Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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    Hanging by a Hair, a Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

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Posts Tagged ‘Business of Writing’

Book Cover Design Process

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 25, 2015

When designing a book cover, a number of items need to be considered. What is the genre? The mood of the story? The background setting? What type of “look” do you want to get across? Is this best done with photography or illustration? Do you like people on the cover? Can you describe a particular scene you envision, or images that might work?

When I contacted Patty G. Henderson from http://boulevardphotografica.yolasite.com about doing my cover for a revised edition of Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2), I gave her a basic summary of the plot. Hairstylist Marla Shore volunteers for Taste of the World, a fund-raiser to benefit a coastal preservation society. Someone is sabotaging the chefs involved in this gala event set in South Florida. I wanted to blend elements of the tropical setting with the food theme and also give a hint about the murder mystery.

I mentioned Bonnet House to Patty. This Fort Lauderdale historic attraction served as the model for cousin Cynthia’s estate in the story. Photos on their website could provide inspiration. After a while, Patty sent me these two mock-up covers for my initial inspection. What did I like or dislike about them? What should we change?

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I was awestruck at how Patty instinctively understood my brand as an author and the genre in which I write. Since I write humorous cozies, I’ve noticed these covers are mostly illustrations rather than photographic portrayals. Readers like me want to be able to tell the genre at a glance. I had sent her a list of covers on Amazon that appealed to me as a reader. This mockup got the concept just right.

Patty covered the murder mystery aspect perfectly with the bloody scissors. She got the chef part of the plot correct with the serving dish. And she got the seaside location fine. However, Florida doesn’t have mountains. So that hill behind the building had to go. I’m also not fond of pastels. I like sharp, bright colors representative of the tropics. But I did like the green, coral, beige, and turquoise tones. However, they needed to be sharpened and made darker.

On proof number one, the cover on the above left, the title font is cute and appropriate to a humorous mystery. But it’s too light. So is my name. And from far away, you can’t see the series title at all.

On proof number two, I don’t care for the series logo either. We need a different symbol than the shears because Five Star uses them on my new titles. And this wave design would have to be carried through on subsequent books in the series. I liked the one on the left but that wording doesn’t show up. So let’s get rid of the wave altogether and work on a series title that’s more visible.

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These are better with brighter colors and sharper wording. Looking at proof number 3 on the left, I note the mountain is gone. I like my name at the top in dark green. The top of Hair Raiser, though, is hard to see because of the busy background elements. And I’m not crazy about the three combs. They’re cute but show no element of mystery.

Number 4 on the right is better. But oops, the mountain is back. I like the title font, color and placement. I like my name where it is but more to the right, so it’s all in the turquoise section. And I like the crossed teasing combs for the series logo but not dividing up the wording. What if we move the series logo above my name? That might work.

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“Is this the winner?” Patty asked. “Oh, yes,” I replied. ”It’s perfect.” Finally, we had our cover! I do love it, the images, the fonts, the colors—everything.

But were we done? Not yet! Next came the paperback edition. What did I want on the back side? A solid color or some of the front image? Did I want the book title at the top of the back or the series title? What do we want on the spine? And so here is the final result of this process:

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It requires a lot of patience between both parties to get things done just right. But the results are definitely worth the thrill you get when everything falls into place.

To contact Patty G. Henderson, go to http://boulevardphotografica.yolasite.com/

Join my book launch party on Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 6:00 – 8:00pm EST at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty for Fun and Giveaways!

HAIR RAISER Buy Links:

Kindle: http://amzn.to/14M9l5B
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/hair-raiser/id957020158?mt=11&uo=4&at=113vsrx
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/hair-raiser-2
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hair-raiser-nancy-cohen/1017599109?ean=2940149980222
International: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00S4VCUM8
Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/5253406

Add to Goodreads List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24478683-hair-raiser

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Writing Goals for 2015

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 4, 2015

Usually I split my career goals into two paths, the creative end and the business of writing. So here are my upcoming objectives for 2015.

