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Every Writer Should Attend At Least One Writers’ Conference. Here’s Why.

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There are a lot of ways new authors can educate themselves about publishing and engage with the larger literary community. One is to join local writing groups. Another is to read blogs or become a Goodreads contributor.

But of all the means of jump-starting a writing career, perhaps none is more effective than attending a leading writers’ conference. In fact, even if you’re just aiming to become a better writer, you should attend a writers’ conference. Here’s why.

You’ll learn from professionals

A primary perk of attending writers’ conferences is the opportunity to learn about the craft and the industry from professionals.

You can do this by signing up for sessions, enlisting in workshops, or engaging in talks. The people who conduct the workshops and lead the sessions are often experts in the fields of writing or publishing. It’s hard to imagine a place where so many educational and inspirational resources are readily accessible.

Writers’ workshops also offer the chance to have your manuscripts critiqued — usually by industry insiders who are willing to offer personalized suggestions for improving your writing.

You’ll meet other writers

Where else can you meet hundreds of dedicated, interesting writers and publishers all at varying stages in their careers? It’s another major benefit of attending writers’ conferences. Chances are, you’ll meet someone with whom you really connect, and who knows what could come of that? You might start trading drafts or your new contact might even be able to connect you with an agent.

Writing is a solitary activity — publishing is not. That means you need to network and meet other writers and publishers who share the intensity and enthusiasm for writing as you do.

At the very least, you’ll make connections that will motivate you, but it’s also possible you’ll make valuable connections who can later review or otherwise endorse your books. You’ll also garner important nuggets of wisdom. Wherever you are on the road to success, you will meet others who have been there before and who are ready to help you.

You’ll meet editors and agents

Another thing you can count on at writers’ conferences is learning very useful information about the publishing landscape. In addition to writers, you’ll meet editors and agents who are looking for people who have a book or book idea that might make money for them — like you!

You might even have the chance to sit down with them face-to-face. This process is not only more likely to land you an agent than submitting your work to a slush pile, it’s also the best way to learn about what agents and editors are looking for, how the industry works, and which next step is best for you to take in pursuing your literary dreams.

You’ll get feedback

When attending a writers’ conference, one thing you’ll be sure to do is share your idea for your book with other writers and folks in the publishing industry. In doing this, you’ll learn a lot about the legitimacy and potential of your particular idea as well as how to improve your pitch when it really counts. The responses you receive in the moment will prove to be some of the best feedback you ever get.

And that feedback is powerful. Every time you share your book’s concept, the direction you need to take your book in — along with what changes you might need to make — will become clearer.

You might find a new market for your work

Conferences attract all kinds of writers. Some of them will likely write for markets you haven’t considered. They might even know of a publication that uses the kinds of things you write or a publisher who is looking for a book like yours.

Meeting these folks really does open doors, and a writers’ conference is one of the only places you can make so many connections.

You’ll leave inspired

Sure, you might meet another writer or publishing insider who can change your life — that really is a possibility — but there are other lessons, insights, and bits of wisdom available at these conferences that make them worth the trip.

Sessions, meet-ups, and happy hour gatherings can present unforeseen opportunities, along with lots of practical information you can put to immediate use. You might attend a seminar on how to prepare the paperwork for your nonfiction book proposal, how to format a manuscript, or how to send a query to an editor.

Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, these conferences offer the sort of nuts-and-bolts knowledge that can improve your writing and increase your efficiency in the business side of the craft.

At the very least, you’ll leave inspired. It’s invigorating to be surrounded by other writers — all that energy, hope, and determination is like a kind of electricity buzzing in the air. It’s infectious. I guarantee you’ll leave the first writers’ conference you attend hungrier than ever to actualize your writing dreams.

You can write it off as a business expense

Yes, you’ll get a tax break for attending a writers’ conference even if you haven’t started making money yet.

Look, at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. Ask just about every author who has attended a writers’ conference, and they’ll tell you the same thing: these conferences can catapult your writing career. They offer answers and clarity, wisdom and inspiration. They might even help you make a connection that changes your life.

Join Steven and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to listen and learn from some of today’s leading self-publishing experts!


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It’s Time To Publish Your Book Internationally

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

You’ve heard the phrase “content is king,” but it’s time to revise that to “distribution rules,” which is why you need to publish your book internationally.

More than any other book/publishing conference I attend, London Book Fair is a truly international affair, lending readers the opportunity to meet and talk with authors, agents, and publishers from all around the world.

If you’ve attended the conference in the past, you might have heard echoes of a sentiment first uttered by Microsoft’s Bill Gates that has been embraced in the publishing world: the idea that when it comes to publishing, “Content is king.”

It was in the early days of the Internet when Gates expressed this idea, and that line of thinking paid off for him. And there is a lot of truth in it: great stories are a big part of what sell books. That will always be the case. But as I prepared to represent BookBaby at 2018’s London Book Fair, knowing what I’ve learned about the new world of publishing, I offered an updated version of Gates’ guiding principle: Distribution is king.

Some have likened the concept of distribution as the “queen” to Gates’ “king” content, but I’m of the mind that these roles should be reversed.

Call it what you want — transmitter, network, bullhorn — distribution is the vital infrastructure that broadcasts authors’ messages. Without distribution, there is no discovery , no matter how brilliant the content.

Many authors still don’t lend credence to this fact. They believe that as long as they’re on Amazon, people will find their book. But that just isn’t true. For one thing, Amazon commands only a portion of US readership, let alone worldwide readership. And getting your book in the hands of readers who aren’t on Amazon and don’t live in the United States is becoming more and more paramount.

And while eBooks may have plateaued in the US, other countries around the world have embraced the technology. Tons of emerging nations, beginning with China — which now boasts the largest middle-class population in the world — are using their phones in ways that Americans don’t. They’re using it as a bank. They’re using it to conduct transactions. And, above all, they’re using it to read books.

In fact, in some countries, people can only read using their mobile devices. They don’t have bookstores and publishers don’t have the opportunity to sell print, either. Digital reading mechanisms have become the preferred medium for distribution. In some cases, they’re the only formats readers have ever been familiar with.

One of the reasons authors choose BookBaby is what I term our “books without boundaries” approach to retail store distribution. We’ve been at the forefront of printed book and eBook globalization, supporting the rise of digital publishing throughout the world.

The physical logistics of print books didn’t allow self-published authors to reach such widespread international audiences, but digital truly changes everything. It is called the World Wide Web, after all.

