What better place for my new book signing than down at the local, and how lucky are we to have such a gem on our doorstep?
‘The Local’ – a pub where locals meet for a catch-up and pint, a g&t and gossip, or a dinner of hearty pub grub (next to the roaring log burner). The heart of the village! All cliches because they’re true, be it the Fox and Hounds in Draymere, or the pub down the road from you. So I’m very grateful that our lovely hosts are letting little-old-me use their warm and welcoming bar for my book chat.
Grateful, but a tiny bit panicked. It doesn’t come natural, this speaking in pub(lic) lark, I’d far rather write it down. I’m talking to myself in the mirror again (the first sign of author madness?) and practising my signature, which should be easy, but I managed to sign Sam Reading the other day (it started so well).
My special authograph pen (gifted by eldest daughter) is primed and ready to go. I’ve managed to find passages in the book which I can read out loud and (a) don’t give the plot away, (b) aren’t too steamy. But my mind is inventing first night fears – what if no one turns up? What if someone turns up? I pity the poor sods who wander down for a quiet pint and find themselves thrust into romance. Or maybe they’ll enjoy it.
As will I, when I get there. I always do.
Gentle reminder to self; don’t overdo the Dutch courage.
With Volume II of my Draymere Hall Series published, and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) *Select enrollment period on Volume I about to end, I’ve decided to experiment with a two-book box-set (this is despite the preconceived wisdom on blogs I follow that box-sets should consist of three or more books!)
The box-set will consist of both ebooks. It was pain-free and straightforward combining the two volumes (which have already been edited, proofread and formatted, of course) into one great big document (200,200 words! I impressed myself with the weight of my saga).
Selling them as a pair feels like a no-brainer, giving readers the chance to buy both books for slightly less than the cost of buying them separately (if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about marketing, it’s that everyone loves a bargain) and at no additional cost to me.
Ah, but I will need a cover for my box-set.
The beautiful covers for my books were created by Jane Dixon-Smith of JD Smith Designs. She did a wonderful job and I love them (plus, I got some of those zany 3D images to show off.)
But this stops being an experiment if it costs me more money. I’d like to know that a box set will sell first. Which means I’m going it alone, and I’m no cover designer.
My first port of call was KDP, Amazon’s self-publishing platform, which has its own ‘Cover Creator’ (with guidelines to assist). It’s simple to navigate. You can upload your own images or use one of their backgrounds, and there are options to change colours, layout and font. But the choices are limited and mine were limited further by the amount of text I needed on the front cover to make it clear that this was a box-set and to name the separate titles (my titles are quite long!) I didn’t love any of their fonts or backgrounds and I couldn’t control the alignment of wording (or vary the font colour) within their layout parameters.
I’m trying to convey rural setting, romance and passion, and catch the eye of readers. This was my best effort on KDP’s Cover Creator. (The background image was downloaded from Pixabay for the voluntary price of a cup of coffee.)
I don’t like it. It doesn’t catch the eye, it doesn’t shout ROMANCE and you can’t read the white font on the pink sky background. But the biggest snag is that this cover would only function on Kindle, so alternative platforms would have a different cover, which I’d still have to make.
So I hopped over to Canva (tagline: Amazingly simple graphic design software!) and their ebook cover template. You could play forever on Canva, adding your own images and superimposing other pictures on top of the background, but I’m not clever enough. I made a right dog’s dinner of my efforts.
Luckily there are multiple, pre-designed ‘Canva Layouts’, so I selected them, because I’m not a designer, and I’d worked out by now that real designers are better than me at pairing up fonts with layouts and backgrounds. Snag number two is that whilst some of the layouts are free, all the ones that caught my eye cost money. Not much money, true, but then none of them were perfect either. So I changed my remit to something simple which just tells you what’s in the box(set).
Yuk, right? And remember that when you’re looking at these on Amazon or other sales platforms the image might be even smaller. Ask yourself, would you bother buying that?
I may go back to Canva, when I’ve come to terms with the fact that spending a little money could be essential and, with that thought in mind, I headed over to The Book Cover Designer to find out what premade covers are going for.
There are benefits to buying a premade cover. Obviously, it’s cheaper than using your own designer, there are options for paperbacks as well as ebooks, the designs are one-offs (so there won’t be another book appearing with the same cover, which is a risk with KDP and Canva) and some of the designers include extras like 3D images or a choice of alternative fonts. You can search for covers by genre. Those I looked at under the romance tag ranged in price from $29 (£25) to $200 (£165). Needless to say, the one I liked was $200. I jumped off there quick-smart before I could be tempted.
I haven’t designed my cover yet, but I have worked out that I’m both fussy and tight-fisted. For a little more effort (and possibly investment) in Canva, or more specific images I might find the solution I’m looking for. Pixabay couldn’t help with my search for red-headed heroines or English manor houses. Shutterstock had some images which piqued my interest…
… but they wanted £32, for five downloads, and I only need one picture (and the skills to turn in into a cover would be handy).
This is why cover designers are worth their money, but I haven’t given up. Back to the drawing board for me. All suggestions welcomed!
*enrollment in KDP Select grants Kindle exclusive sales of the enrolled ebook. I would therefore be unable to sell the box-set on other platforms whilst volume I was enrolled in the Select programme, and unable to enrol the box-set in the Select programme whilst Volume II is available on other platforms. Yes, it is confusing!
I hooked up with Bublish this week. I’m not sure why it took me so long, given that it’s free (for readers and for ‘Emerging Authors’), but maybe the sheer choice of digital book-sharing platforms addled me sufficiently that I ended up doing nothing, with any of them.
As an independent author, and *²rooky *¹authorpreneur, it’s down to me to tell readers about my novels. So, with the new book about to come out, I donned my marketing hat and doubled my efforts.
I know more about marketing from the customer point of view than I do from that of the marketeer. I know what annoys me (pop-ups, sign-ups, repetitive, shouty-ads, and don’t get me started on cold calls) so I was looking for more thoughtful ways of marketing my books.
Bublish achieves that:
- Readers sign up because they want to hear about books
- Author posts (or ‘bubbles’) have added value and insight (ie, they don’t just shout READ THIS)
If you’re not using Bublish already (as a reader or a writer) I would thoroughly recommend it. You get to choose which genres you’d like to hear about, and authors share extracts from their work, with accompanying thoughts and comments. It’s really easy to use and set up, plus (did I mention already?), it’s free!
¹*Authorpreneur (Urban dictionary definition)
An author who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets.
²*I’ve done teaching, farming, horses and accounts, but I never had to market myself until I wrote a book, so whilst I may not qualify as a fully-fledged authorpreneur, I do qualify as a rookie.