Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Getting Started: Writing Blurbs and Descriptions

When I started self-publishing, there weren't quite as many authors doing it as there are now. I ended up looking to the music industry for marketing advice because indie musicians already abounded and were flourishing. Turns out that the ability to describe a creative work is every bit as critical to marketing as a great cover that draws the eye initially.

Here's a short video (3 min) from Derek Sivers who sold his company "CD Baby" and used the proceeds to fund a charity that helps other musicians get going in their careers. What he says about the importance of description in making someone want to listen to a piece of music makes a lot of sense. I also think it explains why a good book description is so important when you are trying to get a potential reader to give you a chance.

If you do a Google search, you will get wide ranging information about "writing good blurbs", while a search for "writing good book descriptions" tends to yield articles about writing descriptions period. My frustration made me decide this was one of times where the good articles needed to be captured and shared. So if you consider "blurbs" to be just author recommendations, then this article is not about blurbs.

In my personal searches I found some articles referred to ALL the content on the back of the book as "blurbs" including author recommendations from other authors or reviewers. However, my focus in this article was on writing the summary description of what the book is about in an appealing enough way to attract readers to take a chance on reading it. The focus of this article is on book "descriptions", but I wanted to make sure it appeared in Google searches, so I left "blurb" in the title. If we ever do an article on blurbs, I'll try to remember to come back to this post and update it with a link.

Despite the number of books I've published now, I might just be the worst person to write on this subject. Why? Because I hate writing book descriptions. When I began releasing my SciFi Romances, I was practically in tears over not being able to describe Book One in a way that seemed fair to how interesting the book was on the inside. Partly I was struggling because I could not find a single helpful site that helped me clarify how to categorize my work. Was it SciFi? Was it Space Opera? Was it a Paranormal Romance? Was it Fantasy? Nothing blocks a book more from marketing success than genre confusion because sales channels demand you choose, and Amazon only lets you choose two. If you can't clearly tell someone what kind of book you have written, how can you sell it in a description? I was a confused mess. I had not experienced that sort of problem with my Contemporary Romances. They were niche, but I at least felt a confidence in what they were. God bless both my editor and my author friend, Teresa Reasor. They each reviewed my efforts and helped me refine them enough to write a decent description.

Even after multiple revisions of several bad descriptions, and the trauma of my confused one, I still have a lot more room to improve. When I released my latest book, to avoid the lengthy work of trying to write a long description, I went with using my shortest one on all channels. It offers little to the reader, or at least that's how it seems to me, even though I followed some good guidelines in creating it. However, as short as it is, the short description is still larger than sites like Sony, Diesel, and Kobo allow via Smashwords. Now I'm watching to see if anyone says anything or if only having the short description affects sales.

One of the advantages of traditional publishing, or at least it used to be an advantage, is that the author sometimes gained a marketing team that helped with basic marketing efforts, like covers, blurbs, and descriptions. In the self-publishing world, the author has to write them. If I ever find an independent freelancer who convinces me they are a magician at writing descriptions, I would definitely consider paying them to write mine. Until then, here are a few of my favorites articles:

5 Tips for Writing a Compelling Book Blurb by Amy Wilkins

How To Write Back Blurb For Your Book

My Method for Writing a Book Description (Karen McQuestion)

Writing Great Blurbs

If you have other sites to add to these, please put the link in a comment.

Post by Donna McDonald

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On The Other Side of The Internet

Independent authors spend a lot of time online doing all sorts of connecting across the Internet. All published authors have had (or will have) the experience of being on the end of hateful remarks about our work, or emails like those described in the video. It never feels good and always hurts.

The main point of the message about communication in this video is probably best summarized by Derek Sivers' video title. It reminds us that on the other side of each Internet connection is "A real person, a lot like you".

Thanks to PG from Passive Voice for sharing this video on his blog. PG referred to this information as his "commenting policy" which just makes me like him and his blog more. I also noticed Derek Sivers is a frequent TED talks speaker, so I'll be heading to check out the rest of his offerings.

This information seems to be a great message. Many thanks to Mr. Sivers.

Posted by Donna McDonald

Monday, August 6, 2012

*Updated August* Huge List of Cover Artists For Indie Writers

One of the hardest things to do when you self-publish is find a cover artist that will understand your vision and create an eye-catching, cohesive representation of your story. The cover of the book sells the book, and you may have to change your cover several times before you find what reaches the most readers. I’ve been lucky in receiving several fabulous covers from my e-pubs, and I wanted the same thing with my self-pub titles.
As I was wading through sites trying to find what I wanted, I realized there was no one resource for indie authors, so I created my own list of book cover designers, many of which have pre-made covers available. This list was compiled from one of the Indie loops I am a member of, blog posts, websites, word-of-mouth and research.

The two most recent I have used are The Author’s Red Room for my erotic romance and Viola Estrella for the suspense novel I have planned. Be sure to give the artists as much lead time as possible to develop your cover. It will be worth the wait.

Also have a huge stock selection.

She did my two Decadent titles, but I do not think she is accepting new orders right now.

Huge stock selection.

Have a huge stock selection too.

You may have to sign in, but it’s super easy and well worth it.

She does covers, editing and formatting.

For Etopia press 

The 15 above thanks to Jenna Scribbles

covers and formatting

 $75 for e-book covers

*NEW* to the list-
I don’t even remember where I gathered them all, but if you know of more, leave their names and sites in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!

JM Madden
http://jmmadden.com/ http://jmmadden.blogspot.com/

Taryn Raye
http://authortarynraye.webs.com/ http://tarynraye.blogspot.com/