Gaining And Dealing With Book Reviews For Self-Published Authors

It’s well-known that self-published authors need reviews in order to be successful. These reviews activate algorithms on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, which in turn helps to get your book noticed. They also inform readers on what to expect, while using word-of-mouth marketing to increase your overall reach. Today, we’re going to look at the dos and donts of reviews for self-published authors.

How To Find Book Reviewers 

If you’re lucky enough to have an email list, this is a great way to ask for reviews. In her new release, How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn recommends a soft pitch to your readers with no pressure. Offer them a free digital copy of your book with a prompt to “please leave a review if you enjoyed the book”. Many of the places you can find reviewers can be found on our article about sending out Advanced Reading Copiesbut below is a bullet-point summary:

  • Email List
  • Social Media Pages
  • Kindle Boards/ Online Forums
  • Book Bloggers
  • Other writers

A Note On a Reviewer’s Obligation

 If people have been kind enough to say they will review a book for you, remember that they are in no way obligated to give you a positive review. Most people, especially if you send your book to a book blogger, are specific when they write a review. If they dont like it they will generally tell you why. This is why it’s so impotant to only publish a book you’re proud of. And you have to make sure you’re looking for honest reviews and not simply to have your ego stroked.

Benefits of a Bad Review

Trolls mouthing-off aside, there are – surprisingly – benefits to receiving a negative review. Some people just wont like your book. You have to accept that. But if more than one person is pointing out bad spelling, or inconsistent plots, then you need to take notice. This kind of dditing is something you can fix relatively easily. If you dont, it could well harm your credibility as a writer and as a publisher. The takeaway is, if you have the power to fix something, fix it.

Etiquette for Reviewers and Authors

If a book blogger or a reviewing company is kind enough to review your book, and you would like to quote that review, make sure you extended them the courtesy of linking it back to their website or social media pages, acknowledging them properly. Also, take the time to thank them in a message or an email. Manners cost nothing, while being polite will mean they will more likely consider reviewing your next book.

What NOT To Do

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A special warning should be issued to all writers in regards to responding to negative reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Amazon. It would seem that every couple of weeks an author goes into public meltdown over a bad review, engaging in a futile online battle with amateur reviewers.

This kind of behaviour will get you noticed for all of wrong reasons. Responding aggressively to a bad review will do nothing but churn the waters. Remember that the reviewers will never look like the bad guy in this situation no matter how abusive of inflammatory their remarks are. The author will always be made to look like a petulant jerk. If you receive a bad review release any anger or disappointment privately. Bad reviews can really suck, but you are a writer and a publisher, you need grow a thick skin to survive. You will never be able to please everyone.

Making The Most Of Your Book Reviews

Reviews can be a great tool to make you feel good about your novel as well as to help you to find where you could be falling down as a writer. Being polite and professional at all times will ensure that you grow your fan base and gain a reputation for being professional.

 For further reading the below titles come highly recommend:

As a reader do you buy books based their reviews or do you ignore them? Which approaches have you used for gaining honest reviews?

Image Credits: ANGRY-ANN by Josh Jansenn (Flickr)

How to Publish Stress Free with Kindle Direct Publishing

When Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), the way an author delivered their work to their audience changed forever. This week we’re going to give you a crash course in KDP publishing, to help make your experience as stress free as possible.

Let’s Begin!

Log into KDP using your Amazon account, or create a whole new one if you wish. When setting up your account you’ll need to add your Address, Tax details and Bank Account. This is so that Amazon can pay you directly. Be aware that you will only receive your royalties from your home country direct debited into your account. Overseas royalties are still paid via cheque.

A special note about Tax

Australian KDP users should be aware that Australia has a Tax Agreement with the US so that we can earn royalties without having to get hold of an American IRS number or lodge a US Tax Return (hooray!). We can use our Australian Tax File number, but the IRS withholds 5% of royalties (as you can see below).

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.17.29

Creating Your Book

Once all of your account details are completed, click on “Bookshelf” on the top menu.

Click on “Create New Title” so you can begin to add your new book details. Most of this section is relatively straight forward but there are a few things you should have ready.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.18.57

KDP Select and Exclusivity

The first thing that KDP asks is whether or not you want to be enrolled in their KDP Select Program. KDP Select is about making your title exclusive to Amazon and Kindle which means, legally, you cannot publish your ebook on iTunes or any other digital book store not owned by Amazon.

