Thursday, January 26, 2012

Covering The Book

The Craic Project -Episode Two
A book is judged by its cover.

Book covers - The most important starting point for a reader, getting their attention! I set about reading up on them. What does a Book Cover need?

1. A strong choice of colours to have the book stand out.
2. An arresting image.
3. A clear font choice.
4. The ability to retain all these elements when reduced to thumbnail size. 
This is important because all the marketing of the book is on screen and book covers are reduced to thumbnail size...Check out Amazon and scroll through the average list of books in your genre. Focus on the books that grab your eye.

What colour palettes are being used in your genre? 
Opinion is divided on midgrade covers, from bubblegum cartoon to photo realism. I took myself to the book shops and stood back in front of the midgrade section to see what stood out. Very little. This is because the mid grade book cover is being influenced by the Young Adult cover. The Young Adult book cover is leaning towards paranormal and steampunk colour palettes...that’s browns, blacks and sepias and contrast white. This is what is being published now...bear in mind that books accepted now will take one -two years to come out so styles will change. I checked out what others were saying. Bookseller opinions were that they were over the muted colour tones.

After I finished rereading Craic for the umpteenth time I had several strong images and colours in my mind that represented the main themes of the book.
You know how it is when you have a vague idea of what you want but not a specific. I decided to look at a stock photo site just doodling around to see what was there.

Stock photo sites are a serious time many cool images. Along with the photos, many artists have uploaded designs as well.
I found two images that represented almost exactly what was in my head and more importantly the colours were strong. The purple image I thought may have been designed just for Craic (I fell in love. If you have read Craic you will know what I mean...If not, what are you waiting for...heheheh. )
Were they too strong? Go to target audience...What do they think...which one...or combination of them... Combination won out.

The cost of the image depends on how popular the image is, the size that you want and the type of license you need. You want a large image for clarity, especially if you are going to be using that image in a variety of media, print, screen, video...(altho not always, see below on book covers) 
So I quickly had to work out a budget. (I had a limited budget however the Book Cover is hugely important so invest money here.)

I had to figure out what licenses I needed and how to buy them.  I made one mistake, getting a more extensive license for the purple image, which means I can print it on teeshirts and sell it if I never know I may just want to do that...hehehe.

Once I selected the images, bought and downloaded them then I had to figure out a way of combining them and find a title font.

Fonts...a serious timesuck, so many wonderful fonts.... I went with a Celtic theme because Craic is an Irish Gaelic word...and just happened to find a font called Dumbldor. How could I resist?

For the price of a couple of dinners, a friend played around in Photoshop and combined the images for me. Then back to the target audience for reaction and tweaking.

While I was checking out images... I was checking out books from the library on making YouTube videos. They all agreed that a good YouTube video was storyboarded and had a matching musical soundtrack...More research required.

Next week... What I learned about Book Trailers.

For those of you who have skipped down to the Main Event...The Link roundup.
What has been talked about in the blogosphere this week?

Apple’s announcement of iBooks and iAuthor iPad App software and the way they have used the EULA (End User Licence Agreement) After you have downloaded the free software then you find out that Apple will take a 30% cut of your work if you sell it. And you can only sell it on iTunes. There are lots of fors and againsts about this move. Check out Writer Beware and read the comments to get a good handle on this one. (my 2c is they don’t own your content and you are free to take that content and drop it into any other software to make an Enhanced Book App with. Latest numbers out... last year 32 million iPads sold.)

Staying with this theme The Digital Book World Conference is on at the moment.
Bob Mayer recaps his thoughts on what’s been talked about so far and his participation on the self publishers panel...Yes even Mr Mayer can be outclassed!

Angela Ackerman AKA The BookshelfMuse has written a timely post about pulling back on social media. This resonated with a large amount of people who commented with links and advice to help focus on the task at hand.

Jeff Vandermeer has a blog post on Literary Estates and what it means for an anthologist to try to deal with them. TIP Even if you have only one piece published, have a literary executor...Jeff tells you why!

School starts next week and I’m about to start the mammoth job of covering books!


Craic (8-12 yrs) is available on Kindle and Smashwords (2.99US)
Check out for more information.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Craic-the-book Project

Who’s your 3am friend?

‘Why don’t you turn one of your manuscripts into an eBook?’ The question was posed as a challenge but it also pointed to a way to use all that research on my blog for the last three years, (as several friends pointed out.) ‘And you can tell us all how to do it.’

So begins the Craic-the-book Project.

