Survive the Summer Sales Slump

Industry folks from all sides will argue as to whether or not a summer sales slump occurs, particularly in the eBook space. We at AOAD don’t have specific numbers to prove this, but anecdotal evidence, personal experience, and the fact that many publishers take chunks of time off during the summer when sales are lower seem to be good indicators that it happens to some extent.

The question is, if or when the summer sales slump hits, what can you do about it? Let’s talk about some ways to deal with these slower months. We don’t guarantee sales, but we do think you’ll have a productive summer if you try these out!

Hold a Sale
Hold a price drop on one (or more) of your books. As simple as that. Price drops tend to boost sales units. You may see less $, but at the same time, you may see more $ than if you hadn’t done the sale.

Release a Boxed Set
If you have a series completed, consider releasing a box set of the series during the summer. Don’t have a completed series without a box? Try an anthology with several other authors.

Promote, Promote, Promote
Rather than back off on your promotions, step up. Many authors take the summer off. Many publishers take a portion of the summer off. Take advantage of potentially having less voices to compete with and do more promoting in the summer.

Release a New Book
Releasing a new book during traditional slump months can help you get through the slump and bolster your numbers. Two things to consider… If you release in June, try releasing a summer-themed book to take advantage of those beach readers. Also, think about releasing in August which has the potential to kick start your fall sales.

Try A Social Media Refresh
Take advantages of these months when readers are paying less attention and refresh your social media. Give your brand a face lift, launch a new website, get started on a new platform (never tried Instagram? Try now), and so forth.

Summerize Your Incentives
Any giveaways, sales, releases, promotions, etc. that you do, try to make them summer themed. Combine them with other summer incentives. Think beaches, BBQ, pools, snow cones & ice cream…you get it.  Just remember, if you do this, to time your events earlier in the summer. You know…when it’s still summer for a while.

Hook Up with Other Authors
Use the power of cross-promotion. In the summer try to do events like Facebook parties, Twitter parties, Newsletter visits, blog visits or blasts, and so on, with other authors.

Get Ready for Fall
Take these slower months to get ready for the uptick in the fall. Hold off on those promotions and sales and hit them hard at the end of August, September/October. After taking a break and hearing less over the summer, readers may be more ready to take advantage. (Yes, we know this contradicts our earlier suggestion about promoting in the summer. Lol. Pick one and try it out. See what works for you.)

Learn
Take advantage of a slow down and use all that extra time in your life to beef up your skills. Take workshops, go to a conference, take an online or local college course, try writing exercises, join a writing group, and anything else you can think of.

Read
Take a break and read over the summer. Reading is a huge part of being an author. Keep up with how the market it changing in your genre. Enjoy other authors’ work. Rekindle your passion.

Write, Write, Write
Take the summer to write your heart out. Get words on the page so that when the industry returns to full steam in the fall, you can jump right in. Or get a head start on a project so that you can take it easier in the fall.

No matter which of our suggestions you try, definitely try the last one! We wish you luck heading into the summer and would love to hear what works for you. Do you see the slump? What have you tried?

How to Write a Query Letter

query-letterAfter you’ve done your research and written the blurb for your book, it’s time to write your query letter. Don’t make this more complicated than it actually is. Every editor/agent/assistant is looking at a few key pieces of information and the blurb/book pitch. Here’s how you write your letter.

LETTER SET UP

Dear [AGENT/EDITOR NAME],

[OPTIONAL PERSONAL INTRO]. I am submitting for your consideration my [GENRE] novel, [TITLE], complete at [##,###] words.

[BLURB]

[OPTIONAL RELEVANT PERSONAL INFO]

Per your submissions requirements, I am providing [WHAT YOU’RE PROVIDING].

Thank you very much for taking the time to consider [TITLE]. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

[CONTACT INFO]

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Address the Person

Do NOT send out a blanket form letter. You’ve done your research. Address the query directly to the editor or agent you are querying. And yes, it is appropriate, to address it to Mr. or Ms. [insert last name].

Optional Personal Intro

If, during your research of the editor or agent, you have found information specific to what they are looking for or who/what they represent which might make them partial to your query, include it in the intro. For example:

“I saw on your recent blog post that you are looking for fresh new romantic comedy voices.”

