Kirsten McNeill answers “How do you deal with a negative review?” on Artsy Raven Eps 6

Kirsten McNeill is a writer, editor and business owner of KM Writing Services. She answers the question “How do you deal with a negative review?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 6. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.

Kirsten’s website is https://kirstenmcneill.com

The Artsy Raven podcast about writing & publishing episodes are on Spotify & Youtube: https://jfgarrard.com/arpodcast/

The Idea Shop answers “Why should an author hire a marketer?” on Artsy Raven Eps 5 podcast

Chris Houston, the Marketing Guru of The Idea Shop has over 20 years of experience in book marketing. The Idea Shop is a one-stop shop for fresh new ideas on how to promote creative endeavors of all kinds, from books to podcasts. The Idea Shop can be heard each month on Sauga 960 AM radio.

He answers the question “Why should an author hire a marketer?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 5. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.

To contact the Idea Shop on how your book can be marketed to the world, find Chris at https://theideashop.ca/

The Artsy Raven podcast about writing & publishing episodes are on Spotify & Youtube: https://jfgarrard.com/arpodcast/

Tools to make an awesome #lowbudget #video for #socialmedia!

Recently I signed up my indie publishing company, Dark Helix Press, to be a vendor at FIYAHCON, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction. (I’ll be speaking about publishing there too, will release details when I have them.)

At FIYAHCON the vendors are setting up a virtual table on a platform called AirMeet which I have never used before. One of the items I needed to upload was a video and I don’t have any book trailers for Dark Helix Press. In the past I made a book trailer for The Undead Sorceress which was ok, but with new tools available, making a trailer now is much faster than ever before! The concept of making a trailer is the same to make any video for social media, once you learn how to make on video, it’s a skill which can be used for lots of creative fun!

The trailer I made below took about three hours, because I was fiddling with fonts/colors/layout and made some custom graphics for the Dark Helix Press Threadless Shop merchandise because I wanted “clean cut” items that would “pop out.” I had to use a graphic editor to do that (did it quick and dirty with the free Paint.net graphic program) because video programs have limited graphics editing capabilities. Note I had $0 budget, but the video looks pretty good for zero dollars!

Steps used to make a book trailer:

  1. List out what you want to put in each “slide” which is really a short video. Pretend it’s a PowerPoint and on each slide think about what message or text you want to convey.
  2. Find videos for each slide. There are a couple of sites you can download free videos, such as Pexels, Pixabay, Mixkit, etc. We used Pixabay.
    • For one video we wanted 14 seconds, but the shot we downloaded was 10 seconds, so we extended the video time by slowing down the speed of the footage.
  3. If you are adding extra graphics to the video, you will need to clean up with a graphics editor such as Paint.net, Krita, Adobe Photoshop, etc. We used Paint.net.
  4. Pick a program to compile the videos – Canva, Filmgora, iMovie, etc. We used Canva.
  5. Upload the videos into the program, add text, music (we used the music provided in the program) and graphics.
  6. In some of the programs you can modify the layout and animate the graphics/fonts.
  7. Upload onto Youtube and publish.
    • Read carefully on the sites where you gathered graphics, videos and music. Some of the licenses ask for attribution in lieu of payment and there may be restrictions on use.

I hope this information was useful to you! After you do it once, the subsequent videos will be easier next time!

Making #3d #bookcovers for #free! How to with link…#indie #publishing #writinglife #selfpublishing #marketing

On some sites I’ve seen 3d covers of books and wondered how people did it. Well, I know I can hire someone or buy software. But being a frugal person I wasn’t sure if it was worth the money so I never tried to do this. Fast forward a few years later and I’m talking to a book marketing person who is asking me about 3d covers.

Doing a Google search I found a website which lets you render a 3d cover for free! Of course it’s not the best quality (the graphic is small in size) and for a small fee you can pay to download the better version.

You will need 3 images in hand before you start: 1) Front cover, 2) spine only and 3) back cover. You can use any graphic program to crop your print book image file into pieces and just save as separate files.

For those who want to test out 3d covers, visit Boxshot which offers a free online program for use as well as better paid options: https://boxshot.com/3d-pack/3d-book/

On this website after uploading the 3 images of your book (front, spine, back), you can move the book around until you find an angle you like and then save the 3d image.

I did a test run for the Belief cover with the free option and it looks spiffy!

March 4 Asian Spec Fic Readings

Next Thursday I’ll be hosting an Asian Speculative Fiction Reading event as part of Small Press Fair for Dark Helix Press. All of the authors are wonderful readers and I look forward to listening to them do their magic! Details about this event below!

Also putting together another digital raffle to test how successful it is as a marketing tool. Someone told me that all raffles need to be coupled with Amazon gift cards so we will try that. I do worry about coupling book giveaways with gift cards – do they want the gift card or to read the books? Sigh.

