Thursday, March 29, 2012

Purchasing Design Products from CreateSpace - A Review

The author of the former self-publishing blog The Publishing Maven, Christy Pinheiro, once pointed out to me my best selling books had professionally done covers. She was also kind enough to steer me to a product authors can use to create reasonably nice covers themselves, BookCoverPro. I have released a series of short books that cover a single topic that are inexpensive and also serve to promote a larger and more profitable book covering the broad range of the single topic of the "short." I have used BookCoverPro to do these covers and the software has proven to be more than adequate for these specific books.

However, my latest effort, which should be available from Amazon no later than the second week of April, has the potential to be a really good seller! (proud author, can you tell?) I write mainly non-fiction for basketball coaches. The soon to be available from Amazon book is Fine Tuning Your Three-Point Attack. The fine people at ebook Architects are at work as I type converting my files for Kindle and Nook editions of the book.

Given the potential for sales, I wanted this book to have a good cover that was professionally done. Given my limited finances (due to my air conditioning unit dying and having to be replaced) I opted to purchase the $349 Unique Book Cover option offered by CreateSpace. 

While taste is in the eyes of the beholder, I really like the finished cover as shown below. It is far better than anything I could have come up with on my own using BookCoverPro.

The process starts by going to the Layout and Design Page on the CreateSpace website.  Click on the Unique Book Cover tab.

If you have questions I suggest you call the people at CreateSpace. They have always been helpful, and if the individual who answers the phone does not know the answer, they will find out while you wait. You can e-mail your question but I suggest call using the Talk to Us feature. You enter your phone number and click on You Call Me and the phone rings within seconds.
Once you decide to purchase a cover, you must call and request the cover option be placed in your Cart so you can make the purchase. You will be assigned a design team with a project manager.  You will need to check your Member Dashboard for an Attention Required notice for the book the cover is being designed for.

You will be asked to fill out a detailed survey as CreateSpace likes to call it. You will be given options to upload a variety of items such as an author photo, cover design, etc. I uploaded a file with images of covers I liked and disliked with explanations of why with each cover. 

After a few days you will receive a phone call from the leader of your cover design team. You will be asked to provide input in what you want in the cover design. In about five days you will receive notification that two cover designs are ready for you to choose from.

Once you have made your choice and there are no changes to be made, you will receive an electronic form through your Member Dashboard requesting you provide the copy for the back and any other suggestions or requirements for the back cover design that you might have.

After another five working days, you will receive the final design for the cover complete with front, back and spine. Once approved, CreateSpace will load it for you on your books set-up page.

The process was pretty easy and I am quite happy with the final cover design. While the readers of this blog might not like the design, it captured the elements I believed to be essential. There is a sense of movement in the cover as well as a sense of urgency. The design is simple yet lets the potential buyer know what the book is about. 

The cover is for an 8.5 x 11 book that is 204 pages in length. The price is the same regardless of the size of the trim of the book the cover is being created for.

I have purchased a second Unique Book Cover for another book in my Fine Tuning Series. As part of my requests for my design I asked for a similar style of design to indicate the book is part of a series yet I want the cover to have a stand alone feel to it as well. It will be interesting to see what the designers at CreateSpace come up with.

When I get my second Unique Book Cover, I will share the results and allow the readers of this blog to have a side-by-side comparison of the covers.

This service and the designs CreateSpace comes up with might not be for everyone, but I am happy with the cover design I received for the amount of money I was able to afford to invest.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Building an Author Web Site That Works for Readers and Authors!

If you self-publish you are going to need a web site. It is a necessity. You are not just the author, you are the publisher as well and this means you have to market your book to your potential audience of readers. As authors we want people to read our books. As publishers we want people to BUY our books.

So it would seem there is just one more thing we have to learn in order to become successful self-publishers, web site design and all that goes with it.

I have purchased and read just over 70 books in an effort to learn how to market using the internet (fortunately most were Kindle books and this kept the money spent in this endeavor much lower). I managed to learn some things that were helpful and apply them to my web site.

