Worderella Needs a Hero (aka Book Cover Designer)

Really, the two are interchangeable at this point. I need both a hero and a book cover designer. You see, I’m self-publishing my book and I’m doing as much of it myself as I can. Why? Well, because I just graduated from grad school and I have loans to take care of, thank you. I’m also a creative; I take pride in doing things and have an aptitude to learn new talents fairly quickly.

Book cover layout, however, continues to elude me, much to my frustration. The problem is that I want an industry-standard-style book, something along the lines of Silent in the Sanctuary, or The Slightest Provocation, or The Deception of the Emerald Ring. Those covers have stock imagery that I can’t afford. I suppose I could commission an artist to draw my character in a similar style, but how many artists these days like to be so… classical?

My process

I’ve been collecting my favorite covers as I see them on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com for the last, oh, I don’t know, three years. I have them separated by category: Fiction, Romance, and Teen, since those are my three main inspirational sources. I know the trends like the back of my hand, but the problem is my book, Haunting Miss Trentwood, doesn’t really fit in a “trend,” per se. How many of you know about a historical romance with paranormal inklings? I can think of one, Amanda Quick’s Arcane Society series. The one I read was Second Sight. But I’ve looked at those covers, and I don’t like them because they don’t get the mood I’m going for.

Anyway, I went to JoAnn Fabrics to buy a fat quarter and some scrapbook paper to, in essence, build my cover from scratch.

I had sketched out the general idea that I wanted, and since I’m crafty with the scissors, I went at it for three hours, running upstairs and down to the copy machine and back to my desk, grabbing my mothers calligraphy pens when I realized I didn’t have brown, and then taking photos of the final result.

Sadness abounds. I didn’t measure properly and my photos came out being the improper size for a trade paperback, which is 5.5″ by 8.5″.

So I went digital. I’d had fun working with real materials, but with that failed, I decided to replicate it digitally.

But then that felt a bit sterile, so I went to istockexchange.com and grabbed some comp photos that I liked and began to play around with layouts.

An improvement, I think, but still not what I want. Why is it so difficult to make a book cover for a book titled Haunting Miss Trentwood? I think because the book touches multiple genres lightly at once. It’s historical fiction because it’s the late Victorian era, specifically, the year of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It’s a romance, albeit sweet. It’s a mystery because blackmail is involved. It’s a paranormal because a ghost is involved. With all these injected into one story, I’ve opted to keep the plot itself rather simple, allowing the characters to grow and mature, allowing the reader to enjoy the journey rather than roll their eyes at me for trying to cover too much in one story.

You’re not done writing, why care about the cover?

I’d like to have a cover so I can begin my marketing campaign. Marketing will be the toughest part of this self-publishing journey for me because I’m not a very good schmoozer. I love Twitter and will be utilizing that hardcore. I dislike Facebook, but it’s the lesser of two evils (not having online presence).

Additionally, having a visual of the book inspires me to keep going. I have every intention of completing this book and making it successful, i.e. break even at least. It’s so frustrating because I am a passable artist in my own right… but I’m also a perfectionist, and my artistic skill simply isn’t at the level I prefer for my novel.

Help me, oh mighty Internetz, you’re my only hope

If you’re self-publishing, know someone who is or has, etc, how did you/they find a book cover designer? How did you/they find a reputable artist? What am I doing wrong? Why has my usually stellar Google-fu failed me?

Self-Publishers Unite!

As a published author determined to self-publish all future works, I always find it fascinating to read about others’ adventures in the self-publishing world. More people are doing it these days with the help of digital processing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a new trend. Many “established” authors self-published, such as Virginia Woolf.

Where do I begin?

Jumping into the self-publishing realm is not for the faint of heart. In fact, I would do a subsidy/vanity publisher first, just to get your feet wet. Something like Lulu would be a nice start as well, because they walk you through the process.

Once you’re certain you want to self-publish, subscribe to Publetariat. This is a blog peopled by a collection of self-publishers who write about everything, from hand selling your work to finding a good copy editor. They discuss the highs and lows, and provide resources to learn more about self publishing.

Then I would hop over to Dan Poynter’s website, which is chock full of free online resources for publishers.

Start watching Self-Publishing Review to get an idea of the quality people are looking for in terms of good self-published fare.

Listen to The Creative Pen podcasts on “writing, publishing options, internet sales and promotion – for your book.”

Most importantly, keep writing! If you don’t have anything to sell, what’s the point?

How are your projects going?

Have you decided if you want to self-publish, subsidy publish, or go the traditional route? Now that I’ve returned to the blogosphere, what would you like to see me write about?

Indie-Publishing Extravaganza

I am a fan of the indie-publisher in the same way that I’m a fan of a lot of indie musicians. It’s a scary thing to put your work out there for others to judge. And as there will always be artists that maybe shouldn’t have released their work, there are authors that shouldn’t release theirs.

But that goes vice-versa, too. There are indie artists who are so good at what they do that they gain fans, word-of-mouth publicity, and possibly even a big label contract, which may or may not be their end goal. Lucky for us, the same thing goes for authors… except there is still a stigma behind “self-publishing.”

Today, I’m listing some useful websites that will help you decide if you want to take that leap into the unknown and become an independently published author.

Indie Publishing Revolution
Maintained by Zoe Winters, a frequent commenter and even a guest blogger here at Worderella Writes. She’s an intense supporter of independent publishing and is doing her best to make sure that you know what you’re getting into if you’re interested in doing the same.

