Guest Post- 3 Things You Need To Know Before Crowdfunding

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Hi everyone! Today I have a special guest author, Grace K. Francis, who has written a guest post about her experience Crowdpublishing her novel. Grace is a German writer and her debut novel, Codename: DEREC was published in April 2016 with the help of publishing company Kladde. Read about her experience and the pro’s and cons of Crowdfunding!


The term crowdfunding has been around for what seems like forever, hasn’t it? Platforms like Kickstarter have given it a huge boost in the last few years. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a great idea for young entrepreneurs to find financial support for their business. I had no idea that the same thing existed for books, which is also known as crowdpublishing.

After finishing the last edit of my manuscript at the beginning of 2015, I had already long forgotten about crowdfunding. The thing I worried about at that point in time was whether I should contact a traditional publisher or dare to go down the path of self-publishing. Self-publishing seemed pretty intimidating to me so I discarded that idea pretty quickly; although I admittedly didn’t do much research on it. Instead, I went on the search for a German publisher, and like every young author aiming to make their debut, I was terribly insecure.

During fall, 2015, I found Kladde, a small publishing house in Freiburg, Germany. That was when the term crowdpublishing entered my life again. Kladde publishes their authors’ books via crowdfunding only, because that’s how they collect the money they need in order to pay their proofreaders, editors, cover designers and so on.

By referencing my own “publishing journey”, let me tell you the most important things you need to know when considering crowdpublishing your work.

1. You still have to decide whether to publish traditionally or self-publish

The number of publishers like Kladde, who only publish via crowdfunding, is significantly low; even more so in the English-speaking publishing world than in the German one. You could, of course, start a crowdfunding campaign for yourself to raise the money you need for your project. But keep in mind that with self-publishing you have to do everything yourself from editing to marketing and everything in between. If you go with a traditional publisher when you crowdfund, they will set up the campaign for you, advertise your novel, and you’ll be able to profit from their experience.

2. There is the risk of not getting fully funded

The thing about crowdpublishing is you take a big step at a very early stage of your publishing journey, and at that early stage you have to be convincing.

The website of my campaign contained a short video of me introducing myself and my novel, an extract of the novel, a synopsis, and a list of “perks” that those who donate receive in return (example: someone who donated 10€ received a copy of the E-Book and a handwritten Thank You card).

This early step can be a blessing and a curse: your audience (aka your possible readers) are the ones who decide whether your book gets published or not. They decide whether it’s interesting enough for them to read. Once they decide “Yes, I want this novel in my shelf,” they will most likely donate, which is of course a great thing because it’s a way for readers to actively be involved in shaping their personal, literary preferences. However, if you’re not convincing enough, they’ll just close the tab of their browser and move on (which would be bad).

It will make you doubt yourself and your work

Trust me, I’ve been through self-doubt with my debut novel.

My campaign started off really well; probably because the first people who donated were family and friends who I had told about my project. I reached the first 15% of the funding threshold within the first two days and I got incredibly excited!

My crowdfunding was set up so that I had a total of 55 days to collect 3000€. After my initial friends and family head start, I received several donations from people I didn’t know (but who most likely read about the campaign on my publisher’s Facebook page). I didn’t start to feel the self-doubt until about 5 days prior to the end of my campaign, when the donation number stopped going up.

You have to know, I can be very pessimistic at times. That was such a point. It made me feel like my book wasn’t good enough to be published. I began to doubt my writing skills, my style, my entire novel because I knew that if I didn’t reach my campaign goal, my novel wouldn’t get published. I was dependent on these readers, and if they left me hanging so close to the goal, I surely must have been not convincing enough, right?

Wrong.

I ended up reaching my goal just a few hours before the deadline ended. I even reached more than what I would have needed.

It was then that I realized that crowdpublishing is indeed a risk, but it’s a risk worth taking, because at least you’ll have people supporting you who are genuinely interested in your book. Of course you’re dependent on them, but hey, at some point in life, everyone is dependent on someone, right?

I’m glad that I took the step of crowdpublishing for “Codename: DEREC” because although it’s nowhere near perfect (the sequel will be so much better), I learned a lot from the experience itself. I learned how to represent my novel and myself as an author on the internet and on social media. I also learned how to deal with self-doubt and even with 2 star reviews, after it was published. And knowing those things can help a great deal once you’re really getting into the “industry”.

And remember, if there are any new opportunities opening themselves up to you, take them. As long as you’ve got “your book’s back,” you can do anything!


