Quick reminder that today is the last day you can download a free copy of my latest book, THE LAST APRIL! Even if you’re not interested in reading it right now, please take advantage of this offer. Your download will push this book further up in the ranks. The first week of a book’s life is critical for success!
I have edited 15 of 33 chapters for The Last April, my upcoming book! I hope to send it to my editor by the end of the month.
As I’m sure you know, the cost of producing a quality book is substantial. My production team is amazing, and I’m considering expansion to include an audiobook as well as eBook and print books for The Last April. Unfortunately, this is more than my collected funds can cover. Rather than running a Kickstarter campaign like I did for Haunting Miss Trentwood, I’m trying out Patreon.
Patreon is a wonderful way for the community to support my projects while still allowing me to pay for editors, cover artists, and silly things like food and mortgages. It comes from the traditional use of “patron” where a person gives financial support to a person, organization, cause, or activity. This is like the modern version of a Renaissance painter requiring a patron so they can eat and make art!
This is an experiment. Who knows how much momentum will grow or if I cancel this soon after The Last April‘s release. You’re not obligated to support me. I love that you read my content and make comments. My content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and blog will remain free. The newsletter is also free. If you are able to contribute one dollar a month, that’s fantastic!
Why am I on Patreon?
Back in 2003, I self-published my first book as a high school student. It has been a long journey since then! In the (now 14) years since, I learned a lot about what it takes to be an independent author who creates quality work.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that quality work comes with financial investment, not only in the current project, but future projects as well. Back in 2010, I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for my last young adult historical, Haunting Miss Trentwood. I enjoyed the excitement and interaction of crowdfunding, and the community feeling in general.
However, that funding covered the production costs for that book only. My projects since have come out of pocket, including a children’s storybook, a how to book, and new cover designs for the existing historical novels in preparation for my 2017 project.
I cannot use my paycheck to support my writing, sadly. Creative funds are getting short even though I put whatever royalties I earn from previous projects to my new projects. And so I turn to Patreon.
How will I use the funds?
There are a plethora of things that need to happen with a book release, including…
A good book is nothing without a good editor. Help me keep my editor on retainer so I have enough to pay her fees so you have excellent fiction to read.
Cover Artist fees
A picture is worth a thousand words, and my stories run in the fifty thousand range. Help me hire cover artists who can best represent my hard work so you have something beautiful for your physical and digital bookshelves.
When I announce a new post on Facebook, a Facebook boost makes sure that the announcement gets onto 1/3 or 1/2 of my followers’ News Feeds. I also need to purchase ads across Amazon, Facebook, and other popular locations. My blog gets a fair amount of traffic each month, and hosting and maintenance fees can add up.
What are you offering Patrons?
Other than the satisfactory glow you’ll feel by helping a writer pursue her publication goals, you will receive Patron Exclusive content that you won’t see on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or my blog. Depending on your subscription level, you have the option to be a part of my Beta Reader group, who will give me feedback on drafts before they are ready for publication.
I hope this grows, but that’s really up to you, Patrons. If I have enough income to let go of some hours at work, I can redirect those hours to my writing and therefore, you!
IMPORTANT NOTE:I set up this as a monthly pledge. If you are an amazing human who would like to donate a higher amount but only intend to make it as a one-off payment, please make sure you choose the right option. Also, please read Patreon’s page on calculating fees. Your pledges will convert into $USD, so donations will be subjected to conversion rates. There is also a small surcharge to keep Patreon funded.
Hello lovelies, today, I deliver my experience working with a new cover artist.
I worked with a cover artist when I first published Catching the Rose in high school (far left). It’s a sweet cover, however, it was too pink and it didn’t feel very modern. Plus, I changed my author brand and wanted to resubmit under the name Belinda Kroll.
When I republished Catching the Rose (middle), I did the new cover work. I also did the original cover for Haunting Miss Trentwood (right). At the time, I thought I was catering to women who preferred sweet romances… Not that you could tell by the covers I created! The original for Catching the Rose was more accurate, but I didn’t have rights to the image for re-publication, unfortunately.
I’ve known for some time that the covers I created wasn’t getting to my desired audience. I knew this because the Amazon “Customers who bought this item also bought” did not match my expectations. Readers seem to get the gothic part, but not the comedy or light-heartedness of what could have been a very sad, morbid tale.
So here are my tips regarding cover artists…
Know What You Want
Seriously. Don’t commission a cover artist until you have a solid understanding of your genre and audience. Read a lot of books. Collect covers of the books you want to emulate or compete against. I had a secret Pinterest board just for cover art.