We’ve placed tens of thousands of books into Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo — all the major players — but eager readers can now find our authors’ books in stores such as the German eBook giant Ciando, the UK’s Gardners, and eSentral with its stores in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

The reason why we do this is that it’s so inherently valuable to sell your book internationally. In fact, the international English-language eBook market will soon surpass the US market. Some numbers shared by the eBook Bargains UK (EBUK) newsletter illustrate this point.

Sampling EBUK, you can see there are upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines, over 40 million English speakers in Germany, 30 million in Bangladesh, and tens of millions in countries like Egypt, Turkey, and Thailand. In just India, Pakistan, and Nigeria alone, the number of English speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States. A very conservative estimate puts the number of English speakers outside the US at around 750 million, and that figure doesn’t include the UK (60 million), Australia (20 million), New Zealand (4 million), and Canada (25 million). To reach all these readers, authors need to make sure their books are available in the leading stores in each country.

The publishing world still operates in a primarily US-centric, Amazon-centric fashion, but we at BookBaby have seen the value of redesigning that focus. As of this year, almost 50 percent of our authors’ sales came through stores other than Amazon, and we anticipate our largest area of growth in the eBook market to come from emerging nations.

A survey recently conducted by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication reports the percent of adults in the country using their phones to read books increased in 2016. In 2015, 60 percent of adults in China used their phones to read; in 2016, that figure jumped to 66.1 percent.

Another 2017 study revealed that about 33 percent of the population preferred eBooks to print books — up from 25 percent as recorded in 2015.

At the end of the day, everyone on the planet has the potential to create eloquent, even life-changing, content. But without an audience — or, more precisely, without the right means of reaching that audience — that content will never be fully appreciated.

Which is to say, the key to availing your book to the largest possible audience is international distribution. Sorry, Mr. Gates.

Join Steven and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to listen and learn from some of today’s leading self-publishing experts!


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Your Book Needs Editing, Design, and Marketing (even if CreateSpace no longer offers these author services)

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When my first self-published manuscript returned from an editor’s desk carved in violent red ink, I learned one huge lesson: a book simply won’t be publishable without professional author services like editing and design.

Several years ago, I wrote a book that I planned to self-publish. My company, BookBaby, didn’t have its own in-house editing service yet, so I decided to use an outside firm. The first step was to send them my manuscript. After mailing it over, I remember thinking, “Hey, I’m a journalist. I know my way around a comma. There shouldn’t be too much revision necessary.”

I was dead wrong. Several weeks later, my manuscript was returned with pages carved in violent red ink. My book was hardly recognizable. Every sentence appeared to need revising.

The experience taught me one huge lesson: the importance of focused, professional editing. A book simply won’t be publishable without it.

The same is true of professional marketing and design services that ensure your book can compete in the marketplace. Independent authors lack the resources provided by big publishing houses; investing in these services helps level the playing field.

That’s why Amazon’s announcement that it is discontinuing its author services — the division of CreateSpace that offers independent authors editing, marketing, and design — is a significant development. These are important, necessary investments for independent authors to make. Amazon or no Amazon, skimping on these services won’t just limit your book’s potential, it could render your book irrelevant.

Editing

Professional editing is the most important investment you can make for your book. A poorly-edited book will turn off potential readers almost immediately. If your book is riddled with grammatical mistakes, structural problems, or spelling errors, it won’t have a shot at competing with books that have been professionally edited. In fact, self-publishing an unedited book can damage your reputation.

A few years ago, we worked with a preacher from Texas who served as the president of two Bible colleges near Dallas. He rushed to publish a book he wanted to include in his curriculum for the upcoming school year. He didn’t have it edited, and he printed 500 copies.

Once he had the book in his hands, he sent copies to his family and friends. Soon after, he began to get texts saying, “Page 6, there’s a typo.” “Page 14, there’s a typo.” In time, he wished he’d never published the book at all. Luckily, there was a happy ending. He sent the book out for editing, and BookBaby reprinted all of his books.

There simply is no substitute for professional editing. At BookBaby, the first question we ask when someone brings a manuscript to us is: “Have you had it edited?” If an author tells us they don’t have much money budgeted for their book and can’t afford editing, we advise them to print fewer copies and invest the rest of their budget in professional editing. That’s how necessary it is.

Your words are the most important part of your book. Treat them as such.

Marketing

Another investment independent authors should consider is in marketing strategies and resources. The better equipped you are with tools and strategies to market your book, the more successful that book will be.

One mistake independent authors often make is assuming their book will sell itself. This isn’t the case. All authors need to put in some marketing work. You need to identify your niche and you need to strategize how to establish relationships with your audience. Without putting in that work — which might include investing in services or consultants to help you — how can you expect your book to sell?

It’s not enough to make this investment just once, either. Publishing your book is not a singular event, it’s the start of a long adventure. Before you publish your first book (or even before you begin writing), you should create a Twitter account, an author website, and an email list. Once you’ve established these things, you won’t be using them just once. You’ll be building, polishing, and tweaking your use of them continuously. Using these tools is a skill that needs to be sharpened and honed.

This is why we encourage independent authors to learn how to market themselves and their books. There is not one blanket strategy or solution that works for everyone; yours will have to be built to meet the demands of your individual market space. Authors backed by traditional publishing houses are doing this stuff. You need to do the same.

Design

In 1964, when United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described his threshold test for what constitutes “obscenity,” he famously said: “I shall not today attempt to define [obscene] material … But I know it when I see it.”

The same threshold can be applied to book formatting: You can just tell when it’s been professionally done. And for independent authors attempting to compete with the big players in the publishing space, meeting that threshold is absolutely necessary.

Book design is an art form, and it encompasses more than just cover design.

At BookBaby, our designers turn what would normally just be text on a page into a pleasing reading experience. We do this work purposefully, considering what type of colors, textures, typography, and placement is appropriate for each book based on the genre and story.

Books designed without this level of artistry or care are going to prove less attractive to readers. Because the ultimate truth is, yes, people do judge books by their covers. This is perhaps even truer for readers looking for books on Amazon. On Amazon, authors have milliseconds to attract the attention of potential readers. If you don’t have your act together on the front of your book, you’ll miss out on a lot of readers.

At the end of the day, your book is a reflection of you and all the time and effort you put into making it. It is your legacy, and you don’t want your legacy polluted by something you’re less than proud of. Treating the editing, marketing, and design aspects of the publication process as seriously as you did the writing is the best way to ensure you are proud of your final product.