WRITING GOALS

Finish and Submit Facials Can Be Fatal, #13 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Revise backlist mystery titles, including Hair Raiser, Murder by Manicure, and Body Wave.
Commence audio book process starting with Permed to Death.
Hire editor for two standalone mysteries and consider bundling them as a box set.
Begin plotting #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Consider timeline for writing books #4-6 in the Drift Lords Series.

BUSINESS GOALS

Hold launch party for each backlist title as the revised Author’s Edition is published.
Plan promo campaign for Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, due out in October.
Enter books in writing contests.
Keep up with quarterly newsletter, blogs and social networking sites.

And what do you hope to accomplish this year?

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There’s still time! Vote for Hanging by a Hair under Mystery Novels in the Annual Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll: http://critters.org/predpoll/novelmys.shtml

Today begins the next Booklover’s Bench contest. Visit our site and enter now: http://bookloversbench.com. I’ll be giving away a first edition signed copy of Moonlight Rhapsody, one of my earlier sci-fi romances.

coverMR

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2014 in Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 1, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Goals Met

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! It’s traditional on this day to revisit what’s been accomplished over the past twelve months. So I dug up my goal list from this time last year to see what actually got done. Here we go:

WRITING GOALS

Finish Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. (DONE; Turned in, edits finished, book is scheduled for release in October 2015)

Do edits for Warrior Lord, #3 in the Drift Lords series, when I get them from my editor. Read through the page proofs until this project is complete and in production. (DONE; Book Released August 2014)

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Complete edits on Murder at Your Service, an original mystery that I plan to indie publish. (NOT DONE; put this project on the back burner.)

 

BUSINESS GOALS

Implement marketing plan for Hanging By A Hair, #11 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, due out in April. (DONE)

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Complete legal preparation for indie publishing venture by the end of January (DONE). Hire book cover designer and book formatter (DONE).

OGP MINI LOGO BLACK

Publish Writing the Cozy Mystery in time for SleuthFest at the end of February. (DONE).

Cozy

Design marketing plan for Warrior Lord (DONE).

Begin prep work for Thumbs Up, my father’s travel memoir, a true adventure of his cross-country hitchhiking journey in 1929. (DONE AND PUBLISHED).

Thumbs Up

So it appears I’ve accomplished all but one of my goals. I had two works of fiction and two works of nonfiction published in 2014. That’s quite enough, since launch parties and promo took up the rest of the time. In fact, that’s more than what I hope to do in 2015. In another post, I’ll share my new goals for the coming year.

How about you? Did you get done all you set out to do?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Marketing to Bloggers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 16, 2014

At a recent meeting of Florida Romance Writers, we heard Ana Ivies speak about Marketing, Blogs and Reader Events. She runs http://wickedbookevents.com and http://anasattic.com which cater to readers.

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For those who use affiliate links on their blogs, Ana says blog revenues have decreased since Kindle Unlimited got started. KU “has changed the landscape of reading.” Many bloggers won’t promote KU books. Ana sells books from her sites and puts up free and $.99 book specials there too. She advises authors that KU may be better for backlist titles. Bloggers want to promote new releases. Don’t undervalue your book to $.99 unless it’s a novella. When the third or fourth book in a series comes out, put book one on sale.

Advice For Approaching Bloggers

Find bloggers who review books similar to yours.
Research the site before querying to see if a blogger will promote your book.
Review their submission requirements. Ana says Net Galley is a good way to reach bloggers. Make sure you grammar check your query.
Follow the blogger on social media.
Address the blogger by name. Say, “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself…”
Give your name, book title, and a link to your book on Amazon. When asking to sign at an event, provide all of your links.
Support other authors.
Interact; don’t only promote.
Include all of your social media links in your email signature.
Put your Amazon author link on your FB page.
If a blogger gives you a positive review, comment on it and share it. Express your gratitude. “Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book.”
If you do a blog tour, go over and thank the host for being part of your event. A tour-wide giveaway draws readers in but don’t give away the ebook the blogger is promoting.

