Community, Design, Local authors, Marketing, Reading, Self Publishing, Writing

Cozy Mysteries on the Washington Coast – Q&A with Author Jan Bono

After retiring from teaching in 2006, Jan Bono began to write—and she hasn’t stopped since! Author of the six book Sylvia Avery series, Jan is also a prolific Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and has been published in the series over 45 times, making her one of the top worldwide contributors. We love working with Jan, and recently asked her to share with us a little about her printing experience.

Author Jan Bono

Gorham Printing: You’ve recently completed the sixth book of your Sylvia Avery Mystery series. Can you tell readers a little about the series and what you wanted it to represent?

Jan Bono: Sylvia Avery is a middle-aged, fairly active woman who took early retirement on the North Beach Peninsula. She often finds herself tangled up in her friends’ lives, particularly when they’ve got trouble on their hands. Fortunately, Syl has a mind for mystery, and contributes quite a bit to solving the crimes that take place all around her—whether drug running, recent or cold-case murders, robbery, insurance fraud, kidnapping, and the like.

I’ve always loved reading mysteries, particularly “cozies,” and often I find myself wondering “What if” the events in the books, or even in real life, had happened a little differently. After 30 years in the classroom, I wanted to try my hand at making the community I live in a backdrop for the stories I had rolling around in my head. Writing a mystery series was on my retirement bucket list, and I took the bold move of starting this new endeavor in my mid-50s. After all, I retired from teaching, but not from life!

GP: Did your writing process change significantly from the first book to the sixth?

JB: The process? Not at all. My writing? Well, I like to think I improved as I wrote along! But my process did get a lot more detailed. Since the fall is my Season of Selling at holiday bazaars and craft fairs, I start most books in January by typing up all the notes and reading and summarizing my thick file of research. February is dedicated to writing a thorough synopsis. My definition of “thorough” has evolved from 18 to 20 single-spaced pages to over 40 pages for the last few books! Then I walk away for several weeks and leave the synopsis alone.

Between mid-March and mid-April, it becomes TIME TO WRITE! And although I have a very complete story summary, that doesn’t mean it can’t change, and often does! Characters I thought were only around for one book worked their way into my heart and I couldn’t bear not to carry them into the next book or two or even three! I’ve even changed “the bad guy”—twice—because I changed my mind about his or her intentions as I wrote. The synopsis is never in stone, but it helps me know where I’m eventually headed as I write.

GP: How long did each book take to write and edit?

JB: When I’m ready to start writing in earnest (about three months into the research and summary writing), I’m like a dog worrying a bone. I write first thing in the morning, every morning, and don’t quit till I have at least 1,000 words. Some days I just can’t pull myself away from the computer, and during the writing of Book 6, I wrote 1,500 daily words minimum, and on my most productive day I put down over 3,500 words!

When it’s my best effort at a first draft, I send it off to four or five friends to proof/edit/comment on it. And I only give them two weeks! I compile their notes, make corrections as necessary, and send it to my final reader, who somehow always manages to find another 20 or so things for me to review!

I like to say that the first book took me 31 years to write, but after that, it got much faster! HA HA! The last three books took 42, 42, and 39 days at the keyboard, but that was working from a very detailed synopsis. And it was so much fun! Then off to my proofer team (I had almost 30 people offer to help, but chose 5 or 6 readers for each book, and no one except my final reader read more than two first drafts). Then off to the printer! Start to finish, I averaged 5 to 6 months from first day of work to holding the finished product in my hand.

GP: How do you prepare your books for printing?

JB: I’m far from a computer geek, but there are some important things I’ve learned about formatting along the way. The Gorham Printing Manual was my bible in the beginning, but I also found that once I visualized the finished product, I could make it look on paper the same way it looked in my imagination! The manual clearly delineated the necessary components, and a retired teacher can certainly follow a lesson plan, but I also put different headers on alternate pages, chose my own font, and decided that 12-point, although it costs more to print more pages, was easier on “mature eyes,” and my regular reads are grateful for that! Then, after my proofreading team was finished with it, I made the corrections and sent the polished interior text folder to Gorham as a PDF with fingers crossed.

