Self-Publishing, Wonderful World of Writing

Favorite Authortubers

My favorite thing to do while I’m getting ready in the morning is watching writing or self-publishing related YouTube videos. A lot of these videos have transformed my writing methods and have opened my eyes to different aspects of self-publishing. Today I’d like to share some of my favorite Authortube channels that I highly recommend subscribing to!

Abbie Emmons | Writers Life Wednesdays

Without a doubt, my top current recommendation for writing and self-publishing advice is Abbie Emmons’s Writer’s Life Wednesdays channel. I have yet to find a YouTuber who goes as in-depth into the different aspects of writing as Abbie does. My favorite thing about her channel is that she focuses on helping writers develop character-driven stories rather than the fundamental how-tos of writing. Abbie often explores the psychology behind how to make fictional characters jump from the pages, and each video teaches me more valuable lessons about the writing craft.

If you haven’t already, check out my interview with Abbie Emmons from her 100 Days of Sunlight blog tour!

Sarra Cannon | Heart Breathings

I discovered paranormal YA author Sarra Cannon’s channel, Heart Breathings, soon after I started watching Writers Life Wednesdays. Though I don’t typically enjoy the main genre Sarra writes, I absolutely love her videos on self-publishing and marketing (and her amazing notebook collection!!!). Though Sarra has sold over half a million books, she is humble and shares with viewers about the hardships she’s dealt with in the publishing industry as well. Whether you’re self-published, like notebooks and washi tape, or need some inspiration to write, Heart Breathings is the channel to watch!

K.A. Emmons | Author + Blogger + YouTuber + Dreamer

Sister of Abbie Emmons, K.A. Emmons is an indie author of The Blood Race series and offers unconventional yet super inspirational advice for writers. What I like most about her channel is that she often focuses on how writers (and creatives in general) need to be aware of and take care of their mental health. This is an aspect a lot of writing and self-publishing channels neglect, so watching her videos always clears my head!

Bethany Atazadeh | Bestselling Author, YouTuber, and Writing Coach

I recently discovered Bethany’s self-titled channel and instantly became a fan of the way she shares advice on writing and self-publishing. Bethany writes in a number of genres and often collabs with fellow YouTuber, Mandi Lynn. Though I haven’t watched much of her or Mandi’s channels yet, I look forward to watching more!

I also enjoyed watching Bethany’s Wander Writing Retreat Vlog featuring other Authortubers, so I aim to watch some of their videos in the future!

Brooke Passmore | bytheBrooke

Brooke is one of the Authortubers I discovered through Bethany’s Wander Writing Retreat Vlog. What I like best about Brooke’s channel, bytheBrooke, is that she is completely transparent with her writing struggles while also being hilarious. I relate to her a lot and have binged watched her videos lately! 😂


Talk to Me, Arrowheads!

Who are your favorite writing and self-publishing YouTubers? Share your recommendations in the comments! 🙂

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

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Book Marketing, Self-Publishing

Mental Health is More Important Than Money

Dollar signs. Six figure incomes while working from the comfort of your own home. Having your work beloved by thousands, dare say millions of paying fans.

That’s every author’s dream, isn’t it?

That’s what books and YouTube videos like to tell us. Experts on self-publishing claim that any indie author can improve their return on investment if they just follow these (insert number here) marketing steps. Other indies are able to do it, so why can’t you?

What those “experts” don’t tell you is that their secret recipe for success doesn’t work for everyone. Sure, some quick-tip books and videos may offer bits of sound marketing advice, but most of them fail to focus on the most important element: making our mental health a greater priority than the money we’re seeking to make.

MentalHealthMoney

You Can’t Take it With You

Making money is a top priority of indie authors for a variety of reasons. We may rely on it as a rainy day fund. We may want to earn money to put towards our children’s college education. Maybe we seek to quit our day-jobs and make a living off of something we enjoy doing instead.

But, in the end, our lives are short. We could spend the greater part of our lives hustling away, trying to snag dollars every chance we get, and end up missing out on so many other joys life has to offer.

Yes, as an indie author, I would love to make six-figures from my books someday. And yes, I work my tail off during my free time to get closer to that goal. But I’ve also fallen prey to the dark side of marketing the experts never mention. Those days where you have full-blown panic attacks because those proven marketing efforts aren’t working for your books. Those days where you have a terrible morning at your day job and you cry in your car at lunch because your books are commercial flops that will never provide a stable source of income.

Consuming marketing media can be a useful tactic for gaining information on making money as an author, but it fails miserably in teaching authors how to balance the expectations of marketing success with mental health. They tell you how to make money—the world’s perceived root of happiness—but neglect to remind authors that true happiness and fulfillment are not derived from a fat paycheck.

