I would like to introduce to you a NEW regular category on Kim’s Author Support Page: THE WRITER’S JOURNEY. I’ve decided to host a guest spot each Sunday morning for this project. Please feel free to comment and ask Liz any questions you may have about her post.
My first guest for this spot is LIZ GAVIN. Thank you, Liz, for answering my call for articles for this category post.
BEING AN INDIE AUTHOR BY LIZ GAVIN
It is hard to write a novel. It’s time-consuming to the point we neglect family and friends. It’s so distracting we walk around with our heads in the clouds, hearing dialogs in our heads and seeing things that aren’t there.
It is also a fact that most writers know next to nothing about promoting their books. They – no, strike that – WE concentrate on the creative process. We enjoy creating to the extent we don’t have time to bother with ‘small’ details such as covers, formatting, trailers, blog tours, you name it! The word small is in between quotation marks because these things are HUGE for authors, more so for indie writers.
After all, let’s face it – the relationship between authors and readers sometimes raises delicate issues. Isn’t it frustrating to see a complaint from a reader about the fact your book looks ‘funny’ on their e-reader after all your hard work, the sleepless nights you had to go through to finish writing that particular book? As a writer, one may consider it unfair that another person ignored the content to complain about the looks of a book. As a customer yourself, can you blame that person for wanting a good quality product? I know I can’t.
If we don’t have the funds to employ a team of awesome, creative people to take care of covers, formatting, promoting and so on, we must do it on our own. If we don’t have the time and/or skills to take on this job, the next best thing is to find professionals who can help us.
You know that old saying ‘you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover’, right? Well, the thing is – most people do that. Some people do that all the time. I know covers can be misleading. I know a beautiful cover doesn’t mean the content is any good. However, I often wonder – why not combine an excellent story and a compelling cover?
Does it seem easy? Well… it’s not that simple. One must have a picture they can use. I mean, the author must have taken a useful picture himself/herself to avoid facing copyright issues. If they don’t have it, they need to find an image, with good quality resolution, and appropriate dimensions, at one of the many royalty-free stock image websites.
Does it still sound simple? If you’re an author, you know it isn’t. If you’re a reader, let me propose an exercise. Think about a book you’ve read. Any book. Think about its storyline and main characters. Forget its actual cover and go online searching for an image you think portrays that storyline and those characters. How long did it take you to find it?
Great. You have your image now. But, is the picture royalty-free? Is it ready to be used on the cover of your book? Do you need to edit it? Do you need to include a title and the author’s name? How do you do that? How long will it take you to finish your cover?
Phew! I’m tired already. Aren’t you? I told you it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Now, if you’re a reader, you now have a slight idea of what we have to go through to offer you a decent-looking cover.
Editing pictures can be tricky. It took me almost a year to master the basics of Photoshop. Some people never do. There’s an excellent website for editing images with user-friendly features called Pickmonkey. I’ve used it a lot as well. As for royalty-free images, my favorite source for is Big Stock Photo because they have variety, high-resolution quality, and fair prices plus a 7-day trial period when you can download up to 5 pictures a day.
You spent countless hours researching for your book. You poured your heart and soul into the story. You made sure it was the best one you could have written. You uploaded it to the online stores and crossed your fingers. Readers liked it. They posted positive reviews about it until the day somebody pointed out the story was great but they couldn’t give your book five starts because there were too many blank spaces in it. After that, you started getting one-star reviews based solely on the formatting issues. Before you knew it, the online store froze sales of your book and sent you a friendly email asking you to fix said issues before they could put your book back on sale at their store. *PANIC*.
Do you think I exaggerate, that this is unlikely to happen? Well, a dear friend and fellow author went through this ordeal last year. He ended up missing the Christmas sales for his brilliant, non-fiction book because the major online store where he had published it froze his downloads until he fixed the formatting issues. Namely – a few words that weren’t properly separated on the final ebook file and extra spaces between paragraphs that ‘hindered the reader’s optimum reading experience’. Bottom line is – we never know when an apparently small issue will amount to a huge one.
