Tag: Author

What to do when your book cover sucks!

It is not just about the reviews!

Learning to market your book as a self-published author is an interesting and sometimes painful journey. There is so much to learn and so much to do. The book cover, the story itself, the categories and keywords, SEO, social media marketing, Twitter, Instagram. BookBub, etc. … and getting reviews. The list of things to do can quickly become rather extensive.

The reviews I get tell me my story is pretty darn good.

Of course, you always get a few bad reviews. Not everyone will like your book. That is just a fact of life.

However, most of your reviews have been 4 and 5 stars. Some of the reviews have been absolutely outstanding. So why is your book not selling a little better?

Yes. It does take time. When first starting out, you are not exactly Tom Clancy, Lee Child, or Vince Flynn! At least not yet!

You do have to keep plugging away at finding what marketing ideas work for you. There is no way you can do it all. You have to have a plan and then you have to work the plan.

Enter the experts

Through ALLi (Alliance of Independence Authors), I have been exploring and learning about marketing for self-published authors. I have been working with Beth Kallman Werner at Author Connections and now with Jim Kukral at Authors Marketing Club.

The book cover story

book cover

About a week ago, while on the phone with Jim Kukral, we went through my book’s categories and keywords and at Jim’s suggestion, made some smart changes there. I learned about KDP Rocket and if you are a self-published author, I think this tool is indispensable.

We also looked at the book cover. Jim’s comment was that the book cover looked like exactly what it is … a first cover attempt by a newbie self-published author.

I must admit it hurt just a bit. After all, I was kind of proud of the cover. I mean, I designed it myself. Jim then suggested I take a look at other book covers in the same genre; essentially military action thriller.

I did this and his point became painfully obvious. A lesson learned. Jim explained the concept of “cover to market.”  Essentially, this means your cover has to stand out in the market you are competing in. Kind of a “duh” moment actually.

So … back to the cover drawing board we went. And, about a week later, voilà!  I must admit, I love the knew cover. It fits the genre and stands out among the book covers of my competitors. It gives clues to the story line with out being a “spoiler.”

In addition, many people I have shown the book cover to really like it.  A few have not. But when I dug a little deeper, I realized this is not a genre they read very much of. That kind of clicked as well.

The unveiling!

book cover
The new cover

I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this new book cover.

I think there are several good lessons in this post. Self-publishing is an interesting new venue for aspiring authors. It is very cost effective when you are just getting started. But being self-published does not mean that you have to remake the same mistakes as everyone else.

You most certainly can if you want to!

And, we will all make our share of mistakes. However, there are legitimate experts out there who really love helping authors succeed and it does not have to be prohibitively expensive. Talk to a few people who know. Check out the competition. Learn about concepts such as “cover to market.” Check out tools like KDP Rocket. And always remember, it is not a sprint to instant success  … it is a marathon where endurance and training count.

Book Review: Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter

Welcome to Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Author Kent Wayne!

Author Kent Wayne does a good job with this first book in his Echo series titled  Echo 1: Approaching Shatter. His writing style is lively and at times humorous. The characters are well developed, and it is truly a compelling story.

Shatter

His book is an interesting look at a futuristic version of humanity. Global warming has made Earth uninhabitable, and now humans live on similar planet called Echo. Governments and corporations have merged and created the Department of Enforcement to crush the Dissident rebels who are fighting to make their lives better. Much of Echo is in a rapidly deteriorating state, but the elite live up in the sky where they can ignore the chaos below … that is threatening to destroy Echo.

In Approaching Shatter, the main character, Atriya, is one of the Department of Enforcement’s highly-trained Enforcers. As a good soldier, he follows orders. However lately, he has been having second thoughts and strange ideas. He wonders about things that he shouldn’t and wants to do something, but is unsure of what path to take. This is the source of the story’s conflict and the narrative unfolds from there.

I do not usually read a lot of science fiction, but I do like military fiction, so I took a chance on it. This book was pretty darn good because it is not just about the action. It also explores the ideas of humanity, courage, strength, bureaucracy run amuck, war, and even religion.

I have one minor comment/complaint. I’ve always loved westerns, especially Louis L’Amour. But I could never get into Zane Gray. That was because Zane Gray included way to much detail. I have an imagination. Let me use it. Echo 1 is kind of that way. Maybe not as bad as Zane Gray!

