Books Covers and My Experience with 99 Designs

Books Covers and My Experience with 99 Designs Whether you’re self-publishing or working with a publisher, creating an effective book cover is extremely important. I’ve worked with publishers on hundreds of covers, and now I have the experience of working with designers on the cover of my own first e-book. From my perspective, the single most important thing to understand about book covers is:   Getting a powerful, appealing, and appropriate cover design is vital, and it’s more difficult than you might think.   Why is it so hard? First, it’s so subjective. One person’s great design is another’s “fail.” Second, it’s more than just creating an image you like—you should take into account the psychology behind what makes a cover appealing to the intended audience....
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Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor

Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor I just finished reading a self-published book on a topic I’m passionate about, by an author whose blog I occasionally read. As I’ve mentioned before, I regularly read self-pubbed books, and the fact that I work in traditional publishing doesn’t mean I’m biased against them.   It does, however, mean I’m aware of the ways a book could have been better, had the author availed themselves of the best assistance available, whether in design, writing, editing, cover, or even title.   I was excited to read this book—a memoir—and it started out promising. But it quickly devolved into a self-focused, rambling hodgepodge of preaching interspersed with bragging. I did finish the book (luckily it was rather short) but I ended up with strongly negative...
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I Am Not a Gatekeeper

I Am Not a Gatekeeper People in and around this business have long used the word “gatekeeper” when referring to those in publishing tasked with choosing which books to publish or represent.   Since the rise of self-publishing, it has become a debate—often heated:   Down with the gatekeepers!   Hooray for the gatekeepers!   Some bemoan: The gatekeepers are trying to keep us out. They’re making it too hard for good writers to get published.   While others retort: Be thankful for gatekeepers—they protect us from all that evil bad writing out there!   Well… here’s a news flash for you:   There are no gatekeepers.   There is nobody in publishing whose job is to “keep you out.” It’s not anybody’s job to protect the...
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Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish Too?

Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish Too? These days, I’m sensing that many authors are gung-ho to write and publish as much as possible. Now that the term “hybrid author” has been coined, referring to those who are both traditionally and self-published, everyone thinks they want or need to be one. As one author put it, “It seems like the time is now! It’s time to be prolific!” I am not sure what makes people think “the time is now” as if we are in some kind of awesome bubble that is going to burst soon. We’re not. We are in a long, slow transition period of our industry, in which people are experimenting with different ways of doing business. Some will work, some won’t. More importantly, different things will work for different people. More does not always equal...
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Deciding Between Traditional and Self-Publishing

Deciding Between Traditional and Self-Publishing It’s rare for me to post anything strictly promotional here on my blog, but today is a special day for me. My first self-published e-book is now available on Amazon! Here’s the info:     How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing   There is plenty of information available on both traditional and self-publishing. But how do you decide between the two? How Do I Decide? is a concise, definitive resource that will guide you through the decision, allowing you to ignore the noise and hype and focus on the right path for YOU. This is a fair and balanced approach that avoids favoring one choice over the other—and instead shows you how to determine which best fits your own situation. About 50 pages jammed full of insider information, How Do I Decide?...
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5 Surprises About Self Publishing

5 Surprises About Self Publishing Guest Blogger: Jennie Nash (@jennienash) My first six books were all published by major New York houses, including Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Crown, and Berkley/Penguin. I adored my editors and their teams, but I was a midlist writer getting midlist attention, and the midlist was starting to feel like purgatory. For my seventh book, Perfect Red, a historical novel set in 1950’s New York, I decided to self publish. Why I made that decision is a story for another day, and how it turns out, economically-speaking, has yet to be determined. But a few revelations about the process have surprised the socks off me. Herewith, the top five: 1. I underestimated the weight of having the legitimacy of a traditional publisher. When I could say, “My third novel is being published by Penguin,”...
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Can I Make More Money via Traditional or Self-Pub?

Can I Make More Money via Traditional or Self-Pub? These days, authors are carefully considering the merits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and many are doing both at once. (My upcoming e-book: How Do I Decide? Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, will help with these decisions.) I’m having almost daily conversations with my clients, most of whom are already traditionally published, about various ways they can extend their brands, increase their income and/or grow their readership by self-publishing e-books “on the side.” I’m coming across some interesting questions during these discussions. One that I’ve been hearing lately comes from authors trying to figure out how they can make the most money with their next book: through traditional or self-pub. They’re trying to estimate...
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How Does Your Publisher Make Money?

