book (they’ll be obvious to your readers too). Then run with it!

7. Add a Ticking Clock

If your characters suddenly have a time limit, I promise the tension will increase with it. It’ll also force you to write to that plot schedule now. So both you and the readers will feel the tension. 🙂

8. Build to a Minor Climax

Add a minor climax sooner in the plot. This might be a false high to give your characters further to fall later. It might be a stepping stone on the way to rock bottom. It also gives you a critical point to write to that is sooner than the end of the book (so is a mental trick for you as the author).

9. Write a Different Scene

Skip ahead and write the next scene up that you are really excited to get to. Just getting out of where you are stuck may get the juices flowing. How that scene goes may also give you ideas on how to connect the two points. Voila, no more sagging middle.

10. Write Backwards

This is one of my favorite tricks. Start at the very end of the book and write backwards a scene at a time. I guarantee that if you get enough scenes in there, having those ending details nailed down will inspire your brain with ideas on how to move forward from the middle.

11. Have Fun with the Fun & Games

In “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder, the sagging middle is typically the section called “Fun & Games.” This is supposed to be your opportunity to have fun with your characters and really develop both them and the plot. So, rather than resigning yourself to this section, have fun with it. Even get a little crazy with it. Believe it or not, this tends to be the section readers remember most. In movies, it’s often where the clips in the trailer come from.

12. Remember the Middle is the Important Part

The beginning of your book is the appetizer–introduce your characters, the conflict, and start them on the journey. Whet the readers’ appetites. The ending of your book is the dessert–the wrap up, the climax, the part where you leave your readers in whatever emotional state you are aiming for.

But the middle? The middle is the meat and potatoes. This is the main course. The appetizer and dessert by themselves are never enough. They don’t mean anything without the main course. You should be spending a good majority of your time fine-tuning the middle of your book, not just racing through it, or tolerating it, until you can get to the juicy bits at the end. As a dessert-fiend, I know how hard it is. But stick with it and spend the time you should with the middle.

 

Best of luck to you if you are dealing with the sagging middle. We’d love to hear from you as well. Do you have any other tips or tricks that work to take a sagging middle and make it a six-pack of gloriously tight writing?

Start Your Own Self-Publishing Company

Start-Company.pngDisclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only. We, at Authors On A Dime, are not lawyers or accountants and are not giving legal or financial advice. Consult with a tax professional and lawyer before making decisions regarding your business.

Indie authors, have you considered starting your own self-publishing company?


What does that mean?

No, we do not mean that you are starting a business like a small press where you publish other authors (yet). In this case, we mean starting a company under which you would publish your own self-published novels.

Why would I do that?

This is a route many self-published authors are taking for several reasons. Let’s explore a few:

1. Professional Appearance

When you start an independent publishing company, you can then register your ISBN with your company name as the publisher. This will show up on your book sales page and looks more professional than “Createspace” or “your name” as the publisher.

2. Control & Autonomy

You are still self-publishing, and therefore, you still have the control and autonomy that comes with that. You are making the decisions about covers, editing, pricing, etc. You are just doing it as a company rather than as an individual.

3. Protection

This is the biggest reason to consider this route. Self-publishing under your company’s name separates your personal income and assets from your book publishing activities.

This can be helpful for tax purposes (and possibly even give you some tax breaks). In addition, when you form a LLC or S-corp, it shields your personal income and assets from lawsuits that may occur. Lawsuits are very rare in our type of business, but some people prefer to have this extra layer of protection in place.

Also, there are possibly some benefits in terms of easier legal transfer of ownership and royalties if you were to die. We have heard of complications involving self-published authors royalties not being able to go to their spouses or next-of-kin for long periods of time, as it’s personally paid to that author only. Setting up royalties through your self-publishing company may help with that. PLEASE NOTE: In our simple research of the legalities online, the is NOT clear. This area seems very muddy, from a legal standpoint. So ASK A LAWYER. We are including it here as just one more aspect to consider.

4. A Publisher KDP Account

The terms of service state that you can only have one KDP account. However, a benefit of owning your own publishing company is that your company has its own EIN and bank account, which allows it to open its own KDP account. So now you can have two KDP accounts, and the second one is a publishing account, which comes with added benefits, such as the ability to have more author pages, as well as use more pen names.

5. Options for Later

If, at a later date, you did wish to start publishing other authors, moving your business to that of a small press, already having your business set up will be a big step toward realizing that dream.

How do I get started?

As we mentioned before, we aren’t lawyers or accountants. Plus, the process to set up a business differs from state to state.

If you decide this is the right path for you, we recommend you do your research and, even better, hire a competent lawyer and/or accountant to help you set everything up.