Write Good Content
Know how to write compelling back cover copy. I scoured Amazon looking for good descriptions that made me want to read the book. I keep a file of good descriptions. I spent an entire afternoon picking the structure apart so I could replicate the recipe.
Determine Your Distribution
Know where you want to publish your book. If you’re working with print, Amazon’s CreateSpace has different standards than Lightning Source’s IngramSpark. If you’re working with eBook only, that is an important distinction as well.
Find a Cover Artist
Believe it or not, I found my cover artist by looking on the back cover of a book released by a newer member of my writer’s group. I visited her website and looked at every cover she had created. I confirmed she followed the young adult historical trend, but not in a derivative way. I confirmed she understood the genre, young adult historical comedic gothic (say that three times fast). I confirmed she had an online presence (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, any would have worked for me) so I could determine her responsiveness.
Plus, I read in her bio that she lives in my city. I love that! I was so excited to support a local artist. Things you should keep in mind when choosing your cover artist:
- Are they design savvy?
- Do they understand your genre?
- Do they understand your audience?
- Are they responsive?
- Are they in your budget?
Contact/Commission a Cover Artist
Once I was convinced, I contacted her through her website. This was her preferred method of communication. For the love of all that is efficient, don’t contact your desired cover artist through your preferred contact method. You’ll never get a response and you’ll lose the opportunity. This is a time for the two of you to interview one another. You’re looking for a solid professional relationship, where both parties can commit to a timeline and have explicit expectations about what is required to complete the task.
A professional cover artist, no matter how much they charge for their services, will have a design brief/form for you to fill out. On this form, you will (should) be required to provide:
- Title / subtitle
- Author name
- Back cover copy
- Author bio
My cover artist also asked for content ideas. She wanted to know the theme of the story, who the main characters were with generic physical descriptions, any important scenery details*, and any important relationships.
* Haunting Miss Trentwood is an English manor story; we don’t leave the house so it became a feature of the cover.
A professional cover artist will also have a contract for you to sign. This should include all the details of your agreement, including:
- Deposit/retainer for services
- Estimated total fee
- Who covers cost for stock art
- How many design hours are included in the base price
- How many revisions are included
- What happens if a change request occurs (what constitutes a change request? are there fees associated?)
- What are the final file formats
- When/How are the files delivered
Collaborate with Your Cover Artist i.e. Let Them Do Their Job
Now, my cover artist was super fun to work with. I had this idea in my head, and I felt pretty strongly about it. However, I’m a software designer by trade and I know when my client thinks they know what is best… they usually don’t. So I gave her exactly what I thought I wanted, I gave details about wanting silhouettes, a bright cover, a bit of mystery, and some color suggestions. I gave her access to my secret Pinterest board. And then I sat back and waited. Anxiously, like a kid at Christmas told not to touch any of the presents.
She blew me away with her collaboration skills. I approved all silhouettes before they were composed together in the final cover art. I approved the fonts. I approved the color scheme. Then I sat back and waited again for the first draft composition. I basically went with her design with minor tweaks.
The back cover was easier since it’s simpler. I submitted my publisher logo (Bright Bird Press), my author bio and author photo. I like to include my author photo because I write under a pen name and it’s nice to confirm with family and friends that I did, in fact, just publish a book.
You can tell from the before and after that hiring a cover designer is definitely worth it…
If you’ve been on the fence about hiring a cover artist, I encourage you to do your research. Hire someone you can trust. Someone you can collaborate with. Someone who makes you dance with joy when you receive your new cover art!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a local author festival with a teacher friend of mine. By my eye, it was about 60 – 70% local self-published authors. Let me tell you, my indie heart about exploded at the sight!
Big props to the Westerville Public Library and their community coordinator, Erin, for celebrating local over method of publication. It was a wonderful event! They had food trucks throughout the day. There was cute swag to purchase, which the proceeds supported the library. Everyone was cheerful despite the heat. They even had a local community hot jazz band playing which kept my little swing dance feet bouncing. This was their fourth year, and I fully intend to be a part of their fifth!
However, I was a little disappointed in some of my fellow indie authors’ table displays. Some were engaging, some were lackluster, and some looked 100% thrown together. I don’t want that to happen to you. With the help of my teacher friend’s commentary of what caught her eye or scared her off of each booth, I’d like to share what I learned in a short hour.
Sell a quality product
I know this is a given but go with me here. When you go to a festival, you’re more likely to blend in than stand out. Especially when your competition is other self-published authors. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to look like you aren’t an indie publisher at all. Have a compelling, professionally-designed cover. Have good back cover copy. Have pretty pens to autograph your book. Have a nice display (we’ll get into this later).