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You Can Succeed in the Marketplace as an Independent Author

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

You can succeed in today’s marketplace as an independent author. There’s data to back that up. Of course, statistics and sales reports won’t mean a thing if your book has not been professionally edited or if you rushed through the design process.

Hugh Howey is an independent author of 31 self-published books. He’s well known now, as he sold the film rights for his sci-fi series, Wool, to 21st Century Fox in 2012. But in his early days, like many independent authors, he had trouble gaining traction with readers.

He found that after self-publishing his books, there were no resources available to help him track how his book was performing compared to other authors in the marketplace. None of the mainstream tracking services — such as the American Association of Publishing — included self-published books in their reports. He had no way to tell who was buying his books, or books similar to his, and who wasn’t.

That is why Howey and his partner — a numbers-crunching self-published author aptly named the “Data Guy” — started Author Earnings, a resource that compiles all of the data that might be relevant to independent authors. It’s crammed with revealing numbers, including quarterly sales reports for both traditionally and independently-published books, regional-specific reports, and reports detailing eBook and audiobook sales. It then synthesizes that data in such a way that allows writers to make informed decisions about marketing their books.

For independent authors, that makes Author Earnings an invaluable resource. But there are additional insights from Author Earnings that authors need to be paying attention to. Here are a few notable nuggets of wisdom from the site’s latest report.

It’s a level playing field

Independent authors comprise a large portion of the industry’s most regularly-purchased authors, and while it remains that the Dan Browns and John Grishams of the world reside comfortably and consistently near the top of any earnings report, when it comes to independent authors, those spending time at the top are constantly changing. Rising new stars are making serious waves in the industry all the time.

Sure, self-publishing a bestseller requires a little luck. And, yes, the independent authors at the top of Howey’s latest earnings report got there because they positioned themselves for success by way of investing in editing work, cover design, and marketing. But what we can now confirm is that you don’t need to be a household name to publish a best-selling book.

You can publish a successful book whenever you want… almost

Author Earnings’ recent data illuminates that eBook sales are pretty consistent throughout the year. Print books sell better in August (for beach season) and December (for the holidays), but for independent authors, there is no bad time to release your book. That means there is no built-in advantage to releasing your book on September 1st versus February 1st.

The one exception here is actually December, which is something we’ve learned over the years: The hardest time for a self-published author to be discovered is the holidays. Readers simply don’t have the time during the holiday season to discover new authors. When they’re purchasing books as gifts, they’re looking for something they know the recipient will like and aren’t usually apt to taking risks.

You can use discounting to your advantage

There are those out there who will tell you, “If you don’t think your book is worth a dollar, neither will readers.” Those people haven’t looked at the data.

What the latest Author Earnings report also shows is that it’s not a “bad” thing for independent authors to give their books away for free or sell them for 99¢. Evidence shows that people are purchasing/accessing plenty of free and 99-cent books, which means selling your book at a cheap/discounted price is a potentially valuable route for independent – and especially new – authors to explore in the quest to find readers and create momentum.

For new authors, creating momentum is paramount. You want to build a readership, you want to get more reviews, and one great way to do that is to make your first offering easier to buy.

It is a bad business decision to limit yourself to one format

Here are a few important stats authors should know:

  • 30% of potential book buyers only buy printed books
  • 30% of potential book buyers only buy eBooks
  • 40% of potential book buyers vacillate between the two options

In other words, independent authors who choose not to publish print books are severely limiting their potential sales because they’re willfully neglecting 30 percent of the market. Same thing with eBooks, especially given the report’s emphasis on self-published authors’ success in the eBook market.

The self-publishing industry is thriving

Author Earnings confirms that independent authors are seeing real financial success when self-publishing books, and while there are fewer independent authors earning triple-digit numbers, the industry is rife with opportunity.

Of course, independent authors always need to ensure that they’ve spent the time creating a quality product before publishing. Seasonality and sales insights won’t mean a thing if your book has not been professionally edited or if you rushed through the design process.

Still, what independent authors should internalize is this: You can succeed in the marketplace. The data backs it up.

Join Steven and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to listen and learn from some of today’s leading self-publishing experts!

 


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How to Improve Your Author Website

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

Your author website is a reflection of you as a writer and of your book as a work of art. It pays to make sure it is as enticing as the story you’ve spent months (or years) laboring over. Here are six ways to improve your author website.

Every author — independent, traditionally published, or otherwise — needs a website. A Facebook page doesn’t count, nor does a Twitter or LinkedIn profile. In today’s dynamic and competitive book market, you need a space that provides a complete picture of what you’re offering. That space needs to feature your writing, your various channels of engagement, and all the intangibles that set you apart. It’s a critical component of your brand. If you don’t already have a website, you might want to take a look at some best opencart hosting options that could help you create the website of your dreams.
And while it’s necessary for all authors to have a website, it’s even more important for self-published authors.

Having a comprehensive website (and general web presence) is a way of leveling the playing field and giving your book a chance to compete with the big-name authors and traditionally published books in the market.

But not every author website is created equal: I’ve even seen authors’ sites that have damaged their books’ market potential. Luckily, it’s not difficult to improve your author website to ensure it elevates your book’s potential instead of stifling it.

Tip #1: Identify the primary goal for your site

The first step in building a successful author website is establishing a mission for it. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you trying to sell more books? Build an author platform? Start conversations with your readers? Whatever your primary goal is, define it, then use it to inform the focus of your site.

If your goal is to sell books, make sure your book is the first thing readers see when they navigate to your site. If your goal is to build your platform, actively prompt readers to subscribe to your various social channels.

By focusing on one goal, you can ensure your site does at least one thing really well. This will give you the foundation needed to start building other features later on.

Tip #2: Give readers three ways to buy your books.

Whatever the primary goal for your site, you need to give visitors a way to buy your books.

You should give your readers no more than three buying options to choose from. One of these will likely be Amazon. Another can be an alternative outlet like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or even Walmart.com. And the final option should link to your own e-commerce page — like the BookShop pages provided to BookBaby authors.

Tip #3: Collect email addresses

Like all savvy marketers, successful independent authors understand that email is an invaluable channel when it comes to connecting with readers. Are you placing an emphasis on your email channel, or are you chasing Twitter followers and Facebook likes?

While building Twitter and Facebook followings are important, they’re not nearly as influential as your email list. My rule of thumb: one email subscriber is equal to 25 likes on social media. Why? Because people are simply more careful about subscribing to something via email than they are about following someone on Twitter. Then, once you have someone’s email contact, you can build a more genuine and direct relationship with them than you can through social media. With a well-crafted email newsletter, you can build fans for life.

