The Business of Words: The Art of Books

Yesterday, I attended the Business of Art event, in Peoria. I knew from the promotional materials that writing was not included as an Art but, as expected, I did learn a few things. In particular, I learned from Jenna Scifres that I really need to up my game when it comes to social media.

I want to whine that it is challenging for a writer to create behind the scenes video of what we do. It isn’t going to be very interesting if I post screenshots of text, right?

Actually, that isn’t true. I can think of all kinds of things I can video, or upload as still photos.

Like someone recently asked me what I do with my thumb drives. I can answer that both in terms of what I store on them and how I keep from losing them. And, I can talk about where I use them and how I organize what is on them. Believe me, I can actually make that interesting.

Jenna photographs her tools and how she uses them. I could certainly photograph the tools I use. I use a plethora of databases and writing techniques that, believe it or now, would photograph well.

My art of Writing was overlooked by the Business of Art event. This year.

I am dying to replicate the event from the viewpoint of the writer. Writers are artists. Writing is an art.

Writers also need art. The writer who can create an artistic dust jacket is rare. I have never found the courage to even try. I opt instead for cookie-cutter jackets, sometimes decorated with my own photographs. Anything to escap

But, when I teach self-publishing, I fill the room with books. We look at books. We examine books. We talk about how graphic artists, photographers and artists of all kinds add value to books. With the exception of the artist who is self-publishing their own work, books need art.

I recently discussed this in my six-part series on the six hats a self-publisher wears. The one place where self-publishers skimp is on the art of designing a book, inside and out.

Nearly every print-on-demand publishing concern offers templates anyone can use as book covers. I have seen artists selling book covers, independently from book content. Yes, even for self-published books. And why not? Jacket designers have long been employed in the book industry.

People who love books love well-designed books. I fell immediately out of love with digital publishing as soon as I saw the original eBook reader. It was as elegant as a typewritten page. There was no style, quite literally. (That’s a pun for anyone who knows that text Styles are the key to creating beautiful books!)

There is room for style, design, creativity in all self-published works. I would even contend there is a dire need for it. A book—any book–is more than words.

The glut of self-published works are creating books that all use the same margins, fonts, headers and footers. Their covers are exactly the same except for maybe a random original photograph. Most self-published books (I venture to say without researching the statistics) are published in monotone black-and-white. With no art, whether it be graphic design or photographs or original art, there is no need for color. Black text on a white background is sufficient.

I cry fowl! I crave beautifully designed books. I crave books with original design.

I crave Art when I look at a book. I expect it to be there. Nay, I demand it.

I was disappointed that my entire area of Art was overlooked by the Business of Art this year. Maybe it will be different next year, or maybe I just need to create the Business of Words.

#Self-PublishingGuru

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Self-publishing: hat #6

Every self-publisher wears six hats. Six. It’s not an option. That’s how it is.

  1. Writer
  2. Editor
  3. Graphics
  4. Technical Layout Designer
  5. Marketing
  6. Coordinator

Even if you plan to provide self-publishing services for others, you need to know the process. You need to wear six hats.

Hat #1: Writer

Hat #2: Editor

Hat #3: Graphics

Hat #4: Technical Layout Designer

Hat #5: Marketing

Hat #6: Coordinator

There is a sixth hat that is more important than the other five. This hat sits on the head of the coordinator.

Someone has to keep track of the details. Someone needs to keep the projects rolling while adhering to print specs.

Work flow

Someone needs to manage the work flow. What is your revision process?

Are you familiar with digital commenting? Perhaps, more importantly, is your client familiar with Track Changes? Are you prepared to teach them?

Meeting print requirements

Each self-publishing company has specific requirements for color mode, pixel rate, alignment, fonts and book layout. Some companies allow for full-bleed, while others do not. There is a myriad of book layouts print sizes, paper weight and cover options.

Someone needs to confirm that graphic resolution is appropriate. If it is not, don’t take short cuts.

Defining Done

Before you begin, define how you will know when you are done.

How many revisions will you make for free? What action marks a project done? What would constitute a new project, versus reasonable revisions of the initial project?

Contracts

If you agree to create a photo book of images you photographed or graphics you created, who owns them? Can your client sell them? Can they reprint them? Can they give them to other people to reprint? Or, do you have a contract entitling you to royalties if the images are duplicated?

