Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post: Best Selling Author J. L. Mac

Welcome to the Pearls of Wisdom Author Tour! Today's guest is USA Today and Amazon Best Selling Author J. L. Mac. Jaimi is the author with a marvelous book series titled Wrecked. The first book, WRECK ME, was self published and achieved great success hitting the lists and selling like hotcakes within a month of its release. I am now representing Jaimi's entire series and we hope to find this priceless work the perfect home to grow. Jaimi also has a number of other projects in the works. One of them is a co authored novel with Best Selling Author JB McGee. If you remember JB was our guest yesterday. Her Guest Post was like an awesome crash course on Self-Publishing 101. Because of their friendship and collaborations they have decided that their guest posts here would complement each other. So here is Jaimi's post also meant to help you publish successfully. I hope that you enjoy it!

Jaimi's Post:

I could sit here and lay out my advice in a nice neat, pleasing way but that simply is not my style. So I’ll tell you a few things I know like a normal person would if we were face to face. 

As an Indie author you venture down this road and bump along haphazardly until somehow you arrive at the end, usually intact. The ride can be crazy and stressful but oh so gratifying in the end. I can’t say that it is always work and no play because that would be a lie. For me, the most fun during the process of self-publishing is choosing my book cover.

If I had to break down the percentage that would represent the importance of each aspect of the cover between the image, title, and blurb, I’d say it’s 20% title, 30% blurb, and 50% image. The old saying about judging a book by its cover applies here. No pun intended. The fact remains that society as a whole is pretty damn shallow. Let’s be honest here. Sex sells... Every... Single... Time. 

People will always harbor a deep fascination with sex, money, danger and adventure. Excitement is the name of the game, and John and Jane Doe want in. You may be wondering why I am explaining this. I’ll tell you why. If your cover is boring, sub-par in quality, or does not really apply to the book; congratulations you’ve just sunk your own ship before it has even left port. As an Indie we face enough challenges. Don’t make the mistake of subconsciously sabotaging your success by not giving your book an amazing cover. 

That being said, here are my tips for choosing the right cover for your book... 

1.  Understand that stock photos are available to anyone and everyone. Often times the photo you choose may have been used at least once. Do your homework when you’ve found a photo that piques your interest. Check to see if anyone else has used it. It’s okay to reuse the same photo, but make sure to inform your graphic designer of the other covers and show them to him/her to avoid too much similarity.

     2.  Find a great graphic designer. Do yourself a favor and ask your designer how they create. Ask what their process is. JB McGee is the head honcho of The Indie Pixel Studio. Before she was a Best Selling author, she was a fantastic graphic designer. She has done all my covers and has a unique creative process. Once I relay the general plot to her she asks a few key questions. Once she has the information she needs I STEP AWAY. Many people make the mistake of hovering. Allow your graphic designer space to think and create. They are artists too. A great graphic designer can create magic for you if you don’t try to micromanage them. Give them a little freedom. Hear them out when they make suggestions and make every effort to work cohesively.

     3.  Have a vision for your cover and make sure to relay that vision accurately. Too often, an author comes to a designer without a defined vision for the cover of their novel. The designer is not a mind reader and can only guess so much. Don’t hop around from idea to idea. Make your decisions, picture the cover in your head and go for it. If you find yourself having trouble imagining your cover I am afraid that perhaps you have greater worries than a cover. If you can’t visualize what you want, you may want to revisit your manuscript. Reread it and make sure that you have a solid story that moves you. If you have that, seeing the cover should be easy.

4.  Choose a cover that you can stand by. Make sure that whatever you end up picking is one that you can be proud of despite what others say or think. It’s very difficult to change your mind in the Indie world. If you pay for a cover, then reveal it, then change your mind two things will happen. You’ll be out of more money and you will be confusing readers. Do it right the first time. Stick with it.

Never underestimate the importance of formatting. It’s simple really; women like pretty things. The most kick arse cover in the world will never make up for the fact that the inside is a big mess.  Make the inside of your book just as pretty as the outside. It’s amazing how small changes to your formatting can make a novel really stand out from the crowd. You will need to find a reputable, skilled formatter and they can give you more ideas on making those pages look snazzy. I personally use Fictional Formats.  It’s extremely helpful and important to be able to see a clear juxtaposition between all your media outlets and your book(s). The formatting selected becomes part of the branding.  For example; my twitter page matches my blog and my website. I have the same little symbol on the cover and on the inside of my books. These are small things that people begin to associate with me. I want someone to see my signature color scheme, style, and symbol and know that this must be J.L. Mac.