Tip #4: Make your website mobile-friendly

One of the most common problems plaguing inadequate websites is they aren’t geared to adjust to mobile devices, which makes the presentation look choppy at best. You want a “responsive” website, meaning it optimizes itself for the device used by the visitor, from laptops to iPhones and every size in between.

You might not think having a responsive website is all that important until you consider how many people use iPads or iPhones to search the web. At BookBaby, we’re seeing that about 35 percent of visitors to our site are using some kind of mobile device.

If your author website is not optimized to ensure these readers have a positive experience when they come to you, you’re severely limiting your reach.

Tip #5: Invest in design

Just as professional design and editing services are essential to ensuring your printed book can compete with traditionally published works, it pays to ensure your author website looks like those used by traditionally published authors.

There are a variety of services you can use for this (e.g. Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, and HostBaby) that make it simple for anyone to create their own website. But these sites will only help you reach a baseline. Authors now compete in an extremely crowded market, and if you really want to take your online profile to another level, it may be worth collaborating with a professional web designer.

Tip #6: Offer enticing incentives

A great way to attract readers’ attention — and entice them to provide you their personal email addresses — is to offer them with something of value. In publishing, the most common lead magnet is some kind of free content: usually chapters from your book, or perhaps even an entire eBook. This is especially common for authors who have written a series. Hook readers by giving them book one, and then contact them by email and get them to buy book two (and three, and four). Giving away content like this helps you engage with readers. It also makes readers more likely to “repay the favor” of receiving free content by buying your book.

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Book Formatting and Cover Design Make Your Manuscript… a Book

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

Excerpted from BookBaby’s latest guide, 5 Steps To Self Publishing, Part II of our series addresses your book cover design and how book formatting makes your book… a book.

Download your free copy today!

You can create a beautiful book, inside and out. Once you’re finished with your content, you need to make sure your book looks as good as it reads.

The cover is a make-or-break sales tool for your book

The average online book buyer will spend less than a second scanning a single cover image during the average browsing session. How will your book stand up to this near instant “yes” or “no” buying decision?

Book covers aren’t just important to authors in hopes of gaining sales. They’re important to readers, too! According to Deloitte’s research paper, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2015, “A key value of print books appears to be their cover. Covers have been shown to drive sales; but they also send a message to those around you about what you are reading and what kind of person you are. As has been noted, ‘the act of reading a book in public conveys important information to other readers.’”

A great cover design can also speak to fans of a genre and tell a little (or a lot) about the style of writing and the genre your book fits into. Here’s a gallery of some of the standout book covers designed by the professionals in the BookBaby Design Studio.

Selling your book starts with an eye-catching design

Many authors believe that your cover is your very best sales tool. We humans are a visual species, stimulated by compelling graphics and imagery. The virtual online bookshelves are crowded, making it all the more important to stand out when it comes to your cover. And that goes for both eBooks and printed books available via Print On Demand. If you captivate readers from the outset – with the outside of your book – they’ll be drawn to find out what’s inside.

Here are three tips suggested by the BookBaby Design Studio for creating an eye-catching cover that sells:

    1. Be unique. It’s important to stand out. If you are choosing images yourself, make sure they are distinctive in their appeal. Take a look around Amazon and check out all of the other covers in your genre and make sure yours is different. Keep to one theme and don’t over-clutter. Think about what the driving message of the book is and use this as the focus of the design.
    2. Be bold, use color. Color increases readers’ attention span by 82% and makes an impression that is 39% more memorable. Strong, contrasting colors are likely to have the most impact and be the most readable.
      book formatting 80x115 thumbnail

      80×115 image

    3. Think about your thumbnail. Online retailers will usually display your book cover as an 80 × 115 pixel thumbnail, so it’s important to make sure your cover design is clear and readable at different resolutions. View your cover image at varying image sizes and make sure it looks good when it’s small.

It’s the little design touches that make a book… a book!

What makes a book a book? It starts with words. Lots of them. Tens of thousands usually. Or pictures. Or both.

Next you have to have a cover and a back cover if it’s a printed book. But beyond that, well, it gets a little hazy. Should we create a Table of Contents or a Title page or The Foreword?

For a book designer like BookBaby’s Becky Rodriguez-Smith, what goes into a book is dozens of different things, large and small, that comprise the finished product. “What we do is turn a double-spaced manuscript, given to us in a Word document, into a real book,” says Becky. “And when I say ‘real book,’ I mean we make it look professional, it can be compared to any other on the shelf of a book store. You can look at it, open it, feel it, and it looks like it was done by a major publishing company.”

That professional look is usually accomplished by a service called book formatting. But what exactly is book formatting? Let’s ask the expert

“Actually it’s hard to explain sometimes to clients what they really get from it, especially brand-new authors,” says Becky. “But once they see the finished product and see the difference in appearance, it’s very easy to understand. It might not seem like much is happening, like applying a different style to chapter heads, designing copyright pages, and maybe running headers and footers. But it’s all those design details that really make a book a book!”

Becky and the other BookBaby designers format the books and then send the author a PDF proof of his or her book for review. This gives the author a chance to make corrections and provide comments to improve the final product. “We’re not formatting in Word or using any kind of template,” explains Becky. “We use design software developed specifically to produce beautiful-looking books.”

“The designers here at BookBaby have been around for a while. This is what we do, and we want authors to trust us to create a beautiful book. We’re not going to put something out there that doesn’t make them look great!”

“We’ve learned over the years and through experience what is going to grab the attention of readers and keep it.”

This post was excerpted and adapted from 5 Steps To Self Publishing: All the essential information you need to go from manuscript to marketplace. Download your free copy today.

Find your way to self-publishing success in just 5 easy steps with this 62-page book. Yours absolutely free.

 

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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Voices Silenced: 12 Authors Who Died in 2017

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

The list of notable authors, writers, publishers, and contributors to the written word who passed last year is far longer than anything we could include in one blog post, but let’s take a moment to recognize 12 authors who died in 2017. Please, populate the comments with tributes to those who meant the most to you.

 

Michael Bond, 91
authors who died in 2017 PaddingtonBorn: January 13, 1926, Newbury, UK
Died: June 27, 2017, London, UK

“If you really want something in this world, you’ll never get it by sitting down and waiting. But if you go out and do things there’s no knowing where you’ll end up.” —The Tales of Olga Da Polga

The creator of the Paddington Bear series of books, which were published from 1958-2018 (a new title is due on May 31st of the year), Thomas Michael Bond also created the Olga da Polga (guinea pig) and Monsieur Pamplemousse book series. Bond’s Reflection on the Passing of the Years, written after his 90th birthday, was read in 2016 at a service commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

Image via Shutterstock (editorial use).


