How To – Book Cover Design

new spread

I read an article the other day about self-publishing how-to, and one of the bullet points was having a beautiful cover. The article stated a very true fact: just because you’re self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to have a cover … Continue reading

Who to write for?

img_0039-1

A few months ago I happened upon a post by another author about writing for yourself versus writing for the reader. It was one of those posts that made me grit my teeth, because it enforced an opinion as fact– … Continue reading

Book Launch Pages – What it is & How to Do it

web_design_clipart

What is a Book Launch Page? A few months ago I stumbled upon an article on book launch pages. It touted this to be the newest, greatest thing for book marketing. As I stared at the page I realized all … Continue reading

The ANTI -NaNoWrimo Challenge

writebeautymonth

Every November authors scamper to sign up for something called National Write a Novel month. The “challenge” so to speak was created back in 1999 to force writers into writing 50,000 words in a month, which is either a small … Continue reading

The Write Decisions for Me

always Cassie

You may have seen my post on Love Exactly a few weeks ago, where I disclosed that I will no longer be pursuing the series, Sticks and Stones that was proposed after the novel was originally published. There hasn’t been … Continue reading

The Brutal Truth: Keeping it Real

Banner

    I have a degree in marketing. If you’ve followed my blog long enough you know that I am overly enthusiastic about sales, marketing and design–oh, and writing! When it comes to writing I am a panster, but when … Continue reading

Authors Break Laws Without Knowing It

3 marketing mondayThat’s right, there are authors out there breaking laws without knowing it, and you might just be one of them. I’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements by indie authors lately, which is great–but I came to the abrupt realization that some of these authors may be breaking the laws of trademark without knowing it. The reason? I’m seeing more and more authors utilizing the trademark logos of those vendors that currently sell their novels. This struck me because many of these vendors hold strict trademark laws over their logos, and they are even more strict on letting people use these logos. While I am sure some of these authors may have received permission from the companies, I highly doubt many of them have (the advertisements lack the disclosure materially required by the vendors). The process of approval of using a trademark involves a tedious process that just wouldn’t be worth the effort for a two day sale when you can simply use the name of the company. Now, you may be wondering, why do they care so much that I use their logo? They sell my books after all! Yes, they do sell your books, but their logo represents dollar symbols for them, and not only that, it represents an implied endorsement of that trademark. Trademark can be tricky, while you can mention a name of a company in your novel (see THIS article for the specifics) as long as it’s not in a disparaging way, using it in an advertisement is a completely different animal. This is especially true if you have your name next to it. Here are the specific requirements of book vendors you may be using:

AMAZON-

Amazon used to completely forbid the usage of their trademarked logos for Kindle and the Amazon.com website, but they have became a tad bit more lenient. When I say a “tad bit”, I mean it. They allow it, but they sure as hell won’t make it easy. They are “excited” to offer you the ability to do it if you jump through hoops. Now, let me preface this with the fact that I have not personally attempted to do this, as I don’t run sales for long enough that the time involved would be beneficial.  If you’re an author who has contacted Amazon and received permission, please be sure to leave a comment below about the process and the ease or difficulty of it. Amazon’s very specific guidelines are listed below and you can view the entire article by clicking any where within it:

These Guidelines apply to your use of trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. and/or its affiliates (“Amazon“), including AMAZON, KINDLE, KINDLE FIRE, the AMAZON KINDLE logo and the KINDLE FIRE logo (each a “Trademark” and collectively the “Trademarks“). Strict compliance with these Guidelines is required at all times, and any use of a Trademark in violation of these Guidelines will automatically terminate any license related to your use of the Trademarks.