Beyond having a quality product, also have a nice packaging when you sell your product. My friend bought a children’s book and it was handed to her in a Ziploc bag. Now, that’s not terrible by itself, it shows a thoughtfulness that the author didn’t want anything to happen to the book in transit. However, the inside of the bag was wet. No bueno.
Tie a ribbon around it, throw a bookmark in it, or drop it in a nice paper bag… maybe stamped with your logo or social media info? If you can make it look like a gift of some kind, do it. Everybody loves presents!
Accept multiple forms of payment
In this day and age, you have to assume people aren’t carrying cash anymore. Services like Square Up and PayPal Here are convenient for small businesses like indie authors. They are also well worth the small transaction fee to ensure you make a sale. I’m relying on PayPal Here for now because it also processes checks so it’s just a bit more flexible.
Our poor author from above had to rely on the other author at her table to accept my friend’s credit card payment. And then had to borrow a pen to sign the book. It was a little awkward.
Have a booth buddy
Maybe this is your spouse, child, friend, assistant, whatever. When you’re engaged in a discussion with a potential customer and another person wanders over, you have a back up person who can answer questions or sell a book for you. This also ensures your booth is manned if (when!) you’re asked to go to a different part of the festival to read some of your work.
In this photo, the wife of John Margeson, an author-illustrator, did a fantastic job selling the product and showing how proud and happy she was for him. He was inside doing a reading, but she still caught our attention and we were sad we missed him because he had an easel set up to do caricatures.
Build an attractive tablescape
In a world where Instagram exists, we indie authors really need to step up our game. The word “tablescape” can be traced back to a 2009 portmanteau of “table” and “landscape.” When I joined Instagram with a dedicated author profile, I was shocked and awed that people spend so much time taking photos of books with flowers, pearls, tea, and other pretty things. Why can’t we do that at author festivals?
The morning of your festival, go to Walmart and pick up some flowers and throw them in some dollar store vases… as long as they don’t clash with your book topic. I mean, you wouldn’t want bright pretty flowers if you wrote a tragic story. Use your discretion and do something that grabs the attention of passersby.
The tablescape above was simple and adorable. I had to take a photo! I might be buying some copies for my animal friends as Christmas present. Especially since there is a special Christmas book, and he had little Santa hats on the cat figurines!
My teacher friend pointed out that the tables that had a vertical element grabbed her attention. To her, it showed the author took that extra step to market their products. They were “professional” in her eyes. We both loved the mini banner displays of cover art that a couple of the authors had. One author told me they had them printed at FedEx Office. I suspect you have to go into the store to get this because it took me a while to find that PDF.
Anyway, we both liked it when we could read details about the book without having to talk to a human being. Maybe we’re both introverts, or maybe we’re both regular book buyers. No one wants to feel pressured to buy anything, and the longer you speak to a seller, the more obligated you feel to buy something.
I’d rather not have someone buy my book out of obligation, so I’ll do my best to have sell sheets in acrylic holders with the back cover copy in large text, along with the price and accepted forms of payment.
Engage your reader
Last, but certainly not least, engage your reader. Something about the authors who sat behind their table just felt off-putting that day. Maybe because it made them look tired (poor posture?), or overheated… I don’t know.
I do know that every author we spoke to was standing, or leaned forward in their chair to “grab us” from across the table. It was much easier to chat with the authors who stood to the side of their table, because then they could move around and explore their tablescape with us, rather than dictating to us. Even the authors who stood behind their tables, fiddling with their bottle of water, were more engaging than those sitting down.
For some reason, the authors who sat at the table writing seemed… intimidating or scary. Perhaps because speaking to them would have felt like interrupting a creative session. And I guess that’s kind of my point. When you go to a festival, you’re not wearing your creative author hat anymore. You should be wearing your marketing hat. When I say marketing, I don’t mean sleazy, “buy my book, guys and gals, you won’t regret it!” I mean engaging your audience.
Spanking of engaging your reader, have a note pad where interested readers can sign up for your mailing list. You can ask for their name and email, or, keep it simple with just the email. Next time you’re at a festival, email your list a couple of weeks in advance so people can visit with you again!
Anyway, I hope these observations helped! Let me know in the comments about other effective techniques that worked for you at an author festival or otherwise.
Authors can and should conduct analysis of their competitors. How do I know what I’m writing will sell? Are other authors selling similar content? Is there a gap that could be filled by my work?
These are important questions which can be answered by competitive (cooperative) analysis, and I’m sharing my process using KindleSpy to help me out.