Richard Adams, 96
authors who died in 2017 Watership DownBorn: May 9, 1920 in Wash Common, Newbury, Berkshire, England
Died: December 24, 2016 in Oxford, England

“The thinker dies, but his thoughts are beyond the reach of destruction. Men are mortal; but ideas are immortal.”

Richard Adams‘ first and most enduring work is Watership Down, published in 1972, which earned him a Carnegie Medal in 1972 and a Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 1973. Other novels by Adams include Shardik, The Plague Dogs, The Girl in a Swing, Maia, and Traveller.

Image by AndrewRH (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons


Kate Millet, 82
authors who died in 2017 Sexual PoliticsBorn: September 14, 1934, Saint Paul, MN
Died: September 6, 2017, Paris, France

“A sexual revolution begins with the emancipation of women, who are the chief victims of patriarchy, and also with the ending of homosexual oppression.”

A social activist, educator, and feminist author, Kate Millet is best known for her PhD dissertation-turned radical feminist text, Sexual Politics, published in 1970. Millet was also an artist and filmmaker, who authored 10 books between 1970 and 2001. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Image by Linda Wolf (Contact us/Photo submission) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Robert M. Pirsig, 88
authors who died in 2017 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceBorn: September 6, 1928 in Minneapolis, MN
Died: April 24, 2017 in South Berwick, ME

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

A precocious student, Robert Pirsig suffered a nervous breakdown a decade before the 1974 publication of his literary touchstone, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. Upon its publication, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which propelled him to write Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, which was published nearly two decades later.

Image by Ian Glendinning, [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY 2.5, CC BY 2.0 or CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons


William Peter Blatty, 89
authors who died in 2017 The ExorcistBorn: January 7, 1928 in New York City, NY
Died: January 12, 2017 in Bethesda, MD

“Would you like to hear a nice definition of jealousy? It’s the feeling that you get when someone you absolutely detest is having a wonderful time without you.”

A writer and filmmaker, William Peter Blatty is famous for writing the book and screenplay for The Exorcist, published in 1971. He also wrote Legion, a follow-up to The Exorcist, and The Ninth Configuration (also known as Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane). Legion was adapted to film as the Exorcist III, which Blatty directed.

Image by jtblatty (Own work) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


John Ashbery, 90
authors who died in 2017 some treesBorn: July 28, 1927, Rochester, NY
Died: September 3, 2017, Hudson, NY

“I write with experiences in mind, but I don’t write about them, I write out of them.”

A surrealist poet who often stretched the bounds of the movement, John Ashbery was a prominent, controversial, and influential figure throughout his life. He earned 20 (or so) notable awards and fellowships, including a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1976 for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He published over 30 collections of poems between 1953-2016, including Some Trees, in 1956.

Image by David Shankbone [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Judith Jones, 93
authors who died in 2017 The Tenth MuseBorn: March 10, 1924, Vermont
Died: August 2, 2017, Walden, VT

“Cooking demands attention, patience, and, above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks.”

While an author herself, Judith Jones is perhaps most widely recognized for pulling two pivotal (and wildly disparate) books from slush piles of previously rejected works: The Diary of Anne Frank and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Jones’ later work was focused mostly on editing and writing cookbooks.

Image sourced from the cover of The Tenth Muse.


Janusz Glowacki, 78
authors who died in 2017 CindersBorn: September 13, 1938, Poznań, Poland
Died: August 19, 2017, while vacationing in Egypt

A playwright and screenwriter, Polish-born Janusz Glowacki(pronounced YAH-noosh gwo-VATZ-key) turned a trip to London in 1981 into an eight-year exile, which found him relocating to New York City, where he maintained a residence until his death. His list of accolades and awards is lengthy, with Cinders, Hunting Cockroaches, The Fourth Sister, and Antigone in New York considered his most prominent works.

Image by Kontrola (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Brian Aldiss, 92
authors who died in 2017 Supertoys Last All Summer LongBorn: August 18, 1925, Dereham, UK
Died: August 19, 2017, Oxford, UK

“It is comparatively easy to become a writer; staying a writer, resisting formulaic work, generating one’s own creativity – that’s a much tougher matter.”

Recognized mostly for his science-fiction writing, Brian Aldiss authored more than 80 books, 300 short stories, and many volumes of poetry in addition to being recognized as an accomplished visual artist. His short story, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long,” published in 1969, was the basis for 2001’s Kubrick/Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Image: Brian Aldiss at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005. Picture taken by Szymon Sokół.


Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 51
authors who died in 2017 ordinary lifeBorn: April 29, 1965, Chicago, IL
Died: March 13, 2017, Chicago, IL

“It often feels like I’m not so much living for the present as I am busy making memories for the future.” ― The Book of Eleven

The author of more than 30 children’s books, including several that were New York Times best sellers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal also authored Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, a memoir fashioned in the style of an encyclopedia. In addition to that, Rosenthal made short films, worked with WBEZ (NPR Chicago), and was a contributor to the TEDActive conference. She also published essays, including “You May Want to Marry My Husband” in the New York Times 10 days before her untimely death from ovarian cancer.

Image sourced from Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s YouTube page.


Richard Wilbur, 96
authors who died in 2017 Beautiful ChangesBorn: March 1, 1921, New York City, NY
Died: October 14, 2017, Belmont, MA

“Writing poetry is talking to oneself; yet it is a mode of talking to oneself in which the self disappears; and the product’s something that, though it may not be for everybody, is about everybody.”

A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (for poetry in 1957 and 1989), Richard Purdy Wilbur was appointed as the second United States Poet Laureate in 1987 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994, among a long list of awards and achievements. 1947’s The Beautiful Changes, and Other Poems was his first published collection of his poetry, and he published 10 other books of poetry, the last being Anterooms in 2010.

Image sourced from the cover of Let Us Watch by Robert and Mary Bagg


Sue Grafton, 77
authors who died in 2017 A is For AlibiBorn: April 24, 1940, Louisville, KY
Died: December 28, 2017, Santa Barbara, CA

“Thinking is hard work, which is why you don’t see many people doing it.”