Because you’re high-strung from hustling to make your author career as good as it can get, you may have snapped at your loved ones when they interrupt your work flow. You may have had to say no to hanging out with others because you’re swamped with plans to grow your sales. When your significant other is sitting next to you, your mind may drift to anxieties of how to increase that royalty check.

Life is short, my friend. We’re not promised our next breath. We practically drive ourselves mad trying to prepare for the unknown future that we oftentimes take for granted who and what we have in our lives now.

Remember Scrooge in A Christmas Carol? He chased money for years, drove everyone who cared about him away, and lived a joyless life all because he was obsessed with monetary gain.

The only way Scrooge overcame his greedy nature was to have a come-to-Jesus meeting of sorts with his mentality through the help of the three spirits. He learned that the constant pursuit of money will leave you lonely and dead inside. And, as the Ghost of Christmas Future showed him, he couldn’t take it with him.

My fellow indies, I challenge you to take a deep breath and evaluate your current mental health state. Have your efforts to enhance your career been helping or hindering your happiness lately?

If you’re not happy right now, you’re not alone. Please know that you are a special creation of God and that your books are worth more than money. You have contributed meaningful art to the world, and it is perfectly fine to find joy in that alone.

Even if you’re not making a dime, if one person on this planet loves your book, even if it’s just you, you’re still a successful author. Keep writing.


How do you balance your mental health and book marketing? Please share in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads!

-Allyson 😀

Self-Publishing, Wonderful World of Writing

It’s Okay to be a “Slow” Writer

In today’s society, every aspect of our lives seems to run at hyper speed. We can communicate with someone with the tap of a screen. We can receive news within minutes after it happens. Likewise, in the realm of self-publishing, readers often don’t have to wait extended periods of time for the next book in a series to be delivered straight to their Kindles. In fact, they often don’t have to wait more than a month or two!

Due to the self-publishing strategy of rapid-fire series releases, many authors are feeling pressured to write faster in order to keep readers engaged in their series. Attention spans are shrinking due to the growing norm of instant gratification, so why not join the club?

You can’t rush art. -Toy Story 2

This is at least the third time I’ve quoted the toy repairman from Toy Story 2 on this blog, but the sentiment remains true in this situation. While I’m in no way against authors releasing books in a rapid-fire strategy if the books are backlogged (I actually think that’s a genius tactic), I’m wary of the practice of rushing to write and publish books back-to-back within the span of a few months. Though some authors can and have mastered the art of remaining quality prolific writers while publishing those titles as fast as possible, it’s not a tactic I recommend for most writers, including myself.

SlowWriter

For the same reason that I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo, I don’t think that writers should force themselves to complete their writing projects as quick as humanly possible. Granted, they may strike a fit of creative genius and crank out a mesmerizing first draft that requires minimal editing; however, they may also produce a hot mess manuscript that will require a heap of extra care to edit, care that may entail pushing the publication date back and skewing release plans. Or, the writer is stuck with a hot mess manuscript and chooses not to take the necessary time for edits, publishing said hot mess as is.

That’s a big no-no, my friend.

You see, as writers, as people who see the value in words and know how powerful they can be, I’m a firm believer that we should seek to publish high quality works over a heaping quantity of mediocre works.

As a reader, I would much rather wait a year or two for an author to release another book that I know will meet my quality standards than have them mass produce books that aren’t up to par because they didn’t receive enough time in the incubator so to speak, molding and growing into their full potential before being thrown out into the world. When readers buy a book, they’re expecting it to be as good as it can be when it reaches the marketplace. Readers will eventually see through those hyper-released hot messes and choose to spend their time and money investing in a more polished series.

The moral of the story is it’s perfectly okay if you’re a “slow” writer who takes more than a few months to write a book. There are positives and negatives of the rapid word count trend, so don’t let peer pressure overrule your writer’s heart. Choose the method that works best for you. You’re not any less of a writer if you take more time to finish your WIPs. Don’t beat yourself up for taking the time to make it the best it can be. Just write, and enjoy the process.


Whether it takes you two months or two years to finish your WIPs, you’re still a writer, my friend! Comment below and tell me how long it takes you to finish a manuscript, and if you’ve ever felt rushed trying to finish it within a short time frame?

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Self-Publishing

Debunking Indie Author Stigmas

If you’re an indie author, you’re most likely used to receiving an adverse reaction from some people when they find out you self-publish your books. Though they might not be rude enough to outright say it, a judging squint appears on their face. You’ll find out later that they opted to borrow your book from a mutual friend instead of risking their money on your little “DIY project”.

Been there. Suffered through that.

