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Seven Critical Observations on Self-Publishing

Written by   |   Friday, 06 September 2013 05:12

Why are so many authors today going for self-publishing as opposed to mainstream? Why are firms such as Amazon so deeply involved in self-publishing to the extent that mainstream publishers are taking cue and joining? Self-publishing may have reached a point where no valid questions can be raised regarding its upheld standards in areas of creativity, paperback formatting, eBook design, PDF conversion and many more. Overall, an objective assessment of some of the recent developments in self-publishing can’t miss the positives below:

  • Today, self-publishing is no longer your plan B when turned down by mainstream publishers. It’s an option that merits priority, if you have an interesting story to tell. That’s why even established authors are increasingly going this route to expand their titles’ prospects.
  • Self-publishing has become respectable business that upholds writing standards. That’s why self-published titles will make it to best seller lists in the New York Times and also feature in the USA Today.
  • A couple of years ago, aspiring authors chose self-publishing as a launching platform with intentions of attracting the attention of mainstream publishers. Today, self-publishing is increasingly being considered as the main investment. Such authors are so respected that traditional publishing houses attempt to entice them with seven-figure deals. The clever ones never give away their titles’ digital rights.
  • Self-publishing offers author a way to identify and reach out to a niche market. Mainstream publishers may reject your story because they think you’re not likely to catch an audience this way. On the other hand, self-publishers can target a niche audience (however small it might be) and still have return on investment.
  • With self-publishing, it can take as short as 3 months for a title to go through all publishing processes and reach the market. From drafting, writing, proof reading, editing, paperback formatting and cover design to publishing, it takes such a short time for an author to begin selling and earning. Remember it can take up to several years for a title of similar quality to take off via a traditional publishing runway.
  • Self-published authors have more control over promotion, advertisement and pricing of their titles. With so many potential buyers struggling with tough economic times, it makes business sense to offer a book at $10 or less. This is something mainstream publishers can’t do, considering production costs. Additionally, you can manage your own marketing and promotion campaign to satisfaction. This is possible via the many online channels such paid ads, Facebook marketing, social bookmarking, AdSense and many others.
  • You can build a relationship with readers and establish brand loyalty. Once you identify a niche market, self-publishing gives you control of how you can communicate directly with your readers, assess their feedback and keep on coming back to them with even more interesting titles.

Thus, if you’re an independent author, you only need to offer a quality title to take full advantage of opportunities that self-publishing offers. Remember to enlist professional help when it comes to book formatting, cover design and other aspects of book designing before taking it to the market.

How Self-Publishing has Come in to Save the Day for Aspiring Authors

Written by   |   Friday, 06 September 2013 03:09

If you’re an aspiring author, self-publishing can end the long wait for you and offer channels to make your work known to the entire world within no time. You’ll have access to tools or professional services that can ensure you meet expected standards in book formatting, cover design or PDF formatting/conversion. This comes as a reprieve, as many authors would attest to the fact that it may take years or even a life-time for an agent or established mainstream publishing house to notice or even hear about an aspiring author. But it’s highly disappointing for writers to take their time coming up with a story they’re convinced can become a best seller and wait in vain for a lucrative publishing deal to come by.

One of the most popular self-publishing platforms is Kindle Direct Publishing. Once you upload your novel with the platform, you can have it published on the Amazon Kindle Store. The good thing is that you’ll rake in 70% of royalties coming off your title’s sales. The system here is straight forward, as you only need to approach the platform with a final product and publish it in less than 5 minutes. Then, the book is available on Amazon for sale within 24 hours. Titles published via the Kindle platform will be available for reading on iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Macintosh and the Desktop.

Another popular self-publishing option is Amazon’s CreateSpace. With the option, your title is offered in the market in digital format and as print-ready. This is specifically useful for authors that wish to capitalize on print-on-demand. You can also choose an expanded distribution option where you book is offered via Amazon as well as thousands of other outlets such as Barnes and Noble. Thus, CreateSpace is positioned as the best strategic option for authors that wish to have their titles available in both paperback and digital format as well as over an extensive market area.  
Lulu publishing is one of the pioneers of the self-publishing industry. The platform can help you reach out to your target audience wherever it might be. The platform focuses on helping authors deliver their stories on any practical medium worldwide. Thus, you can use Lulu to publish and sell a title via your own website, electronic devices, online stores, or any other appropriate content market place. Outskirtspress and Smashwords are also key players in the self publishing industry.

The good thing is that authors that follow the self-publishing route may take advantage of available marketing and promotion channels to enhance their titles’ success rates. Online methods such as readers’ forums and social networking sites are perfect mediums to publicise fresh titles. Authors may also utilize book awards, literary festivals and other offline channels to make their work known.

