Born to Deliver Book Trailer

Announcing, Designing, Publicizing 1 Comment »

Kathy Brace and I released our book, Born to Deliver, at the end of last year, and are so encouraged at how God is using it to touch lives and bring healing. My good friend, Molly Williamson, of Imago Photography generously offered to help us put together a book trailer that we hope will serve to spread a message of hope and redemption to even more people. Here’s the wonderful result of her creative talent and work on our behalf:

If you’re looking for a great videographer to help you put together a book trailer for your book, I highly recommend Molly!

Creating a Kindle Edition of Your Book

Designing, Distributing 3 Comments »

After months of thinking about publishing my book, Pajama School, in a digital format for Kindle, I finally buckled down and figured out what I needed to do to make it happen. The process was simple, but a bit time-consuming. First off, you have to set up an account with Amazon’s Digital Text Platform. Why this is not integrated into the Amazon Advantage accounts I have no idea, but Amazon seems to specialize in disjointed confusion…

Once the account is set up, just navigate to the “Bookshelf” and click the button to “Add a new title.” The uploading process is very intuitive. I ended up uploading my book file as a pdf, then I downloaded it as an html file and spent several hours cleaning up the code in Dreamweaver before re-uploading it. There may be a faster way to do this, but since I didn’t already have any of my book in an html format, this was the most convenient. Once it is uploaded, it takes about 24 hours to publish it and make it live and available for purchase on Amazon.com.

I’m not into reading books on a digital reader yet, so I’m not sure how important it is to make a book available in this market. However, it’s always valuable to explore something new and expand your knowledge in a new area. So, if you are considering publishing a book to Kindle, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s pretty painless, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to make your book available in as many venues and formats as possible!

Book Design – The One Thing I’m Glad I Didn’t Do Myself

Designing 1 Comment »

One of the most frequent comments I get when people see my book, Pajama School, is that they LOVE the cover! In fact, I’ve had several people tell me that they purchased the book just because of the cover. And, truth be told, almost without exception in any case, it is the cover that prompts one to take a second look at a book or pick it up off the shelf. For that reason, I think it is absolutely essential that authors who self-publish have a professionally designed book. There is nothing that screams “self-published” louder than an unattractive, amateur cover – and unfortunately there are lots to go around. I freely admit that if I had designed my own cover, it would definitely be included in that category. (Even now, I am horrified to think of what would have happened if I had stuck with my pathetic attempt at designing my own book cover!)

Thankfully, the Lord providentially led me to reconnect with a friend who is an incredibly gifted designer. After a brief e-mail consultation, Hannah Gleghorn agreed to take on the task of designing my book cover. Just take one look at her website and I can guarantee that you will fall in love with her work! Not only are Hannah’s designs gorgeous, but she is absolutely wonderful to work with. She freely offered advice, helped me think through some important design issues, and even spared me from making some bad decisions. And on top of all that, her prices are incredibly reasonable, and worth every penny!

In the same vein, the interior design and layout of a book should not be overlooked. In fact, this is a whole art in itself, in my opinion. I was prepared to tackle this difficult aspect of publishing myself, but oh how glad I am that this is one adventure I opted not to take in my self-publishing journey. My talented and highly qualified friend, Tiffany Hiebert, undertook this job for me and spent hours designing, tweaking, adjusting, and formatting in order to produce a book that is every bit as beautiful on the inside as the outside. The interior is seamlessly integrated with the look and feel of the cover, which definitely makes it stand out beautifully! If you are looking for someone to whom you can contract this part of your book design, I whole-heartedly recommend that you contact Tiffany for a consultation/quote.

It’s certainly not cheap to hire professional designers for the cover and/or interior design of your book, but keep in mind that this is a one-time upfront expense that will last through years and years of book promotion and multiple book printings. This is not an area to “cut corners”! Of course, I haven’t found any area yet in self-publishing where I would advocate “cutting corners.” In my opinion, you must view publishing a book as a long-term investment. It will require a significant amount of money initially, but the return can far outweigh the cost if you make every effort to produce an excellent, professionally designed book (and I’d say it’s a more stable way to invest your money than the stock market right now anyway!).

The Parts of a Book

Designing, Writing/Editing 1 Comment »

I know I’ve been terribly negligent in keeping up this blog lately. There are a ton of things that I would like to add here that I’ve learned over the last couple of months, but for now I just want to give you a link to a wonderfully concise list of the parts that should be included in a book. Check out this great post by Todd Rutherford: Book Nuts and Bolts.

Every self-published author MUST know these parts of a book! And can I please just put in a special plug for the book foreword. There is nothing that screams “ignorant self-publisher” louder than picking up a book and seeing the foreward. I know this from personal experience – I was at a conference a while back and picked up a book written by the speaker. As I was flipping through it, the heading Foreward glared at me from the page. I know this will expose me as a book snob, but I put the book back on the table and refused to buy it. If an author/self-publisher hasn’t done enough research to at least get a basic thing like the spelling of Foreword correct, I can’t help but think that the rest of the book may lack elements of quality and excellence as well.

So, my fundamental piece of advice to all aspiring self-publishers is to do your research. There’s a reason self-publishing has earned a bad rap; many people don’t put in the time, effort, and resources to produce quality work – whether it be editing, cover design, page layout, printing, content organization, etc. I say, let’s do our part to change the perception of self-publishing!

Business Cards for Books

Designing, Marketing 2 Comments »

Do you have business cards for your books? I suppose if I was a prolific author with a multitude of books, I might just have a general author business card, but since I’ve only got one book, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have a business card specifically for the book. In fact, in my previous post, How to Market While on Vacation, I shared one strategy for using business cards. Here’s a picture of what my cards look like:

Pajama School Business Card Front

Pajama School Business Card Back

I give these out frequently, and all of my family and several friends distribute them to interested persons. They serve as a great little bookmark, and convey just enough information to give people an idea of what the book is about without overloading them with a brochure full of information.

