Early May… at a mid-Iowa Renaissance Festival. It always rains at renfest. At least for a few minutes. A quick shower gave me a moment to sort out the larger bills from the smaller ones. It was only the first day, but I was doing pretty well. Enough that a random kilted man sees my cash and says to his buddy in the pirate outfit, “Dang, man. I’m in the wrong business. I’ve gotta write me a book.”
Seeing how the sausages are made is not always a fun experience… but that analogy isn’t true of the Print on Demand book industry. Some of the folks at an Illinois KDP Print warehouse did a virtual tour and explain the process of how a book is made walking you through what happens once a customer clicks Buy. Watch the video:
I recently had a reader email me questions about printing color in books. Their question/complaint was along the lines of “Is having color in my book an industry no-no? Are interior color images useless in a +500 page book? I don’t understand this book selling industry and the absolutely crazy costs of this type of publishing!!!”
The frustration is understandable—especially since there are some things a person might want to try, such as including a few color images inside the book. This might especially be true if you are writing nonfiction and have a handful of images you might wish to include—something common in travelogues and other types of books…
I use StoryOrigin a lot. For a while, I used both SO and BookFunnel, but I found I preferred SO for a variety of reasons. It used to be free, and I was actually happy when it went to a paid service because even a very low cost of entry helps weed out the no talent hacks. Yes. I said it. (There are a great many folks who will load up newsletter swaps—as many as 70 of them per NL Swap—with really bad DIY covers and questionable content.)
Authors who use newsletter services like StoryOrigin, BookFunnel, Prolficworks, etc. are very familiar with “Freebie seekers.” They eventually get purged from our NewsLetter Lists… likewise with unscrupulous swappers who steal access to your list or repeatedly beg to swap their garbage books that they’ve invested $0 into in hopes that you’ll prominently feature that terrible cover to their audience even though your $600 pro cover (and $400 edit) will be at the bottom of a 30 book catalogue email on a NL list with a 2% open rate out of 212 subs (and one of those recorded opens was the author just testing the link).
You can see I have an ax to grind with NL swap partners who act like hacks. Even though SO is a paid service, it is still free, but with limited features, just like bookfunnel is. I could talk about why I think SO is superior, but I’ll leave that for another time.
However, I’ve run across a great many folks with great covers for books that have decent reviews and they still look like hacks. It’s not their fault (actually it is) but they might have never wrapped their head around how the process works—that ignorance leads them to miss out on swaps and inclusion with group promos so I thought I’d write a hand guide. Ignorance is easily cured so long as a person wishes it so. Sidenote: you may have gotten this link emailed directly to you if you tried to swap with me on SO or enter one of my group promos. Please pay attention to this article’s contents as the things discussed in it are the norm for both SO & BookFunnel. If I sent this to you, take it as an indication that potential swaps may happen further down the line so long as you start using the system correctly.
Without further ado, let’s discuss How not to look like a hack on StoryOrigin.
Through writing newsletters, growing subscriber lists, and looking at data I discovered I’ve gone through multiple stages and seen many shady characters out there trying to build massive newsletter lists at unprecedented rates, but this game is about consistent, manageable growth while building relationships with actual, interested readers.
It is very possible to do this with some speed, but as you do so, beware of list leeches and newsletter stuffers. Below are three distinct stages I saw while growing a newsletter list with both Storyorigin and Bookfunnel.
There’s one simple rule authors have to follow in order to have complete pricing control over your book at Amazon. It is especially helpful to be aware of this rule for Children’s book authors, graphic novelists, and books with multimedia content (many nonfiction books) as it can affect launch and pricing strategies.
I recently bumped into this rule, even though I write novels, and here’s how I discovered the need to watch for this rule.
I am a member of several online groups that helps authors. One of those groups purposes revolves around cover design. There are a lot of DIY people in there… most of those people know the value of hiring professionals or seeking advanced skills and learning the real elements of what makes book covers sell.
Sometimes people insist on doing themselves and don’t understand why covers are perhaps the most important marketing piece for your book. I taught a workshop at a regional library just yesterday afternoon and my sternest warning was against doing a DIY cover. Here is some of my advice that I recently gave in a cover design group where I used an Easy Bake Oven analogy to explain what a subpar design really tells potential readers. (Also, I talk about selling Bible’s in a porn shop… I’m not surprised that so many people dislike me, lol.)
One thing is always good advice: get insights from those who have gone before us.
I mentioned yesterday that I do consultations for authors who have questions or want to get feedback/improve sales, clicks, marketability, etc. I’ve often found it helpful to get feedback… not always does it need to be mine, however. One of the most valuable things I’ve taken from author conferences is public reviews/manuscript critiques from industry pros of attendees’ works. I take the relevant info and apply it to my own works and have learned a lot.