by Laura E. Akers
Have you ever wondered what happens when a person decides to write a book?
Here are a few quick notes about bringing my action/adventure book into the world.
The concept for Dior or Die began when I was a prosecuting attorney, and a person I convicted made death threats against me. As they neared release from prison, I trained in self-defense tactics with a former CIA operative. I lived in a wealthy suburb, found the incongruity funny, and created Davia Glenn, a deadly female operative forced to live among the rich.
I wrote the first draft and had it edited. It was adequate but not great, so I rewrote and edited it. I had developmental editors give me reports, beta readers give me opinions, and I worked for several years on my craft.
Working on the craft of writing means going to seminars, reading books on writing, reading books written by talented writers, purchasing Grammarly and AutoCrit subscriptions to catch grammar, overused words, cliches, flow issues, and more. I also read non-fiction books on war, special forces, the CIA and researched these topics online to make the story more realistic. Another invaluable addition to my writing was joining San Diego Writer’s Ink http://www.sandiegowriters.org/ and Publishers and Writers San Diego. http://publisherswriters.org/ and Independent Book Publishers Association. https://www.ibpa-online.org/
When the book became ready, I needed to decide whether to send out queries to agents or self-publish. I stepped into the query cycle for a limited time. I put the book on #PitMad and had some interest. After learning it takes years to get a book through the traditional publishing route, I chose self-publishing.
What did that mean? I was the boss and had to live or die by falling on my sword or some other cliched phrase.
Book Cover and Trailer
The cover artist I used to design my book cover is someone I found on Fiverr, as is the person who created my book trailer. I spent a fair amount of time checking the different sellers, their products, and reading their feedback.
My concept for the book cover was a lot of white space with my protagonist, Davia Glenn, in a red evening gown with a gun. We also wanted to show the two men who are her love interests. One is in a tux, and the other is a soldier. Cherie added the black gates to convey the wealthy community setting.
We’ve finished the cover for Book Two, Killing with Kindness, and it’s even more exciting.
Kylie put together both a long and short format book trailer with little input from me. She used Cheri Foxley’s images and pulled clips and music from other sources. She’s a rockstar.
Formatting, Platform Selection, Categories, and Keywords
I chose to use Vellum to format my book, as it’s one of the highest-rated programs. Unfortunately, I didn’t own a MAC and rented one via MacinCloud.com. (See my previous blog for a more thorough discussion of this topic.)
It took me at least 80 hours to format everything correctly, upload it to Dropbox, and review it. Connection issues within MacinCloud affected the time.
I reviewed each document uploaded to Amazon’s KDP and Barnes and Noble Press. I caught space issues or chapter-break problems and redid the documents numerous times.
I purchased ISBNs and bar codes for the books through Bowker. The bar codes were placed on the covers by Cherie. Book cover sizes for Amazon KDP and Barnes and Noble are different, so authors need to check how they look.
For keywords and category research, I used Publisher Rocket https://publisherrocket.com/. I watched all the trailers at their site and attended a paid webinar on the subject. After choosing the two categories allowed in the initial upload on KDP, I emailed Amazon to add extra categories as the developer of Publisher Rocket suggested.
If you have published a book on Amazon, even for pre-sale, you are eligible to find a narrator through ACX. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of exclusivity, so you don’t run afoul of their policies.
Pick a portion of your story that might be tricky to narrate for auditions. I chose a chapter with the protagonist, a British man, a drunk man, and two Middle Eastern men. Be sure to be specific about your needs. I later added, “Less Prince Charles, more Harry Styles” for narrators who read the Brit like a royal family member.
You can get more auditions if you choose to split costs via royalty share plus on ACX. Most of us can’t afford to pay for award-winning narrators when we’re first starting, but it helps if you can chip in some of the costs. Through this process, I am now working with narrator Stacey Lind.
Put together a document listing all your characters, who might play them in a movie, what their accent is like, where they’re from, some adjectives to describe them, and whether they might recur in later books.
Authors need a website to engage with their readers. I used Gaby at TechGStore on Fiverr, and she continues to assist with ongoing changes. I also used Fiverr sellers to help with SEO improvement, but it’s difficult to tell how much their work has helped.
Features on my website include:
- The book trailer
- The book cover and a portion of the book to read for free
- A link button to purchase the book
- Questions for book clubs
- About the Author
- A contact page linked to my email
- A blog.
Use of QR Codes and Questions for Readers
I added QR codes linking to my specific book review pages at Amazon and Goodreads to facilitate getting reviews from readers at the back of the book. I added questions to assist with writing reviews. I also created a PDF download for book clubs with questions on my website with a QR code link. The actual book club questions are also in the book.
Social Media Engagement
Because social media is so vast, I chose to build an author page on Facebook, continue posts on Twitter and Instagram. I ran some book video ads on TikTok, but engagement was primarily with 13-24-year-olds. The higher end of that age group would be fine for my book, but not the younger readers, as my book has some mature content.
I create most of my marketing images through Book Brush or Canva, where I have a pro subscription. I make mini-videos through Canva, upload pictures to Clips on my iPhone, and add music.
Finding Readers through Goodreads, Library Thing, and Book Tours
Goodreads & Library Thing
Alessandra de la Torre, a best-selling author, suggested using the Goodreads Giveaway to create buzz about your release. They have a $119 version that awards either ebooks or print books. I gave 100 ebooks to interested readers and closed in on nearly 1000 interested people. Each time a person enters, your book goes on their “Want to Read” shelf, increasing your book’s exposure to thousands of people.
You can also set up an author profile and list your book as a giveaway on Library Thing.
Book Blog Tours, Paid Reviews, Book Contests, and Book Launches
Reputable companies will help you set up a blog tour, Bookstagram tour, or more. The cost varies widely, from free to expensive.
A Kirkus review costs $500. It’s a credible source due to its reputation; however, it is unknown how much it translates to sales. If you receive a good review, it might lead to other opportunities.
Sorting through these options takes time. It would help if you planned to book months before a release. There are also press releases and book launches through social media platforms.
Thank You to Readers
This blog is to give you a peek into one writer’s journey. Each time a reader writes a review, enters a giveaway, sends me an email, or recommends my book to a friend, it makes every bit of this long, hard road worth it.