Tuesday, December 25, 2012

CreateSpace's Cover Creator versus BookCoverPro's Software

After yet another issue with the log-in feature with BookCoverPro, which I will admit was resolved significantly quicker than in the past, I decided to try my hand with the free Cover Creator provided by CreateSpace.

While I think BookCoverPro is easy to use if you are going to use their templates, I have to say if you are willing to limit yourself to templates, the Cover Creator provided by CreateSpace is easier to use and more intuitive.

I was able to create a cover design in less than 15 minutes that served my purposes and since this particular cover is for a book that is the first in a series of non-fiction books, the template I selected can serve as the basis for the cover for each book in this series. I will need to only to change the color of the cover design and the cover photo.

All of these steps were quite easy for me to figure out. The cover for the as yet to be published second book in the series took about 10 minutes to create.

Granted, covers from template designs might not be the best choice for many authors, but Cover Creator is easy to learn to use and for some books might be perfectly appropriate.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Google Affiliate Ads for a Self-Publisher's Blog: Selling Out? Smart Business? Or Making a Living Self-Publishing?

I will have been a high school teacher and coach for 29 years when the 2012-2013 school year ends. Very few of my college classmates who entered the profession are still in the classroom. I don't know if that is good or bad, but I do know the challenges of teaching are many these days.

As such, I have some distinct financial goals with my self-publishing enterprise. I would like to be debt free as soon as possible. That means paying off what we owe on the children's education (with one yet to go to college) and paying off our mortgage on the house.

Retirement? What's that?

Ideally, I would like to be able to work for myself and be able to engage in what my wife and I want to do. That will require being debt free and earning a decent income.

As such, it would seem wise to have as many different sources of income slowly (preferably quickly) coming in as possible.

Hence the decision to monetize this blog.

To some readers of this blog, this decision is probably viewed as a sell out of sorts. To others it might seem like smart business. One moment, I think I am selling out and the next I think this is a necessary business step.

I do know this, I have always viewed this as a business. A business I have made too many mistakes in learning and it has cost me money in a wide variety of ways. What pushed me to the decision to monetize is the realization I might be leaving money on the table I could otherwise be earning.

This experiment hopefully will not cost me any readers of this blog, and in the learning process, I will earn a little money. Another of those revenue streams that needs to trickle in.

One of the common needs of all authors, regardless of the type of work published, is the need to have a platform to connect with potential readers. One of the most common platforms is a blog.

If you can monetize your blog without losing readers and visitors, I have decided it makes good business sense to do so.

Selling your own books direct from your blog or website, or steering buyers to Amazon with Amazon Affiliate buttons and earning commissions in the process is certainly acceptable.

But what about appropriate advertising and affiliate advertising sales? Certainly a bit more commercial and to some, selling out. Most of the blogs I read I visit for the content and not to be sold products.

Can you strike a happy medium in the process? I hope so. And so the experiment begins with this post with adds for three books I actually own, have read and found portions of the information applicable and of value to my tiny self-publishing empire in one way or another.

I like the concept behind the Google Affiliate Ads better than how the Adsense ads work. I have no control over the Adsense advertisers that wind up on my blog but can at least preview and select products that are advertised on my blog in the Affiliate ads.

As I have stated many times on this blog, self-publishing is a business. Finding sources of revenue to increase income levels is an important activity. If you have a blog, and invest considerable time in writing posts and building an audience, you probably need to find a way to generate some income through the blog.

So yet another experiment in expanding my tiny empire begins.

I would love for other authors who visit this blog to share their opinions, ideas and experiences with others by posting comments about the topic of this post.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Checkout the December 10, 2012, Issue of Time

I rarely read Time magazine anymore but I am glad I picked up the December 10, 2012, issue to skim through at the library.

There is an interesting article in this issue about self-publishing, the indie movement, Kindle ebooks in particular and a few of the changes in the publishing industry.

Worth reading if you get the chance.

Thanks to Lavie Margolin for providing a link to the article.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

CreateSpace Improves the Proofing Process for Authors Yet Again

I received notification today via my Member Dashboard that my latest book files I submitted for publishing were ready for review. For those not familiar with using CreateSpace, the proofing process is basically the last step before you launch your book into the world as a newly minted, published book.

Since I started using CreateSpace for my print-on-demand service years ago, the company has continually upgraded the tools it makes available for its authors. 

I really like the latest upgrade. You can now view a digital version of your book on line to examine the finished product and determine if it is ready for publishing. CreateSpace still strongly urges each author to wait until after viewing a physical proof copy before publishing, but the digital copy gives you a huge head start on the review process before your physical copy arrives. Glaring errors can be found sooner rather than later.

The image below shows the option to use the digital review process. You can select the Digital Proofer or download a PDF version of your book. I suggest you do both. The Digital Proofer is neat to view the finished product with, but you'll want to use the PDF to actually look for the fine details and read for typo's another mistakes. CreateSpace suggests you review the PDF a total of three times, each time looking for different items in the final proof.

This next image shows the cover of the book. You are shown the view of the entire cover as it would be printed before it is bound to the book. The proofer has measurements so you can determine if the cover artwork fits the dimensions as you planned.

The next feature is pretty neat. You flip the pages like you would thumbing through the the actual paperback copy. Here are two interior pages of my latest book.

The final page of the book in this edition is used for promoting one of my earlier books. Note the pages are laid out as you would actually see them in the physical copy of the book. To view this final page, I had to turn the previous page.

I have to hand it to CreateSpace. This is a neat upgrade. I still ordered my physical proof copies as I still want to check the book the old fashioned way by hand and actually giving in a good eyeballing, but you have the option of using only the digital proofing method. If you are in a real hurry to get your book listed on Amazon and are highly confident the book is ready to go, you can select that option.

Now, if CreateSpace can create this neat digital version for free, why can't my print-on-demand book edition be automatically released as a Kindle version as well? Hopefully the good folks at CreateSpace think this way and in the not too distant future both POD and Kindle versions will be released at the same time by CreateSpace.