Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two self-publishing success stories

Self-publishing success stories like Darcie Chan's and Lucy Kevin's make me want to take a similar route.

Darcie Chan is the author of The Mill River Recluse, a highly popular literary novel that she self-published as an ebook after it languished in a drawer for five years.  Before putting it away, she had tried to get it published traditionally, but even once she finally found an agent, it didn't sell.  When she heard about e-publishing, she decided to try it, and the book has since become a bestselling self-published title.

Lucy Kevin is a pen name for a ridiculously proliferate author (12 titles in 18 months? seriously?!) who also writes under the name Bella Andre.  Bella Andre's titles are steamy romances, whereas Lucy Kevin's are lighter, chick lit-styled romances (and one YA title, Gabrielle, that seems to be exclusive to Amazon at the moment, even though I bought it from Barnes & Noble last year — perhaps she enrolled it into Amazon's KDP Select program to make it eligible for their lending library?).  Lucy Kevin has a new title out now called The Wedding Gift, which appears to be exclusive to Barnes & Noble.

Neither of these success stories came to be without a lot of work, though.  The article about Darcie Chan talks about how much work she put into marketing her book, and Lucy Kevin frequently attributes her success to her high output.  (It bears repeating: 12 titles in 18 months!  That's a finished novel every month and a half.  I wonder if she has ever heard of NaNoWriMo?)  She also talks about establishing relationships with booksellers and readers (a.k.a. marketing).

An interesting paragraph from the Lucy Kevin guest post:

Here’s what I’ve learned from it all so far: I really like not having to depend on one author name to maintain--and build--sales. Having two brands means I can build sales with new books while offsetting risks. We all know that diversifying our financial portfolios is a good money strategy. I’ve found that diversifying my e-book portfolio has not only been a good financial strategy, but as importantly, it had been a really lovely creative strategy, too.

I've heard this from other, similarly productive authors, as well.  Obviously I have to get through research and revisions first so that I can start on the next book in my series, but if I decide to start putting out books in different genres, I might try different pen names and personas, as well.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Designing a successful ebook cover

Another helpful link thanks to Barnes & Noble's PubIt page on Facebook took me to this article: 3 Secrets to e-Book Cover Design Success.  Since I've been thinking about self-publishing, and since I've already done some work designing a cover, I was interested to see what the article had to say.

Basically, according to this article, your ebook cover has to be simple, small, and branded — simple and small because customers have to be able to see and read the covers in those little thumbnails that show up in search results on Amazon, BN.com, etc., and branded because catchy covers sell better than those that are boring or don't have a theme.

Looking at my covers, I definitely have a recognizable brand, since I'm using 1920s postcards for all of my covers.  Customers will be able to recognize one of my books in the series right off the bat, even though the cover illustration will be different.  Even better, the brand I'm establishing here won't be confused with anyone else's covers because, to my knowledge, no one else is using old postcard images for their covers.

But do they shrink down well enough?  I'm not sure.  Here, I'll let you be the judge of that:

I think this size should be close to the thumbnails shown on Amazon and BN.com.  What do you think?  I know the "And Pandora's Box" is harder to read than the rest, but I feel like that part isn't as important.  "Ruby Ransome" is the part I want to stand out, and with a long title, I don't think it's realistic to want it all to be easy to read.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writing that second draft

I'm currently working on some more research for both the first book and the soon-to-be-started second book in my Ruby Ransome vampire series, but as I finish up with the research I will begin working on the second draft of the first book.  (I want to do the research first because there are a few holes I want to fix in the first draft.)

Revising is a pretty big deal for me, since this will be the first time in my entire life that I've done a second draft of a novel.  I've written novels before, but I've always simply put them away when I was finished writing the first draft.  I never revised them, never wrote a second draft (let alone a third or fourth) trying to make them better.

I plan to do many rounds of revisions on these books as I finish them, plus hire a professional editor, since my goal is to self-publish.  Having never done revisions, though, I'm a little anxious about how it's going to go.  I know that I'm going to start by reading through the entire novel and making notes about what I want to change, but I don't know what to expect from there.  I know I'll have to do some rewriting in order to bring the second draft up to where I want it, but I don't know how much it'll take, or how much additional research I will find that I need to do.

Thanks to Nook's PubIt page, I found this article with tips on writing your second draft, but it's only marginally helpful because it reads more like an inspiration piece than an actual how-to.  I also may have found an app (of course!) for my Nook that will help me with this stage, but more on that in a future post.

Perhaps in a couple of months I'll have some tips of my own for those who are starting their second drafts!


 It took me a little while to get back on track with my novel — our dog Emma has been sick with pneumonia for the past month, and all of the vet visits and medications and coupage, on top of everything else in my life, has hamstrung my efforts a little bit.

But I'm finally getting started on my research again.  Last week I started researching potential guns for Ruby to carry, and I think I've found one, but more on that in another post.  This post is about Prohibition — or, more accurately, Ken Burns's Prohibition.

My mom had watched all three episodes of the show back when I was working on the first draft of the novel, and recommended it to me then.  I was lucky enough to find them in their entirety on YouTube (otherwise I would have had to get the DVDs from Netflix, since it's not available streaming anywhere else, and I didn't want to buy it from iTunes because I wouldn't have been able to watch it on my Nook Tablet).

I've watched the first two episodes, and so far I'm impressed.  They provide fantastic information about the era — including some things that I should be able to use in my novels — and being able to see footage from the 1920s, including the entrances and interiors of the speakeasies, is invaluable as it will enable me to create a more realistic-seeming setting for my characters.

If you are interested in the 1920s, I highly recommend watching these, especially episodes 2 and 3 (since the first episode is more about the years leading up to the passage of the 18th Amendment — it's great as background, but not really about the 1920s themselves).


Friday, January 6, 2012

New Years resolutions: Revise that novel!

It's been a while since I've posted, primarily because I have been taking a break from my novel altogether — I didn't even do the research I'd planned to do in December.  It worked out well, though, as I was quite busy in December.  Plus, I was able to get caught up a bit on my reading, which was very nice.

With the start of the new year, though, it's time to get back to business.  This week was a bit disorganized as I got back to my normal schedule, but next week I plan to get started on the research and planning for the second novel — and maybe a few things to add to the first novel as I revise, too.  Revisions have been pushed back a few weeks.  I'll consider February 1st my targeted start date.

I'll also be posting to this blog more frequently.  My plan is to include two types of posts: writerly posts, with information on word counts, the writing process, etc., and posts on the actual subject matter, i.e., vampires and the 1920s.

But for now, let's take a moment to admire 2012, stretched out before us: a blank slate, full of possibility!

Happy New Year!


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