Featured Author: Barbara Robin

Author: Barbara Robin

Book Title: I Should have Married a Cowboy

Book genre: Non-fiction

I SHOULD HAVE MARRIED A COWBOY is a series of stories told in the manner I try to live my life – with honesty and humor. The oldest of nine children, my formative years were spent in Vanderhoof, Terrace, Kitimat, and Fort St. James; my family, like these communities, all caught up in the post war boom. Through this period of parental wanderlust, I was provided with endless opportunities for adventure and discovery, right up to the moment I was brought to heel by rheumatic fever at the age of 14. Two bouts later, probably hoping to forestall trouble, my parents sent me off to a convent school in the lower mainland. The experience changed my life considerably but that set back did not dampen my romantic curiosity or stop me from becoming a teen-age bride soon followed by the daunting task of raising a handi-capped son.  

Inspiration:

My stories speak to the many challenges, heartaches and opportunities I have faced over the years but it is also a testament to resiliency and determination. 

When I was writing the book I struggled with some of the deeply personal stories and I wondered if perhaps I was being too honest. One day I was discussing my concern with my brother and fellow author, Peter Robin. His comment was, “if your story helps just one woman get out of an abusive relationship you’ve done your job.” Thanks Pete.

Writing and Self-Publishing Process:

If I had the opportunity to change one thing about my writing process it would be to have more patience. If I could start over I would set the book aside, walk away for six months or a year and then come back to it. I know that’s difficult to do, it’s like walking away from your baby but distancing yourself for a period of time allows you to come back and reread it with fresh eyes. 

I am fortunate the staff at Blitzprint were so knowledgeable and patient. It was my first publishing experience and they helped me immensely with the format and design. I made countless adjustments and corrections before approving the final draft but their diligence insured I would be happy and proud of the book.   

I can be contacted on my author Facebook page: “I Should have Married a Cowboy” or at: babsie@telus.net    

*If you are an author that has printed a book with us and would like to share your story, please feel free to reach out to alisha@blitzprint.com.*

If you have a book that you are looking to print or inquire about publishing, please get in touch with us here


Author Websites – How-to Guide

You wrote a book, now what? As an author, marketing is key to generating sales for your book or book series, and a strong website is an important component of this. There are a few things that you need to think about when creating your website, including what hosting platform to choose, and what pages and information to include. We break it all down for you here.

Why it’s important to have a strong website:

People appreciate convenience. The easier the process, the more likely someone might be to purchase something. Ensuring that your website is clear and not confusing will play in your favor in generating potential sales. A strong website also can be a reflection, in the consumer’s eyes, of a strong product (your books).

Choosing a platform:

Here are a few of the user-friendly website platforms I suggest to use for your author website. Each of these makes the process easy to learn, and there are many Youtube videos or other articles available if you are unsure of how to do something on the site.

  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • GoDaddy
  • Weebly

Once you have chosen your platform, you need to purchase a domain for your site.

What pages should you include on your site:

You don’t want to over complicate things, but there are certain pieces of information that are relevant and important to include on your site. These include:

  1. Bio.
    • When people purchase your book or series, they are buying into you as well. You are your brand. If your personal story resonates with someone, they might be more inclined to want to purchase your product. Sometimes, the bio is just an opportunity to connect with others and share a little about yourself.
    • You may include the inspiration behind your story or a little about your history. You can also choose to share personal information such as the city you reside in, your family, and what you do for a living. Don’t go too far in-depth with this information.
  2. Books
    • Include a write up on each of your books. You may choose to offer excerpts from the books as well so people can sample what the content is like. Include photos of the book covers on this page.
  3. Reviews
    • Asking or incentivizing customers to review your book upon reading it is a very valuable tool that you can and should include on your website. People place a high value on the opinion of their peers.
  4. Contact info
    • Having a strong website ties into the need to have strong social media pages as well. Social media is a powerful tool to reach new audiences and connect with current ones. That’s a whole other topic, but it’s important to mention the need to include these links on your website so visitors can check out your pages. Additionally, it’s important to link your website in your social media posts to drive traffic there.
  5. Purchasing section
    • If you choose, you can include a page where customers can directly purchase your book. Alternatively, you can link to another page where people can purchase a copy. Either way, make sure that the available options for purchasing your books are clear.  

