As a reader and writer, I'm always facing some deadline or other. I don't always make them. My worst failures are not completing my Netgalley list (which is now at 300+ books) in a timely manner, and not finishing my Devereaux Case Files series. The latter is especially frustrating because I have books 1-9 complete, with book 10 started, and I haven't touched book 10 in 5 years, even though it's the last book in the series.
Now, though, I have different plans for that series, so it's not so awful.
My Netgalley list...well, there's no accounting for that. At first, there were just too many good books and not enough time. Then I spend nearly 6 months either sick myself or with family having serious medical issues. That was unavoidable. The other 6 months that I could have spent catching up were an especially amazing writing-sprint for me, that I just couldn't, as an author, ignore.
But, I have plans. I always have plans, I know. But these are plans in writing.
Does that make a difference?
Well, to me it does. I'm a list maker. And I can't abide having a list with things that aren't complete. But, I also can't abide having a list with a mess of crosses, marks, and notes on it, so I rewrite my lists often, to remind myself of what I've completed and what I haven't. The two best resources I've found are: Spreadsheets in OpenOffice, and Wunderlist, which is amazing.
Wunderlist ~ I find this amazing for a few reasons:
Spreadsheet ~ my favourite functions are:
This year - 2018/2019 - I plan to hold myself far more accountable for my time. I've taken a lot of time away from my Netgalley list to get a mountain load of writing done, but that means that one of my tasks had totally fallen by the wayside. For the next year, I'm doing something radical - moderating my time.
It might sound simple and logical, because it is, but I've never been someone who works to a timeline, a deadline or a schedule. I'm a pantser for a reason.
This past month, I've taken on the arduous task of filing through ALL of my books - from paperback, Kindle purchases, Kobo buys, all my e-books, and all of my Netgalley books - to create a list that includes them ALL. I even went through and read the blurbs of all my Amazon buys, to make sure that I really wanted to keep them, because I was an obsessive one-clicker for freebies back when I got my first Kindle. I managed to delete over 2000 books between those on my Kindle and my hard drive, from other suppliers. After that, I wrote them ALL into a spreadsheet - title, series, page count/word count. I have a tick column for those I've read, and one tick column for my Netgalley approved books, to keep them visible.
My next task is to actually read them. One by one, I plan to work my way through what has become 4017 books. Considering some of them are series of 20+ books, that's not so bad. At least if I don't like the series, I can avoid reading the next 15 books. lol. Obviously, I won't be reading them all in one year, but if I can manage to read nearly 300 books a year, it should only take 13 years to read them...*sigh*
Wish me luck!
You'll probably have noticed by now that I tend to re-brand a few of my posters/mock covers every other year or so. As I was saying to someone recently, this is for two reasons:
I also have a few goes at creating a brand for the book before it's ever submitted to my publisher. I do this by creating mock covers, which I use in Calibre to create e-books of my WIP's. That way I can upload them to my Kindle app and read them "as a reader" and do some proper editing and note taking, before doing the final edit. As I've said in previous posts, I can edit a book anywhere up to 20 times before sending it to the editor, so it's handy to have a mock cover to test out, every time I upload the new version. I look at how it appears on my Kindle app, how the colours appear, whether I get bored of the image, and how easy the text is to read. This is all important to consider for the final cover, but also for the teaser posters. I always try to link my mock covers and teaser posters into one brand, so that the mock covers - when the final book has been published - can be used as teaser posters, which means they're not going to waste.
So, there's a lot to consider when it comes to branding a book. It's not just about the appearance, it's also about the relevance of the brand/image to the book, the themes of the book, the 'vibe' of the book, the genre, even the characters. And it all comes together into something that has to 100% represent the book, in the end.
Which is why I often rebrand. Sometimes a new book is added to the series that adds a new element, or I find a new "perfect" font or image that just is the book, perfectly. Mostly, I try to keep the brand the same, even if I end up completely remaking all of my teaser posters - something I'm doing, right now. For instance, I've always used "storytelling" images for the Decadent series, the Cacodemon trilogy and for The Trade. I've always used military themed or male portrait close-up images for Forged in Fire, and I've always had a chess theme for The Royal Series, and a professional, businessman theme for Following Orders. The Cellist and Clef Notes have always been music related. You can see that that has never changed, no matter how many times I've rebranded the teaser posters. These are the specific "brand" for those books, even if the theme and style of the posters changes.
The reason for my most recent change is simple. Instagram. Instagram prefer square images, and because of the changes to the Later app (which I use to schedule my Instagram posts) you can now auto-post any square image. So, to make my life easier, I've adapted all of my previously portrait posters into square images. But, you can't just crop them. The images and text don't always line up, and sometimes they look really weird, or they cut out the previous "brand" theme. To make them look professional, I decided to remake them entirely. With new images, new quotes, and a new look.
Canva, was another reason for the change. Since I started using Canva to make my images, (you can find the How To Use Canva post here) I found that once you make one poster, say the Instagram template, you can "copy" that into a second page in the same document. And you can have 30 pages in one document. So, even for my longer series like Decadent - which is 6 books in total - I can make ALL of my teasers for those books in one document, making 5 posters for each book without having to leave the page, without having to remember what font I used, what size it was, or anything. I was bale to simply copy the first poster, change the text, change the image, and move the elements around until it looked good, and them move on to the next. Then, once I was finished, I could download ALL of the posters at once, into a single zip file. It was so much easier than creating one image at a time in Picmonkey, which was my old method.
Here, I'm going to show you some images that I've changed this year. You'll probably be able to see for yourself that they're clearer, easier to read, and have a greater visual impact.
Sometimes, rebranding is a matter of making your life easier rather than changing something for the sake of changing it. So, always take a look at your promo. If YOU get bored of seeing the images, of reading the same quotes from your books over and over again, then your readers will be bored too. So change it up. Changing your quote is fine, but remember that your regular followers/readers will have associated the image/style with your previous quote, so if they see the exact same poster, they'll assume it's the exact same quote. So it might be better to just redo the entire poster.
And remember to keep track of your results. You'll see from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter insights what posters work, what times they have their best effect, and whether those insights match the results of your sales/link clicks (for links such as SmartURL). Adding those together will let you know when your posters work, and which ones you need to fix.
"I believe I met a girl in the rain, who had lost her mother's earrings. And I killed her. Now I stand here in a time I know nothing about. I watched the death of kings far greater than any man living now. And I am still here."
I'm starting to lose my sense of time again. June and July became one short month and for the last two weeks I've been sure it's September, that's how long we've been in August!!
I somehow managed to finish this book in three days which is unheard of. It's a huge achievement for me, between work, going to the gym and needing a mid afternoon nap to keep me going
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"She bade us remember that it was cowardice to succumb to the greatest misfortunes, and that with time and courage there was no evil that could not be remedied"
I've officially given up hope that the good weather will return again, its just grey grey grey.
I currently about half way through Dan Browns Origin and I'm loving every second, I'm finding hard to come off my lunch break.
What are you reading??
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