View profile

PROCESS: Inside the Chaotic Mind of Halo Scot - Issue #5

Halo Scot
Halo Scot
Welcome back, breachlings.

Let’s Talk Process
Lately, I’ve seen many tools and services for self-published authors that cost in the hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Now, in no way am I saying not to use these resources if you can afford them, but I, like many people, have very little “fun” money left after I conquer Adulting Mountain each month.
You can create on a shoestring or nonexistent budget. There is no entry fee to enter Club Character Murderer. It will cost more in time and effort, but it is possible. When I published Edge of the Breach, my budget was $0. As such, all of the tools I used in the creation/publication process were free. This might be the most boring newsletter ever, but I want to be transparent, save you hours of internet-scouring, and encourage your dreams, BECAUSE I AM APPARENTLY A SAPPY TEDDY BEAR LATELY.
Hmm…free-ation really doesn’t work as a phrase, does it? WELL, WE’RE USING IT.
I’ll keep this short, sweet, and savage, because no one wants a five-paragraph essay before we get to the damn chocolate cake recipe. I’ve divided the free-sources (also not working?) into categories, BECAUSE ORGANIZATION IS SEXY. Note that these are what I use, and they might not work for you, but I spent many eye-bleeding hours staring into the cybervoid to hopefully help or at least give you more options. All of the below tools are the free versions.
  • Google Docs: cross-device sync, instant save, auto backups
  • I usually edit the previous day’s brain vomit before I start the current day’s character massacre. I also developmental edit during drafting. For some, this doesn’t work, but for me, it saves a lot in the editing process below, before which I’ve already read through my WIP about three times to iron out the chunky bits.
Editing Process
  1. Google Docs: spell check (to catch the initial brain farts)
  2. Hemingway Editor: with Grammarly & ProWritingAid Chrome browser extensions a chapter at a time (for a three-pronged grammar assault)
  3. Autocrit: spelling & grammar tab (because I’m neurotic)
  4. I read my manuscript three more times: first out loud to line edit and scare my neighbors, and the next two times in my head to copyedit then proofread.
  5. I run my manuscript through the Autocrit spelling & grammar tab again after changes, because it tends to catch anything I missed.
  6. Last, I send my manuscript to trusted beta readers to comb for any lingering grammar dingleberries. Manuscript swaps work well—I’ll scratch your brain if you scratch mine—as long as you find critique partners in your genre whom you trust to be honest and kind.
Book Formatting
  • Pixabay: all images are free for commercial use with no attribution required
  • Google Fonts: use something simple/legible, also free for commercial use
  • Flat UI Colors: to find palette inspiration (stick to 2–3 colors)
  • KDP Cover Calculator: for paperbacks, Kindle covers are 2,560 pixels height x 1,600 width (or a 1.6:1 ratio)
  • Pixlr or GIMP: free photo editors to use for covers
  • * Note that I get Photoshop free through my day job, but Pixlr and GIMP work just as well, and I have used both, too.
Design Crash Course
Design is all about consistency and alignment. For example, choose 2 fonts max, 2–3 main colors, and an alignment that fits within expectations (ex. all centered, justified, etc.) or breaks expectations intentionally (ex. offset title to line up with something in the image—maybe a severed head). This is in no way prescriptive advice, for many designs can smash guidelines with pizzazz. However, if you want a “formula,” the below works for me.
A very simple way to design a cover is to:
  • Find an epic Pixabay image (the editor’s choice selection is amazing).
  • Choose a simple Google font in a very thin or very bold weight (like Montserrat, Oswald, or Roboto Condensed).
  • Make your title big (1–2 lines) and your name smaller. Maybe make them the same width. Use a color that makes both pop.
  • Center your title at the top and your name at the bottom, then unleash a victory screech.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to play. You might discover something delicious.
KDP Publishing
  • Sonar Keyword Tool: to determine hot and sexy keywords for KDP through search frequency
  • Booklinker: universal link AFTER KDP makes pre-order/book live
  • Log in to Amazon › Contact › Amazon Store & Product Detail Page › Update Amazon Categories: contact KDP about adding your ebook & paperback to more categories (≤10) for extra visibility
With my initial budget being an enormous $0, my early marketing cost nothing. I used free social media marketing (mostly Twitter lifts) and free promotion sites to earn enough royalties to then invest in some affordable marketing sites. The below links are the only places I spend money now (occasionally), and all of that money comes from royalties, because we cannot limit the cheese stockpile in the fridge.
Affordable/Worthwhile Promotion Sites
New Interview
Steve Talks Books was too kind to me and interviewed me again for a spoiler-filled discussion of the Rift Cycle. If you’ve survived the series and are craving some darkness, check out the video—again, THERE ARE SPOILERS! Then please like and subscribe, as all the cool kids do.
Recent Reads
I’ve been marketing I Will Kill You lately, so I haven’t had as much time to read, but here are some literary beauties I’ve devoured lately or will feast on shortly. All are gorgeous and brilliant stories!
Podcasts/Channels to Stalk
Team Corpse
A reminder that, if you’d like a free ARC of I Will Kill You (out 8/8/22 because the date reads the same globally), I am still recruiting for Team Corpse, the elite members of my Murder Court. We don’t bite unless requested.
Vote for Chaos
I Will Kill You is in the running for a TCK Publishing Reader’s Choice Award in the thriller category. If you want to throw your sword at something, please visit the voting page, tab to page 9, scroll to the bottom, and click on my book monster. You might need to visit the site in regular (not incognito) mode on a desktop.
Aggressive Love
This was a bloated newsletter, but I hope you found something useful in my neuron regurgitation. Follow your dreams, chase your nightmares, reach for the stars, and sell your soul to the shadows. FOR FREE-ATION AND GLORY!
Lots of love & chaos,
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
Halo Scot
Halo Scot @halo_scot

Welcome to the breach. Subscribe to chaos, and receive a free copy of THE HEARTBEAT OF A MILLION DREAMS.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.