It is a contract that you enter into 90 days at a time that allows you multiple benefits. Some of these include free book promotions, higher royalties and a cut of their Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) revenues.

At the end of the 90 days you can opt out or stay in, but you must wait the full 90 days if you choose to be in the program. KDP Select and its effectiveness is controversial, but like any contract read the fine print so you know what you’re agreeing to.

Your book description is what’s going to appear on your book’s sale page. If you haven’t read our blog on How to Write An Effective Amazon Book Description, I recommend you do that before you start.

Note: Do you have an ISBN? While technically you don’t need one to publish your boo,k it is important to have one as it can help book distributers and customers locate your title.

Pick your Categories with Care

Do you know where your book sits in the genre world? One of the most important things you need to get right is your categories. I’d recommend thinking of categories like you would think of good to think of sections in a book store. This is where your target audience will go hang out and peruse the shelves. If your book isn’t there, they won’t be able to discover you.

One great thing about KDP is that it gives you the chance to have two separate lots of category options, as you can see below. This allows you to reach more customers that wouldn’t have found you if you were only listed in one category.

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KDP also lets you have seven different key words of your choice that will link Amazon’s search results to your book. The flexibility of KDP means that you can change these up at any time if you find that they aren’t effective. It’s important to note that all changes have an average turn-around of approxmately 12 hours.

Uploading your Files

When it comes to uploading your cover and manuscript files, you must remember that KDP has formatting rules and regulations. If you haven’t gone through a designer that has already formatted your cover to correct specifications take the time to read the “Cover Guidelines.” The same applies for uploading your manuscript.
KDP also have a handy automatic spell check that will scan your book once it’s loaded. If it flags any errors, do take the time to check them to ensure there aren’t simple error’s that you can fix before the final upload. If you have lots of errors, then you aren’t ready to publish. You are a professional and you should see your book as a representation of you and your brand. You want people to buy it and enjoy it, not place it down and leave bad reviews because of sloppy grammar.


DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. This is a digital lock that you can place on your ebook so that no one can convert it from the Amazon .mobi files to other formats that can be used on multiple devices. Like KDP Select, there are many conflicting views on whether or not DRM is a good thing, but be warned, once you publish your book you can’t change your DRM setting.

Preview your Book

This is a fantastic perk put in by KDP that simulates how your book will look on a Kindle screen. It gives you a chance to really pick up any formatting errors that you may have overlooked.

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Setting your Territories and Prices

If you hold worldwide rights for your book select this option so Amazon can make it available to all possible countries. If you don’t hold world wide rights (you should already know your rights before you get this far) only select the countries for ones that you do.
The pricing table you’ll be able to see allows you to enter potential sale amounts, and view the royalties that you’ll earn. Read KDP’s “Pricing Page” if you find the royalty rates confusing. Also note that you are restricted on how low or high you can price your book depending on whether you select the 35% or 70% royalties option. The 35% royalty rates mean you can sell your books cheaper, but if you go for the 70% royalties, the cheapest you can sell your book for $2.99.

Once you’ve selected (and double checked) all of your details and agreed to the Terms and Conditions, you can now press the “Save and Publish” Button. Your book and all of its details will now be reviewed by the KDP team. This can take up to 48 hours.

In Summary

KDP is a great publishing program, but make sure your cover all your bases and know what you are agreeing to, like in any other business venture. Make your publishing experience far more pleasant by being prepared before you begin.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have all of your bank account and tax details?
  • Do you have a cover that will meet KDP Standards?
  • Is your manuscript correctly formatted?
  • Do you have an ISBN?
  • Have you written an enticing book description?
  • Do you know your genre, and have you picked your key words?
  • Do you know which countries you hold rights for?

If you answered no to any of the above, take the time to do your research, ensuring you place your most professional publishing step forward.

Writing The Blurb – What You Need To Know

Today we’re all about blurbs. Do you write your own, or get someone else to do it? Let’s give you some guidance about what makes a good blurb, and a great one.

