11/16/12

The Un-sexy Side of Self-Publishing

I met Victoria Smith on the Twitter Chat #NALitChat. It's put on each week by NA Alley and although I can't always make it, it's always fun to meet with other writers that are excited by the emerging New Adult genre. Victoria released her first NA novel The Crimson Hunt last week.



Thanks for having me on, Laura! Well, I think when we all think about the perks of self-publishing one thing definitely stands at the forefront—freedom! Yes, there is oh-so-much freedom in self-publishing. You’re in charge of your own deadlines, content, and even how much your book will sell for. There are some many fun things to think about when self-publishing. BUT there are always two sides to every coin. There is the awesome side and the un-sexy side.
With all that freedom comes pressure! It’s up to you to make sure your product looks good in order for it to sell well. Let’s take the actual writing of the book part out of the equation. You have a finished book, it looks spiffy, and you’re proud. So how do you get that book from your desktop to the Kindle buy screen? You have to deal with some very un-sexy things.

Un-sexy Thing Number One: The Blurb

Ick. I literally just made a face as I wrote that retched word, lol. The blurb is a beast, and unfortunately, one of the most important things you will need to sell your novel. How did I do on my first blurb? I, of course, thought it rocked. Then, I sent it to someone to look at it for me, and all red lines and mark outs on it made me want to cry. I tried and tried again, only to be defeated. I literally put it away for three months before I tackled the beast again. But when I did, I was in a new state of mind. I sent it to about four people, and with some clean up, I finished. So the lesson I learned? Work on that sucker until it rocks no matter how long it takes. If you need to take a break, then do it, but never give up. All your hard work will be worth it in the end.

Un-sexy Thing Number Two: The Cover

Now, this didn’t start as an un-sexy thing. I, as well as most people, thought designing a cover would be super fun! One of the things authors dream about the most when they decide to publish a book is what the cover will look like. Will you put people on the front? Use a symbol? Either way, you’re super stoked to get started. That is…until it’s time to make one. You start images searches for that perfect icon for the cover in high spirits, but as you search, your hunt becomes more and more difficult. Perfection takes on a whole new meaning. The cover has to be amazing, jaw dropping, and riveting. It has to be something one can see posted on a billboard in Times Square. And as your standards heighten, the search becomes more and more difficult. What started out as the scanning of dozens of images turns into the scanning of hundreds, and sometimes thousands. That choice of people or symbol haunts your dreams! 

My advice to help with cover troubles? First, hire a professional to make a cover for you. Give them your concept and they will make suggestions. That will make the search easier, and potentially painless because sometimes they pick the image for you. But if you want to take a hands on approach, don’t let the cover phase you. Take a deep breath, and when your image searching starts to get daunting, just take a step back. Those pretty people and symbols will still be there in the morning!

Final Un-sexy Thing of the Post: Formatting

In order for your book to look correct in print and on digital eReaders, it will need to be formatted; otherwise the text will look all jumbled. Paragraphs of your book can be incorrectly broken up, and weird, almost alien-like symbols can show up in your text. My advice in regards to formatting? Hire someone. This was the best money (outside of editing, of course) I spent. I didn’t have to worry about this part, at all. I paid someone, they turned it over in 24 hours, and it looked outstanding. If you’re tech savvy, Amazon and other companies can walk you through it. But for me, I already had enough to worry about in regards to making my content look great. 
You want security that your book will look amazing when your customers buy it? Then hiring a formatter is for you! 

So that’s all, friends! Hope you enjoyed my post, and your self-publishing experience will be a whole lot sexier after anticipating the things listed above.




So, what unavoidable aspect of publishing comes to mind when you think of the Un-sexy side? Is it the formatting? The Copyrights?

24 comments:

  1. Formatting and editing for sure! Also, marketing gets tiresome...:) Great post!

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    1. Oh, how did I not mention marketing! That one is tough. I'm in the thick of it now. It's a struggle, but it's great to have our work out there and makes it worth it! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. This cover is grerat! Of course, purple is my favorite color.