The days when one could have a dream of becoming a writer and end up not realizing it are long gone. The key here is to tell a captivating story and deliver a product that meets book design, eBook formatting and cover design standards of the publishing industry.

How Self-Publishing is Doing Several Years Down the Line

Written by   |   Thursday, 05 September 2013 10:23

The digital age has been something of a disruption to the publishing industry, especially with the many options it offers in book formatting, cover design, eBook creation/conversions, marketing and many more. But the emergence and sustained growth of self-publishing is the paradigm-flipping development that both established and unpublished authors do well to embrace. This is why it makes sense to carry out an assessment of what exactly is happening within self-publishing circles and determine whether it’s the route you wish to take as an author.

Authors pondering on the efficacy of self-publishing do well to take cue from mainstream publishers that have chosen to include that dimension in their line of work. These established publishers seem to have adopted the attitude “if you can’t beat them, join them” and have chosen to offer their authors several benefits of self-publishing. That’s why agencies such as ICM Partners have chosen to diversify and offer self-publishing services.

So, are authors happy about such developments in literary circles? To a very great extent yes, and for the most part because self-publishing offers authors more control of their work as compared to conventional publishing. For instance, self-publishing is making it possible for authors to have more control over how and to what extent their titles are promoted. It’s common knowledge among established authors that mainstream publishers don’t exactly deliver the level of advertising they promise and this is made worse by the fact that authors can’t do much about it.

But with self-publishing, authors can take charge of aggressive marketing campaigns both offline and online. For instance, social media marketing such as via Facebook has the potential to promote a title on an extensive market area and propel its sales further. Authors can also employ article writing, blogs, personal websites and author forums to promote their work. This is the kind of control that many authors enjoy in self-publishing.

Secondly, self-published authors have a greater share of revenue from sales of their titles. Such authors can enjoy up to 70% of proceeds from their investment, even though they receive no advance payment. Conversely, mainstream authors get advance payment and a standard 25% share of proceeds from sales of their titles. For paperback formats, the authors earn as little as 7%-12% of total revenue. The good thing with self-publishing is that an author can take advantage of Print-on-Demand to make more money in paperback sales.

Such developments allude to the efficacy of self-publishing to authors at all stages of their writing careers. As a matter of fact, self-publishing churns out more than 200,000 titles every year, with some becoming runway successes in the market. With Amazon getting about 25% of its top sellers from self-publishing, there is no way their self-publishing firm, CreateSpace, will close shop soon.

Equally important, self-published authors don’t have to be paperback formatting experts to make it in the industry. Such services and others that include cover design can be accessed via a professional. To sum it all up, the sky is the limit for self-published writers.

Important Tips for an Aspiring Self-Publisher

Written by   |   Thursday, 05 September 2013 08:52

tipsSelf-publishing is a highly competitive area and this means that an author has to get everything right to stand a chance at runway success. So, what exactly do the best sellers in self-publishing do right? It all borders on creation of quality content, genius book formatting and cover design as well as aggressive marketing as described below:

Motivation Factor

Why do you want to write? Is it because you’re struggling with hard economic times and the only way to stay afloat is to write and sell a book? If yes, the market will brutally respond “wrong reason”. Thus, it’s important that you have something unique and important to relate to your target audience. Material aspirations alone cannot distinguish between a genuine author and one that can’t come up with quality worth buying and reading.

Tell the Story to a Close Friend

Before you begin to consider approaching any self-publishing firm, it can help to ascertain what other people might think about your story. If you’re not sure if your friends or relatives will provide a genuine critique, you may let someone else pass it off as their own. This way, your friends will give a meaningful and genuine assessment without fear of hurting your aspirations.

Professional Editing

Just because you’re in self-publishing, it doesn’t mean you should be Jack of all trades. Actually, if nobody else gets to proofread and copy edit your work; chances of delivering mediocre work will be very high. That’s why you should seek professional copy editing services before submitting your work for publishing.

Professional Book Design

It’s good news that many readers don’t take time to identify the publishers of the books they buy. This means that most potential readers of your book won’t be in a position to tell that you’re self-published and probably underrate your work. That’s unless you give yourself away by delivering a poorly formatted paperbac k. For this reason, it’s important that you let a professional help with aspects of paperback formatting, cover design or PDF conversion.

Quality Images

Buy high quality images for both print and digital use. Images intended for print should be at least 300 dpi in resolution. However, thumbnails that will appear online on bookstores and other promotional websites should be at least 72 dpi. Sometimes, it’s even more creative to find a good photographer for high quality images that match your story’s theme and genre.