It seemed to make the most sense to use the cover of the book as the full design for the card since a key component of marketing is developing brand familiarity. I want to get the image of the book in front of people’s eyes as much as possible. Then, perhaps someday when they are browsing a bookshelf, they will see it, be drawn to it out of familiarity, and feel more inclined to buy it.

Website Option for Self-Publishers

Announcing, Designing, Marketing, Networking, Shipping 1 Comment »

Tonight, I spent a good deal of time making adjustments to my Sibro Publishing website. You probably won’t see any of them, though, because they are all in the backend! I’m using the Open Source Joomla CMS for the website, and have installed the VirtueMart Shopping Cart component to handle the orders. I highly recommend both of these! They have a bit of a learning curve, but it can be done. It’s well worth it in the long run for a variety of reasons:

1. It is free!

2. It is a very customizable and flexible structure that allows for expansion if you decide to grow your self-publishing business.

3. Both of these have excellent support communities where you are almost guaranteed to find answers to your questions.

4. There are tons of additional components and plugins that can be installed. (I’m also using the free Acajoom mailing list component to manage subscribers, and send out a regular e-newsletter.)

I will say, this option is best suited for the more serious web developer. I’m a huge fan of Open Source (when it suits my purposes), so I don’t mind investing the time to work through some of the headaches involved with getting everything set up, customized, and ready for business. The real test will come, though, once the orders start pouring in! 🙂

(I have been trying to work through some cross-browser inconsistency issues, so if you see anything that doesn’t look quite right, please don’t hesitate to let me know!)

Purchase ISBN Block – Done!

Designing, Reading/Researching No Comments »

Thanks to the very prompt and gracious advice of Morris Rosenthal of the Self Publishing Blog, I finally felt some semblance of confidence to make the next step – purchase a block of ISBNs. I knew that Bowker was the place to go, but when I went to place my order, I had the option to also purchase an EAN Bar Code through them and an SAN, which they say many retailers and wholesalers require you to have. There were additional fees, of course, to add these items to the order and I had no idea whether I really needed them or not. Here’s what Mr. Rosenthal has to say:

Run, do not walk, from all additional Bowker offerings, beyond the basic ISBN block. Self publishers do not need SAN numbers, and I’m darned if I know who does:-)

Finally, I felt like I was getting somewhere! The only other thing I wanted to know before proceeding with my order was what other options I had for getting an EAN Bar Code. This was Mr. Rosenthal’s response to my query:

I’ve been using Milgram’s free barcode generator since 2002 (I really owe him a donation now that I see he’s finally put up a donation button:-)

The only trick is you want the EPS (Embedded Postscript File) but it comes without a preview, so when you stick it in your cover design, it will probably show up as a rectangular block without showing the barcode. But as soon as you generate the PDF, the barcode will appear.

It’s here: Bar Code Generator

Yes! That’s what I needed to know. So, thanks to Mr. Rosenthal’s timely assistance and an unexpected and generous contribution from a friend, I was able to place my order last night. As soon as the ISBN blocks arrive I will be able to move to the next step of generating a bar code and applying for a Library of Congress number. I’ll keep compiling a step-by-step list as I go to hopefully spare others from having to engage in the same extensive searching and subsequent head-banging as me to figure all this out. 🙂

Making Your Website Customer-Friendly

Designing, Marketing No Comments »

The Business Opportunities Blog lists five basic points to consider when designing your website to be customer-friendly. Very helpful information for self-publishers who are designing their own websites. I’ve done quite a bit of web design over the years and can attest to the importance of these five points. I can’t tell you how often I have been turned away from purchasing something off a website because of poor design or navigation.

On that note, I’m hoping that my website will be ready to launch by the end of next week. Hooray!

Why I Haven’t Announced the Title Yet

Designing, Writing/Editing No Comments »

An Interested Reader graciously pointed out that I have not revealed any additional information about my book for a while. I truly am sorry for the delay, but I am waiting for two things:

1. The final cover design image from my designer. We’ve basically finalized everything, now I’m just waiting for her to implement the final decisions so that I can present an image of the book cover when I announce the title.

2. Finish the website for the book. I’ve been working on a website and have the basic layout done. I just need to tweak the shopping cart system and add the rest of the content on the pages of the site.

I’m definitely getting closer to the end, but now that I’m back into my fall schedule, it’s been harder to devote as much time to all these details related to my book project! And I know that the speed certainly won’t be slowing down at all anytime soon!

Thanks for your patience. And rest assured…I promise that I will announce the title before the book is published! 🙂

Elance.com

Designing, Networking 1 Comment »

Last Sunday, a friend from church told me about the Elance website. I looked it up the next day and have been exploring it off and on to get a better feel for how it works. The tagline for the company sums up nicely what the overarching objective of Elance is: Where businesses hire and work with qualified professionals [to get work done]. Elance allows an entrepreneur to conceptualize an idea and then employ a qualified professional to help make it a reality. Whether it’s design work, logo development, writing or software programming, there are numerous professionals that may be accessed through Elance.

The way I understand it is that you post a project and specify what you need and then receive bids from professionals who are willing to meet that need. You select the bid you want and then work with that person to see the project to completion. Here’s one of their recent blog posts about a successful company that got off the ground by utilizing the services offered through Elance.

I can see this being valuable to self-publishers in a variety of ways:

* book cover design
* book interior design
* website development
* written contributions in areas that an author may need further expertise

I’m looking forward to exploring the site in more depth, but it sure seems like a great tool for self-publishers who desire to present a professional image and product! If anyone has any experience with Elance, I’d love to know what you think!

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