contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

PO Box 26287
Colorado Springs, CO 80936
United States

719.641.7862

Publish Your Way! BelieversBookServices provides professional publishing services for today's independent author.

Blog

 

 

Filtering by Category: How-to

In the end, it's work.

andrew mackay

How about some good news? There's never been a better time in history to be a writer. That's truth. In fact, you can read lots of blogs and newsletters that will tell you just that. So, today, I'm going to give you the other side:

Successfully publishing is hard work.


You hear this less commonly, but it's no less true. It's simply hard work to write, market, and connect with an audience.

Sometimes we forget what success might look like. I was reminded of this while reading a blog post about hilarious stories from successful musicians. Success looks like hard work. Success sometimes carries tragedy and disappointment with it. Success often means hearing no a million times.

That's not failure. It's success. Failure:

Failure is the person who thinks, I should write, but never does.
Failure is the person who says, "The manuscript is in the drawer," and never gets it out.
Failure is the person who hears no once, and calls it a career.

Success, though:

Success means delivering great content, even if the audience is small.
Success means putting thought into each piece of writing.
Success means getting back on the horse after you're thrown off, especially metaphorically.
Success means hard work.

Here's to your success in 2016!


We love helping you publish. Merry Christmas!

Good Design Starts on the Spine

andrew mackay

In the image above, you see the reality of physical book sales. Most often, you don't get the benefit of your book being face-out on the shelf. Most of the time, your readers are going to first engage your book based on the spine.

Depressing? A little, especially if you've got a fantastic cover and a sorry spine. Sadly, I see sorry spines all the time.

So, what makes a good spine? Three things:

Clarity

If you can't read the text on the spine of your book, who is it serving? It doesn't matter how much you love that typeface, if it's illegible, it's worse than useless: it's confusing. Fix it. Choose to serve your readers through clarity.

This gets particularly difficult if the spine of your book is tiny. Thin spines are really hard to put text on it. Don't try. You'll be glad you didn't.

Visibility

Contrast, brightness, big, readable type. All of these things help your spine to make an impact across the room. This really dovetails into the clarity point — if it's easy to read, it's good. If it's hard to read, it's hard to sell.

Creativity

I know you were waiting for this one. Creativity matters, even on the spine. Maybe especially on the spine. But, creativity is best when it stays within wise limits. So, a creative integration of the front cover treatment is great. If your background can wrap around attractively, it doesn't just help the visual, it also helps minimize the visibility of variances within the printer's work. Incorporate a logo that represents your brand.

Bottom line: get creative, but remember that clarity and visibility are more important than creativity!

Know Your Category

andrew mackay

Selling books in online environments means understanding and aiming for your audience. It's hard to understate the importance of placing your book in the right categories. Here are some reasons why:

- One of the worst things that can happen to your book is ending up in the hands of the wrong reader. Even a good romance won't thrill the heart of most sci-fi readers. You want to be in the right category. It does you no good to mis-label:

- Amazon and most other retailers often display results based on how the books that fit the query are selling. If you're selling well, for instance, in the Fantasy category, you'll show up higher in searches that fit that category.

- Some categories are pretty small. Others are huge. Knowing which category is the right fit allows you to be in with the "right kind" of books.

- On occasion, you might have a book that appeals across a couple of categories. Getting in front of those different readers matters.

So, when it's time to pick categories, stop; research; then make decisions. Don't rush!

 

 

The Time I Wrote The Worst Sentence Ever And Emailed It to Thousands of People

andrew mackay

It took about ten minutes from the time the IndieVoice newsletter went out on Friday. Ten minutes for someone to politely say, "Hey, moron… did you write that sentence?"

As my country preacher father-in-law says, "If it's across the plate, it's a strike, no matter who's throwing it."

In addition to my work here at BelieversPress, I serve our local homeschool community by tutoring a class of seventh graders, one day a week. Every week, we work through math problems on a big whiteboard together.

I have a speech I give to my students each week. It goes something like this: "When we get things wrong in this classroom, we laugh at ourselves. We point out our errors. And then, we redo the problem to show that we've learned from the mistake."