1. You may use the Trademark solely for the purpose expressly authorized by Amazon and your use must: (i) comply with the most up-to-date version of all agreement(s) with Amazon regarding your use of the Trademarks (collectively “Agreements“); (ii) comply with the most up-to-date version of these Guidelines; and (iii) comply with any other terms, conditions, or policies that Amazon may issue from time to time that apply to the use of the Trademark.
2. We will supply an approved Trademark image for you to use. You may not alter the Trademark in any manner, including but not limited to, changing the proportion, color, or font of the Trademark, or adding or removing any element(s) from the Trademark.
3. You may only use the Trademark as specifically authorized under the Agreements.
4. You may not use the Trademark in any manner that implies sponsorship or endorsement by Amazon.
5. You may not use the Trademark to disparage Amazon, its products or services, or in a manner which, in Amazon’s sole discretion, may diminish or otherwise damage or tarnish Amazon’s goodwill in the Trademark.
6. The Trademark must appear by itself, with reasonable spacing between each side of the Trademark and other visual, graphic or textual elements. Under no circumstance should the Trademark be placed on any background which interferes with the readability or display of the Trademark.
7. You must include the following statement in any materials that display the Trademark: “Amazon, Kindle, Kindle Fire, the Amazon Kindle logo and the Kindle Fire logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.”
8. You acknowledge that all rights to the Trademark are the exclusive property of Amazon, and all goodwill generated through your use of the Trademark will inure to the sole benefit of Amazon. You will not take any action that is in conflict with Amazon’s rights in, or ownership of, the Trademark.

 

Amazon reserves the right, exercisable at its sole discretion, to modify these Guidelines and/or the approved Trademarks at any time and to take appropriate action against any use without permission or any use that does not conform to these Guidelines.

If you have questions about these Guidelines, please contact trademarks@amazon.com for assistance, or write to us at: Amazon.com, Inc., Attention: Trademarks, PO Box 81226 Seattle, WA 98108-1226.

Now, number four is where this all becomes very tricky for the author. You want to put their logo on your advertisement and in any way you shake that, it pretty much amounts to an endorsement. Then there’s number five–another key to the fact many of these authors are breaking trademark law–you have to give ample space between other symbols. The fact is, Amazon doesn’t play nice with Barnes & Noble, and for that matter, Kobo, or anyone else. The final nail in the trademark infringement coffin? Number Seven! Each book vendor requires the same disclosure for each of their trademarks with their names disclosed–in a small advertisement where you want to give your novel presence, you would be giving more presence to disclosure for trademark usage. Furthermore, upon more research there are logo guidelines that also must be adhered to and give size, colors, etc that can be used (see HERE). The good news is, as an author selling through their digital media, you become exempt to the written authorization requirement as long as you use their approved logos (see HERE) and use the words Available For or Available From while still adhering to the above quoted usage regulations.

BARNES & NOBLE-

I wasn’t able to find any information relating specifically to advertisements that was outside of their normal terms and conditions. These Terms and Conditions are agreed upon when you sign up for Nook Press. Below is the portion on Trademark (for the full Terms and Condtions see HERE)

II. TRADEMARKS
Barnes & Noble.com, Barnes & Noble, Inc., or their respective parents, subsidiaries, or affiliates, or third parties from whom Barnes & Noble.com has permission, own the trademarks or service marks that are used on the Barnes & Noble.com Site. All rights are reserved. These and other graphics, logos, service marks, trademarks and trade dress of Barnes & Noble.com and its licensors may not be used without prior written consent of Barnes & Noble.com or its licensor, as the case may be. Without limiting the foregoing, no Barnes & Noble.com trademark or trade dress may be used in connection with any product or service that is not Barnes & Noble.com’s, in any manner that is likely to cause confusion among Users, or in any manner that disparages or discredits Barnes & Noble.com.

It’s safe to assume that Barnes and Noble operates it’s logo and trademark usage much like that of Amazon, with the exception that it may be even harder to receive permission to use the logo. It appears that there is no exemptions as is allowed on Amazon on the written agreement requirement.

KOBO-

Unfortunately, the most guidance I found was to look at the Kobo Brand Guidelines, which I found on the ABA, but wasn’t able to open without joining and paying a fee. Again, it’s safe to assume that their business operates under the same guidelines of other major booksellers.

Head spinning yet? Now, if you’ve violated this– you may just get a cease and desist order, or you may never hear anything at all (a lawsuit could occur, but it’s cost-prohibitive, so the most you will probably get is the order). What you do risk is readers, agents or publishers that do know these laws seeing you as being less professional, when you were only attempting to appear more professional. In the end sticking with the simple usage of the company that your books are sold at is easier, and leaves less room for reputation risk for your brand as an author. You can still create a killer advertisement without those logos, and in all honesty, if you sell at more than two retailers, the logos just clutter the advertisement and take away from your goal– intriguing the reader and getting them to “One-Click” your novel.

