Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guest Post: Best Selling Author J.B. McGee


Welcome to the Pearls of Wisdom Author Tour! Today's guest is Best Selling Author J.B. McGee, author of BrokenMending, and Conspiring (This Series), among other great titles. JB's advice in this post is super informative about the self publishing process. Read all the way through... And feel free to ask questions. 

J.B. McGee's Post: 

As a self-published author, I get asked a lot about the process of publishing your first book.  Honestly, for me, writing the book was the easy part.  I wrote Broken in two weeks.  Even being a computer nerd and graphic designer, the part that scared me was this new world of technology.  How would I find a reputable editor?  How would I turn this precious Microsoft Word document into an eBook?  I had never designed a cover.  I had no idea what size I needed to make it.  Maybe it was the graphic designer in me or the perfectionist, but I knew I didn’t want my book to look “indie”.So I have made three pearls of wisdom for you.  Because we are co-authoring a series,  J.L. Mac and I thought it would be nice to have our posts complement each other’s.  I hope these tidbits help you with your journey to becoming a published writer.    

1.   Treat your name like a business. I mentioned that I am a graphic designer.  Long before I ever wrote my first word, I was an entrepreneur.  I’ve run successful businesses and helped many others see their dreams  of running their own business come to fruition.  One of the best things you can do for yourself is treat your name like a business.  You are the brand, and your books are your products.  You are your own store.  Make sure that you act professionally, but more importantly, make sure that you have brand recognition.  I recommend finding a graphic designer that you work well with and sticking together.  Pick a couple of fonts that you like, at least three colors, and a pattern.  Make yourself a logo.  Use this theme on all of your promotional items, including graphics on the internet.  This will help people know that when they see that, it’s you.  First impressions mean everything.  Make sure yours are professional.  Make sure they are consistent, and make sure that you use them every opportunity you can.  I always say there is no such thing as too much good publicity.  

2.     Getting ready for publication

Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon.  Most people call it KDP.  Don’t be confused by KDP Select.  KDP Select is a 90-day program that you can sign up for when you publish.  It gives you select free days on Amazon and offers a few incentives.  But you must be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon during this 90 day period.  I am not saying this is a bad program, but think long and hard before you sign up for it as to whether it’s a good fit for you and your book.  Amazon utilizes the .mobi format.  You can preview it when you upload it into the system and even download a copy.  The cover size for Amazon is 1800px x 2700px. 

Smashwords:  Provided you don’t enroll into KDP Select, you will want your books in other retailers, especially Barnes & Nobles.  I initially used Smashwords for distribution to all other retailers.  It’s convenient to up load your book in one place and know it’s going to so many other places.  While it can seem convenient, I have discovered that without digital rights management to protect my work, some of the many places my writing ends up are piracy sites that give away my books for free.  Another downside is that although the books uploaded on Smashwords are available for download within the hour in most cases, the distribution to the premium catalog and other retailers can take weeks or even months longer. Because of this, changing prices to reflect sales and offering promotions can be incredibly difficult to organize and manage.  I do have my manuscripts available at Smashwords for download. You can also pick which retailers you would like to utilize in their premium catalog.  I recommend using all channels except Sony (Many authors have had trouble getting the pricing adjusted during sales), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and maybe Apple. 


Pubit.com is Barnes & Noble’s direct publishing website.  You can sign up for an account here much like you do KDP.  It’s very similar and easy to set up.  You will upload an .epub document to this site.  Take your Amazon cover and make the longest side 1400px while maintaining proportions.  Uploading to Barnes & Noble directly allows you greater freedom over pricing for sales and promotion.  It also will become available to your readers much more quickly.

Kobo’s website is kobobooks.com/kobowritinglife.  This is the easiest system to work with in regards to uploading books in my opinion.  You will also create an account here.  Your cover for Amazon will work nicely and your .epub that you used on Barnes & Noble is all you need.  