Granted, there are plenty of self-published authors who slap together a manuscript and cover, throwing it out into the world way before it’s ready. However, the vast majority of indie authors I’ve read have bottled their blood, sweat, and tears into creating their final product, and they deserve more respect for their efforts. In this post, I’ll debunk common stigmas indie authors face.

DebunkingIndieAuthorStigmas

“So, why aren’t you traditionally published?”

This is one of the top questions indie authors are asked. Though no one has ever asked me this (and I’m glad, because I find it kind of rude), to some people, you’re not considered a “real” author unless your books have a publishing company’s emblem on the spine and are sitting among best sellers at Barnes and Noble.

For a while, I actually believed this stupidity as well. Even after I published my first two books , I have felt like people are judging me when I tell them I opted to self-publish. Because of the stigma against self-publishing, there have been times when I felt like no one besides me is ever going to love these books because they are not validated by a publishing company.

It wasn’t until recently that I tried to teach myself to see indie publishing differently. In both indie and traditional publishing, amazing and amaetuer products are produced.

Stigma: Proofreading Mistakes

A few years ago, one of my favorite traditionally published authors released a new book. I received a first-edition hardback copy of the novel for Christmas. Or, what I’m guessing is a first-edition, because of the menagerie of spelling and grammar mistakes it featured. To be honest, I was appalled.

This is the kind of publishing preparation slip-up that indie authors get bad reputations for. But, truthfully, it has the same chance of happening in the world of traditional publishing. The only reason those authors careers aren’t tainted by the proofreading mistakes are because they are already established as a quality author. The overwhelming majority of us indies are sill trying to establish our careers.

Stigma: Horrendous Writing and Storytelling Skills

Let me lay down a glaring truth that is oftentimes ignored: just because a book is traditionally published, it does not mean that the writing is better than an indie book. That’s like saying you can only be considered intelligent if you have college degree. Think about it; aren’t there dozens of people throughout history who have made world-changing breakthroughs in a variety of subjects without the validation of a degree? The same concept just as easily applies to indie authors.

If you’re a voracious reader, I guarantee you’ve come across a traditionally published book that featured horrendous writing and storytelling. Maybe even enough to convince you to mark it as a 1-star read. Over the past year, the majority of books I’ve read have been indie published. Yes, there were some that I didn’t quite care for, but the vast majority of them were amazing stories that I would choose to read again. You see, the method of publishing books has absolutely nothing to do with the heart of the story.

Stigma: Homemade Means Horrible Quality

Similarly to the way people often judge homemade clothing items to not be as good of quality as that of an expensive name brand, indie authors’ books are judged for the same reason. Because we write and edit books ourselves, it can’t possibly be as good as Stephen King’s. Because we make the covers ourselves, it can’t be as eye-catching as Sarah Dessen’s. Because no traditional publishing house is paying to put it on shelves, it must be total garbage.

Lies. Lies. Lies.

If an editing team doesn’t put their all into making a debut traditionally published book pristine, it has the ability to flop. If a marketing team for a traditionally published book makes a huge PR mistake, it could ruin the book’s launch. If there is a defect in the cover design on a traditionally published book, it has the ability to screw up the process of mailing out pre-orders.

Literally all of the same release obstacles that traditional publishing houses face are experienced by self-published authors. The only difference is we’re not a team of industry professionals. We’re authors, cover designers, marketers, and editors all wrapped up in the same person.

I just wish more people could see it this way.


What social challenges have you had to face as an indie author? Let me know in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Self-Publishing

When It Feels Like No One Supports Your Writing

Writing and self-publishing are two of the most mentally and emotionally demanding tasks one can pursue, but are we authors the only ones who truly understand that? After laboring months upon months over your WIP to make it grammatically pristine and making sure it has a gorgeous cover to match, do you overhear snide remarks about your book being priced too high? Are you sick of scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and watching people make lucrative sales from jewelry, smelly-goods, and makeup while the same buyers pay no mind to the books you’re marketing? Do you agonizingly refresh your KDP sales page, praying one sweet soul will buy the novel you’ve labored over for years?

If so, this post is for you, my friend. You are not alone.

WhenItFeelsLikeNoOneSupportsYourWriting

Hype, But No Follow Through

When we indie authors finish our WIPs, we often celebrate on social media by posting that we *finally* finished the book we’ve worked on for months or years. And usually, that post receives a lot of hoopla. People we barely know will comment “so excited for you! I can’t wait to read it!” or “wow, I love your writing! I’ll buy it the day it comes out!”

And we as authors get stoked. We begin to think, If these 100 people who liked this post all buy my book when it releases, that’ll be the headstart I need to get my author career going! We’ve got our head in the clouds… until release week comes. We watch our sales page like a hawk, each tap of the refresh key killing our writer’s heart more and more.