 

4signature

 

 

 

 

My Author Ethics

DisclosuresAs a published author it is important to acknowledge that certain ethics come with the job. I pride myself in being professional with a high level of honestly, integrity and passion. I write many of my blog posts from my experience in the publishing and sales world. My publishing background has evolved from my original journey as a self-published author in 2012 to an Indie Amazon Bestseller as of today. My sales background includes ten years in sales, seven of which have been spent in the financial industry, including six years experience as a supervisor and top selling agent for the institution I worked for. I am currently a Retail Banking Operations Manager and Project Manager who develops Sales Campaigns, Initiatives and Training programs for the bank, along with numerous duties involving maintenance of 220+ procedures (writing, editing, creating and monitoring) and marketing projects. I am also studying to receive my degree in Marketing and plan on pursuing a second degree in Graphic Design.

BLOG reviewsAs a published author, my reading has taken a significant hit because of time restrictions, but also ethical issues. It’s much easier to write a review when you aren’t an author. When you are, any criticism is not taken kindly. That being said I would like to disclose the following as my strict policies for reviewing:

  1. I never accept review copies from other authors. If asked I will politely decline and advise that I will look at the book description, and if interested, I will purchase the book and review it in my own time.
  2. I will no longer post reviews of Self-Published or Independent Authors that are three stars and under. I will rate the novel as is such on Goodreads, and post that the author may contact me for a full review if they are interested. I will not rate novels under three stars of authors I personally know or have an acquaintance with. This creates a blackmail situation in which I do not wish to be involved.
  3. I will follow the following format when reviewing novels:
  • Star Ratings can and may have 1/2 Stars
  • Each Review will include an Overall Star Rating
  • Each Review will be broken down into the following individual Star Ratings with explanations for the ratings:

-Book Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Cover: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Plot: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Creativity: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Grammar: 1-5 Stars; 5 being error free (this will NEVER happen, not even with major pubbed books)

-Simile Use: 1-5 Stars; 5 stars being the best, meaning no similes were used. 1 meaning similes were used in excess and pulled me out of the novel.

-Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Show Not Tell: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best- dialogue driven without excessive and obtrusive description

Additionally, please keep the following in mind for reviews of my novels:

  1. I do not respond to negative reviews of my own novels, but I may, at my discretion, respond to positive reviews.
  2. I never pay for reviews.
  3. I do directly contact bloggers to request reviews.
  4. I will never ask a reviewer to not post a review because it doesn’t show my novel in the best light. That is their right. If they are a part of the blog tour for the release of the novel that is hosted by myself and or my publisher, I will state that I prefer the review not be posted as a part of the tour–but I do not require/condemn it.
  5. You can contact me if you would like to review any of my novels via Goodreads messaging.
  6. I may share good reviews on Social Media, but will not concentrate on them.
  7. I hold the right to not read each and every review that is written for my novels.
  8. I disclose that I do not read reviews of my novel that are personal attacks (yes, these do happen).
  9. I disclose that I do not tend to read reviews that are 2 stars or under.
  10. I respect a reviewers opinion. I acknowledge that my writing style is not for everyone.
  11. Don’t be surprised if I like a JPEG you created for your review and ask if I can use it in marketing materials, but I will always ask permission and give credit on the materials to your blog or you.
  12. I save all fan art to my Pintrest board.

ARCAny reviews posted before the release date of my novels will be of UNEDITED Advance Reader Copies (hence referred to as ARCs). An ARC is an unedited Galley that is distributed by myself and my publisher before the publication date to solicit early reviewers; this includes both electronic and paperback additions. The novel is disclosed as an ARC with with words “Unedited Advance Reader Copy” on the electronic or paperback cover. The following disclosure is issued to each receiver of the ARC from myself and my publisher:

This is an UNEDITED Advance Reader Copy that will contain grammar and syntax errors. The final version of this novel may appear slightly different in content, but plot and characters will remain the same.

E-ARCS will additionally have the following disclosure:

This novel is a review copy for your use and your use only. This file is not to be shared, forwarded, or otherwise misused under copyright law.

The paperback versions will be used for promotional purposes and will also include the word “PROOF” on the back page. This will never be sold for a profit. Additional information and format changes may occur before the final version is released.