Have you ever read a blurb that tells you the entire plot of the novel and you have put it back on the shelves and walked away? This is one of the many signs of a bad blurb so writers take note. Giving too much away, or not sharing enough to entice, can turn readers off wanting to know more. The length of the blurb, introducing your protagonist in an interesting way and using the right tone for your novel genre can make a huge difference in the  final decision of a curious book buyer. It’s difficult for even the most experienced of writers to construct an effective and engaging blurb but being aware of the following will get your head in the right game.

How long is long?

Ideally your blurb should be of about 100-180 words. This is a good word count to aim for as it will fit the back cover neatly in a good size font. You don’t want to give too much away, it’s important to not think of it in the same way you would a synopsis. It is the second base on the way for a customer to purchase your book and your main aim is to intrigue and entice them. Take a look at the below blurb for Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, an epic novel of about 650 pages:

american-gods ‘Is nothing sacred? Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break. Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS, takes a long hard look at the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who- it finds there…’

107 words is all it takes to give you a taste of what the book is about, just enough to make you curious. It doesn’t give you a blow by blow of what happens and how it ends. Less is more and finding that balance will always take more than one draft. It doesn’t have to be that short the first time round, lean it back with each draft and you will end up with a solid piece of tight prose.

Hello, what’s your name?


Blurbs are a great place to introduce your protagonist. It’s like meeting a stranger where first impressions always count. This gives your reader a chance to emotionally connect and become attached to them. This story is about them, and if the character doesn’t interest your reader on your blurb than they certainly won’t want to spend the next six hours with them. To use the above example, we quickly learn that the protagonist is Shadow, he was in prison and is now a grieving widow. The first few lines tell you exactly who your protagonist is even if it’s only a brief introduction. You are essentially speed dating your reader, be coy enough to be mysterious, don’t tell them your whole life story and then awkwardly propose.

Setting the scene

Book blurbs are direct and immediate advertising. All advertising has an angle and a target audience. The first very big question you need to ask yourself is do you know yours? It might seem obvious but you might be surprised how many writers don’t. As the cover of your book is a symbolic language tailored to your genre so must your blurb be. Rhythm in your tone sets the scene for your novel and it should be written in the same style and voice as your story. Your goal is to target readers that like your genre and intrigue them enough to want to know more. To jump genres let’s look at Kyra Davis’s 164 word blurb for her chick lit novel Sex, Murder and a Double Latte;

310740Thriller scribe Sophie Katz is as hard-boiled as a woman who drinks Grande Caramel Brownie Frappuccinos can be. So Sophie knows it’s not paranoia or post-divorce, living-alone-again jitters, when she becomes convinced that a crazed reader is sneaking into her apartment to reenact scenes from her books. The police, however, can’t tell a good plot from an unmarked grave.

When a filmmaker friend is brutally murdered in the manner of a death scene in one of his movies, Sophie becomes convinced that a copycat killer is on the loose — and that she’s the next target. If she doesn’t solve the mystery, her own bestseller will spell out her doom. Cursing her grisly imagination (why, oh, why did she have to pick the ax?), Sophie engages in some real-life gumshoe tactics. The man who swoops in to save her in dark alleys is mysterious new love interest Anatoly Darinsky. Of course, if this were fiction, Anatoly would be her prime suspect . . .

An interesting chick lit style blurb written with a thriller twist in keeping with the plot line and tone of the novel, it ends with an emotive hook to grab your attention leaving questions and curiosity.

Quotes and Testimonials

The last thing to briefly touch on is whether or not to have quotes, or a fabulous testimonial, from reviewers as a part of your blurb. There is a rather fine line with this because unless you have someone legitimate who has critiqued your work than it won’t have any leverage. It needs to be a review from a respected reviewing company, like Kirkus, or if you have sent your work to an established writer. Credibility is key. A quote from your mum (unless she is Anne Rice or JK Rowling) will make you look like an amateur.

Round Up

Like all writing, blurbs are not an exact science. It’s helpful to look at the best sellers in your genre and see how they are constructed. Remember to take some time to research and re-draft, it may be the decider on whether or not readers take that extra step.

Use the below checklist to make your blurb awesome:

  • Length: Is it between 100-180 words?
  • Protagonist: Are you doing introductions and creating attachment?
  • Research: Have you read other blurbs in your genre?
  • Tone: Is it the same ‘voice’ you have used in your novel? Are you leaving it open ended?


What do you look at first when buying a book? Do you read blurbs? Or do you think they spoil the plot too much?