Aggressive Marketing

Marketing your title is one of the most critical components of self-publishing. This means that nobody will help propel your book’s sales while you’re seated and watching. This role is part of the “DIY” component of self publishing and thus merits serious consideration. Thus, be prepared to spend time and resources on social media, promotional article writing, posting on reader’s forums and joining book awards, among other marketing activities.

It’ll pay to have a look at some of the titles from mainstream publishers as well as independent authors and assess the showcased quality. Thus, strive to deliver an eBook or paperback format that meets the highest literary standards.

How You Can Fight Procrastination if You’re a Writer

Written by   |   Monday, 02 September 2013 09:26

procrastinationDid you know that one of the greatest minds to ever live, innovator and inventor in areas of physics, engineering, art and many more was a chronic procrastinator and this affected his achievements? Yes, Leonardo da Vinci was so much of a procrastinator that it took him 20 years to do the Mona Lisa! Well, many creative minds today face the same problem and keep putting off writing projects till the last minute. Of course if you’re focused on creation of ideas and writing, aspects of professional book formatting or cover design won’t take much of your time, but even then, it’s important to do everything on schedule to accomplish your writing goals in time.

Recognize your Procrastination Problem

If you keep putting off writing projects for reasons you can’t later accept yourself, you’ve got a procrastination problem. This manifests when you plan to start a project say, tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes you change your mind and push your deadlines further ahead. If you have such a problem, you can learn not to trust the “future you” with time-sensitive tasks and trick your mind into doing them now.

Break your Writing Projects into Manageable Portions

If you can break your projects into smaller portions, these begin to look small and doable. It’s also a way to manage your projects in an organized fashion. Right from the ideation stage, character creation, chapters, writing and all that, dealing with one small task at a time will discourage procrastination.

Keep Away from Distractions

Most procrastinators cannot focus on a task if there is distraction around, such as music, noisy neighbourhood or other people conversing. Thus, it can help to find a quiet place where you can focus on a writing task. You may lock yourself in your bed room if you can’t avail a quiet study room or some other environment free of all sorts of distractions.

Reward Yourself

It can help your mind want to complete a project if you set your eyes on the outcome. Every time you complete a project in a timely fashion, be generous to yourself and buy yourself something you like or go out and have fun. Also, keep it in mind that you’re not writing in vain, if the book enters the market, there is the sense of accomplishment as well as revenue from sales.

Set Achievable Goals

There is nothing as damaging to the spirit of a procrastinator as disappointment or failure. Disappointment can come up if you fail to complete projects in time despite your concerted efforts. That’s why it’ll help to set practical goals so that you can accomplish these as planned.
If you wish to utilize your potential optimally as a writer, it’s high time you treated procrastination as an enemy. The good thing is that you can learn to stick to your own deadlines and submit writing projects in good time. However, don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks a professional can help with such as paperback formatting, PDF conversion, ebook conversion or book cover design.

First, Second or Third Person - What’s Your Style?

Written by   |   Monday, 02 September 2013 06:22

You took time to avail the best paperback formatting and book cover design. Your book already looks like a best seller online or in the shelves based on its outlook. But will your readers enjoy your style of writing?

Whether you write in the first, second or third person, your choice affects the style of your narrative. In the first person you’ll use “I”, second person “you” and third person “he”, “she”, “it”, or “they”. Which one is best to tell a captivating story?

The question of what perspective to engage the reader from comes up specifically for fiction writers. In this case, the writer has all the three options. However, a factual writer is a bit confined when it comes to choice of a narrator’s voice. This is because the style of factual writing will definitely be determined by the writer’s place in the entire factual story. For instance, a writer that relates their own experiences will predominantly engage their audience from the first person. In the same vein, a writer that reports facts related to an event or person they know about may find writing predominantly from the third person very convenient.

Can you write your own biography from the third person? If you’re the voice of the narrator, then first person is your most appropriate style. However, some prominent persons have chosen to write their own biographies from the third person and for practical reasons.

For instance, an African politician strongly believed to have masterminded a military coup decades ago confessed to have done so through his biography. He sponsored the entire writing and took part in its launch. Why wasn’t he tried in a military court (his country’s armed forces despise him, by the way)? The clever politician used a popular author to write the confession from the third person! So, the politician can’t be tried because legally, the “confession” in his biography has no greater value than a baseless accusation considering he didn’t write the confession himself. Thus, you can “write” your own biography or any other true story involving you from the third person, only if you don’t write it yourself.

So, what’s the best style to engage your audience? You use the person if you want to add your own voice as the author. Many writers using the singular approach of the first person “I” find it very personal and engaging as it brings the reader closest to the author and events that unfold around them. It’s a good way for a writer to have a place in their story or at least relate to it closely.

