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DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


I am debating on creating a short-story anthology of a few pieces I have, and have been trying to come up wtih a blurb. I am hitting a bit of a stonewall, since most of the short story anthologies on amazon are using their clout and prestige to market the book. Ursula Le Guin I am not, and I don't think my name will sell any books.
I have a few comp titles that I am mimicking the blurb off of. Would you be able to let me know what you think, and if you have any short story anthologies you can recommend, I would love to research them!

Comp Title:
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0180T0INQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
https://www.anvilpress.com/Books/bad-endings

Title Of Book:
The Light Shines Through

Advice:
Do not start with a rhetorical question.

Blurb 1
In The Light Shines through readers will encounter two immortal thieves scouring Belgium, one of them desperately searching for a legacy, the other hiding the answer. A wayward child searching for his grandma jumps to a family reunion full of time travelers. A TV desperately trying to save its owner.
Each story explores incredible characters in unique situations, and how each of them reacts to the dark storm clouds in their lives. And in the end, they will learn that even in the darkest of times, the light shines through.


Blurb 2
Two immortal thieves scour the night, one of them desperately searching for a legacy, the other hiding the answer. A wayward child searching for his grandma time travels to the family reunion, only to encounter future consequences. A sentient TV desperately tries to save its owner, but finds it lacks the power.
Each of these five short stories explores incredible characters in unique situations, and how each of them struggles in their bleakest moments. In the end though, they will learn that even in the darkest of times, the light shines through.

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DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Thanks everyone! I slept on it, and edited it a bit more. Are there any rules/advice on having "Comp titles" in your blurb? ((See first paragraph))

For fans of speculation fiction and Apex Magazine comes a debut collection of short stories that focuses on the human struggle during dark times.
Two immortal thieves scour the night, each desperately trying to create a legacy. A wayward child searching for his grandma travels through time to the family reunion, only to encounter past consequences. A sentient TV tries to save its owner, despite its programming.
Each of these five short stories explores unique characters and how they struggle in their bleakest moments. In the end they will learn that even in the darkest of times, the light shines through.

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Just wanted to say thanks for the comments on my blurb. I rewrote it, managed to get it to the point where its not good, but I know I put the effort in.

Dunno if this is allowed, but I used booksidemanner.com for some copy edits, and they were awesome! Now, onto making a cover :)

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


newts posted:

I’m actually not sure of the right genre yet. Paranormal mystery? Psychic detective? Sci-fi mystery? Mystery? Police procedural? It doesn’t fit neatly into any of those, although there are very similar book series in each of those categories.

Still, none of those have illustrated covers as the norm.

Ohh, you're lucky. Lot of Urban Fantasy/Psychic Detective covers you can follow. Might want to look at A Murder of Mages cover. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23590634-a-murder-of-mages)

Actually, I could use some help. Most of the pre-design covers I look at are more Person/Object in frame, which isn't something I can do with my anthology. I found a cover I like



Would I be completely crazy if I asked any of these pre-design cover places to mock up a cover like the above?

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


It will be a short story collection that I'm making. I'm going into it with no expectations, and It's been a lot of fun. I've already learned a ton of what not to do!

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Captain Log posted:

The hard thing to really grasp is the "Choose your Adventure" publishing game. My father, last publishing in 1989, very much thinks -

- You write
- You submit to everywhere, expecting a poo poo ton of rejection letters
- You get published or offered a contract

I'd kill for such a streamlined process.

Not doing this as a living, that's how I got my works published in 'zines. I am going to assume you are doing it differently and pursuing getting an agent, and making this a career?

Just wondering how it is different nowadays? Is it more networking/representation?

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


The Fuzzy Hulk posted:

100 times this. I wrote a bunch short stores back during the borrows phase mostly as a joke, and them bundled them when it changed to page reads. I have not written/published a drat thing since 2017. I don't think I have checked my sales/KENP in months.

But Amazon keeps putting a few hundred bucks in my account on the 29th.

That passive income made every single payment on the loan for my car. It was like getting a brand new Ford Fusion for free, and to be honest my books are terrible.

Oh, I'd be interested in hearing more! Are you doing KDP publishing?

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


KrunkMcGrunk posted:

hoooo boy, lemme tell ya: if you're selling paperbacks, do NOT choose a 6 x 9 trim. Doing so will lower your page count on Amazon, and, as much as writing in an art form, there is still a value proposition that readers care about, and if they think your book is too short for the price, they ain't buyin'.

I switched from 6 x 9 trim, and a 192 page count, to 5 x 8 trim, and a more genre-appropriate 280 page count. it's been kind of a hassle with phone calls to KDP support, but I think the higher page count will make a big difference for me.

Also, by going 5 x 8 , you don't have to stretch out your ebook cover.

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Launch day is in a few days for me. This was very much a first-time publishing thing/vanity project. Would there be any value in me posting my thoughts/processes here?

