Thursday, February 21, 2013

Should Authors Blog?

Should Authors blog?

How many times have I heard the discussion, should authors blog, It's a hard question to answer.  Some people love to blog others hate to blog. It can be fun, if you blog only when you want to, or when you have something really good to blog about.  Let's study this question and see what we learn.

To blog or not to blog
Blogging can be a great way to become well known.  It's a great way to post little ideas that you have and leave them out there like little breadcrumbs on google for others to find. People can follow you, comment on your blog.  It's kind of like writing a book, it's out there floating around in this big world we call the internet, just waiting for someone to search the right terms and find your blog and hopefully read it.  

Another thing about blogging.  It might not always make you a sale, but it can make you some friends.  People know me because of my blogs, they appreciate the time it takes me to write helpful informative blogs. Maybe, they won't buy my book, but they tweet something for me when they see my name. They share my book when it's free because I helped them with Microsoft Word formatting. There is more to this blogging/indie path than you think.  It's about helping others, and making some great friends in the process.

When to blog
I like to blog when a wonderful idea hits me, or I have a soap box moment when something just has to be said, and I just have to let people know my opinion. We're writers, we like to write, so why not blog?  I blog when ideas hit and they just have to come out on paper.  It's a way to help others learn something useful. It's kind of fun to know that I'm typing something and that a year from now, some new kid that just is itching to know about blogs, might google and find my post.  Wow, isn't the Internet just amazing.

Will blogging help me sale books
This is a loaded question. It's really hard to know today what makes a book fly off the shelves of Amazon into someone's kindle.  I think that blogging is just another venue that is out there to help Authors become more well known, more respected, and yes maybe in the end it might just help us sale books.  500 or more people come to my blog a month.  They find old posts through searching something on google, they find a link on my website, but they are coming.

500 people a month seeing my name, seeing my books, reading what I've written.  How could that NOT equal a book sale here or there.  It's just one of those things that you have to wonder about. After all, there is no little Google man that looks like the Pillsbury dough boy that's going to pop up his head and say, today you sold a book because you blogged about e-book sales last month.

The real question is what do you want to do
Do you want to blog. Do you have ten minutes every three or four days to spare. Do ideas come to you that you'd just love to share, then by all means blog.  Start sharing your little tidbits of information with the world.  If you enjoy it, does it really matter if it equals a sale, or does it really matter if everyone is doing it.

Blogging 101
Please take a tip from me, don't do forced blogging.  Don't tell your awaiting public that you are going to blog every day, if you don't have time, or that much information to share.  No one is going to like boring blogs.  When I first started blogging, I thought I needed to blog every day, or even once a week.  I started out trying to blog every Monday, and that just didn't work.  I finally just stopped worrying about the audience and if they were checking in every day, and wrote about things that interested me, when it crossed my mind. Sometimes it's months between my blog posts.  Amazingly, people starting hitting old blogs I'd posted, and now I'm up to over 500 a month, and that is just amazing!

Outside Blogging 
I always try to remind people that you can blog or write anywhere, so take some time and get a laptop and go out in the sun, when winter is over, of course. Get out in the backyard, and blog or write, and enjoy life while coming up with some of those great ideas.  I call this my outside office, and I just love it.  Blogging or not?  It's all up to you, but whatever you do enjoy life, every day is a blessing from God. 

Now get out there and Blog, or write?

Samantha Fury is the author of the Popular Street Justice Series
she's written many articles on book covers, for Indie Authors.  
She operates several Indie Groups. Editing Services, Cover Artist, 
Helpful Indie Facebook Groups, and a wonderful Forum 
just for Indie Authors.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How Important is a book cover?

How Important is a book cover?
A book cover is very important, it's your first opportunity to get someone interested in your book.  When we as authors publish our books on Amazon or get them in a book store, we have about five seconds to get someones attention.  That said, yes a book cover is one of the most important aspects of a good book.

An Ugly Cover
It does not matter if you have written an epic novel, like Gone With The Wind, if you cover does not interest a reader, they're not going to slow down long enough to read the blurb, or the first chapter.  Many good books are looked over, and never read because the Author fell in love with a cover that did nothing to enhance the book.

Cover Artist or Author
Okay lets be truthful are you really a Cover Artist or an author?  This is a very important question. Taking one picture and stretching it over your book and slapping a title and your name on it is not always going to create a great cover that will stop people in their tracks. You say but, it looks okay and it didn't cost anything.  Are you really happy with just okay.  Is just okay going to stop most readers and make them say, I have to read this book?

Know your own limitations 
Sure anyone can make a cover, but can anyone make a great cover?  This takes us back to the days when we were a kid, and we sang a song, and our mothers patted us on the head and said, yes honey you're a great singer. Many of those same kids find out on AI and other reality shows that . . . no, they really can not sing. 

When you make a cover, don't ask your mother or your best friend if it's any good.  Find authors or artist, preferably those that don't know you, and get their opinion.  This way if your cover is no good maybe they'll tell you the truth. 

If at first you don't succeed 
I know we all can't afford a Cover Artist, and we can't all afford adobe Photoshop, but we can all learn from our mistakes. If you make a cover, and it's not great, or it could be better, don't hesitate to make another cover later on.  Most of us when we start out don't have money to spend on covers though really it's the most important aspect of the book, other than editing that we can hire done.  

