Welcome to Amelia Indie Authors, a co-op dedicated to the support and empowerment of independent authors who strive for excellence in publishing.

In many circles, the phrase “indie author” has replaced the term “self-published” and, frankly, we’re glad. The new term is far more accurate because, in order to create a high-quality product, nobody publishes by him or her self. To be candid, those who try produce some embarrassing results.

Unfortunately, far too many indie authors are being lured into paying large (!) sums for things they can easily learn to do for themselves. Sadly, many purchase high-priced packages, only to find they still need to tend their own websites and social media platforms.

Amelia Indie Authors is a co-op providing help on both fronts: we work with authors to raise the bar on quality while helping to connect them with high-value, ethical providers. For more info check  Author Services and the Join Us  page .

In addition to member-only content we strive to give back to the larger community by providing thought-provoking content. We are deeply grateful to our #WritingCommunity colleagues for contributing beautiful, original content.

Birth of a Book Cover

Developing the right book cover for your new work involves far more than simply choosing a more durable paper stock and a lovely graphic. Like almost everything else in the publishing industry, when done well, the addition of a book cover appears quite simple. And that appearance of ease and simplicity is part of the goal.

In the time it takes to write, edit, and prepare a manuscript for publication authors find themselves responding to “tell me about your book” or “describe your work in progress” over and over again. Eventually, though, that book gets published. Who, then to “tell me about your book?”

Who’s Going to Tell About Your Book?

If you guessed the book cover you’re absolutely right and have arrived at its purpose: the book cover stands in for the author when she is not available. Its job is to tell about the book, to let the prospective reader know a little bit about why the author loved this story enough to tell it — and why they’re going to love reading it. That’s a tall order and one not generally fulfilled by a prefabricated cover design.

A great book cover is comprised of several parts: the title, the spine, the inside front and back cover copy. We will look at some of those parts in the future. Today we’re going to start with the overall image which likely includes some of those other components. The simplest way to do that seems to be to trace Nancy Blanton’s process as she created the cover for When Starlings Fly as One. Or, as one reader asked, “How did you get from A to B?”

Young Woman in a Dutch Portrait

The process started, as it always does, in Nancy’s glorious imagination and the cover pictured at the top of this post. As readers of her first series know, Nancy is a great fan of the portraits of the time. She was intrigued by the young woman and truly loved the Dutch portrait initially featured on the cover; it inspired many aspects of the protagonist and her personality.

We posted a few versions of that first cover on Nancy’s Facebook page and on the Amelia Indie Authors page as well and asked her existing readers about their preferences.

While both Nancy and her support team appreciated those comments they were not at all what we expected. Frankly, we thought the crowdsourcing would provide a clear preference. At first it did not. After reviewing the comments elicited by book cover number one, Blanton and the team moved from confused to inspired. In our experience, that’s what readers do: they inspire.

The Trip from A to B: Readers Inspire

Although the book covers look very different from one another, there are a number of logical steps from point A to point B. Here’s some of what Nancy had to say when she recently shared the finished book cover on social media:

You truly inspired the new look. We’ve used the murmuration background that was most favored, along with the preferred type style for the title, and made sure it was clearly readable. We also retained the castle image, though it is on the back cover now. And though I truly loved the Dutch portrait of a young woman, several of you pointed out that use of it on the cover could discourage male readers.

This is a book for all genders, for anyone who is interested in Ireland. That interest is the core that will attract readers to the book, and so we put Ireland on the cover. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

The official publication date for When Starlings Fly as One is June 23rd, but those of you who want advance availability and ordering options should be sure to follow Nancy on the social media platform of your choice.

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

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3 more ways you can help this talented author reach more readers.