GKF

Grace K. Francis is a bilingual author born 1997 in Germany.

She began writing at the age of 10 and published her first book “Codename: DEREC” on April 20th, 2016.

While working on its sequel, she’s now started to work on her first English-speaking project, a homoerotic novel set in Japan.

Grace K. Francis has a partiality for everything Japanese, music, tattoos and cats.

Grace is currently searching for Beta Readers for her newest novel! If you are interested, message Grace on her Twitter (click here).

Author Q&A- James W. Ziskin

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing James W. Ziskin, the mystery author of the Ellie Stone novels. He has been nominated for the and Lefty award and has won the coveted Anthony award for the Best Original Paperback in 2015. Read the interview below!AuthorPhoto1_CreditWilliamZiskin.jpeg

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I began writing at the age of twelve. After several bad novels and forty years of starting and stopping, I finally succeeded in writing a book good enough to sell to a publisher. Now four books later, I’ve learned the most important lesson: Never give up.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: A deadline. The best inspiration there is. That and a deep-rooted love of stories and language. Never be boring. And you’ve got to care about words.

Q: Tell me about your latest book, Heart of Stone. What was the original idea behind it?

A: Heart of Stone is the fourth book in the Ellie Stone series. It’s set in August 1961 on a beautiful Adirondack lake. I felt it was time to give Ellie some support and love in the form of her aunt Lena and elderly cousin, Max. I also wanted to explore music, art, culture, Cold War politics, and the fiery passions of old grudges. The story revolves around the diving deaths of two men in the waning days of an idyllic August vacation. One of the victims is a teenager from a nearby music camp, while the other is an unknown man. A stranger to the lake. Ellie wonders how they happened to be diving from a dangerous cliff together. Surely they didn’t know each other. Add to that a reunion with some old friends, a torrid summer romance, and a healthy dose of nude bathing and you’ve got Heart of Stone.

Q: What is your writing process like? How much ‘grunt work’ goes in to the finished product?

A: Writing a novel is a marathon. Of course I’m not the first to say that. Some days it’s a slog, while others it’s a breeze. But you’ve got to put in the time. I typically take a couple of months to outline my books. There’s a lot of time staring off into space, thinking about the plot, the setting, mood, and characters. Then there’s the research and the solution to the murder. Once I’ve done all that, I clear the decks as best I can for three or four months to write the first draft. A thousand words per day should get it done in three or three and a half months. Then comes the revision. I revise many, many times before submitting the finished manuscript to my publisher. And then I revise some more as they edit it. No, writing isn’t as glamorous as people think. It’s a lot of time alone staring at a screen, searching for the right word, followed by months, even years, of waiting to see if anyone liked it.

Q: If Ellie Stone met Nancy Drew, what do you think would happen? Would they work together or get in each others way?

A: Ellie Stone would love Nancy Drew. Surely she read all the books growing up. But Nancy Drew might be scandalized by Ellie. Nancy Drew was a “nice girl,” while Ellie most decidedly is not. She’s a nice person, just not a nice girl.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That we can do better as a civilization. Much better.

Find James Online:

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Barns & Noble

IndieBound

 

Things Indie Authors Do Wrong

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So before I start this post, I just want to make it very clear that this is a rant. I’m not talking specifically about any indie authors or books, and what I say does not apply to all of them. I am just going to talk about a lot of “mistakes”, or rather “turn-offs”, that I have noticed in independently published books.


1. Cover Design

So, obviously every book has a cover. I mean, how could it not? It is a book… right?

What I have noticed with indie books, is a lot of authors get pre-made templates to use or watch a few YouTube videos about graphic designing and decide to go ahead and make their own.

Can this work? Yes.

Does this work? Most of the time, sadly not. See, it’s not that the covers are horrible or ugly (I mean, in some cases they are, but that’s not the point), it’s more that the covers are boring or unoriginal. They don’t stand out in the crowd. Nothing about them screams “Pick me up and read me right now!”

I’m going to be totally honest here and tell you that when I buy books (like actually spend my own money to purchase a book), it is either because I 100% am in love with the author and I don’t even look at the cover, or because the cover is so beautiful I can’t leave the store without it.

What can I do to fix this problem?

Why, thank you for asking that totally relevant question.

I think the best thing to do is to stay away from designing your own cover. This is for the same reason we authors have beta-readers and editors: we can’t always see the flaws in our own work.