When it comes to marketing, anyone who has been a successful Indie author for any fair amount of time is a marketing genius capable of making it in corporate America.  Success comes from working hard to make a name for yourself. Sell yourself; your face; your name and your books. It’s a package deal. Be creative. Be willing to invest in your popularity. Find ways to draw the attention of your audience without clogging their news feed on social media. Be interesting. And for the love of literature, please make sure you have a nice author photo. No bathroom mirror cell phone pictures, please. That just screams unprofessional. No one will take you seriously if you won’t even take yourself seriously. Offer incentives for readers to buy your book. Momentum is key. 

Build on it and you’ll gain sales. It’s a fact of life that people can be bought. Take the movie Indecent Proposal with Demi Moore and Robert Redford, for example. He threw enough incentive wrapped in a pretty bow her direction and she couldn’t refuse. It’s a great example of what I mean when I say people can be bought if you do it right. Bait them, reel them in by being interesting, and hook them with a really great book, and voila! You’ve earned yourself a “fan”. This is invaluable information for a debuting Indie author. 

Finally, before you make a run for your therapist because you feel so overwhelmed; let’s talk reviews, specifically, about negative reviews.

Whether on Amazon, Goodreads, or someone’s personal blog a negative review feels awful just the same. It’s crappy across the board. The thing you must think about is whether or not you plan on reading these types of reviews. Everyone gets them regardless of popularity or publishing status. Indies and authors with publishing deals get reamed just the same. Some authors refuse to read reviews. Others read them with hopes to grow as a writer while trying to not allow the harsh words ruin their creative mojo. 

You’ll have to really examine who you are as a person to determine whether or not it is smart for you to read the things people say. I am a pretty thick skinned individual but there have been some reviews that sucked the creativity and drive right out of me. It’s worse than writers block. It’s more like writers coma. 

In short, negative reviews feel like crap. Make sure you can stomach them before you read them.

These things are my best advice to new Indies. I am proud to be in a community of such talented, driven people. It’s hard work self-publishing but beyond gratifying when you click that ‘publish’ button. 

Best of luck,
-J.L. Mac

About the Author: 
J.L. Mac is twenty-six years old and currently resides in El Paso, Texas, where she enjoys living near her parents and siblings. She was born and raised in Galveston, Texas, until she married her husband in July of 2005. She has two young children and is married to a soldier in the United States Army. J.L. and her family have lived all over the United States and have enjoyed each new experience in each new place. J.L. admittedly has had a long and sordid love affair with the written word and has loved every minute of it. She drinks too many glasses of wine on occasion,and says way too many swear words to be considered "lady-like." J.L. spends her free time reading, writing, and playing with her children.

About her book: 
Life can be cruel. People can be ruthless and evil. The world can be cold and uninviting. No one knows these things better than Josephine Geroux. By her own definition, she is a twenty-five year old “nobody with nothing,” and she is content to stay that way. Growing up an orphan has made her tough and indifferent to the people around her until she meets a strangely familiar man with a face that haunts her for reasons she can’t understand.

Despite the pain that will inevitably ensue, she makes it her mission to discover what parts of her tragic puzzle she is missing. On her journey to discovering why the she feels an alarming connection to an absolute stranger, her greatest fear is reawakening the demons and darkness from the past that will surely overtake her if she lets her guard down. 

Little does Josephine know that the past should be the least of her worries. She is toying with a man who has already broken her heart once. She just doesn’t realize it.
Although she makes it a point to avoid interactions with others, Josephine’s life becomes entangled with the enigmatic stranger. Before she realizes it, she has given herself over to the one person who is close enough to wreck her.

We'd like to give J. L. Mac a special thank you for sharing her pearls of wisdom with us. Check out her book Wreck Me and then you'll see what she means by a sexy cover... After reading it, you will probably agree with me that negative reviews is nothing she should be worried about. Well done Jaimi! Keep up the good work!

Happy writing my friends!


1 comment:

  1. As someone who self-published his first book, you are so right. A well designed cover -- not to mention the proper page formatting inside -- won't sell a book. But done incorrectly, they WILL sink it.