Thursday, July 21, 2016

My 10 + 1 Self-Publishing Winning Writer Tips

-Dr. Nicole

Before self-publishing my three children’s books, traditional Canadian publishers bought and produced 14 of my books. I sold more than 135,000 copies in the North American French market. I first thought such huge success could help me find an American book agent to sell my manuscripts to well-known publishers. I was totally wrong.

Canadian and American book markets are totally different. Being rejected many times, I started my self-published author journey. From reading a lot of books, blogs and articles on self-publishing, I learned the do’s and don’ts of award-winning books. I self-published my children’s books Parents for Sale, Are You Eating My Lunch and Strike at Charles’ Farm. In the last two years these three children’s books won more than 15 international awards.

Here are my top 10 winning tips for self-published authors.

1. Think as businessmen.
A book is a commercial product. It has to be well written, well produced and marketed.  Imagine a shoe store. If you want to sell lots of shoes, you must sell a perfect shoe, give flawless customer service and offer unique goods. Success is a team business. Work with the best professionals in the business to help you maintain control of production.

2. Hire a professional writing coach.
At first, I was collecting publisher rejection letters. Then, I took lessons with a successful writer. We worked on my manuscripts for a year. In 2012, I was invited to sign my three newly released books at the Quebec International Book Fair. Talent is not enough to seduce traditional publishers. Learning and following market rules is mandatory in order to be successful.

3. Read many books.
Before writing a book in any style for any audience, read a lot of books. Read old classics as well as recently released books. Read about how to write a book. Study reader’s needs and get prepared to answer questions in non-fiction books, or tell a great story with fiction. Public libraries, book stores, and electronic markets offer more books than you can read. On the web, I clicked on many book previews before self-publishing my own books. I visited book award websites to learn the types of books the award programs were honoring.

4. Select the right self-publishing company.
To produce a well written, and well-designed book, self-publishing can cost a lot. There are many rules to follow.  Based upon your previous experiences, many well-established companies will offer self-publishing packages, where you have several options to choose from. Or you can do everything on your own. Since these were my first books in an untamed new market self-publishing packages were best suited to me. I really appreciated the relationship I was able to develop with my self-publishing book consultant.

5. Design your author’s website.
As I had written several books, my marketing consultant advised me to design one website about me as an author instead of a website for each of my books individually. This strategy serves me well as I can add any newly released books to my existing website. I also have a separate French author website for my 14 books which are written in French.

6. Hire a professional editor.
If you want to ruin your book, publish it with mistakes. Readers will easily detect them and close the book. In the children’s book market, teachers will reject books with spelling mistakes. Don’t hesitate to hire professional editor before publishing the book.

7. Hire a professional publicist.
Your book is on the market. Your journey starts. Selling books in a highly competitive market is not easy. My book publicist helped me design my author’s website, publish press releases and find the best keywords for the SEO (search engine optimization) to help readers searching for children’s book in my case on the web. Because of the multiple books I published, I decided to focus on branding a meaningful author’s name and not in book titles. I picked “Dr. Nicole” as a name with an appealing logo as the trademark. I wanted to be a children’s book writer associated with a professional pediatric medical background as support to the educational profile of my books.

8. Start your marketing as soon as possible.
Marketing starts very soon. Publish blogs; write on your social media about your book. On my website, I announce future books and I offer coloring pages of my books which kids can print. These freebies are well appreciated by fans.

9. Design an awesome book cover.
As a self-published and newcomer author, I knew that my book covers were my only chance to seduce readers looking for a children’s book on the web. Professionally designed book covers helped me win awards and sell many books. My book designer applied my nice-looking Dr. Nicole logo on the right corner of each book.

10. Use your new book to market all your books.
I used my self-published books to market all my books and awards. I listed them on the first page of my books instead of the last one. This first contact tells my readers that I published many books and received many awards.When buyers open the book preview on the web, they first read this list. Taking advantage of this free publicity increases your credibility. I also thank readers for choosing my book and invite them to write an honest review.

11. Produce an audiobook of your successful book.
Audiobook market is exploding. Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of the game with your book. Select your audiobook producer carefully . For my audiobook Parents for Sale, I hired two professional actors to read the book over a background of music and sound effects. The result is much more appealing than an audiobook read by a single actor without background.

Dr. Nicole is a Quebec family medicine doctor writing children’s books by passion. In the traditions of Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss, this multi-award-winning and bestselling author breathes life into inanimate objects and wildly entertaining characters that engage children in powerful ways. Through the parent/child interaction, her works develop a love for reading while helping children develop the most important skill of all - critical thinking.
Dr. Nicole’s books are available on: 
Parents for Sale (book and audio book), 
Are You Eating My Lunch?/Manges-tu mon lunch ? and 
Strike at Charles’ Farm/Grève à la ferme de Charles
My French books are available on
Félix and Boubou his magical doctor suitcase (8 titles)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Experiences from a Hybrid Author

- Lincoln Cole

When I finally bit the bullet and decided I was going to self-publish, it was after years of sending my books out and building stacks of rejection notices. By that point, I just wanted to get my books out in the world and turn my attention to new projects.

