Indie publishing

  • You need author photos but you’re camera shy!

    Need author photos but you're camera shy? Try this selfie photography course.
    You need author photos but you’re camera shy!

    The only time I ever felt comfortable in front of a camera was when I was too young to care.

    Once I hit adolescence, that awkwardness you see in pre-teens and teenagers was there. I was never happy.

    And this is true of many people.

    So what happens when you have a business or you’re an author and you need a professional headshot? Or even just a high-quality selfie? What do you do?

    If you have a real dislike of having your photo taken by others, you’re unlikely to look relaxed and happy.

    A professional photographer might know how to get you looking your best, but they cost money and you still have that fear of cameras.

    Maybe you don’t even believe a professional could make you look good.

    Low self-esteem and self-consciousness can really block someone from getting a professional shot in the first place.

    Of course, you have the option of taking a selfie.

    But what if you still hate the camera, still look awkward, and it’s still ten thousand deaths to take that photo?

    And even worse, you see great selfies from other authors, but yours somehow come out badly. You might wonder if they’re using filters – and it’s entirely possible.

    Then again, maybe they’ve learned how to use a mobile phone camera to best effect. They could have done it through trial and error. Or they could have followed a photographic influencer on Instagram or YouTube.

    There is a mountain of information out there for people too shy to have others take their photo.

    One interesting influencer on both YouTube and Instagram is Sorelle Amore.

    And the good news is that she has a selfie course called Advanced Selfie University.

    You have to sign up – the cost is fairly low – and you’ll learn about camera settings, lighting, posing (what works and what to avoid), clothing, and much more.

    Each lesson is only a few minutes at most. Then you can go off and try it out.

    There is a community of posters, leaving questions, answers, and comments.

    Among the comments, there are repeating themes of low confidence, fear of the camera, and not liking it when others take their photos. Their past experience has made them camera shy.

    The selfie course teaches them to be more relaxed in front of the camera, to take their time getting to know their best angles, to learn about the right colours to wear to flatter their skin tone, and so on.

    The course creates a safe space for people to experiment and post the results if they want – they don’t have to post anything.

    Seeing others struggle with self-image, unhappiness with their appearance, and self-consciousness in front of cameras shows that many suffer the same issues. You’re not alone.

    But the usefulness of taking great selfies goes beyond working on your confidence and self-esteem.

    It also goes beyond saving money on professional headshots.

    If you’re someone who would benefit from having high-quality selfie photos for marketing, this course will help you build up a good catalogue of images that might otherwise be pricey.

    And you can use these images on your author website, Facebook page, Instagram, Amazon page, Twitter, and more.

  • How IndieCat Editorial can help you

    How IndieCat Editorial can help you

    Does this sound familiar?

    You try so hard to write a kick-ass novel that will wow readers and get everyone talking. Then you go around in circles tweaking and rewriting. Because you need to get it just perfect! And for a while, your book genuinely seems to be getting better. Then you lose a subplot or a character falls out stage left.

    Now you’re demoralised and stressed out. Your manuscript has turned into a monster, complete with tentacles. (Where did all these loose bits come from?)

    You’ve struggled to find reliable beta readers. Maybe you’ve tried online writing groups only to feel intimidated or frustrated because some of the advice just seemed plain wrong or contradictory.

    Unfortunately, serious indie authors and those hoping to submit to agents will always struggle with polishing their work. Everyone does, including seasoned professionals.

    Indie writers don’t have a publisher to help

    When you have an agent and a publishing house, you have a team working to support you and your book. You can take confidence in trained experts making your book the best it can be.

    But when you’re publishing yourself or just starting out, you don’t have these things. Then, you’re often dependent on the conflicting advice of writing groups and beta readers.

    Worse, they’re not trained to spot underlying problems, let alone anticipate the way different fixes impact one another in a manuscript. Because when you change one thing it can have a knock-on effect on everything else. Other writers or beta readers can also base their advice on how they would have written the book if it was theirs. That’s not the kind of advice you want. Because it’s not their book, it’s yours.