Who owns your book? What does the self-publisher say? Do you retain the right to re-publish elsewhere? Can you publish the same book in digital format?

A contract is essential. It can be simple. But, it needs to be thorough.

Sometimes the contract just needs to be with you. You need a deadline. You need commitments to each of the Six Hats whether you wear them all yourself or subcontract to others.

Six hats. One book. Let me show you how.

Register now. I’ll see you on January 26.

Writing. Let’s do this thing.

 

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Self-publishing: hat #5

Every self-publisher wears six hats. Six. It’s not an option. That’s how it is.

  1. Writer
  2. Editor
  3. Graphics
  4. Technical Layout Designer
  5. Marketing
  6. Coordinator

Even if you plan to provide self-publishing services for others, you need to know the process. You need to wear six hats.

Hat #1: Writer

Hat #2: Editor

Hat #3: Graphics

Hat #4: Technical Layout Designer

Hat #5: Marketing

Marketing begins before the project takes shape. Whether you are marketing your skills to clients or whether you plan to self-publish and sell a book, you need to market.

Who is your customer? How do you reach them? What are their expectations?

You will get lost on the internet. Finding your niche, your customer base, your outlet is a challenge for anyone. Reportedly, a year ago, in February of 2016, it was announced that only 40 self-published authors “make money.

Most self-publishers do not have $70,000, like Meredith Wild, to invest in a full-fledged marketing campaign. Most self-publishers manage their own marketing.

Regardless, you need a marketing campaign. You need a plan. Only in the movies can you build it and people will come.

CONCLUSION

Six hats. One book. Let me show you how.

Next time …Coordinator

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Building a book

Writing a book is about more than writing a book. We treasure books. We understand how to read books. A book is more than words. It can, and should be, an interactive experience.

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Lulu Author Ray C. Freeman published the FIRST EVER Augmented reality pop-up book! His book features virtual three-dimensional artwork by eighteen artists. Learn more about Ray’s book Pop Up (AR)t A Technology Enhanced Publication here: http://ow.ly/1kCo300zNKx

 

 

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Lulu Author Suzanne Conboy-Hill’s new book Let Me Tell You a Story is geared towards individuals with literacy difficulties. Her book is a collection of short literary fiction and poetry, exploring themes of relationships, disability, loss and vengeance. All sound tracks are accessed by scanning an QR code. Lulu is proud to be part of this wonderful project! . Learn more here:http://ow.ly/LK59300CoLF

hackFieldtrip! Making a QR code is easy and younger people love them. I used QRcode Generator. There are several out there but this is one that lets you create something more decorative than the traditional black-and-white QR code.

tfwf.png

You just type in your web address and your QR code is generated. You can alter the shape 14 different ways and choose colors for foreground and background. You can embed your logo in the center. Mine is a big long so it isn’t as pretty as it could be. Save it. Use it like any graphic. People scan it with their smartphone, using any QR code scanner. Your website pops up. You can direct QR users to a specific page, or to your website. In my case, I used my WordPress blog instead of my website. Have fun. Share yours! I’d like to see your QR code!

You can do really interesting things with books. Self-publishing has moved way beyond what your local copy shop can handle.

Yes, I am biased. I prefer Lulu. I admit it. I don’t work for them. I publish through them for myself and others. They offer hardcover and other options you just can’t get from other publishing companies.

#lulurocks

#thinkfastwritefast

 

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Gimme a pipe

One unresolved self-publishing issue is pipes. Browse an old copy of PC Magazine from 1993 and you’ll see that the pipe concept has been around for a long time. Basically, for those who don’t want to click-and-read, it’s a method of moving digital information from one place to another.

Whether you are self-publishing for someone else, or hiring someone to self-publish for you, pipes matter. How do you get your information into the cyber bookstore?

The person who will receive the royalties needs a self-publishing account. That person sets up their tax information, designates what account should receive the royalties, and a host of other bits of data.

The person who actually uploads the content of the book and the book cover needs access to that same account.

So if you hire someone to format your file for any kind of a book, they need to have access to your account. If you are an author, do you really want to give your Createspace or Lulu password to someone you hire? The author’s account contains credit card information, which is actually pipe in from CyberSource.com.

Once a client accesses an author’s Createspace account they have full access to edit the account so that all royalties are deposited in the client’s account, instead of the author’s.

Someone needs to invent a way for editors and layout personnel to access a self-publishing author’s account without giving them full credit card, and other payment, access.