But I must admit, whether or not there is too much detail, often depends on the reader. Many readers loved Zane Gray westerns. In my novel, Serpents Underfoot, a couple reviews complained I gave too much detail on things like military weapons or tactics. Then again, some readers eat that stuff up.  I guess the point is that a lot of this is subjective and depends on the readers personal preferences.

I haggled over 4 or 5 stars for this book for a few days, and settled in on 4.5 … which rounds off to 5 anyway. Military science fiction readers will love it!

Don’t forget to check out my novel as well!

Learning to Own Your Writing Style!

writing styleLearning to own your writing style takes some understanding …

So, how do you learn to own your writing style? I recently was approached by a lady  in a local convenient store. She walked right up to me and said, “I want to tell you how much I really enjoyed reading your book, Serpents Underfoot. I love your writing style. It is so unpretentious and straight from the heart. And, I would not say that if I did not really mean it.”

I was caught totally off guard and a bit embarrassed by her comments, but I thanked her … telling her how much hearing that meant to me. Then I paid for my diet Mountain Dew and headed out the door. On the way to my car, I started thinking about what she had said … unpretentious and straight from the heart. I began to analyze what she might have meant by that.

So, what exactly did she mean by that …

I think that she was saying that my characters are portrayed with refreshing honesty. Especially the main character, JD Cordell. Other authors probably would have left out the influences in his early life such as church and boy scouts. Both of these institutions have come under attack to varying degrees in the world we live in today. But, how could I leave them out? These influences helped shape the man he became in the story. Even his training in the  martial arts, another key influence in his development as a confident young man, is an individual achievement, and doesn’t play well with all the group think and mob rule we see playing out in today’s news. However, these influences created the very foundation allowing JD to become a U.S. Navy SEAL, a true modern-day warrior.

The more I thought about this and looked back at the characters in my book, I realized something. They are, both good and bad, all independent thinkers and individualists who are able to stand on their own two feet. I think that is something the world needs more of. It is something I very much believe … and so, in that way … it came straight from the heart.

And what might this mean for other new writers?

If you don’t love what you are writing and you are not excited about writing it, I think it would be hard to be good at writing whatever it is you are writing. By being true to yourself and what you believe, you can write write honestly, and straight from your heart. Will everybody like it? Certainly not. But will everybody like what you are writing if you are merely pretending? Certainly not!  See … nothing really changed. Except, that if you love what you are writing, you will be passionate about it. And even people who do not like what you write will be able to see that. So, learn to own your writing style. Be true to yourself.

Thanks, Martha, for the Five Star Review!

Reviews, Five Star ReviewAnother Five Star Review for Serpents Underfoot!

Thank you, Martha, for your thoughtful comments and great Five Star Review on Amazon.com. That makes 6 so far!

I continue to be surprised by the number of women who enjoy this book. I think Martha’s review shed some light on this for me.  While it is a counter-terrorism-type, military thriller … which in my mind, would appeal more to men, woven through the story are elements of love, family, morals, loyalty, politics, deceit, and justice. It is not just about war. It is also about many of the things that made this country great!

Core American Values

A strong sense of family, a belief in God ( or for some, a higher purpose), love of Country, sacrifice, and a strong sense of right and wrong. I guess these things would appeal to a broader base.  It is just pleasing to see so many different people enjoying the book.

So, My Shameless Plug

Five Star ReviewChristmas is just around the corner! I bet you have at least one reader on your gift list for which this book would make a great Christmas present!  Get them a  great book to curl up with and read on a snowy, winters day while sipping on a hot cup of tea, hot chocolate, a glass of wine, or even your favorite bourbon!

If you were to get them a copy of my book, Sophie and I would greatly appreciate it!

Work on the sequel progresses!

Thank you recent Serpents Underfoot purchasers!

Thank you very much!

Wowsers!!! Whoever the two people were who were bought the Kindle version of Serpents Underfoot over the last two days … Thank You! Seeing that was a great way to start off my morning.  It is one thing to write a book. Something else entirely to have people actually read it and hopefully, enjoy it! Thank You Very Much!!! 😎

Should have the paperback version out in a week or two! Proof copies are due to arrive any day now. Already have several requests for autographed copies!  I plan to shortly thank youhave a link on this site to order autographed copies.

By the way, If you do read my book and enjoy it … Please take a few minutes to review my book on Amazon.com. I would really appreciate that. I have set an initial goal of achieving 50 positive ratings.

In addition, my book should be soon listed on Goodreads. I am working on that now.