Sue Grafton, best known for her “alphabet mysteries,” died one letter short of completing the book series. The first of the series, A Is For Alibiwas published in 1982; the latest, Y Is For Yesterday, was published August 2017, and continued the quest of the series’ female protagonist, private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Grafton got her start in Hollywood, writing screenplays and television scripts. According to her husband, Grafton knew (for years) that the final book in the series would be titled Z Is For Zero, but her battle with cancer prevented her from beginning it.

Image by Mark Coggins from San Francisco (Sue Grafton Uploaded by tripsspace) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Read “Musicians who died in 2017” on the Disc Makers Blog.

 

The Complete Self-Publishing Package: Literally everything you need to publish your book


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What’s the best time to publish your book?

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

Here’s a little-known fact for aspiring self-published authors: The holiday season is not the best time to publish for new, self-published authors.

Excerpted from BookBaby’s latest guide, 5 Steps To Self Publishing, Part IV of our series addresses why NOW is the best time to publish.

Q: What’s the best time to publish your book?
A: Now!

Here’s a little-known fact for aspiring self-published authors: The holiday season is not the prime selling time for new, self-published authors.

Think about it: Established authors target holiday sales’ periods because it’s a safe, easy gift choice for a lot of folks. The same can’t be said for most self-published authors. These relatively unknown authors’ books need to stand out and attract the interest of potential readers. This kind of discovery and browsing usually doesn’t take place in the hectic holiday time frame. As a result, they’re often disappointed with holiday sales efforts.

So when is “prime time” for new authors to release their book? Just about any other time than the holidays, starting with the beginning of the year. People are going to have more time to spend reading during the cold winter months, and it’s a fact that book sales soar during January and February. Thousands of new eReaders and gift cards given during the holidays need content; there’s no reason why it can’t be your book!

Many authors think the enrtie first half of the year is a perfect time to launch and promote self-published books because of another major book-buying season that happens during that time. Do you know what the biggest selling season is for books? Fair warning: It’s probably not what you’re thinking.

Most people will say: Christmas. Sure, the holiday season is important for every retailer, including book merchants. But they would be wrong.

The summer time reading season is the top selling season for books. There are over $3.4 billion in sales over the long hot summer, according to industry sources, compared to about $2.9 billion spent for holiday gift giving.

But in reality, there’s really never a bad time to release a book. One idea may be for you to follow the patterns set by the book publishing trade. Traditional publishing houses have a rough calendar by genre for their release dates:

January–April

  • Romance
  • Self-help
  • Business
  • Cooking
  • Design

May–August

  • Adventure
  • Fantasy
  • Travel

September–November

  • Academic
  • Horror
  • Paranormal

December–January

  • Children
  • Cookery
  • Illustrated
  • Quiz and Novelty books

The bottom line is, don’t worry so much about “when” you publish. In fact, the worst thing self-published authors can do is not publish their book because of some perceived timing advantage. It is often said that self-publishing is a marathon and not a sprint, and authors shouldn’t worry so much about the placement of the starting line. Just publish it!

10 ways to make the most of your eCommerce book page

Selling direct to your readers will maximize your profits and readership.

Just like a realtor trying to attract house buyers, you need to consider the “curb appeal” of your direct-to-reader selling pages. Your efforts will be far easier than remodeling a bathroom or applying new paint. In fact, setting up a sales page can take just a few hours of work. It’s an investment in time that will surely pay off.

Here are many simple ways to boost your potential book sales.

1. Link to your sales page. Every time you mention your eBook or Print On Demand title online (in your email newsletter, on your website or blog, via social media), make sure you include your website address and a link to your sales page.

2. Tell your readers you’ll make more money. Be direct and tell your readers why it’s important to buy your books from your own pages. Don’t worry: your readers don’t mind learning this. In fact, when you share such details, readers will be even more engaged with your work. If people love your writing, they’ll want to help support you by purchasing your book from whatever outlet benefits you the most.

3. Same low prices! To support the above point, it’s also worth mentioning to your fans that they’ll pay the same price whether they buy your book from a store like Amazon or from your own page, so they might as well buy from the outlet that most benefits you.

4. Give your readers format options. If possible, you should offer your eBook in as many formats as you can. That includes print, eBook files (.mobi for Kindle, ePub for all other readers), or a simple PDF file.

5. Link to other retail sites. If someone already has an account with Amazon, they may prefer to just buy your book from there instead of going through a brand-new check-out process. If that’s the case, you don’t want your page to be a dead end.

6. Make sure your book cover is a sales magnet. Your site should feature an oversized image of your book cover. Of course, if your book cover is going to be big, it had better be great. Otherwise your visitors will assume that the writing matches the poor quality of the cover design.

7. Write a catchy book overview and description. Here’s your chance to grab a reader’s attention, but you only have a few sentences to win them over. Invest the time to make it persuasive so your readers are drawn in from the very first word! Feel free to pepper your book description with positive quotes from reviews if you have any.

8. Use your author biography to intrigue your readers. It’s time to tell the world about you! What is it about your own life experiences that will make your book worth reading?

9. Use accurate metadata to aid search. What’s metadata? It’s the basic information about your book that’s used in online searches. Your metadata will include things like genre, subgenre, ISBN, publication date, language, and page count. Make sure this data is accurate and you may just boost your traffic from people searching on Google.

10. Encourage your readers to use the social sharing function. Most selling pages will include simple social media icons for sharing. That makes it easy to show the page address on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and many more. Be sure to ask your fans to help you spread the word.

This post was excerpted and adapted from 5 Steps To Self Publishing: All the essential information you need to go from manuscript to marketplace. Download your free copy today.

 

Find your way to self-publishing success in just 5 easy steps with this 62-page book. Yours absolutely free.

 

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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Book Formatting and Cover Design Make Your Manuscript… a Book

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

Excerpted from BookBaby’s latest guide, 5 Steps To Self Publishing, Part II of our series addresses your book cover design and how book formatting makes your book… a book.

Download your free copy today!

You can create a beautiful book, inside and out. Once you’re finished with your content, you need to make sure your book looks as good as it reads.

The cover is a make-or-break sales tool for your book

The average online book buyer will spend less than a second scanning a single cover image during the average browsing session. How will your book stand up to this near instant “yes” or “no” buying decision?

Book covers aren’t just important to authors in hopes of gaining sales. They’re important to readers, too! According to Deloitte’s research paper, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2015, “A key value of print books appears to be their cover. Covers have been shown to drive sales; but they also send a message to those around you about what you are reading and what kind of person you are. As has been noted, ‘the act of reading a book in public conveys important information to other readers.’”