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


oliveoil posted:

Has anyone paid attention to litrpgs? Wondering what the best examples of the genre are. From both quality and popularity, if those are different in this genre.

Edit: lmao why do half of these have women with huge boobs on the cover? Did I just stumble on the male-audience equivalent of alpha male shape-shifting billionaire romance novels?

Take this worth a grain of salt, but LitRPG shares an audience with the Iseakai genre and readers of Reader Player One. Typically anime has explored the litRPG before, .hack/Sign being a great example. Since that makes your audience pre-dominantly male, maybe that's why they are advertising with some TNA.

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Hey my ebook/paperback released, and I wrote up a quick guide on how I did it! Feel free to critique, or offer pointers!

Who this is for?
This is for people who want to know how to format their manuscript into an ebook. We won’t be covering how to write, I am going to assume you already have your manuscript written. I am going to admit that I didn’t do this for the money, though some of these stories had already sold. Mainly I wanted a small book to give to my family members and friends.

TLDR - just tell me what resources you used]
  • Scrivener - To write and compile manuscript to .epub format
  • Libre OfficeWriter - To convert manuscript into PDF
  • Kindle Previewer - To review the .epub
  • https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834230 - To grab the proper size template for my paperback
  • Fiverr.com (NicoleClare91) - Cover
  • BookSideManner - Copy Editing
  • GIMP - Converting Cover to 300 PDF DPI

Formatting The Manuscript - Epub
I use scrivener for writing, as I find it helps me keep organized. When it came to formatting, I found it useful for the ebook format, less so for the paperback. A quick note about formatting, keep in mind I just wanted a basic-rear end book. I didn’t incorporate any themes.

Within Scrivener, I setup each “Chapter” into it’s own folder, and gave the folder a name.


Each Scene is the full story, with scene breaks manually denoted by ***



Front Page matter (Dedication and Cover) I let Scrivener setup in their own folder. Amazon overwrote the "default" cover, so that was good. For now I was mainly focused on turning this into an ebook. To do that I used Scriveners compile method.



Scrivener lets you compile your manuscript into many different formats, epub included. So I choose to use Scrivener, messed around with the section layouts, and got a decent .epub version out.

Reviewing Manuscript - EPUB
With the .epub version done, I was able to download Kindle Previewer and check through the manuscript. I had to recompile a few times, either due to spacing errors, or just not liking what Scrivener did with sections. Once I had what I liked, I then uploaded my .epub to Amazon, and went to work on the Paperback version.

Formatting The Manuscript- Paperback
I had a devil of a time getting Scrivener to work with Paperback. When I tried to upload a formatted .docx, Amazon disliked that, and some of my text even bled over the pages. I decided to use Amazon’s paperback templates, and decided to use standard 6”X9” size (this later proved to be a problem).

So, now that I had the template, what I did was go into Scrivener, compile my manuscript into .docx, then manually copy and paste into the amazon template. Are there better ways to do this? Yes, oh god yes. Did this work? Yes.

I had to mess a bit with my table of contents, and fix some of the spacing and headers, but eventually I got my manuscript converted and ready to go! I promptly uploaded my .docx to amazon, and immediately hit issues.

Turns out, that converting it to a PDF was the way to go. I followed the documentation here, tweaked LibreOffice Writer to convert it as PDF, and uploaded. Finally I had it working, and it looked decent.

Reviewing Manuscript - Paperback
Amazon is rather helpful for the paperback version. After you upload your manuscript, you are forced to review the paperback. It shows you your cover, your pages, bleedthrough and other things.

Making Sure I Can Sell my Stories
Before we move further, just a quick note. Some of these stories were sold to magazines. I had to read the contracts to verify I could publish those stories in my own collection, and even reached out to the editors of the magazine. The editors were very helpful, and if you are in my situation I would recommend you ask the magazine first, rather than take my advice.

When reviewing the contracts, the stuff I had to pay attention to was:

Please note that 1 week is not standard, the magazine was incredibly generous :).

Editing/Critique
Another quick note, make sure whatever you are publishing is critiqued. I am fortunate enough to have a few writer friends that critiqued my work, and that I trusted to give me honest critique.

As part of that critique, questions of whether or not I was still in third grade came up, so I used Bookside Manner (Thanks thread!) for the copy edit. Their service was great, and I am going to use them again.

Theme and Title
Allright, now that the editing, critique and legal stuff is out of the way, I immediately ran face first into a wall. That wall was “What should I title this thing.” and “What is my theme.”

*Cough* We are going to get moopy here for a second *Cough*

I highly suggest you leave your emotions in the dedication and in the stories, not in the title and theme. Don’t do what I did and come up with the title during a time of family-crisis.

I would say this is where my problems started. My aim for the theme was “feel-good” stories, kind of like Chicken Soup for the Soul,and the title was supposed to involve silver lining in clouds.

