My work

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

5 things to do when rebranding – rebranding heaven and hell

Part Two: Hell

[For those of you tuning in late, check out Part One: Heaven]

+google banner
So, here I was with a pretty new brand and lots of places to show it off. It wasn’t going to take that! [imagine snapped fingers] to get it all up and running. I’d tweet and post and highlight my colourized self all over the place.
I’d created special detail images of my new covers – like little business-card thumbnails that I would throw onto Twitter with clever little tweets. I created collages for Facebook. I wrote a blog post to announce the rebrand [that started out just as the Heaven portion]. I had a detailed Excel file with a compiled list of all my social media places and things I’d signed up for over the last couple of years, so I knew where to update my art. I planned to use my languishing WordPress site to showcase my novels. So many well-made, well-laid plans. This rebrand thing was going to be a breeze! Right?
Well . . . no. I mean, it wasn’t impossible, and I never contemplated shooting myself or throwing in the towel on it all. But so many things became problematic. Don’t think that that list of preparations was useless. Without it, I might have given up. Or taken weeks to get things done and out there to cyber-world.

Despite those preparations, I ran into some things I wish I’d had on my list. I’m sharing them with you so you might avoid them.

Thing to Do #1

Get your timing right.

Timing is paramount. I’d estimated that it would take me about a day to get it done – and thought smugly how easy-peasy it would go and how few hours of that estimated day I would actually need.

What I’d forgotten was that Smashwords is my distributor to all retailers except Amazon. It usually takes a little longer for stuff to go live. [NB: This is in no way a complaint. I love Smashwords – they handle my distribution to so many retailers, I can’t even remember them all! Right there, I’m saved gazillions of hours, effort, and memory recall.]

In any event, my timing for going live was pushed back a few days [I think three] while I waited for Smashwords’ affiliates to get the new info. I checked every few hours, and once I saw the new covers appearing, moved ahead.

Everything went swimmingly.
But I’d forgotten something else. Goodreads. You can’t change your cover art in GR; you have to create new editions. Then you can combine them – I knew this from past experience when adding my Smashwords and Amazon editions of my books, and combining those editions so I didn’t have all of them showing up as individual works.

In retrospect, I could have handled this myself, but as my planned timing was getting away from me, stress levels were spiking, affecting clear thinking. In any event, I turned to Goodreads Author Program Support. The librarian who helped me [Cristián] was fantastic, and everything was done within a couple of days of my initial panicked email. I was really impressed. And grateful.
In short, push what’s done by others to the top of your to-do list, and base [ballpark] the rest of your timing around theirs. What you can DIY has predictable timing. What’s done by others, not so much.

Thing to Do #2

Don’t take on too much.

In the year since my last novel, The Value of Vulnerability, was released, I’d forgotten all the minutiae of what that entails. Promotion and announcements and coaxing people to accept ARCs, and myriad other things quite aside from the actual – you know – publishing.

So what did I idiotically do? I put my new novel, Famous Penultimate Words, up for pre-order in the same week as I released my new brand.
In short, don’t do this. Honestly, when it comes to your rebrand, focus on that. It took you how long to write your novel? It’ll wait a week or so longer. And your new brand will be there to embrace it lovingly.

Thing to Do #3

Don’t forget the big things.

Lots of places . . . lots and lots.

The list was long, and my journey through that list became a huge philosophical question: Who am I and where have I been?
And occasionally a question of behaviour: What was I doing there? Good god . . .  Or, Why haven’t I been back here? Awesome site.

I thought I got everything. And just as I was settling back in pleased triumph that I had conquered rebranding, I found I’d forgotten my Amazon UK page. And my Amazon France and Germany pages. These are important bits, sitting there with my old avatar in place.

In short, double-check everything. Don't assume you couldn't possibly have missed something big, because you will. Tip: Go through the bookmarks/favorites of your browser.

Thing to Do #4

Don’t forget the little things.

Twitter business cards
Oh, yes, I had my cover art, my site-specific banners, and my avatar. Even those cute little Twitter business cards I’d created specially. What didn’t I have? The favicon for my blog. Such a little thing, but believe me, I went almost apoplectic over it. After all, it’s always the little things that set you off, isn’t it?

