ACTRESS AND FORMER NBC PRODUCER SHARES AN INSIGHTFUL Q&A ON SUCCESSFULLY BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT AUTHOR

As a book cover designer and illustrator, I have the privilege to meet and work with countless authors and talents. One of my clients, former journalist, Ginger Marin, sat down with me, and shared some of her insights in becoming an author, her goals and of course the importance of branding.

Here are five questions I asked Ginger that I’m sure will inspire many authors out there!

  1. How (and why) did you choose your style of writing for the Adventures in Avalon?

I’m a former TV news journalist and currently an actor. Overall, my left analytical brain is fairly well balanced with my right creative brain. But I’m happy to report that as a fiction writer, I’ve successfully tipped the scales to the right. Years ago I had an idea for an animated TV show about the crazy capers of a small town police department. I even went so far as to write three episodes. But getting them into the hands of Hollywood agents and producers proved difficult so I decided to go another route and turn the tales into a book series. But a single TV episode is too short for one book and I really wanted to keep the dialogue largely intact. So, I decided I needed a vehicle to tie my crazy detective tales together. I then had the idea of creating my Ginger character, a reporter who gets stranded in a community of cartoon people. That way I could report on the community as a journalist might but fit the commentary to the realm of this fictionalized place and, by extension, also be able to comment on the absurdities of the real world, yet in a very humorous fashion. I think my detective tales then slip in nicely because their world is as nuts as ours.

  1.       What do you want to achieve with your books?

My style in “Adventures in Avalon” is a mixed genre. It’s an animated TV show in book form as far as the detective tales are concerned but it’s satire when my Ginger character speaks. I love writing in first person and for this book I loved writing very simply. I think Ginger’s voice meshes completely with the simplicity of the other characters. The subtitle of my book is “An Offbeat & Quirky Adult Bedtime Story”. If there’s one thing I want to achieve, other than success, it’s giving adults a chance to straddle the space between reality and downright silliness. I want to put smiles on people’s faces. Of course, that’s what I want to do with this book series as it develops. Beyond that, as I tackle other topics, I’d like to make people think about our world and the ramifications of our actions.

  1.       The feedback/success you’ve experienced thus far

“Adventures in Avalon” is my first solo book but I’ve been writing in one form or another since around the age of twelve. I worked at NBC News for eighteen years then moved to Los Angeles to act and write. I’m certainly not the first person to say it’s tough making it in this town. But each time I get involved in a project, acting or writing, it turns into a wonderful learning experience. Last year I helped a friend write his memoir, a much darker subject about his time as a subcontractor for the CIA. It was his project, in fact, that gave me the impetus to turn my own thoughts into published books. I have a nonfiction nearly ready for publication then it’s back to fiction. Next up is a collection of short stories for children. The feedback I’ve received for my work has been terrific. Success takes time, though. So even if it’s just one smile at a time, I’m okay with that.

  1.       Why it’s important to build yourself as a brand?

We live in a world that’s overcrowded on every level with people and things. The competition is astounding and it grows with each passing year. It takes time and effort but it’s absolutely essential to build a brand to get noticed above the fray. Decide who you are, what you want to say and then move full speed ahead.

  1.       Why will you keep doing what you’re doing with your books?

There’s a wonderful quote by artist Andy Warhol that is now my mantra. He said “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

And this is why I love my job – meeting clients like Ginger, and working with them to achieve the covers they deserve – and setting standards for branding in a very competitive market.

 Happy writing everyone!

 “Adventures in Avalon” is available on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Avalon-Offbeat-Quirky-Bedtime-ebook/dp/B01HFTVELMie=UTF8&qid=1466981451&ref_=la_B00V7EDT24_1_2&s=books&sr=1-2

AdventuresInAvalon_MEDIUM

About the Author of this Article: Jeanine Henning (Twitter: @JenVinci)

Jeanine’s extensive professional background includes 17 years’ experience in cover design, children’s book illustration and publication, comic book publishing and editing, console game design, and writing. She has worked with editors, authors and artists on many continents over the span of her career, adding to her diversity and flexibility as artist and designer. Jeanine still works closely with traditional publishers on cover and book art.

For more information on Jeanine’s background and testimonials, visit her site at: www.jeaninehenning.com and author testimonials at:

https://jhillustration.wordpress.com/author-testimonials/

Click here to visit JH Illustration website now to learn more and find lots of sample covers.