March 4, Thursday, 2021: 8pm EST – 9pm EST
Asian Speculative Fiction Readings panel features Asian speculative authors who will read their stories featured in Immersion or Dark Helix Ezine. There will be a Q & A after the panel.
Authors featured include Vincent Ternida, Carlo Javier, Melissa Yuan-Innes and Lily Chang. Host: JF Garrard

For free registration click here

For more events, visit this link: http://www.darkhelixpress.com/events/

See you soon!

Ingram Spark Vs Amazon KDP Createspace

For publishing purposes, mainly I’ve been using Amazon Createspace (print division) and Amazon KDP (e-books) for distribution. These two were merged recently and not much has changed other than the fact you don’t have to fill in tax info and log in twice. Some past receipts have gone missing, but other than that, the transition has been quite flawless. Creating a title for publishing has been great on Amazon. There is no charge for uploading, you keep what you earn minus fees.  If the print book comes damaged, they will offer to re-print another copy.

Some of my indie publishing friends have gone with both Amazon and Ingram Spark because they want the most out of distribution. Amazon distributes to limited venues and although Amazon captures 60% of the market, the other 40% is still land worth venturing into.

The site Ingram Spark has gone through many changes lately since I visited a few years ago out of curiosity. They provide very detailed manuals on how to publish and upload files. They have a live chat and telephone customer support system during office hours.  However, it costs $25-49 to upload a title and for every revision it will cost $25. There used to be an annual fee of $12 per title, but I believe that has been dropped now. Regardless, I had high hopes for Ingram given they are a giant distributor and supposedly more “professional” for publishing than Amazon.

Last night I tried to set up a title for both print and e-book distribution on Ingram Spark to try out their service. The first snag was the software on the website not allowing me to save the book title. The title “Trump Utopia of Dystopia” has no funny characters, so I was surprised at this happening. After the 10th try of pressing enter, something happened and I was allowed to go to the next page. This hope was false because I would hit other errors on the worldwide rights page and ISBN page. No matter what I did, the page would’t move on. I renamed the title to draft and tried again, only to be stuck on the title error once more. After numerous attempts and running into the same errors over and over, I gave up and went to bed because their customer service hotline was closed.

Waking up, I called them first thing and told them what happened. They asked what browser I was using. I said I tried chrome, explorer and safari. The person on the line advised me to download firefox. So I did and behold, firefox didn’t work either! After calling them back, they sent an email saying tech support will get back to me (unknown about timeline). They mentioned that the issue was trying to use the print/e-book uploading option. Apparently if you upload just print or e-book it’s fine. There is a bug in the code to do both print and e-book at the same time and they it’s been happening after their last software update.

In comparison, Amazon’s software has been fairly flawless for me. Their print and e-books are separate processes with the option to link both onto the product page later. The only time I’ve had a mental breakdown with publishing on Amazon is due to formatting but it’s nothing to do with their software not working.

I am on the fence about using Ingram Spark. If their tech people ever contacts me perhaps I will try again. However, my time is worth something and with tons of things to do, the price of putting up with flawed software might not be worth it in the end for me.

 

 

 

 

Ricepaper Magazine Patreon Setup

It’s not a secret that many not-for-profits often struggle with coming up with funds to keep alive. Ricepaper Magazine is not an exception as an example of a publication that is trying out different things to gain access to public grants and private funding.

As a Senior Editor for Ricepaper, my title is quite loose since it’s a small organization. I do a lot of writing, interviewing, partnership building, event planning (LiterASIAN Toronto) and now something new I’m trying out is Patreon.

I’ve tried setting up on Patreon before and some of my friends on it have collected $0/month to a few hundred dollars total. I only know of one person who is surviving as a full time writer on Patreon and they are not rich.

Similar to Kickstarter, Patreon people pledge to give funds on a monthly or project basis in exchange for something. Since mainly artists and writers are on Patreon, the “creator” can give away music, artwork, writing, videos, magazines, etc in exchange for funding to create.

I’m working on the “about” Patreon page and looking back at the amazing magazine covers that Ricepaper has had in the past. There are days when my family and friends suggest I should quit Ricepaper to concentrate on just being a writer, but I tell them that there are few platforms for Asians in English and I believe I’m doing good by helping this ship stay afloat.

Sharing a few covers and when the Patreon page is up I’ll post news about it and hopefully garner some support!

 

What’s In a “Basket of Ridiculousness”?

Since we are doing a Trump: Utopia or Dystopia book launch at Can-Con in Ottawa this coming weekend, we put together a gift called a “Basket of Ridiculousness” as a free draw prize to attract unsuspecting and sort of innocent future readers!