Analyzing your website traffic

A website is not something that you should simply create and then never touch again. You should consistently update your site, whether this consists of linking your social media feeds to your site, or writing a blog.

The most important part, however, is the analysis of website traffic. With a resource such as Google Analytics, so much valuable information is available to you. Some of the metrics I would suggest paying attention to include:

  • Bounce rate (generally, you want a lower bounce rate)
  • Demographics (location, age, gender, etc.)
  • Website traffic referral – where is your website traffic coming from?
  • What pages are most visited on your site

Paying attention to these aspects is important in driving your decisions on whether to edit pages, get rid of some, or make other changes on parts of the site that aren’t working optimally for driving sales. Analyzing something such as demographics can influence your other marketing decisions.

Looking to print a book? Connect with us at https://blitzprint.com/request-a-quote/.


What exactly does POD mean?

What-exactly-does-POD-meanPOD means Print on Demand, but we all know that there is a lot more to it than that. There are different types of print on demand, each adding their own twist to the meaning.

There are the one at a time POD printers who retail your books. These guys are the CreateSpace’s of the world. CreateSpace, for example, is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Amazon.com lists your book, someone buys it, CreateSpace prints it, and Amazon.com ships it. These guys are really aimed at first time DIY authors. I don’t believe that they offer a hard cover option.

There are one at a time POD printers like Lightning Source, who market your book on a few different online stores, as well as in the Ingram catalog. These guys act more like distributors These guys work in a very similar way to CreateSpace. They are more aimed at experienced authors. They will take anyone on, though, and they are incredibly friendly.

Both of these types of POD printers have a set, low price for one book at a time. They do this by printing your book with hundreds of other books that have come in, and fall into the same “bucket” as your book.

Short run POD are printers who specialize in runs of soft cover books, typically from as few as 5, to as many as 1,000. Past 1,000, short run printers will often suggest that you find an offset printer.  Cost per book will get less the more books you order. There isn’t a break point, like there is in offset. It is literally cheaper per book at 400 books than it is at 399.

Now that you know the difference, how do you know what is right for your needs? Check out our previous blog, How Do I Find The Right Printer for Me?


Self-Publishing Shouldn’t Feel Like Rocket Science!

Rocket-Science

Courtesy of NASA Images

Quite often I find people getting confused over all of the different terms that we use in the print world, which makes the task of getting a book printed all the more daunting. Here are some common terms, and their meanings. (All definitions that have an * were found on http://dictionary.reference.com/)

*Edit

1. to supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.); serve as editor of; direct the editorial policies of.
2. to collect, prepare, and arrange (materials) for publication.
3. to revise or correct, as a manuscript.
4. to add (usually followed by in ).
Editing is when someone reviews your book for grammar and syntax, essentially.

*Format
1. the general physical appearance of a book, magazine, or newspaper, such as the typeface, binding, quality of paper, margins, etc.
Formatting is creating the technical layout of your book interior.

*Design
1. to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
Design is the artistic portion of format. For example, you design a cover.

*Bleeds
1. a sheet or page margin trimmed so as to mutilate the text or illustration.
2. part thus trimmed off.
Any pages that need to have the image or color go right to the edge need to have a bleed. This prevents odd, thin white borders from appearing around the edges.

Resolution
1. the number of pixels per inch in an image
We require of resolution of 300 DPI on all images, at the size that they will be printing, in order to prevent the image from appearing pixelated.

DPI
1. Dots per inch. This measures the number of dots of ink per inch.
The DPI of your image can be found in all professional image software, such as InDesign, Photoshop and Quark.

*Pixelated
1. pertaining to a printed image which has been digitized; visible as a pattern of pixels; also written pixellated.
When something is pixelated, you can actually see the jagged edges and pixels printed on the page. This results from not having a high enough DPI, because the dots/pixels have to be larger, in order to cover the area, so the blending effect of the pointillism is lost.

*Page
1. one side of a leaf of something printed or written, as a book, manuscript, or letter.
A page is one side of a sheet.

Sheet
1.the entire leaf of the printed thing, which contains two pages
A sheet contains two pages.

 

Are there any words that we missed here, that you would like to see on this list? Please send them to us at networking@blitzprint.com!