Then the sweet hour comes when it finally loads the release day sales… and we’ve sold three copies. The entire week. And we know for a fact that only obligatory buyers (close friends and family) were the amazing souls who bought copies to not make us feel like complete losers.

So, what about all the others who were rooting for us all those months ago? What happened to those acquaintances who ask us when the next books will come out every time they see us? I mean, it’s not like we didn’t post about the release, share our blog tour links, and post quote graphics from the book to let them know, “HEY! IT’S FINALLY AVAILABLE!”

But, unlike that “my book is finally written!” post all those months ago, these posts are met with radio static. No one but our parents like these posts. But why?

The Reason

Is it because we suck at marketing? Is our book blurb that bad that no one wants to read it? We rack our brains day in and day out for a reason as we watch KDP sales remain stagnant at zero. It’s depressing. It makes us question whether to continue publishing books. It makes us question whether to continue writing at all. Why write if no one reads it?

It’s easy to blame ourselves for our unpopularity as an author. We didn’t try hard enough. We could’ve bought ads. We could’ve hired a professional blog tour coordinator. We could have… we could have… the possibilities are endless. But no matter how much money we spend on preparing for a book release, we can’t guarantee that any customers will come from it. No matter how much we market, we can’t guarantee that people we know in real life are going to act on their former promises. Why?

What I’ve discovered is that people like a show. People react to highs, and people react to lows. That middle area where you’re trying to climb back up to a high? They’ll clap as you place that first foot on the rock wall and then walk away when the real journey begins. And if you fall off the side of the cliff? Well, they’ll all run back, oohing and aahing as if they’ve been your biggest supporters the whole time, when they’ve in fact never supported you with anything but their mouths.

It’s the harsh truth. I’ve watched it play out time and time again. Sometimes, even for those who sell the jewelry, smelly-goods, and makeup I mentioned before.

What Should We Do?

As cynical as it sounds, there’s really nothing we can do. If you want to work harder to get your book noticed, then by all means, work harder. If all this effort for nought is making you miserable, then I don’t blame you for contemplating taking all your books down for good and mourning that fizzled out dream of being an author. I’ve considered it before.

But the possibility of holding physical copies of my future books keeps me going. I want a huge shelf in my house someday holding all the books I’ve written. I want to pass on a legacy to my future grandkids. Letting fickle people’s empty promises to support my books drive me into a depression great enough to throw my dreams away won’t show future generations that I was a dreamer. It’ll show them that I was a loser, the thing I wanted to avoid in the first place.

Yes, it sucks to go unnoticed as an author, especially by people you’ve grown up knowing in a small town where everyone knows everyone. But hey, I’ve always been something of an unnoticed shadow in this town anyway before my books were published. Sales or no sales, we need to keep at it. Even if we’re the only ones who end up reading our books.


I hope this post wasn’t too brash. I wrote this post back in December before my hiatus and wasn’t going to post it, but the negative feelings I referred to above reared their ugly heads again recently. I hope this helps other indies out there!

Later Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Self-Publishing, Wonderful World of Writing

Recognizing and Preventing Author Burnout

When aspiring authors first begin to scour articles on writing and the publishing process, they’re often drawn to the “sparkly” side of being an author: penning that best-seller, working with cover designers and making all that money. Like many aspiring authors, when I self-published my first novel in 2017, I was pumped to embark on the sky-high journey to accomplishment and stardom… but, there was a teensy problem. The road to becoming a best-selling author is not paved with golden, sparkly bricks. In fact, it’s difficult to find a well-groomed path at all. And in the midst of tearing through the internet to locate that sacred pathway to successful authorhood, I soon discovered the opposite: the dark and depressing lair of Author Burnout.

2018 was a difficult year for many, and within that nightmare of a year, I experienced two mild and one major case of Author Burnout, the latter leading me to take a month hiatus in December. Reflecting back on each of those three periods of Burnout, I’ve realized there were precautionary measures I could have taken beforehand to prevent a Burnout of that magnitude from occurring. Whether you’re an author aspiring to publish your books someday, or are a seasoned author with several books under your belt, I’d like to share some tips with you on how to recognize and prevent Author Burnout.

RecognizingAuthorBurnout

Recognizing Author Burnout

Symptom 1: Constantly Checking Stats on Social Media

For self-published authors, book sales stats, rating stats, and content view information are only a click away. Today’s society thrives on instant gratification, and if our books are doing well, then we’re on cloud nine. But then there are the days, or weeks, or months, where no sales roll in. It seems like everyone is turning their nose up at your books. You find yourself repeatedly refreshing your stats pages in search of something–anything–to validate your worth as an author. And once that sale shows up, or our blog hits its highest view count to date, we only hunger for more.