 

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EVOLVE AND FIND YOUR READERS: The game has changed, and so must you

We’re well into 2015 and the year is booming with new authors and books. Already my schedule is filled with authors pushing out manuscripts and setting publication dates with cover design briefs. I can honestly say I am overjoyed to experience this level of professionalism among authors!

So imagine my surprise recently when I heard that there are still readers out there who do not know HOW to find or choose indie books. This was very concerning as by now indie publishing should be a norm. Right?

I was having a chat with copywriters who work for big marketing companies when the topic of eBooks came up. One of the copywriters is an avid reader, and had just made the big leap from her beloved printed books to a Kindle she’d received for Christmas. I of course asked her if she’d read any indie books lately. And she said – no.

Why not?

Turns out, she really wants to support indies – but didn’t know how to find an indie author she’d like in a sea of hundreds of thousands. Then, she asked me how to find indie authors she’d like.

And that’s when I realised something: HOW do you reach that new eBook reader, who wants to find your book? It is clear that just Tweeting and Facebooking is not enough anymore. These are excellent tools, but, indies need to branch out.

Being an indie in 2015 and going onward is fantastic. We have access to potentially 1 billion readers out there thanks to smartphones, tablets and e-readers. Social media has made marketing so much easier and we literally have a global market at our finger tips.

But, there is a new reality to this industry:

  • E-reader sales have begun declining. A balance between traditional printed books and the e-reader is establishing itself, but e-readers aren’t flying off the shelves like they used to.
  • Some indies report that their sales with Amazon have declined since the introduction of Amazon Unlimited. For just $9.99 Amazon offers its customers 700 000 free eBooks. Most of these are supplied by indies. So now Amazon customers have 700 000 reasons NOT to go looking for your individual book and pay for it.

See why it just became more difficult for that new Kindle reader to find her authors?

This is EXACTLY why writers should not shrivel away from ‘statistics’ but rather embrace this new phase in the indie publishing industry. THIS is how business works. Trends come and go. Stats rise and fall. Right now authors need to switch on their business idea lamps.

There are hundreds of apps, links and tips available to authors for book promotion. BUT, the vital part of navigating towards successful marketing – starts with the author’s own evolution and idea expansion:

  1. Release your book on more than one platform

Avoid limiting your own audience! There is a whole world out there with space for your book. If you’re sticking to just (for example) Kindle, you’re missing out on Kobo, B&N, iBooks, Smashwords, audiobooks, Oyster and a whole bunch of libraries that want to offer indie books on their shelves. Remember that even if you have a handful of sales per e-reader – the numbers still add up!

  1. Quality book = word of mouth

This is a marketing tip you will find everywhere – because it is truly powerful. It is up to YOU as author to make sure you write a book that appeals to people’s emotional experience. This includes presenting a book with a fantastic cover, clean edited manuscript and a great ending befitting the story. Your reader, having been moved by your creation, will tell every other reader he or she knows about your book on every possible social media platform, and even at the dinner table.

  1. Be patient as a creator. Be a storyteller

Literally. Become patient as a writer. Hone your craft. Polish that book. Reread and rewrite until that book is great. Learn from mistakes, embrace the criticism and enjoy the feedback. Then write the next book and make that one excellent. EMBRACE the essence of being a writer. Writing is an explorative journey. If an author chases the buck instead of the story, unfortunately, it will show in the book.  After all, that’s what you are – a storyteller. Always be aware of ‘how’ you want your reader to feel while they’re experiencing your story. If you give them an awesome experience, they will come back for every book you write.

  1. 30 second sale? Nope. You’ve got 5 seconds now!

A few years ago, sales and marketing presenters all believed in the holy 30 Second Sale. These days, you barely have 10 seconds to sell anything to anyone. We’re in an iBrowseFast #hashtag #youmissedit society where people hastily flick their screens, pausing ONLY when something exceptionally appealing catches their eye. YOUR book cover has to be exceptional. Among a sea of covers, yours must capture the browser’s eye in 5 seconds and less. The cover is your voice saying “Hey! Look at me! I’m more intriguing than the book next to me!” And after that – your story premise must be so well written and polished that the author won’t hesitate another second to CLICK and buy.

  1. Mingle with other authors – partner up with box-sets

This is such a fun collaborative option. Quite a few indies, and even indie publishers, box-set a series of individual authors’ books, offering the reader 5 to 10 different authors in one set. This whole process offers so much cross-marketing, fan-base exposure and diversity, not only to the author partners, but also the readers. Plus, it is FUN. As an indie author it is your privilege to have FUN while getting your hard work out there!