Authors Often Need Resources. Fiverr Can Help!

authors

Sometimes, new authors need help getting started

New authors are often overwhelmed with all the things involved with finishing that first book. Are you an aspiring author? Do you have all the resources you need to make that first novel a success? Let me turn you on to a great site if you don’t already know about it. Fiverr.com is an online community of creative people.  There are folks who do graphics and designer, digital marketing, writing and translation, music and audio, programming and tech, business, and fun and lifestyle. The name Fiverr probably stems from the fact that most sellers have a base gig that only costs $5.

Alice Osborn Webinar

I first heard of Fiverr during an online webinar given by Alice Osborn, a Writer/Editor. The webinar was on social media marketing for self-published authors. While Fiverr was not a topic of the webinar, Alice Osborn did mention that she used Fiverr for her own projects. I was intrigued and decided to check Fiverr out.

Self-published Authors

At the time, I was coming along on my first novel, Serpents Underfoot. I had written an author’s bio and a book description. As I perused Fiverr, I discovered a seller who wrote book descriptions designed to help you sell your books. I went a head and ordered a $5 book description to see what this seller was doing and how my book description compared to his. It was a learning experience. The seller’s book description was good. No problem there. I even gave him a tip. I discovered, however, that is was really no better than mine. So, after thinking about it for a few days, I set up a sellers account and started doing book descriptions.  I have since added two other gigs.

Book Descriptions

I have written about 16 book descriptions so far. The have included books on deer hunting, slow cooker recipes, gall stone remedies, dark poetry, adult coloring books, Various self-help books and various works of fiction. I started the second gig a bit later writing martial arts fight scenes for other writers. Because of my long history of karate training, I seem to have a knack for writing pretty realistic fight scenes with sound karate technique. I have done three so far and have enjoyed doing them. I create a third gig which involves editing the work of other, but so far … no takers.

Qualifications

What qualifications do I have? Well, for one … I think I could read before I could walk. My parents instilled in me a real love for reading. As a result, I have read my whole life. Starting with Dr. Seuss and moving on to history, military history, historical fiction, fantasy, sword and sorcery, I also like to write and have written most of my life as well. As a youngster, I even enjoyed playing on a typewriter! As a student, I enjoyed doing papers in school and always got good grades on writing assignments. When I attended college, I took many literature courses including Old English literature, Russian Literature and a technical writing course as well.  I received excellent grades on any paper I did including my Master’s thesis.    Authors - typewriter

Things I have Written

I have written several student training manuals for the dojo I owned and ran for about twelve years. Any dojo marketing materials were also written by me. I’ve had several letters to the editor published in the Clinton Courier as well as the Daily Beacon, the student publication for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I have technical documentation for processes in several of the jobs I have worked. For the last 12 years or so, I have also been a blogger. I started with a conservative blog, which was eventually rolled into this current website/blog. I guess I may have mellowed a bit over the years. While I am still pretty darn conservative, I try to see other view points and to also blog about non-political things such as writing, books reviews, and my German Shepherd, Sophie.

What does the future hold?

My Novel, Serpents Underfoot, is in its final editing stage and will be released this fall.  I plan to release it as a paperback, a hard copy and on kindle as well. Once that is underway, I currently have plans for three more books.authors - serpents underfoot

Next Project

While I do not want to give too much away, my next project is going to be a collection of letters from WW II. No, I did not write the letters. But the letters are real, and they a beautiful to read. They are letters written between a GI stationed in Japan during General MacArthur reconstruction period and his wife at home with their young son. These letters offer a look at a period of time many of us have forgotten about. It was a tough time, a time of sacrifice and hardship. But, is was also a time of love, caring, and looking out for other people.

After that?

Then I have plans to do a book on what it was like growing up as a stutterer. Last, I have an in progress Isshin-ryu Karate history and training manual I need to complete. Then, who know … I may circle back and do another adventure in the life of the main character in my novel.

What does these last few sections have to do with Fiverr?

Not a whole heck of a lot, except for the confidence writing as a seller on Fiverr has given me. I am finding out that people actually like what I write. So far, I have completed 19 Fiverr gigs and am working on my 20th. I have 18 reviews, 16 of which were 5 Star, one was  a 4 1/2 Star, and one a 4 star. That is the motivation I mentioned earlier in this post. Fiverr provides tools and motivation. So, for all you aspiring authors out there … Fiverr just may be a great place to start.