Category Archives: Self Publishing

Amanda Hocking: The E-book Millionaire

Another author makes it big off self-publishing. Amanda Hocking proves passion is the key ingredient to turning dreams into dollar signs. If you love writing, working a 9 to 5 won’t even stop you.

Anyone who has danced around the Indie blogosphere might have stumbled upon the novel Wake by Amanda Hocking. Well guess what, Miss. Hocking’s writing career did not begin with a seven figure contract from St. Martin’s Press. She started her writing career coming home after working late until 10 p.m., drinking a red bull, and then working eight hours straight on her writing.

Seeing she could get the same quality novels as a publisher, she self-published them online. Nine books led to a big return on investment.

Miss. Hocking inspired me. Now it is your turn. Let Miss. Hocking inspire you.

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White space: It’s time to use my own advice

Having done an article on white space, I wanted to put some white space techniques to the test. Playing around with a couple images in Photoshop, I focused on the blend modes in the layers panel.

This allowed me to come up with a couple cute covers for a  new story Daggers are a Girl’s Best Friend. Come back Wednesday to hear more about fonts.

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Cover Design I: Think like a true designer master white space

You want to design a great cover for your novel, master white space.

White space can be the empty space on your covers, the space between graphics, margins, fonts, gutters, lines, objects. Any clean area on your cover. White space does not necessarily have to be white. If the background of your cover is green, then your white space is green.

Achieving balance between the images and the fonts on your page gives your cover a crisp, clean look. In fact, taking account white space is the mark of a true designer.

Why does white space even matter?

Because the eye loves clean and hates clutter. Just look at the example below.

Which is more pleasing?

I love to think designing a cover is the same as designing an ad for a professional magazine.

How many ads do you see out there with multiple pictures cropped and smashed together using masking? Probably next to zero.

Less is always more. If you are not a designer and are working on a limited budget, do not feel pressured to use a lot of masking techniques to create a cover that looks like every other book out there on the market.

Below are some examples of covers and ads that make good use of white space for your cover design inspiration.

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Maryann Reid: guerrilla marketing book strategies to catapult your career

When one thinks, “how to market my book,” they should think Maryann Reid.

When Reid released her third novel Marry Your Baby Daddy, she used event marketing to catapult her book into the limelight with a grassroots movement centered around social issues her readers could identify with.

Marry Your Baby Daddy Day was “a group wedding specifically for unmarried couples with children” that took place September 29, 2005, John Stossel and Eric Hanan wrote in an article named after the event for  ABC 20/20.

It is just one of the things Reid has done to establish herself as a brand and a publishing powerhouse.

If one wants to sell books, they have to get out there and connect with their readers.

How are you going to do this?

On Saturday, June 9, Maryann will be featured on my blog. Because she has made appearances on CNN, The CBS Early Show, and The Wendy Williams Experience,  she will give tips on how to create a video presence and a market for your novel.

Reid coaches writers and entrepreneurs in her Sell It Before You Write It Bootcamp, equipping those serious about a successful career on creating a market that will attract agents and publicity.   Please check out her website, connect with her through social media, and read her biography to learn more.

Maryann Reid BIO

Award-winning author (St. Martins Press) and social entrepreneur Maryann Reid has been featured by countless media outlets including USA Today, Essence, Glamour, The CBS Early Show, and The Wendy Williams Experience.

Maryann’s first book Sex and the Single Sister: 5 Novellas was published by St. Martins Press when she was just 25 years old. At that time, Maryann had no idea that her journal entries would become characters and later become a book. But she quickly learned the power of the media and pop culture influence on publishers and their decision-making. Because of the popularity of HBO’s Sex and The City, she hit the zeitgeist and signed her first book deal with St. Martins and the strong support of a stellar agent. Several books later, Maryann coaches others on how they can sell their own books, attract agents and publicity in half the time they would on their own.

When her third novel Marry Your Baby Daddy was published, Maryann was able to address a social issue that she cared deeply about and rally a new movement. As a result, she and her books have been profiled in The New Yorker, Newsweek, Oprah.com, NBC Nightly News, etc. for her innovative approach to life and solving its complex issues. Later, Marry Your Baby Daddy was optioned by Hollywood actress Holly Robinson-Peete and Dolores Robinson and is still a part of Maryann’s growing platform as social entrepreneur.

As a business coach and professional speaker, Maryann has gathered a diverse roster of credentials and affiliations:

  • · Author of 5 novels and several short stories by St Martins Press and Penguin Putnam
  • · Lecturer at various universities including St John’s University and Fordham University in NYC in Creative Writing and Business Communications
  • · Referred to as the “Oprah of Brooklyn” for her work with women and philanthropic efforts like Marry Your Baby Daddy Day
  • · Guest expert and social commentator on top-rated nationally syndicated radio shows like NPR’s Fresh Air, The Michael Baisden Show, Fox News Radio, CBS Radio, The Gayle King Show on Oprah Radio, etc
  • ·Invited by USATODAY to write a novella, Single Black Female, for the acclaimed Open Book section
  • Lifestyle expert at Alphanista.com

Maryann has been invited to speak to some of the most innovative groups all over the country and has received over 20 million media impressions worldwide via major news outlets like ABC News 20/20, NBC Nightly News and CNN. She is a popular guest lecturer at colleges, where she has taught her publishing and media techniques to influential groups and thought leaders.

Maryann received her BA in Journalism from Fordham and developed her writing and love for news at Random House and CNN. She later received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Miami.

Maryann has taught creative writing and nonfiction courses at major universities in NYC and Miami, FL.

She is also a certified scuba diver.