I also wound up spending money on my web site that could have been better spend elsewhere as a business investment (Morris Rosenthal would want to take me to the woodshed for this - spending money foolishly on web sites is one of his pet peeves).

It would seem the topic I should have investigated first was conversion rates. Without expounding on the topic myself, I would rather suggest reading the best book I have read on the topic, and I will admit, the one I wish I had purchased first. It would have saved me a lot of time, some money and and hopefully made my web site more useful and productive in a business sense.

Convert! Design Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion by Ben Hunt. It is available in both Kinle and print versions from Amazon.

The book is written in language a regular person can understand and is very practical. Hunt also explains an approach that is NOT centered around the individual who owns the web site but rather the person who is looking for the web site.  

I will be doing the research Hunt advises and making a trip to visit my web site designer in the not too distant future.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Updates on Self-Publishing

There are so many blogs about self-publishing it can be hard to keep up with reading about the industry. Of course, there is the added issue of which blogs are worth visiting on a regular basis. Aaron Shepard is one of the foremost experts on self-publishing. 

Periodically Aaron posts interesting articles about issues of importance or interest to self-publishing authors as well as updates to his books about self-publishing. To save the readers of this blog a bit of time, here are links to some of Aaron's recent posts about the industry as well as some updates to his books on self-publishing.

The "Biggest Problem with Lightning Source"

Updates for "Perfect Pages"

"Is Lightning Source Cheating You?"

Quickie Updates for POD for Profit

Plan B

Morris Rosenthal is another interesting individual who is a valuable source of information on self-publishing and entrepreneurship as an author. Authors who sell their books online and offer non-fiction ebooks to specialty topics would do well to visit his site often to see what Morris has to say. Lately, Morris has been focused on the changes in Google and the impact this has on rankings for non-fiction authors, ebook sales and the impact on changes in use of information.

Some blog articles of interest:

ebook Sales Multipliers

The Disposable Information Culture

Using Free Kindle Books for Marketing

I hope you find these links interesting and helpful.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dealing with Burnout and Staleness

My "real" area of expertise is coaching basketball and dealing with the mental aspects of sport. My graduate degree is in the field of Sport Psychology. What has this to do with writing and self-publishing? 

Writers, like athletes, can experience burnout and staleness. The symptoms will manifest themselves in similar ways and the cure or prevention of burnout and staleness will help writers as well as athletes.

I write a blog called Teach to Win that addresses the mental aspects of sports. This week's blog post and the next several posts will be dealing with the issue of burnout, what it is, what causes it and steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate the effects.

Since one of the common approaches writers use, particularly writers of non-fiction, is to re-purpose information that is already in written form, I have decided this is a topic that will be worth sharing with the readers of this blog as well, allowing me to engage in the practice of "re-purposing!"

To read more about the topic of burnout please click here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

DOJ to Sue Apple and Five Major Publishers for Agency Model Pricing Plan

Anti-trust suits have a way of creating unintended consequences. If this case goes forward, it will have ramifications for those authors who self-publish.

It will be interesting to see what the fallout will be. Speculation on my part leads to the following possible outcomes:
  • More authors move towards self-publishing their e-books 
  • Amazon will somehow benefit from this 
  • This could be another nail in the coffin for the Legacy Publishers
  • Consumers, who should be the primary beneficiaries of an anti-trust lawsuit, will not see any real benefit as a result of the lawsuit
Being a bit cynical, it will be interesting to see who is the driving force behind this possible lawsuit. Of course, it will be the party who has the most to gain should the government find against the plaintiffs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Updates to Self-Publishing Classic Aiming at Amazon

If you only buy one book before entering the world of self-publishing it should be Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon. Even with the ability to update content in print-on-demand books, with all the changes at Amazon in the past 18 months, it is a bit much to expect Aaron to keep updating Aiming at Amazon every two or three months.

So Aaron has posted some changes and updates at his self-publishing website. All of the changes and updates posted are related to the content in Aiming at Amazon.