Author Biz – Cover Design Tips with Elizabeth Mackey

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Cover design whiz and graphics designer Elizabeth Mackey joins us on this episode of The Author Biz podcast.

Listen to Episode 85

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Right? The old saying may be true, but unfortunately for authors, a great many readers won’t have the opportunity to judge your book unless your cover appeals to them.

Today’s guest is cover designer Elizabeth Mackey. She’s a military wife, mom, and freelance graphic designer. She graduated with honors from the Art Institute of California, San Diego, with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Graphic Design and she has 14 years of experience in graphic design and over 20 years of experience in fine art.

Elizabeth’s name came up during Author Biz Episode 82 when both guests of the show mentioned using her for their covers. I did some research and loved the work Elizabeth was doing for her many clients, which include past Author Biz guests, CA Newsome, Bobbi Holmes, and Russell Blake.

This week’s show is also one that was recorded in video and I think the video enhances things a bit during the discussion because we’re able to bring some “show and tell” elements to the show. Elizabeth mentions several specific covers as examples, for both series and stand-alone books, and where available I’ve dropped those images into the video. You’ll still get 95% of the value from just listening, the way you normally do, but this might be one episode that you’ll want to consider watching.

Prior to the interview, I mention (in the podcast, not the video) two things that caught my eye over the past week.  The first, (more…)

Should Pre-Orders be in Your Author Toolkit

Pre-Orders Toolkit

Do you use pre-orders as a part of your launch process?

It’s an interesting and much-debated topic in the indie publishing world right now. In April, we covered the subject with Elizabeth Craig, who had a disappointing experience using pre-orders and doesn’t plan on using them again.

That episode generated some interesting conversation inside The Author Biz Facebook Group from a number of authors, including two with much different, much more positive results when using them.

Carol Newsome

Carol Newsome

The two authors, C.A. Newsome and Bobbi Holmes, who are also good friends, agreed to come onto the show together to discuss their different approaches to pre-orders.

Bobbi has found success with pre-orders in part because of an aggressive, four book a year publishing schedule, while CA, or Carol, combined contests and a larger email list to get the most out of the recent pre-order for her mystery series.

Carol Newsome writes the Lia Anderson Dog Park Mysteries, a series of fun, romantic suspense/mystery novels inspired by and centered around her mornings at the Mount Airy Dog Park.

Bobbi Holmes AuthorBobbi Holmes began writing stories in grade school and wrote her first book in high school. She writes mature fiction under her nom de plume, Anna J. McIntyre. Under her real name, she writes non-fiction and the Haunting Danielle series which we discuss during the show.

In this 45 minute episode, we take a deep dive into pre-orders and delve into other topics like cover design, mailing lists, pricing, and launch strategies.

Notes from the Pre-Orders Interview

Carol and Bobbi agree on the importance of having an existing audience before
trying pre-orders.

Carol shares her strategy for combining a BookBub promotion with the pre-order as a way of driving pre-order traffic.

MuddyMouth_ebookCarol used her mailing list and a contest to generate reader interest in pre-ordering her latest book, MUDDY MOUTH.

Carol’s recent pre-order allowed her to stay on Amazon’s Hot New Release list for an extended period of time.

Bobbi began using pre-orders with book two of her Haunting Danielle series and she’s seen an increase in the number of pre-orders with each new release.

HautingDanielle_BOOK8-200x300Because of her aggressive, every 90-day release schedule, Bobbi always has one book available for pre-order.

We discuss the ways in which Carol grew her email list by 1,500 names over a six-month period.

We discuss cover design and the fact that both Bobbi and Carol share the same cover designer, Bobbi’s daughter Elizabeth, who brings 14 years of experience in graphic design and over 20 years of experience in fine art to her business as a cover designer.

Links:

Carol’s Website www.canewsome.com

Carol’s Amazon Author Page

Bobbi’s author websites, www.bobbiholmes.com and www.annajmcintyreauthor.com

Bobbi’s Amazon Author Page

Elizabeth Mackey Graphics Website www.elizabethmackeygraphics.com

Sign up for Facebook Ads for Authors using The Author Biz affiliate link.

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How to Make Real Money Selling Short Fiction

Short Fiction Rethink

 

Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom.
—- Sam Walton

TS Paul Author PhotoOne of the concerns every business must handle is dealing with incoming information flow. There is a torrent of information coming at us from all directions, seemingly at all times.