The important question is – is formatting eBooks a difficult task? Well… yes and no. It took me a while to figure out how to do it. I wasted a lot of time until I figured it out I needed to set up the Word® files in a specific way before converting them. Almost by accident I stumbled on a comprehensive guide on formatting Ebooks called ‘Building Your Book for Kindle’. I downloaded it free of charge at the ‘Help’ section on my KDP Account Dashboard. It is a step-by-step guide – with screenshots to guide you through the whole process – from setting up your .doc file to uploading it to the automated converter on Amazon KDP. Once I created a compatible file, I used it as template for the following ones. Smashwords also offers good guides to formatting and publishing on their store. If you want to sell your books on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple, I recommend Draft2Digital. They offer excellent service for free, and attractive royalties plans. Plus, you can use the same .doc file you uploaded to Amazon (minus any live links).
PRINTING YOUR BOOKS
Before I became a writer, I had always been an avid reader. I would read almost anything I could find. Granted, if the book was really awful, I wouldn’t finish it. Still, I would try to read it. I revered the printed pages of books to the point of being unable to write on them, to make notes on the margins, as some of my friends would do when we were teens. (Yes, I’m old. I grew up reading books, not Kindles! LoL)
Anyway, my point is that I viewed printed books as precious things. As I grew older, I learned authors worked hard before getting a break and being published. I discovered how expensive it was to print a book. And I heard about the minimum number of copies a publishing house needed to print to put a book in the stores’ shelves. This information added to my previous idea about the rarity of printed books.
Consequently, when I started toying with the possibility of writing, I didn’t dare consider printing them. I pushed that thought to the furthest corners of my mind and forgot about it. Until the day I didn’t remember to forget it. LoL
There are many companies offering ‘POD or print-on-demand’ services – if you’re not familiar with the term, it means they will print and deliver books as customers buy them. In my opinion, as an indie writer, the greatest advantage of printing a book when the reader buys it is the cost. And the biggest disadvantage is the price. Meaning – indie authors can’t usually afford the traditional publishing process. On the other hand, printing-on-demand a 400-page book will make your selling price go up to the stratosphere if you want to keep a sizeable margin of profits.
Having said that, I must confess that I chose to offer my books in print, with a very small margin of profit, mainly because it fed my ego. There, I said it! But in my defense, I had my reasons. You see, that little girl I used to be, who spent hours in the neighborhood library gawking at the endless shelves of precious books, still lives inside me. She jumped around and somersaulted countless times when she held a printed copy of my first novel. I told myself I had decided to sell printed versions of my stories because many people don’t like reading eBooks. Although that might be a fact, little Liz Gavin is the real reason. She is saying, “I’m a ‘published author’ now. I ROCK!” while doing a little happy dance!
There are various companies to choose from when you decide to sell your stories in print. Personally, I stuck with CreateSpace because I thought it would be easier to work with a company from the Amazon group since most of my titles are published exclusively there.
Thank you once again for stopping by today. Hope you had fun! I know I did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When Liz Gavin was in Second Grade – just a couple of years ago, really – her teacher told her mother the little girl should start a diary because she needed an outlet for her active and vivid imagination. She was a talkative child who would disrupt the class by engaging her colleagues in endless conversations. She loved telling them the stories her grandfather used to tell her.
Apparently, the teacher wasn’t a big fan of those stories, and Liz’s mother bought her a diary. She happily wrote on it for a couple of months. Unable to see the appeal of writing for her own enjoyment only, she gave up on it. She missed the audience her friends provided her in class. She went back to disturbing her dear teacher’s class.
Since then, she has become a hungry reader. She will read anything and everything she can get her hands on – from the classics to erotica. That’s how she has become a writer of erotica and romance, as well.
As a young adult, she participated in a student exchange program and lived in New Orleans for six months. She fell in love with the city and its wonderful inhabitants. NOLA will always hold a special spot in Liz Gavin’s heart. Nowadays, living in Brazil, Liz’s creativity has improved many times because it’s such a vibrant, gorgeous and sexy country.
Welcome to her world of hot Alpha males and naughty, independent women. Add a touch of the paranormal in the presence of some wicked souls and you’ll get the picture.
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Facebook Author Page
Amazon Author Page – FOR ALL HER TITLES
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