GP: We’ve been able to partner with you to do design work on the Sylvia Avery book covers. What was the design process like for you? What made you decide to work with a designer?

JB: Once my text was complete, I settled down to write the back of the book blurb, the author bio, take the selfie for my author photo, acquire an ISBN, and find—or take—a photo for the wrap-around cover. All these pieces went into another file for the book designer’s help, as I don’t know how to work photoshop, and I’m grateful I don’t need too! I worked with a designer’s HELP. I was glad there was an option between having it done for me, and doing it all on my own! The designer got all the pieces, and since I worked with the same one for the last four books, I greatly appreciated the fact that she soon learned to read my mind, and see my vision as I did. We communicated through emails, and I truly love the results of all our collaborations, without reservation. She made proofs that always surprised me, adding touches I hadn’t thought of, but that always looked fabulous!

GP: These books take place on the Long Beach Peninsula, where you live. What is it like writing about the place you live? How do your surroundings inspire you?

JB: On page 5 of each book is a map of the fictitious “North Beach Peninsula.” And yes, it looks just like the Long Beach Peninsula, in the SW corner of Washington State, but I’ve changed the names of the towns, bays, lighthouse, and other important landmarks, businesses, and features. In my series, Ilwaco, on the southern end, became Unity, which is actually what Ilwaco was briefly called at the end of the Civil War. Long Beach was founded by the Tinkers, and was Tinkerville for many years, but in my books it’s Tinkerstown. Oysterville has been replaced by the now-defunct community of Willoopah, which I moved across the bay to suit my purposes!

The Clamshell Motel was once the Tide Motel, a bit south of Cranberry Road, and the High Tides Burger Bar is still our long-time Corral Drive-In. Sadly, the Long Beach Coffee Roasters, which I renamed the Sandy Bottom Coffee Cup, is no longer in business, but my Buoy 10 Bakery, now Dylan’s Cottage Bakery, is right there in downtown Long Beach, and still makes the best pastries to eat while solving crimes anywhere on earth! My all-time favorite fictional restaurant name is Cinco Amigos’ Chinese Cuisine! In my first book, five Mexican friends decided to open an ethnic restaurant, but realized the local need was for Chinese instead of another Mexican food stop, and I let them take over the real-life Chen’s location. The name came to me when I thought about Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and I love the way people respond when first encountering Cinco Amigos’ Chinese Cuisine.

I’ve included aspects of the Crab Pot Tree Lighting, the Blues Festival, the Boardwalk, and many other true area events in my locales. Those things are real, but the Spartina Point Casino and Resort name is making a glamorous joke of spartina, which is actually a noxious weed that has been eradicated from Willapa Bay, or Shallowwater Bay, if you prefer! And The Veiled Rainbow, a geriatric belly dancing troupe, certainly exists, but not under that name. As I’ve said, writing is unlimited creative fun!

GP: Now that the Sylvia Avery mysteries are complete, what’s next on the horizon? Will you start a new cozy mystery series?

JB: A cozy series has no graphic violence, no obscene language, and no explicit sex scenes. It has an amateur sleuth working with the police department in a small town, quirky characters, and lots of laughs. When I finished the series, I already had a couple books in mind, just begging to be written. But the first on the list wasn’t in my usual “humorous” style, and I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task of writing more dramatically, with suspense and tension and all that I’d need to write a solid true crime, which I’ve been sitting on for 25 years. I will write it, but that book is now second on my list, as I “practice” writing drama! The practice book will end up being 8 or 10 short stories about how women ON THE PENINSULA are able to get away with bumping off their husbands or boyfriends in unusual ways! This will be my transitional book, and then I’ll tackle the harder one. That’s my plan at this moment! And yes, Gorham will be printing this one too. Gorham has printed 12 of my 15 books, and I see no reason to do it any other way!