Write a Cooperative Analysis
First, why cooperative analysis? I like to think of authors as a collective building a body of work together, which define and shape the genre. Some may disagree with me, but I liked the term when I read it in Marcy Kennedy’s guidelines:
- Compile a list of comparable, but more successful, authors
- Study their book descriptions
- Study their commonalities (pricing, categorization, cover design)
- Read their reviews (avoid what they “did wrong”)
- Determine what makes you special
While this list is pretty self-explanatory, I think the most difficult task is determining your set of comparable authors. If you’re not already reading the popular authors in your genre, how do you find them?
This is where I began using KindleSpy to help me out, and I suggest you try the same.
Use KindleSpy to Find Comparable Authors
Purchase and install KindleSpy in your browser (Chrome or Firefox). Watch the installation video, get familiar because it’s about to get weird. Or it did for me, anyway, because it has me questioning whether I’m writing in the correct genre!
Once I installed KindleSpy, I searched for “civil war historical fiction young adult” in the Kindle Store (the dropdown to the left of the Amazon search box).
There are 225 books in this category, not bad, but not good either. There are few books, so I could jump to the top of the pile if I wrote something amazing, but, sales are slow because it isn’t a popular search term.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the correct search terms or categories which make the popularity, potential, and competition indicators green. You want something that is super popular (searched often), with great potential (revenue per keyword), and low competition (you’re unique enough).
Once you find the correct keywords you’re hoping to write for, study the top 20 list of authors per Mary’s suggestions. Learn how they use the search keywords, how do they categorize the book, what sort of covers do they market with?
Utilize the keyword and word cloud analysis to determine how to make your book findable in the Kindle Store, which of course influences your marketability!
This cooperative analysis is the another step of my authorpreneur plan series, where I’m sharing how I’m controlling my fate as an independent author. You can read my previous posts where I defined my goals and stories, identified my readers, defined business operations, and outlined a draft of my product plan through 2017.
You guys, I am loving Marcy Kennedy’s blog series about breaking down how an independent author can be even more legitimate by defining a business plan. You can read my previous posts where I defined my goals and stories, identified my readers, and defined business operations.
What I find interesting is that the previous steps should be stable across multiple projects, as long as I retain the target audience and other general business needs. Moving forward, however, it seems the product plan, competitive analysis, etc, will depend on each individual project that sits under the business umbrella. Here we go!
This is a list of everything Bright Bird Press intends to produce over a given span of time, including novellas, short stories, speaking engagements, and merchandise such as posters and t-shirts. Since the Bright Bird Press business plan had a calendar goal of December 2016, it makes sense that this product plan include and extend beyond that date.
As such, the time span will cover a little more than two years (remainder of 2015, and all of 2016 – 2017). This will help budget and plan for hiring editing and cover design services as needed. This timeline will change as required (e.g. I anticipate buying a house in 2016, which might make the business take the backseat for a while).
- Complete the Bright Bird Press business plan
- Build Facebook and Twitter presence by sharing interesting historical content
- Fiction project (in progress, details under 2017 Projects)
- Continue working on the fiction project as outlined in 2017
- Establish relationships with Ohio Historical Society, Grove City historical society for potential marketing and community outreach opportunities
- Create merchandise for 2017 fiction project
- Fiction project (as hinted in 2015 Projects)
- Title: Untitled Grove City, OH 1865
- Summary: When an amnesiatic Confederate soldier collapses at the feet of Unionist Alina Miller, she must decide between family obligation and personal patriotism while the country hunts for President Lincoln’s killer.
- Length: 45,000 word novella
- Genre: Young Adult Civil War
- Ebook Release: April 2017
- Print Release: April 2017
- Audio Book Release: TBD
- Budget: $1000
- Looking for Mr. Knightly – Late Victorian YA – A bookish girl falls off her balcony into quite the adventure.
- My Unwitting Heiress – Late Victorian YA – A twin is left to pick up the pieces after her sister sprints from the altar.
- The Shortie and Crooner Chronicles – Children’s mystery book (series?) – Sleuth dogs use their super sniffers to solve crimes, to be written under another name.
Today I continue my trek down authorpreneurship by following Marcy Kennedy’s business plan guidelines, where we focus on how my business will run. Until now, I’ve set my goals, chosen my stories, and identified my readers (I could probably tweak the last one a little better).
Bright Bird Press will distribute Belinda Kroll’s books through all available online distributors, focusing on Amazon. Books will be produced in both ebook and print formats, with a focus on ebook. Income will be reinvested into the business until each book earns back what was invested into it for production and marketing—plus 10%. All additional income will be paid to Belinda Kroll as a salary.