    You need someone who will respect your author voice and intentions.

    How developmental editing helps you

    That’s where developmental editing comes in. Developmental editing, also known as structural editing or substantive editing, is the first round of editing. This is where a professional assesses the big picture issues in your manuscript. They look for plot holes, structural problems, slow pacing, weak characterisation, and more.

    Think about it – how often have you given up on a novel you were reading because the story didn’t seem to be going anywhere or the characters were two-dimensional? A developmental edit highlights issues like this and allows you to fix them. Developmental editing takes your work to a whole new level.

    If you want to try out a developmental edit or manuscript, I offer a free 2,000-word sample edit. You can contact me at karen@indiecateditorial.com or check out my services page.

    Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

  • Why your book cover design matters

    Why your book cover design matters
    Why your book cover design matters

    If you’re an indie author and you want to attract readers, your book cover design really matters. It’s one of your most important marketing tactics.

    Why?

    Have you ever gone into a bookstore and felt overwhelmed by all the books to choose from?

    What motivates you to pick up an unknown book?

    Snappy or intriguing title? Or were you attracted by the cover image? Did it call to you to investigate further and check out the back cover blurb?

    Cover design is the magnet that draws the eye and piques curiosity. It can draw attention even from the other side of a bookstore. Even from a distance, when you can’t yet read the author’s name or the book’s title.

    And that’s why your book cover design matters.

    Of course, book covers accomplish other things too. They indicate genre, age group, connect to existing trends, even hint at the story’s atmosphere (creepy, suspenseful, erotic).

    Cover art speaks to emotions – and this is important in marketing.

    There are genres where speaking to emotions is particularly important – romance being the primary example. But you might be in the mood for something suspenseful or creepy. Horror and thriller covers also speak to a potential reader’s emotions.

    The style of the cover might connect to a particular subgenre or resemble the cover art on a more famous book. This is a way for publishers to indicate fast that if you like those other books in this category, you’ll probably like this one too.

    With so many books to choose from, a design department has to come up with ways to make it easy for the right readers to find their book. The cover art offers visual clues. The book’s title might also offer clues.

    Your book needs to stand out from the crowd. In a saturated market – and this is particularly true on Amazon – you need people to see that your book exists. And that it looks professional, intriguing, exciting.

    If the cover is plain and offers no hints about the genre, someone browsing on Amazon is likely to ignore it.

    Book buyers are accustomed to helpful cover design – covers that act as filters for what they do and don’t like.

    The cover design should attract the right readers. It should never trick people into thinking the book is something it isn’t.

    For example, you wouldn’t put a historical couple embracing on the cover of a modern horror novel. If a reader buys the book on the basis of the cover alone, they are going to feel cheated.

    Also, if the cover art and design are subpar, it will be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

    Furthermore, if the design is poor, potential readers will likely draw conclusions about the overall quality of the book, including the story, characterisation, formatting, etc.

    A good cover shows the writer has taken a professional approach to their work. But it also allows the writer to better compete with traditionally published authors.

    If your book looks like a traditionally published book, it’s more likely to draw readers.

    As well as using high-quality cover art, you should ensure your covers look good as thumbnails because this is how they will appear on sites like Amazon.

    Equally, you need to make sure your fonts match your genre and cover design, and that the text is clear and readable both at full size and in thumbnail.

    Most people cannot produce great cover art or choose the right fonts for their own books.

    Even people with design skills can do a bad job because cover art and what works for the market are not their specialties.

    Also, cover art should be chosen on the basis of what appeals to readers rather than what a writer might want. This might seem annoying, but if you want to attract sales, you have to put yourself in the place of readers.

    It’s worth doing quite a lot of research on your genre, particularly in relation to the newest styles and what the traditional publishing industry is producing.

    Design departments in publishing houses have experts who know what they’re doing. If they’re following a particular trend, you can jump on board.