 


I’ve decided on my quantities. Who should I print with?

Blitzprint of course! No, I am just kidding. We may be the right fit for you, we may not be. It all depends on what your needs are. If you want to be able to print one book at a time, then you need to go with that kind of POD (print on demand) printer. For these scenarios, I would suggest checking out Lightening Source or CreateSpace. With both of them, you register your book through them, send them VERY specific files, and then they list you online with their various sources. Really make sure that you research this to be sure that it is right for you. For instance, CreateSpace lists you on Amazon.com once you are working with them. That being said, you can achieve the same thing with Amazon Advantage. Figure out what is right for you. Also, as fair warning, with these kinds of book printers, there is no guarantee on the colors on and in your book. Every time that you print, you can almost guarantee a 5% variance on your colors. It is hardly noticeable at 5% and under, but it is there. At places where someone is printing larger runs of your books, they should be watching to ensure that your color doesn’t vary more than that 5%. There really isn’t someone there doing that for you in these scenarios. Basically, you have strict file restrictions when you submit to them, because the book essentially has to fit a certain criteria. The reason for this is that, when they get in 700 orders that day, all of these books need to fit together into categories, so that they can all be printed together, at once. This is what keeps their cost down, it now cost them per unit the cost to print 700 books, which is way lower than the cost per unit to print 1 book. With all of those books going through, there isn’t really a person holding up the last copy of your book and saying, hmmm, I don’t think that this color is going to be acceptable to the author. These books would also be printed digitally, just as an FYI. Also, these books would be being turned around in a day or two, typically. Last, but not least, your cost per unit with these types of companies doesn’t go up or down much with quantity changes. The price will usually be pretty close to the same the whole way through.

If you are printing between, I would say 25 and 1,000 books, your best fit really is a company like Blitzprint. We are called short run POD printers. At this range, we are still printing books digitally. Don’t let that scare you. I can’t speak for other companies, but I can for ours, and we have some pretty amazing machines that produce some of the most beautiful colors and printing that I have ever seen. This is definitely the sweet spot for most self published authors, because they can get usable quantities at reasonable prices, and in a reasonable timeline. I know that for us, our standard timeline is 12-20 business days after proof approval, plus any shipping time. The sweet spot for printing with a short run POD printer is usually between 100 and 500 quantity. This is where you will notice your cost per unit going down the most when you add books. There are no price break points in this type of printing. Every time you add a book to the quantity of your order, your price per unit will go down. Depending on how many books you add to your order, the price could be a couple of cents (deciding you want 101 books, not 100) to a dollar or more (deciding that you want 500 books, not 100). Also, in this type of printing, we typically don’t need, or want, for that matter, your book to come to us in signatures. What that means is, in most perfect bound book scenarios, as long as you have an even number of pages, then we will be able to print it.

At around 1,000 books, typically, sometimes less, sometimes more, we will suggest that you go to see an offset printer. Offset is traditional printing, with a press and inks. These books take a little longer to get, need to be set up in specific ways with signatures, and have to be done in large quantities. With that being said, if you are looking for large quantities, or have a specific color need, there really is no other way to go. With offset you can print specific colors called Pantones, you can do metallics, foiling, embossing, debossing, etc! Realistically, when it comes to offset the sky (and your wallet!) is the limit. However, if you aren’t up there in the quantities, it probably isn’t worth it. It may look pretty to have all of those fore mentioned things on your cover, but I promise you that no one is going to look at your book and say, “No metallic on the cover? I’m moving on!”. If you don’t want to print over 1000 books, but do have specific color needs that may need to be met via offset, talk to your short run POD printer, and see what your options are for getting a few thousand of your cover preprinted, so that they can just be bound to the freshly printed interiors every time that you have an order. If you are going to go this route, though, you had better LOVE your cover, because you are going to be stuck with it, as it is, for a while. If you are going the large run offset route, I strongly recommend checking out both Friesen’s and Houghton Boston here in Canada. Not only are they local companies, so you are supporting your country’s economy, but they are really great to work with. I can say that confidently, because my clients have told me so! Also, with these types of printers they work with things call price breaks. What this means, essentially, is that between X number of books, and Y number of books,  you are going to be paying pretty much the same amount. Make sure to ask them about price breaks.

For more information on self publishing, please visit our website.