Instead what I got was a title more akin to a christian novel, and it didn’t help that another author with the same name wrote a how to masturbate guide for christians. When I do this again, I will spend a lot more time on the Theme and Title.

Cover
So, now that we have a terrible theme and a terrible title, its time to get a cover! This was actually the most frustrating part of the process (That 6” by 9” paperback formatting is going to bite me in the rear end)!

Before we delve further, I want to point out how much of a pain in the rear end the cover was.

  • First, I decided to do a collection of short stories, which meant I couldn’t do the standard cool person standing definitely in a cool stance cover.
  • Second, a lot of short story collections have the authors name in FULL BOLD PRINT on the cover, to try and get your attention. Nobody except my Mom and Dad cared that Mike McArthur wrote this. So my comp covers were few and far between
  • Third, I ignored a lot of advice given in threads and online. And if you are going to do that, you don’t get to belly ache about the your sales number, or quality of work.

What I did do, was find some covers I did like, and noticed that I was going towards a more artsy cover, rather that design focused. This helped me narrow things down, and provide examples to designer creators.

So I promptly went to a custom cover creator, put some money down, laid out some instructions and waited… and waited… and waited.

Then I found out the cover creator got covid. With not a lot of time left (More on that in marketing) I decided to go to Fiverr. I tried out a few people, and found that my ill decisions on theme and title were causing some people some grief. Lot of covers with lightbulbs, or seagulls and lens flares. (Again, this is MY fault, not the designers fault).

Fortunately, one person got what I was looking for, mainly thanks to my comparative titles. I received an awesome cover! It’s not a “Buy me” cover, and admittedly goes against a lot of the advice, but it was a cover I liked.

So with the cover ready, I promptly attached it to my ebook and it worked great. When I went to add it to the paperback, two things came up

  • I had to convert the image to a PDF, using 300DPI
  • I had specified that my book was 5” by 8” for page count (Smaller area == more pages) and for image quality (5” by 8” is typical ebook size, so I wouldn’t have to expand the cover)

So I immediately had to reformat my paperback version to accommodate the size. After an hour or two of fighting with Libre Office, I got it done.

Marketing
DO NOT USE REDDIT, UNLESS YOU HAVE BEEF, OR AN AMAZING COVER

First off, anyone hoping to learn the marketing secrets and how to make $100 off ebooks is going to be very sad. Please note this was mainly a vanity project.

I am fortunately enough to be known in my regional writing circle, and was part of a live-reading. This was going to be my primary form of marketing, and I was okay with it. During the live-reading I read one of my stories from the collection, and announced the preorder of my book.


This was well received and I immediately jumped to #3 spotlight in Fantasy Anthologies (For approximately one hour), which just goes to show you should be skeptical when authors announce “I’m #1 in XYZ category”. I had 11 preorders to get to that spot, and I was very grateful to be there.

When the book launched, I advertised it via word of mouth to the writing groups I am in, as well as facebook. Again, mainly selling to an audience of my friends and family.

What happened next was weird. I had another 2 orders from the ebook, and promptly got roughly 30 orders for my paperback. The paperback orders only show up when they ship, while the ebook versions showed up immediately. This made figuring out how many books I sold a bit cumbersome, but I was very grateful never the less.

Sales Numbers and Royalty Rates

So in total, I had about 45 orders of my book. My Kindle Edition Normalized Pages was about 56 (I have no idea what this graph is trying to tell me)

I am going to assume 56 pages is great for a first-time, no marketing, book, and would like to pre-emptively thank my mother for reading it.

My pricing structure was as follows
Ebook: 2.99
Paperback: 5.99

I’ll comment on the pricing a bit later. The actual royalty rates were
Ebook: 70% , so 2.06 a book
Paperback: 60% but Printing costs are deducted first. 5.99 - 2.82 (Printing Costs) * .60 = .77 a book

Since my primary marketing method was word of mouth, it made sense that everyone wanted a paperback version. I think this is also where I did a bit of a oopsie. Next time I'd offer a bigger book, and price it around $8.99. Also for anyone going the same route, figure out what you are going to write in your signature BEFORE you sign the book.

What I Would do Differently

Theme and Title. I would first come up with the theme, then write stories to fit that theme (Instead of diggint into my collection of well-received stories and coming up with a theme). On the creative side of publishing, this was the biggest thorn in my side.

Page Length/Story Count: I don’t mind selling an ebook for 2.99, but a paperback for $5.99 is too expensive (For only 5 stories). Next time I’ll try and do 15 stories in a collection, and bump the paperback to $7.99 or something.

Formatting: I would love to play around with ebook and paperback formatting. Maybe add some cool crows at the start of every story, and have a nice looking Table of Contents.