The second person is important when you wish to engage the reader directly. The style is effective in the persuasive kind of speaking where the reader is expected to feel that he’s being addressed. This can work wonders for inspirational or motivational writing.

On the other hand, the third person applies well where neither the writer nor the reader are integral components of the story being told. The style maintains a distance between the reader and the writer. Many stories are told via the third person.

Whatever style you choose, remember to wrap it all up in a professional cover design and paperback formatting.

With the world of literature showcasing so much creative talent, the best authors have had to devise unique ways to stand out and sell their stories. While minding where you go for book formatting or cover design is important because many readers will still “judge a book by its cover”, successful authors have their works judged to be captivating on the basis of their content. Standing out is not just confined to creating a unique story; your approach can also be unique to make it even more interesting. One unique approach involves turning a good person to a bad one right from the outset.

Why turn a protagonist to an antagonist? This is because it’s a perfect way to stand out. Just search the phrase “turning a protagonist to an antagonist” or similar on Google, you’ll realize many writers are talking about the other way around. Yes, there are so many books, movies or soaps that tell stories where the villain changes heart to become a good person. On the other hand, the creators of Breaking Bad identified a unique approach and came up with a character that turns from good to bad and progresses to worst by the fifth season of the TV series.

So what ticks about Breaking Bad? The American Television drama revolves around a husband and father who’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. Upon the realization that he may not live longer, he finds a way to secure his family’s financial future through crime. Thus, a good family man turns to crime for a good reason- to fend for his family when long gone.

The man, Walter White, uses his knowledge of chemistry to manufacture an illicit drug called methamphetamine or meth. At first, Walter is a good man who does not want to shed blood or engage in violence, yet the world of drug peddling won’t allow it. As his story unfolds, the man gets used to witnessing the death of notorious players in the illicit drug. By the fifth season, Mr. White has learnt that to kill is a must to survive as an illicit drug king pin. Thus, he doesn’t hesitate to terminate anyone who threatens his own survival. Yes, an innocent man turns to illegal trade and cold-blood murder, just to safeguard his family’s future.

Breaking Bad creator and producer, Vince Gillian takes the game a notch higher when White’s wife discovers what her husband does to fend for family and take care of his expensive cancer medication. A section of viewers expected that the stubborn and law-abiding wife would report the husband to authorities. Interestingly, she decides to support her husband despite her deep disapproval of what he did to his family. She offers to help launder proceeds from the illegal trade and make it seem like genuine business. Thus, Gillian successfully turns another good character into a bad person in the society.

The approach was quite a success because breaking bad is listed by IMDB as the fourth most popular TV series in the US.

Don’t forget to go for high quality book formatting and cover design to complement your amazing “clean man goes bad” story.

How You Can Kill it with a Terrific Antagonist

Written by   |   Monday, 02 September 2013 05:12

While paperback formatting, book covers and graphics have an impact in the promotion of a book or story, seasoned authors know that selling begins with the story itself. As such, a good author will come up with stories that will easily spread like wildfire once two or three persons have read it. One thing with a story that an audience can read from cover to cover (sometimes more than once) and share it is that it has interesting characters. This article focuses on the antagonist- the character that the audience want punished severally, yet he/she/it keeps the protagonist on toes, always providing an obstacle to challenge, a force to overcome, a threat to eliminate and so on.

Whether it’s family drama, love story or adventure, a captivating story must project conflict strongly to give relevance to main characters, specifically the protagonist. You can achieve this by creating a ruthless antagonist that makes things very difficult for the hero of the story. Below are a few tips that can help keep an audience closely following an antagonist they hate with all their hearts!

Give the Antagonist Justification for What They Do

You should provide justification for why the antagonist stands in the way of the protagonist. At least from the antagonist’s point of view, there should be a good reason to want to stop the protagonist from achieving their goals in love life, career or education. The “villain” should be convinced they’re doing what they have to do (and what anybody else in their circumstances would do) to survive.

Make the Antagonist Smart

The villain can’t match the exploits of your protagonist if they’re not shown as smart enough. A smart antagonist will always catch unawares the protagonist and by extension your audience. For instance if your story is about a wrongly jailed person trying to break out of prison, the antagonist can be the jailbird smart enough to know what’s going on, even when they weren’t part of the original escape plan.

Resist Attempts to Kill the Antagonist

For a very captivating story, it reaches a point when a section of your audience wants the antagonist killed. However, if this happens you’ll have to create another antagonist to keep the story as interesting as before. Thus, find a way to make the antagonist survive a smartly planned, well executed and highly anticipated onslaught or take-down.

