Inside Evil paperbacks are here!

As you’ll know from my ‘Making paperbacks with Createspace‘ blog, I’ve delved into realms that I never thought I would as an author. The digital age has really opened up the world of publishing, and I thought I would be happy having my books online as ebooks. That was, until I held the beautiful crisp paper and stunning covers in my hands and put my own works on the study shelves.

It’s taken a while to get the proofing correct and for CreateSpace to accurately link the Kindle versions with the paperback copies. This is largely due to an author name discrepancy that I talked about here. BUT, the good news is that you can now buy both Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls as books that you can actually hold in your hands!

Of course, paperbacks are more expensive than ebooks, and both my novels aren’t any different, making buying a digital version far cheaper. Also, I’m fairly sure there are large shipping fees and delivery periods for those buying in the UK. So, if anyone in the UK does want a version, I’ll be selling Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls at £6.74 and £8.99 respectively from my own batch. Just holla if you want one.

It is a glorious thing to hold an actual paperback in my hands though, and even though its probably very self serving, I’m glad that I decided to delve beyond the simple ebook niche.

Correcting my author name

I’ve learned a lot in the past seven months of self publishing. Oh, how daunting everything seemed way back in April, and now I have two novels on Amazon shelves and another on the way. However, if there’s one thing I haven’t been careful about, it’s my author name. Continuity is key when you’re developing a platform and creating a brand for yourself, so your author name should also be constant. Unfortunately, in my case, this isn’t true, and it’s got me into quite a pickle.

If Joanna Rowling suddenly published a new Harry Potter book, you might think that it was fan fiction. After all, she is known as J.K. Rowling by millions of people around the world, and it always seems a little odd to hear her called Joanna. Likewise, if an S. Myers released a new fantasy novel, it wouldn’t be instantly obvious that it was the same Stephanie Myers who wrote the Twilight Saga.

Having been attempting to upload my books to Kobo, and hence going through the manuscripts again, I realised that there was no continuity with what I called myself. I was Geoffrey Wakeling here, Geoff Wakeling there, and G. Wakeling on the front cover. It might seem like a small issue, but it’s importance has been highlighted with my recent creation of paperbacks via CreateSpace. My kindle books are listed on Amazon as written by Geoffrey Wakeling. However, my CreateSpace novels are Mr. G. Wakeling, and that has led to some confusion over linking.

From now on, I really need to start paying attention to keeping continuity and will be going through all my literature to correct my author name to G. Wakeling. Call me what you like, and I’ll respond as long as I know that it’s me you’re talking too. But, creating a constant author name is vital if you’re to create that all important branding and it seems that I’ve not been nearly careful ensuring in creating my author name platform.

Anne Rice on writing

I just thought I’d share this wonderful YouTube piece with Anne Rice about writing and self publishing.

‘Be brave, reach for the fire from heaven. And, nobody can tell you that you can’t do that. And, really, realise your dreams.’ – Anne Rice

Making paperbacks with CreateSpace

I never imagined that my self publishing journey would take me to where it has. OK, I’m not a millionaire, I’m not even earning a living off my books, but back in March I had nothing published – at all. Then, I discovered this world of eBooks, and I was hooked. Later, I heard about CreateSpace; this company that would print actual paperbacks. It souned too hard, too complicated, something I would explore….eventually. Now I have explored, and I’m overjoyed.

One of the reasons that I’ve been put off developing paperbacks in the past is a) my personal confusion and b) the higher costs that readers have to pay. $2.99 is a very good price for a book, in my opinion, and so I have no qualms pricing an eBook of Inside Evil at this level. However, to pull back paperback costs means that Inside Evil has to be at least $10 for me to even make $1 profit on it. Would people pay this for my book? I didn’t know.

Whilst I’m still in the dark as to whether people will actually buy at a paperback by an indie author at that price, my paperback copy of Inside Evil arrived today and I’m OVER THE MOON. It seems far more real to hold an actual book in your hands. See the print, see the cover, turn the pages over with your fingers. And, far from my huge concerns, creating the paperback was VERY easy.

 

 

 

Making Paperbacks with CreateSpace

The formatting issue was my first concern when it came to producing a paperback, and I thought I’d never be able to get the book outline correct. However, CreateSpace makes this very easy to do. Whilst  you can go through all manner of preformatted options and templates, I’ve found that using a current Word .doc of your manuscript is the best way. Here’s what I did:

1. Used the Word .doc of Inside Evil that I use to upload to Smashwords. Don’t worry – CreateSpace will send you an email saying that you’ve got all manner of formatting issues, but this is normal. I chose the 5′ x 8′ template for my book, meaning that my .doc was completely wrong. However, after you’ve uploaded, CreateSpace will offer you the option to download a template. DO THIS. You will find that the template includes your manuscript but with the CreateSpace formatting. You can then make alterations to your document in line with the formatting required.