One shortcut to dealing with information overload is to simplify it into easily understood bits and then ignore what doesn’t fit our expectations. When enough of us see and discuss a pattern, conventional wisdom is formed, allowing us to “know” things are true without actually testing the data.

One bit of conventional wisdom that I accepted early on in my author business was that it’s tough or maybe even impossible to make money selling short fiction. Oh sure, there are the occasional Kindle Singles that sell well for big time authors introducing a new series character, but in general, you can’t make any real money selling short fiction.

When I first heard the story of today’s guest, T.S. Paul, I scoffed and rejected it as an exaggeration. Then I looked more closely. According to the Amazon rankings, T.S. Paul was selling a lot of short books. His first was 62 pages, his second was just over 30 pages, and they both ranked in Amazon’s overall top 2,500.

Imperial Subversion CoverBut conventional wisdom is tough to overcome. I reached out to T.S. (Scott) Paul, and we discussed his numbers. He gave me access to his sales numbers. I compared what he was doing, and the results he was seeing to conventional wisdom and realized I’d been wrong.

Scott has published six books and two compilations, of three books each in less than 90 days. He priced the books at $2.99 so he could be paid for his work. He refuses to give his books away, and he’s making real money.

In this 35 minute interview, we discuss Scott’s history as a retail bookstore manager, his brief history as an author and the results he’s seeing by writing short fiction for a growing audience of readers and fans.

Short Fiction Interview Notes

Scott shares his background as a manager at multiple Waldenbooks locations in the St. Louis area and what the experience taught him about selling books at the retail level.

Forgotten Engineer CoverWe discuss the process he went through to write and publish THE FORGOTTEN ENGINEER, the first book in The Athena Lee Chronicles series. (According to Amazon, the first book in the series, contains 62 pages.)

Book two in Scott’s series, ENGINEERING MURDER is 34 pages and is a category #1 best seller at Amazon.

We discuss Scott’s reviews and his unusual thoughts on their lack of importance to his success.

Scott shares his simple pricing strategy. He prices all of his books, ranging from 32 pages - 148 pages at $2.99. His collections, which combine three books cost $7.99.

Scott uses his blog to keep readers engaged between the short, two-week release schedule for his books by posting a series he calls Wilson Wednesdays.

We discuss Scott’s initial expectations for his series, and how those expectations have evolved in three short months.

Links:

TS Paul Author Page at Amazon

Scott’s website: http://tspaul.blogspot.com/

Rocking Self Publishing Episode 148

The Author Biz Facebook Group

Listen to this Episode

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me again this week.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see on the left of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The Author Biz Podcast on iTunes!

Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and mean a great deal to me. They matter in the rankings of the show, and I read every one of them. If you’re not sure how to leave an iTunes review, you can follow the step-by-step instructions here.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher to get automatic updates.

Thanks to T.S. Paul for joining us this week!

New Release: Four Seasons of Reno Hart

Four Seasons 3A little over a year ago, an author friend, Logan Keys, asked me how my book was coming. At that point, I’d been working on the same thing for nearly a year and making no progress.  I shared my frustration, and she suggested that I write something completely different.

Logan’s suggestion launched a flurry of creative energy which allowed me to write a pretty good story over the course of a few months. The problem was my protagonist, Reno Hart. She evolved so much during the writing process that I knew I was going to have to rewrite much of the book.

I really liked Reno, and I didn’t want to let her go, so I decided to write a few short stories.  Essentially, just putting her into situations and seeing what she’d do.  By writing, what turned out to be four short stories, I developed a much greater sense of her character, and I’m making good progress on rewriting the novel.

But I interrupted that rewriting process to polish the short stories and put them out as a collection, titled FOUR SEASONS OF RENO HART.  The book is only available on Amazon, so if you’re an Amazon or a Kindle Unlimited reader, please give it a try and let me know what you think.

Pre-Orders: Are They Always a Good Thing?

Elizabeth Spann Craig joins us to talk pre-orders in this episode of The Author Biz.

Will readers respond if you offer your latest book for sale as a pre-order before the release date? If they do is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

As is so often the case the in the author business, the answer is frustratingly unclear.

Elizabeth Spann CraigThe prevailing wisdom seems to be that we should all offer pre-orders for our books, either through every digital outlet selling those books or at the very least, at some of those online stores.

But will pre-orders work for you - in your genre, with your writing habits and publication schedule?

Today’s guest, Elizabeth Spann Craig is a best-selling hybrid author with 20 books under her belt. With Cruising for Murder, the 9th book in her Myrtle Cove cozy mystery series, she decided to run an experiment to test the value of pre-orders in her business. She shared the results of this test on her always educational blog, with a post titled An Update on a Pre-order Experiment last week.