ISBNs – What Are They And Why Do I Need One?

jack_sparrowOne of the more ambiguous problems that Self Published authors face in their adventure to publication is the debate of the ISBN, more specifically what they are and why do you need one?



What do all the numbers mean?

ISBN’s, or International Standard Book Numbers, are a thirteen digit number that is often printed as a part of a books barcode. This unique number system was invented in 1965 and is used to identify your book across the world. It is a combination of codes breaking down your regional group, publisher and title and if you want your book printed you will need to register an ISBN for it.


 Why is having an ISBN number so important?

The main reason is that it identifies your book and book like products internationally so that booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors can not only find your book but also market it more efficiently. There is always a strong possibility that some one else in the sea of authors will have the same title as yours, with multiple editions, so your ISBN is essential for customers to differentiate between your book and all the others when ordering. It’s important to note that while it’s a specific number for your work, ISBN’s are not a part of copy write. Unless you live in Australia, where you automatically own the copy write to your artistic endeavours, you will still need to register your works through the Copywrite Office (U.S) or the Intellectual Property Office (UK).

 How do you get one?

The good news is that there are a few options out there. If you plan on releasing one title or a thousand Thorpe-Bowker has multiple packages at whole sale prices as does Nielsen in the UK. Prices can start from $42$125 for just one, but the more you buy the cheaper they end up each.

Can you get free ones?

There are publishing houses like CreateSpace and Lulu that give you the option of using one of their free ISBNs or you can still provide your own. However be aware, if you use one of their free ISBN’s they will be listed as the publisher of record, even though you will still retain all your rights.

How many am I going to need? Can’t I just use the same one?

ISBNs, while handy for people to find your book, are also limited to their single book format i.e. Ebooks, audiobooks, hardcovers, soft covers are all separate formats. You cannot use the same ISBN for your paperback and your ebook and for the moment there is no such thing as an e-ISBN.

What about E-Books? 

ISBN’s are necessary for printed editions of your book but ebooks are another more shadowy story. At the moment you don’t need an ISBN number to publish with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook, Apple, Kobo or Google. In fact according to the most recent study by Author Earnings at least 30% of the ebooks being purchased in the U.S alone do not use ISBN’s, making all of the industry marketing surveys carried out by Bowker, Nielsen, AAP and BISG grossly inaccurate.

shutterstock_171423347The beauty of the self publishing world is that there are so many different choices you can make while managing your project and ISBNs are no different, only you will ultimately know what’s best for your book. Knowledge is power in this industry and with the torrent of information out there staying well educated and knowing what is required in all aspects of publishing is essential for your success.

Check out the below links if you want more info on:

As Writers what are your thoughts on ISBNS? If they are mandatory should they be free? Or like much in the rapidly changing Publishing Industry is it time to search for another option? 





Should I have a different eBook and Paperback cover?

Books now have two faces: one in the digital world and one in the printing world. The split of the two has brought with it different priorities in design. What works on a paperback will not work on an eBook, and vice versa. Should you consider two different book covers? Is this a trend that will pick up?

The benefits of having a different eBook and paperback cover:

  • I’ve not yet had an author ask for two different covers, but I expect it’s only a matter of time. I don’t envision this idea to be greatly practiced but it definitely has its benefits.
  • eBook covers are best viewed in black and white
  • eBook covers must have a clear message and typography at 180px high.
  • eBook covers are flat, and texture and definition of the paper doesn’t have any effect on the reader.

When I was convinced

I’m writing this blog post today because I was totally convinced this morning. It’s a question that’s been revolving around in my brain for a long time… is this something that should be offered more? What is the difference really?

My latest WIP is a fun chic-lit novel based in New York. I’ve been writing this sort of stuff for a while but when I want to do something well, I buy up anything and everything that might teach be how to do it better, so I bought these two books:

Will Write for Shoes See Jane Write









Will Write for Shoes  arrived in the post two days ago. When I opened up the package, excited and giddy as I always get when receiving books in the mail, I was a little disappointed to find the layout and printing quality of the book to be on par with CreateSpace. Glossy cover, the image cover not as clear as it could be, and the binding stiff and already creased a little bit. This is not a reflection on Will Write For Shoes but a reflection on the actual printer.