Things you will need to consider:

  1. The type of business to set up (LLC, sole proprietorship, C-corp, etc.)
  2. The legalities of setting up the business (including location)
  3. The name of your publishing business
  4. Set up of a separate bank account
  5. Set up of an accounting system (for ease with taxes, even if it’s just you you’re publishing)
  6. Registration of a domain name & creation of a website (even just one page listing your own books)
  7. Creation of your publisher accounts with KDP and other outlets through whom you’ll be publishing

What else should I consider?

In making your decision, please also consider the Cons. Setting up a business can be time consuming, mind-numbing with paperwork, and a royal pain. Don’t forget, you’ll also have to pay taxes separately on the business.  It can also be expensive depending on which state you live in, as well as the need to hire professionals (those lawyers and accountants again) to help you do it right.

You may have already self-published a book, or many books, under your name. Research how difficult it will be to move those titles under your publisher name. Research the steps and legalities associated with that move.

In addition, if, down the road you decide to publish other authors under your company, there are more hoops to jump through including, but not limited to: arranging commissions, writing contracts, hiring editors, hiring cover designers, hiring a marketing team, paying your employees, additional tax-related things associated with having employees, and so forth. And again, those lawyers and accountants and the expenses involved to help you do all that right.

 

We hope we’ve given you some food for thought. Again, we are not lawyers or accountants to be giving you legal, financial, or business advice. The information on this page is what we have found doing limited research online ourselves. We encourage you to do your own thorough research and consult with the professionals to make the right decision for you and to take the appropriate steps based on that decision. Best of luck!

 

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Book Cover Elements

When you are working with a book cover designer, there are many elements you need to think about. Some are obvious–like the title–some are optional and not as obvious–like cover quotes. Do try to have an idea of what you’re looking for in each of these elements. It will be a huge help to your cover designer, and increase the likelihood of you loving the finished product.

Let’s take a look at each element.

 

Front Cover

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Image

The image is one of the two most important elements. You want it to capture your book, communicate the genre (setting reader expectations), and be as eye-catching as possible. People really do judge books by their covers. We could write several blog posts on the cover image and probably will.

Author’s Name

This is an obvious one. You’ll always have this on your books covers. The bigger the author, the more real-estate the name will take up on the cover.

Author’s Title/Credentials

If an author is best-selling or award-winning, they may include the type (international, NY Times, USA Today, etc.) just under or above their name in smaller text. Or they may include a “from best-selling author…”

Book Title

Also an obvious one. The goal is to make this readable when the book cover is in thumbnail size on the Amazon search results. The look of the title can be as important as the images you select. Many authors miss this fact. Go look at book covers that truly capture your interest, and see how the title compliments and is incorporated with the image. Sometimes the title is the MOST important element on the cover. So don’t just slap a title on there.

Subtitle

Include if you have a subtitle. Typically this is smaller text directly below the title.

Series Title

Include if this book is part of a series. Typically this is smaller text directly below the title. Hopefully you don’t have both a subtitle and a series title. It’ll look ridiculous.

Series Logo

A series logo can be an actual logo, or it can be a graphic scroll or some other graphic device to place above/below/around your series title. If you include it on book 1, then include it on all the books for consistency.

Series #

If the series needs to be read in order, then include the number this book is in the series. If the books can be read out of order, it’s up to you if you include this or not.

Tagline

An optional element. A tagline is a pithy, one-liner that helps sum up the book and additionally snag the attention of readers. Only include this if you can come up with a good tagline, otherwise, don’t bother.

Cover Quote

An optional element. A cover quote is from a fell author or possibly from a review from a well-known publication which is typically a pithy, one-line sentence about how fabulous this book or your writing is. The more well-known the name in your genre the better.

Publisher Logo

This element is typically determined by the publisher. Many publishers with multiple imprints will include an imprint element on their cover. For a self-published author, this element is unnecessary.

 

Spine

Book Title

Typically this will be oriented vertically. Sometimes the words may be stacked if the spine is thick enough. Sometimes, if the spine is thick and the title short, the title might even remain horizontal. You want it in the same font as on the front cover.

Author Name

Same situation as the book title on the spine. Whether you put the title on top or the author name on top is up to you. Our preference is title on top. However, for those big-name authors, typically their name will be on top. In addition, big-name authors may only include their last name on the spine.

Series Title

Optional. Only include if it’s short enough to take up little space and still be readable.

Series Logo

If you have a series logo which can fit on the spine, we recommend including. It’s a good branding technique for the series.

Series #

Include if you have put the book number on the front cover. You can have just the number, or you can put the number below the series title, series logo, and/or the word “book.”

Publisher Logo

This logo is usually at the very top or very bottom of the spine. If you are a self-published author, consider creating your own publishing company and including your logo.

