Hello all my fellow authors and followers! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I thought I would post about something that is of immediate relevance to me, as I am formatting an entire series for print. By myself. It’s going very well, though, thank you for asking. =) But it wasn’t as easy the first couple of times I’ve done it, so I thought I would share a few helpful tips and tricks on how to make the process quicker and much less painful. So, here we go! For the purposes of this post, I will be using MS Word 2013, but these same tools are available in all versions of MS Word, just in different places. If you’re unsure, Google where to find them. 😉
There are gifted individuals out there who can sit down at a brand new task and instantly excel at it. The rest of us learn by trial and error. And if we (yes, I’m mostly speaking about myself here) insist on going it alone, there is a lot of trial and error. What I’m sharing today is the evolution one of my self-made covers has gone through. It wasn’t the only one, by any means, but it was the one with the most revision. I do this to show you that sometimes stubbornness, perseverance, and versatility pay off. Most of the time, actually. Sit back, relax, and watch me screw up.
A lot. And then finally get it right. I give you…
And we’re back! This time I thought I’d get into a little more detail of things like style, layout and content. Things every author should know and wield with impunity.
First thing’s first. DISCLAIMER: Everything that follows is totally subjective opinion content based on a few years experience trying to sort my own website into some kind of order, and browsing other authors’ websites and (more often than I care to say) cringing at what I found. Take everything you read here with a grain of salt.
Another late post (sorry!!) but I wanted to get this info out there ASAP.
If you’re on any form of social media and following an author, you’ve seen excerpt graphics before. They are basically pictures with text over them, sometimes info about release dates, the book cover, etc. Some are so great you look for the Buy link only to realize it’s still “coming soon!” And some you can barely read. In terms of marketing value, excerpt graphics are right up there with cover images. They make a huge first impression. I’ve done a fair number of these as well, and I’ve learned a trick or two from all the greats, the not so greats, and my own experiences. This is a quick guide on how to catch your audience’s eye.
When I began this series with the very first post, I told myself (and all of you) I would never tell you how to write. It’s not for me to say; I have been writing something or other since I could hold a pen in my hand, which gives me roughly 22 years of experience on the subject, and I still don’t feel qualified to give advice.
I have, however, received a lot of advice on writing, much of it unsolicited, some of it useful. Lately I have seen a lot of posts by bloggers, authors, etc. containing lists of rules for writing a successful novel. Rules for avoiding elements, things that are overdone in writing, things new writers do wrong… you name it, and there is probably a list out there for it. It’s a thing now, people want to know the secret. How did you do it? How did you get so famous? What do I need to do to break through into the NY Times Best Sellers list? TELL ME!
I won’t tell you. Mostly because I haven’t done it myself yet, but also because I believe all those lists and rules are a lot of snake oil. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. In the end, we’re the ones who decide the outcome. We’re the ones holding the pen. All the rules and guidelines in the universe won’t make your story stand out if you don’t have a good story to tell. They might even smother your book, diminish its potential if they make you cut out what makes your story unique. Because that is what rules do: create cookie cutter novels for public consumption.
Here’s how I approach writing:
This lesson is one every author should know. We are artists at heart, which means we don’t often think about the business side of writing, but believe me, there is one. To us, our books may be about the art, but to everyone else behind the curtain they’re about numbers. To them it’s as much about how you market yourself as it is about how well you write, and that is where a lot of writers (myself included!) stumble. We expect others to have the same passion for our stories we do. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Today I want to share what I’ve learned throughout the submission/publishing process in the hopes it will open some eyes and help some authors out. Fair warning ahead of time, it’s going to be a long post, but I think well-worth reading.
So let’s say you finished a book and are looking to get it out there for the enjoyment of the world. You now have a product. What do you do next? You should be thinking about two things: Strategy and Execution.
People have written oodles of books on the subject and I won’t bore you with too much detail. Just a short bullet point list of tips to help you navigate the shark infested waters of the Internet:
DIYDay Lesson 14: HTML Basics. Ready to get back on the horse? Now that you know how to format a book, make a cover page, and all that jazz, let’s see if we can spruce up your internet homestead. Before I begin, I would like to say that there are many places out there which provide you with pre-made templates to make your life easier. But if you want more of a personal touch to your template or want to make your own, begin with the basics. Get ready for a lot of reading.