First I made a list of everything I needed to do. Each item was going to be a project in itself. I took a deep breath.

ISBN numbers. (if I was going to do an eBook I should look at Print and Audio as well.)
Book cover. Book Trailer. Book website.
Formatting for different devices and media.
Distribution and Storefront.

In effect the whole project was to turn myself into a publisher.

As eBooks began to change the publishing landscape my weekly blog roundup reflected the hot topics under discussion.  Publishing eBooks whether you do it on your own or with an eBook publisher or with an agent or a traditional publisher, the big concerns can be broadly grouped into three categories.

Quality of the Content.
Career Impact.

Quality of the Content.
eBooks range in quality from badly written, badly formatted, 500,000 word epics to 5000 word pristine short stories. It can be vanity publishing at its worst and niche publishing at its best.
My manuscript Craic had been doing the rounds here in New Zealand staying between 6-12 months at each publisher.
“It’s a great story. We’re sure someone will pick it up.”
After five years of getting positive rejections and nearly getting a contract twice you feel somewhat crushed. So using the positive rejections positively I felt I had quality content.

Marketing starts at the book cover. With different formats it was going to be important to have a strong cover that could be scaled down to thumbnail size on a computer which is how the rest of the world would be finding the book.  With the rise of the eBook has been the rise of the book trailer. There are different opinions about whether book trailers work. In several discussions with school librarians, both here and overseas, they were adamant that a book trailer sold a book to kids. Librarians used them on websites and kids queued for the book after seeing the trailer. My book is a midgrade and book trailers aren’t as common as in Y A so I had to decide whether to do one or not.
A dedicated book website this could be the store front. As my blog is my author home page I needed a site that could be all things Craic. I had already created a book website for my book Bones (published by Penguin) so I knew roughly what I needed to do.

Career Impact
As my career seemed stalled, movement on that front was always going to be a positive. I haven’t abandoned traditional publishing. With the recession in publishing and the impact of e-publishing on traditional print publishers everybody is looking for the magic solution. The writer now has many options, epublish only or a mix of traditional and epublishing either on their own or with an agent or print publisher.
Midlist, midcareer writers who have been abandoned by their print publishers are now discovering huge opportunities in their out of print back list, making them available as eBooks. This now has print publishers scrambling to get back this potential gold mine by sending updated contracts to authors with very very fine print. If you are in this position, check out any new contract with a magnifying glass.

Here endeth Part One of The Craic the Book Project.
Next week... Book Covers and Book Trailers

Now for those of you who need your weekly fix of great links....

In the blogosphere this week there was the big discussion over negative reviews and the huge stoush on Goodreads between writers and reviewers...OUCH. The Guardian tried to sum it all up.

Alan Rinzler looked at The Pitch...Specifically the new author pitch - Show Don’t Sell. He breaks down when and how to use different pitches and to whom.

Will Terry looks at his epublishing year and breaks down the numbers. This is an interesting post on reality checks and cheques.

Jane Friedman has been quoted all over the place this week with an article that have got everybody talking on eBook statistics.

Jane also appeared on U S Television tonight talking about the SOPA and PIPA Bills which are being discussed in the US Senate. If you want to know how it these bills may affect you check out Wikipedia, they blacked out their page in protest yesterday.

Apple is set to make a big announcement later today...Rumours suggest it is an ebook publishing app specifically targeting Textbooks. (Like Garageband for ebooks.) Groundbreaking? Probably!

I’ll finish with Chuck. He has a brilliant post on the 25 things a writer should do.
(warning its Chuck.)

Update: Apple's new announcement...yup take a moment to think about how easy it will be to create an enhanced book....

I’ll leave you with a little book trailer....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rain... Rain...(sing it with me...)

Yes, I am a day late. Summer holidays arrive and we begin the traveling around New Zealand catching up with family. Inevitably the traveling has happened on Blog day Thursday. I didn’t plan it. I know that I can write my blog in advance and post it when I want but I don’t. This is partly because I enjoy researching and I want to bring the latest comments and opinion to you and partly because I get lazy and then suddenly remember I should be putting the list together and so I had better research and so on.

Yesterday we started back down the country in search of reliable internet with no lightening strikes...and no rain. I can count on the fingers of one hand the rain free days I have had since we came north to the sub tropics for Summer. The whole country is wondering whether that week of fine weather in November was Summer only we didn’t realize it at the time.