Self-described as an “online community and news hub for the independent author.” The people behind it claim to be experts in editing, marketing, journalism, etc, and are determined to help you make the best product you can. It’s not that you’re “resorting” to independent publishing, it’s that you “choose” to independently publish.

Selling Novels on the Amazon Kindle
A first-hand account from an author who experimented with selling a draft version of his novel on the Amazon Kindle and in e-book format. Very interesting and useful; read the comments to gain more insight as to whether you want to follow a similar path.

CNet’s 25 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing
An honest assessment of what you need to know about self-publishing from a man who had to struggle through it the hard way by himself. Read it, learn it, love it.

Book Cover Archive
Not actually a publishing website, but an excellent resource for those of you needing inspiration for your book covers.

Book: The Rules of Gentility

Title: The Rules of Gentility
Author: Janet Mullany
Genre: Regency Romance
Length: 268 pgs

Summary: Miss Philomena Wellesly-Clegg is a young woman who knows her mind and operates by lists: she has a list of bonnet supplies and a list of eligible bachelors to start her day, and neither list includes Inigo Linsley, the younger brother of her best-friend’s husband. But Inigo is handsome, scandalous, and for some reason, very willing to help her out of a sudden and unwanted proposal, so perhaps she ought to give him a chance?

Couldn’t find any that I really liked/that stood out for me.

Why should you read this book?
This book is, as it says on the back cover, a funny combination of Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary… which is weird since the latter is merely a modern retelling/spin of the former. Told in first person from Philomena and Inigo’s perspectives, it is amusing and frothy; a great book to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It does not take itself seriously in the least. After all, the heroine is proposed to in the water closet. Twice. I’m not sure if writers would want to emulate this book, however, because it is so very frothy with almost nothing to make you want to read it again. From what I understand, however, this is a departure from Mullany’s typical writing style so perhaps I shouldn’t judge too fast. I do know that based on this sample, I’m not terribly inclined to read anything else by her, despite my enjoying it.

So, read this book to know what not to do: don’t make disposable characters, or an entirely goofy cast of characters, or a plot built on the assumption your audience read Pride and Prejudice. Do read this book for an example of comedic writing. For those of you thinking to self-publish your work, this is an excellent example of a well-thought cover, as it is the original reason why I picked up the book in the first place. Always remember, marketing is so important!

The First Thing a Reader Sees is the Cover

If you’re trying to make it big as a self-publisher, investing in your marketing is key. Don’t just slap a picture as your cover or use some template, hire a design team! Not only will they give you a great cover, they’ll also give you ideas about bookmarks and business cards (which you can leave in library books similar to your own book), posters, postcards, etc. Look at the following companies for a headstart to a great marketing plan.

Dunn+Associates Design: book cover design, speaker material. From start to finish, we design so that you SELL. You not only get a dynamic cover look, you walk away with a powerful set of marketing tools. It’s the way we design your cover and your self-publishing brand that gets readers, reviewers, distributors, bookstores, and more, to all say YES! You hit the streets running with proven tools for promoting your book straight to the top.

Hey, John Edwards went through them, why not you?

Book Cover Express: book cover designer, book cover artists. Book Cover Express offers a full range of services, including free Bookland EAN barcodes. We can create any size book cover and format it to your printer’s specifications. All this, with an author-friendly, work-for-hire contract.

Dan Poynter from ParaPublishing says this company should be “added to your production company,” and I must admit, the covers do look pretty nice.

Creating a Title They Won’t Throw Back

Yes, I accept e-mails from AuthorHouse even though they were sued for libel because they accepted a self-published author’s book which had been rejected by another self-publishing company for libel. I accept e-mails from AuthorHouse even though their contract is less than stellar. I accept e-mails from AuthorHouse because they sometimes (SOMETIMES) send helpful information like the following:

Sink or Sell: Creating a Title They Won’t Want To Throw Back

You labor over every word. You make sure all stylistic elements are perfect. Yet, the first words of your book most people read will be the title. It is important to give as much care and thought to your title as any other part of your book. Here are some helpful tips on creating a sell-worthy title:

  • Research your title idea/concept: Scope out your proposed title on e-commerce Web sites, like Amazon.com. If there are many like it, you may want to rethink your title. Otherwise, your book could get lost in a sea of similarity.
  • Avoid an excessively long title: If I can’t remember it, I won’t be able to tell others about it, plus the type size on the cover will be too small to read.
  • Speak to potential readers to pique their curiosity: There may be a phrase or word that resonates with your target audience. If so, consider using it in your title.
  • Reward the reader of your title: Make sure your title gives some hint of what readers will find within the pages of your book.
  • Consider the language you’ll use: Positive language makes your book more likely to be well-received by your audience. Avoiding unnecessary profanity may also sit well with your readers.
  • Bookselling is competitive—plan to take 1st Place: Your book is in a marketplace with thousands of other authors trying to do the same thing you are: sell your book. You want your title to spark curiosity and cause the reader to continue being attentive to your work.
  • Be true: Sure, you want your book to catch attention, but by using a title that has nothing to do with your book, you’ll risk betraying your audience.
  • Take a break: Let your proposed book title sit with you for a day or two. See what you think about it the next day and if it’s still resonates with you.
  • Give your friends the title test: Find out what your friends and family have to say about your title. Does it pique their interest—or confuse them? They’ll let you know their honest thoughts and this may help you ultimately decide if the title really fits your book.