My friend, when you find that you’ve become addicted to checking your KDP reports, blog stats, and Goodreads Author Dashboard every day (or more than once a day), it’s a sure sign that you are deriving your value from your author platform. Yes, there will be spectacular months, but keep in mind that there will be no sales months. Your blog’s view count may vary drastically from month to month. Your book will inevitably receive a low star rating. And whenever these bombshells hit, you’re going to need a shield in your arsenal.

Prevention Method

If you find yourself addicted to checking your follower count, sales stats, and book ratings, I suggest restricting your access from these sites. Don’t check your Goodreads Author Dashboard, KDP reports, or Author Central on your phone. Make it a rule of thumb to only check these sites once a week or month.

If the struggle is beyond that and you find your heart rate increasing in anxiety whenever you look at those sites, don’t check them at all. Constantly checking stat sites for any sign of life and then finding your collective author rating has dropped has the potential to lead you to Symptom 2. Trust me, you can survive without knowing what readers think of your work. To be honest, you’ll be a lot happier.

Symptom 2: Increased Stress and Anxiety

When authors are so caught up on what readers think of our work, our creative endeavors become engulfed with a cloud of negative thoughts hanging over our heads: Will they like this? Will they buy this? Will it be worse than the last book?

When our creative voice is strangled by these thoughts, we face the beast that is Writer’s Block. We think we have good ideas, but hesitate from using them for fear of what the readers will think. We start losing sleep at night, laying awake wondering what we can write that will SELL. Every time we hold a pen in our hand or poise our fingers above the keyboard, ripples of anxiety overtake us. And, if we’re not careful, failing to combat this symptom will lead us to Symptom 3.

Prevention Method:

If Writer’s Block due to increased stress and anxiety over writing endeavors is looming over you, I suggest taking a short intermission (a day or two) and focusing on other facets of your life. Hang out with your family. Go on a special date with your significant other. Play a board game, pick up the guitar, watch a movie. Build an entire town on The Sims 2 *raises hand*. Do whatever you can for as long as you think you need (not in excess of a week) to refresh your mind. Then, go back and give writing a try. Nine times out of ten, this short intermission works for me, but if you’re still struggling, you may have:

Symptom 3: Decreased Interest in Work

The most notable symptom I had in the lead-up to my major case of Author Burnout was decreased interest in working on author projects… mostly this blog. After having poor sales from a recent release and having spent the entire month before on blogging efforts for marketing said book, I had no desire to even type up the handwritten drafts for blog posts and schedule them on WordPress. The longer this symptom was ignored, the more depression seeped in from the Burnout. The final straw was the first week in December, when I verbally lashed out at my boyfriend due to depression and anxiety I was facing over author stats. I seriously considered taking my books down for good, because I was tired of feeling so low. If you can relate to any of this, please adhere to this prevention method:

Prevention Method:

If you’re up to this level, take a hiatus. That’s right. Take a minimum of two weeks off from all author endeavors. If you have made low-demanding prior commitments such as a blog tour stop, it’s perfectly okay to contact the coordinator if you’re no longer feeling up to it. If you’ve already made a larger commitment, such as a deadline, talk to whoever you need to to have it postponed.

Your mental health is worth more than winning NaNoWriMo or reaching #1 in your genre. Your mental health is worth more than destroying yourself trying to sell books.

Know Your Worth

God did not call you to be an author to have you constantly worried over your “value” as an author. Your value as an author is IN GOD, because He equipped you with the necessary means to make you an author.

God did not call you to be an author just so you could let it beat you down. He has a greater purpose for you, my friend.

Most importantly, don’t assume that any mistakes you’ve made as an author will prevent future success from coming. You never know what God has up His sleeve for you, and you’re not capable of thwarting His plans.


Talk to me, Arrowheads! Have you experienced any of the symptoms above? How have you handled Author Burnout? Feel free to share in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Book Marketing, Self-Publishing

How to Make a Book Trailer in PowerPoint

Good afternoon, Arrowheads! One of the methods I use to market books is creating book trailers. When I was first looking into self-publishing, I noticed that a traditional Christian publisher had book trailers for authors on YouTube, and realized that could be a great marketing method.

But, I don’t have professional video making or editing software. Lucky for me, when I was in college studying for my Information Technology degree, I learned some tips and tricks in the Microsoft Office suite that have helped make promotional material for my books and blog.

