Well, at last this week I can show you the cover that I keep talking about, but it’s a bit anticlimatic since I’ve already done an “official” cover reveal over at my author site. Other things I’ve been working on this week include making sure the ebook preorder page is live at all the ebook retailers, ordering proof copies, setting up my publisher site and getting started with scheduling some marketing for the first book. It’s been a busy week for sure, but since I’m happiest when I’m writing, I also managed to find some time to squeeze in some work on my next project, a standalone thriller. But first up, it’s time for the big cover reveal!
The overall design for the cover is fairly minimalist, a single photo image overlaid with a very clean sans serif font. I would be lying if I didn’t say the entire aesthetic wasn’t borrowed from the covers of some traditionally published books. For the record this is something that happens all the time in traditional publishing. For example in YA publishing the success of the Twilight series meant that black with red accents covers dominated YA books for years. After the success of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars that shade of bright blue was used for a LOT of new YA books coming out.
So, anyway there isn’t a lot of detail with the cover and other than hopefully denoting a somewhat ominous feel the image doesn’t really tell you much about my book, but I do feel it works equally well as a thumbnail image which most online shoppers will see as well as for a print book. One note on the print book that you can’t see here with just the digital front cover uploaded is that the water image does wrap around the cover so that there are some droplets of water on the spine and on the back cover as well. Here’s a look at how the full paperback cover is laid out:
When you create your own book cover for print-on-demand books, you are required to approve a “proof” before the book can officially be made live. These days you can do this entirely online by looking at PDFs, but I’m old fashioned and still like to see how everything’s going to look on an actual printed copy of the book so I order physical proofs as well.
As I mentioned last week, my plan is to put out four different printed versions of this book: one trade paperback with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, one trade paperback with Ingram Spark and two hardcovers a regular print and a large print also with Ingram Spark.
I need to preface what I’m going to say next that I’m not really an Amazon fangirl. I do make a lot of money from them and I pay them thousands of dollars a year in selling fees, but as far as actual products I probably spend little more than a hundred bucks a year at Amazon. I sometimes feel like the last person on earth who isn’t a Prime member. Still my hat is off to them with the amazing speed with which they were able to get a proof copy into my hands. Last Saturday, I uploaded my files for the trade paperback of Up the Creek and by Monday afternoon I was holding a printed copy of the book in my hand. That is seriously impressive! But anti-Amazon types take heart, I’ve got some ire for the online retailer that I’ll share in just a little bit.
Oh, but first what about those print proofs from Ingram Spark? Well, it wasn’t until Tuesday that I got the email that I could review the PDFs for proofing, but there was an issue with one that I had to reload, and so it wasn’t until Thursday that I was even able to order my printed proofs, and unless I missed an email somewhere along the way I don’t think they have even shipped yet. I’m not concerned as I was planning for a long turnaround time with the printed copies. It’s one of many reasons why I wanted to make sure I gave myself plenty of time for setting the release date of this book.
Creating my Publisher’s Website
So, when you are self publishing a book, you still need to come up with a name for your imprint or publishing house. This can be anything you choose. It could even be your name, but of course that does make a book look extra self-published and as I’ve mentioned before there’s still a stigma surrounding self publishing and so the standard practice is to sort of pretend books are being published by a small press that no one has ever heard of.
Back when I first secured the rights for my out of print books and set about republishing them I had to buy new ISBNs for them, and so had to come up with a publisher name. And because I do things in a somewhat backwards way I had to come up with a logo first, and was playing around with a pigeon graphic, and so my publisher name ended up becoming Glitter Pigeon Press. I also went ahead and bought the glitterpigeon.com domain name.
For awhile glitterpigeon.com simply pointed to a page on alissagrosso.com that I had set up as a very bare bones sort of site. In terms of professional publisher websites it met the bare minimum of requirements and since the page was actually part of alissagrosso.com it didn’t do much to create the illusion that this was anything other than a self publishing venture. Anyway, when I had my big website crash and had to rebuild from start that was one of the pages I didn’t rebuild.
So, with this new series coming out I figured it was time to create an actual site for glitterpigon.com that would actually live at its own domain name. You can see a screenshot of the homepage below or visit the actual site here.
It’s still pretty minimal in terms of a website, but believe me this is far more involved than what I had before, and while at first glance it might look like its maybe a real publisher any astute observer will notice that all the books that the publisher has published are all by the same author.