I know a thing or two about learning from mistakes. I think it's important.

In that spirit:

I wrote a stinker of a sentence in the IndieVoice newsletter last week. Adding to the comedy, it was in an article titled the Value of Editing. If I was part of an organization that was into spin, I'd say it was intentional. Let's be honest… it wasn't. It was a goof. A heinous one. It was, as we say in southern West Virginia, "Real Bad."

When you do a thing for a living, you like to think that you're getting good at it. I've spent 12 years working on creating, editing, and improving content. That's a long time. But, as they say, nobody's perfect. On this one, I was far from perfect. I was downright abysmal.

Let's be clear, that sentence was like a bad American Idol audition. Everyone who read it knew it was bad.

Somehow, the bad sentence made it through two rounds of editing. That's even more shocking. Organizationally, our process is normally better than that. It was complicated by the fact that I was running late to our self-imposed deadline, so everyone working on the newsletter was in a little bit of a hurry.

Hurried work is messy work.

It's not universally true, but it's close. When you get in a hurry, mistakes are more likely to creep into your work.

I got in a hurry, and instead of being extra careful about the content for the newsletter, I sent that stinker. It's particularly sad because we have a brand that is all about bringing quality to a field where inattention to detail has ruled for so long.

So, in keeping with my classroom rules, here's that sentence, done over, to prove that I learned from my mistake:

Okay, look: we believe in editing. When we meet an indie author who feels like their books are under-performing, the first question we ask is, "Did you have your book edited?"

See that? It's a far better sentence. Coherent. Makes sense. Easy to read.

What are the lessons in this mistake?

  1. Slow down
    Great content takes time. When you get in a hurry, content that could've been great instead winds up merely adequate if you're lucky. And if you're not lucky, well, you get to write an email like this.

  2. Don't skip steps
    We talk about the value of editors over and over and over again. Seriously. If you ever meet us at a conference, or even just walking down the street, and ask us what we think the key to great content is, we'll tell you it's editing. Why on earth would we rush the process with our own content? Crazy.

  3. When things go wrong, own it
    There's no use acting like it didn't happen. When a mistake gets made, own it. Learn from it. Do better the next time.

Thanks for reading. We really do love helping you publish. As they say on the internet, #LearnFromMyFail

The Value of a Writers Conference

andrew mackay

Writing is a solitary endeavor. I wonder how many times I've written those words? It's so often true. One of the things we hear routinely from new authors is "I don't know how to get good feedback on my writing."

The answer I give almost every time is, "Have you been to a good writers conference yet?"

Here are the things that happen at a good writer's conference:

- You meet writers

C. S. Lewis said "Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…'” I love watching that very thing happen at writer's conferences. You think, "I have to be the only person interested in how faith engages Zombie books." And then you get to a conference and meet 5 other people who love that conversation. It's awesome. It's good for your soul. If nothing else, you'll feel far less solitary after attending a good writers conference.

- You learn to write better

No matter what you're particular area of interest is, you'll learn how to be a better writer. There's so much information at good conferences that you'll likely feel like you're drinking from a fire house. It's great. I mean, if you're serious about writing as a professional, you should be worried about professional development. There's nothing better than a writers conference for just that.

- You interact with publishing professionals

Writers, editors, agents, oh my? Naw, even better -- you'll find out that they're all normal folks. You'll talk to editors, agents, professional, established writers, and you'll learn from them. Even if it's not time to pitch your book yet, learning from the pros will help you to do well when it IS time to pitch your work.

- You make friends beyond just the conference

I'm all about good strategy: when you're at a conference, make sure you pay attention to where people are from. Chances are, if you go to a conference that's somewhat local, you'll find other writers from your neck-of-the-woods. That's a perfect opportunity to connect beyond the conference. You can build long-term friendships that will help you, encourage you, and sharpen you as a writer.

- You get inspired

Even if you're super introverted and make it through a whole writers conference without speaking a word to someone else (Which, by the way, is... I think... impossible), you'll benefit from the sessions. You'll come away inspired to write more and write better. It will be so good for you.

So, if you haven't done it yet, find a good conference near you and schedule some time off, It'll be great for your writing career.