“I saw that you represent Author XYZ, and believe you would enjoy my voice.”

PLEASE NOTICE that these examples are not a dissertation. One or two short sentences tops.

Optional Relevant Personal Info

After the blurb, if you have any relevant personal information to help the editor or agent with their decision. Keep this section short–1 to 2 sentences tops. This is not a full resume or a roll call of your accomplishments. Highlight the top 1 or 2 pieces of information which are most impactful to that editor or agent. Information can include the following:

  • awards
  • bestselling status
  • publications
  • organizations you are active in
  • possibly a quote from a review (short and relevant)

What You’re Providing

During your research, you may have come across a list of what the editor or agent wants you to provide in the query. Usually this involves something like a synopsis and/or a partial manuscript (1-3 chapters). Rarely do they want a full manuscript with the query. Sometimes, depending on why you are querying, they may ask for more information about you. Be sure to read the query instructions on their website in detail.

In this paragraph you show that you read those and are providing the information requested. This may be a sentence as short as, “Per you submission requirements, I am providing the first three chapters (attached).” Or it may be a paragraph with additional information.

Leave this paragraph out if they only want the query letter.

Contact Info

After your signature, make sure to provide your contact information. This includes:

  • Your Name
  • Writes as Your Pen Name
  • Your Email Address
  • Your Website
  • Your Mailing Address

EXAMPLE LETTER

Dear Ms. Agent,

I saw that you are currently looking for a new romantic comedy voice. I am submitting for your consideration my romantic comedy, THE WRONG KIND OF COMPATIBLE, complete at 48,000 words.

Data analyst Cassie Howard may be brilliant (and, okay, a little awkward), but she’s worked hard to get where she is. She definitely doesn’t need some sexy new analyst coming in and taking credit for her work. Or the inappropriate thoughts that keep popping out of her mouth she’d rather he not hear.

For undercover FBI agent Drew Kerrigan, computers have always made more sense than people, but he’d better develop some slick social skills in a hurry if he’s going to win over the too-tantalizing-for-his-sanity Cassie. Hacking their systems was easy. Now he’s just got to hack the one person in the company most likely to see through his ruse…

I am currently published with XYZ Press with a 3-book contemporary romance series completed. My contemporary romance, Saving the Sheriff, won first place in the 2016 Emily Awards. I am also an active member of LMN Organization.

Per your submissions requirements, I am providing the synopsis and first chapter (attached).

Thank you very much for taking the time to consider The Wrong Kind of Compatible. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Abigail Owen

Abigail Owen
Writing as Kadie Scott
authorkadiescott@gmail.com
www.kadie-scott.com
1000 Mailing Address St.
Austin, TX 12345

Researching Before You Query

february (1)A query letter is a more basic document than many writers make it out to be, and the process, while it can be time-consuming, is also a relatively simple one. We’re going to walk through a few different steps on this topic. Today, let’s talk about researching and pre-query work

Why You Research First?

Every editor and agent I’ve every talked to has TONS of stories about authors who submitted queries that CLEARLY didn’t follow the instructions on that agent or editor’s website. And I’m not talking smaller stuff like “oops I forgot to include the word count” or I addressed it “Dear Madame” instead of “Dear Debbie”. I’m talking that editor or agent doesn’t even represent the genre your book is in.

Sounds idiotic, but people get lazy. DON’T be a lazy author. Do NOT send out a form letter with a ton of editors BCCd on it. Take the time to research each agent/editor you are submitting to. You don’t want to mess up your chances by demonstrating off the bat that you don’t know how to read a website and follow instructions.

Ask the Right Questions

Remember, this is a job interview that goes both ways. You want the RIGHT editor or agent for you, so taking the time to research isn’t just about knowing what to include in the letter. It’s about finding the right fit.

Questions you should be trying to find out answers to while you research the editor/agent include the following:

Generic Info

  1. Does he/she have a website that is easily accessible with information on querying readily and obviously available? (Big one. If they don’t they may not be taking new authors, which is a bummer. OR, they are not clear communicators which is much worse.)
  2. Does he/she represent the genre I write?
  3. What length novels does he/she prefer or typically represent (word count)?
  4. Is he/she currently taking on new authors? What about in your genre?
  5. Would you be working directly with that editor/agent or with someone else in their office? Why? Ask all the same questions about those individuals.