Know When to Give the Protagonist a Break

Timing is very important here, because continued struggle between a protagonist and antagonist can make your story very predictable and boring. It reaches a point when the protagonist should focus their energy elsewhere. A drastic way to give the protagonist a break is making them work with the antagonist. You can start by portraying the antagonist as victim of circumstances or having the same enemies as the protagonists, as the plot thickens. This way, they have to work together to fight a common enemy for mutual benefits. You can pull this off at that point when your audience can’t stand the antagonist anymore and want him punished or killed.
An interesting antagonist will confirm the value on your book cover design and superior paperback formatting.

Designing a Book Cover that Does Justice to Title and Content

Written by   |   Saturday, 31 August 2013 08:33

With self-publishing having opened the doors for anyone with a creative mind to tell their story, there is the tendency among many writers to want to do for themselves everything from book cover design, paperback formatting and eBook conversion. However, it’s very inportant that you go for a book formatting service that renders professional products, because readers can tell what’s professional from what’s not. The tips below can help you avail a professional book cover design if you’re publishing independently:

Cover design that matches theme and genre

Is your book about science fiction, love, inspiration or crime? It’s important that your cover designer understands what your book is about in order to come up with matching graphics. Images such us flying saucers or some other non-existent technology can match very well a sci-fi novel.

Browse for the Latest Trends

While you can trust a professional book cover designer with a thorough job, your input will always be useful. Thus, it pays to do a background check via the web for the most current designs, especially in your genre. Checkout designs successful authors are having on the covers of their titles to have an idea of standards that most readers and the industry in general expect. You can suggest these to your designer, not for copying but as a standard to base your design.

Don’t Forget High Resolution

Image resolution is one factor any reader can use to tell if your book cover is professionally designed or not. The best images have a 300 dpi resolution for print use. Keep it this way even if you’ll reduce it to 72 dpi for web use.

Purchase Images

Don’t go for just any book cover image you come across online or elsewhere. Insist that your designer employs images that don’t infringe on anyone’s copyrights. To achieve this, you may ask them to design or take fresh images themselves or purchase. This is especially important in your case because you’re using the images for profit-oriented goals.

Readable Text

Don’t overdo text, fonts and graphics. Equally important, make the text easily readable without unnecessary flair, unless it’s meant for kids. When it comes to the title, make sure its font is big and readable. All the same, employ creativity here so that the text of the title falls neatly onto the overall cover design. If you’re using several words that can’t fit in one line, break the text into two or three lines. Don’t be tempted to squeeze a long title onto one line to the extent of compromising readability.

Contrast

Make proper choice of colors that you’ll use on images and text. Contrast is important so that the text remains visible and legible while images stand out.
You can still deliver a title that meets traditional publishing standards if you employ professionalism from the word go. It’s highly advisable that you focus on writing your story as a professional helps with matters of book cover design or paperback formatting. This kind of professionalism positions you better to compete with mainstream authors.

It’s true that publishing a book is a huge step forward for any author whether done with a local publisher or done online. On the other hand, your book now needs to be sold and buyers are needed if your book is ever going to serve the purpose for which it was intended. Basically, bookstores and book retailers are the first options an author is going to consider for selling his or her book.

Well, with the modern accessibility, it has become easier not only to promote your book and find a viable market worldwide but also comes with great efficacy when it comes to distribution of the same. Print-on-demand is the way to go as well as electronic conversion as costs on your part gets diminished compared to the traditional publishing of books. Although people are still reading printed books many prefer online book reading.

However, there are ways to sell your book by making it directly available to buyers.

  • Sell your book directly through social Medias. Provide a signed copy for display to your audience and indicate the price of your book and let your buyers buy directly from you.
  • Use public specialty catalogues by searching them on the internet and locate a category that suits your niche and utilize them to the maximum.
  • You can sell your book through gift stores or museums depending on your niche and it would be a worthwhile effort to venture the same for your book.
  • Use library conferences by probably doing a presentation both useful to the librarians and to promote your book too. As librarians have previously proven to be a great market for children’s books, you can study any past offers on conferences and make an effective initiation.
  • Take part in street affairs/outdoor events for children and get to catch the guardians and parents attention to buy your book of which can be your yearly activity.
  • Use part of your book revenue as a fundraiser whereby you can sell your book courtesy of a fundraising and the huge chunk of the money generated go to the fundraising instead of giving the same to a vendor.
  • Target teachers/educational conferences are almost similar to library conferences but definitely carrying a much greater capacity. You can capitalize on the same opportunity and probably get more returns because teachers because they are many.

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