At the time of writing this portion of the business plan, the Bright Bird Press account has $759 (rounded down) available to be counted as seed money.
This account is separate from my personal accounts, and all purchases from this account are used expressly for either Bright Bird Press or my other freelance gigs. At this time, all funds that did not come directly from another freelance gig are available for the book portion of the business.
Bright Bird Press is a sole proprietorship under my legal name, to be considered as one of many multiple lines of business. My co-authors are considered contractors and therefore have received a portion of book royalties in the past. Royalties to said co-author contractors will not be remitted if the cumulative royalty amount over a six month period (Jan – June / July – Dec) is below $100.
Formatting of ebooks and print books will be the responsibility of Bright Bird Press unless noted otherwise on a per-project basis. Cover design for print and ebooks moving forward will be hired via contractors, unless the contractor work is deemed unsatisfactory, at which point Bright Bird Press will be responsible:
- Historical Editorial – Cover Design Services
- Reedsy Freelancers – Ros Welpy / Mimi Bark / Kerri Resnick
Editing services will be hired via contractors, as Bright Bird Press is unable to self-edit with credibility:
- Second Set of Eyes – Cindy Sherwood
- The Feral Writer – Caitlin O’Sullivan
- Freelance Editor – Mallory Braus
- Historical Editorial – Editorial Services
- The Indie Editor – JT Logsdon
Marketing events such as blog tours and giveaways will be the responsibility of Bright Bird Press. Special marketing events such as book launches may require event organizers:
- Skitterbug – Bryn Sowash
Unsure at this point when Bright Bird Press will require hiring more services such as formatting and other marketing needs. This will be revisited at another date. At minimum, the royalties from Bright Bird Press will need to meet $2000 within a six month period (Jan – June / July – Dec) to justify hiring out more services.
The income from Bright Bird Press, in order to self-sustain, will offset costs for:
- A computer
- Production software (i.e. Adobe Creative Cloud licenses for InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop as needed)
- External hard drives for file backups
- Printers and printer cartridges
- Marketing supplies (via Vistaprint)
These costs factor into the production and marketing overhead per project, and as such, salary will not be paid out until these costs have been recuperated, plus 10% beyond the original overhead.
I was super excited the other day to see that Janice Hardy had posted the next step in developing an author business plan: identifying your readers. This is a part of the process I’ve always struggled to formalize… I know I write for young adults interested in history who also want to be entertained, but what else do I need to know about them?
Gender and Age Range
Janice emphasizes this is the gender and age range most likely to read my books. I think there are a couple men who have read Haunting Miss Trentwood and enjoyed it, but I’ll admit, they weren’t my target audience. I love that they had fun with the book, though!
- Primary audience: Girls ages 12 – 17 years
- Secondary audience: Women ages 30 – 44 years
55% of YA purchased by adults; of that, 28% belong to this gender/age group according to Nielson Market Research
What popular authors write similar books to mine?
|According to Amazon:
||According to myself:
Somehow my books have been lumped up with far more gothic and sexier books than the ones I believe I’m writing. Hmm… I wonder how I can change that?
What TV shows draw a similar readers?
This is a hard one since there aren’t many historical shows out right now. But the shows which hint at the tone in my books (or the tone I perceive in my books)…
- Pushing Daisies
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
- Anne of Green Gables
What expectations do they bring to the genre?
- I want to learn a little about historical events.
- I want to escape from my day-to-day worries and settle into something fun for a little while.
Will I fulfill or break these expectations?
Well, my hope is to meet these expectations, for sure. I think I’ll break expectations by not spending as much time “teaching” the way Ann Rinaldi does. Perhaps this is a way to differentiate so my writing seems more young adult rather than escapist adult fiction…
Back in July 2014, I read about Booktrack from Jane Friedman’s blog and simply had to try it out. A “booktrack” is exactly what it sounds like… a soundtrack for a book.
There is no dialogue, so it’s not like a true audiobook. Instead, a cursor moves along the page so you know how fast you should be reading (I believe you can change the reading speed to suit your needs), and you hear the different supporting noises for the words on the page.
I was hooked when I read/heard a sample of Alice in Wonderland, and wanted desperately to create one for Haunting Miss Trentwood. The first chapter is rife with ambient sounds… whispers, the wind blowing, dirt falling on a coffin, a ghost crawling from his grave, teapcups clanging, screams, and heartbeats. It wa a blast to make and took me a couple of hours because I was particular about the proper sounds.
How do you create a Booktrack?