In short, pay close attention. If you’re an SP author, especially, you’ve probably done everything pretty much on your own. That requires attention to detail. So, attention, everyone! Look at the little bits of branding dust you’ve left everywhere, and clean it up! [LOL; #Spotless]

Thing to Do #5

Be resigned that some things can't be changed.

My old book covers are out there on different sites, where my books have been reviewed, promoted, or nominated for something. There's nothing I can do about that. Sure, I could approach those sites and ask that they swap out the art, but that runs the risk that they would just take it down entirely. I'd rather leave things as they stand. [Aside: There's still the ghost of my very first [god-awful] placeholder/temp cover for my first novel, hovering out there in the wilderness. I cringe on the rare occasions it pops up.]

In short, relax. You have enough stresses in your life. You've done your best. Nil satis nisi optimum.

Confession: I know of one place a specialized version of my old avatar exists. But I’m not doing anything about it at the moment, even though I can. Right now, I need to catch up on my sleep and proceed with the next stage in my career: writing another novel.

As you set up your author platform, do you make note of all the places on the Internet where you splash your brand presence? Any experience finding it all again? 

Monday, 22 June 2015

9 Reasons Why Authors Need Betas

I know I promised Part Two of my rebranding story, Rebranding Heaven and Hell, but instead, I'm guest author/poster on Rosanna Leo's blog today! So exciting!

9 Reasons Why Authors Need Betas is the subject of my post.

For those of you who want to know more about Ms. Leo, check out her blog [obviously], visit her Amazon Page, find her on Twitter, or on her Facebook Page.

I'll be back tomorrow [I mean it this time!], with Part Two: Hell.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Rebranding heaven and hell.

Part One: Heaven.

The title should probably be “The Heaven and Hell of Rebranding”. I didn’t try to spin a new view of traditional archetypes or anything. Swear. Everybody stay calm.
No, it was I who was rebranded. Roberta Pearce of the black & white & grey & splashes-of-red covers decided she was bored with the flat look.
Reaching for the zenith of minimalism
Don't get me wrong - I loved the minimalism and starkness of the old brand. The covers popped when compared to busier covers out there. And the brand was something I had control over and could create myself.

So why did I change my brand?
It all started with the impending publication of my new novel, Famous Penultimate Words. It’s a comedy under the guise of romantic suspense, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make a “happy” cover with my old branding. Everything I came up with was dark [one example here.] After long conversations with several people, especially the talented Camilla Monk, I decided I had to change it all.
I played a bit with colour schemes and fonts, but while I’m pretty good at layout and simple graphics and being judgy of the work of others, colour defeats me.

. . . no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make a “happy” cover with my old branding.

Then there was Camilla Monk. There is Camilla Monk. She's the author of one of my new favourite books, Spotless. If you’re not familiar with her, get familiar fast on her site here. I met Camilla online early last year, and was immediately entranced with her writing and how she incorporated her wicked and rather twisted sense of humour into it. Easily one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever encountered, she’s also very nice, so her urging to brighten my brand was both gentle and subliminal. Clever girl.
At last, I caved, and begged for her assistance. She took time out of her crazy schedule and stepped up to the challenge. We agreed that I should keep my original art and I insisted that in any colour palette we went with, I got to keep my red shoes. We tried a couple of things – I loved everything she sent back to me, and was ready to leap. Following her instructions and suggestions to the best of my ability, I sent revised files back for her approval. [Yes. Yes, I was asking permission and seeking approval.]

A few days later, I got an email from her that ran essentially: Changed my mind. Ignore everything I said about the color palette. This is what we’re doing.

Attached were hotly coloured covers with a textured overlay and bang! I was in love. I tweaked some stuff on the layouts – just tiny changes – revamped my avatar to suit, and was ready to launch RobertaPearce 2.0.

New . . . Old

Ah, I was in heaven! These pretty new covers for my old books, a bright and quirky one for my new book, and even one for a WiP I’m looking to finish in the fall.
Then came the launch . . . I’ll tell you about that in Part Two: Hell . . . tomorrow.

Have you ever done a rebranding? Thought about one? Wonder if you’re too married to what you’re currently doing?
For more information on where to pre-order Famous Penultimate Words, visit here. It will be released in print and ebook format on July 24, 2015. [The print links are not up yet, so no yelling at me . . .!]