How Does Your Publisher Make Money? If you read the publishing blogs and follow industry Twitter feeds, you’ve no doubt gathered that there’s a firestorm of controversy over Pearson, the parent company of Penguin Books, purchasing a company called Author Solutions (ASI), a well-established self-publishing company. You can read numerous diverse opinions on this acquisition and plenty of astute commentary (links at the end of the post) but here, I want to focus on one tiny aspect. What is the most important thing for an author to understand about a traditional publisher entering into the self-publishing fray? As it happens, I addressed this very issue over 2½ years ago on the blog (December, 2009). Much of what follows is what I said back then. Self publishing represents a completely different business model from...
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Self-Published Author Seeks Agent

Self-Published Author Seeks Agent More and more, I get emails from people who have self-published, asking me whether I take on self-pubbed authors, or whether they even need an agent if they’ve already gone the DIY route. This is a topic that will require several posts to completely cover, but I’ll get it started today by answering a few of the basic questions I typically see. If I’m self-published, why might I still want an agent? 1. If your self-published books are extremely successful, you may want an agent to shop the print rights and subsidiary rights such as audio, film, and foreign rights. “Extremely successful” can be defined in various ways, but certainly it would mean you’ve sold several thousand units on your own in a short period of time, maybe a few months. 2. If...
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Quality Books Take Time

Quality Books Take Time Back in the early ’80s there was an ad campaign for Paul Masson wine where Orson Welles famously uttered, “We will sell no wine before its time.” The message was powerful; it conveyed, “We care so much about producing the highest quality wine that we refuse to rush the process. We won’t try to bring it out faster to increase profit. We won’t skimp on the craftsmanship that makes our wine so good. It takes time, and we will give our wine the time it needs.” I couldn’t help thinking about that as I considered what I wanted to say today about the time and craftsmanship it takes to write a high quality book. I’m not talking about a book that everyone has to love. I’m talking about a book that has the basics: a solid story,...
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6 Reasons Authors Self-Publish

6 Reasons Authors Self-Publish On the heels of our lively debate the other day on my post “6 Reasons Authors Still Want Publishers,” today let’s look at the other side of the coin. Many of you are still trying to decide which path is right for you — or if maybe some combination of both might work. So hopefully these posts and the discussions in the comments will be helpful. So here are six reasons writers choose self publishing: 1. To supplement an established writing career. As we talked about a couple of weeks ago in our series on making a living as a writer, it’s a lot of work to be a full-time writer and be able to make a good income. These days many full time writers with traditional publishing contracts are self-publishing both new books and their backlist as a way to supplement their...
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6 Reasons Authors Still Want Publishers

6 Reasons Authors Still Want Publishers In an age when so many of the “big stories” in publishing are about amazing self-pub successes, people are asking more and more, “Why would I want a traditional publisher?” Here are six big reasons. 1. Objective validation To be “chosen” by a publisher means that a group of people who are widely read, and who see dozens of new projects come across their desks every single week, believe your book has value and will find a reading audience. It means that people who see all kinds of writing—from really bad to really great—believe that yours is somewhere in the ballpark of “really great.” 2. Editing and design Virtually all writers, including the very best, will find their writing improves and their books are better because they’ve...
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Will an Agent Recommend Self-Pub?

http://www.rachellegardner.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/questions-150x150.jpg Marcy Kennedy wrote: I’m committed to finding a traditional publisher for my novel. Not only has that always been the dream, but I also like that a gatekeeper has to approve the quality of my work. That said, have you ever advised a client to self-publish a work that you think is fantastic but hasn’t been able to find a home at a publisher? Under what circumstances might you make that recommendation? Good question, Marcy. These days, agents need to be aware of a far greater variety of publishing options than in the past. Self publishing is one of those options. The circumstance under which I’m most likely to suggest an author consider self-pub is when we can’t get a publisher to bite, but we believe in the book AND the author has the means to sell the book on her own. That...
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Why I Write Pulp Fiction

Why I Write Pulp Fiction Guest Blogger: James Scott Bell With the e-publication of my new suspense collection, One More Lie, I’m happy to count myself as a writer of pulp fiction. What is pulp fiction anyway? Please don’t get anywhere near confusing it with the nihilistic, over-praised and much too often over-copied film of the same name. True pulp fiction goes back to the magazines that used cheaper pulp paper in order to sell in great volume to a voracious reading public. These magazines had their heyday in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. It was fiction for the people, for the guy on the crowded subway going to work, or the busy mother with five kids who got a little reading time at night. It was for the people who wanted to be caught up in a fictive dream. It was not written in a style aimed...
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