Today, we’ll go through a crash course on how to make your own book trailer in Microsoft PowerPoint using free media resources online. Let’s get started!

howtomakeabooktrailerppt

Step 1: Selecting a Professional Background

For my debut novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl, I made a trailer for its initial release, and another when I relaunched the book with a new cover in July 2018.

A mistake I made when creating the original trailer for Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl was using a Microsoft PowerPoint backdrop instead of a professional looking image that highlights the book’s content. As you can see in the new trailer above, a picture of a blonde girl was selected for the background instead to portray the main character, Riley. If you want to use several different images, feel free to browse for more!

Sources for Professional Images

Where can you find professional images that are free to use for commercial use? My personal favorite is Pexels, but my sister, (who is a graphic designer), favors Pixabay. Either way, I highly recommend both.

Selecting the Images

Both of these websites have search features to aid you as you browse for your background image(s). For the book trailer, I recommend horizontal images. Once you find an image you love, click on the image, and you’ll be directed to the image’s detail page. Here you’ll find information on who uploaded the image, and what kind of sharing license it has. Photos marked with a CC0, or public domain license are what you will want to choose, unless you have a paid subscription to other photo sharing sites.

Click here to view the FAQ page for the CC0 Creative Commons license to learn more.

Though public domain images do not require those who use the photos to credit the photographer, I recommend that you do so to support the photographer and thank them for making their photos available as an act of courtesy.

If you’re satisfied with the image, click the Download button. Specify where you’d like the file to be saved. I recommend making a folder within your Documents or WIP project folder and naming it “Book Trailer”.

Creating the Book Trailer

Beginning and Setting the Background Image(s)

Now, open PowerPoint on your computer. I use Microsoft 365, so the tools in my screenshots may look different if you have an earlier version of Office. For the purpose of this tutorial, I’ll be sharing screenshots of the book trailer for my newest release, Speak Your Mind.

booktrailerppt-1

On the Title Slide, click the preset title and subtitle boxes on their borders, and hit the Delete key. We will not be needing these text boxes, as we’ll be adding our own later.

booktrailerppt-2

Click the Design tab near the top, and select the Format Background button. When a menu appears on the right side of the screen, choose the Picture or Texture Fill option. An Insert Picture From option will become available. To add your background picture, click File, and then browse to your Book Trailer folder to select your picture. Click OK.

booktrailerppt-3

Inserting Textboxes

Now that we’ve added our cool background image, let’s insert the textbox(es)! The textboxes on each slide will house your book description. It helps to have your book description saved in a Word document before beginning.

Each textbook will hold one phrase (up to the comma) of a sentence, or one full sentence. If you have longer sentences, I suggest breaking each phrase up into its own textbox. For Speak Your Mind‘s trailer, I just gave each whole sentence it’s own textbox.

To insert a textbox, click the Insert tab on the ribbon, and then the Textbox button. You will then need to draw your textbox on the background image below. To draw the textbox, click an area on the screen, and drag the cursor outward. When you’ve got it big enough for your liking, release the left mouse clicker, or your pressure on the trackpad. From there, click within the textbox and paste the first phrase or sentence of your book description. Then, you can change the font color, style, and size as you like.

booktrailerppt-4

Try to limit each slide to one or two full sentences per slide. To make it easier on you when you need to add more slides, right-click the first slide and click the Duplicate Slide option. This will provide you with an exact copy of the first slide that you can manipulate to add the next few lines of your book description.

booktrailerppt-5.png

Highlighting the Book

Once you’ve finished adding the book description, insert a new slide with a different background. Now it’s time to highlight the book! Once you have inserted the new background image, click the Insert tab again, and click the Pictures button. Navigate to the folder where your Book Cover image is saved, and select it.

Drag the cover image to where you want it on the slide. Next, insert a new textbox. In this textbox, type any promotional message you’d like. Because I made this book trailer for Speak Your Mind‘s release, I added it’s release date and where the book can be purchased.

Bonus Tip: If you save the single slide as a JPG or PNG file, you can double this PowerPoint slide’s use as a promotional image!

Adding Transitions, Animations, and Timings

Woo! So now you have completed the skeleton of your book trailer! Be sure to save the file in your Book Trailer folder. Now it’s time to add transitions!

Click the Transitions tab on the ribbon, and click the expander on the choices menu. I recommend you choose one transition style for your entire presentation. Using multiple transitions will distract viewers from reading your book description due to the screen moving around so much! 😛

booktrailerppt-6

When you finish choosing your slide transition, you’ll need to add Animations on your textboxes and Timings on your slides.