A great cover design can also speak to fans of a genre and tell a little (or a lot) about the style of writing and the genre your book fits into. Here’s a gallery of some of the standout book covers designed by the professionals in the BookBaby Design Studio.

Selling your book starts with an eye-catching design

Many authors believe that your cover is your very best sales tool. We humans are a visual species, stimulated by compelling graphics and imagery. The virtual online bookshelves are crowded, making it all the more important to stand out when it comes to your cover. And that goes for both eBooks and printed books available via Print On Demand. If you captivate readers from the outset – with the outside of your book – they’ll be drawn to find out what’s inside.

Here are three tips suggested by the BookBaby Design Studio for creating an eye-catching cover that sells:

    1. Be unique. It’s important to stand out. If you are choosing images yourself, make sure they are distinctive in their appeal. Take a look around Amazon and check out all of the other covers in your genre and make sure yours is different. Keep to one theme and don’t over-clutter. Think about what the driving message of the book is and use this as the focus of the design.
    2. Be bold, use color. Color increases readers’ attention span by 82% and makes an impression that is 39% more memorable. Strong, contrasting colors are likely to have the most impact and be the most readable.
      book formatting 80x115 thumbnail

      80×115 image

    3. Think about your thumbnail. Online retailers will usually display your book cover as an 80 × 115 pixel thumbnail, so it’s important to make sure your cover design is clear and readable at different resolutions. View your cover image at varying image sizes and make sure it looks good when it’s small.

It’s the little design touches that make a book… a book!

What makes a book a book? It starts with words. Lots of them. Tens of thousands usually. Or pictures. Or both.

Next you have to have a cover and a back cover if it’s a printed book. But beyond that, well, it gets a little hazy. Should we create a Table of Contents or a Title page or The Foreword?

For a book designer like BookBaby’s Becky Rodriguez-Smith, what goes into a book is dozens of different things, large and small, that comprise the finished product. “What we do is turn a double-spaced manuscript, given to us in a Word document, into a real book,” says Becky. “And when I say ‘real book,’ I mean we make it look professional, it can be compared to any other on the shelf of a book store. You can look at it, open it, feel it, and it looks like it was done by a major publishing company.”

That professional look is usually accomplished by a service called book formatting. But what exactly is book formatting? Let’s ask the expert

“Actually it’s hard to explain sometimes to clients what they really get from it, especially brand-new authors,” says Becky. “But once they see the finished product and see the difference in appearance, it’s very easy to understand. It might not seem like much is happening, like applying a different style to chapter heads, designing copyright pages, and maybe running headers and footers. But it’s all those design details that really make a book a book!”

Becky and the other BookBaby designers format the books and then send the author a PDF proof of his or her book for review. This gives the author a chance to make corrections and provide comments to improve the final product. “We’re not formatting in Word or using any kind of template,” explains Becky. “We use design software developed specifically to produce beautiful-looking books.”

“The designers here at BookBaby have been around for a while. This is what we do, and we want authors to trust us to create a beautiful book. We’re not going to put something out there that doesn’t make them look great!”

“We’ve learned over the years and through experience what is going to grab the attention of readers and keep it.”

This post was excerpted and adapted from 5 Steps To Self Publishing: All the essential information you need to go from manuscript to marketplace. Download your free copy today.

Find your way to self-publishing success in just 5 easy steps with this 62-page book. Yours absolutely free.

 

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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Your Online Reputation And Author Brand

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This article was originally guest posted to BookBaby by Caroline Black

Your online reputation can be your most powerful marketing tool and beacon for your author brand, as long as it’s properly monitored.

Once upon a time, authors could hide behind the pages of their books with no one knowing much about them aside from the name on the front cover. We now live in a very different age.

Many readers want to know as much about the person writing the story as they do about the content. For better or worse, the Internet has provided a platform for exploration that makes it easy for fans to delve into your background, and if you aren’t properly vetting what a Google search of your name brings up, it could lead to disaster for your career.

Representing your author brand

Representing your author brand covers more than just going on book tours and signings. A plethora of online platforms can be harnessed by authors as promotional tools. However, sloppy practices when producing websites, working on social media, or messaging your mailing list could cause more harm than good.

If a prospective new reader, or even a long-term fan, doesn’t like the way you present yourself online, it’s highly likely she won’t pick up another copy of your work ever again. The author brand you chose to promote is up to you, but there are questions every author should ask when considering his or her online reputation.

1. Are you marketable?

Even though the product you’re looking to sell is yourself – or at least your talents as a writer – it’s still important to consider the marketability factor of the personality you’re promoting. To begin with, it’s essential to have a comprehensive grasp of yourself as a writer; consider what themes, ideas or message you’re trying to portray with your work and what emotional response you’re trying to elicit.

After this has been established, it’s time to check whether your online reputation reflects these ideals. Consider colors, graphics and font type when setting up webpages, and be stringent about the wording and emotional weight of the things you post.

2. Are you authentic?

There’s no rule stating your online reputation has to be a positive one; plenty of public figures have found notoriety through controversy and scandal. However, if you are endeavoring to be a provocative online figure, it is important to ensure that your author brand has been properly planned and considered.

It might seem fun to play the femme fatale or outspoken critic on the Internet, but if that sort of personality is far detached from who you are, then it’s only going to be a matter of time before your readership sees through this. “Fake” is a buzzword that pops up regularly on the Internet, usually inspiring a cutthroat response.

While your online presence as an author may be more carefully fabricated than your personal social media profiles, you’re still trying to present an authentic front. Audiences want to know who you are, not who you are pretending to be.

3. Are you engaging?

It’s not enough to post a single tweet or only update your website around the time of your book release or other significant event. The key to growing a fan base is to provide regular, engaging online content. This is why so many writers have set up personal blogs.

Writing relevant posts about topics related to your work or your goal as an author means your name and face are potentially popping up in the feeds of your fans and new readers. Staying active in this way also does a lot to increase your Google ranking. Both of these things are essential to a good online reputation and continued success in your career.

Look into Google Adwords or other SEO strategies in order to better structure your blog posts to attract more traffic.

4. Are you trustworthy?

For anyone who religiously uses the Internet, there’s a constant balance of trust and risk. You’re sharing your personal information with people you don’t actually know, so, by default, a presumed level of faith between you and those you are interacting with has to be established. However, this is fickle and can easily be broken.

There are many harmless hacks that are common for regular users of social media and blogging platforms. Most often, they manifest as spam links sent without your knowledge to your followers. Although they pose no real threat, many Internet users will avoid an infected domain once they’ve seen a problem.