What Not To Do

Do not post your book or buy links on a blogger’s Facebook page. It’s okay to comment on a blogger’s FB posts and share their links.
Don’t tag a blogger in a promo post.
Don’t have your street team hijack a thread on her site and flood it with comments. One of two of your fans replying to a post is enough.
Don’t have your virtual assistant pose as you.
Don’t compare one blogger to another.
Don’t sign up a blogger for your email list without asking.
Don’t make fun of 1 star reviews.
Deal with drama privately, not online.

“When you write a book, it’s thirty percent writing and seventy percent promotion.”

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Final Words from #Ninc14

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 12, 2014

Final Advice for Writers from #Ninc14
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

To summarize the concluding talks from #Ninc14, here are the final points.

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If you have a lifeboat or collaborative team, specify your goals. Is it to increase sales or readership, or to reach bestseller status?

Series or related books sell the best. Make the first one $.99 so it can be called a bestseller as opposed to free.

Check to see if you have some rights back if not all, i.e. Do you have the rights for non-US territories, audio, translation rights?

Hire translators from the United States and not from other countries. If you hire somebody from outside the US, you will have to pay them royalties.

Don’t get discouraged. Just get more material out there. It’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. Once you’re making money, hire people to do everything.

It’s the technology age and you have to do social media, whether or not it’s in your comfort zone.

Ask your readers what they prefer in how they buy books. Do they pre-order?

Don’t just dip your toes in the brave new world of self-publishing. Jump in naked.

Don’t make decisions based on fear. Make it based on your intuition. Know what you are good at and what you need help with. What does success mean to you?

Get your titles out there. They don’t all have to be full-length novels.

Ask your publishing partners these questions: What can you do better than anyone else? What do you think I do well? How could I do better? What skills can you contribute? What market intelligence do you have that we can use together? What information do I have that you need, and for what purpose? What’s the best way we can add value for each other?

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Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery, Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

 

Posted in Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

iBooks Tips for Writers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 10, 2014

Working with iBooks
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

iBooks

Representatives from iBooks spoke at the Ninc conference. They said their readers like free ebooks, so Apple offers the first free in series promotion. Their readers are also willing to pay more for a book so don’t be afraid to price higher.

Pre-orders count double toward your sales ranking—when a pre-order comes in and when the book releases. You can do pre-orders up to one year before the book’s release. You can offer a sample of the story when the book is in pre-order. So Step One is to set the pre-order date, which is when the book is available for ordering. Step Two is to set the sales start date, when the book can be sent out.

iBook sales count on the USA Today list. iBooks are only allowed on five devices for one person. You should put your iBook links on your websites, Twitter, newsletter and elsewhere. For Twitter, use the hash tag #iBooks, not #iTunes.

It takes time to build readers on this platform. They recommend you have three books minimum in your series when you offer the first one free. In the back material, make sure you include links along with covers for your other books.

Make sure your name is readable on a thumb-sized cover. For the URL, take out the specific country, and the URL will redirect to the country of the buyer.

i.e. Take out the U.S. part from this link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/nancy-j.-cohen/id411505950?mt=11&uo=4&at=1l3vsrx

And it becomes this link that redirects to the buyer’s country. See if this works for you:
https://itunes.apple.com/artist/nancy-j.-cohen/id411505950?mt=11&uo=4&at=1l3vsrx

They can only link your series titles if the books are uploaded by the same publisher. So if the books come from different sources, they won’t be able to link the titles in a series.

You might want to join their Affiliate program so you can share in some of the revenue from sales.

iBooks is in 51 territories. The German market is huge. We need to think more globally. Apple has a strong worldwide presence. India will be an emerging market for ebooks.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery, Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Pitching your Book to Hollywood

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 5, 2014

How to Attract Hollywood to your Book
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

Why does Hollywood keep doing sequels and remakes? The simple answer is fear. Studios are filled with people who have legitimate fears about their jobs.