I’ve found this method to be a lot easier than trying to pre-prepare any document. Remember, if you’re uploading a Smashwords ready file, take out the Smashwords copyright blurb at the front of the book. Also, if you have hyperlinks in your eBook, remember to take them out. As many times as a reader presses that link, it won’t open if it’s on paper. 😉

2. Having made the inside of your book beautiful by using the easy process above, it’s time to do the cover. There are MANY tutorials on the web which show how to make extremely good but complicated covers. If you have some cover art ready made, use the CreateSpace online cover editor.

If you scroll through the template options that they give you, there are a few blank ones that you can use. Simply update your information for the spine, use your cover for the front and utilise Photoshop, or something similar, to make a back cover. You might have to make a few corrections so that no text spills into the gutter lines but CreateSpace makes this very obvious so you know when you’ll need to change something. Your back cover also doesn’t have to be complicated – at all – and all I did was to overlay a black raster layer on top of my front cover, cut through to create a few lines of colour, and add the same text that I use for my sales copy.

*Note* – CreateSpace GIVES you a free ISBN and sorts out the barcode image on the back of your book. Don’t stress, they do it for you! 😀

3. After you’ve done your interior and cover, you’re pretty much done. The team of reviewers will look at your work, after which point you have the option to order a Proof copy or just proof online. I was tempted just to proof online, but ORDER A PROOF COPY. Here’s why:

– Because I’d used my Smashwords .doc, I’d forgotten to put my headers and footers back in. Therefore, Inside Evil had NO page numbers.

– My About Author section still said ‘ebooks’, when it should have said ‘books’.

– You need to check your cover prints correctly. Just because it looks great on your computer screen doesn’t mean it will be perfect on the book.

– Your ebook font size and spacing may need changing. My font is size 12, with spacing set at 1.5 lines. Whilst this is OK, I’m trying another proof with normal spacing. This will reduce the number of pages, therefore making it cheaper for readers to buy. It’ll also look better.

– Holding the first ever printed copy of your book is AMAZING. I have no page numbers, an author error and PROOF written across the last page, but I love it.

Using CreateSpace is really easy to make your paperbacks, and I highly encourage it. Now that I’ve done a first proof of Inside Evil, I’m going to make a few changes and get another proof done. I’ve also spent today getting the The Tower of Souls ready for publication. Will I sell any paperback copies? Who knows. Will I love having MY books on MY real bookshelf? Yes.

How to market your ebook in your email signature

I’ve been marketing Inside Evil in my email signature ever since it was available for sale. There’s nothing like a subtle sales pitch for getting the attention of people, and if you include a link to your books in an email, you may find that people will naturally click the link and take a look. After spending a few minutes placing the link, you’ve got a marketing plan that keeps on working (as long as you send emails, of course), and whether you’re emailing friends, family or new associates, you have the chance to make a sale or at the very least, stir some interest.

I always just used a text link in my email – it’s easy and simple to do. I use hotmail most of the time, so adding a little piece of text and including a hyperlink to my Amazon page seemed obvious enough. However, for no specific reason at all, I decided today that it wasn’t enough. OK, so people might look at the link, but it didn’t exactly leap out of the page.

After dabbling around in hotmail I realised that, much like on a website, I could use HTML to actually put in a sales image containing a specific sales link. All you need is to create your banner, have somewhere available to upload your image to the web so that it has an URL, use some rudimentary HTML, and off you go.

Firstly, I created a quick sales image that would be sure to catch people’s eye when they get an email from me:

You don’t want it to take up too much space, so this image is just 150px x 700px.

Secondly, I uploaded the image to this website’s media centre so that I could get an URL for the picture. This is important because hotmail doesn’t allow you to upload an image into your signature directly. However, it does offer HMTL, which means that you can link to an image anywhere on the web.

Thirdly, I used a simple piece of HMTL code to paste the image and link into my signature:

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007JIH0EU” target=”_blank”><img src=”https://geoffreywakeling.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/sig.jpg” border=”0″ width=”700” height=”150“></a>

You can see that the red text indicates where the image links to. I thought about linking directly to my Amazon author page but thought I’d try a direct Inside Evil link first. It’s easy enough to change around, so I can alter it at my preference.

The blue text indicates where in my wordpress directory the image is held. This doesn’t have to be your blog, it could be photo service such as Photobucket, but your image must have an URL.

Finally, the green numbers show the size of the image so that you can set your picture to your own dimensions.

I have no idea where this will work, but it’s sure to be more eye catching than a simple written signature link with a hyperlink installed. Now, when people open my email, they’ll (hopefully) be drawn towards the covers and want to find out more.

How to get EFT Amazon payments for UK authors

I’ve just discovered something quite startling, something that I hadn’t realised. UK Amazon authors can set up Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) payments for their .uk, .de, and other european sales!