Okay, but I promised you some Amazon ire, and here it is. When I was going about setting up the website, I needed to bring up the ISBN that I had used for In the Bag, and because I had two paperback ISBNs for the book in my Bowkers account I wasn’t sure which was the “real” one I had been using I figured the quickest way to double check would just be to go the book’s Amazon page, and I also figured (wrongly, as it would turn out) that the quickest way to do that would be to simply type “in the bag alissa grosso” into the Amazon search bar. That’s when I was astounded to see that it didn’t show up in the first page of search results. Now, I know that the title “In the Bag” is not exactly top notch in terms of search engine optimization which is why I made sure to include my pretty damn unique name in there, and even though it should have been at the top of the search results it didn’t even make the FIRST PAGE!
As I’ve hinted at, I am someone who sells a lot of goods on Amazon so to see those bonkers search results was a real eye opener. No wonder products that should be selling seem to not be selling. No wonder sales on some of my print on demand listings have fallen off so dramatically. How does anyone find anything on Amazon? Only a short while before this my boyfriend and I had been looking for a particular gift item for his mother on the site, and while we did eventually find what we were looking for it took us several attempts to hit upon the keyword combination that magically brought it up, not because the listing was lacking in keywords but because Amazon’s search algorithm insisted on showing us things we didn’t at all want for our other search strings.
As many authors know, you can advertise your book directly on Amazon. The idea is that this is a strategy to try and find new readers who aren’t familiar with your work, but having witnessed what happened when I typed my own book title with my own name into the Amazon search, it’s looking like advertising might be necessary for authors to reach the readers that are already looking for their books.
By the way, as an experiment I did the same search at BarnesandNoble.com and IndieBound.org (the independent bookseller’s website) and in both cases my book (and only my book) came up right away. So, do better, Amazon.
Another reason that I made the decision to not publish my book until January, is that I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to schedule marketing for my book, and because there are some long lead times out there I didn’t want to miss out on things simply because I was going to run out of time.
I’ll be honest, I’m throwing more money at this book’s marketing than I have done with any of my previous books, and it is a bit of a crapshoot. I really don’t know what’s going to be worth it to me and which is going to be a huge waste of money. Sadly, unlike when you are running your own social media or internet advertising campaign you’re kind of limited in what sort of tracking you can do, especially when you have all your marketing basically hitting at the same time, in this case the launch of the book.
So, what sort of marketing have I been scheduling this week? Well, the first thing is paid reviews. This week I scheduled a paid review with Kirkus. (Fun side note: for years I worked as a paid reviewer for Kirkus. Let’s just say I made a fraction of what an author actually pays for a review from them.) Kirkus, for those who don’t know has a long established reputation in publishing circles and there are actually two seperate Kirkuses. There’s Kirkus Indie where authors pay to have their review published and there’s traditional Kirkus where publishers submit to and technically don’t pay for the reviews they receive, but they do run ads in and subscribe to Kirkus, so they are paying in an indirect sort of way.
As someone who was traditionally published I have had Kirkus reviews before. Kirkus has a reputation in the business for being especially tough on books. They take a certain joy in ripping books to shreds. So, let’s just say being on the receiving end of a Kirkus review is not necessarily pleasant. So, am I nuts to pay to get one of their reviews? Yes, probably a little. I’m also hoping that somewhere in there I will end up with some sort of halfway decent pull-quote that I can use for marketing purposes. Because like I said Kirkus is a legit review site and their reviews do mean something in this business.
Kirkus has a long lead time, though. I believe it was something like a minimum of two months when I booked the review, which still gives me a decent amount of time. Of course, you should also book in time for things to go awry. After paying for my Kirkus review I was taken to a form to submit my book files, unfortunately I kept getting an error message when I tried to submit them so I had to send an email to their support desk, and then a day or two later received a response asking me to email the file directly to them. So, it’s done but it took longer than it should have, and since this isn’t my first rodeo I tend to expect that everything in this business takes longer than it should.
I think getting some legitimate reviews can be a big help when you’re trying to market your book so I’ve also scheduled a review with BookLife and this week I also scheduled a two month slot where my book will be available to Netgalley reviewers.
The other marketing I’ve been working on this week is scheduling two separate blog tours of my book. These will include some reviews and some other guest post or interview posts. I haven’t quite finalized the details for these, but have begun the process. Just like with scheduling the Kirkus review, I wanted to leave myself plenty of time to book something because slots do fill up quickly.
I’m also looking into some other paid marketing opportunities right now. So, I’m spending a lot of money on this book launch and am keeping my fingers crossed that it proves to be a sound investment.
Overall, it’s been a pretty busy week, and I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I feel good that things are moving along, and I don’t feel like I’m under a tremendous amount of pressure to get things done in time for the launch which was one more reason I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get this book launched.