When you sign into Booktrack, you’re given the option to add books to your bookshelf, or create a project of your own. The steps I took to create my booktrack included…
- Adding a chapter of text, including the chapter heading
- Selecting sounds per selected section of text
- Seems like you can select a single word, or multiple pages, and then decide whether to loop the sound
- You search for sounds via their pre-loaded library, which includes music, ambient noises, and more
- Listen to your booktrack and tweak the timing
- “Publish” your project by adding a title, byline, cover, description, and genre
What were my results?
Well, first, I had a lot of fun creating this! It was a blast looking through sounds and syncing them with the text. I published the soundtrack and left it alone… when I checked on it in September I only had a couple reads, so I added the link to my website and tweeted about it. That seemed to help. I also added the Booktrack to the Haunting Miss Trentwood page on this website. When I took the screenshot for this post, it was in April, and I had 326 reads with an average rating of 3.8 stars out of 5. Not bad for an indie author!
Have my sales improved since publishing the Booktrack? It’s hard to say. I had to comment on the Booktrack page to confirm to readers this was only the first chapter, and people should go to Amazon and elsewhere to purchase the full book. Haunting Miss Trentwood is an odd little duck; part humor, part horror, part historical fiction. It’s a difficult work to market, but there is an audience out there.
Give Booktrack a try if you’ve always dreamed of having a book trailer, but didn’t have the video capabilities. I love my Booktrack a lot more than my traditional trailer for Catching the Rose. I can’t wait to finish my next work so I can make another one!
Caroline from Booktrack reached out to me to correct a slight error in my description of the booktrack (very kindly, I might add!). From Caroline:
The cursor along the page, isn’t there to to tell you how fast you should be reading, it tracks your reading speed and automatically adjusts the sound to your reading pace, to make for a customized reading experience.
So there you have it! Booktrack is even more magical than I described, it automagically tracks your reading speed and adjusts the sound accordingly. Let me know if you guys create any, I’d love to read your works!
Hello! I return after ruminating about writing for months between family stuff, getting engaged(!), and rejoining the swing dance team. I’ve gotten a little breathing room, and my authorpreneur brain is whirring back into gear.
In the midst of it all, I despair over missing my writer’s group meetings, which are direct conflict with the swing dance team practices. I lament over my inability to concentrate on my research in the evenings. Instead I practice choreography, hunt for budget wedding supplies, veg out on Property Brothers and other Netflix necessary evils, and attempt to keep my place clean.
Today, I jump back into the writing world by brainstorming my authorpreneur business plan, which is inspired by Janice Hardy’s Fiction University blog series. Let’s jump right into the authorpreneur business plan brainstorm…
What will it take for me to feel successful?
- Earning enough book royalties to pay for future books, i.e. current royalties pay for editing, design, publishing, or marketing services or fees for future books
- Receiving 25 positive reviews on the Amazon listing (whether print or eBook)
- Holding a physical copy in my hands
Why am I doing what I’m doing?
- This is a creative outlet that balances me mentally and emotionally compared to my other creative outlets
- This is a learning outlet that exposes me to a greater understanding of my Anglo-majority culture
What are my lines I won’t cross?
- Smutty material; no sex scenes
- Gore; egregious violence
- Private life; only writing-related personal details will be shared
How do I want to improve?
- Each book should display a stronger craft of writing than its predecessors
- Each book should showcase better awareness of genre and audience marketing than its predecessors
Bright Bird Press intends to spearhead the authorpreneurship and marketing of Belinda Kroll’s fiction. By December 2016, Bright Bird Press intends to earn enough royalties to cover the editing, design, and marketing costs of Kroll’s as yet unnamed book. Each book published will be in print and eBook formats, and will try to meet a minimum 4.5 star average (measured by Amazon.com reviews). Any book published will attempt to gather 25 book reviews within the first twelve months of publication and over fifty reviews by the end of the first three years.
To reach these goals, each book should improve on writing craft compared to previously released books, and Kroll will release one full-length novel every two years. Kroll will maintain a website and blog, post interesting internet finds on Twitter, and will release a newsletter announcing new releases and giveaways.
Bright Bird Press will make decisions toward reaching these monetary and quality goals while also respecting Kroll’s moral standards. Additionally, if a decision is made which puts Kroll’s personal life at risk, she reserves the right to reevaluate her writing career with impunity to reader expectations. Kroll is accessible to fans through her website and select social media accounts; names and stories of her family are to remain private.
What are common threads in books you enjoy reading?