Editing: Maybe, just maybe, there was a typo in my cover/blurb. I maybe had to manually edit the PDF cover and correct that typo. What I would do next time is triple check my work :P

Marketing: Next, I wouldn’t mind dipping my hand in Marketing, although I have to take a good look at how to market a short story collection.

The Actual Product
SHILL MODE ACTIVATED

If you want to see the cover of my book, you can see it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Light-Shines-Through-Mike-McArthur/dp/B099JTMSSB

DropTheAnvil fucked around with this message at 00:01 on Jul 26, 2021

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


oliveoil posted:

drat, you really put a lot of thought into that. Thank you!

For me, marketing always seems like the biggest issue. Why do you say not to use reddit? Or was that just a warning not to use it the way those first few examples did, where they just dumped a link and ran away?

I'd be interested in everyone's opinion about using reddit.

Typically I find that self-published authors get raked over the coals. The LJStanton reddit post had a lot of interaction, but got removed due to self promotion. A lot of subreddits do not allow self promotion, and you see posts in /r/pics get demolished as soon as people find out its self-published. It's hard to come across as genuine, and unless you know the community and are a part of it, it feels like the water is already poisoned by others.

I know the author of "order of the magi" did well in their post in /r/fantasy, but I also LOVE their cover! So in short, self promotion is banned in many subreddits, and even if you do get past, a lot of people dislike self-promotion/self-published works.


I had a question about, well, hiding your self-published status. I have noticed a common theme of authors (See the ljstanton post) making their own publishing company, to obfuscate the fact that their book is self published. I am privileged to not have to make a living off of my writing, so I don't want to bash this behavior, but I would love to get some more perspective on it.

DropTheAnvil fucked around with this message at 02:16 on Jul 26, 2021

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Thank you everyone for the kind words! I hope it helps you, and I'd love to see what you are publishing! (Cough, Order of the Magi guy is a SA person). I'd love to publish a novel, but I think if I go that route I have to put some effort into marketing ;)

White Chocolate posted:

Oh that is interesting can you talk about your decision to go on kindle unlimited?

My decision to go with kindle unlimited spawned because I didn't want to deal with multiple marketplaces. Since I was only going to go on amazon, and I know that many of the people would want to buy my book, going to Kindle Unlimited seemed like a smart choice.

From my understanding, it might hurt your royalties if you go to KDU? I.E: say you know 50 people are interested in your book, but they all have KDU. If you put up your book on KDU, you will miss out on 50 sales, and instead get (KindleUnlimitedFund / TotalPagesReadByKDUPeople) * 50 * PageCountOfBook. So you lose a lot of control over pricing, but you get lumped in with everyone else, and may turn a profit.

Since my goal was to make the book as available as possible, I went KDU. The cherry on top was many of the people wanted to support me, so most of my target audience bought the ebook, or paperback.

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Leng posted:

So there are three big authortube channels making trending "unpopular writing opinions" videos that have all said they agree with the hot take "indie/self-publishing well requires financial privilege", which made me kind of mad. Mad enough to make a 13 minute video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_D-9JXCRHg

I don't fully understand what the context is around self-publishing requires financial privilege. I do know people can have polarizing opinions around privilege, so I don't want to go in with a half-assed response here. I'm gonna watch the videos you sourced from and come back if I have anything worthwhile to add.


newts posted:

Okay, guys. I haven’t posted in here before because I haven’t had a reason to. But I wrote a book. Now I need a cover for my Mystery/Detective/Sci-Fi novel. It’s the first in a series. Please tell me how much it sucks.



Looks cool. Judging by the cover I believe this is a mystery novel, with a woman being a central character. Would flip over and read blurb. Send a link when it's out!

Below is only minor nitpicks:
I don't know what "joint-investigation" is, or rather, I don't know why I should care. "A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" on the front cover tells me what to expect, and what the novel is about.

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DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Leng posted:

So there are three big authortube channels making trending "unpopular writing opinions" videos that have all said they agree with the hot take "indie/self-publishing well requires financial privilege", which made me kind of mad. Mad enough to make a 13 minute video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_D-9JXCRHg
/rant over

So I watched the videos you sourced. Something to note is all of the videos are answering the same question, and they all reference each other's channels.

The question is too vague to answer correctly, so I think everyone hedged their bets. You even touched on it in your video, the question asked is "To do Indie publishing well (... more details ...) takes a level of financial privilege that many don't have. Well is vague and each response covers things from marketing, editing and even profitability.

If I ignored how vague the question was, I would agree with the videos you sourced. Taking a look at developmental editing costs, at 9 cents a word, an 80,000 word manuscript can cost $7,000 just for a developmental edit https://marykole.com/how-much-does-an-editor-cost. That gets into numbers where people may not have the money to take that gamble. I haven't researched into marketing, or covers, but I think to do "Well" in those categories, the costs there are hitting a thousand dollars.

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