Conclusion

There isn’t a lack of marketing strategies and channels, at all. There are MORE than enough apps and media sites to help you along. It is just a question of HOW you position your book and yourself in those channels. The industry WILL change as we go forward. It’s up to you to keep up, and remain adaptable to navigate very exciting times ahead.

So how will all these tips get your book to the copywriter I met? By being exceptional, polished, professionally packaged and consistently marketed by you. Evolve, grow, never give up, keep learning and ENJOY this next phase in indie publishing 🙂

About the Author of this Article: Jeanine Henning (Twitter: @JenVinci)

Jeanine’s extensive professional background includes 17 years’ experience in cover design, children’s book illustration and publication, comic book publishing and editing, console game design, and writing. She has worked with editors, authors and artists on many continents over the span of her career, adding to her diversity and flexibility as artist and designer. Jeanine still works closely with traditional publishers on cover and book art.

For more information on Jeanine’s background and testimonials, visit her site at: www.jeaninehenning.com and author testimonials at:https://jhillustration.wordpress.com/author-testimonials/

 

How to utilize all those indie author tools to stand out and grow your audience!

Author Tips

 

By Becky Wicks & Jeanine Henning

 

As indie authors swimming in this endless ocean of ebooks, we all know by now that we need to get smart if we want to actually sell any of our own. Here are some nifty must-haves from authors Becky Wicks and Jeanine Henning.

What Becky’s found….

TweetAdder

Most traffic to my blog and to my books comes from Twitter, and here’s where most interactions with readers, writers and social media big-wigs takes place, too. TweetAdder ($19 a month with 30 days free trial) lets me make a list of Tweets and then sends them for me at random while I scribble away. I can also search for interesting/likeminded people by keywords in their profiles (ie: ‘book blogger’, ‘reviews books’, etc). I accumulated 800 useful followers in just over a week using this tool and the number is still growing.

Author Marketing Club (for sourcing reviewers and more)

I’m so glad I discovered these guys. Paying for a Premium Membership ($105 a year) grants me access to a world of coolness, like a handy Amazon Description Generator, and an Amazon Reviewer Grabber, which scans Amazon for readers who’ve enjoyed books similar to mine, and lets me email them to see if they’d like a free copy of mine to review. Amazing! There are lots of other great tools and workshop videos to watch on AMC – it’s been well worth the membership for me.

Formatting and admin pros from ODesk

I use a great guy to format my ebooks – he does them very quickly and very well. (Tip: ask for your table of contents at the back of your book. It’s easily searchable by readers on all devices so why waste that precious ‘sample space’ at the front when it’s up on Amazon?) Another ODesker cleans up my mailing lists once I’ve made a mess of them (doh) and does other small admin tasks. I’ve tried employing people from Fiverr.com, who offered cheaper services, but I found they didn’t do a great job.

Sigil

Sigil is a free app you can download from the Internet and this has been an essential tool for me! Once I get my formatted epub back from my ODesk expert, I can use Sigil to open it back up and make any changes myself. For example, I can add a call to action to enter a Rafflecopter competition whenever I have one running, in order to gain more mailing list subscribers. I can then re-upload the file to KDP whenever I like (allow 12 hours for changes to apply). It’s very simple to use and if I get stuck, there are tutorials on YouTube.

Mailchimp and Rafflecopter

Two tools I wouldn’t be without; both of them free. I use Rafflecopter to run contests, whereby each entrant is entered (willingly) onto my mailing list. The more competitions I run, the more people I get to add. Amazon vouchers are quite alluring as prizes, as are advanced copies of my books. I use Mailchimp to keep track of my lists – one for bloggers/reviewers and one for readers. I never spam.

Canva

I discovered this by mistake but now I wouldn’t be without it. Canva lets you create (for free) a host of professional-looking memes and social media posts that you can then send out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I use it to mix images with quotes from my books. Tweets with these memes attached have a much higher click-through rate than others. (Tip: make sure you’re on a speedy WIFI connection, or this site can be a little slow).

 

What Jeanine’s found…

…is all the reasons to use cover designers, editors, and nifty tools like social media headers, email signatures and the meaning of life (kidding about the last part!) The first few tools that deserve mention are ‘smaller’ tools, but, they add in creating awareness about your books and your brand as an author.

Email Signatures

The short and sweet usefulness of these affordable marketing additions is the extra attention you generate for views to your site and book locations. It is always best to have a signature designed by a professional, but we all have budgets, and until you can rope in an artist and create a proper signature with all the bells and whistles, you can use companySIG for a quick and easy signature!