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For Animations on larger textboxes, I recommend setting 00.50 duration, unless you would like to emphasis the text longer. Then you could go with 1.00 as pictured above. For slide duration, I recommend a duration of 02.00 and advancing the slide after 00:08.00. You can edit these by going to the Transitions tab, clicking on your textbox border, and changing the duration. Make sure you UNCHECK the On Mouse Click notation, and choose to advance the slide After 00:08.00 (or your choice) seconds.

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Previewing the Video

Ultimately, the durations and Advanced Slide After settings will vary per video and are entirely up to you! To test your transitions, animations, and timings, go to the Slideshow tab and click From Beginning. If done correctly, the entire PowerPoint will play through like a video.

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Adding Music

You can add CC0 music, or add your own song by going to the Insert tab, selecting audio, and then selecting the song of your choice.

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Saving the PowerPoint as a Video

Finally, once you are satisfied with the way the slides are playing, save your presentation as a video. To do this, select File and Save As. Browse to your Book Trailer folder, and change the Save As file type to either MPEG-4 Video, or Windows Media Video.

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Final Product

Your video should now be compatible to upload to YouTube, Facebook, Amazon’s Author Central or any other video sharing site. Remember, to share on Goodreads, you must link to your YouTube upload.

I wish you all the best of luck with your book trailers!


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, Arrowheads! Feel free to share your own book trailer links in the comments! 🙂

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

 

Self-Publishing

The CreateSpace & KDP Merge: Pros and Cons

Good afternoon, Arrowheads! If you’re an indie author who has self-published books via Amazon’s CreateSpace in the past, chances are you’ve heard about CreateSpace merging with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to consolidate ebook and paperback publishing. With the release of Speak Your Mind, I’ve recently had my first experience dealing with publishing a paperback through KDP. Though I only used CreateSpace for a year and a half before the merge, I had enough experience to make a good comparison between the two publishers. Here are the pros and cons I’ve noticed so far about the differences between CreateSpace and KDP’s services.

KDP

Pros

KDP’s Website

CreateSpace’s website always seemed a bit amateurish to me as far as the appearance and ease of access were concerned. KDP’s website is a lot more user friendly, though I wish their sales reports were a bit more thorough.

KDP’s How-To Videos

Unlike CreateSpace, KDP offers numerous how-to videos that range from how to select categories for your books to how to create a cover. The videos are both short and informative, and offer a better alternative than CreateSpace’s old school question forums.

KDP Consolidates Kindle and Paperback Sales

It was always a pain in the butt to have to log in to CreateSpace to check my paperback sales, and then log in to KDP to access the Kindle sales. Now, I just have to make one stop to check how my books are doing.

Ordering Author Copies Through Your Amazon Cart

KDP allows authors to purchase their copies through their Amazon cart. I like this a lot better than ordering through CreateSpace, as CreateSpace’s website wasn’t as user-friendly, especially when it came to ordering copies. Ordering paperbacks through Amazon will be a lot more welcoming for authors who are already familiar with how to buy items on Amazon.

Cons

Slower Publishing Speed

KDP’s paperback publishing process is much slower compared to CreateSpace’s. It took exactly 22 hours after I hit “Publish” on Speak Your Mind‘s paperback edition for it to become live on Amazon. When I published my first novel on CreateSpace, it was available for purchase on Amazon within an hour.

Differences in Cover Color

There is a noticeable color variation between the Kindle cover and the paperback cover for Speak Your Mind, despite it being the same color in both files. However, the quality of the paperback’s cover is not affected by the difference in color as far as I can tell.

Increased Price of Author Copies

The price of the author copies seems to be about a dollar higher than CreateSpace’s were. This is a common occurrence I’ve noticed in numerous KDP comment threads since the switch.

No Prime Shipping for Author Copies

This just ticks me off, to be honest, even though we didn’t have the option with CreateSpace either. 😡 We pay $120 a year to be loyal Prime members, and we don’t even get an option for two-day shipping (without it costing us, like, $50. And no, I’m not exaggerating!) I honestly think authors with a Prime membership should be able to receive the Prime shipping option by default when ordering author copies, no matter how many.


So, as you can see, I’m 50/50 on the KDP and CreateSpace merge at the moment. I’m sure it’ll get better with time, though.

Are you an indie author? What are your thoughts on the KDP and CreateSpace merge? Let me know in the comments!

Later Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Self-Publishing

You’re Not Selfish for Wanting a Profitable Author Career | Part 4: Final Words

Good afternoon, Arrowheads! Welcome to Part 4 of Authoring Arrowheads’s September series: You’re Not Selfish for Wanting a Profitable Author Career: Final Words.