Hollywood Ninc14

China is a huge market right now. A movie might not do as well in the United States as it does in the international market. Character dramas and romantic comedies do not travel globally. The failure rate for romantic comedies in the United States is high. They are under-performing in theaters, so they’ve migrated to television. Romance is alive on the big screen but in melodrama, not comedy. These films do well in English-speaking, Western European countries but not in Asia. Character driven stories do not perform as well as dialogue driven ones. Hollywood honchos have to consider the P&A Cost or Print and Advertising budget. A $100 million movie costs $200 million to market. Smaller movies do not work as well because of this factor, and they do not attract as much attention.

Movie Sequels

Television has a bigger audience, so character driven stories can work better here. Authors should point to their sales to convince filmmakers there is an audience for their work. Pitching in Hollywood is for seasoned writers-producers. These people create TV shows. The speaker said she does a preliminary pitch first and then a more formal pitch. Then they “clear the arena” to see who else is doing similar projects.

Tips for Authors

Understand Hollywood is looking for something different.
Boil your novel down to one sentence.
Don’t say “this meets that” to describe your work comparing movies.
Be open about casting.

Trends

Hollywood is making more features for the international markets.
African-American romantic comedy ensembles are finding audiences.
Low-budget Christian films are finding audiences.
There is a market for romantic melodramas in feature films.
TV is great for character driven stories. They can deliver bigger audiences than features.
Traditional romantic comedy has migrated to TV.

How to Approach a Writer-Producer

Have your agent submit your published novel. The writer-producer may request a “shopping agreement” which gives them one year to pitch your story with no payment. If interested, the studio or network will pay the author and the writer-producer separately.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery, Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ACX and Audible

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 26, 2014

ACX and Audible
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

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What Sells in Audio? Teen and YA Fiction, Romance, Scifi/Fantasy, Mysteries/Thrillers, Business and History.

What do you need to get started? You need a published book on Amazon, audio rights, a manuscript, cover art and rights to the cover. There is no particular length requirement. Figure that 9300 words equals one finished hour of audio. In your profile when you apply to ACX, mention the main characters in your book, your awards and track record.

Options include paying the narrator upfront based on book length or sharing the earnings 50-50 and paying nothing up front. This latter term lasts seven years. Thereafter, you can renew each year or remove the audio book from distribution. A third option is to upload your own audio file.

Royalties are 40% for exclusive distribution and 25% if you go nonexclusive. For the former, you and the narrator split the royalty, meaning you’d each earn 20%. Distribution is to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Make sure you grant world rights for global reach.

You can earn a $50.00 bounty when someone joins Audible and purchases your book first. The person must stay in Audible for 30 days after the trial period.

The author gets 25 download codes for promotion but these don’t count toward your bounty. You can request more. How can you use these? Use them to generate reviews. Check out these sites: Audiofile, AudioGals, Books for Ears. Offer giveaways to your newsletter subscribers and social media fans. You can use Audible’s gift center to send a book to a fan.

If you already have an audio file, make sure it meets the requirements. It takes about three weeks after uploading to become active. Royalties are paid monthly via check or direct deposit.

Selecting your Narrator

Is she too fast? Too slow? Too cartoonish? Just right? Keep in mind that the listener can speed the audio with a tool in the app. You’ll want to give your narrator about three pages to read. These can be different paragraphs along with the context. In a series, continuity of narrator is important. A single voice is more popular than a multi-cast. Any additional material should come after the credits at the end.

One tip: use fewer dialogue tags. Various checkpoints occur in the process: the initial audition, and then a 15 minute sample which does not have to be the first pages of your work. You can request two rounds of revisions. Listen for the quality of sound during the longer samples. You can terminate the contract if you do not like the results. If approved, you can request three chapters at a time from your narrator.