In this 32 minute episode, we discuss the different reasons she tried pre-orders, the specifics of her pre-order plan, her expectations, and the results she’s seen so far.

Watch the Interview

 

Show Notes for Pre-Orders Discussion

CruisingforMurder_ebook_Final-683x1024Elizabeth explains why she chose to offer pre-orders at Kobo, iTunes and Barnes & Noble, but not at Amazon.

She shares the reasons for her pre-order experiment, and what she hoped to accomplish by making pre-orders available.

We discuss the results of her test, both in terms of sales (disappointing) and time invested to support pre-order program.

We consider Elizabeth’s reader demographics and how they may have contributed to her results.

Elizabeth shares her advice for new authors considering pre-orders.

It’s easy to spend too much time promoting our books, but that’s not a trap into which Elizabeth falls. She explains her minimal new release promotion schedule.

Listen to the Audio Version

Links:

Online Marketing for Busy Authors, with Fazuzia Burke

Online Marketing Fauzia Burke Large

Author and Entrepreneur Fauzia Burke is the guest on this episode of The Author Biz

Today’s topic is online marketing for busy authors. How’s that for a hook to a post and a show, right?

Fauzia-Burke-lgWell, that’s actually the title of a new book by Fauzia Burke.  After spending 20 years helping authors promote their work online, Fauzia has finally written a book, which she calls a Step-by-Step guide to help us navigate the dizzying range of online marketing options available to us today as authors.

In addition to her work as an author, Fauzia is the founder and President of FSB Associates. She’s worked in book marketing and publicity for all of her professional life. After starting her career in the marketing departments of two large publishers, she founded FSB, one of the first firms to specialize in Internet publicity and marketing for publishers and authors, in 1995.

We cover a lot of ground in this 48-minute interview, including topics like author branding and the importance of identifying your reading audience. Then we discuss various ways in which you can, and should, engage with your readers, now matter where you are in your writing journey.

Fauzia Burke Interview Notes:

Fauzia shares her professional history as the founder and president of FSB Associates and her 20-year history of book promotions.

Online-Marketing-for-Busy-Authors-hi-resWe discuss the ways in promoting her first book, ONLINE MARKETING FOR BUSY AUTHORS, is different than her experience promoting the books of her clients.

We discuss the difference between marketing, publicity and public relations.

Fauzia shares her thoughts on the long term benefits of relationship building as an author.

We discuss the specifics of her marketing plan for ONLINE MARKETING FOR BUSY AUTHORS

We discuss the importance of branding yourself as an author, with a focus on branding for novelists.

We discuss the importance of analytics and Fauzia shares the metrics she feels are the most important for authors to track.

Knowing your readers is essential for any author. Fauzia shares some tips on how narrowing your focus can help you reach your readers more effectively.

We discuss the importance of reader engagement to the long term success of any author.

Fauzia shares specific advice for both new, or aspiring authors, and for authors who have already published several books.

Links:

Click here to listen to episode 73 of The Author Biz

Thanks to Fauzia Burke for joining us this week and Thanks for Listening!

Please note that Amazon links are affiliate links. You’ll pay the same price for anything you order, but The Author Biz will earn a small commission.

The Podcast-alypse of 2016: The Self Publishing Roundtable

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I had the great pleasure of chatting with a very select group of author podcasters on the Self Publishing Roundtable last week. Hosts (and podcasters) Erica Conroy and Robert Chazz Chute invited Hank Garner host of the Author Stories PodcastPatrick Stemp, who hosts the To Be Read Podcast, and me to discuss hows and whys of our podcast lives.

Despite a few technical problems on my end with Google Hangouts, I’m happy to report that I learned some things from the hosts and guests that I’ll be putting into effect soon on my shows.

You can watch (or listen) to this entertaining podcast at the Self-Publishing Roundtable website.

This Author went from zero to $10,000 per month in 90 days

Zero to $10,000 per month in 90 days

Author Michael Anderle is this guest on this first every audio and video episode (see below) of The Author Biz.

Have you seen those year-end articles by indie authors who share sales numbers on their websites? In some cases those numbers are staggering, and it’s easy to read them and ask yourself, how the heck is it even possible to sell that many books.

If so, you’re not alone. It’s hard not to be impressed and happy for those authors. But it WOULD be nice to hear exactly how things started for them.