Apple is tricky.  If you have an Apple computer, you can sign up to be a publisher and download their Producer software.  If you don’t, then you can either use Smashwords, or you can use All Romance eBooks.  All Romance eBooks distributes the books once every two weeks.  You can upload a variety of formats to this platform.  I usually just do .mobi and .epub.  The cover for their site is 200px x 300px.  The cover for Apple will be 1400px x 2100px.  Again, just maintain proportions on your Amazon cover and change one of the sides.  It will automatically adjust the entire image for you.  If you don’t maintain proportions, your cover will be distorted. 

Paperbacks are done through Amazon at Createspace.  You must have a different format for this and a different ISBN number.  You aren’t required to have an ISBN for Amazon’s KDP, but at Smashwords you can get one for free for your eBook and use it across the other retailers.  I recommend always having an ISBN and copyright on your books. Createspace also requires a different cover image, a jacket (which includes the back and spine).  You can’t have this designed until your final format and you have an exact page count.  Createspace offers a free Cover Creator software.  I highly recommend that you do not skimp on your cover.  Remember, first impressions are everything.

3.  Being found and interaction. Lastly, you can have the best everything.  None of that will matter if no one knows who you are.  Make accounts on every social media outlet you can find.  Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.  Again, there is no such thing as too much good publicity.  You want your name plastered as many places as you can.  Especially if it’s free!  Make sure that you interact with fans.  You will have them.  Be nice to them.  Take time to talk to them.  Remember that even a person who writes a bad review still bought your book.  They are still a customer.  They still pay your salary.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, EVER.  Learn from your bad reviews and move forward to bigger and better things.  Don’t look back and wonder what you could have done differently.  Keep moving.  Keep growing and learning.  And most importantly, keep writing.


About J.B. McGee


J.B. McGee was born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina. After graduating from South Aiken High School, she toured Europe as a member of the 1999 International Bands of America Tour, playing the clarinet. While attending Converse College, an all-girls school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, she visited Charleston often. It quickly became one of her favorite vacation spots. She met her husband, Chad, during Christmas break her freshman year and they married in 2001. They moved back to her hometown. In 2005, the couple welcomed their first son, Noah. J.B. finished her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Carolina-Aiken in 2006. During her time studying children's literature, a professor had encouraged her to become a writer.In 2007, she welcomed their second child, Jonah, and she became a stay at home mom/entrepreneur. In 2009, they found out J.B. and their two children have Mitochondrial Disease. In 2011, a diagnosis was also given to Chad. Please take a moment and learn more about Mitochondrial Disease. Raising awareness is the key to this disease as it has no cure or treatments. J.B. McGee and her family now reside in Buford, Georgia, to be closer to their children's medical team. After a passion for reading had been re-ignited, J.B. decided to finally give writing a shot. The This Series is her first series.

Coming Soon
:
Forgiven ~  Coming April 19, 2013
Dig Deep, The First Book of The Deeper Series, co-authored with J.L. Mac ~ Coming May, 2013.
Falling, the companion novella to Conspiring  ~  Coming Early Summer 2013.
Blinded  ~  Coming Late Summer 2013.


Stay Connected with J.B.Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  Pinterest


I'd like to give J.B. McGee a huge thanks for sharing her pearls of wisdom with us today. I love this post, and feel like I just took a self-pub 101 course. This are great basics for anyone to get started.

Just to add a quick note on the Amazon exclusivity info... my suggestion is to always read the fine print. As an attorney I can tell you that there is nothing more important than to always know what you're getting into. Also, this is important as to timing because if you can't publish anything anywhere else, you will not be able to use these other great resources such as Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, and that can hurt your sales and availability. When you release a book it is super important to have all of these things that JB mentioned here. It is very important to have your book release on all of these mediums at the same time. That will guarantee that your sales numbers are higher and will enable you, or make it easier for you to get onto those best seller lists.

Happy writing my friends!
~Marisa