Around the blogosphere Writers and Readers are looking at the impact of the Amazon behemoth as it becomes by default a big publisher and trying to set New Years Resolutions for themselves to support Independent Bookstores and small publishers. What to do when you want to buy that eBook... isn’t Amazon or B &N the only game in town? Well no ! Check out this article on the rise of eBooks being sold in Indie bookstores from Salon.

Chuck Wendig has a provocative post (aren’t they all...) urging self published writers to lift their game so it benefits readers and offering some points on how they might do this. (Warning it’s Chuck!)

 Writer Beware has a warning post about a book marketing company working under a variety of names to rip off writers.... Marketing is the hard part of publishing and writers and small publishers are getting burnt by some of these tactics.

Jane Friedman has an interesting blog post in answer to a question on eBook rights for out of print books. This had me thinking about some of our wonderful New Zealand children’s writers with a long publishing history here staring at the end of their career because of the publishing industry contraction.  Great books go out of print here quite quickly because the print runs are so small. If the writers own their eBook rights they may have a wonderful second chance. It is worth checking out!

The passive voice guy has an interesting post on publishers and book distributors and why they are rearranging the deck chairs.... The comments give great insight into current practice and pitfalls of eBook distribution.

Commenting is the name of the game, at the moment, with a new challenge up. Challenge yourself to leave five comments a day. Greg Pincus has the low down on how and why you should do this.

Over in the craft section,
Anne R Allen has a great post on hooks, loglines and pitches. Loglines are becoming more popular so get thee over there and learn to craft them properly.

Janice Hardy has a great blog where she puts the spotlight on submitted writing and shows how to fix it up. Today she looks at multiple first person main characters...(something I am writing which is probably why it is taking so long... all that head hopping...on Mars.)

To finish,
If you were wondering how the children’s publishing world was holding up, the 100 best sellers of 2011 has been announced Children’s books make up a quarter.

The Dynamic Duo of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake have been stamps! Check out the new issue from the Royal Mail.

Getting this blog in ahead of the rain...


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Taking A Bite of 2012

I’m here in the winterless North of New Zealand wondering where the sun went.
This is supposed to be the middle of summer... but no we have rain, rain and more rain. Today the sun taunted us and came out...We soaked it up wearing bathing suits and light clothing...and then went back to sweatshirts and raincoats. Nothing else to do but stay inside and eat...

Over on the blogosphere the rumours are flying... Apple may be about to launch a publishing competition with another company starting with A. Check out the gossip on Passive Guy about how things could impact for the author.

Also on the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them front’ check out this link about indie bookstore becoming publishers...if you know a bookstore owner tell them to check it out, it might tickle their tastebuds.

There is a new blog on the block that is making a stir. Passive income author aka Skellie examines what works about author and eBook marketing and is writing some great posts to help others. Check out these two - The uncommon truth about marketing and 5 tactics to get more eBook sales per reader.

Jody Hedlund takes a thoughtful look at what skills she thinks writers will need in 2012.

Yesterday, because I was on holiday, I was able to join in the weekly kidlit twitter chat. The topic was predictions for 2012 for kidlit writers. One of the most discussed predictions was an increase in book trailers for mid grade. I am interested in this as I have a mid grade book coming soon and I have created a book trailer for it. Some good ideas were tossed around in the chat. You can go
to Kidlitchat host Greg Pincus’s blog to check out the might not be up just yet but it will be soon in the meantime check out the other topics Kidlitchat has chewed over in 2011.

Chewing over meaty topics is what Mike Shatzkin and Jane Friedman do best.

This week Mike has taken a hard look at children’s publishers and what 2012 may hold for them. He particularly examines Picture Book publishers as they are the only ones doing well in print. He asks the hard question, Can digital really deliver an immersive reading experience?

Jane Friedman responds to a readers question this week - How do you know if your agent is any good? Jane lists questions to ask the agent and advice to follow. Do they stack up?

In the craft section,
The brilliant Adventures in Children’s Publishing blog have posted a ‘print out and stick on the wall’ checklist of 40 questions to ask your manuscript.

Over at wordservewatercooler they have a post looking at the emotional development of your characters. You can’t afford to ignore their emotional growth....

New challenges get underway this week around the writing blogosphere.

Today I was asked if I thought small far flung communities of writers could get together and promote their work through eBooks and a website. I most emphatically said YES.  Groups of writers are doing it all over the place from Killzone to Readergirlz. What better way for an isolated group of writers to get readers and support by joining together with a common goal.
 Go on... Take A Bite!


Major inspiration video follows....  

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