I’m used to dealing with CreateSpace and I get proofs a lot. Aside from that I’ve become a Kindle convert so if I can get a book via wifi, I’ll do it. This means I don’t buy up paperbacks nearly as often, and miss out on the personal experience.

This morning See Jane Write arrived in the post. Again I took to it with a box cutter (carefully and overzealously) and opened up the package and aahhhh… there it is… that moment…

~*~*THE MOMENT*~*~

The cover is matte printing, great colour, a good board for some stiffness, and the inside is all pink. The book, without opening it, is an experience. It feels like silk, it smells delicious. As I flip through it the text is in teal and magenta. Had I got this in eBook, the thrill would be dead. It’s just content, content, content. But this body of design, the paperback, is something tangible and calming.

It definitely released a bucket of endorphins in my head.

To slightly tweak or go all the way?

Having a different eBook and paperback cover doesn’t have to mean an entirely new redesign.

Small tweaks: This will save you a lot of cost so you don’t have to think about ordering two new concepts but just think about mainly text placement. On the eBook your title could be much more prominent and centred, while on the paperback it could be subdued a little to allow the graphics to do the talking. This also means you get to use images that have finer details that can’t be picked up in thumbnail format.

Total redesign: This could lead you to offering an exclusive version that only paperback lovers will get. There could be something extra in this book, something you offer only in paper form.

themasterandthetelepath_smargent_6x9_front_1_ebooklayout_600x479 themasterandthetelepath_smargent_6x9_front_1_paperbacklayout_6xx0_479

Having two alternate covers can be a smart move, especially in marketing. If you play your cards right you might even have your fans buying both ebook and paperback copies. And, like everything, you won’t know until you test, test, test!

What are your thoughts on different designs for paperbacks and ebook covers? What benefits or negatives are there?

What goes on the back of a fiction book?

You’ve uploaded your eBook to Kindle, and you’re organizing to print a paperback at CreateSpace, so what goes on the back of a cover? A blurb, a bio, a testimonial? Is there anything compulsory? Here’s the rundown of what goes on cover back matter.

blog_blurb_back_layoutThe Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter: Buy it here

  1. The blurb

The first, obvious, necessity. The blurb is the second step after the cover, for your audience to read up and find out more about your story. I’ve heard of blurbs running up to 400 words, but for a standard 6×9” paperback (and smaller) I would recommend 180 tops, 120 minimum. This gives you plenty of room for additional elements, and leaves you some nice space for the readers eye to travel, instead of it looking compressed.

For more information about writing a good blurb visit:

  1. An author biography:

A bio is good. It shares a bit about yourself, and gives your readers an access point to learning more about you. You can share your background, and then follow it with your social media and website links. A bio should be small and to the point, and normally goes at the bottom after the blurb. I’d keep it under 80 words if possible.

  1. An author photo:

This is to go with your bio, and should be a professional photo. If you’re choosing one which is taken from your phone, or a family member, ensure the lighting and composition is good and that you are easy to see.

  1. Testimonials & Endorsements

Testimonials and positive reviews about your book, and skills as an author, do wonders. The more reputable the source the better. You wouldn’t gain any traction with a testimonial from someone who hasn’t published themselves or has no reputation. Choose your sources wisely, but do choose them if you can. Stephen King would be awesome, if you can get him. David Tennant is also acceptable.

  1. A lead in line

Sometimes when you look at the back of a book there’s a single line that is placed at the top of the blurb, to lead into the first sentence. This could be drawn from a line from the book that summarises the plot well, or the overall theme. This could just be a punchy line or something quirky, a line that shares your character with the reader before they open to the first page. A single line works best, but if you find you can’t plump up your blurb and have a lot of space to cover, a couple of good lines works just as well.

  1. Barcode + ISBN

A barcode and your ISBN goes onto the back, bottom half. Sometimes to the left, mostly on the right, not in the middle.

Do I give the barcode and ISBN it to my designer?

In some instances, such as CreateSpace, you type your ISBN directly into their system when you upload your cover, and they will place the barcode on there for you. In others it may be up to you (or your designer) to organize your barcode onto the back. Either way you gotta leave room for it, so don’t fill up the whole back page!

  1. A mention of your other work.

If you are writing a series and want the reader to know of the other titles available, this is a great opportunity. If it’s not going on the back of the book, put it on the inside.