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  3. This is amazing advice. Thanks! I agree with the blurb. It's easy to write a book. Why is it so stinkin' hard to write a two-paragraph summary of it?! FRUSTRATING!

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    1. No problem! And yeah, the blurb is so so hard! I wonder if there is a service who can just read the book and make one for you? LOL I need them asap, haha. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Your cover is beautiful, Victoria! Great job! The blurb is difficult - I wrote so many. Even now I have two that I swap out to different places. And formatting is frustrating, luckily I use Scrivener, so that really makes it easier.

    Another unsexy thing is uploading to KDP or Bowker or Createspace - wherever. I hate uploading.

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    1. Thanks so much! The blurb... yuck! Such a hard thing to master, and I never thought about using Scrivener for formatting. I have the software, but just haven't used it yet. I'll have to try it out!

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  5. This post struck a few chords with me! Blurb writing - who'd have thought it would be so hard. I have reviews on my books that read better than my blurbs!

    Julia Hughes

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    1. I know, right? LOL. Such a toughy! Love it when it's done, but hate the process getting there, haha. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. The kindle formatting, for sure. I didn't even try doing that one myself. Paid CreateSpace to do it instead. It's worth it. Also found a fantastic graphic artist for my book cover. I consider it money well spent, especially as I can claim it on tax later on! Marketing and promo? I'm just realising how much time it all takes. It's the only thing I envy in those who have a traditional publisher.

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    1. I didn't even realize that CreateSpace did formatting. I'll have to look into that one. And yeah marketing is tough. I'm hiring out for that as well. Leaves more time to write!

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  7. Yep, there's lots of 'unsexy' things we must do, lol. Great article and great suggestions. The rewards are worth all the hard work. Thanks Victoria!

    Suzan

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  8. The cover is the sexiest part for me, but that's probably because I'm a cover designer! LOL! I have to agree with Victoria in that the formatting is hugely unsexy, it sucks! I'm to the point where I've got it down, but it's still not something I enjoy.

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    1. I attempted the formatting at first, but realized I was licked very quickly, lol. Those who can do it I commend them. It's quite a challenge.

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  9. Yep, formatting is at the top of my unsexy list. I did it myself for The Big Smoke (paperback and e-book), and it was so painful and boring!!

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    1. You're very brave! I can do a standard calibre format change, but building it from the beginning is just not my strong suit, lol I've heard very good things about The Big Smoke, and I can't wait to read it :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. I've seen your cover before, Victoria, and it's really good looking, but I've been dying to know: Why is "The Crimson Hunt"'s cover purple instead of crimson? Is it part of a series and purple is the color of all the other books?

    Personally, I hate making blurbs. Formatting (for print and e-book both!) was quite tedious, but not hard. Designing my cover took a long time, but I enjoyed it because I'm a Photoshop junkie. But brevity is not my thing, so making the blurb was agonizing. And I'm thinking about redoing it, God help me!

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  11. I get this question about my cover a lot actually,lol. I chose purple because of a special element in the book that has to do with the book's hero. I thought about red, but in the end I knew purple was what it needed to be. :)

    Awesome for making your own cover! That's one thing I know I can't do. Mostly because of my lack of tech savviness. I also enjoy seeing what the cover artists envision when they learn the book's content. It's like a nice little surprise!

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  12. I know what you mean about the whole blurb thing. Writing my own was excrutiating! Knowing how hard it is for authors to write about their own work, I introduced blurb writing as a service to complement my editing work. I just had to take the pain out of it for other authors after going through it for my own book! I think sometimes we're just too close and connected to our own work. I love short, snappy, impactful writing. I did summary writing as an in-house writer, so succinct is my thing. (although you wouldn't know it from this comment!)

    I've written a little article about how I tackle it, if anyone's at that point now. It's a case study of a real blurb I copyedited. Hope it helps someone out there! http://krisemery.com/the-art-of-the-blurb/

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  13. Your thing is shows latent, m gona add this to my bookmarks.
    Relationship Tips by Carol Durack

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