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Final Words

An author career is no different than that of any other career in terms of wanting the career to thrive. Ask anyone with a typical eight hour job if they’d like a pay raise, and I’d estimate upwards of 95% would raise their hands. Just because authors have fun (well, most of the time), writing their books, it doesn’t mean that they should do so for free, or be deemed “selfish” by society. We live in a society where one can see their dreams become realities and hobbies they love become paychecks. Authors, to the naked eye, may not appear like we work hard for our royalties, but we do. We pour our souls out on paper, put out hearts and sanity on the line to entertain the masses. We put hours upon hours of time into making the book the best it can be, and price it at $0.99 in digital format because we fear a higher price may scare off potential readers.

Money isn’t something you’re entitled to in life, and I’m by no means saying authors inherently deserve to make millions, or even hundreds of thousands in royalties. The overall point of this series is that society needs to stop deeming authors selfish for hoping for the possibility of making a livable income solely from writing.

Don’t be dream squashers, people. Just don’t.

Check out the previous posts in the series at the links below:


I hope you’ve enjoyed this September series, Arrowheads! From here on out (or until I think of something new 😋), Authoring Arrowheads will return to its regularly scheduled programming of posts on Wednesdays and Fridays! XD

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Book Marketing, Self-Publishing

You’re Not Selfish for Wanting a Profitable Author Career | Part 3: The “Lazy” Work

Welcome back, Arrowheads! Today as Part 3 of the You’re Not Selfish for Wanting a Profitable Author Career series, I’ll be discussing the time log of the “lazy” work us authors actually do in order to write, edit, publish and market our books, and why it’s not actually lazy work at all.

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What Work Do Authors Do?

Actually Writing Our Books

Personally, my writing speed is sporadic for books. The first took a year and a half, while the second took seven years. I ran a poll on Twitter a while back asking how long it usually takes for authors to finish their first drafts, and most said from six months to a year per book. Writing a book takes a lot of time commitment, but a lot of people don’t see that.

Self-Editing the Book

So far I’ve proofread through Speak Your Mind (280-something pages) 5 times at the time of writing this post. At around 7 hours per read, that equates to 35 hours. For each round of self-editing, it takes me about an hour to go through and correct the mistakes, so now we’re up to 40 hours. That’s an entire week’s worth at a typical 8 to 5 job.

Oh yeah, and this is before applying beta reader or editor feedback. I’m also not a prolific author who pens multiple books a year, so imagine how many hours they spend editing.

Writing/Formatting Blog Posts

For Authoring Arrowheads, I post on Wednesday and Friday each week, and will occasionally post on other days (like this Monday series 😉). This equates to 104 posts minimum for a year if I stick to two a week. These posts take from twenty minutes to an hour to write and finalize, which if I’m calculating from an average of 40 minutes per post, that equals out to 4,160 minutes per year, or 69.3 hours.

Blog Tours

Participating and hosting blog tours are author tasks that require even more time blogging. Blog tours involve prep time to plan the tour; announcing the tour and creating a Google docs form; waiting to hear from participants; preparing and sending out ARC copies; creating graphics; sending out graphics, social links, purchase links, author bio, and book descriptions (plus creating giveaways if you opt to do that); answering author interview and/or character interview questions; writing guest posts; following up on your participants posts and engaging and sharing their posts to your platforms; etc.

I don’t know if I can provide an accurate account of time spent on blog tours, but please don’t assume it’s easy. It’s not.

Social Media Marketing

After blog posts are published, it takes an average of about ten minutes to post the blog post links on social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest. Multiply 104 posts minimum to that, and that equals out to 1,040 minutes per year, or 17 hours.

Book Reviews

Ah, but hold on! A large amount of author endeavors (especially for many self-published authors) comes in the form of promoting other authors’ books. Like I mentioned earlier, the novel I’m editing right now takes seven hours on average for me to read through at 280-something pages. I’d say that’s a good average amount of pages for the books I read. So, 7 hours times the number of books I’ve written reviews for this year (20 at the time of writing this), equals out to 140 hours. But, that’s not on a steady stream of reading. Some of the reviews I’ve posted this year were old reviews, and most were not posted until March, when I started reading regularly again. I have a feeling that to represent a full year of continuous book reviews, that would equal about 220 hours per year, taking off time for some shorter stories that are less than 50 pages.

All this does not include extra marketing endeavors such as planning ads on Amazon/Facebook/Goodreads, planning and prepping for book signings, attending and/or speaking at conferences, creating a book trailer, creating miscellaneous videos for a YouTube channel, or building and maintaining friendships with fellow authors or readers.

Don’t tell me authors don’t work.


Can you relate to this series? What other author endeavors do you take part in? Feel free to share in the comments!

Next week I’ll be closing out this Monday series with Part 4: Final Words. Thank you for stopping in the past few weeks to read these extra posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed them! 🙂

Later Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