None of these points, except for the blurb, is conditional. The blurb guidelines I’ve supplied aren’t even a must-do, but you do have to have some sort of synopsis to entice your reader to read your story. They have to know what they’re getting themselves into!

Do you have any suggestions as to what should or shouldn’t be on a back cover? Seen anything that was truly awful?

How to let go of fear and self-publish anyway

Self-publishing is such a huge feat from beginning to end that it’s easy to surrender to your fear and put the project aside until you feel like you could face it again. If that ever happens. So how do we get through it? How do we finish our projects and have more self-confidence within ourselves so that we can do it again, and again?


I confess: Today I’m writing this in the darkness of my bed-cave because it’s been a pretty dark week for me and this is where I need to be if I want to get work done. I’m a perfectionist. Every day I work through huge amounts of guilt, anxiety and fear. Do you do that too?

I’ve also learned how to handle it so that I can get things done and accomplish the goals I want to. I’m very grateful I can do this, as I have friends who can’t finish projects they start, jump from one to the other, and are too afraid to commit. I’ve seen, and experienced, how debilitating fear can be.

Step 1: What is fear?

anxiouswriterFear is something that comes over us in times we feel threatened, and that something in our lives is at risk. This could be physically, mentally or spiritually. It could be logical or illogical. If you suffer from anxiety, you understand that is a constant propulsion of fear triggered by certain circumstances, but you actually believe the situation to be much more threatening that it really is.

If you understand anxiety/CBT talk: I catastrophize, all the time. I think things are much worse than they really are.

Step 2: Facing fear:

Fear is an experience. You can’t climb over it, sorry. But by understanding and knowing what role it plays in your life you can get through it and become friends with it.

“What is this bullshit Scarlett? Honestly?” That’s what I hear you saying but if you want to change sometimes you gotta give new ideas a chance.

So let’s think of the opposite- courage. What is courage?

“It’s when someone doesn’t have any fear.” WRONG. Courage is having fear and taking action anyway. In life threatening situations this is done in complete terror, knowing if you don’t take action you’ll die.


But let’s talk day-to-day situations: You haven’t finished your manuscript, or you haven’t got it ready for the editor, or it costs too much money, or you don’t think anyone will like reading it. These aren’t life threatening situations but triggers for fear. You have self-talk going on in your head and when you face the fact you have to finish writing your manuscript, the self-talk returns and may say any of these to you:

  • You’re not good enough
  • No one will like your work
  • No one likes you
  • Who the hell would want to read it?
  • You’re never going to finish it. You never finish anything.
  • You’re a joke. Why do you think you can be successful at this?
  • You’re not working hard enough

At this point your fear has a good hold on you. No matter how many times you tell it to fuck off, it’s still there.

Step 3: Letting go of fear:

You’re sitting at your desk, looking at the blinking cursor. It mocks you, right? It laughs at you. You’re knee deep in mental shit and you will meet the same fate as Artax.



Note: Sitting by the river is not the fate you will meet. Couldn’t post the real thing. Makes me cry every time.

At this point you’ve got two things you can do:

Letting go of fear 1: Figure out what you are scared of. Write down everything you fear. Then write down why you are afraid of it. On a scale of 1-5 (1: most realistic, 5: least realistic) number each thought. Example:

What do I fear?

I’m terrified that I’m going to get bad reviews.

Why do I fear it?

If I get bad reviews everyone will hate me, and my work, and I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never be able to make a career out of it

Number: 5

Let’s analyse that fear. Is there a chance that I’m going to get bad reviews? Yes. Every author gets a bad review in their life. You can’t possibly cater to everyone, and to be honest, I don’t want to.

Is this something that should stop me from publishing? No. All authors experience this and they continue to publish. I’ll get good enough by continuing to write, to practice and refine my craft, and get better and better at it. I will not be great straight away, but I will get there.

Letting go of fear 2: Feel the fear and do it anyway.

You’ve probably heard of the book, but have you actually recognized what that means? To FEEL IT and DO IT ANYWAY? How can you do something while you’re in fear lockdown?

Because you think about this: What’s the worst that could happen? Honestly? Can you have the fear and decide to take action anyway? By taking action, you’re telling your fear that it can exist within you, but does not control you. Over time it will become weaker, while you continue to go ahead and finish writing your manuscript.

