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.

 

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/

 

The Artist & Writer Disease

Dear Jen’s Personal Blog,

I have a confession to make… Today I coveted mine neighbour’s h-

WAIT! Wrong blog!

OKAY, moving swiftly along. For today’s ‘theme’, I’ve decided to ‘discuss’ a specific debilitating disease that’s been crossing my path of observation lately. The disease is called: AWLB which stands for – artists and writers with limiting beliefs. “That’s not a disease! That’s just a chick trying to be ‘creative’ and funny, and it’s so, like, FAIL!” you say… I say, it IS a disease because too many talented people suffer from it, and they’re passing it around like it’s a Sunday family fudge cake of which everyone at the table want seconds and thirds whilst sharing the same spoon with the sickest member licking the icing off with lip-smacking glee… Guess how I feel about this disease…

Recently I met the most amazing people, many of whom are artists, designers, illustrators and the like. They’re all different, unique, gifted with a touch of the obligatory “weirdness” that we creative types are labelled with. Hey, historically, the most gifted creators were all slightly touched by the mad finger that swirls the martini… See what I mean? That whole sentence was odd. Not that I’m saying I’m that gifted or even like one of the greats, but, just in case I do go down in history as one of the greats right next to Picasso or Dali or da Vinci – it would be nice to be known for that odd sentence “the mad finger that swirls the martini”…. no wait no maybe not so much… Anyway – let’s get back to the talented people who believe they suck. That’s right – they BELIEVE they suck at their talents. This might be you, reading this, right now.

You PILE the pressure on yourself, tear up your sketches, probably chew it and spit it out because ink tastes funny no matter how hard the self-destructing anger is ravaging your veins. Writers delete whole pages if not whole manuscripts in a fit of tormented self-loathing and whacking of keyboards. Cue the days and nights of; “why am I even trying? I’ll never get this right. My style is crap. My sketches are poo. I’ll never make money from this. I’m just not that talented. Check out that guy’s art – I’ll never draw like that! Check this woman’s book, I can’t write like that…”

STOP with the limiting torment people! You are gifted with a powerful LANGUAGE of the mind and the most prolific artist and writer you will ever meet: your unconscious mind. You have NO IDEA what you can do once you choose to stop attacking yourself now, and listen to words I am structuring and see what I say… You think that you are consciously drawing that character or writing that action scene. No. You’re not. All of that is coming from your unconscious mind. Did you know that your unconscious mind is in control of more than 95% of YOU. That includes your mind and body. You don’t think so do you? Well, while reading here, do you consciously remind your lungs to breathe in, and out, in, and out? No. That’s your unconscious mind doing that. Or, while you’re reading here, are you telling your bladder to not (literally) release? No. Unconscious mind again. Your unconscious mind takes in everything around you. Most of the information it captures – you’re not even aware of consciously – but it goes right into your unconscious mind where it’s sorted into all its necessary folders for later recall or use. Your essence, experiences, feelings and memories – all there. You consciously forget about these files – but the unconscious mind can retrieve what it needs in an instant.

The unconscious mind does not speak. It communicates in symbols. Pictures. Metaphors. You, as artist and writer, hold the key to literally be the ‘channel’ in art and writing for your unconscious mind to deliver treasures of thoughts, creations, interpretations, visualizations, patterns, puzzles, premises, stories, wisdom, worlds, new realities, new universes -à infinite horizons of creation

So when you tell yourself “I’m useless”, you are placing a massive wall between you, and your unconscious mind. You are closing the tap to a flood of amazing creation. Why would you do that? It seems almost… limiting, does it not? Why would you limit yourself? You do know why though, that answer will pop into your head right now, “why do you limit yourself?” Delete the negative reason to why you limit yourself, now, and override it with a positive goal.

And what’s the rush?! SO many artists have absolutely no patience with their creations… Those characters you’re writing and drawing are YOU! Did you know that? They’re little parts of you. Yes, even that disgusting monster skinning a rabbit in the nude – that’s you. The rabbit too. That came from you, didn’t it? You made that. Do you like it when people are impatient with you? No, who would? (unless you have a bizarre impatience fetish…but then you’d be part of a different ‘demographic’ of personality, and good luck with that). Yet, you’re impatient with those little parts of you that you’re creating… So should the question be “why am I impatient with myself?” Answer that… Hear if it’s really even such a valid reason, then override with a positive goal.

Choose to re-connect to your unconscious mind. Allow it to take control of your hand and draw what it wishes. Let your fingers on the keyboard be the carriers of the images and metaphors your unconscious wants to deliver. Become CONGRUENT with yourself, your talent, your unconscious mind. Draw what you feel! Visualize on paper and onscreen what is inside you (just don’t be literal people, no one needs to see what’s literally ‘inside you’ okay?).

When you draw without pretence, and write in your true voice – you’ll feel FREE. You’ll ENJOY what you’re creating. You’ll become addicted to the process again. And that’s the key to a successful artist and writer: the PROCESS. Not just the end result. Because the end result is dependent on the PROCESS – which all starts with you, tapping into your unconscious… speaking in the language of symbols, and writing the pictures of thoughts…

…K, enough from me now…

Go think and prosper!

Jen

Drakiie - Jen Mascot

JH Illustration

And JH Illustration is LIVE! Due to popular demand, and a boom in business, I have separated JH Illustration from my main website www.jeaninehenning.com to streamline my services. AND – to open communication with my clients, and future clients!

Indie Authors – I did it for you!

Competition is increasing by the day (literally). There’s way over 700 000 self published authors out there. The number in indie books is growing. And making sure authors find the right artist to do their book justice – is becoming more and more important. And here I am – ready to help you create a cover that will stand out!

For a full view of my artwork and profile, go here: www.jeaninehenning.com

For my own thoughts as author – with a few writing tips, go here: jeaninehenning.wordpress.com

And, DO connect with me on Twitter! I love ‘Tweeting’ authors and readers! @JenVinci

This specific service blog shall be growing, just as our publishing industry is expanding at ginormous speeds 🙂

Speak to you soon!

Jen