1. Help your friends find and follow her on social media.

2. Sign up for our newsletter (in the sidebar above) and encourage others to do the same.

3. Share these simple tweets with your Twitter following.

 

Although the book covers look very different from one another, there are a number of logical steps from point A to point B. Click To Tweet

After reviewing the comments elicited by cover #1, Blanton and the team moved from confused to inspired. In our experience, that’s what readers do: they inspire. Click To Tweet

The simplest way seems to be to trace Nancy Blanton’s process as she created the cover for When Starlings Fly as One. Or, as one reader asked, “How *did* you get from there to here?” Click To Tweet

 

Featured Author: Darryl Bollinger

Meet Darryl Bollinger, an award-winning author of seven medical thrillers. The richness of detail in his books can only come from someone who spent twenty-eight years working in the health care industry. It’s a field that touches all of us from time to time — and this author has collected a lot of juicy stories to tell.

The Healing Tree was inspired while Darryl and a friend were walking in the woods near his North Carolina home. He says:

I was halfway through the first draft of what, at the time, was going to be book number seven. On a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a friend mentioned that he had a great idea for a book. “What if someone hiking in the park discovered a tree that was thought to be extinct?” he asked. As ideas tend to do, this one reached out and grabbed me. By the time we finished the hike, I’d sketched out a story. I shelved my then-current work-in-progress and immediately started writing The Healing Tree.

Plants as Medicine

Most good novels contain some fascinating research and this one is no exception:

Since the Cherokee Indians are so much a part of this area, I wanted to incorporate them accurately and respectfully. I probably read four or five books on the Cherokee and their history and visited the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC. (Highly recommend!)

The Healing Tree is based on the premise that the Cherokee know about the healing tree and its properties, so Darryl also delved into how plants are used for medicinal purposes. His local bookstore, Blue Ridge Books, recommended a great book on the subject: Plants of the Cherokee by William H. Banks.

How Far Would You Go?

We asked Darryl what he would like readers to take away from The Healing Tree.

First, the question of “how far would you go to save the life of a loved one?” Justin Reeve, my protagonist, faces this question a number of times. His sister is dying and conventional treatment is not working. He desperately wants to save her, but at what risks? What compromises will he be willing to make?

The second takeaway is the realization that our health care system is driven by money and greed. As a country, we spend twice as much per capita as the next closest country, yet our outcomes are in the middle of the pack at best.

A Long Time Coming

Like many of us, Bollinger had an interest in writing from an early age.

I’ve always loved reading fiction. As a child, it was an escape. I tell people that it took me over twenty years to finish my first book which, by the way, is still unpublished. I didn’t have the confidence to try to make a living writing, and went into a business career instead. So, I was a “closet” writer for those twenty years.

When I finally retired, my wife challenged me to give writing my undivided attention. That was when I finally finished my first novel. I realized it wasn’t ready for prime time, so I put it in the file cabinet and started on The Medicine Game, which became my first published novel.

When asked about his writing inspirations, Darryl took the difficult step of limiting it to three.

Ernest Hemingway. I love his brevity and concise prose. Every word in his writing counts.

John Updike, probably one of America’s greatest writers—a writers’ writer. One of only four to have won two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction, he also wrote non-fiction, short stories, poetry, stories… everything.

Michael Crichton. Brilliant. An M.D., author, and filmmaker. He always started with a kernel of truth and then wrapped an incredible story around that core. Like Jurassic Park. The kernel of truth was dinosaur DNA found preserved in amber. I give Crichton credit for my belief that my books are fiction rooted in reality.

Finally, loyal readers will be happy to know that Darryl has picked up the manuscript he put on hold when he began to work on The Healing Tree.

It’s called The Treatment Plan. My last two books are set in North Carolina, but I’m going back to Florida for this one. When a stranger asks for help in finding his daughter who has been kicked out of a drug treatment center for non-payment, a reluctant ex-federal agent must battle a corrupt health care company to save her and prevent more victims

To receive updates about author friends and their work be sure to subscribe to the Amelia Indie Authors newsletter. Learn more about Darryl and his work at http://darrylbollinger.com

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Want to help spread the word about this talented #indieauthor? It’s easy to tweet.