Most authors outside the US have heard of the cheque debarkle, i.e the fact that you have to accumulate at least $100, £100 etc before a cheque will be issued. You’re not notified when it’s popped in the post, and dealing with it in the UK can be troublesome because many banks charge to process the currency change, losing you yet more hard earned royalty. It is annoying, but it’s something that we have to deal with for the time being, all whilst continually hoping that Amazon will one day change the process.

However, until a few moments ago I had no idea that UK and EU authors can receive EFT payments if you have a bank in Europe. All you need for this is your IBAN and BIC numbers and hey presto, you’re receiving money every time your European sales reach at least £10.

The process is easy and all I did was:

1. Log into your Amazon account and scroll to ‘Your Royalty Payments

2. Under ‘Your Bank Accounts‘ select ‘add‘ and fill in the details. You’ll need your IBAN and BIC for these. I’m with HSBC and as long as you have internet banking, these two numbers are very easy to get.  Simply go to your current account, click ‘previous statements‘, choose any month and both your IBAN and BIC will be at the top of the statement page.

3. Amazon will automatically process your bank details and reveal which markets you can receive EFT’s for. On my account it instantly changed all European destinations to EFT, meaning that I could receive ££ or €€ conversions as soon as I reached a minimum of £10 or €10 (they may charge a fee for the latter depending on banks and exchange rates but I NEVER sell in these markets so don’t have to worry).

It really seems to be that easy. I haven’t yet saved the process as I’m waiting for my W8-BEN to go through with Amazon. However, as soon as this is complete, I’m going to switch to EFT and enjoy at least some of my royalties without the lengthy cheque process.

Have you used this process? Did you know of it before reading this? Is it as easy as it seems?

UPDATE:

I’ve now had my EIN accepted by Amazon, changed by European payments to EFT and have my first royalty payment. It’s amazingly quick, and I definitely encourage you to do it if you want to reduce the time it takes to get paid for your hard work. 🙂

Book Promotion; The importance of thinking outside the box

I know I keep harping on about promoting and getting book sales, but unless you’re one of those lucky few who release a few novels and then see sales sky-rocket, you’re like me and have to contend with the Amazon Beige Bar of Shame (BBOS) for many weeks and only a trickle of customers. I’ve tried advertising on Goodreads and doing a LibraryThing giveaway, but to no avail (though I have had a few good reviews from the latter option). I’ve tried posting, not spamming, on forums, but haven’t seen any direct sales as a result. I’ve used Twitter to my advantage and have found a handful of new customers here, and word of mouth (mostly by my sister) has got me the majority of my sales.

There was a nice thread on Kindle Boards called ‘Places to Promote Your Book‘ and I took advantage of some the listed options to sign up at Novelscribe, and place very cheap promotions at YourBookAuthors.com and BestIndieBooks.com. When I say cheap, I mean it, and I think I only paid around $15 in total for both the features – it’s not exactly going to break the bank. Nor is it going to get huge exposure, but only a few extra eyes seeing my work could be beneficial.

I’ve increasingly been thinking about how important it is to think outside the box and create a stir, a buzz. Placing a banner on a high traffic website is all well and good, but how many people actually click that link and then buy a book? Branding strategists and advertisers keep banging on about how important engaging with customers is, isn’t it about time us indie authors followed suit? Engaging with readers and potential fans isn’t just about tweeting replies and creating a fan pages though. It’s about really trying something new and innovative to capture people’s attention.

I’ve had a couple of ideas over the past few weeks for marketing ploys which could be fun for people to take part in and could increase book sales. When it comes to thinking outside the box, I think it’s best to think global, to think all conquering, to think of ways to go viral on the internet and become a sensation. I doubt that either of my ideas will do this, but they might work in creating more of a buzz than a simple website banner or Goodreads advert.

Exclusive Content

Rewarding readers and luring new customers in can be done with providing a worm on the end of that newsletter fishing hook. I’ve seen many people talking about getting subscribers onto their newsletters by offering free books and giveaways. However, I’ve also seen authors saying that as soon as their giveaway is over, people un-subscribe, defeating the object of the exercise.

To counter this, I’ve developed a little plan for creating ongoing exclusive content only for newsletter subscribers. I was playing Mass Effect the other day, collecting codex’s as I went, and I suddenly thought ‘I could offer codex’s for my Inside Evil series.‘ The codex system is basically like an encyclopedia, and in Mass Effect you collect titbits of information relating to characters, places, weaponry, lore, as you journey through the game. This helps you become more involved in gameplay and really creates a gripping universe to explore.

Being the complete nerd that I am, I already have a lot of notes on characters, hotspots, creatures etc that appear in the Inside Evil series, some of which is never even mentioned in the book. So, I’m currently developing my own series of codex’s that will be released on a monthly basis to newsletter subscribers. These will give tasty extra information for fans to enjoy, and for die hard fans, they’ll be downloadable so that the image codex’s can be kept and collected. I’ve started making some mock ups and have an artist doing some provisional sketches for each entry.