GP: Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

JB: This darn pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench into my marketing plan! Whereas I usually sell the majority of my books at holiday bazaars in the fall, I’m now focusing on online sales. If you live within 25 miles of Long Beach, I can meet you at a public place in your area to deliver them, but any farther has to go through the mail. My website, where you can read a short synopsis of each book, is http://www.JanBonoBooks.com. There are several ways to contact me through the website, and I answer all inquiries. If you get the recorder, please leave a message! But first, check out my body of work at JanBonoBooks.com. Got it?  Thank you! And thanks to Gorham for this opportunity to tell you about my Sylvia Avery Mystery Series! I couldn’t /wouldn’t have done it without them!

It’s always fun to see a new book from Jan and know that we get to partner with her to design the covers. You can learn more about our cover design process by clicking here, or give us a call to get a custom quote for your book design!

womens history local authors
Community, Links, Local authors, Reading, Self Publishing, Writing

Gorham Printing Celebrates Women’s History Month

Happy National Women’s History Month! To celebrate women and their contribution to history, culture and society, we wanted to give recognition to some of our favorite women authors and publishers that we have had the great pleasure of working with at Gorham Printing.

Red Letter Press and Helen Gilbert

Red Letter Press publishes books and pamphlets to inform and arm today’s activists with the ideas, experiences and history of radical and working class women and men, people of color and sexual minorities, and others in the global movement for social change.

High Voltage Women: Breaking Barriers at Seattle City Light

A compelling account of pioneering electrical tradeswomen who put their bodies on the line to break into all-male, largely white electrical trades. By Ellie Belew.

Permanent Revolution & Results and Prospects

Trotsky’s classic work on workers’ power, internationalism, social transformation and the transition to socialism. Includes new introduction, index, and glossary.

Uplifting Dreams by Judy Glenney

WEIGHTLIFTING is something women aren’t supposed to do and they certainly don’t belong in the weight room.” The naysayers’ words kept clanging in her head. What were women supposed to do? Why couldn’t they lift weights? Grappling to find answers to these questions, Judy Glenney was torn between her passion of weightlifting and what others expected her to be…

“This remarkable woman is a humble human being and a credit to our sport who from day one never gave up her dream of the ladies being in the Olympic Games, on an equal footing with the men.”

– MURRAY LEVIN, Past President, Pan American Weightlifting Association

Clara Did the Work by Courtney Clements

In nine diaries written between 1872 and 1891, Mary Ann Porter Harrington provided a detailed look at daily life on her central Massachusetts farm…Throughout the diaries, Mary Ann described her daily chores, meals, errands, social calls, and correspondence. After the death of her husband in 1875, she devoted more of her time and attention to managing her farm and finances.

Local authors, Marketing, Reading, Self Publishing, Social Media, Writing

16 Marketing Strategies for Your Self-Published Book in 2019

We get asked often: “What’s the difference between book printers and book publishers?” Many people like to use these terms interchangeably. However, the printing of a book is merely one part of the complete process that is publishing.

One of the key differences is marketing. Book printers are responsible for the production of your physical book. However, in most cases the self-published author will be responsible for marketing his/her book once it has been printed.

With the amount of effort required to write a book, marketing is often an overlooked component of the self publishing process.

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By 2019, several marketing strategies have emerged as clear winners for self-published authors. We’ve compiled some of the most successful strategies for indie authors and publishers.

1. Social Media Marketing (Paid & Unpaid)

The value of social media marketing cannot be understated. Your book should have its own page on all of the major social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Use your channels to keep followers updated with upcoming events and releases.

If you’re looking to expand your audience, consider running paid advertising campaigns. Set your ads to target readers with your local area using targeted interests.

2. Contests/Giveaways

Contests and giveaways are a great way to drum up excitement for your book release. Many authors choose to give away signed copies of their latest release. Host the giveaway on your social media pages or personal website.

3. Speaking Engagements

Create a list of all the local libraries and bookstores in your area. More than likely, these venues will be actively seeking speakers for weekly/monthly events. The stores benefit by showing that they support local writers, and you benefit by gaining a platform to promote and discuss your book.