- Young women coming of age in eras where society has high expectations of them; so many apply to today’s society
- A touch of romance, which either begins between friends, or presumed antagonists who have to join forces
- This romance would be categorized as sweet; never going beyond kissing on the page
- A moderate plot pace, which ends in a generally happy, perhaps bittersweet, ending
- Familiar but distant history in United States and United Kingdom
- Descriptive, flowing sentences combined with punchy, blunt sentences in moments of severe action
Do I want to be a single-genre author?
What themes touch your passion?
- External: Father-daughter relationships in a patriarchal society
- Internal: Trusting your instincts when no one else will
- Thematic focus: Trust in the self
How long should my books be?
- Young-adult length novels; 54,000 – 74,000
Belinda Kroll will write Victorian historical novels (or novellas) of between 50,000 and 75,000 words. These historicals will feature sweet romances, where physical contact does not progress beyond kissing on the page. Kroll and Bright Bird Press intend to build a brand where readers can look forward to coming of age stories featuring father-daughter relationships and bittersweet endings.
Kroll’s books will highlight challenges of establishing oneself in the face of an unsympathetic society. These books will explore the theme of trust, specifically the importance of working to trust oneself despite failings and mistakes. Readers should leave each reading experience with a sense of renewed determination to love oneself.
– – –
That’s it so far! I’m looking forward to the next installment in Janice’s series. I’m finding this helpful for me, and I’m curious to see how this influences my writing. I don’t think I realized my writing length has shortened over the years… my first book was a little over 100k and now I’m interested in writing fiction half that length!
My one concern is that heretofore, I’ve been a pantser… all this thinking and plotting and general authorpreneur stuff makes me worry that I’ll lose my creativity by documenting my (existing) constraints. Oh well! We shall see where this takes me.
All the best,
I’ve never been big into the numbers of running an independent publishing company, so long as the hobby of writing supports itself. Because I want to make sure I’m following the law, at least, in terms of taxes, etc, and honestly I think I was cheated and paid more taxes than I was supposed to last year, I joined Outright.com to help me track finances.
Outright.com is like a Mint.com but for individual and small businesses rather than personal finances. They connect with your seller accounts on Amazon, Etsy, FreshBooks, PayPal, Shoeboxed, Harvest, and all the major USA banks. Let me tell you, I’m really liking it so far.
Until September 2012 they provide free charts to know who your most popular distribution channel is (pictured below). This is great. I know that I sell most my books through Amazon, but seeing the chart really drives this point home.
Outright also does you a favor and gives you an estimate of your quarterly and yearly taxes. Now since I’m such a small entity, I don’t make enough money for taxation (especially this year, where I used my royalties of the last two years to pay for the audio book). See below.
I say that these charts and tax estimations are free for now because after September 2012, I believe you will have to pay about $10 USD to get that information. I might be wrong. But honestly, if I can get this sort of information automatically, I’m not going to complain. It would save me SUCH a headache come tax season.
The only complaint I have, and this is because I’m a book publisher, is that I don’t know the quantities of books I’m selling, only the deposit amounts from my distributors. So I still have to do that by hand in a spreadsheet, which, I have to admit, I am AWFUL at.
But at least when it comes to finances, I feel like I can breathe a little easier. To read more about taxes as a self-published author, check out my 2008 post on the topic, which still pertains today.
If you own an Etsy shop or sell items via Amazon Seller Central, I suggest giving Outright a try. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the experience!
As you may (or may not) remember, this time last year I won the funding for Haunting Miss Trentwood by pitching a campaign via Kickstarter. That 40 days of promotion was a whirlwind of stress, exuberance, and exhaustion, which led to the success of the project. Because I was blessed to get funding, I do my best to support other writing/publishing/local projects as a way of paying it forward.
So far, all six of the projects I’ve backed have been funded, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Today I’d like to highlight other writing and publishing projects that piqued my interest, and might pique yours as well. If you find these projects interesting, back the projects by choosing a reward tier and the amount you would like to pledge.
Four Creative Projects
Blood Sex & Cogs interests me because my masters thesis was about the Steampunk craft culture. Here, the author is crafting their own book, with your help. Check it.
Children of Earth and Star interests me because it’s going to be a digital and physical illustrated book. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story intriguing… what happens when an earth child and a star child meet and fall in love?
The Gremacht Episode is about a family of Victorian archeologists by author/illustrator Ruth Lampi who encounter demons, immortals, etc. My favorite part? The author is dressed like her characters in the video. Talk about dedication!
The last one I just found out about yesterday, and isn’t on Kickstarter, I assume, because Kickstarter is only available to those living in the United States at this time. It’s a historical by Dubliner David Doughran called A Storm hit Valpraiso. I’m interested to see how his project goes, since I have no experience with any crowdfunding other than Kickstarter.