Michael’s Journey

In December, Michael Anderle heard an episode of The Author Biz where I mentioned being a bit of a spreadsheet geek, so he sent me a link to the spreadsheet he uses to track the major components of his author business. The spreadsheet included daily sales and borrows for multiple books, as well as his marketing costs across using various advertising platforms, including Facebook.

The numbers showed remarkable sales growth in a very compressed time frame, and since this is the beginning of Michael’s career as an author, they also provide some useful guidance.

Death Becomes Her coverHere’s the short version: Michael published his first book, DEATH BECOMES HER on November 2nd, 2015 and earned $6.00. He wrote and published two more books in November and generated Amazon royalties of $427 for the month.

In December wrote and published one more book (more…)

I was a guest on TBR Podcast Episode 85

Imagine sitting around a comfortable table chatting about books with people who really know and love the subject. I spent a very pleasant hour last night doing a digital version of that very thing on the TBR Podcast, a weekly show that’s all about books. We talked a lot about mysteries and thrillers last night, but the show is not focused on any particular genre.

I’ve been a fan of the TBR (to be read) Podcast since I first learned of it from an author friend, John L. Monk, who has since become a co-host of the show with Patrick Stemp and Michael La Ronn. Michael was unable to be with us last night, and Erica Conroy was his highly capable replacement.

We made for a diverse group. John writes science fiction and some crime, Patrick is the author of children’s books, with a very eclectic reading list, and Erica writes science fiction romance. I love the way the show opens each episode when everyone takes the microphone to talk about what they’ve read for the past week.

I’ve had these “book talk” type evenings before at writers conferences, but this was my first evening of digital book chatting, and I really enjoyed the time.

I made a few book recommendations myself last night, but we talked about a few titles that I couldn’t remember so I’ve linked those below.

ALL IN - By Joel Goldman and Lisa Clink

WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL - By Lawrence Block

The TBR Podcast is recorded using Google hangouts, and this was my first time on that platform, which allows them to present the show both live as a hangout and in podcast format.

I had a great time last night and appreciated the opportunity to spend time with Erica, Patrick, and John.

Please note that Amazon links are affiliate links. You’ll pay the same price for anything you order, but I will earn a small commission.

How to Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet, with Honorée Corder

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Honorée Corder is the guest in this episode of The Author Biz

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Have you looked at your calendar recently and asked yourself where has the year gone?

If you have, what’s your next thought? Are you reflecting back on the goals you set for the past year? Did you achieve those goals for 2015? If not is it still possible in the next month to hit those targets?

Today’s show is all about finishing strong with your author biz in 2015 and planning for a successful 2016.

Prosperity for Writers Productivity Journal, by Honorée CorderWho better to help us with these topics than Honorée Corder? She’s the best-selling author of more than a dozen books, including PROSPERITY FOR WRITERS, and the just released PROSPERITY FOR WRITERS PRODUCTIVITY JOURNAL. In addition to her work as an author, she’s a successful entrepreneur, a business and executive coach, and a keynote speaker and corporate trainer.

Prosperity for Writers, by Honorée Corder, CoverIn this 40 minute episode, we talk about finishing strong in 2015, planning for 2016 and how your goals for next year will tie directly to your production plans. We also get into using Honorée’s Short Term Massive Action plan as a guide for planning your 2016.

Show Notes

  • We discuss ways of finishing strong, or what Honorée calls, “running through the tape,” as we close 2015.
  • Honorée shares end of year advice for authors (like me) who won’t hit all the publishing goals they set for themselves in 2015.
  • Short Term Massive Action (STMA) is a plan that Honorée teaches in Vision to Reality where plans are made for 100 day periods.
  • Honorée plans her year with three 100 day period of massive action, which allows for periods of great accomplishment, followed by periods of relaxation and reflection.
  • She shares the production process she uses for the publishing side of her business.
  • We discuss Honorée’s planning process, which includes BulletJournal.com.
  • We discuss the value of accountability partners to the achievement of your goals.
  • Honorée wrote Prosperity for Writers and the Prosperity for Writers Productivity Journal as her answer to the poor starving artist concept that’s accepted by far too many authors. She shares numerous examples publishing success in both the book and the productivity journal.

Click here to listen to Episode 64 of The Author Biz

Links:

PurchaseHonorée’s books at Amazon.com

Honorée’s website www.honoreecorder.com

Social Media:  Facebook: facebook.com/Honoree and Twitter: twitter.com/Honoree

Please note that Amazon links are affiliate links. You’ll pay the same price for anything you order, but The Author Biz will earn a small commission.