This isn’t an easy task, but at the time you have to recognize that your fear is there and is a very real emotion. It’s there to protect you, to shield you from things you experienced when you were younger and believes you’re still at risk. But you’ve grown beyond that now, it’s time to try just one thing to see if your fear really is telling the truth, and that you’ll fail miserably.

You might just be happily surprised. 


But you don’t know it unless you TRY. Just try it once. One day, when you feel that fear inside you say to yourself,

“Okay, there it is. Now can I do it ANYWAY?”

You have it inside you to do it. You have to try and trust yourself, that you are capable of handling whatever comes your way. Will it be worse than living the rest of your life in fear, regretting what once could have been?

George Orwell’s 42 different covers for 1984

As a self-published author changing your book cover for your ebook or paperaback can be daunting. You don’t have anyone to really compare yourself against; how often have the best sellers changed their covers?

If the cover works and the book sells, why change it?

There are a lot of different reasons, but today to help put your questioning mind at ease I want to share with you the many different book covers for George Orwell’s 1984. A classic, a trend setting piece of literature, ground breaking in its prophecy.

While you browse the book covers I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you guess when the book cover was published?
  • What part of the design tells you it’s from a particular era?
  • What parts of the design are trends, which are now considered unfashionable?

  • What does each book cover say about the book? Does it convey the message of what the book is about?
  • Is there anything on the cover which shows what the book is actually about? I.e.: Is there a literal image of what’s going on inside the book, on the outside, or is it more symbolic?
  • How do you think the book would sell with each different cover, in today’s publishing industry?
  • Can you find the one that was designed after the film release?
  • Can you find the one that was designed by Shephard Fairey, the designer who did the Obama Hope poster?
  • If these covers were shared in the self-publishing industry, what sort of feedback do you think other authors would share? “Is the title big enough for the thumbnail?” “Does it speak of it’s genre?” “Does it say enough about the book? Is it too different?”
  • What is your favourite cover, and why?

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This last book cover version is my favourite. It is a multi-layered concept designed by David Pearson, and this is what he says:

The new cover design is part of Penguin’s ‘Great Orwell’ series, a re-release of five of Orwell’s greatest works. Pearson and his team designed all five covers for the ‘Great Orwell’ editions, and although Pearson refers toNineteen Eighty-Four as the ‘risk taker of the series,’ each of the re-booted cover designs stands out as fresh and thought-provoking. When PSFK asked Pearson about the bold choice for Nineteen Eighty-Four, he told us his inspiration was ‘born out of altering/erasing the identity of the book,’ adding, ‘using classic Penguin livery – which everyone knows and understands – allowed for this sort of fun and games — I would argue that the idea wouldn’t work otherwise.’

This is why this book cover is my favourite, not just in this series but is in my top 5 across the board of book cover design:

  1. The concept: Penguin produces books that are considered classics, educational, and famous. THIS book in particular forces the reader to challenge their thinking, and the thinking of society around them. Pearson has used our real life experience with Penguin to transcend us into the book.
  2. By picking up the book to find out more we are going against group think and Big Brother.
  3. It is immediately eye catching and stands out amongst its competition.
  4. It is bold and intriguing
  5. It tells us what the book is about in simplest terms.

Even the most famous books go through major redesigns, from limited editions to scrappy high school paperbacks, from western culture design to European and Asian influences.

So when you think about if you should go for another redesign, ask yourself the same questions you asked when looking at the Orwell covers. Can you guess when the cover is published? Does it use trend style design, or is it timeless? Is it symbolic or literal, and what is more appropriate for your story?

 What are your thoughts on multiple cover design for a book? Should there be a limit, or different designs for different countries?


When Should You Organize Your Book Cover Designer?

When to organize a book cover designerYou’ve got to organize editing, formatting, design and marketing and all in a schedule that will mean a timely publishing release. So how do you organize your time so your eBook comes together perfectly?

When producing a book, what publishing steps do you have to think about for your schedule?

  • Finishing it first. That would definitely help.
  • Sending your MS off to an editor.
  • Organizing a formatter to lay it out for eReaders and paperbacks
  • Deciding where you’re going to publish.

It’s always better to play it early, so my advice is when you’ve finished your book and are in the middle of drafting and editing, get in touch with your cover designer. Your designer might be able to work with you straight away which is awesome, but your designer might also be booked three to five months in advance.

