Attended the ConDor science fiction convention in San Diego on the weekend of March 13 through 15, 2015. I was looking for answers to getting a book published and whether I should publish it traditionally or self publish or even ebook publish. Ended up with more questions than answers.
One panel I attended was on publishing and here are some quick notes from the panel.
One panel member had taken two stock photographs and spliced them together for his cover art. He showed how it was legible in the thumbnail view while a commercially made cover was not easily readable in the thumbnail view. Commercial graphic artist don’t always get it when it come to cover visibility at a distance or when it’s a thumbnail. He also showed that the title and author’s name have to be in contrasting colors and big letters to show up in the cover thumbnail. Covers sell and the first glance a reader might get is your cover as a thumbnail at the bottom of someone else’s Amazon page.
Converting your word document to epub format is a lot of work. One tip was don’t write using tabs. Tabs will cause epub conversion programs to blow up or do strange things when they hit a tab in your file. Use search and replace to get rib of tabs. Before starting out to write your story in Microsoft Word set the preferences to indent after carriage return. Now after years of typing I have to train my hands not to hit the tab key after a carriage return. That’s years of habit to un-train.
Use hard page breaks between chapters not a bunch of carriage returns.
Word software puts hidden bookmarks (almost randomly) in the document as you type. You got to clean them out. Turn on reveal bookmarks and look for bookmarks with funny character in them and delete.
You got to hyperlink your table of contents to the text in your story. It’s not that hard to do.
Another recommendation is use New Times Roman font. There plenty of people out there that will not do this and you will make your story look bad if you don’t. Try Garamond font if you just got to use something other than Times New Roman.
Your going to need blurbs for your book. At least two blurbs, one short and one long. The long blurb can be the short blurb with words add to the end of it.
You got to market your book so think about how people will find your book. Some people use blind browsing and they stumble upon you book. That’s where a good eye catching cover comes in. Other people use keywords. Make sure you have the book or story genre in the keywords and blurb. It’s OK to put the titles of your other books in the keywords.
Then there is SEO = Search Engine Optimization. They didn’t go to much into that. It’s a rapidly changing area that people are always trying to game. Don’t game your reader or they may never buy another one of your books.
Metadata should be your name, the book’s title, blurbs, and tags.
Over and over it was stressed that you got to write a good story/book. Then you got to write a lot of them. Writing a series is good, if they liked the first one they will want more. Get on Facebook and twitter and all the other social media things. (I keep hearing this but there is not enough hours in the day to that and get the writing on the book done. A lot of people say this but I can’t do it.) Then keep your social media up to date.
The key point is that word of mouth is what sells your book. Give the social media visitors something to come for not just come-ons to buy your book. In the past authors have said that pictures of their cats (dogs don’t work as well) do draw visitors.
One author showed that regular publishing (in paper) got him three to four dollars per book while epublishing got him two to two dollars and fifty cents per book and he didn’t have to warehouse a bunch of books. He still has a few paper books printed up to show people, just not thousands.
Smashwords seems to be the winner. The other epub site is harder to use.
Tips from a panelist;
1. Your first goal is to build a fan base and get your name known
2. Don’t price a short story at $9.95.
3. Make the first book free.
4. Indies have to complete on price and quality. Remember quality cost you, the author, time and money (for example; editors, beta readers and rewrites). If anyone knows of a good editor that’s not too expensive let me know. I’ll also do beta reading for you if you will beta read my stuff.
5. The sweet spot for ebook price is $2.99 to $3.99.
Getting a book through Smashwords and on to the WEB can be fast once it is submitted. Smashwords has to vet the book but they turn them around.
If you got graphics in your book get a pro to help publish it.
Write on, draw on. Professor Voltage