Continuing our series on reviving your backlist titles, you’ll want to add front and back materials to your manuscript. What should this include?
Minimize the front end of things so when the reader clicks on Look Inside at Amazon, he gets to see the text of your work right away. You don’t want him scrolling through pages of other material and losing interest. Here are some items you might place in front:
Copyright Page—Insert the ISBN number for your ebook or print edition. Add the logo for your imprint, if you have one.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters
Maps or Family Trees
List of Books in Series
This is your chance to add bonus materials for the reader, such as:
About the Author
Books by Author with Series Listing
Call to Action (i.e. ask for reviews; ask reader to sign up for your newsletter)
Vendor-Specific Buy Links
Reader Discussion Guide
Excerpt from your Next Work or another title in your repertoire
Coming Next: Cover Design, Formatting, and Uploads
Once you get the rights back to your earlier titles, what do you do with them? Try to resell these books to a new publisher? Put them online as ebooks for sale? Offer them in a new trade paperback print edition? Go through an intermediary such as Draft2Digital or publish them yourself directly to vendors? And should you revise and update the stories first?
When I got my rights back from Kensington for my earlier Bad Hair Day Mysteries, I decided to tighten the writing, update the technology, and add back materials to the books. Now was my chance to hire a cover artist and get the design I’d always envisioned.
Here are four versions of Permed to Death, the first book in my mystery series. From the left to right: Kensington, Ereads, Open Road Media, and my new AUTHOR’S EDITION (Cover design by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica).
So what should you do first if you’re interested in reviving your old titles?
Obtain a File
First you’ll need a digital copy of your book in one entire file. I wrote my early books in the days when we copied the manuscript and snail mailed it to our publisher. Each file was a separate chapter. I didn’t have a single intact file for the book. Nor did I have the edits that were done by my publishing house. In other words, my original files didn’t match the finished product.
What to do? These books came out in hardcover and then in mass market paperback. I decided to have the paperbacks scanned in since they held the most recent edition.
The Scanning Process
If you’re lucky enough to find a digital copy of your book online, you could buy it, download the file and work from there. You can use the free Calibre program to convert between formats. Otherwise, choose a scanning company. I used Blue Leaf. You’ll have to sacrifice the book you send because it’ll be destroyed in the process.
Once you get the files back from the scanner, make sure you have an editable Word document, if this is the software you use. Then you have to review the text WORD FOR WORD to look for scanning errors. You may see a strange squiggle mark. Note this excerpt from Died Blonde:
Shutting off the blow-dryer, Marla plunked it on the counter. “Did you see how Claudia looked away when I mentioned a power blackout? She knew about it Probably Carolyn went to the meter room to turn off my electricity.”
You have to turn on the paragraph reveal mark in Word to see the irregular mark in “probably.” It looks like a hyphen with a bar hanging off the end. You’ll have to go through the entire document looking for this weird symbol. It’s intense, eye-straining work.
Notice the period is missing after She knew about it. Missing punctuation is another problem. Or quotes pointing the wrong way, use of an apostrophe instead of a quote mark, or an extra space after a hyphen.
In revising and updating your work, one of the things to look for are “ing” sentences like that first one. More about that when we talk about revisions.
Here’s another example with a misspelling for Sun-Sentinel. That weird mark is also present in “released.”
“The medical examiner’s report hasn’t been released yet, but the SunSenlinel reporter is saying Carolyn died under mysterious circumstances.”
Here’s a guide on whatto look for after having your book scanned:
· Weird symbols when you turn on the paragraph symbol in Word · Missing or wrong punctuation · A number “1” instead of an “I” · Misinterpretations, such as comer instead of corner. Watch for words like this with “rn” coming out as an “m” instead. · Misspelled words such as for away instead of far away; “die” instead of “the” · The letter “d” instead of “tl”: Words like abrupdy. Or see this example:
Marla setded a cape around her mother’s slim shoulders.
· Check the spacing for italics that it’s normal and not expanded or condensed (Highlight the word, hit Font, then Advanced). · Make sure italics don’t come out as bold. · Replace two spaces between sentences with one space if necessary. · Format chapter headings properly with a page break and remove any section breaks. · Look for run-on paragraphs or paragraph marks too soon that split a sentence onto the next line. Example:
“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.” “Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense
they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”
This should read:
“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.”
“Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”
You need an eagle eye and several read-throughs to catch all these errors. Regardless of which route to publication you take, you’ll want to present a professional product. So gear up to begin the next stage, which is revisions and/or formatting.(Coming Next!)
ACX and Audible Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014
What Sells in Audio? Teen and YA Fiction, Romance, Scifi/Fantasy, Mysteries/Thrillers, Business and History.