And what if your designer asks to read your book?

If your designer wants to read your book and you haven’t edited it, give it to them. I read the book for themes and ideas, I don’t read it to leave a review. I gotta understand the relationships, the arc, and get the visuals. I don’t need a completely clean book to do that but you do need to have the major elements sorted. So first draft? Not ready. Last couple of final drafts? Ready.

If I read a book and it’s got themes or characters or plot developments that you’ve eradicated, that’s no use to me.

So contact you designer when you’re in the last half of your editing, after the plot and main structure is in.

What’s your experience when booking a designer? Did you wait until the end, or get in early?

5 questions to ask yourself to find out if you’re ready to self-publish

How do you know you're ready to self publish?How do you know if you’re ready to publish your book? You’ve been working on it for so long, but when does an author really know?

Here are 5 simple questions to ask yourself if you’re ready to be the best selling self-published author you’ve always wanted to be.

Question 1: Do I know the basics?

Do you know the basics in grammar, spelling, punctuation and form? Do you know the basics of how to tell a good story?

Your story has to be readable and enjoyable. That means you have to know how paragraphs are used and dialogue is written. Before you can paint like Picasso you have to know how to use a paintbrush and colours.
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

The Chicago Manual of Style

50 Writing Tools by Roy Peter ClarkThe Careful Writer










After you have the basic function of your language down you need to be able to tell the story in a structure that your reader will enjoy. Do you understand the practice of beginning, middle and end? Does your story have conflict and resolution? It needs to have the bare minimum of narrative structure, even if it has the appears of chaos.


Question 2: Am I prepared to invest time, energy and money into this?

Self publishing is free but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in your book. If you want to publish a book that is of a professional standard you will have to spend months working on it, spend money hiring editors and designers and formatters, and spend energy revising and planning for every event up to publishing, and then after. Pressing ‘publish’ doesn’t mean anything if people don’t buy your book.

Question 3: Have I sought feedback from people who are not obligated to be nice to me?


Beta readers give you honest opinions. If they aren’t, you need new ones. You might have friends or family who you’ve asked for advice but no matter what you say, they’re always obligated to say something nice. What if your book really is a pile of pudding? You must find readers who will not be afraid to give you the honest critique you need, and when you find them you will do everything you can not to let them go!

Question 4: Am I out to make money, or only to share my stories with my family and friends?

Shut up and take my money!!

Authors write to share stories, but what you need to ask yourself is:

Are you sharing stories for joy, profit, or stature?

Authors who write for joy: Write for joy, do it lovingly, share it with your friends and family. If you’re only writing to share with your local community use a printer that can provide you with paperback copies, but don’t make it accessible to everyone. Print up a box to keep at home and sell personally. Authors who write for joy may not be ready for a plunge into professional publishing, as it’s much, much more than just writing.

Authors who write for profit and stature: You’re in it for the long haul, you’re prepared to learn how publishing a book works, and ready to set yourself up as a business. Yes, you need to function as a business. You’re going in it to earn money, and that’s what publishing a book is about. When you sell a product for money and expect a return, be ready for invoices, administration, marketing, customer service and multitasking.

You are now an author, marketer, business owner, book keeper, networker, administrator, and all the other hats that comes with running a business.

Question 5: Am I ready to fail?

Self-publishing an eBook successfully means making mistakes. You must be ready to guide yourself through these stormy seas with patience and discipline. When your boat overturns you will become skilled at flipping it back up and sailing on but you must be ready for that turn.


What are your initial reactions when you imagine this?

–       You sell nothing in the first six months.

–       You get four one star reviews.

–       There are major printing errors you sent out to your reviewers.

–       You must know and be able to work (consistently, not as a once off) in social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads and forums.

–       Your book is removed off Amazon because someone has complained.

Any of these could happen to you. All of them could happen to you. You have to know how to work the social network machine as a start, but being prepared for ups and downs means you have a long career of writing ahead of you. It means you won’t be deterred, frustrated or disheartened but continue to test what works better and what works best.

Be honest with yourself when thinking these questions over. Self-publishing has been branded as bad cattle but by being dedicated to their craft and finding their purpose any author can become a best seller, and your first published eBook is just the initial step!

What are some other questions you think are important to put to author’s thinking about self-publishing?