As editors and design staff, we need to inform authors that they need to help us advocate to protect their payment data.

No client has ever asked if I am bonded before giving me their passworded information. They don’t ask for legal contract wording to protect them.

I am concerned about the liability on my part. How do I protect myself? If uploaded data is less than perfect, I need to see the online viewer only accessible via passworded access.

All self-publishing companies need to address this issue.

How do you handle this? As an author, do you give out your password to editors and layout providers?

As an editor or designer, do you log in with authors’ passwords?

#pipesmatter

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It’s About Us

I edit nonfiction more often than fiction. There are rules for editing both and not just because some people like rules. The rules exist to make reading easier.

I was recently editing a book for a writer who frequently mentioned the names of companies. Part of the rationale, no doubt, is to capitalize on SEO. So many Short Reads, in particular, are thinly-veiled advertisements. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But, if you are going to namedrop, you need to drop the correct name, spelled correctly. The easiest way to know if you are using the name correctly and whether you are using it legally is to refer to the company’s website.

No S

Comb through the Nordstrom website. Does it look like I spelled that name wrong? I have meticulously combed through the Nordstrom website and the company never uses the spelling “Nordstrom’s.”

It’s simple to find this information. It’s on the company’s About Us page. If you’re still not sure, look for a Press Release section. Nordstrom always says Nordstrom.

05/16/16 Nordstrom Brings 1,600 Jobs to Toronto for Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Stores
05/15/16 34th Annual Nordstrom Beat the Bridge Race Results
05/12/16 Nordstrom Reports First Quarter 2016 Earnings
04/28/16 Nordstrom to Report First Quarter 2016 Financial Results on May 12

How do you spell Ray-Ban? The company hyphenates it and capitalizes each word.

Book layout

Speaking of Ray-Ban, if you need a photo of sunglasses, it is illegal to copy one from their website and print it in your book.

How do you know? Well, first of all, you should assume that it is illegal. But, Ray-Ban makes it perfectly clear on their terms of use. Copying images and citing the source is not sufficient. Don’t do it unless you have permission, in writing, from the company. The company often doesn’t own the artwork. They have likely purchased it or hired the photographer and have a legal agreement with the photographer or artist not to give away the artwork for other people to use in for-pay publications.

There may be exceptions, for educational purposes. But, be sure to read the copyright permission, as posted on the website or available directly from the company.

copyrightInfo

Give credit. How do you know how to credit artwork? The website often explains the rights and cost of use, for how long, in what kind of publication and in what part of the world. In the above example, the rate varies based on use.

upclose

That seems like a lot to keep track of but it isn’t. Photographers and artists often embed the ownership inside the image. It is your responsibility to know that and to give credit where credit is due.

hack Need to copyright your images? Need to know if an image is copyrighted and by whom? Open the file in Photoshop and open File/File Info. No, I didn’t stutter. That’s really the menu option. There is a Copyright section where the owner or creator can add as much copyright info as they need or choose.

tonyFrench

Play nice. You wouldn’t like it if someone made money or a reputation on your words without compensating you. Support the arts community.

#thinkfastwritefast

 

 

 

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LinkedIn for authors

The whole concept of LinkedIn has escaped me for a long time. For one thing, I’m not a twentysomething. I’m not even a thirtysomething, although I am old enough to remember when the tv show premiered. (You do know that was when the term was coined, right?)

I am a freelancer. I am not looking for a job.

I had a brief debate with my Facebook friends about whether or not I should bother with LinkedIn. I waffled. I decided to do what I usually do: I decided to experiment and give it a try.

It’s been an interesting experience. I have a certificate from a program at the University of Southern Maine that no longer exists. I earned my bachelor’s degree from a college that is now a university, complete with name change.

I don’t even bother putting all my experience online. I participated in a strawbale-building workshop for women. We learned to build a house with strawbale. It was great. I’m glad I did it. I don’t anticipate ever doing it again and I am not going to list it as experience on LinkedIn.

I talk about it because it is interesting and humorous, especially since we learned that if you don’t square the door frame you have to take it apart and do it over again. And, it was hard enough to build the first time.

Just for the record, it didn’t happen because we are women. It happened because it was a learning experience that probably every builder goes through at some point.

The thing I have learned most about LinkedIn is that, once again, business is about conversation. It’s simple. Talk to people. You can do that. You’re a writer, right?