Check the performance rating with each narrator, visit their website and note how many books they’ve done. You can click Like or Dislike to organize your selections. Narrators do not see this. You can send sample clips to friends for their opinions. Ask the narrator about her editing. Will she allow you to review the audio chapter by chapter, or at least three chapters at a time? You want somebody who’s easy to work with. If you are not happy with the narrator and reviews reflect your views, you can ask the narrator to re-record and upload. Do the first book slowly and thoughtfully. Do not rush the process.

The speaker from ACX at Ninc who nominates audio books for promotion said she looks at the book cover first. Next she’ll check out the number of reviews and what they say. She will check out your social media sites to see if you are promoting your audios. If you have a series, getting a promo boost for book one is important. Branding and packaging should carry over from other series titles.

How to Stand Out

Consider adding teasers for sequels after the credits. Coordinate promo efforts with your narrator. Leverage SoundCloud for audio clips. Make a dedicated space on your website for audio books. You can distribute up to 10% of your audio on a clip. This can be embedded on your website.

 

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Literary Estate Planning

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 18, 2014

Literary Estate Planning
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

Copyright is for life of the author plus 70 years. You have physical assets as well as digital assets. Be aware that it can be a violation of federal or criminal laws for friends or family members to take over your online accounts. Think about what happens not only when you die, but also if you become disabled.

If you’ve done nothing and you die, the state will have an intestate succession. The statute says who inherits your assets. Your options are to gift your intellectual property, copyrights, and physical assets in your will.

Your literary attorney can work as a consultant with your family estate lawyer. If you grant items to people in your will, the recipient gets everything. Who can step into your shoes when the time comes?

An alternative is to set up a legal or corporate entity. An LLC, S or C Corporation are the options. The corporate entity could have perpetual existence. If the Corporation owns the copyright, it can affect the term of copyright.You could make your children the shareholders. But then they would run the company. Can they manage it all in agreement with each other? A third choice, and the best one, is to create a trust. You can separate the management from the revenue. The trust would be managed for the benefit of your beneficiaries. You can assign one person as trustee to manage the following, which are examples only:

Published books
Unpublished manuscripts
Rights to hire editors and other ancillary help
Management of digital assets
Rights to negotiate contracts and subsidiary rights (as well as the right to refuse offers)

This allows your identity, as the author, to continue. The trustee does not have to be the beneficiary but then he should be compensated. There are tax consequences if the trustees are the beneficiaries. It’s also important for you to have an inventory. List your book titles, contracts, termination dates, agent information, revenue sources, and location of assets. Joint works need to be explained, and you should have a written agreement with collaborators. Consider contracts with cover designers. Do you own the covers to reuse as desired?

In a trust or will, it shouldn’t be so detailed as to list individual titles. It should be broader and more encompassing to cover intellectual property. Authorize the trustee to hire an agent, formatter, publicity person, cover designer, etc. Set up a procedure for beneficiaries to select new trustees so the trust can continue.

Any publisher will freeze your account upon your death. The executor needs to provide court documentation that he is authorized to collect money. But for digital property, this might not work. Federal laws make it difficult for a third party to take over your digital accounts. Only nine states have statutes to deal with this issue. So appoint a person in your will or trust to access and manage your digital accounts. You’ll also want a power of attorney in case you are disabled.

Put the bank account where your royalties go into your trust, and put the trust name on the bank account. For a DBA, put this in your will or trust as an asset to be passed on.

If you donate your materials to a library or school, talk to them to make sure they have adequate resources to preserve your collection.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation. This post does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your own literary attorney for your personal situation.

Contest Alert

Last Day! Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

1000 Thriller Giveaway: Enter to win a new book every week for a year: http://www.thebigthrill.org/1000-thrillers/

HANGING BY A HAIR is up for a Readers Choice BTS Red Carpet Book Award in the Mystery category. Check it out and vote here: http://btsemag.com/redcarpet/2014_ReadersChoice_Mystery.html

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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