Deep Digging

  1. Does he/she have a wish list of what they’d be particularly excited to see right now?
  2. How long has he/she been in this business?
  3. Are they a member of Association of Author Representatives or another organization which sets standards and guidelines for the people in their industry?
  4. Does he/she blog? (Go read it.)
  5. Is he/she on various social media? (Go follow and pay attention.)
  6. Which authors does this agent/editor already represent? What’s their track record with those authors? (harder to find info)
  7. If you feel comfortable contacting authors, try to politely find out how he/she like working with that agent/editor and why (because different personalities mesh well with some and not others). You can also try websites like Writer’s Beware (just be wary of sour grapes and or stale information). Here’s a website with a ton of resources on researching track records–Victoria Strauss.

Query Logistics

  1. What do they want to see in the query? (Just the letter, a synopsis, the full MS, other?)
  2. See above questions about genre, length, and representation.
  3. How do they want you to submit the query (Online form? Email? Attachments? No attachments?)
  4. What is their general response time to queries?

In Conclusion

There are TONS of other questions you’ll want to ask the editor/agent directly if you get past the initial query phase and are seriously considering signing a contract. We’ll get to those on another day.

In the meantime, as you start this process, we promise taking the time to properly research will be well worth the effort. There is a big difference working with someone who you get along with, share interests with, and can have a creative dynamic with, and someone who is just a body. That is true in any job.

 

How to Publish to Amazon Kindle

self-pubFirst of all, this blog post assumes you have completed a manuscript, formatted in the method Amazon requires, have a book cover image, have written your blurb, and have thought through things like copyright and ISBN. If you haven’t you are NOT ready to publish. You may want to check out our articles on those various toics. If you have done those things, then this is the article for you.

Today we’re going to walk you through the steps to self-publish an eBook with Amazon Kindle (which is super easy).

  1. Go to http://kdp.amazon.com
  2. Login with your regular Amazon login (so you get paid under your legal name – don’t worry if you’re using a different pen name)
  3. Click the “Create New Title” button
  4. KDP Select
    1. This is an option where you do NOT load it at other eBook retailers or distributors for 90 days. See below for more info.
  5. Enter the book details (Amazon is very good about providing definitions for each) including:
    1. Book Name
    2. Book Subtitle (if any)
    3. Series Name (if any)
    4. Series Volume – the number of this book within the series (if any)
    5. Edition Number – if this is a republishing (if any)
    6. Publisher – leave blank for self-publishing
    7. Description – the book blurb
    8. Book Contributors – I recommend only the author (you) – this is where you put your pen name
    9. Language – leave as English
    10. ISBN (if any)
  6. Verify Publishing Rights
    1. If this is a work of fiction from your own hand which you can copyright, then you are selecting “This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights.”
  7. Target Your Book
    1. Categories – you only get two from a predefined list. Yours will likely fall under Fiction and then a subcategory
    2. Age Range – I have heard that this can pull you out of search results. However if you write romance with steamy scenes or erotica, I personally suggest you use it. But that’s from the POV of a mother. 🙂
    3. U.S. Grade – Only use this if you’re writing children’s books
    4. Search keywords – You get up to 7, and they can be phrases rather than single words. See below for more info.
  8. Book Release Option
    1. Select either immediately or pick a date within 90 days
    2. If you pick a date, your book goes on preorder. There are lots of articles about using preorder. My suggestion is putting it on preorder at a lower price for 2-4 weeks prior to release, but not sooner.
  9. Book Cover
    1. Upload the JPG of your final book cover (see our lesson on book covers)
  10. Upload Your Book File
    1. Digital Rights Management
      1. Read the description carefully and decide for yourself which you’d prefer to do. This one is total personal preference.
    2. Pre-Order
      1. If you select a future date, you can state whether this version you are uploading is draft or final. You are REQUIRED to upload something, even if it’s not finished.
      2. You will want to select draft until you really have uploaded your final copy.
    3. Upload
      1. Open your final formatted Word document of your book (see our lesson on formatting
      2. Save as > Web Page, Filtered
      3. Upload the web page filtered version of the file
      4. Use the online tool provided to check your book in multiple Kindle formats to make sure it looks good
  11. Click “Save and Continue”
  12. Verify Your Publishing Territories
    1. Unless you have a specific reason not to publish in a specific country, select “Worldwide”
  13. Select Pricing
    1. Select a Royalty %
      1. if your book is $2.99 and up, select 70%
      2. if it’s under that price, you have to select 35%
    2. Enter a Price under “Amazon.com” and let the other territories automatically calculate based on conversion rates
  14. Kindle Matchbook
    1. Checking this option will allow people who buy a print copy to get a free eBook copy.
    2. Personal preference here, but my opinion is, they paid for your book already (and a lot more than just the ebook version) so go ahead and check this option to give it to them.
  15. Kindle Book Lending
    1. Check this option if you want Kindle users to be able to lend their kindle copy to friends for a period of up to 14 days each.
    2. Another personal preference, but my theory is they are helping you find new readers who might purchase your other books.
  16. Check the “Terms and Conditions” box
  17. Click the “Save and Publish” button