Blogger Roxie Hanna: Building a following

Roxie Hanna’s blog is a pit stop for “no fee” writing opportunities, quirky tidbits and writers’ resources.

On Sunday, May 6, Roxie will reveal her vision, journey, and blogging tips to building a following.

When scanning the homepage of Roxie’s blog, Sunday Funnies will welcome you into the warm atmosphere of Roxie.

Once you have your “funny bone” tickled, you will not want to leave.

Soon you will be scanning through the motivating author spotlights and reading up on industry news as if it is the one thing keeping the lights on at home and your family at the dinner table.

The blog began way back in 2009, Roxie Hanna told me in an interview.

“I watched my stats like a hawk and soon found out this was like waiting for water to boil!” Hanna said.

Learning she had to take a step back and reexamine why she began the blog in the first place, it led her to creating the best blog she could.

“I’m not in it to win a popularity race,” Hanna said.

Her new philosophy has paid off.

Seeing that blogging is one of the tools authors use to get their work out there, I wanted to provide some useful links on blogging.

Visit Hanna’s blog as well, for her website is a great example on how blogs can be structured.

Also do not forget to check back for her interview this Friday, May 4, and connect with Hanna via her:

Useful links

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Designing the Interior of your novel

Whoever believes interior design is an art must be deathly in love with the craft.

I find it to be a science more along the lines of physics.

Even though I am not a novice, using Adobe Indesign to construct the interior of my novel was not as easy as I imagined.

After laying out the margins correctly:

.25 inch margins (that is what Createspace recommends) I find .50 inch margins to be cleaner.

.75 inches for the gutter

There were other points I had to consider such as:

How many blank pages would I have in the beginning of the novel?

There has to be a copyright, acknowledgements, and so on.

Not only that, but there also has to be enough  blank pages so that my first chapter would end up on an odd page.

If one is also looking at novels, they might have noticed that blank pages are starting to be styled as well.

How much space would I leave for my page numbers and where would I place them?

Out of a slight desire to be lazy, I modeled my interior design off of Stephanie Meyer’s New Moon. If she can do without a title and author in the header, so can I.  

How am I going to design the opening of each new chapter?

It is industry standard never to indent the first paragraph of each chapter.

It can, however, be stylized with the first few words in all caps or through the use of drop caps.

How am I going to show breaks in the chapter?

Page breaks are also never indented. Many do take liberty with the style of the page breaks.

I have seen them styled with four asterisks or a simple space of .25 in leading.

I had to ask myself what fonts do I desire to use for my chapter headings, page numbers, footers, and so on.

This was the hardest decision to make, forcing me to find a font that would speak to the mood of my novel.

Always erring on the side of simplicity, I just chose one of the fonts I used for the cover of my novel.

Finally, how am I to organize this information, so that I have one coherent style across my manuscript?

Organize everything in paragraph and character styles once you have got the look of the first chapter.

My biggest mistake was going through a discovery process as I went through each chapter.

I found out how I wanted to break my chapters in chapter one, but did not figure out the font for my chapter headings till chapter twelve.

This forced me to have to go back to the beginning and update my character and paragraph styles over and over again.

Such a process added hours onto my work. Mind you, I had chosen to use the Adobe book feature, thinking it would be easier to organize and manage the chapters.

Once everything is organized into character and paragraph styles, it is just click and point from there.

Curious about Adobe Indesign?

Adobe Indesign is used primarily for layouts and can be a great tool for interior design.

I sharpened my skills with the program utilizing Lynda.com.

To sum up the entire article, here are some tips to constructing a clean manuscript:
  1.       .25 in outside margins at least (I like .50)
  2.       .75 in gutter (inside margins)
  3.       Size 12 pt or 14 pt for body copy
  4.       1.5 * (font size of body to determine the leading)
  5.       Test and plan all in chapter one: chapter fonts, page number fonts, header information, chapter openings, and page breaks
  6.       Master paragraph and character styles
  7.       Do not indent the first paragraph in a chapter
  8.       Do not indent chapter breaks
  9.       Use .25 in for paragraph indents
  10.       REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW for orphans and widows, awkward spacing, and mistakes
Intimidated by design?

Do not be. Anyone who is on a budget can construct the interior of their novel.

My suggestion is, never feel one has to be extravagant. Readers are reading for the story, not for the interior design.

I do have to admit, interesting and unique interior design can sometimes be the icing on the cake.

Check out one of my favorites, The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton, an author who will soon be featured on my blog.

Her interior and exterior design is awesome.

 

Editing: Making every word spectacular

Superheroes Wear Faded DenimEditing is key to getting the type of novel that leaves your reader turning to the last page and going, “WHY!? WHY DID IT HAVE TO END?”

My debut novel, Superheroes Wear Faded Denim, has gone through three years of writing, four drafts, numerous critique groups, and endless writing workshops.

The novel ended 452 pages and has been cut to 398.

Each draft evolved.

What began as a story about an artsy college student who wars against her BFF for the heart of a wealthy bachelor has grown to be a story about a socially awkward college student’s sleeping habits saving mankind.

Of course my story would have never been more than just another girl meets boy if it had not been for my mother reading my very first draft, and uttering, “it’s boring.”

Even though I was a romance writer trying to appeal to a mother who lives off James Patterson novels, I took the advice.

Editing might be key, but without good advice, editing is misguided.

I found critique groups and creative writing classes to be very useful in shaping my final drafts.

When I showed my mother the third draft, I was getting a thumbs up.

Still the third draft was not the final.

I took the advice of writer Kathryn Bain, author of Breathless, and utilized NaturalReader.

Anyone who wants to self-edit their book needs to invest in a product that will speak their words.

Combing through my pages with that product one last time really saved my manuscript.

 

 

 

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