Kay: Revising Made Easy (Thanks, Cover Design!)

What do you think? Too much type? Script too hard to read? Would you check it out?

This cover seems to have all the elements, but it looks pretty amateurish. Would you pick it up?

This week I temporarily set aside the revisions on my WIP to focus on another aspect of my “self-publishing journey”— creating covers for the three completed novellas languishing on my hard drive. In other, more accurate, words, my life force has been sucked out of me by the heinous graphics software program InDesign because I’m too cheap to hire a cover designer.

My word, how I hate that program, which is entirely because I’m so ignorant about it. I had to use it at my last day job seven years ago, and then only in a very limited capacity. Seven years and who knows how many updates later, InDesign might as well be string theory, genome analysis, and astronomical map projections rolled into one. It is very complicated.

I decided to tackle it again because the revisions on my WIP have slowed to a crawl. Continue reading

Jilly: Book Signings

Have you ever been to a signing or other author event at a bookstore? Would you recommend it?

As I may have mentioned 😉 I’m a huge Ilona Andrews fan, and I especially like the Hidden Legacy series, because the books are romance in an urban fantasy setting, rather than urban fantasy with strong romantic elements. All Ilona Andrews books have the same basic components: lashings of imagination, fabulous world-building, characters to care about, strong community, sparkling dialogue, underpinned by kindness and humor, but I love them most when there’s a double helping of romance in the mix.

I was already excited about the upcoming release of Wildfire, the third and final (maybe) book in the series, which will be on sale next month, on 25th July. Then I discovered Continue reading

Jilly: Dunbar’s Number for Writers and Readers

How many authors are on your mental auto-buy checklist? How many are on your keeper shelf? And how long have those authors been at the heart of your reading universe?

I’ve been noodling around with these questions for some time—a couple of years, probably—ever since I first read about Dunbar’s Number. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Wikipedia describes it as a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Or, to put it crudely: there’s a limit to the number of people your brain has space for.

Dunbar’s Number has been around since the 1990s, but I came across it when I started writing fiction with an eye to publication and realized that meant I’d have to get to grips with social media. If you’d like to know more about the idea in the context of online relationships, click here for a Youtube link to anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s 15-minute Tedx talk: Can The Internet Buy You More Friends?

If you’d prefer the short version, it goes something like this: we humans maintain social relationships at various levels of intimacy, and the number of people we have the capacity to manage at each level is more or less predictable.

  • We have a very inner core of intimate friends and relations, people we would turn to in times of deep emotional stress. Typically there are about five of them.
  • We have a group of best friends, people we know well, confide in, trust, spend time with. That group would likely be about fifteen people, including the inner five.
  • The next closest layer, good friends, would be about fifty people (including the first fifteen);

Continue reading

Jilly: How Much Would You Pay For a Book?

Is there a maximum price you’re prepared to pay for a novel?

Is it different for an e-book or a dead tree version?

Would you pay the same for a newbie as you would for a much-loved auto-buy author?

Before the digital revolution I considered it perfectly normal to pay $7.99 or even $11.99 for a book, but I realized recently that I don’t feel that way any more.

I think there are a number of reasons: Continue reading

Elizabeth: Self-Publishing 101 – Marketing

publish_buttonYou’ve studied craft, developed a working relationship with your muses, written the book of your heart, and clicked Publish!  Congratulations, you’re a self-published author.

Now what?

Will readers flock out and buy your book, love it, and tell all their friends?  Probably not, unless you’ve spent a little time and effort on the marketing side of things.  As self-published author Molly Jameson confirmed during our recent interview with her, you don’t just hit “Publish” and experience phenomenal sales; promotion is a much more realistic way to sell a book.

At the most basic level, effective promotion means connecting with readers and cultivating an interest in what you’ve written / are writing, as well as maintaining that connection.

Great.  So how do you do that? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Self-Publishing 101 – Taglines, Loglines and Concepts

publish_buttonLast week in our Self Publishing series we talked about the Book Cover, the first (and oftentimes only) chance for a book to make an impression on a potential reader

But what happens after the cover catches the reader’s attention?

Jilly’s post on Monday about the Dreaded Synopsis got me to thinking about some of the other elements you need in order hold a reader’s attention, once you’ve caught it

Loglines, taglines, high-concept – these are all tools that can help you position (and market) your story to your audience.  Although we are looking at this through the lens of self-publishing, they are important regardless of the publishing path you choose. Continue reading

Nancy: Diary of a Writing Workshop Dropout

Nancy: Diary of a Writing Workshop Dropout

Sometime in January: Dear Diary, today I got an email notice that Donald Maas, author of one of my go-to writing texts, Writing the 21st Century Novel, is giving an online workshop in March. I want to take this class. I have no time for this class. I am crazy to even think I should consider this class. I WANT TO TAKE THIS CLASS. I cannot take this class.

Sometime in February: Dear Diary, I just signed up for Donald Maas’s online class.

March 11: Dear Diary, today I got an email reminder about an online writing class. Apparently, in a moment of abject denial about the reality of my life, I thought I could handle a class. While working 80-hour work weeks. Was I drunk?

March 15: Dear Diary, my online class started yesterday, and the first assignment – to write a blurb for a WIP –  is due today. It looks like nearly everyone has already posted theirs. I can’t get past the first five words. It’s 11 PM. Opening my travel-size bottle of Drambuie and praying to the writing gods for inspiration. Don’t judge me, Diary.

March 17: I missed commenting on fellow workshoppers’ blurbs, and on commenting on their comments on mine. The second assignment is to craft a paragraph (after much analysis) that captures the protagonist’s inner journey and what will make him/her relatable to readers. I haven’t started the analysis. It’s 11:30 PM. I am out of Drambuie. Continue reading