In addition to being used to solicit early reviewers, the electronic version will be utilized as a gift to those that participate in Promotional Events before the release date of the novel, including, but not limited to, cover reveals. If you participate in a Promotional Event and are given an E-ARC, reviews are welcome, but not required.

Reviewers are asked to take into account that any copies (ARCs) given before the publishing date contain such errors.

Feature FridayI do cross promote other authors on my blog. This doesn’t necessarily mean I have read their work, but I do believe in assisting other authors in their goals. I reserve Fridays as promotional days for other authors, but may participate in tours on other days if they cannot or do not fall on a Friday. My release dates (including cover reveals) do fall on Fridays, and I will promote my own novel on Feature Fridays. Feature Friday is open to authors to approach myself for interviews, cover reveals, or other promotional items with the exception of reviews (see the above review policy).

BLOG ratingPG-18

While I have published Young Adult novels, and write/illustrate Children’s Novels, this blog will be utilized to promote my New Adult novel and other novels in the genre. Thus, the rating is PG-18 due to slight to moderate sexual content and language that may be contained in Excerpts or Teasers.

WIP Wednesday

2 wip wednesdayWork in progress includes more than just writing the book–what about everything else: the beta readers, editing, alpha readers, copy editors, revisions, marketing efforts, marketing plans…there’s so much that is involved in publishing a book. This week I have been working on some marketing materials for Flawed Perfection. We have bookmarks done and ready, and a sticker designed to go on the front of individual tissue packs (cause it’s a real tear jerker!).

Bookmark One Front:

Sorry! You can’t see it–because it has a piece of the yet to be revealed cover!

Bookmark One Back:

bm 1 back

Bookmark Two Front:

bm2 frontBookmark Two Back:

bm 2 back darker

Sticker:Series Name

     I.       

 

WIP Wednesday

2 wip wednesdayWork in progress includes more than just writing the book–what about everything else: the beta readers, editing, alpha readers, copy editors, revisions, marketing efforts, marketing plans…there’s so much that is involved in publishing a book. This week I have been working on the edits for Flawed Perfection. Here’s a sneak at the new first chapter–but not the whole thing!

I yawned as I closed my laptop and blinked at the television clock – 10:00 PM – I hadn’t even eaten yet. I began to stand, but dropped back down on the couch when I heard the giggle from across the hall; it was accompanied by a laugh I knew all too well, and the slam of the door. I sank deeper into the cushions as my mind drifted back to another night filled with his laughter…

My eyes open at the sound. Someone was throwing a rock against my bedroom window. I shot up in bed and looked around the pitch black room lit only by the hot pink comforter as the sound hit again. Mom had to take my night light today of all days when there wasn’t even a moon outside. There it was again, and it was definitely a rock. I slipped out of bed and went to the window.

There hanging in the tree next to my window was Adam and in his hand was a glowing jar.

I slowly lifted the window so it wouldn’t squeak. “What the heck are you doing?”

“I heard your mom made you get rid of the night light,” Adam replied, shoving the jar into my hands.

I took it and narrowed my eyes at him as he swung in the window.

“Who told you that?” I asked. I was glad the room was now only dimly lit by the glowing jar so he couldn’t see my pink cheeks.

“Bobby, who else?”

“What a jerk!” I huffed.

Adam shrugged as he pulled two other jars from his backpack. “I couldn’t fit them all in. I didn’t realize how hard it was to climb a tree with one arm.”

“What’s in these?” I asked as Adam set them on the ground and the room began to dance with the light.

“Fireflies,” he replied, and his thin lips turned into that crooked smile.

“You put what in these?” I hissed at him, stepping forward.

Adam’s brow furrowed over his face.

“I spent an hour catching fireflies for you,” he repeated and I watched as his throat rose and fell as he swallowed. “Don’t worry—I poked holes in the top.”

He moved closer to me so I could smell his cologne—the one I’d bought him for his sixteenth birthday a few days earlier. I tried to hide the deep breath I took of him as he moved my fingers across the metal top so I could feel the holes he’d poked.

He smirked at me again with his fingers still over mine.  I could feel the calluses from playing guitar—ones I’d felt a thousand times before as he leaned over me and tried his best to teach me how to strum. “You know I’d never hurt your precious fairies, Riv.”

COPYRIGHT, 2014 CASSANDRA GIOVANNI