I always thought only “important people” posted original content on LinkedIn. Everything else was just the rest of us reposting things.

That’s not what works. Here’s what is worthwhile. Talk to people. If you repost something, say why or give an opinion. I have been hired for more for-pay projects as a result of conversations than from all the paid ads in the world.

I learned something else. Writers list their publisher, or self-publisher, as their employer. It never once occurred to me to do that.

Ever the curious one, I’ve been trying to figure out whether that is wise. Does it help? What do publishers think about it?

So far, I have only had one personal message with a CEO of a self-publishing company. (Did you KNOW you can privately message people on LinkedIn?)

I warned him I might quote him. Besides, a newspaper editor once told me that there is no such thing as “off the record.” I don’t know if that is legally true but it gets your attention, right?

Anyway, I asked Nigel Lee, CEO of Lulu.com, what he thinks of the practice. He agreed that it was a good question. He said, “I’m supportive of our authors who do so if it helps them appear more credible or supports them in any way in being more successful in pursuing their dreams.” He also pointed out that LinkedIn doesn’t offer any other mechanism for describing your relationship to your publisher.

Still unsatisfied, I went on a fieldtrip. I like fieldtrips. Once again, I invite you to participate. Search for authors you know on LinkedIn and see what they do.

I was a little surprised to discover that Dean Koontz is employed as an Author at Collins Harper. My favorite writer, Dinty W. Moore, is apparently not on LinkedIn. Me? I just call myself a self-employed freelancer.

hackFor kicks, search for “author” on LinkedIn. At present, there are 237,773 results for author. I am not going to check each and every one to see who considers their publisher to be their employer. Just in case you wondered.

As usual, there doesn’t appear to be a rule.

Does it help? Does it not help?

I’m not sure it matters.

It is all about the conversation. Personally, I believe that discussing publishing and talking about what I write or how I write or who I write for is probably of more value than listing each publisher I have published through.

Business is a conversation. What do you say?

#thinkfastwritefast

 

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Lulu self-publishing: splitting the difference

Academic publishing is innately different from all other publishing, just as the academic world, in general, is different. The primary difference is the sharing of information. Or, not.

I have worked in both the private business sector and for universities. In the private sector, business is all about competition. Business competes for customers and employees alike. Innovations are protected. Ideas become an employer’s property. Instead of information becoming power, the ability to hide information becomes power.

The academic world is a different culture. Faculty often collaborate with their peers at other universities in a way that would prompt a meeting with corporate attorneys in the business world for one simple reason. Generally speaking, faculty own their information. They own their research. They also know what the next step is and how to get there. Sometimes it requires collaborating with another mind on another campus. It often involves sharing information with grad students who will move on in a year or two.

That just doesn’t happen in the business world. One of the few and early exceptions was the Power PC. But, for the most part, business is about division and protecting trade secrets rather than sharing and evolving them.

Except at Lulu. But, then, business is a little different at Lulu.

One of the features Lulu offers is a revenue split. A revenue split is the perfect way for creators to each receive their share of royalties. When a book project is created, an author can add accounts for others who worked on the same project.

split

As books sell, Lulu handles the paperwork and pays royalties via PayPal or check to each coauthor. I hope that, when Glass Tree Academic Publishing, goes live they will include this feature.

But, who do you share creator revenues with? Anyone you want. If you want to split a portion of the royalties with an illustrator, just set them up with an account. Or, it can be one or more coauthors.

I’ve looked closely at Createspace and Amazon Business and don’t see a way to split revenues automatically. But, then, they follow a different model. One that doesn’t cater to the academic world.

As always, think outside the box.

#thinkfastwritefast

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Serially, folks

Lists. They are everywhere on the internet. 7 Ways to Do This and 15 Ways Not To Do That. Are they effective?

I have created several series. The first was a few titles in Holly Lisle’s 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About… series.

I revisited the series concept when I wrote for Genealogy Today. My first series for GT was about databases. I happen to love a good database. But, I discovered that most people leave a lot of the fields blank when they use a database software program like Live Roots™ and so on.

Those fields are important. Let’s say you find two different people with the same name as your grandfather in one of the census enumerations. If you know that grandpa was a jeweler, then he probably wasn’t a coal miner or a chimney sweep. So, it can be really wise to fill in all the blanks.