What do you need to get started? You need a published book on Amazon, audio rights, a manuscript, cover art and rights to the cover. There is no particular length requirement. Figure that 9300 words equals one finished hour of audio. In your profile when you apply to ACX, mention the main characters in your book, your awards and track record.
Options include paying the narrator upfront based on book length or sharing the earnings 50-50 and paying nothing up front. This latter term lasts seven years. Thereafter, you can renew each year or remove the audio book from distribution. A third option is to upload your own audio file.
Royalties are 40% for exclusive distribution and 25% if you go nonexclusive. For the former, you and the narrator split the royalty, meaning you’d each earn 20%. Distribution is to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Make sure you grant world rights for global reach.
You can earn a $50.00 bounty when someone joins Audible and purchases your book first. The person must stay in Audible for 30 days after the trial period.
The author gets 25 download codes for promotion but these don’t count toward your bounty. You can request more. How can you use these? Use them to generate reviews. Check out these sites: Audiofile, AudioGals, Books for Ears. Offer giveaways to your newsletter subscribers and social media fans. You can use Audible’s gift center to send a book to a fan.
If you already have an audio file, make sure it meets the requirements. It takes about three weeks after uploading to become active. Royalties are paid monthly via check or direct deposit.
Selecting your Narrator
Is she too fast? Too slow? Too cartoonish? Just right? Keep in mind that the listener can speed the audio with a tool in the app. You’ll want to give your narrator about three pages to read. These can be different paragraphs along with the context. In a series, continuity of narrator is important. A single voice is more popular than a multi-cast. Any additional material should come after the credits at the end.
One tip: use fewer dialogue tags. Various checkpoints occur in the process: the initial audition, and then a 15 minute sample which does not have to be the first pages of your work. You can request two rounds of revisions. Listen for the quality of sound during the longer samples. You can terminate the contract if you do not like the results. If approved, you can request three chapters at a time from your narrator.
Check the performance rating with each narrator, visit their website and note how many books they’ve done. You can click Like or Dislike to organize your selections. Narrators do not see this. You can send sample clips to friends for their opinions. Ask the narrator about her editing. Will she allow you to review the audio chapter by chapter, or at least three chapters at a time? You want somebody who’s easy to work with. If you are not happy with the narrator and reviews reflect your views, you can ask the narrator to re-record and upload. Do the first book slowly and thoughtfully. Do not rush the process.
The speaker from ACX at Ninc who nominates audio books for promotion said she looks at the book cover first. Next she’ll check out the number of reviews and what they say. She will check out your social media sites to see if you are promoting your audios. If you have a series, getting a promo boost for book one is important. Branding and packaging should carry over from other series titles.
How to Stand Out
Consider adding teasers for sequels after the credits. Coordinate promo efforts with your narrator. Leverage SoundCloud for audio clips. Make a dedicated space on your website for audio books. You can distribute up to 10% of your audio on a clip. This can be embedded on your website.
Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.
Empowering Authors with Amazon Independent Publishing Novelists, Inc. Conference Day 2, St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014
Several representatives from Amazon Independent Publishing spoke at the Novelists, Inc. Conference. They said they’ve seen consistent growth in print and Kindle books over the past few years. The Kindle growth curve exceeds print. This is a global trend as well. The adaptation to digital, when it occurs, happens fast across the world. The percentage of books sold online compared to brick-and-mortar stores is rising steadily.
Digital creates discovery through dedicated e-book readers. Kindle owners buy four times more books than before they owned one. “What’s old is new again.” Digital creates incremental demand. We release older titles, and Kindle sales of all our books increase along with print editions. In 2013, there was 90% device ownership in the U.S. with 32% of these being e-readers and 42% being tablets.
At a bookstore, you have to worry about how your book is placed and where customers can find it on the shelf. Online, you’re concerned with how customers hear about and find your books. How can your book stand out against other content? Books have to compete against all other entertainment products and pricing. So how can we grow the mind-share of people who read books?
What’s next? Global marketplaces are another focus. So are opening Kindle stores based on local experience. Reading experiences such as Kindle Voyager and Kindle reading apps. To drive discovery, we have Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, Kindle Daily Deal, and Kindle Countdown Deal.
The Author Experience Ease-of-use with KDP, Createspace, and Audible
Better tools with a pricing tool and now a Kids Book Creator
Reimagined content through Kindle Worlds and Kindle First Day One
Author lifestyle support with Kindle Scout, WriteOn, APub, indie platforms
The Customer Experience New models such as Kindle Unlimited
Wider functionality such as #AmazonCart
Global and Local
KDP Benefits are that it’s easy to enroll, fast to market, global reach. Author maintains control, retains full rights, keeps up to 70% royalty. You can use KDP to publish in territories where you have the rights. The new reporting dashboard launched in February. An order is different from a sale that has cleared the bank. You can retrieve up to 90 days of data. The pricing tool suggests how much you should price your book based on various data.