To get free draw tickets, please find me or Jen Frankel and ask us nicely for a ticket at the Can-Con event:

FRI 20:00-20:50 Panel – Braaaains. Please. Sorry  Salon D (Jen Frankel)

SAT 10:00 – 13:30 Dealers Room Table –The Alternate Reality News Service

SAT 11:00-11:50 Panel – Economics of Traditional Publishing Salon E (JF Garrard)

SAT 14:00-14:50 Indie Group Launch Event with food (basket will be given away at this event)

You may think, wait, what’s in this bloody basket worth hunting down strangers for?
The basket is valued at $50 and we put everything we thought we would want into it. So if no one wins or shows up for the book launch we will divide up the goodies among ourselves! Contents include:
1) A copy of Trump: Utopia or Dystopia to laugh, cry and get angry with.
2) A set of politician masks – Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and Justin Trudeau. In time for Halloween and to re-enact scenes from the Trump book!
3) Lay’s Grilled Cheese chips – it just sounded yummy…and strange…
4) A $10 Starbucks gift card – caffeine just makes the day brighter!
5) Batman Story Cubes – making stories with yourself as Batman, just because.
6) Naughty mug – heck, we’re promoting a Trump satire book!
7) Snickers bars – to eat while watching CNN.
8) Fuzzy Peaches – it’s orange, enough said.
9) Crunch ‘n Munch popcorn – more to eat while watching CNN and Fox News.
10) SPAM – goes hand in hand with fake news.
11) Glow in the dark tie – to transport you to the Oval office.
12) Rubber Ducky Socks – we live in Canada, a tribute to our Prime Minister.
13) Dark Helix Bookmark – to keep your page in the book while you watch the destruction of the free world!
Looking forward to meeting random people in Ottawa and sharing the joy of this Trump book which has fantasy, horror and science fiction stories from writers around the world!

Feeding The Kraken Children cookbook out!

Feeding the Kraken! is a toddler/children cookbook I made in 2016. It was a successful Kickstarter project and it features over 50 recipes as well as parenting advice. I had hoped that my father (a chef) would be around to test recipes with me, but well, he died.

This book is a big lesson about me being too creative without thinking ahead. I used up a lot of time to make it look pretty and had lots of beautiful nautical graphics in it…which doesn’t translate well in e-book format. In fact it looks really crappy because the coding is very difficult and to make the book commercially viable I have to strip out most of the graphics.

I procrastinated about this for over a year.  Good thing I’m not depending on books/writing to pay bills because I would be starving and dead by now!

In the end I decided to put up the original book as a pdf with all artwork intact on the Dark Helix Press website as a download. Since the reader has to do extra work, instead of the usual $4.99 price point, I have dropped it to $3.99. I also didn’t realize that paypal took a cut per transaction, so I learned about being dinged for fees too.

In the future I will make an e-book but it won’t be as nice. As for print book, I have InDesign, but haven’t taken the time to learn it yet. There is a high learning curve, but it is the gold standard for printing software. The print book can have most of the artwork intact but will be expensive to print due to color ink.

Anyhow, if you have any krakens (children) to feed, I think this is a great cookbook to look at. My child actually asks for the healthy red lentil muffins listed in the book! A cookbook is only successful if you use recipes more than once!

Here is the link, bon appétit!

http://www.darkhelixpress.com/yachildren/feeding-the-kraken/

 

Cover Reveal for Trump Utopia or Dystopia!

Whoopee! The great Jen Frankel and I are almost done editing this Trump book! Instead of 20 stories as planned, we have 30 stories. Too much of a good thing won’t kill you…I think…depends on what…

Anyhow, we revamped the cover too to make it a bit stronger. There were debates over changing the title too, but in the end, we stuck with the same title as Trumptopia, Trumpocalypse, etc were all taken.

It was great to work with all the writers and although sometimes we agreed to disagree, everyone worked hard on polishing their stories. We hope that reader will enjoy the book as we had a fantastic time editing!

This week I’m off to read a new piece about Toronto convention no-nos at the Tartan Turban Secret Readings #5. I honestly don’t know what to expect. There could be 5 people in the room or 50! Looking forward to connecting with local authors and seeing if they know more secrets about success than I do.

I had a talk with the organizer who asked me about where I published other than self-publishing. I said only Ricepaper Magazine and their anthology. Then after hanging up, I realized that I had either written or contributed a bunch of stuff to rather large outlets such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Women’s Health, Book Baby (blog), Authors Helping Authors, etc. I’m just not used to taking credit for stuff. The lesson from my MBA marketing prof: ‘ if you don’t toot your own horn, no one will do it for you!’ obviously didn’t stick to my brain that much.

Over the weekend one of my American friends told me about some course on selling millions of books. I told her that at the end of the day, I believe it’s about creating a good quality story. Marketing/selling is a different skill set than writing, but first you have to write something worth selling!