 

It typically takes about 24 hours to publish once you click the button. Here are a few more things to consider…

KDP Select

Primarily you would choose to do this because of the marketing related tools you get with it, and the potential to earn more $ with Kindle Pages. At this time, my personal opinion is the free days aren’t worth it, but the Amazon ads are. For the first 90 days. Then turn it off and publish at other retailers.

Keywords

Some would argue that keywords are one of the most important things you can enter to help get your book noticed. You can enter full phrases as a single keyword. You get up to 7 keywords.

One method to find keywords is to go on Amazon into the Kindle books section and drill down in the categories on the side. For example, under Paranormal Romance you’ll find things like werewolves & shapeshifters. So you might make that a keyword if your book falls under it.

However, the best keyword advice I’ve found, I found here: https://kindlepreneur.com/kindle-keywords-fiction-author-strategy/

Pricing

There are tons of strategies on setting eBook pricing. Smashwords does an entire presentation on it. This, again is personal preference. I suggest you do your research, look at other similar books (genre and length) by self-pub’d authors, and debate the royalties implications. (IF you price under $2.99 you can only get 35% royalty. Above $2.99 and you get 70%).

Your Book Link

Once your book publishes, when you go to kdp.amazon.com and look at the book in the dashboard, a string of number and letters will show up under the title. Those are your ASIN. The direct link to your book will be:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN (the ASIN # goes there)

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!

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!

 

Start-Company.png

Choose the Right Excerpt for Your Book

Cindy &Alexander.pngWriting your book might be the easiest part of your job as an author. Everything that comes after, the publishing and marketing of the book, are often where authors struggle the most. One of the steps in that time is to select an excerpt or two of your book.

The purpose of the excerpt is to give prospective readers a taste of your writing. Even more important, the purpose of an excerpt is to hook those prospective readers into your story so they want to buy and read it.

To help you select these important passages, here are a few tips to consider:

1. Hook the Reader

Choose a passage where, at the end of reading it, the reader will immediately want to find out what happens next. This may mean ending in the middle of the passage. But make sure the excerpt ends in a way that people say, “What happens next?”

2. Make the Excerpt “Exclusive”

Don’t select an excerpt that either highlights what the reader can already glean from the book blurb, or is a passage they can get in the “Look Inside” feature.

3. Choose an Active Passage

Active means something is happening. Don’t select an excerpt which is a long description of the setting or a character thinking. Select one that has something happening. Interactions between characters or a minor pivot point in the story are good places to start.

5. Demonstrate the Genre

Highlight the type of book you wrote. Is it a mystery? Make the excerpt highlight that aspect. Is it a romance? Maybe think about showing how the couple meets or how they interact? Is it non-fiction, include one of the interesting facts.

4. Avoid Context Needs

Try to pick an excerpt that doesn’t need context to understand what is happening in the scene.