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4. Print & Flyer Advertising

While online marketing has become more crucial in recent years, print and flyer advertisements cannot be overlooked. Create posters for your upcoming book and hang them up at local coffee shops. Create postcards with your book’s artwork and send them to potential customers and local bookstores.

5. Writing Competitions

As a self-published author, you retain 100% of the rights to your book, meaning your free to submit your transcript to writing competitions. Winning an award is a great way to help your book to stand out from the crowd.

6. Newspapers & Press Releases

Your local newspaper likely has section promoting local art and culture. Learn to write press releases and send them to newspapers around your area. You may score an interview or a promotion for your upcoming book release.

7. Blogger & Influencer Endorsements

Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing strategies in 2019. Find bloggers and book reviewers with large online followings. Snagging a positive review from a widely known influencer can help you reach audiences beyond your local area.

8. Personal Website

Resume websites are a popular trend in 2019. Create a resume website for your book! There are several free hosting services that can help you make this happen. You only need 1-3 webpages to describe your book, promote upcoming speaking engagements, and provide a link to where to purchase a  copy.

9. Newsletter Email List

You should be collecting names and emails at all your promotional events. Use this list to create a newsletter. That way you can send email blasts, alerting your list to your upcoming events, giveaways and future releases.

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10. Guest Blogging

Larger blogs and review sites will sometimes invite guests to write one-off blogs for them. Contact blogs related to your book to see if they’d be open to you writing a guest blog for them. Be sure to include a short mention of the book towards the end of your article. It can’t hurt to ask!

11. Attend Conferences

As book sales continue to increase in 2019, so do book related events and conferences. Consider buying a booth at a local conference. Bring plenty copies of your book and sell signed editions from your booth.

12. Contact Bookstores & Libraries

Most of your local stores will have a section for local and independent authors. Contact your nearest bookstores and libraries to see if they’d be open to selling your book. Be prepared to provide a short summary, price and ISBN number.

13. Contact Publishers

Just because you’ve self-published your book doesn’t your manuscript can’t be picked up by a larger publisher. Submit your work for consideration. Self-publishing a book is also a great way to accrue reputation in the eyes of publishers for future releases.

14. Create a Business Card

Business cards are a tried and true method of promoting yourself. Design a business card that includes a description of your book, your contact information, and directions for where to purchase your book.

15. Get Your Books on Review Sites (Like Goodreads)

It’s not a mystery why so many books include reviews on their cover art. Reviews provide a backbone for your marketing campaign, especially if you can get a review from an established author. Sites like Goodreads make it easy to create a profile for your book for your to start soliciting reviews.

16. Make Connections!

Above all else, as a self-published author, you need to be comfortable with talking about and promoting yourself. The more people that you are able to connect with, the more likely one of those people will open a door for your book. Whether it be with bookstore owners, publishers or simply your readers, building lasting and personal connections may surprise you in ways you never thought possible.

ebook conversion service
Additional Services, Book Printing Cost, Design, Page Layout, Reading, Self Publishing

Understanding the Difference Between eBooks vs. PDFs

Ever since their rise to popularity in the early 2010s, eBooks have dramatically changed the way we read, share and enjoy our favorite books. In 2018, e-book sales accounted for roughly a quarter of global book sales, further cementing their place in the growing market of readers.

While printed book sales continue to rise in 2018 and beyond, eBooks still play an important role in the marketing strategies of many self-published and indie authors. eBooks represent a nearly unlimited resource for authors, requiring no investment beyond the initial conversion cost. In other words, your eBook sales will always perfectly match your demand.

ebook conversion service

But what is an eBook, and what makes it different than a PDF?

A PDF (Portable Document Format) is a common file type that can be easily downloaded, shared and read across a wide range of computers and monitors. Most documents can be converted into PDFs using standard text editing programs, such as Word or InDesign.

