In the first week of the New Year, I reached two major milestones in my goal to publish my third novel by finalizing the title and completing the revision of the content edit and returning it to my editor for copyediting. This is me taking a minute to celebrate!
Since I’m now in the publishing and marketing phases of writing, the rest of my January posts will focus on those topics. After all, the primary purpose for creating this blog was to chronicle my journey as an author, as well as connect with other writers and book lovers for mutual inspiration. Thus, I always try to write as honestly and transparently as I can about whatever I’m currently experiencing as a writer, reader and author. It’s my way of “paying forward” for all the help I’ve gotten from fellow writers and readers who share their expertise so freely in books, blogs, and other social media.
If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know that I’ve struggled with the original title, Mountain Brook Memories: 1961-1963, which sounded more like a memoir than a novel. I even solicited ideas from my readers in a book-naming contest, for inspiration in helping me find just the right one. (See Win the Book-Naming Contest!)
I didn’t get much response from the contest, but I did get a few e-mails, Facebook posts, and face-to-face suggestions that led to the selection of the final, or at least most current title, Over the Mountain.
There’s still time to make changes before the cover’s designed, so it’s not too late for readers to suggest how to tweak the current title or even come up with a new title altogether. Across the Mountain, Mountain of Separation, Ridge of Separation are a few I considered. If you’re willing to try your hand at it, you can read a summary of the book at #AmWriting #NeedReaderSuggestions.
For now, I’m satisfied that Over the Mountain at least sounds more like a novel than the original title did. It also hints at one of the book’s major themes–the irony that an epic struggle for civil rights was playing out in Birmingham in 1963, just a few miles over the mountain from where the main characters lived; and yet, those characters were oblivious to the significance of it all.
One problem I still can’t resolve with this title, though, is that when the book is ultimately listed on Amazon, readers won’t be able to tell that it’s essentially a coming of age story about a preacher’s kid trying to fit in to a new community and school, unless they click on the cover for more information.
I may be able to incorporate more of what the book’s about into a subtitle, and I’ll definitely work with the artist who designs the cover to include images or graphics that suggest more of the book’s content.
When publishing on Amazon, I’ve learned what a critical role an effective title and cover can play in attracting the attention of browsers who fit the book’s targeted audience–in my case, those who enjoy historical fiction with strong female characters. That’s an advantage I don’t want to overlook as a marketing strategy.
If any of you have experienced success in creating covers for top-selling novels with Amazon or other on-demand publishing platforms, please share examples of what worked for you in the comment section below, or e-mail your ideas to me at email@example.com. Also, if you can comment on book covers and titles that have attracted you personally as a reader, that would be helpful as well.
I’d be delighted to publish your response in a guest blog on this website, as presentation of the cover and title is an issue that would be of interest to any indie author.
While I’m waiting on the copyediting of Over the Mountain to be returned on January 24, I’ll start getting together some marketing materials by writing a blurb, a summary, a synopsis, and an updated author bio for the book. I’ll also work on expanding my e-mail list of potential readers in preparation for launching the book when it’s published, and I’ll explore new avenues for getting reviews for the book.
After that, I’ll download the book onto my author page on CreateSpace.com and reach out to the CreateSpace team for help in designing a cover and formatting the text for print and for Kindle. (For additional information on publishing with CreateSpace, click on the Blog Archives button above and then on the January 7, 2017 blog entitled Editing is Completed: I’m Almost Ready to Publish). ***
The issue of collecting reviews, which is a must for promoting an independently published book on Amazon, is one I’ve wrestled with mightily. I’ve gone the route of paid reviews and promotional services in my last two books and found that the expense was simply not justified in terms of book sales. You can read about my experiences by following the link at the bottom of the page for my July 20 post, Marketing my Second Novel: What I Did Differently the (sic)This Time Around. ***
If all goes according to plan, I’ll meet my goal of having Over the Mountain ready for publication by March, albeit toward the end rather than the beginning as I’d hoped. That means I can dedicate February to reading and reviewing new books, which is something I particularly enjoy because it gives me a chance to see what marvelously creative stories others author are coming out with every day. If you’d like to check out the books I’ve already reviewed, you can click on the Blog Archives tab above and you’ll find most of them in the Writers as Readers category.***
By April, I should be ready to begin work in earnest on my fourth novel, Rising Above It, which takes up where In the Fullness of Time leaves off and follows Hattie Robinson Barton into the Depression era and a new set of challenges. That will bring my writing-to-publish process full cycle.
From November of 2016, when I drafted Over the Mountain during National Novel Writing Month, to March 2018, when Over the Mountain is likely to be published, I will have worked through all of the critical stages necessary for bringing a narrative to fruition: Planning, Composing, Content editing, Revising, Copy Editing, Final Revision, Publishing, and Marketing.
For any author, the writing-to-publish cycle becomes a recursive one, looping backward and forward, if it’s to be sustained. As one story is published, a new one must be written. And as the new one is written and revised, the task of marketing and promoting prior books must be maintained, while the seeds of future stories must be sown, as the author becomes a reader seeking new ideas and fresh perspectives.
The writing cycle continues, and with it new insights, successes, and lessons learned, providing us with so much to blog about!
Stay connected, and don’t forget to leave your ideas and suggestions in the comment section below.
***My apologies for not providing a direct link to three of my suggested resources. I’m not sure if it’s a glitch on my Word Press set up or if it’s just me not knowing how to trouble shoot the problem. Whatever it is, I’ll have it fixed for my next blog. If you have difficulty accessing information, let me know and I’ll see that you get it.
Also, I couldn’t get a direct link to CreateSpace to work without taking you directly to my author dashboard, which is private. Sorry for the inconvenience!