The challenge with this is having to pay someone to create a cover. It is a bit of a catch 22; you need money for a good cover and you need a good cover to make money. There’s no perfect solution to this, but after investing all that time in writing and editing and such, why not invest a little money into a stunning cover?

If you do decide to hire someone, make sure they are a good graphic designer and have done notable books in your genre before. Otherwise you may as well save your money and take your chances designing the cover on your own. Also don’t be afraid to tell the designer you don’t like the first cover they come up with… its important to be able to convey the feeling and emotions of the book through the cover. That is what makes them so great.


2. Bad Editing

Getting a really good editor can be hard and expensive. I get that. However, that is no excuse for some of the things I have seen in indie books. I mean, I have come across some pretty awful spelling and grammar mistakes (and I mean super noticeable ones… not just little “barely-there” mistakes).

I mean lets be real here: there is no excuse for an author to shift between third and second tense in the middle of a paragraph. That’s just not okay. NOT OKAY PEOPLE. Just had to get that out there. Stick to your tense.

Then of course there are those books where I’m not even sure if the author was sober when they released. There are forgotten characters and plot lines and it just makes me wonder if the book was just written and put out into the world without so much as a proof read.

What can I do to prevent such a horrendous mistake?

Thank you for yet another totally relevant question.

Bad editing is pretty easy to avoid…. as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort. I mean, you could always hire a professional editor (if you don’t mind the cost), which of course is never a bad idea. But if you don’t want to, you could do several other things.

You could:

  • Find a bunch of beta readers who are willing to give you pointers and suggestions (and who preferable have some kind of writing experience or who are avid readers and know their stuff).
  • Join a critiquing group (just remember that means you will most likely be critiquing other peoples work as they critique yours)
  • Let your finished manuscript sit in the back of a closet for a few months then re-read it with a set of fresh eyes
  • Stalk an editor on twitter until they finally agree to edit your book for free
  • Sell your soul to the devil in exchange for a perfectly edited book

Wow. That escalated quickly.


3. Awful Book Formatting

So you know when you open up a book and it just doesn’t look right? That is probably because it wasn’t formatted well. The whole book just feels amateur-ish. It throws the book off, if you know what I mean.

If there is one thing I appreciate most about traditionally published books it is the book formatting. I have to give it to the publishing houses… they have got the page design down to an exact science; it just gives books that extra special “pop”.

I feel like a lot of indie authors overlook how important page design is. A books interior design can make or break the entire reading experience.

Now, I’m not saying that every single indie author should have a design at the beginning of ever chapter or a special symbol between scene breaks, I’m just saying that more often than not the interior of the book just isn’t put together the right way.

Tell me how to make the inside of my book beautiful. I beg of thee!

How demanding of you! But okay, okay, I’ll do my best.

So, I’m obviously not a graphic/any kind of designer, but there are a lot of them out there. If you do decide to hire someone to make a cover, ask them about interior book design. More likely than not they will have experience with that as well and be able to make the pages of your book look beautiful and amazing (and the pages of your book will match the cover).


So there you have it. Rant over (I think). Feel free to share your opinions, and any other “turn-offs” you have noticed in indie books (or published books if you want). Have you ever noticed my book turn-offs?

7 Mistakes Indie Authors Make Designing Their Book Cover

This is a guest post by Kari Anders, the designer behind Free eBook Covers. Learn about the seven most common mistakes indie authors make when designing their book covers.


As self-publishing becomes more and more prevalent, I’ve noticed a trend in authors working to stand out from the crowd by professionally self-publishing. Authors of all experience levels are hiring teams of freelancers to edit and design their manuscript to prepare it for sale. This creates a unique marketplace where self-published and published works are often undistinguishable, and gives readers a wider (and less expensive) range of books to read.

However, not all self-published authors can afford to hire a team of freelancers to help sell their work. It becomes a chicken and egg problem. If the author cannot hire professionals, it’s likely their work will not sell as well, and therefore they will not earn enough to justify those costs. So many authors are choosing the do-it-yourself option of publishing. If you are self-publishing and planning on designing your own book cover, take a look at the seven most common mistakes I see from Indie authors:

Mistake #1: Using Text Overlays

I would classify this mistake as lazy design. When selecting an image, you should keep in mind possible arrangements for text placement. Not all great images will work as book covers. However, a classic mistake I see being made is where there is plenty of room on the image for text, yet the author creates an overlay instead. This causes the eye to gravitate towards the text and not look at the cover as a whole. A book cover is intended to sell your product, and you will only have a few seconds to draw a reader in before they flip to another book. You want the readers attention on the image first, not on the text (unless you are Stephen King and your name sells books).

These two book covers are great examples of the above mistake. There is so much room above the man in the first image to display the title, and here the overlay completely hides the image. The second one could have text split between the top and bottom of the image, and with the right color choices, would have stood out well on the darker image.

Mistake #2: Too Large of Font

It’s tempting to fall into this mistake when designing your own book cover, especially if you are picturing your title as a thumbnail image. The bigger the text, the more its readable, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Text that is too large or disjointed from the cover can require the eye to read it one letter at a time, requiring more processing time to take in the image. Cover art is meant to encapsulate the entire mood of the book; the specific text is less relevant. Avoid the desire to fill up blank space and your final product will look more complete.

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I actually really like this cover, and separate from the oversized font, it has a lot going for it. However, if the font was smaller and closer together it would read more powerfully. Here is just feels like four different words and not a book title.

Mistake #3: Unreadable Text or Images

Some authors try to get fancy with text placement or typography choices, and this ends up look amateurish and difficult to read. If the eye needs to sit on an image or text too long to decipher what it says, it will move on. You want to make sure you are answering the following questions on your book cover: What is this book about? What genre does it fall into? Am I the target audience? What’s it called? If your cover can’t do that is 5 seconds, you need to go back to the drawing board.

The title of the first cover is difficult to read, the typography choice, color and placement all lead to a poor design. On the second design, I have to really think about what the image is supposed to be and I am still not sure. Is that a snake in front of a pyramid?

Mistake #4: Subtitle Placement

Oh the awkward subtitle. First of all, I rarely see subtitles at all on professionally published books. So, if you are considering adding a subtitle, rethink that idea all together. If you must have it on your cover, it should be placed less conspicuously than the main title. The subtitle should be something you have to seek out to read. The main things our brain should take in first are the image(s), and the title. The rest will come secondary if we like the cover enough to stay.

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Oh and that colon is the worst.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Genre

Self-published authors are so worried they are one of many fish in the sea they have an innate desire to try to stand out. Unfortunately, this isn’t what readers want. If I am a reader looking for a erotic romance novel with vampires, then I am going to scroll through listings and descriptions until I find what I’m looking for. Being unqiue doesn’t make a book stand out, instead, it confuses readers. And confused readers don’t by. You can intrigue your audience while still being obvious about what your book is about and what genre it fits into. Before you look at designing your own cover, look at comparable books in the genre. Make sure your cover is fits in with similar well-known books so your book can find its audience.

The first cover gives me no indication of what the book is about. Reading the description, the book sounds very interesting. It’s about a woman who inherits tickets to a cruise when a family member passes away. But it’s not just any cruise. Reservations were set years in advanced to sail to the Southern Hemisphere to see Halley’s Comet. Sounds very interesting. For the second cover, I would say this cover fits into the bio/memoir genre. Maybe. It appears to be an actual photo taken that has some significance on the story. However, this is a paranormal novel and nothing about the cover says novel or paranormal. Yes, the shack COULD be scary, but really it just looks sad.

Mistake #6: Hand-Drawn Images

These images scream self-published. Unless you wrote an illustrated children’s book, you should not have anything hand-drawn on the cover. If you are set on selecting something that is illustrated, there are hundreds of thousands of inexpensive stock illustrated images on iStock or Shutterstock to chose from, and they have been inspected for quality control.

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This cover just looks incomplete.

Mistake #7: Word Art Typography

The best typography for book cover design is to stick with simplicity. The text should blend into the cover not stand out from it. Avoid adding anything to the text that isn’t completely necessary to make it readable (i.e. shadows, titled text, or fancy coloring).

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The shadow/outline makes the text look cheap, and the tilt has me confused on what it what.

The best advice I can give to someone insistent on designing their own book cover is this: Look through Amazon at 100 covers for books similar to yours. Find a quality stock image that encompasses the mood of your story, and keep the text simple and similar to your genre. When in doubt, hire a designer or buy a Pre-made eBook Cover. There is a large selection on thousands of book covers on the web starting at around $40, and it will be one of the best investments you can make in your work.


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Kari Anders is a book cover designer who works mostly with self-published authors and small publishing houses. She worked in freelance design for six years before attending graduate school, and now teaches design and runs freeebookcovers.com. All of Kari’s covers are designed as CreateSpace Wraps for only $75, with the eBook version included for free. Her site specializes in Pre-Made Book Covers, but she also does interior design and custom covers.