Over to you Celia.
Having self-published my debut novel Fox Halt Farm today, I thought I’d share a few mistakes I made. Perhaps I can save other indie authors some time, money and worry.
1. My cover was unprofessional – it shouted self-published book!
The cover of my romantic novel has caused me the most angst. I read posts in author forums all the time about the design of their book cover, so I know it’s an issue.
I have an A grade in A’ level art, I love oil painting and I like to think I have an artistic bent so I felt fairly well qualified when I sent a detailed brief to my graphic designer – after all, I knew the story of Fox Halt Farm inside out, I read books and I am in the age group and gender of my target audience. I recognise what attracts me to pick a book off the piled high shelves. I know which tiny icons on the Amazon screen I click on because the image is intriguing or beautiful. But my graphic designer quite understandably, took his lead from the books he saw in the best-seller romance list of Amazon.com and believed bare chested men exposing their sculptured chests was the way forward. Weeks passed, each time I received a long-awaited email of the revised design, I was frustrated to see I had waited in vain –I couldn’t steer him in my direction at all. I cut my losses and walked away frustrated. I think this was the first time that I wished I had tried to secure a publisher, I imagined how wonderful it would be to have my book cover provided and I wouldn’t have to worry – someone who knew all about these things, who would commission the cover I needed.
I am still unsure of my final cover, I love it and the feedback I have had from people is wholly positive but I have definitely gone out on a limb by literally painting the scene I wanted – I saw tears in the eyes of two of my beta readers when I showed it to them so I know I am on the right track but it is wholly different to the norm and I will have to wait and see if its quirkiness is eye-catching or still screams ‘self published.’
I think the lesson learned here is don’t just find a ‘graphic designer,’ identify the book covers you love and find out who designed it – graphics people are not all the same and choose one whose work you admire.
2. My blurb on the back of my book was too long and not intriguing
The blurb is usually the next thing a potential buyer of your book will inspect and it has to stop them putting it down to move onto the next. These words must instantly capture curiosity. There are professionals out there, who will construct stimulating and alluring text for you but I confess that didn’t consider this option.
I sweated over the blurb and even when I thought I had cracked it, another author read it and shook his head. He said it had to change, it set up the scenario and provided unanswered questions but this man’s marketing viewpoint was different – he wanted the back to tell him what he would get from reading my story - Would he be gripped? Have his heart torn out? Would it provide character and situation insights? Could he expect to be inspired? Will he fall in love with some of the characters? Was there a villain he could hate at every turn?
This was an interesting and time-consuming part of my journey because I changed my blurb to accommodate the respected author’s viewpoint - but then I was met with questions about why I had moved away from my original one? So I conducted a survey of about a hundred women in my target age range – 77% said the original one provided more of stimulus for them to choose my book. Some told me the reasons behind their decision and because of this I did make a small adjustment to try and attract the 33% who liked version 2.
I recommend Rayne Hall’s ‘Writing Book Blurbs and Synopses: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors,’ I thought this provided some useful advice. The wonderful people in the online writing forum I belong to comprises authors, bloggers and people involved in publishing and I received helpful advice from them to all my anxious questions about my blurb.
The lesson I have learnt is that the right blurb is crucial and writing it is a craft, which will take time to master. Recognise straightway that the blurb is going to take a while and seek feedback
In 2000, she left the office life behind to start a new adventure as an outdoor instructor, teaching rock climbing and mountaineering amongst other things and managed an outdoor residential centre until she met her husband. Today she gardens for a few lovely customers, runs and writes accompanied at all times by their border terrier cross jack russell puppy Tizzy
Her debut novel FOX HALT FARM is a change-of-life set over two decades inspired by some of the experiences her life.
Celia’s blog/website - Celiascosmos.com