Pre-order means you can promote your book up to 90 days before the launch. This helps to build sales rank. You should put a link to the next book in your series at the back of the book if possible. 10 days before, you must present the final file. There is a three day block out period prior to launch where you can’t make any further changes.
Series Promotion Improved search and browse feature.
Be sure to put your info in the metadata.
New series landing pages for the whole series so you can see your books in order.
The next in series will appear as a buy button on devices at the book’s end.
KDP Select means you can attain higher royalties, reach new audiences, participate in special promotions. This includes the Kindle Lending Library, Kindle Countdown Deal, Kindle Unlimited. KDP books do hit the bestseller lists. Authors get paid from a global fund and can earn All-Star bonuses.
Kindle Daily Deal leads to 3000 times more sales. There’s a lasting effect. One day later, there is 110 times sales. At seven days, it’s 18 times sales. At fourteen days, it’s 5 times more sales, and at thirty days, it is 4 times more sales.
On the Kindle Countdown Deal, you get up to seven promo days. The book must be at least one dollar off the list price. There’s a countdown clock on your Amazon book page. Your book is also listed on the KCD landing page and it’s based on ranking where your book appears.
Kindle Unlimited costs consumers $9.99 per month, and this includes audio books. The Kindle Matchbook program means if you buy the new print book, you can buy the Kindle book for $2.99 or less.
Createspace offers global reach, 24/7 customer service, Kindle conversion, industry-leading royalties, free Cover Creator tool, forums, blogs, articles and videos as publishing resources. Professional services of editors and designers are available if needed. Your share of the list price: Createspace 80%; Amazon 60%; Expanded Distribution 40%–all minus a manufacturing fee.
How to Maximize your Success: Use Metadata. This can consist of keywords in terms of genres and categories that are visible at the bottom of the Kindle detail page. This metadata should be consistent across all locales.
Your Amazon Author Central page includes a book list with cover images, author photo, bio, Twitter and blog feed, videos that you upload. Readers will also see recommendations for similar authors. You can get your sales data and ranking on Author Central. Make sure your books are on Goodreads and you have an active presence there.
How to Get Reviews? Offer promotions such as permafree, KCD, etc. Publish in multiple formats, i.e. print, e-book, audio.
Author Platform: Keep up with Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, social media, email lists. Consult with other authors on ways to attract readers.
Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.
“It takes a village” to be an author today, says Deborah Richardson from Dremservices.com at a recent meeting of Florida Romance Writers. “You can’t do it all yourself.” She suggested that you first create your mission statement so you know who you are and where you’re going. Figure out what jobs you can do and what you should hire out. Set realistic deadlines. And never plan on being your own editor because you’ll fill in your own mental holes.
Steps to Take on the Road to Success
Author First you have to write the book.
Editors This may include people such as a developmental editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader.
Cover Designer Often you cannot see the quotes on the front of a Kindle book cover, so maybe put your author endorsements elsewhere. If you use a stock photo, try to change it somehow to make the cover more unique.
Beta Readers Find two to four beta readers for your book. Know them. Trust them. Be very careful who you choose since “piracy is getting to be a really big deal. It is our job to educate,” meaning we should make the public aware of this issue and why it’s not all right to download free, unauthorized copies of our books. Write take-down letters to the sponsored sites. These pirates can alter your work without permission.
Formatter Decide if your time is worth it to do your own formatting or to hire this job out.
Pre-Publication Marketing This includes soliciting advance reviews, attracting pre-orders, scheduling a Facebook launch party or a blog tour. Don’t give away a free copy of your new title as a prize during these events. Give away a gift card or a backlist title instead so people won’t wait to see if they won your new book. Marketing can be “all-consuming.” It’s a lot of work for an author, so hiring someone to coordinate your efforts might help.
Social Media Decide what you can do and what to hire out plus what level of help you want. “Be as professional as you can be” in your online connections.
How do you Pick your Village?
Through word-of-mouth, research online, and networking. Speak to potential candidates that you feel you can work with. “Collect business cards wherever you go.”
Building a relationship with bloggers is one of the best things you can do. “Bloggers should be your best friends.” You can check their analytics to see how much traffic there is on their sites. Find out what works for each individual book and target your efforts accordingly. Even book bloggers specialize in certain genres.
How to Take your Village into the Future Have your career mapped out. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t in the last book launch. Set new deadlines and goals. Your village should work with you toward a common goal.
In attempting to fill in my tax spreadsheet to bring it up to date, I am muddled in the expenses for self-publishing from back in February. Like, where does the purchase of ISBN numbers fit into the grid? I’ve added line items for my formatter and cover designer, and it took me over an hour to track down those costs and date the invoices for my records. Then there are the bookmarks, postcards, and door hangers I’d ordered. Those go under advertising expenses. But what about the proofs from Createspace that I had printed and mailed? The copies of my book that I bought, and the cost difference compared to the number sold on consignment via bookstores?
