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.

 

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

THE OTHER 4 TIPS FOR AUTHORS: Tips many may practice, but won’t admit to doing.

THE OTHER 4 TIPS FOR AUTHORS: Tips many may practice, but won’t admit to doing.

The internet is overflowing with marketing and sales tips for independent authors. Some of it is daunting when you read an indie’s blog about how he or she used social media and SEO to boost sales by 4,000 to 6,000 a day. Or downloads exceeding 100 000! My client, Paul Pilkington, for whom I have had the honor of doing 5 covers so far, has a trilogy out that has now exceeded 2 MILLION downloads! In his case, his books are GOOD. His fan base built itself. But each author is unique however.

Another client, Kim Hornsby, released her book on Amazon. Sales and downloads could have been better. So we did a cover redesign, she placed her book in the KINDLE SELECT program and overnight it went to #15 in Kindle Free, #4 in Romantic Suspense and #1 in Ghosts. She had over 7,000 downloads in about 12 hours! Plus, she works VERY hard at her promotions.

So, here we’re not going to discuss ‘normal’ marketing tips for writers. There are MORE than enough out there and I am sure you need fresh thoughts rather than strategies alone. Let’s look at THE OTHER 4 TIPS for authors, tips many may practice, but won’t admit to doing 🙂

1.  Talk about your book to EVERYONE.

Even the grocer. Dog walker. Random dude or girl at gym. Guy in the beer queue behind you. Every single author client I have has told me how they sold books just by showing off a new cover design to some random person or family member, who then tell other people, who then tell more people. WOM: word of mouth. STILL one of the most powerful marketing tools. So yes – blab! Mention you’re an author to EVERYONE you meet. Drop your book’s name, and -> get the person’s email address so that you can email them the link for your book’s release, and the book after that 🙂

2.  Speaking of beer… Combine your book with product.

This happens in the big commercial world every day where brands and stars merge to sell and promote. If you have a friend who is into craft brewing, or has a beauty salon, an art gallery, or custom clothes, coffee shop or whatever the product or service may be – why not combine promotions with them? The awesome thing about independent publishing is – THERE ARE NO CONTRACTS that bind you w.r.t marketing! In return you can name their brand in your book, or promote them on your advertising pages. Whatever the deal – cross promotion is awesome. Other blogs say authors should promote authors. Great. But many then promote authors to authors. You want READERS. My author client, Dan H. Kind, his book features beer. A lot! While designing his cover – I DRANK CRAFT BEER and loved it! My one friend is a craft brewer, and guess what – he downloaded Dan’s book. Just because of beer 😉

3.  DO give your social pages swag.

Yes OK so we said no normal marketing talk. This isn’t normal marketing talk though. It’s superficial but important. Before you pay for the Facebook ad campaigns, make sure your Facebook and Twitter page headers are congruent with either you as author, or the book(s) you are promoting. Avoid using low res images or images that have NOTHING to do with your book or you. More and more authors are now paying that extra $20 to get 2 Facebook banner variants, and a Twitter header. It looks GOOD. It looks professional. It adds to your marketing campaign and cover reveal. And yes, let’s say it – it is indie swag and we love it ‘cos we can!

4.  Authors…for creative sanity:

DO get out the house when you can. Go sit in a coffee shop. A bar. A park. Somewhere where you can tap into yourself and wherever that creative gift core of yours is located. I think, we authors need to be more selfish sometimes. Yes. I said it. We need to be more selfish with our time and space. Because we are the storytellers that make people buy Kindles, download books, go into book shops and have something to keep them entertained with new worlds and characters. Too often indies put their writing time aside for ‘social’ purposes or expectations. So let this be the devil’s advocate in saying: go to your favourite coffee shop. Disappear for an hour. Or two. And WRITE! It’s your gift, and your right to write.

Thank you for reading, and happy writing!

Jeanine Henning

Twitter: @JenVinci

WHY YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL COVER ART: Bad Cover = Bad Sales

While you’re writing your novel, you are a creator. A wordsmith. An artist. But, as soon as that novel’s finished, you’re about to take the next step in publishing business. Yes, you’re becoming not just an author, but an entrepreneur. You are creating a product that has to contend with literally thousands of other products.

Can you, as author, afford for your product – your work of art – to be any less than visible or desirable? No.

     What is one of the key selling points of any product? The packaging.

     What is a book’s packaging? The cover.

So, what’s the purpose of a cover? Many writers will say: “To get customers to pick up the book, or click on the download button.” This is true. BUT, if the customer is to pick up or click and read the book’s summary, and realize that the cover and story have nothing to do with one another, then back goes book to shelf, or, the next ebook is clicked on. You lose a sale.

Yes, the cover must entice the customer. But the full purpose of a book’s cover is to:

  1. Get the customer to notice the book;
  2. Pick up or click on the book;
  3. Buy the book;
  4. Read the book;
  5. Talk about the book;
  6. Repeat for next customer.

If your name is “Stephen King”, then that book can have a blank cover with his name, and it will sell. But until you reach such status, your name is not yet known, so your book’s title and cover art alone carries the day.

So where do you start? You start by pretending you’re telling someone why they should buy your book. Point out the book’s strengths, its genre, its core, what it’s about and what makes it tick. These elements are your unique selling points, and should be conveyed through your title and cover art. And the ultimate purpose is to precipitate an emotional response from your customer. And the outcome? A sale. This is exactly why a professional designer is needed.

Starting to re-realize the importance of your book’s cover? You should. Because it’s not just about a pretty cover anymore, is it?

A good cover will reinforce the customer’s initial attraction. We also do this by adding blurbs – which will tell the customer; “Yes, you have made a good choice, and this blurb rewards your decision, as the book is THAT good.” Every detail on a cover must be thought out and planned. Even the placement of the title and writer’s name is extremely important. Again, this is exactly why a professional designer is needed.

Look at your current book’s cover. And if you don’t yet have one, then think about book packages that work for you. Are all the elements of the cover presenting accurately, attractively and powerfully the appeal of the book?

So, in designing your product’s package, or, framing your work of art, realize the importance of your book’s cover. You must not just want a pretty cover – your book deserves a professionally designed package that will represent you, your story and product congruently.

And YES, you can get an exclusively designed cover by an industry professional for your book:

JH ILLUSTRATION & COVER DESIGN

https://jhillustration.wordpress.com/

This Blog post appears on www.indieauthornews.com