The premise of The Healing Tree by Darryl Bollinger came on a hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “What if someone hiking in the park discovered a tree that was thought to be extinct?” Click To Tweet

The Healing Tree by Darryl Bollinger looks at area customs.“Since the Cherokee Indians are so much a part of this area, I wanted to incorporate them accurately and respectfully.” Click To Tweet

What would @DarrylBollinger like readers to take away from The Healing Tree? First, “how far would you go to save the life of a loved one?” What risks would you take? What compromises would you make? Click To Tweet

grayscale photo of man standing while writing in book

The Sell Sheet: Why You Need a Resume for Your Book

What’s a Sell Sheet and why do you need one?

One of the ways people get to know authors is through our resumes. When dealing with large book shows, retailers and library lists authors are fortunate that we can develop resumes for our books, as well.

Just like a ‘help wanted’ posting can generate a great deal of incoming correspondence there are times that bookstore owners and other large buyers receive a major inflow of catalogs and other information about new releases. A good sell sheet is a whole lot easier to scan through than an entire catalog and, as with any sales effort, our job is to make the buyer’s job as easy and hassle-free as possible.

The author sell sheet is an important tool in your book sales arsenal. Sometimes called a one-sheet or a sales flier, it contains — on a single page —  all a bookseller (or buyer) needs to know about your book.

Of course that’s something that could come in handy for individual readers, too. You might consider creating two versions: one for booksellers that has a broad, industry focus, and another for consumers that has a slightly different approach for individual readers at book festivals, book clubs and other general uses.

In any case, this is a place to put your best foot forward. Sometimes authors are reluctant to engage in their own marketing so we will remind you to include a clear call to action.

The purpose of either version of your sell sheet is to encourage the reader to order the book.

What information helps book buyers to make a decision?

Your sell Sheet Should include…

  • Overview: book title, subtitle, author and/or other contributor, logline, and a brief description (no more than 150 words)
  • High resolution book cover image
  • Book identification information: ISBN, category, formats available with price information for each, trim size and page count of print version, publication date, rights available, distributor or direct sales information
  • Reviews: one or two short quotations from your best reviews
  • Comparables: any competitive information to help show where your book fits into the market (particularly helpful for bookstore managers and agents)
  • Author bio and high resolution headshot: Include credentials, awards or other information that supports your work and/or subject area expertise
  • Marketing: Events, tours or advertising campaigns from which a bookseller could benefit
  • Publisher, logo and contact information

assorted-title novel book lot

What if your Sell Sheet works?

What if they like it? Of course they’re going to like it — so getting ready for when your sell sheet draws some interest is your next step.

You may be contacted and asked for additional information. For this happy occasion, you should be ready with a packet of more detailed information including:

  • A more detailed author bio
  • Audience profile: Who is your ideal reader? Include gender, age, geography, prevalence, etc. Whatever you do, please do not pitch your book as one “for everybody.” That most often leads to “for nobody.”
  • Excerpts from the book that are representative of its style and content
  • Reviews: 5 or 6 of your best listed on a single page
  • Book press release or announcement
  • Media clips, such as author interviews and event coverage
  • Links to your website and social media profiles

The Amelia Indie Authors private library contains some member Sell Sheet samples that you may use to help you create your own. If you haven’t yet joined us and you use MS Word, look in the templates as a starting place. Photoshop also has them. There is a crisp and clean resume template designed by MOO as well as several in Pages for Mac. Any one of these could be adapted easily.

If you’d like help, our co-op encourages members to provide critique to one another. And, if you’re still reluctant? Amelia Indie Authors can recommend a trusted provider create one for you.

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Go ahead. Tell the little birdie — you know you want to.

 

What’s a Sell Sheet and why do you need one? Click To Tweet

A good sell sheet is a whole lot easier to scan through than an entire catalog and our job is to make the buyer’s job as easy and hassle-free as possible. Click To Tweet

Sometimes authors are reluctant to engage in their own marketing so we will remind you to include a clear call to action. Click To Tweet