Luckily, I found a friend who was a graphic designer who made covers for me and I knew quite a bit about formatting and interior design to make the books look pretty good. I loaded them up, hit the publish button, and let them out into the world.

They basically sank, but that was okay. I tried a lot of different things, set up a lot of long-term projects to go along with the books, and then just wrote more books. I published four books during those first six months, and then I was forced to start writing again.

But now I had a better sense of how everything worked. I'd done a fair bit of marketing, tried out a lot of different outreach methods, and built up a community of people who could help me. I wrote my newest book with the intention of trying out the Amazon Kindle Scout program, and I had every intention of winning a contract and seeing how well it would go.

And win I did. I had incredibly good feedback about the novel from Amazon's editors and from the audience that was allowed to read the first chapters. Amazon paid for editing and released the book, and it's been out for a little more than a week now. It's had a bigger response in that week than some of my books have had during their entire existence after launching months ago.

Using Kindle Scout has taught me a lot about what can be accomplished with a lot of effort. I feel like I've been continually improving as an author and learning new tricks and tips that always help. The one thing I've learned is that publishing is like gambling: you can't gamble without being willing to put money on the table (professional reviews, awards, editing, covers, marketing) and you aren't guaranteed to win or even make your money back. But, sometimes you'll hit a jackpot. If you aren't willing to gamble, then it might not be the right career.

Now I have a book traditionally published (as traditional as Amazon could ever be considered to be) and several books self-published. I've won multiple awards, and the one that's paid off the most for me was CLC Awards for my two literary novels. I stumbled onto their service toward the beginning of my career and now it's one of the staple services I use for enhancing my career.


Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Authors Need to Know about Book Production

by Cecile Kaufman

The success of your book design and production depends to some extent on the materials that you deliver to the designer. These are some general guidelines.

Start with the Trim Size
The first thing your book designer needs to know, before beginning the design, is what the size of your book will be. Just as you would not buy the materials to build a shed without first deciding how big it should be, so does your designer need to know what page size she will be working with before beginning the design. There are standard book sizes; for instance, a typical trade paperback book would be 6 inches × 9 inches or 5.5 inches × 8.5 inches. Because some book printers can print more efficiently at one of these sizes than at the other, you will also want to choose your printer right at the beginning of the process. Also, if you want to get a quote from a printer, have your designer do so before you create your book, because you will need to know the trim size.

Raster and Vector
If you have images in your book each one will  be either a raster image or a vector image. Raster images are made up of tiny squares (pixels), and the resolution of a raster image is measured in pixels per inch (ppi) or dots per inch (dpi). These images are typically photographs or illustrations that have been scanned. Although there may be some leeway, depending on the image and how it will be printed, a general rule of thumb is that  raster images need to be 300 ppi or dpi at the size at which they will be printed or larger. The size is important: larger is always acceptable, but smaller is not. This is because you cannot enlarge a raster image very much before it begins to look pixelated (jagged, broken into small squares).
Vector graphics, on the other hand, are made up of points and paths determined by an algorithm. These images can be enlarged without loss of quality. Usually vector graphics that are used in print publishing will have the extension .eps. Fonts are also vector graphics.
If you are submitting scans of type or line art, for instance, a newspaper article with just type, that scan should be between 600 and 2400 dpi, and saved as “bitmap.” Although the scan is a representation of type, it is still a rasterized image, just as a photo would be, and if it is to look as crisp as real vector type would look, it needs to have additional resolution.

Name Your Files Intentionally
A consistent and understandable convention for naming files is very helpful and is the easiest way to avoid having images placed in the wrong places. A typical naming scheme would be to number the images, using three digits, like this:


In this way, when importing images into the page layout program, the designer will see a list that is in order, and can easily pick the correct number from the list. In the manuscript Word file, there should be a corresponding note to indicate approximately where the image should be placed, such as “insert ‘greatbook_006.tif ’ about here.”

Style Your File
Style your Word document: give each paragraph a paragraph style, or have your copy editor do so. You do not want your designer to be deciding whether an element should be a first-level heading or second-level heading, That decision is one you or your editor should make. If you are using Word, select the text, and choose the style from the drop-down menu to apply it.

Stick to the Stages
Developmental editing comes before copyediting, which always comes before layout. Design also comes before layout, and design changes usually should not be made after layout has begun. Making many copyediting changes after the pages have been laid out will incur extra costs and takes more time; it also increases the risk of mistakes especially in books which have many images (because significant changes will cause reflow of the text). Proofreading comes after the pages are laid out. Making changes after the proofreading stage should be done very carefully and someone should check the surrounding pages to make sure no text has reflowed.

The Cleaner the Manuscript . . .
In general the cleaner the manuscript is at the beginning, the cleaner it will be at each of the following stages, and the smoother the production process will be. If you understand these basics of book production then you  will have a head start on a successfully produced book.

Cecile Kaufman is a graphic designer, editor, project manager, and print buyer with over twenty years experience in publishing and commercial graphic arts. In 1999 she founded X-Height Studio, which specializes in publication design and offers full publishing services from concept to final printed product. The studio has provided print design and production, editorial services, project management, and print buying services for a wide range of clients.