Changing a cover can be a great thing, and many of us need to take a long look at our covers and see if they are really up to par.  When there are so many novels out there, we need our novel to stand out.  We need the fonts to be easy to read, and we don't need a cluttered, or too simple looking cover. If a reader perceives that an Author is not willing to spend time and money on a cover, they are going to assume the Author is not diligent enough to pay for an editor, or maybe even go as far to think, that they can't even write, when in reality they have done nothing but look at our covers.

You're not an Artist, but you are broke
I can't say that I'm not an artist, because I've drawn images and painted since I was a kid, and I love making covers.  I can say that I didn't know what I was doing when I first started making covers. That said, even if you are not an artist, you can learn from those that are.  Look at what works and what sales, before you make a cover.  Do research, look at over 500 covers or more in the same genre you're writing in to see what others that are successful are doing.

Pre Made Covers 
Also, it never hurts to take a look at the pre-made cover sites.  Many of them are as low as 50 dollars and the covers look awesome.  True they might not fit your cover perfectly, but are they going to grab the attention of a reader faster than something you can make.  The bottom line is you need a cover that will, and can get the attention of the reader. 

Back to learning and getting better
Either in writing, editing, or cover making, we can never stop learning. When we stop learning, we stop becoming better at our job. Also, the more things we can afford to pay to be done, the more time we will have for writing. It never hurts to stop and compare our book covers to someone else. See what someone in your genre that is successful in doing.  You can take this too far, I mean after all Sue Grafton could just put her name on her covers and people would still buy them.  Always put some common sense into your research.

Part two of How Important is a book cover coming Monday

Samantha Fury is the author of the Popular Street Justice Series
she's written many articles on book covers, for Indie Authors.  
She operates several Indie Groups. Editing Services, Cover Artist, 
Helpful Indie Facebook Groups, and a wonderful Forum 
just for Indie Authors.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Pros and Cons of Being an Indie Author

A Great Place to Start

Pro's and Con's of being an Indie 
I'm sure this topic would be addressed differently by every Indie Author.  What one person thinks of as a con another may think of as a pro.  I think being an Indie or a Traditionally published author, a Trad in other words, is just like life in general, it has to start with the question, what do you want out of being an Indie.  What do you expect and what are your abilities to get you there.
Indie, the easy path?
If you think being an Indie is the easy way to publishing think again.  You are getting ready to step into a world that will take you as far as you are willing to push yourself.  We have Indie Authors that are having their books turned into movies.  We have Indies Authors that are seeing their dreams come true. Then again we have some Indies that are seeing lots of books sales, and some that are getting a couple of sales a month.

What makes one successful and one not so much, well, that's the fifty-dollar question.  Sometimes it's timing, sometimes its work, and sometimes a person will just write the perfect kind of story that the market is ready to gobble up.

Roll up your sleeves and pray
Most Indie authors are a jack of all trades. We write our own books, edit, make a cover, make a book trailer, we market, we sale, we upload, we format, if it gets done, we do it.  Now I'll admit some that can afford it will put some of these tasks on someone else.  Some buy covers, and pay for editors, but even when you do this, there is enough work left for a team of people.

You will be getting ready to open a door, that will lead to work, and work and more work.  Some Trads say that Indies are taking the easy road, by self publishing, well let me tell you, there is nothing easy about this job.  When they've worked as hard as I have, stayed up all night writing, looked at thousands of pictures to find the perfect red head for a cover, worked for hours trying to figure out how to upload a book to smash words. When they have walked a mile in an Indies shoes then and only then should they think about calling us lazy.

My Cons
To me it is a con to not have someone to turn to that knows more than me, a con to not have a great editor in my back pocket, a con is not having a better salary.  A con is not having someone to market my books for me.  As I said at the first we all each have our own con and pro list.

My Pros 
I love to make my own covers, I love having total control of what goes into my novel, I like the freedom that I work when I want to, no one tells me what to do. No one says be here or be there or do this and do that.  I don't have an agent, I have very few work related expenses. I can put out as many books as I want when and where I want.  This list could go on but I think I've hit the high points.

The Indie Family
I must say that one of the things I was not expecting was all of the loyal other Indies out there that are so willing to do just about anything they can to help their fellow Indie.  It's like this large school of Indies, and the minute you say you're going Indie they are willing to open up their arms, and their minds, to help you in any way they can.

The Trad V/S Indie 
Things have changed since I first wrote this article so this is an update. Indies are still not always accepted by Trade authors, many of them have felt in the past that we were skipping a step or taking a short cut, but now many of the Trades are coming around to see that the Indie route is another option for them. Many of them are going hybrid and seeing the Indie path as an option to make sometimes more money than they did when they were with a publishing company.

What road will you chose?
I'm a Christian and I am a firm believer in praying and asking God for guidance, so never take a step into any adventure without asking for God to guide you.  Now, that said, I say your choice will and should depend greatly on what you want out of life. Do you want to be your won boss, set your own hours, and chose your own path?  Do you want to work harder than everyone else to get the stories out of your head and onto paper.  Can you do all of this on your own, it is not an easy job, you have been warned.

I can't really tell you much about the Traditional side of publishing, all I know is what people tell me. I know they say they make more money than we do, but I think now things are changing and all of us are having to fight for every sale.

The Indie Gates
It's up to you as an Author to make that choice, to add up your own pro and con list, and then either start writing your first book and working on that first cover, or you could always just start writing query letters and start looking for an agent.  

The choice is up to you.

But for now the Indie Gates are wide open, do you really want to take a chance on letting them close without letting you run in first.

Samantha Fury 
Author of the Street Justice Series 

Yes I know I have cute dogs and I love to show them off. 
Thanks for dropping by check out past blogs to learn more about being An Indie Author!!