Hey, and this doesn’t even include the royalty income. Talk about confusing! Amazon alone sends me five different payments, not including Createspace. And lest you think I am making gobs of money, one of those payments was for thirty-five cents. Barnes and Noble and Smashwords are added to my list. By now, I’ve started a separate sheet just for ebook income, and another sheet that includes all royalty income for the year.
I hope my accountant understands all this when I send it to him. It sure is easier when a traditional publisher sends you a statement and a check. Being an indie publisher means keeping track of all the income streams and expenses yourself.
Do you have any tips to offer? What’s your method?
Choosing a title for your new mystery series is a critical factor. This title has to hook the reader, give an inkling what the series is about, and spark your interest for years to come. As the author, you’ll be living with this series umbrella title for a long time. You may build a logo around it, add it to your signature lines, and see it on every subsequent book that comes out in this series. Thus it should be a title you love and one that resonates in your mind.
Considering the above advice, I need help choosing a series title for my indie mysteries. I’m not going to tell you the main premise, because I want you to look at this as you might my front cover, where it says A XXX Mystery. Which choice below pops out at you and holds the most appeal? Discussion is welcome.
I am dipping into the scary waters of self-publishing. This difficult decision came about for several reasons. I did a brief survey of readers on my Facebook author page asking if they’d prefer, for an original mystery I’ve written, (a) the expensive hardcover library edition that wouldn’t come out for another year, (b) an ebook version being released as soon as possible for $2.99, or (3) a simultaneous ebook and mass market release with the ebook possibly priced over $5.00. Again, this release date might not be until 2015.
The majority of readers voted for (b), the quick and less expensive ebook edition. This choice corresponds to my self-publishing this work, rather than pursuing small press or traditional NY publisher. For either of those, a wait of over a year before publication would be likely, with no control over the resultant price of the books.
If I were a new author, I’d choose the publisher route to establish credentials. But I already have a fan base for my mysteries. Hopefully these readers will be eager to try an original work and potentially book one in a new series.
So what are the steps to follow? I’ve put up one backlist title by myself. I formatted it for Kindle and Nook and Smashwords, hired a cover designer, and uploaded Keeper of the Rings to those retail sites. Since this title had already been published, I had the cover copy and quotes handily available. Not so for a totally original work.
Step number one is to Hire an Editor once you’ve finished your work. You may need two editors, a developmental and a copy editor. Or you may employ other writer professionals in a time swap arrangement, beta readers, and critique partners. If you are a new author, it is critically important that you follow this step and work with a professional editor.
Author Terry Odell recommends putting most of the items in the back so as not to obstruct the “Sample Preview” offered by Amazon. Terry also made another good point in suggesting I leave off listing the Cast of Characters, because e-book readers won’t be able to flip back to the front of the book for reference. So my front material consists merely of the Copyright Page. I am not having a Dedication, but the front is where this page would go, as well as any advance review quotes for your book.
The back end materials take more time to prepare. First come the Acknowledgments, moved from the front as Terry suggested. Next is an author’s note that reads thus:
Thank you for reading [book title]. If you enjoyed this story, please support the author’s efforts by helping other readers find this book. Here are some suggestions for your consideration.
Write an online customer review. Gift a copy of this book to a booklover friend. Sign up for Nancy’s quarterly email newsletter on her website. Follow Nancy on her social media sites. Spread the word about her work. Suggest her titles to a local book club.
Following this page is my About the Author section with social media links. Finally, I have a page with More Books by Nancy J. Cohen. If I can get my formatter to link these titles to the appropriate bookstore, that would be great. Otherwise, the list remains as is.
Another section you can add here is a chapter from your upcoming sequel or excerpts from your other published works. My sequel isn’t far enough along for me to add this additional page.
Keep in mind that these bonus materials add to the length of your book. From what I’ve been reading, this becomes important when formatting your work for Createspace, but that’s another topic down the road, However, if you will be having a cover artist do the spine and back cover for a print book, she may need to know the spine width and that might relate to the number of pages.
Now I’ve added my front and back materials. It’s time to move on to the back cover copy.
In my view, that’s harder than writing the book.
As you can see, this venture promises to be incredibly time consuming the first time around. Thereafter, I imagine it is easier because you can just repeat your steps. Will the effort be worth the reward? I hope so, because these publishing duties steal time from writing the next book.
It’s exciting to think I’ll have something different to offer my fans, in addition to the Bad Hair Day and Drift Lords series that are on-going. This makes me one of the new breed of hybrid authors. I hope you’ll continue to follow me on this journey of exploration.