 

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Back Cover

Image

Often with wraps either the image from the front cover continues around the spine to the back cover, or the back cover sports a complimentary image. Location of that image depends on how well text shows up over it or not.

Blurb

The 2-3 paragraphs which tease the reader with an idea of what your book is about.

Bar Code

Assuming you’re using CreateSpace, you leave a part of your back cover (bottom right corner) for the bar code. You don’t need a white square for it. They’ll add it over whatever image is there.

Author Headshot

If there is space, sometimes an author headshot is included.

Author Bio

If there is space, sometimes a short author bio is included. (Most often below the blurb).

Other Books In Series

If this book is in a series and you have the other book covers, you can include thumbnail images of them (usually below the blurb) to entice readers with the rest of the books.

Publisher Logo

As with the spine, sometimes the publisher logo and/or imprint logo may be included on the back cover as well.

Bleed/Cut-Off Areas

Remember with a wrap that the main elements (particularly text) will need to look a tad off center. Print books cut off the edges, and the cover design needs to account for that.

 

These are the most often seen elements on any given book cover. Remember, you DON’T have to do everything suggested here. We highly recommend you spend time look at covers in your genre and finding ones you really like. Ask yourself what you like about them, and try to incorporate those elements–in your own unique fashion, of course, if/when you can.

 

Death to the Cliche

say-what-you-want-to-sayLet’s start with the official definition of “cliche” which is “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”

The definition should be enough of an incentive for writers to do their best to kill those little buggers. You don’t want your writing to lack original thought. However, ridding your writing of cliches is harder said than done (cliche intended).

First let’s talk about identifying cliches–because for authors, more than the familiar phrases can fall under the umbrella of cliche. Then, let’s talk about alternative approaches to consider when you are trying your best not use a cliche.

IDENTIFYING CLICHE

Idioms vs. Cliches

By definition, idioms are phrases that don’t make literal sense but everyone understands what they mean anyway (ex. raining cats and dogs). Both idioms and cliches are phrases used in everyday language.

Cliches don’t have to be phrases that make no contextual sense. For example, as hot as molten lava makes sense without someone explaining it to you. Whereas, idioms tend to be specific to different cultures and would need to be explained to someone unfamiliar.

The biggest difference between the two is that cliches are overused and idioms might not be. In addition, cliches, in writing don’t have to be phrases. They can be any overused element such as settings, situations, or characters.

Clear as mud?

Cliches Can Be Common Phrases

Cliches can be common phrases. These are always tempting to use because they paint a clear picture which you know your readers will understand. There are scads of websites listing common cliches, even by genre. Google is your friend to help identify these.

Cliches Can Be Common Situations

Cliches can be situations characters fall into which everyone can see coming because it happens so often. For example, a work romance where they end up secreting away in the supply closet. Or in a horror, the car failing to start.

Cliches Can Be Common Settings

What settings in your genre are common? Is your mystery set in a house that looks like the one from Psycho? Is your romance set at a resort on the beach? Is your historical set in a castle? Settings aren’t always cliche, because writers most often set their books in locations that the characters would truly be in. Just watch out for the ones that are overdone. Try to go a different way that still makes sense.

Cliches Can Be Common Plots

The lowly farmer/bar maid/computer geek/orphan finds out they are “the one.” Think about that generic statement and then see how many story lines you know of that fit. Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Matrix. You see what we mean? Unless you have a unique twist on a common plot (like those three stories), try to avoid it.

Cliches Can Be Common Character Types

The plain jane, the mad scientist, the hooker with a heart of gold. We’re not saying don’t use these types of characters. In fact, in some genres common archetypes are used regularly and with great effect. The trick is to find that twist to how you use it.

APPROACHES TO CLICHES

It’s not that you aren’t allowed to use any cliches mentioned above. The trick is to make them your own, turn the cliche into something unexpected. In fact, when reinvented or acknowledged well, the cliche can become more effective for you. However, if you can’t use them well, then, yeah…don’t use them.

Remove

Pull the cliche out of the sentence entirely and ask yourself what you lose when it’s gone. If your answer is nothing, then you’re done.

Rewrite

If you remove the cliche and the sentence loses its meaning, then it’s time to rewrite. Try to determine what the cliche is conveying and then rewrite that sentiment/scene/idea in your own words.

Reinvent

Take the cliche and reinvent it or do something unexpected with it. For example “Absense makes the heart grow fonder.” There are a bunch of different ways to rework that. Absense makes the heart go wander. Absense makes the loins grow hotter. Absinth makes the mind go wander. And so forth. What twist can you put on the cliche you’re working on?

Acknowledge

Acknowledge that you’re using the cliche. This can be a great comic relief moment. A fantastic example is in The Amazing Spiderman 2, when she pulls him into the supply closet he actually says, “This is the most cliche hiding place you could have chosen.”