I’m a big fan of supporting the little guy, and maybe you are too. If so, I hope this post helps.
Everyday I’m Tumblin’
Also, don’t forget that I’m on Tumblr these days! I’m becoming more obsessed with the platform hourly, and am finding all sorts of quotes, images, and funnies to share with you. Make sure to hop over there from time to time.
I feel like Tumblr is a great way for you to see my personality (well, sense of humor, really), more than a blog. I don’t know. We’ll see. Fact is, I love it, and I’d love to see you over there to share in the nerd love.
I was asked an interesting question via the Self Publishing Review website the other day about copyright and publishing. I figure many have this question, or might find it interesting, so I’ve taken the liberty of answering here on the blog. From the United States Copyright website…
No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Now for most self-publishers, this isn’t really an issue. It’s seen as another expense that you may or may not be able to afford. Ask yourself this question, and be honest with your answer: if someone did infringe upon your copyright, would you sue them? Do you have the money to sue them? What do you expect to be a satisfactory resolution to that situation?
I’ve broken down the different items of a book that authors, aspiring and published, might want to copyright below, telling you whether you can copyright it or not, and why.
Copyrighting a Title
You can’t do this. This would technically be more of a trademark, because it is a specific combination of words to create a phrase. A trademark “protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.” So don’t try to copyright your title, because you’ll just be directed somewhere else.
The best protection for your title is to run a number of searches online to ensure that your title is unique so your readers can find you.
Copyrighting an Idea
You can’t do this. No one can lay claim to an idea or discovery. Technically, you can patent a discovery, but your book is hardly a discovery. Your book is an expression of an idea, or collection of ideas. It is that expression which deserves protection, as I’ve explained below.
Copyrighting the Implementation of an Idea
You can do this. For someone to copy your exact words in your exact phrasing with your exact paragraphs is called plagiarism, and is grounds for a lawsuit. You have a stronger foothold with this lawsuit if you have registered for copyright because it is a form of copyright infringement.
Keep in mind copyrighting does not protect you from plagiarism. Having the publication year listed inside the book would be suitable evidence for a plagiarism case. As long as the plagiarist released their work after yours, of course.
That said, you can preregister your work if it is unpublished… Not sure why you would want to do that, though. I guess if someone broke into your house, stole your manuscript, and tried to sell it to the highest bidder? But then that would be outright stealing, and would go to a different court.
The point of making a copyright is that it gives you the right to make copies and that is it. Filing for copyright means that you are the only one allowed to publish it in whatever form you wish. Anyone else trying to publish your work is performing copyright infringement because they don’t have the right to make those copies.
I hope that helps clear the confusion!
This was a GOOD week for Round of Words. Not only did I copy over my entire plot for The Rebel’s Hero over from sticky notes into the computer (you can see it on my fan page), but I also wrote character bios for half of my characters, and wrote another 1667 words on top of that initial 750 words, thus completing the first drafts of chapters two and three!
And then yesterday, while working in a coffee shop, I realized something awful. The Rebel’s Hero continues to change and morph away from Catching the Rose. So much so that it feels weird using the same character names. So I changed all of the character names and have finally broken free from Catching the Rose. The Rebel’s Hero is still technically a rewrite, so there might be a similarity here and there, at least between character relationships… Anyway, I think this is for the best.
Oh. And I made the cover for The Rebel’s Hero and unveiled it Friday evening on my fan page. If you’re a subscriber to the newsletter, you got a larger version in your inbox. As a bit of housekeeping, from now on I will be releasing book information first to the newsletter subscribers, then to Facebook fans, and then on the blog. That makes sense, right?
I updated the website home page, so if you haven’t visited in a while because you have an RSS reader, hop on over, if you please.
Now as you might have guessed, I’m exhausted. Because on top of all that, I worked full-time last week where I wrote a 32-page report that had a ton of diagrams (ok I’m cheating, I took two weeks to write that). And last night, I was swing dancing until midnight.
Belinda iz ded nao.
I’ll check in next week with a brushed up excerpt from chapter two, I think. Or maybe not. Not sure. My brain hurts.
All the best,
I wrote two thousand words last week. Pretty pumped about that. It’s for the Catching the Rose rewrite. I also wrote out a preliminary outline for the new book which has yet to have a real title. The working title is Secondhand Sister.
It pays to sleep all the time from being super sick. Yeah? Yeah? Not really, but at least I got some writing done.
That’s a deal if I ever heard of one. I decided to make the change across all my distributors, so that includes Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, and Smashwords. We’ll see what this does with sales.
How are the other ROW80 writers doing? We’re winding down on the last month and our numbers are dwindling…