As databases are shared more online, I found the issue even more frustrating. I would find really good data—but some piece of information would be missing. I really wanted to see a complete profile for every single person.

I wrote a dozen articles about databases, in serial format. Even as you read this, dear readers, I see some of your eyes glassing over.

Yes, I needed to generate some enthusiasm for reading the series. So I came up with “The Compleat Genealogical Database” and wrote a separate article on the 12 most common fields that really should contain data.

The Compleat Genealogical Database: Legal Events
The Compleat Genealogical Database: Property Ownership
The Compleat Genealogical Database: Death Data
The Compleat Database: Life Events
The Compleat Database: Education
The Compleat Database: Cultural Affinities
The Compleat Database: Citizenship Matters
The Compleat Database: DNA and Health
The Compleat Database: Non-traditional Relationships
The Compleat Genealogy Database: Compleat Names
The Compleat Genealogy Database: Names
The Compleat Genealogy Database: Religious Affiliations

Later, I wrote another series on The Genealogy of Communities. The focus there was on different groups of society, like logging camps. Yes, really. You can find the names of people who lived and worked in logging camps. That just might explain why 20-year-old Bobby was missing from the census that year. He was off in the wilderness felling trees.

The Genealogy of Communities
Genealogy of Communities: Logging Camps
Genealogy of Communities: Fishing Camps
Genealogy of Communities: Seminaries and Other Educational Communities
Genealogy of Communities: Indian Reservations
Genealogy of Communities: Prisons
Genealogy of Communities: Asylums, Hospitals, and Sanitariums
Genealogy of Communities: Prostitution
Genealogy of Communities: Faith-Based Communities
Genealogy of Communities: The Utopias
Genealogy of Communities: Intentional Community in the Next Century

So, what’s the point of a serial?

Serial readers. You want to keep your readers reading.

Tell me more.

In the articles I wrote, I had a process. I would list my topics ahead of time, before I ever started writing.

I am not that particular about the number of topics. There may be something magic to the number 7 or 13. But, I don’t actually do a count. I have read some research on this subject and have yet to read anything that says a specific number guarantees readers. I am more concerned with being thorough.

The Genealogy of Communities, had a nice flow. It began with an article that introduced the series. The name of that article became part of the title for every individual article. That way, if anyone remembered the words Genealogy of Communities and wanted to find my articles again, they could Google Genealogy of Communities.

As I wrote each article, I created a link to the previous one. That way, I could guide any reader to the previous article, just in case they started in the middle of the serial.

It’s possible to mention what your next topic is, as you are writing. But, you don’t usually have a live link to add yet. But, you can add a live link to the previous article.

When I finished the series, I went back to every single article and added live links to every article in the series. I was just being thorough.

Other Articles In This Series: 

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.

 

I am a practical writer. I wanted to link to the article before and the article after each one. But, I also wanted readers to know the entire list of articles and how to find them.

The value of a serial is to keep readers reading. Not only do you need to add new material, you need to make sure your readers can find it.

Binge-watching

Binge-watching has had an impact on society. It is a new way of presenting the serial concept in one big dose. Instead of waiting for a weekly edition—and maybe missing it—now we can watch at our leisure. A new innovation is the release of an entire season all at one time. Order up the pizza and send all calls to voicemail.

A lot of writers create series. Readers like the characters or the story or the topic, and they want more.

Generally, writers release one book, make a big splash, go back to writing, release another…. But, recently, as a guest at a meeting of Writers on the River, in East Peoria, Illinois, I was surprised to hear author Amanda Meredith say that she prefers to wait until all of the books in a series are complete before she releases the series.

I think Amanda may be ahead of the curve. What’s good for Netflix is good for… writers?

wotrPhoto from Facebook. Writers on the River. Jessica Ann Clements, Amanda Meredith, Mandee Wallace Shanklin, Melinda Huff Bones,Anya Breton, Aly Grady and Judy Rosella Edwards ( a/k/a Think::Fast::Write::Fast).

 

hackAnother idea for a series is to repackage several monographs, like Amazon Short Reads, into a single volume as a collector’s edition. Maybe even sell it as a hardcover (yes, I’m talking about Lulu.com again).

Serial writing can be a good thing. It keeps readers on board. It can help you organize your writing. You have options: publish individually, or publish all at once for your binge-readers. And, you can still order out for pizza.

#thinkfastwritefast

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