However, PDFs lack many of the quality-of-life features of your standard eBook file. The two most common file types for eBooks are Mobi and ePub. Mobi files are required by Kindle and Amazon devices. ePub files are accepted by most other online booksellers, including Google Play and Barnes & Noble.

Both Mobi and ePub files are specifically designed to be read on an e-reader or tablet. As such, they’re equipped with some convenient features, including:

1. Linking

eBook files are an HTML-based format, meaning they may contain links within the text. This allows readers to quickly navigate between sections of the book, from the index to relevant pages, or out to separate websites. This is especially handy for textbooks and guides, which may contain reference notes.

2. Reflowable Text

eBooks text will “reflow” depending on the viewing window. This allows eBooks to be conveniently read on multiple devices and sizes, including tablets, phones and computers.

3. Pagination

With reflowable text, the total page count of your book will increase or decrease depending on the window size of your device. Publishers handle this differently; some embed pages to match the print or PDF version, and some leave them out entirely. As such, some eBooks will not display a page number and will instead allow users to jump directly to chapters using the Table of Contents.

In some instances, however, you will not want your page count to change, as in the case of some academic books with chapter or section citations. In these cases, PDFs are often the preferred format as they will lock in your total page count.

online ebook conversion

4. Accessibility

For impaired readers, eBooks give users the ability to modify the appearance of the content on their device, making them much more accessible than a PDF. Features, such as font style and font size, can be easily modified on the fly to meet the reader’s needs.

5. Zoom In/Out

Unlike PDFs, eBook files do not have a zoom in/out tool. Instead, users can customize the font size of their books using their device, and the text will automatically reflow to fill their screen.

6. Advanced Features

In addition to the above features, eBooks can incorporate many advance features, including:

  • Video — embed a video that your reader can watch.
  • Audio — enhance your message by including audio recordings in your content
  • Gallery — your readers can swipe through an entire collection of images with captions instead of navigating through pages to find them.
  • Read-aloud — make certain words, sentences, or paragraphs of an ebook read aloud to the reader. This can be useful when reading to children.
  • Multi-column Layout — add visual appeal to your content with multiple columns.
  • Pop-over — this feature enables the readers to access another window that contains additional information, data, or another image to give more context about the selected image with just a tap.
  • Scrolling Sidebar — insert relevant information and topics into a scrolling sidebar so readers can view additional or explanatory material without ever leaving the page.
  • Interactive Image — incorporate callouts and pan-and-zoom features to your images.
  • Reviews — let the readers review their knowledge using different types of tests such as multiple choice, select correct image, label the image, or a mix of all three. Authors can include up to six possible answers to each question.
  • 3D Images — instead of just seeing flat images on your ebook, your readers can interact with 3D objects by touch.
  • Keynote Presentations — browse presentations with custom animations right inside your ebook. This feature includes controls for slide navigation as well as optional auto-play presentations.

how to make an ebook

What’s the difference between a “classic” and “fixed-layout” eBook?

A classic ePub or Mobi file has flowable text so it can be read on any device using the reader’s preference for font size and styles. There are no official pages because the  text flows into each device differently, much like a web page. With this kind of eBook, the reader has more control over the reader experience. The classic-layout is less expensive than the fixed layout because less attention is paid to the look of the pages.

A classic ebook layout is ideal if:

  • Your book is mostly text (such as a novel)
  • Your book uses only small images that are embedded between paragraphs

A fixed-layout ebook does not reflow

because each page is locked in place, much like in the pages of a printed book. This type of eBook is ideal when pages rely heavily on images or formatting, such as with children’s books, cookbooks or books with detailed layouts. The reader has less control over his/her reading experience other than the ability to zoom in/out. Fixed-layout eBooks are more expensive than classic eBooks because they require extra attention during the conversion process to maintain the design.

A fixed-layout eBook is ideal if:

  • You want to preserve the look of your pages
  • You want your book to have a horizontal orientation
  • You want multi-column text pages

Learn more about our eBook conversion service to find out how to get an eBook copy of your book.