A few versions on the theme of ‘digital parenting’ — a thoughtful attempt to promote a rational balance between time on and off screen in a family context, and summarise the latest research on the topic. Published by Hybrid Publishers.
In the latest news from the independent author front , Kathryn Gauci reports back on her recent Bookbub promotion:
“Bookbub was OK but didn't set the world on fire. I think some of that had to do with it being for the UK, AUS, NZ, Canada and India and NOT the US. The US is generally the biggest market. It also adds more to the deal in the first place. The real difference has come with it lifting my profile and follow on orders plus the page reads have more than doubled per day. So hopefully the momentum keeps up. I also put it up on a few other sites for a couple of days at the same time — Fussy Librarian etc, which I think helped. My friend, Barbara had one the week before and spent more on extra promo. Same Bookbub deal as me. She just recovered her cost but the follow-on has improved. Another friend had the US market as well and doubled her money.
It was worth it though. And the extra reviews and ratings are starting to come through also.”
Reviews are a key signal used in the ranking of online books. The more reviews, the higher the book ranks and the more books are sold. Of course, given this logic, reviews have been widely gamed by authors and publishers, to the point when they are sometimes not reliable guides as to a book’s quality and popularity. Authors round up their friends to review their books, or pay other services to generate reviews, or review other authors’ books in the hope of reciprocal reviews. Amazon has been fighting back against this degradation of the reviewing signal — the outlines of said epic struggle are described here, along with the latest strategies for independent authors.
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.
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.
An interesting piece explaining how some of the world’s biggest publishers have learned to live with and profit from their Amazon presence. The ongoing decline in real world bookstores (especially in the US) has made that more of an existential necessity than an optional extra. Remember when the Internet was going to bring diversity and choice? It certainly hasn’t worked out that way in browsers, search, social, ecommerce or just about any other field. Without some kind of regulatory restriction, it seems the natural evolution of any online business sector is towards aggregation and domination by one player.
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.
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.
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.
With the rise and rise of Audiobooks, some authors may be considering an audio version of their work. Whether they narrate it themselves (possible, but not always a good idea), or engage an actor at eye watering per-hour prices, there are many aspects to consider, most of which are covered in this excellent interview. Audiobooks are a powerful format with fairly high barriers to entry, platform independent, perfect for time poor people or those on the move, and only set to further expand. In my long experience as an audiobook consumer, the quality of the narrator is absolutely crucial — a good voice can make even indifferent prose sound oddly compelling. Some listeners will follow the narrator to different books just to hear his or her voice, which means some narrators are in massive demand.
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).
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 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.
Audiobooks are currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing world. Listeners can login to audiobook services such as Audible, Playster of Apple Books on almost any device, and listen at home, the car or while walking. In short, it is a portable and very immediate format. Until recently, the process of recording a professional ebook has largely been restricted to publishers, due to the expenses involved. However, audiobook recording services have been established aimed at independent authors. An author client recently recounted their experience using Findaway Voices, and was vocal in praise of their service. This article posted at the Creative Penn in mid 2018 largely echoes his praise. Amazon’s own audibook recording service to authors is here.
From the Department of AI is Coming for Your Job: an algorithm that does a pretty fair job of separating a human in an image from its background. I uploaded the image of the woman at left, and downloaded the result at right, all in a few seconds. Check it out here. The free version works at limited resolution. There is a paid version (naturally) that works at much higher resolution. The underlying technology is pretty impressive.
Some recent cover designs with the usual variety of subject matter. Contemporary fiction, psychology, thrillers and family histories. Never a boring moment…
The book of the future was supposed to be an amazing digital, virtual thing, anticipated eagerly by every second futurist, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. An interesting article in Wired about how we got to the current ebook landscape (hint: involves an all conquering behemoth named after a big river). And print books are still a thing, thank goodness. And here’s an interesting quote for all the independent authors out there: