Bi-Monthly Goals for April & May 2019 — Derek Barton – 2019

Goal pic Apr 19

 

Time for a goal check-in!

In January, I opted to break away from the Bi-Monthly goals and introduced a new goal system.  As you may recall, it was a goal system defined by Sarrah Cannon in her YouTube video How To Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet.

The essence of her system revolves around Main Goals, Projects, and Tasks.  You set two or three “main” general priority goals to focus on.  Then you break down those goals by deciding on Projects that will accomplish those general Main Goals.  With each Project Goal, you detail and define what Tasks you are taking to get the Project finished.

Here  are the goals I worked up for the first quarter:

My MAIN GOALS are as follows:

  • Increase my site visitors by 25% = 232 visitors — (2018 1st Quarter’s results were 186 visitors)  ACTUAL RESULT:  243 visitors (Success!)
  • Complete one of three books for the year 2019  ACTUAL RESULT:  Published Elude: Part Three the first week of April (Partial success).

PROJECT GOALS are as follows:

Goal to Increase Site Visits — 

  • Three Monthly Giveaways
  • Two Book-signings
  • Weekly Blog Posts

Goal to One of Three Books for 2019 —

TASK GOALS to Increase Site Visits as follows:

  • Develop three unique site giveaways (signed book copies, amazon cards, audiobooks)
  • One Book-signing set in January (Superhero Saturday); call and set up another for February or March
  • Update each week a blog post (web sagas, goal-setting blogs, etc) for a total of at least 12 blogs in the 90 days.

TASK GOALS to Complete Elude Part Three as follows:

  • Complete Bullet Outline
  • Write the rough draft (30,000-word count left)
  • Go through 3 waves of edits
  • Cover & Blurb (already completed)
  • Publish on Kindle & Amazon by 3/31/19

 

While I did accomplish my goals, I felt like the extra month gave me too much leeway — gave me an out and I was not as “driven or pushed” as I have been with the Bi-Monthly goal system.

A couple positives did come out of the trial run:  I was able to get a weekly blog done for the three months which was a nice plus and also I increased my site traffic by almost 31% versus the 25% I was shooting for.

So… I may not have felt like I was productive, I did accomplish some objectives. That being said, I’m going to try to do a combination of the two systems and see if that works for me.

First I am going to set myself five Main Goals that are a bit more specific than the general “Main Goals” as with Cannon’s approach. Also, I am going to give myself a bit of an established timeline completion date (not a deadline but more of an expectation).

 

MAIN FOR APRIL & MAY GOALS:

  • Complete the outline for the third book in the Wyvernshield Series (possibly titled Swimming in the Ashes). Due date by May 15th.
  • Complete the outline for the new horror web saga (no title yet).  Due date by April 30th.
  • Complete the outline for the new Evade Series (crime/horror series).  Due date by May 31st.
  • Rework the covers of my books. (I have been hit over the head several times by more successful authors that my books were not cohesive or didn’t express the right genres. “If you confuse the reader immediately, they will not bother figuring it out and move on.” I write in two genres so I’m going to have to do a better job at making it more obvious.) Due date by May 31st.
  • Begin a four-part guest blog swap with fellow writer Adam Mitchell and complete a Blog Interview with him! (This will be my first ever blog swap and should be a lot of fun!)  Started by April 15th – the interview and First Blog on May 1st.

 

My April & May months may only 5 goals for the Bi-Monthly system which usually had 10, but these are some tough objectives and come with imminent goal dates.  And along the way, I want to get a video done for my fantasy series as I watched several videos on book trailer production and think I’m up to it…but where can I get in that extra time?

WISH ME LUCK!  

 

SECOND YEAR BLOG SITE ANNIVERSARY!!! — Derek Barton – 2018

Blog 70 Anniversary

This year has flown — I cannot believe how fast it flew by!

I started this blog in July of 2016 to help promote my new book and to do some writing research as well as experience sharing.  While the climb up the mountain is far from over, I can look back over my shoulder proudly.

Here is a list of writing goals that I have accomplished in the year since my last blog anniversary:

  • Written, edited and published The Bleeding Crown as well as designed the book cover myself!  I am super happy with the outcome of the story and hope to begin outlining the series finale soon.  Expect to see it in 2020!!
  • Written two more novellas like In Four Days.  My upcoming Horror-Suspense series, Elude: Part One and Elude: Part Two will be published by the end of the year.
  • Participated and wrote 50,241 words in the month of November for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge.  That was the first time I  took part in it and plan to this November as well.
  • Wrote and edited every couple of weeks (give or take) a horror web series with my father T.D. Barton called The Hidden.  It has been very fulfilling for the both of us I believe.  He finally gets to see his own writing come to fruition — it only took 30 years!   In the upcoming year, it will be released in full book format.
  • Partnered up with two voice actors for my works — Consequences Within Chaos (which is available now on Audible.com) and In Four Days (which will be released on Audible by the end of the year!)   Really happy with the productions and I have already gotten Laura Richcreek (the actress for CWC) to start on The Bleeding Crown.   Nothing is more thrilling than hearing your words performed.  Not a movie (yet!  heh heh heh) but very close to a play as far as performance.

Blog stats and growth since 2017 and from its start in 2016:

  • 1303 views / 862 visitors since July 2017
  • 1603 views / 659 in 2016 and all together that is 2,906 views / 1,521 people that have read and/or visited my writer’s blog since it was first started in July 2016.
  • This is the 70th Blog Post for the site!
  • 36 followers through WordPress and current email list @ 2,226!!
  • Readers have checked in from 42 different countries around the globe!!!
  • 310 Followers on Twitter, 90 Followers on my Facebook page, 25 Followers/166 Friends on Goodreads.com and now on Instagram 82 Followers! — It’s a small tribe but we are growing!

What’re my goals for the next year?

  1. Book a table at a book festival or comic-con in Arizona.
  2. Find a local bookstore to do a book-signing in Phoenix, Arizona.
  3. Maintain monthly book/audiobook giveaways.
  4. Write another novella, Elude: Part Three.
  5. Finalize and publish The Hidden.
  6. Write a fantasy novella — perhaps in the same world as the novels, but maybe something brand new?!
  7. Get The Bleeding Crown and Elude series on Audible as well!
  8. Do at least one out of state large comic-con like the Amazing Las Vegas Comic-con.
  9. Write at least another 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo Challenge.
  10. Keep on finding new ways to attract readers to this blog and find new stories to entertain you with!!

RECOGNITIONS:

  • Special shout out to Ted Barton — not only my mentor and my toughest critic (lol!), but my biggest inspiration.  Without your own endeavors to push the envelope, I would not have the confidence to reach for my own.  Thank you for all your guidance and love.
  • Thank you to Nesa Miller who has diligently helped me with my work and really shown me ways to improve upon my writing.  You don’t always beat around the bush with how you feel, but your assistance and targeted editing has been a huge boost to my work!  You may not yet have your own Editing Site going yet, but when you do, you’ll be a great success!!
  • My friend and great supporter, Jon Paul Rai, who has worked with me on both of my fantasy novels and has been a strong advocate on his own Youtube Channel, Entertainment Hacker.  Check him out if you are a Star Wars Fan as he has some great material and insight into the storylines and the direction they SHOULD go!
  • Nothing but praise and gratitude to my voice actor partners (Laura Richcreek and Charles Pendleton).  You have brought to life my characters and taken the writing to that next level.  I can never repay you for your time and efforts in that!  Thanks so much.
  • My number one fans and beta-readers, Susanna Willey and Renee York!  You guys have truly made this a blast and your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have absolutely put me on Cloud Nine.  I appreciate all your efforts to spread the word and to get my name out there!
  • Last I would like to thank Susanne Lambdin for her words of advice on marketing and continued support for my own growth as a writer.  Thank you for your partnership and I look forward to the day we can attend another comic-con together!

 

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE SUPPORTED, READ AND GIVEN ME ASSISTANCE WITH MY WORK!  It truly honors me any time I hear that someone has enjoyed or been entertained by my work.  There are a million storytellers in all sorts of styles and manner.  I know that for you to pick my writing to spend your own precious time with cannot be taken for granted or wasted.  Each time I think maybe this isn’t what I should be doing with my life or sacrificing my energies on, someone reminds me how it touched their world and it made a difference to them.  As a writer, I cannot ask for anything more.

Here’s to our lives and paths continuing to cross in the future!

Regards, Derek

The Essential Elements of Book Covers — Derek Barton – 2018

Covers

When there are hundreds of new books traditionally published or self-published on a daily basis, how will your work stand out?

When a reader scans through the Amazon or Kindle online sites and spends one to two seconds on your novel’s image, how will you keep their attention?

These are just two of the critical questions you should ask yourself and give serious thought to when it comes to your book’s cover.  The easiest way to make or lose sales depends on how you present your novel.

It is just that simple, and yet, IMPORTANT.

I have possibly two or three of my own works coming out this year so I wanted to be sure I had all the available tools and weapons from the industry at my disposal.  Thus, for the last month, I have been reading articles, documenting notes and discovering just what the professionals consider a “professional book cover”.  What were the keys to the “best” covers and what are the strikes that torpedo cover art?

Here are some of the laws or elements that the professionals have suggested and I have outlined here for you!  They are broken down into three subjects:  Overall Principles, Style and Typesetting.

Overall Principles:

  • Keep it simple!
  • Let the cover “breathe” —  keep the cover open and not crowded.   If they don’t know what to focus on, they are just going to skip past it.
  • Use no more than three different colors and include black, white, or grey.  
  • Focus on a theme or emotion.  Relate it to what your story is about.  This is your novel’s billboard after all!
  • Find good imagery.  Don’t use anything blurry or cluttered which can confuse the reader and make them move on.

 

Style:

  • Place a darkened border around the edges to make the cover POP or stand out.
  • Beware using centered text as it creates a “wineglass effect”.  This effect has become cliché and earmarked as amateurish.
  • Create an imaginary box for implied margins.  All your words, titles and names should stay within the box and not go to the edge of your page.
  • Consider “ghosted boxes” or page divisions for text.  This can help keep fonts colors from blending or contrasting with your image colors.
  • Composition – make a grid of your cover and keep in mind the placement of each itemThis will prevent clusters or odd centering issues.

 

Typesetting:

  • Limit your cover to as few typefaces as you can.  The fewer fonts you have the more simplistic, cleaner look.
  • Avoid script and calligraphy typefaces!  If the title or YOUR NAME is hard to read, then what is the point?  I broke this one myself on my first book cover version — It may look awesome to you, but if the reader cannot tell what it says, then no one will care what it says.
  • Distressed text should not have uniform letters.  If your font looks like it has marbling, be sure that there isn’t consistent marbling in each letter or it will not look natural.
  • Don’t stretch or condense words!
  • Kern your text – letter spacing.  Kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result.  It will also prevent your words from being misinterpreted.

As I stated above, these are just the most consistent laws or elements discussed when describing the fundamentals to book cover art that I have found.  There are other factors that can produce or reduce sales.  And sometimes there are “break out” covers that will not adhere to these rules and are very successful.  It all comes down to fan judgment and book sales success to really know if you scored well on your book cover design.

I truly hope that this is beneficial to your own book cover creations and if you have a suggestion or an element that you would suggest, feel free to comment.

 

Upcoming Projects — Derek Barton – 2017

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I have gotten some inquiries on the progress I have had on certain projects (especially concerning my sequel, The Bleeding Crown) so I thought I would send out a quick update.

 

THE BLEEDING CROWN — At this time, I am almost a quarter to half way through the first draft.  I spent a lot of time organizing, structuring the story line and developing the characters along with their backstories.  My projected goal is to finish the draft around September or October.

On a side note, I have been kicking around the possibility of a third novel in Wyvernshield, making this a trilogy.  I have some interesting paths I could go down, but I have not fully decided one way or another.  And since I am not done with the second novel’s first draft, it is too early to start plotting out the third.  One thing that is definitely making me hesitate is that I want the series to have a complete whole overall story and not two complete stories and one disjointed story thrown in the mix.  If that makes any sense.

CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS AUDIO BOOK — A sad development here.  My voice actress had too much on her plate at this time and just could not dedicate the necessary time to get this done within the time frame I was looking for.  So… I have submitted a proposal on Audible.com and I am waiting on audition proposals.  My goal was for the end of July, but with this delay I am not sure it will happen that soon.  Audible states that once an actor has been chosen, it could be done in 3 to 8 weeks give or take the size of the novel.  My book is estimated to be 11 hours recording.  Keep your fingers crossed with me!

CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS COLLECTIBLES — I cannot yet go into too much detail on this, but I have made some inquiries, connections and working relations with several sources in an effort to create some character collectible items.  A calendar set, magnetic bio cards, foil posters and a designer deck of poker cards may be on the horizon!

GOODREAD GIVEAWAY AND A GREAT INDIE BOOK CONTEST — I have been promoting the Goodreads Giveaway a lot, but I am also working out a big contest with at least one other independent author.  More to come by July, but I am getting pretty excited about what we can offer and what I have in store for you guys!

A NEW HORROR BLOG SERIES — I am working on a new story line and series for you, my horror lovers!  Inspiration struck and it won’t stop haunting me.  And since I need blog ideas, I have decided to work this out through the blog like I did with In Four Days.

Plus I am still working on the horror novel with my father T.D. Barton; be on the lookout for sneak peek chapters of that as well.

IN FOUR DAYS AUDIO BOOK — In current talks with another voice actor for my novella.

As you can see, I am truly working hard this year! hahaha

Last note, as July is approaching I am astounded and thrilled to realize that this blog and website will be celebrating its ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!  Thank you all for your continued support and helping me grow this dream each day!

Lots of things in the works and more to come — exciting times!

Talk again soon!

Lessons From Galaxyfest… — Derek Barton – 2017

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This weekend was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to meet several established writers and comic-con artists.

As always, I want to share with you the lessons I learned so that maybe if you are interested in becoming a self-published writer, you can benefit from my experiences.

While the con did not get the anticipated crowds all of us hoped for (approximately 3,000 versus the 10,000 people), there were a lot of exhibits and vendors that I could learn a lot from.

I had the immense honor to meet and speak to these writers:

From these guys I learned a lot of information about Audible, about booth displays, about other conventions/bookfestivals, about book covers and book interior layouts.  I got new ideas for marketing, book themes and even items to go with the books to draw people to the booth.

By the next convention I hope to have a new book banners, new materials like character bios and character magnets, a new variety of bookmarks based on the books and even (insert drumroll here…) a new book direction – I am going to develop a Steampunk Novel (or novella)!  I will still work on my Consequences Within Chaos novel sequel, however, I will be also donating time on a Steampunk storyline.  Like I did with In Four Days, be on the lookout for my story blogs!

Why Steampunk?  For one, I like the whole western/victorian theme which of course I will beef up with own horror style.  Second reason is that this will also give my fans another element or genre that they can delve into with me.  And lastly, it is obviously growing in demand and in popularity.  I am intrigued just where this could lead me.

Also I met up with a few voice-over actors that I may be able to help me launch an Audible version of Consequences Within Chaos.  Recently, I signed up with Audible and I really love the service.  I listen to books now as I do my 3-or-4-mile walk each night.  Peter Meredith explained the process to me and really enlightened me on how this could be a big benefit overall to me.  We just might see how right he is!

Another great benefit to comic-cons is the artist booths.  Not only are their works inspiring and thought-provoking, but they could be great resources in the future.  I already have a great artist, Dan Thomas of Dark Art Komics helping me out and showing me the ropes at these comic-cons, but I also met Jacob Spill (https://www.facebook.com/jspill) and several other artists that could help me with illustrations or covers in the future.

Financially I took a gamble, threw the dice and unfortunately hit a wall with Galaxyfest, but I did get a lot out of it in terms of marketing knowledge and trade information.  I will certainly do more conventions — JUST DO IT BETTER!

Here are a few more pictures of the fun characters and fans you do run into at these things!

The Art of the Juggle… — Derek Barton

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“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.”
—George Singleton

 

“A writer writes.” 

Okay… This adage is a very old and a very easy piece of advice to spout, but how does this really guide us?  I suppose the practical message means that in some form or some way, you need to get writing done as much as possible.  Stop letting the poor excuses or the multiple obstacles get in the way.  Like any other craft, as you practice or perform, you will hone your skills and find it gets easier and better.

But, we only have 24 hours each day to get the millions of distractions to ignore, objections to overcome, questions to surpass, phone calls to return, emails to reply, careers to succeed in, family to care for and finally extract a small window of time out of the day for a writer to write (MAYBE) before we collapse into bed.

I have here a few techniques which I have garnered through experience and research and used to find that elusive window of opportunity.

First, take an inventory of your life – a snapshot of your day and then your week.  By understanding just what you want to accomplish, what has to be done each day, what is a common issue, then you will be able to spot trends or patterns that you can take advantage of.

Using me for example:   I work the late shift as a sales supervisor (the day job) Sunday through Thursday 11:30 to 8 pm (the “has to be done” part).  I know myself – I am not a morning person; more of a night owl.  I have a large family and a list of household chores like everyone else.  I like to write when it’s quiet and I can focus (my “common issue” part).

My routine is thus:  During the week — Wake an hour before work, get ready and then rush off (after fitting in a couple chores, Ha!).  Then after work, come home, eat dinner, watch maybe an hour of television with the family, then go walk (the “what you want to accomplish” part — I am putting in a nightly effort at walking to reduce my weight).  When I get back, the household has settled down and the family has gone to bed.

Now is MY TIME…

Much like my routine for the week, during the weekend my routine is to spend quality time with my loved ones, get the rest of the chores completed, walk after dinner and then write in the evening.  That is really all it takes.  Track down what you are doing consistently during the week with work and outside of work.  Know when you are the most creative/focused and then make that YOUR TIME.

Second, make this a habit and a part of who you are.  Invest in yourself, commit to your career and take to heart the idea that you are a writer.

It has become second-nature to me.  Not only are you being more productive, the established time let’s everyone know that this is when you are writing.  It’s your signal that you are working.  Now, if I haven’t actually written that day, I find myself getting restless and I toss-and-turn in bed.

Third, take advantage of even the little windows of time.  Some writers have found success by slipping in writing on lunch breaks at work, writing while waiting for the kids coming out of school, writing after dinner before putting the kids to bed.  Even two or three fifteen minute blocks combined in a day can really add up.  If you don’t need a long period to accomplish a bit of writing or if you don’t need a startup period to get your creative juices flowing, then this might be the best option for you.

Fourth, remove all internet and phone distractions when you write.  It’s super easy to “just check on that post” on Facebook or maybe see what Trump said this time on CNN.com.  Also if you leave your email up, you will get notifications that will detour you or pull you right out of your writing mode.

Same goes with having your cell phone next to you.  It takes only one notification bleep to derail you.  Best way to make good use of the little window you may have is to remove all these possible distractions.  I only keep one site open that plays classical music in the background – the music helps me focus.

These four steps have really assisted me in understanding what I needed to do and how to find a time to write, market and/or research each and every night.

Hope this helps you!  NOW go write, writer!

Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”
—Henry David Thoreau

 

Lost Within the Trees… — Derek Barton

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Are you ready to step out of the inky shadows, march down the twisted path and stride boldly into the shining sunlight?

In other words, your first novel has gone through a dozen  rewrites and you’ve made all the adjustments recommended by your book critiques (either from professionals or beta-readers) –  so what exactly is your next move?

Well, be prepared!  Not only will you have to sell your work of art, but it is now time to sell YOU!

M A R K E T I N G

Ugh… That word alone causes an immediate case of cold shivers down the spine to most of us new indie writers.  I know that I had no real idea what to do.  Even up through today, I am still looking out for new ideas, original techniques or alternative options to get my book and my name out there.

Now questions you will need to ask yourself are:

  • what are your expectations with the marketing?
  • what are your resources?
  • what are the outcomes that you want and are they realistic?

If your expectations are to get immediate sales and fame, that’s not too likely.  I am seeing that many writers have to play a slow game of “If I write it, the readers will come… eventually.”

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Word of mouth and a variety of original works will gain you a loyal fan reader base.  If you appeal to different types of readers that can also help grow your share of readers.

What about your resources?  Are you financially able to invest in your work?  Can you afford to market or advertise?  Everyone’s budget varies of course and there is no set answer on that.  Just because you throw a ton of money at the wall will not guaranty success, but on the other end if you don’t put anything into getting your name out there, you run the risk of being obscured in the blur of thousands of new published books every year.  Another new name among a mountain of new names.

The outcomes or the payoff for all this marketing can bring you readers or it can also bring you some new opportunities.  I haven’t seen any true financial boost (yet!), but that could be an option.  Marketing is a gamble and it’s a gamble on you and your writing. When you decide what you want to do, you also have to decide what is going to satisfy you.  You are investing time, money and your own name for the sake of your story. On what level do you say that your marketing has been successful and fulfilling or at what point do you stop, redirect your efforts?  Those are answers you will have to work out yourself.

Personally (and I always try to share with you the avenues I took that worked or didn’t work for me), I researched a lot online, read a ton of blogs, bought multiple books for marketing and strived to figure out what I felt I could do, afford and what I wanted from all of this.  Sure I want thousands of readers and the life of a famous writer (why not?!), but that is a lofty goal for a lifetime not a goal for just one book from a first-time indie writer.

I don’t have the money for commercials or making Youtube ads, but maybe you do and that can be an option for you.  Again, investing and marketing is a unique path for each person.

By the way, the biggest mistake the experts are saying that newbies make is paying to have their book reviewed by a site or company.  There are tons of ways  to get your work reviewed for free — just means you will be doing a lot of emailing or posting (begging) readers, family or friends to write them for you. Or you can make arrangements with beta-readers — send them a free book for a promise of a book review.  Why big push for review and feedback?  Reviews will sell your book on Amazon and other sites.

The best advice and the most stated advice I have seen is to utilize Social Media outlets and make sound uses of them!

Get your name, profile, bio and blurbs about your books on each of these sites:

  • Facebook (business author page)
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon Author page
  • AND MAKE YOUR OWN AUTHOR WEBSITE/BLOG

These will get your name, face and books in front of thousands of readers.  Will these viewers all immediately want to read every word you have written?  No, of course not, but it will reach a lot more than you’d be able to do on a daily basis by yourself.

Make good use of them by posting often about your work, give samples for readers to read of upcoming work or from published works already available for sale, share inside views of what it takes to produce your writing and be sure to announce where you are going to be for book signings.

One tip I followed recently that has paid off pretty well for me was Book Giveaways.  On Goodreads.com, I posted a Goodreads Giveaway for a few signed books and this has generated a ton of interests in not just readers wanting free books, but I have over half the contest entrants placing my book now on a “want to read” list.

Another outlet for me will be book signings and comicon appearances.  This is a fantastic way to get media on you (nothing is more exciting than seeing your name on an event website as a “guest appearing author”!) and it’s an easy way to meet fans and build an honest and lasting fan base.

If reaching out and sharing your story is the most important goal for your writing then you have to do the hard work of getting that attention.  The amount of effort you put into your marketing will be a key factor in your own success.

Likely you went down the road of self-publishing like I did because you didn’t want to waste any more time waiting for some literary agent or traditional publishing house to give you, “an unknown”, a chance.  In these times, it probably just doesn’t make “business” sense for them to market you…  Is that fair?  NO!!  Is it the world?  Yeah… at least for now.

And because you have decided you aren’t going to wait for them, that means that you are the Marketing Department.  You are responsible for it all.  Now get busy!

Hopefully, I have cut down on some of your own marketing research and given you some helpful direction.  Some of this may be obvious or maybe some of this might be the spark you needed.  Either way, I wish you all the luck and blessings in your endeavors into the Murky Forest of Marketing!

 

One Thousand Questions… — Derek Barton

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As I stated in my last blog, After You Have Climbed The Mountain…, I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned about self-publishing and some factors to watch out for and consider how to deal with.

You finally have gotten your manuscript to its glorious, untouchable near-perfect state with edit after edit, beta-readers and even professional reviews (if you have taken my advice and gotten a professional copy editor).

Now what?

At this point you have to decide what direction you will want to take and who you are going to involve with your great work of art.

You may not realize just yet, but you will have a lot of questions ahead that you must take some time with and you will need to make some definite decisions. There are many paths you can take, but the good news is, I didn’t find that there are “wrong” answers to the following questions. I found that there are just different experiences and outcomes you can have with your various choices.

Here is the list of some of the critical questions that we can get into and work through together:

  • Who is going to design your book’s cover art?
  • Are you going to seek out local artists?
  • Are you going to seek out professionals?
  • Are you going to do it yourself?
  • What do you want as a cover?
  • Are you going for an actual scene from your book?
  • If so, which one and which one do you use that won’t give away too much of your story and/or mislead the readers?
  • Which publishing site am I going to use?
  • Do I want to use more than one?
  • Am I going with Amazon/Createspace first?
  • Or am I going with Nook (Barnes&Noble) first?
  • Do I sell my work through Kindle?
  • Do I want just ebooks or do I also want actual hardbound or paperback copies?
  • If I want the actual product in hand, how much do I order?
  • Do I have the money to invest?
  • Do I have a place to keep the inventory?
  • How do I sell my work?
  • What price line do I shoot for?
  • Do I give my work away free at first?
  • Do I do contests, advertising and/or giveaways?
  • What are some of the best ways to market and get my name out there?

I didn’t lie to you when I said that you have many considerations ahead. And NO, I do not have all the best answers and the best techniques. I just have my own experiences and results to share with you.

So going in order of the questions presented I will share my experience and what I decided.  Hopefully, this will give you even more insight and information to which you can make your own choices.

Who is going to design your book’s cover art? Are you going to seek out local artists? Are you going to seek out professionals? Are you going to do it yourself?

I really lucked out here. My cover art for Consequences Within Chaos was designed by a good friend Daniel Thomas of Dark Art Komics, who is also a professional comic book/graphic novel artist. You can check out his work here: Daniel Thomas — Dark Art Komics.

Before Daniel reached out to me, I went with a site you might have heard of called Fiverr.com.  I won’t say outright that this was a bad idea. For anyone who is not familiar with it, the site is set up to offer low cost solutions for editing, cover book art work and many other services from all over the world. Most of their representatives offer $5 packages or higher value deals for their work. I tried it as I am always dirt poor and wanted to see just what $5 cover work I would get.

The artist that I selected asked in email for what I was looking for. I detailed that my novel centered around a royal family in a medieval fantasy prepping for an oncoming war. What I got back was comical if not tragic. She sent me a cover with three soldiers silhouetted in black in a field holding what I am guessing were sub-machine guns. Insert #faceinpalm here! As I stated above, this site I am sure works for some and I am sure if you went with a higher value package you could “get what you pay for”.

Anyway, I know that not everyone knows an artist or has that sort of connection that I just happened to have. In my own research, I found some articles on the web that offered some other possible good resources to find your own cover artist. You could check out the local colleges to search for student artists that might work with you on a cheap basis. You could also go on to websites like Craigslist and advertise for an artist. Or you might go on web forums and speak with other writers to see who might be able to offer you a direction or a lead.

One thing to keep in mind is that you need to be flexible with what you are looking for, be patient and take some time to know what you would like to use on your cover.   The more details you can offer the artist the better. Having several options in mind would also be a good idea. Remember that your cover is your “first impression” with the reader and it definitely has to be eye-catching and stand out, especially when you are competing with thousands of other new books that come out each year.

The biggest lesson to learn for new and first time writers is that there is still a lot of work to do with the novel after you have completed writing it. I have only scratched the surface of the questions I have presented to you, but I will go over more in my next blog.

I will submit to  you as a self-published novelist, that this ride is so worth the work and effort. Take the time to think of your options as this is your baby.  Dress her up nice!

You are in for a helluva ride and an exciting experience. And it will get even easier the next go-around. PROMISE!

After You Have Climbed The Mountain… — Derek Barton

 

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Back in July when I first created this site and began to delve into writing blogs, I stated I also wanted to “share the wealth” of what I experienced and learned in my own journey into self-publishing. This is the first in my series of doing just that: giving you the readers a behind-the-scenes look into the steps involved and the resources that are out there.

The first step without a doubt is the most crucial and difficult task ahead: your manuscript. This is the main reason you are even writing after all and this is the focus point of every reader, editor or publisher that comes across your work.

Why you ask is the manuscript the most difficult part? Besides the obvious fact that you will want a compelling, provocative work that leaves your readers breathless and wanting even more. It is a top priority because there are so many working parts and a multitude of intricate details involved that have to be precise.

What I mean by that is if you want to be taken serious as a writer and by the industry, be trusted by your readers and/or fans, you have to produce value as well as art. Your manuscript cannot be riddled with mistakes, typos or grammatical errors.

Not only will your error be an eye-sore that some readers will not be able to overlook or forgive, it automatically defeats the very purpose of what you are doing: immersing the reader into your world.

If the reader comes across an error or typo in your prose, it is more likely that instead of continuing to read, that they are spending their time deciphering what you actually meant or determining what the real word you were wanting to use. In other words, instead of being right beside your hero as he paces in indecision in front of the creature’s lair and the reader is wondering whether your hero will brave the shadows ahead and face possible horrific death, a giant hand comes down snatches them right off the land of fantasy and right back into their grim desk chair of reality!

I spent three years off and on writing my first book, Consequences Within Chaos. However, when I was at the end, I quickly found out that this was not the conclusion I expected! No, what I faced was a ton of work ahead in editing and proofreading. It was as if I had struggled up the side of a huge mountain only to face a vast ocean on the other side before I could get home.  In fact, I spent another two years editing and reworking my book. Every time I thought “okay, now I am ready to have this sucker published!” I would find or a beta-reader would find an ugly, glaring error.

The main reason we as writers are not able to see these pesky word-gremlins ourselves is due to the fact that we are too emotionally tied to the work. We are blind to the little flaws of our work just like every parent feels unconditional love and pride in everything our own children accomplish. We know what we meant even if we didn’t actually convey it correctly on the page. Our brains fill in the missing words or even corrects the spelling in our minds so fast that we are literally just smart enough to get ourselves into trouble!

What can be done to fight this dilemma?  The best advice is to have it done by a trusted professional.

Is it cheap? NO WAY! The industry standard is relatively around $.02 to $.04 a word.

Will this prevent you from tarnishing your reputation, save you embarrassment and give you that polished, professional story?  Yes.

What if you are like me and on an extremely tight budget? Then you have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to have a clean manuscript and a work that you can be proud that your name is on. As I said, it took me two years of several full revisions, a lot of work with other writers (trading books for review), several rounds of beta-readers and tons of research and studying writing craft articles.

I am very pleased and happy with my work, but in complete honesty, I am also aware that I would have saved time and effort using a professional editing service. I am currently developing my sequel which I fully intend to submit to an editor this time.

There are certain elements to self-publishing that you can work on a DIY model, but there are other elements that truly require dedicated professionals. This is just one of the lessons I have learned and I am passing along here.