    Indie authors who want high-quality book covers have a number of options. You can hire designers for bespoke covers, or you can visit a site that is selling premade cover art. In the case of the latter, the fonts are already in place. You just need to change the title, author name, etc.

    Some premade cover art sells for hundreds of dollars, but there are decent covers for well under $100. If you only want an ebook cover, the price is lower. If you want a back cover for a print edition, you’ll have to pay more.

    Likewise, if you want to add in banner advertising, and ads for specific social media sites, that pushes the price up further.

    However, a streamlined set of marketing images to use on multiple platforms is a great professional look that will help you stand out from the crowd.

    Sites providing premade covers

    Please note – I have not tried any of these services, so I cannot recommend them. They are just examples of the kinds of sites out there.

    Premade Ebook Covers

    Book Cover Zone

    Probook Premade Covers

    The Book Cover Designer

    The Artful Cover

    Self Pub Book Covers

    Kingwood Creations

    Other IndieCat blogs you might like

    How to order the stories in a collection

    Wasting your money on a copyedit or proofread?

    Don’t make this mistake on your author website

    So indie authors aren’t real authors?

    When dialogue ruins your scenes

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

  • Wasting your money on a copyedit or proofread?

    Wasting money on a copyedit or proofread?
    Wasting your money on a copyedit or proofread?

    There’s a problem I’ve encountered with a number of my developmental editing clients.

    They paid for a copyedit or proofread of their novel or memoir and only then sent their manuscript to me.

    Why?

    I think there are a number of reasons:

    • Writers don’t always know the correct order of editing (which I deal with below).
    • They got a copyedit/proofread but it was later suggested they needed a critique too. Ouch! Money wasted.
    • They published the book (without a critique) and then needed to pull it to improve it.
    • The copyeditor/proofreader wasn’t honest about the type of editing that was needed.
    • The copyeditor/proofreader was honest but the client ignored it for any number of reasons.

    I’ve also noticed that some clients are sending me formatted books that are still early on in their development.

    This can sometimes make the editing a little more difficult.

    It’s best to send manuscripts with double-spaced text, but some people are sending single-spaced documents that already look like ebooks. Not so much space to leave margin comments.


    Are you wasting your money on a copyedit or proofread?

    Developmental editing requires rewriting parts of the book.

    You might have to restructure the book, change parts of the plot, delete scenes or chapters.

    If you have the book copyedited first, you’ve totally wasted your money because you’re going to have to have the book edited again, once the developmental editing is complete.

    Here is the editorial timeline:

    • Critique partners/writing groups/beta readers.
    • Professional beta readers if you choose to use this service.
    • Developmental editor – either a critique or a full developmental edit.
    • Line editor/copyeditor.
    • Proofreading is the final stage to check everything is correct and spelling and formatting are consistent, etc.

    You don’t have to go through every layer of editing here. You could choose the following:

    • Writing group/critique partners
    • Manuscript critique
    • Proof-edit

    This would be cheaper though it wouldn’t be as detailed. Still, if you’re on a budget, it’s worth bearing in mind.

    There is absolutely no point in paying for copyediting and proofreading when you’re still working on the plot and bigger picture issues.

    Seriously folks, don’t do this.

    Some of my writers have completely wasted time and money on copyeditors and/or proofreaders. Indie publishing already has costs. Don’t make it more expensive than is necessary.

    You want the best book you can deliver to readers, but you also don’t want to get ripped off in the process.


    Want to try a free sample developmental edit?

    I’m currently offering a free sample edit of 2000 words. This will include an editorial report and track commenting in the margins of your manuscript. If you’re interested, you can contact me at: karen@indiecateditorial.com

    The manuscript should be in Word. I will consider a pdf or Google doc, but please let me know first if you can’t provide a Word doc. It’s the standard file format for developmental editing.


    Other IndieCat posts you might find useful

    Social media blockers

    Don’t make this mistake on your author website

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

    How to order the stories in a collection

    Why your book cover design matters