Facebook Headers

More and more authors are finally using this silent and constantly visible marketing tool. It’s often the first thing people see when they land on your Facebook page and again the opportunity to garner book and page views increases. For those on strict budgets, try Bannersnack. Alternatively, use a professional who can make sure your brand remains looking good!

Twitter Headers

For me personally Twitter is an invaluable tool! Becky’s already listed the awesome TweetAdder. This platform has connected me with clients and readers, and it keeps us connected. But I make sure I design my Twitter banners to convey the work I do, and that the banner suits my personal brand and visual look. However for those who want to try it alone, Fotor.com offers free online header creation.

Proofreading & Editing Tips for Your MS

Editors are crucial to a successful manuscript – whether you want to self-publish or submit to agents. However, your manuscript still travels quite a journey to get to that editor. Make life for yourself easier and your book better, and read these 21 proofreading tips for authors.

Cover Design

Personally I have written many an article about cover design – and this area of speciality is my stomping grounds (visit my cover design page here). The importance of a professionally designed cover for indie books is becoming more prominent as indies are gaining ground when it comes to taking sales from the bigger publishers.

A quote from this well-read article makes the importance of a proper cover clear:

“Let’s face it – if you saw the average, self-designed book sitting next to Karen Kingsbury’s latest, it would stand out, though not for the right reasons. Self-designed books rarely assure book buyers that they are anything other than, well, self-designed.” Read article here

 

Remember, time is a tool, too

Just as important as having talent, is having time. Time is what you’re going to have to spend the most of when you dip your tentative toes into the pool of indie-publishing. Spend wisely and good luck!

Becky Wicks is an ex HarperCollins author gone Indie. Book 2 of her Starstruck Series ‘Before He Was Gone’ is out August 25, 2014. Find her on Twitter @bex_wicks

Jeanine Henning is a professional cover designer and author. She is currently preparing her first trilogy while working with authors and publishers world-wide to bring books to life. Find her on Twitter @JenVinci

 

TRANSLATING 5 LIFE COACHING BELIEFS INTO WRITING TIPS FOR INDIE AUTHORS

TRANSLATING 5 LIFE COACHING BELIEFS INTO WRITING TIPS FOR INDIE AUTHORS

Independent publishing is growing, and amid harsh and often condescending criticism, independent authors are doing exceptionally well. Not only that, they are taking very large pieces of the publishing pie and scoring more and more book deals with big name publishers.

And indie publishing is growing yearly. Why? Authors are growing their successes by using editors, professional designers and industry promotions.

Indie authors are here to stay, and their books are filling up publishing sites as we speak.

And just like any other profession and industry, indies need tool sets too. There are a multitude of tips, “How To”, marketing and advertising articles and blogs out there. So it’s time we add even more tools to the indie authors’ growing set.

With my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) life coach certification, I always and continuously use this expansive and valuable training. NLP is part of my professional tool set as creator. We ALL need tools.

Borrowing from a few of the Presuppositions of NLP, we’re going to translate those teachings into creative thought tools especially just for you, the authors and creatives.

Firstly, presuppositions in NLP are defined as ‘convenient beliefs’ that assist us in structuring our realities using filters by which we make decisions and take actions. And as authors, we DO create realities when we write, right?

 

Here are 5 presupposition tools for indie authors:

1.       Be in charge of your mind, results, actions and therefore – that book you’re writing:

You are and must be in charge of your mind’s state to focus on what you want to create. You have to focus on your goals – be it by setting chapter goals, cover design or editing deadlines – in order to achieve desired results. Avoid allowing the chatter of everyday life, people and things to supposedly control your state. No one can control your state. Only you.

2.       Writers already have the resources they need to succeed in writing that novel and/or series:

There is no such thing as an “unresourceful” author, only an unfocussed author. You’re talented already. You can write. You can tell a story. You have command of the language you’re writing in. The only things that can hinder you from writing that novel exactly as you want to; is when you self-sabotage through fear, anxiety and DOUBT. Doubt sets the direction toward lack of recourse and negative state. Forget the word doubt. Control your state. Choose your beliefs. Use your tools. BE the author you know you are and believe in your own resource as storyteller.

3.       Writing and creative procedures should create wholeness:

A productive author is one that finds congruence. When you’re born to write, you have to. If you have a story inside you that you know you have to tell, do it. By telling a story and staying true to yourself as creator, you will be congruent. And this congruency will make you happy as a whole person. And happiness affects every aspect of your whole reality, and as such, creates a productive author.