5. Cut & Trim As Needed

You don’t have to copy/paste your excerpt word-for-word. You can trim and cut as needed so that the excerpt is relevant, not confusing, and enticing. The reader will get anything you cut when they buy the book

6. Think About Length

Most new readers will not spend time reading a long excerpt. They want to know quickly if your writing will interest them. Try to keep your excerpt on the shorter side. 500-1000 words is a good rule of thumb.

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Authors: How to Create a Media Kit

authortoolbox-mediakitMedia kits. Authors, you need one for each book you release, and sometimes for a full series when you’ve released all the books in that series. Many authors have no idea what these are or how to use them. The good news is media kits are very easy to put together, and they can save you a lot of time when it comes to marketing your books.

What is a media kit?

A media kit is a basic document containing information about your latest book being released.

Why do I need a media kit?

Media kits are primarily used as a package of information for reviewers, bloggers, journalists, and other marketing folks to help them write about and market your book.

For indie authors, media kits are particularly helpful when setting up blog tours and requesting reviews. You will be asked for the same information over and over again. The media kit provides that information, saving you time and energy rather than reinventing the wheel every time.

How do I make a media kit?

  1. Open a Word document and save it as TitleOfBook_MediaKit.docx
  2. At the top of the document, type in the
    • Title of the Book
    • Subtitle (if any)
    • Series Name & # (if any)
    • by Your Pen Name
  3. Provide the following book information:
    • Book Blurb
    • Book Cover (insert the image)
    • Buy Links (to anywhere the book is sold)
    • Tagline (a one line phrase which captures your book)
  4. Provide the technical info about the book, including:
    • Publisher:
      Author:
      Cover Artist:
      Page Count:
      Word Count:
      ISBN (Digital):
      ISBN (Print):
      Release Date:
  5. Include a “praise” section which are positive reviews (with quotes) either about the book or about the series. Make sure to give credit to the reviewer or review website and link to the actual review.
  6. Include an “Additional Media” section with links to:
    • Book Page on your website
    • Book or Series Pinterest Board
    • Book Trailer on YouTube
    • Any other fun related links (did you make a quiz? did you do an FAQ about the series? did you do any character interviews?)
  7. Include 3 different excerpts in the following lengths:
    • Under 200 words
    • 500-600 words
    • 700-1000 words
  8. Wrap it up with information about the author including
    • Author Bio
    • Social Media Links
    • Author Picture (insert the image)
  9. Edit for typos and format to make it look professional, but simple.
  10. Save the document as a PDF
  11. When sending, attach the book cover and author picture images separately, so they have a hi-res version and not just what’s embedded in your media kit.

 

To help get you started, we’ve included a FREE MEDIA KIT TEMPLATE as a Word document to this. It is very basic. Feel free to add your own formatting and flare as desired. Best of luck getting the word out about your latest release!!!

 

Does Size Matter?

doessizematterFor self-publication purposes, it’s important to know a few technical aspects of what you’ll require from your book cover designer in order to be able to upload the cover to the eBook retailer and distributor sites and/or Print-On-Demand (POD) sites you choose to publish through.

Every retailer/distributor/POD is a little different. They will post their requirements or recommendations on line. For the 3 that we focus on in this post, here’s what you need to know:

Amazon (retailer):

Amazon suggests a ratio which is skinnier than most eBooks, which then makes your book cover look odd when in a line up with other covers. Their suggestion is not a requirement. As long as it’s 2500 pixels or more long, you’re good. We suggest the following:

  • Type: JPG
  • Color: RGB (most images are in this)
  • Size: 3000 (high) x 2000 (wide) pixels

If it’s a white background, a 1-pixel, dark border needs to be added to the edges so that you can tell where the book cover starts/stops when shown on a white background (like Amazon web pages).

Smashwords (distributor):

Smashwords cover image requirement is that the image be over 1400 pixels on the short side (width). Their recommendation is 1600 px wide. In addition it has to be under 20MB, and they also prefer JPG.

The 3000×2000 image made for Amazon also works for Smashwords.

Create Space (POD):

Because POD is print, we now have to worry about the spine and the back of the cover as well. eBooks, we only care about the front of the cover.

You have two options with this.

