Wayne Pappin has written a heartfelt tale about a small Australian town, focusing on two young men and their travails. He wanted an image of the bridge that features at the heart of the story, which we combined with the two swimmers. The title typeface is Northwell and the subtitle Charcuterie Flared.
Alongside the continuing rise of audiobooks, podcasts have also experienced dramatic growth in recent years. Some podcasts have achieved million plus audiences, which has drawn the attention of advertisers and now Spotify, the giant of music streaming. The podcast space has tended to have a scrappy, DIY feel, but that may start to recede into history. Authors interested in audio books might want to also consider the possibilities of podcasting — there have been several successful attempts to create serialised podcast dramas, an interesting echo of the long-vanished era of full cast radio dramas.
While the big bookselling chains may have gone the way of the dinosaurs (though department store book sections are expanding somewhat), the indie stores live on. However efficient an algorithm, it can never compete with the experience and warmth of a hand-curated bookstore. Victoria has quite a number of excellent little bookstores scattered across the state. As there is a particular kind of joy in finding a lovely bookstore, we thought we would run a series of posts, each highlighting an exceptional indie.
The first of these is our local. The Eltham Bookshop. Located at 970 Main Road, Eltham, it is a genuine book-cave, fitting an amazing amount of literary content into a relatively small space. Meera and Navin Govil run a active program of book launches, promotions and book-related events throughout the year, meaning the bookstore is very integrated into the local community. Meera has been trading for twenty years and has a loyal customer base. She supports local authors and small publishing houses. Definitely worth a trip — Eltham would be much diminished without it.
Next: Bookwolf in Maldon.
Authors will happily spend months or even years writing their book, carrying out immense amounts of research, rewriting, proofreading and structuring. But when it comes to thinking about one or two hundred words on the back of their book, their collective minds go blank. A feeling of panic descends. The author knows instinctively that there is something different about a blurb. How can they possibly encapsulate their work in such a tiny container? The typical response is to write a synopsis, giving away practically every plot point in the book. The best blurbs are an artful compromise between disclosure and withholding, suggestion and explanation. The blurb is a key marketing tool, both in actual bookstores and online, and it merits quite a bit of time and thought. Here are three perspectives on writing a great blurb, packed with plenty of useful advice and practical suggestions.
Janet Doyle’s fascinating book was launched at The Book Wolf, a charming bookshop in Maldon which also hosts discussion groups and music events. Guests enjoyed readings from the book, performed by John Curtis, Mike Smythe, and Janet herself. Musician John Curtis performed two pieces of music written especially to evoke the mystical town of Ldjakhion in which the novel is set. The audience asked many questions of Janet, and were particularly interested in aspects of the background research and the choice of names for the various characters. Signed copies of the book were sold on the night. We will post a sales link to the book shortly.
Many authors have never heard of Bookbub. The service is essentially a regular email offering selected discounted ebooks to a massive subscriber list. Most of the titles promoted therein are from major publishers, but a significant fraction are from independent authors and small publishers. Publishers and authors pay over $600 per title just to be considered for inclusion in their featured deals. They are extremely powerful in the world of ebook sales and massively profitable.
Peter Ralph has done a stellar job analysing the performance of bookbub and advising authors how to get one of the sought after featured deals. Other bloggers have useful posts about setting up effective ads for Bookbub, Others point out that while the sales spike created by bookbub is real and substantial, it can be rather short lived. This author suggests that the real benefit of being featured on bookbub is exposing the rest of your published work to a new audience.
In a world where bookstores, though gamely hanging on, represent a decreasing fraction of overall print sales (not to mention ebooks and audibooks), authors have to come to terms with the necessary techniques for online sales success, and letting the market know they even exist.
Dianne Wadsworth runs a proofreading service for a variety of clients. We have referred authors onto her, and received very good feedback. Visit her recently revamped site to obtain a quote for your writing project. Needless to say, proofreading is a crucial stage in preparing your book for print.
Victoria Argyropoulos composed a book of poetry (Dear Diary) exploring the nuances of a relationship. She wanted a fairly stark cover with a subtle texture. The book was interspersed with her own photographs and many solid panels. She was very pleased with the print job:
We highly recommend the print management services of Tenderprint Australia. More news later re. the availability of this interesting volume.
For a glimpse of what a book promotion might look like when integrated with email and social media, this post is worth perusing. While it would probably seem somewhat exhausting to many authors, it does emphasise just how much work is involved in making a book visible to an audience, and encouraging readers to actually purchase it.
Peter Stokes has researched and written a very entertaining account of early colonial life on and around the Gippsland Lakes. He brings to life many interesting personalities and the yachting regattas held during the 19th century. The regattas were a major focus of social life in the region for many years, reflecting the importance of fishing and shipping before railways and cars came along. We received the following update from Peter recently:
Regatta is available here.
Dr. Harald Osel works in the global oil and gas industry and has written four remarkably detailed volumes on the industry he knows and loves. We designed covers for all four volumes of his magnum opus and typeset the text. Every aspect from exploration to extraction and transport is covered, along with issues of environmental preservation and clean energy. Published by Aurora Publishing. We maintained common design elements for al four covers and used images that reflected the topic covered by the specific volume. Typeface used on the covers: Proxima Nova (various weights and widths).
One of the distinctive aspects of ebook publishing is the willingness of authors and publishers to vary book pricing. Some of this may be an attempt to find the ideal price for a given book, but others are following a more sophisticated playbook, a little like the strategies employed by airlines with ticket sales. Kindle itself has Kindle Countdown Deals, though there are built in limits to the use of this particular tool. PublishDrive makes the following observation:
And WriteHacked has a long post on the topic spelling out all of the options and reasoning behind them
Independent authors are often preyed upon by publishers. Writing a book is hard but a relatively linear task — write > edit> proofread, but the modern landscape of publishing and promotion is wide open, with a myriad possible strategies and pitfalls. Unsurprisingly, many authors find the prospect of self-managing their book overwhelming and sign up with ‘vanity’ presses. Many of these presses over-promise and under-deliver. With the amount of money they spend on signing up with a publisher, authors could have achieved a great deal pursuing their own promotional plan. There are many resources online to assist with this planning. Jane Friedman is also very helpful.
Independent publishing is hard, but it can be very rewarding. Many of the possibilities are very low cost, your reach is potentially global, an amazing thing in itself.
WorkingType Design has compiled a useful hints booklet for authors, downloadable here.
Most books are set up in Adobe InDesign. Very few independent authors subscribe to Indesign, and therefore have no capacity to directly edit or correct their own book. Typically they will supply a list of corrections to the designer. However, Adobe have recently added an interesting feature to InDesign that will at give authors the chance to at least annotate the PDF proof, and have the designer import the PDF (and annotations) directly into Indesign (provided the comments are properly made). This should increase the speed and accuracy of book proofing and streamline the workflow. An article on the process from Adobe.
Most independent authors opt to upload their print-on-demand book files to Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly Createspace) or to Ingram Spark/Lightning Source. Hence, designers tend to choose book sizes that conform to the standard sizes supported by these two providers (the sizes are very similar between the two platforms. The pages that detail the standard sizes for KDP are here, and for Ingram Spark here. For a head to head comparison of the two services, check out this article. Others argue for using both services at once.