4.       Feedback, and only feedback:

There is no such thing as failure as author. Only feedback. Undesired reviews, lack of 5 star ratings and lack of glowing reader responses are not failures; it’s VALUABLE feedback! Regardless of your book’s performance and results, you should consider it feedback. Learn what worked for your story and what didn’t’. Then apply these learnings in your next book. The ONLY failure, is giving up or not even trying. The rest is feedback, and feedback creates resource and experience – and possibly a bestseller!

5.       The flexible author controls the system:

You as author should continuously learn new ways of broadening your mind, imagination and professional tool sets. The more flexible you are as a person and professional, the better you’ll work the system of promotion, marketing and distribution. Step away from tunnel vision thinking. Be open to new ways of marketing your book, because if you do the same thing over and over again that doesn’t work – it will never work. Be open to try anything outside the box!

Summary tip: You have a secret weapon…

…And that is your unconscious mind. This is where your imagination lives as well as every deep seated memory, wish, desire, nightmare, emotion and thought. Your conscious mind is only responsible for 5% of your daily life. Your unconscious mind runs 95% of your daily existence. Including sleep, bodily functions, thoughts, processing of thoughts, breathing, beating heart, perceptions, more thoughts and things you are not even aware of. Imagine now…if you consciously accessed your unconscious mind, and allowed it more freedom to write and create. You are then dipping into a whole new pool of creativity. Stephen King’s stories are not that of a conscious thinker. Nor are those of Paulo Coelho or even Nicholas Sparks. These are authors who tap into recesses deeper than the conscious mind… Think and connect on that…

 

About the Author of this Article: Jeanine Henning

Jeanine’s extensive professional background includes 15 years experience in cover design, children’s book illustration and publication, comic book publishing and editing, console game design, and writing. She has worked with editors, authors and artists on many continents over the span of her career, adding to her diversity and flexibility as artist and designer. Jeanine still works closely with traditional publishers on cover and book art.

For more information on Jeanine’s background and testimonials, visit her site at: www.jeaninehenning.com

and author testimonials at: https://jhillustration.wordpress.com/author-testimonials/

Click here to visit JH Illustration website now to learn more and find lots of sample covers.

Other Articles by Jeanine Henning:

  • Bad Cover = Bad Sales (Why you need Professional Cover Art)

http://www.indieauthornews.com/2012/10/bad-cover-bad-sales-why-you-need-professional-cover-art.html

  • The Other 4 Writing Tips For Authors: Tips many may practice, but won’t admit to doing.

http://www.indieauthornews.com/2013/07/the-other-4-tips-for-authors-tips-many-may-practice-but-wont-admit-to-doing.html

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF… YOU DID PUBLISH YOUR EBOOK?

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF… YOU DID PUBLISH YOUR EBOOK?

Three things might happen;

First, you’ll definitely be published. That already is a positive motivator! Second, people will read your book! An even better incentive! And thirdly-

… You may even find your way to a book deal.

For many indie authors, this seems either less or more real, depending on their experiences. We all read the articles about the now famous former indie authors who have signed book deals worth millions. In reality, there were few of these authors who have inspired thousands to publish with Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo etc. However, note I used “there were few”.

Regardless of some anti-indie propaganda and online bubble bursting, this trend is changing.

My very own client, Paul Pilkington, has just signed a fantastic 3 book deal with Hodder & Stoughton. These books feature his extraordinary mystery suspense trilogy featuring Emma Holden, and will be distributed in the UK as well as other countries. Paul will continue self publishing though, which means his already 2.2 million downloaded book prestige will just be growing.

So, why not keep publishing those eBooks?

Some now infamous books and authors have been rejected in the past:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J K Rowling (feedback was: “far too long for a children’s book”)
  • Carrie, Stephen King (feedback was: “genre doesn’t sell”)
  • The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy (feedback was: “too risque”)
  • Animal Farm, George Orwell (feedback was: “too controversial, won’t sell”)
  • Lord of the Flies, William Golding (feedback was: “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy”)

And all these books were before the advent of eBook publishing. These authors kept writing, and eventually, found their success.

Now, look at eBook statistics:

US UK Online Book Sales

See how that blue block is growing in 2012 already? Indies are taking a bigger and bigger chunk of the book selling pie.

So. Maybe the question shouldn’t be “what would happen if you did publish your eBook”. I think the question is “what’s taking you so long?”

To read about how Paul got his book deal, as well as a few tips on self publishing, follow this link to the article featured on BBC online:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23682885

Happy writing everyone!

Jeanine

Image Source: BBC News & Ass. of American Publishers and Nielsen

Rejected Books Source: BBC News