Option 1

A cover designer can do a design for print that is a full wrap (includes front, spine, an back of the cover).  This option typically means more $. In addition, your cover designer will need details such as the size of the book and the number of pages to help determine the size of the spine.

Option 2

The easier/cheaper option is to use the front cover design only! Yup. You heard me right.

Create Space has an awesome cover designer tool which comes with several options. Select the SPRUCE design, which allows for a single image on the front cover. You then enter the text for the spine and back cover, and select a solid color for the spine and back cover and text.

Social Media:

You’ll also want a few different sizes for social media and to give reviewers.

You’ll want a JPG in the following sizes:

  • 750 x 500 pixels
  • 300 x 200 pixels

You could also do a 150 pixel size, but honestly, most social media resizes to the smaller dimensions easily for you.

 

ISBN, Copyright, & Pen Names

isbn-copyright-pennamePart of publishing a book is understanding and making a few decisions about the legal-related items. CAVEAT…we are NOT lawyers. So please make sure to do separate, thorough research into each of these aspects of publishing. The purpose of this article is to get you started with the basics (as we understand them).

ISBNs

ISBN – or international standard book number – is a 13-digit # assigned to a book which is used internationally by libraries and booksellers to identify a book, the specific edition, author, and publisher. Which means…you guessed it…you will likely have multiple ISBNs for what you think of as a single book.  Off the bat, you’ll have an ISBN for the eBook, and a different ISBN for the print book. If you ever republish, then you get new ISBNs.

ISBN is NOT related to copyrighting. ISBNs are controlled by Boker (https://www.myidentifiers.com). You can purchase a single ISBN, or a block of them. You then use the Boker website to assign those ISBNs to books as needed. It’s not cheap to purchase.

When you’re ready to publish, go back on the Boker website and fill out a form assigning one of your numbers to a specific book. Once an ISBN is assigned it can never be reused or repurposed.

Currently (as of December 2016) an ISBN is optional for eBooks. The reason being how many versions (EPUB, MOBI, PDF on various retailers or distributors) there can be. In addition, some retailers or distributors will assign one of their ISBNs for you. Our suggestion is:

  1. Use a purchased ISBN for Amazon Kindle eBook upload
  2. Use a FREE Smashwords ISBN for all other eBooks
  3. Use a FREE CreateSpace ISBN for your print book

Just make sure you are changing the ISBN listed on the copyright page in the copy you upload at each of those sites to match the ISBN for that version.

Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection for intellectual property. It covers both published and unpublished works. Essentially, the second you put pen to paper, you are copyrighted. The date is typically associated with  when you finish OR when you publish (go with the later date of the two).

Technically, you do not have to apply for copyright from any authority. However, we do recommend that you do, because, were you to get into a legal battle, it’s a bit easier to prove you’re the owner of a work if you officially registered the copyright. You can do so at: http://www.copyright.gov/ .

A couple things to note:

  • Copyrights aren’t the same as Trademarks which are more about protecting a brand.
  • You CAN get sued for improper use of Trademarks. Most publishers will either eliminate named brands (say soda instead of Coke, say fairy tale princess instead of Disney princess) or will use the copyright page to list all trademarks mentioned in the book.
  • Please take the time to look into what copyright does and doesn’t cover.
  • Copyright doesn’t necessarily apply outside the U.S. In general, most countries try to honor copyrights, but not all do, and how they do may differ.

The biggest issue in this area for self-published authors is pirate site which publish a copy of your eBook and sell it without explicit permission from you, and sharing ZERO of the profit with you. When you find your book on these sites, you can ask to have them removed, but often that does little. Most of the time, there’s little recourse. Sorry!

Pen Names

A pen name is a made up name used by writers, usually to protect their identity, or sometimes for branding purposes. The use of a pen name is a personal choice and one made for a ton of different reasons. Here is a good website with a list of questions to consider when thinking about your pen name: http://www.writing-world.com/business/pen.shtml

If you do decide to write under a pen name, here are a few things to know:

  • There is no place to officially register a pen name
  • When registering copyright or ISBN, there is a place to enter your pen name
  • When uploading books for publication, you enter your pen name as the author name
  • At most writing conventions, workshops, groups, etc. you will go by your pen name, so think about having to answer to it in person.