There are lots of simple strategies to overcome this – password management, use of secure networks, etc. – but by far the best solution is the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). As one of the leading security programs on the market, a VPN encrypts all of your data and makes it very difficult for hackers or malware to gain access to your accounts. Secure Thoughts provides reviews of some of the best options on the market for those who want more information.

Your online reputation can be your most powerful marketing tool and beacon for your author brand, as long as it’s properly monitored. Ensuring you always have the questions outlined above in mind when setting up online accounts means you are positioned to get the biggest promotional benefit.

If you’ve had any insights related to an online reputation you’d like to share, be sure to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your ideas!

 

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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Seven basic – but important – questions about eBooks

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This article was originally posted to BookBaby.

Even though they’ve been around for almost 10 years, a lot of folks are still trying to understand the world of eBooks. Our BookBaby publishing specialists field dozens of questions about eBooks every day, and any question, no matter how basic, deserves a good answer.

“There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question” –Carl Sagan

Even though they’ve been around for almost 10 years, a lot of folks are still trying to understand the world of eBooks. Choosing an e-book service can be hard, and our BookBaby publishing specialists field dozens of questions about eBooks every day.

I agree with the opinion of that famous astrophysicist – any question, no matter how basic, deserves a good answer. In that spirit, let’s go to the most basic level of eBook knowledge, starting with:

1. What is an eBook?

Electronic books – or eBooks – are digital versions of a manuscript. An eBook can consist of text, images, or both. An eBook requires special dedicated files to be created from digital files like Word or PDF. (See below for more information about these eBook files.) eBooks have been around since 2007, when Amazon introduced the Kindle, followed by the Barnes & Noble Nook and the iPad from Apple.

2. How do people buy and read eBooks?

eBooks are downloaded directly to all kinds reading devices. They can be read on almost any modern computing device including dedicated eReaders like the Kindle or Nook. These devices are mainly used to buy and read eBooks. Many people read eBooks on smartphones – all iPhone and Android devices have eBook reading apps available as downloads. Others use multipurpose devices – tablets like the iPad and Surface – to consume eBooks.

Readers can buy eBooks from thousands of online retailers around the globe, including Amazon. The Kindle BookStore is the world’s largest online eBook store, with hundreds of new titles added each day. Other popular eBook retailers include Apple’s iBookstore and Barnes & Noble. In addition, authors can sell eBooks directly to readers from their own websites.

3. How do I turn my book into an eBook?

It starts with having your content on one of the popular digital file formats, such as Word or a PDF. These source documents will then be converted into two special eBook files. One file type, .mobi, is used in the Amazon Kindle device. The other file, called an ePub, is used in all other eBook reading devices, apps, and programs.
Some authors can convert their files themselves using third-party software applications. But for most writers, eBook conversion is a complicated process and can be difficult to do correctly. The coding can get very intricate and complex.

That’s why many authors turn to a company like BookBaby for professional eBook file conversion. At BookBaby, we inspect your Word or PDF document to make sure it conforms to eBook file specifications and then convert it into both .mobi and ePub files for all eReader types. BookBaby then sends a format proof of the eBook files that you can load and view on your own device. At this stage you can still make changes or corrections to your book.

4. What kind of books can be eBooks?

Just about any kind of book can be made into an eBook. Most text-based books work very well as eBooks because they have a simple layout. This is called a “dynamic” layout, because the book’s appearance will change depending on the screen size of the eReader. (More information here and below.) Books that have a lot of pictures or graphics often need a different conversion process, called “fixed layout”. We recommend this kind of conversion for children’s books, cook books, photography, and art books. (Note: BookBaby performs fixed layout conversions for books destined to be sold in Apple’s iBookstore only. For more information about what kind of conversion you’ll need, go to the BookBaby website.

5. Will my eBook read and look just like my printed book?

All of the content of your printed book will be in your eBook, but it won’t look exactly the same. Why? Think of it this way: A printed book stays in one format, for instance a 6×9 trade book. Each page stays exactly the same – forever! But an eBook page can and will change based on several factors including the screen size of the reading device being used and the reader’s personal preferences. For more information about why eBooks don’t look like printed books, I invite you to read “Why Doesn’t My eBook Look Like My Printed Book?” on the BookBaby Blog.

6. How long will it take to create an eBook?

There is no simple answer to this question, it all depends on your book files and the time spent reviewing your eBook proof. Here’s the process:

  • When you send your Word or PDF book file to BookBaby, we’ll inspect all of the contents to make sure everything is right.
  • Next we convert your file into both a .mobi and ePub, and send you a digital proof. Your first proof will arrive in about 6-8 business days.
  • Then the ball is in your court! You’ll need to review your proof and contact BookBaby with any changes. This can take five minutes… five days… or five weeks.

Most eBook conversions take two rounds of proofs. How long does the “average” conversion take? You can generally expect this part of the eBook creation process to last between 12-15 business days. Please note: If you’re doing both a printed book and eBook at the same time, BookBaby will work on your printed book file first and then your eBook. That way we make sure both versions of your book are exactly the same.

7. What do I need to do to get started on my eBook?

First, you should have your book professionally edited. That goes for any kind of book, printed book or eBook. There’s just no substitute for another set of eyes combing your manuscript to eliminate typos and grammar issues.

When you send us your edited book file in Word or PDF format, I recommend you keep everything very simple. Because there are so many kinds of eBook readers and devices, a simple book file is best for the sake of consistency. Avoid any kind of special fonts or type treatments. Remember It’s the content of your book that’s most important – not a fancy typeface. For more instructions how to prepare your file, download BookBaby’s free guide, Preparing Your Document For eBook Conversion.

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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publishing-writing-book-length

How long should your book be?

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This article courtesy of BookBaby.

There’s nothing quite like escaping to your favorite book. In just a matter of pages you’re transported to a new world, sympathizing with some characters, despising others. Yet sometimes, even when you have the best intentions, a book will sit on your table untouched because it’s long, difficult, or otherwise intimidating.

To motivate you to pick up that classic you’ve never read – or reread your favorite book – Personal Creations put together this infographic detailing how long it takes to read popular books, based on an average reading time of 300 words per minute. Though you may like to read at a more leisurely pace, reread difficult sections, or indulge in passages you adore, it’s still a useful comparison of how long various books and series – from To Kill A Mockingbirdto The Odyssey to the Harry Potter series – might take to read.

Take a couple of minutes to read it, then shut down your device and go read a book!

publishing-writing-book-length

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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