Whilst this content might only appeal to the nerdiest of nerds who read my books, it does offer an incentive to stay on a newsletter list rather than taking the one free goodie on offer before un-subscribing.

Paperback Treasure Hunt

I haven’t yet delved into the realms of paperbacks, but the time is drawing near as several people I know have asked if my work is available as an actual book. In Book Three of Inside Evil several famous spots from London and other cities will appear in the book and this got me thinking, ‘What if I hid a copy of the books at each of those locations for readers to find?‘.

My thinking is that copies of Inside Evil, The Tower of Souls and the new book would be left in paperback form at certain locations. They’d be sealed in a bag with instructions guiding people to take the book home, enjoy the read, name, date and location stamp it in the front cover, and then either return it to where they found it, or pass it on to a new reader. Or they could simply leave it somewhere for someone else to find. Over time, names and dates would fill up the covers and hopefully the books would move around the country, even the continents. Of course, some would get thrown out, some would end up on people’s dusty shelves, but I’m quite intrigued as to what could happen. It’d be like sending off a note in a bottle, or letting go off a helium filled balloon with a tag tied around its string.

Both of these ideas are still in development and I’m planning how they could be done to achieve the maximum buzz. However, I do believe that thinking outside the box is the best way to get your marketing plan noticed, and if you’re going to do something, then you may as well think big.

What are your promotional plans? Had any great ideas outside the norm to shift books?

Defining genre for indie authors

There was once a time when the big six practically ruled the literary world, making authors famous, rejecting great books on a flippant whim and creating their own specific genres that writers had to adhere to if they wanted even the slightest hope of publication. I’ve heard many stories of authors who’ve had to significantly alter novels or remove entire story threads so as to appease the literary powers that be. Then, Amazon said ‘hang on, lets enable authors to publish their own books and take a cut‘. The self publishing indie world was born, free of restrictions, enabling authors to write what they wanted with no compromise. However, in the sudden rush of this literary bandwagon it seems that both Amazon and many readers have failed to keep up with the changing genres, often making it very difficult to place your book into the right category.

It seems that many good indie authors, authors who have written amazing novels and are doing well, as still finding difficulties with defining their genre. Numerous problems seem to be rife with romantic books in particular; even if your entire 400 page novel is bursting with romanticism, if the lovers don’t end up together, then your book is not romance and you will feel the wrath of many a reader. Readers are the indie author’s life force, offering the means to keep writing and share their work. But, there can often be a very stringent unsaid code of conduct to write by if you want to please the majority. Of course, there are readers who like the break from the mould, the chance to read something a little different, something refreshingly new, but in altering the traditional format, you may find yourself risking a backlash.

I’ve had particular problems defining Inside Evil myself. There are fantasy and paranormal elements scattered throughout the book, but many readers of this popular genre are looking for werewolves, vampires and fairies, of which NONE appear in my tale. Instead, a mystical tome offers intrigue, an evil curse lurks awaiting another victim, another realm’s ‘gatekeepers’ follow ancient customs to keep demons at bay. I sail perilously close to mentioning spells and some characters do entertain supernatural beliefs, but for a reader wanting a witchcraft read, once again Inside Evil does not quite fit the bill. Parallel worlds are often used in science fiction, but again, though there is another realm in Inside Evil, it is certainly not one that lives in the sci-fi genre. Then, there is the horror and occult aspect of the book which, though not apparent in full visceral force, does provide an underlying tone. But, for those wanting full throttle horror, once again, Inside Evil may not be the right genre. It seems that I’ve written a novel which fits into many, yet no traditional genres. Though the eclectic cast of characters offer a unique and page turning story, traditional readers may remain unsure.

Indie publishing is a godsend for people like myself who want to share their work with readers without having to deal with creative oppression. However, even Amazon itself is has so few categories within their Kindle listings that they seem tied to the very stereotypical genres that have been forced into society by traditional publishers. Whilst the traditional author might have to write a, b and c to create a perfect thriller, the indie author might take out b altogether and throw in a couple of wayward z’s to the mix. Just to liven things up a bit. Just to refresh the genre and offer something unique. But, it comes with the risk that you may divide readers, causing outrage from traditionalists and clamouring fans from modernists.

There are many indie authors whose works easily falls into a specific genre, making their lives far easier. However, for many, like myself, who have forgone the carefully constructed genres of the past, the world may be our oyster, we just have to work a little harder to try and define ourselves. Meanwhile, readers will remain vital in helping to break the traditional restrictions so that authors feel free to offer something new. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying new genres for Inside Evil and taking feedback from readers to help discover its best suited category, but until then, it seems that many will either love, or hate, novels which break the norm.