Should you or shouldn’t you purchase a new cover? That is the question. A good cover isn’t cheap.
Here’s how to determine the answer:
Does it portray your genre?
Is it working? Is it bringing readers to your book?
Do your reviews reflect that?
A hard-edged thriller cover should be a stark as the content. A fantasy cover should let the reader know whether it’s epic/mythic (landscapes, castles, swords), urban (edgy, usually dark, street views), heroic/tolkienesque/arthurian (pastoral, swords, magicians), historical, or a combination thereof. (Two of my favorite authors write a mix of heroic and urban fantasy, quite successfully). Mysteries should convey whether they’re ‘cozy’ (small town, armchair, teapot) or hard-boiled, noir, or police procedural (dark and edgy).
Many books convey some or many of these elements, but they aren’t the main focus.
For example, one of my books is a mystery with thriller elements and an edge. There is a romance in it but as part of the story, not the primary plot. Unfortunately, while the cover was dark-edged, at the center was a couple. To many readers, it came off as a romance with a touch of mystery, rather than a hard-boiled mystery with a little romance.
And it showed in the reviews. The comments weren’t direct – unless you viewed them from the viewpoint of romance readers expecting something lighter.
So here’s my suggestion…covers aren’t cheap, so shop around. Look at what the cover artist has to offer. If 99% of their samples are fantasy or romance, they may not be a good fit for your book. A cozy mystery about a chef won’t work well with a cover that features a couple in a torrid embrace. Try a good pre-made cover. Most pre-mades are the cover artist trying out different things or promotion for their work. Some are really good. They’re not free but they are cheaper than custom made. That will allow you to publish your book while you search for another, better one, and save the money to purchase it.
Or, you may find that pre-made cover works perfectly.
When did manners become a bad word? When did behaving well turn into a bad thing? When did political correctness become a pejorative? Has the general negative attitude of this country permeated to all levels? When did it become more right to be cruel than to be kind?
There has been a ‘debate’, and I use that word very loosely, about a certain situation on Facebook that degenerated into name calling, unkindness, and worse. Bullying. The person involved was ganged up on by a large number of people. Even worse, since it was semi-public, a comment indicated it confirmed for some that Indies are the undisciplined writers so many assume us to be.
Now, you have to understand that I was in a similar situation. I paid a great deal for work to be done from a good, reputable site, and was shocked when it was brought to my attention that someone else had the exact same cover, created after mine was. Did I bad mouth them on Facebook, send nasty messages, etc.? No. I’m a professional. I contacted them in private, and they offered me a new cover at a discounted price. (And it’s an even better cover!)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know most artists work from stock art, but I also know a number of those artists have a competition to use a single image to show off their skill at making their covers look different. It’s amazing how different they are. So, it can be done.
I’m a moderator of a 12,000 member informational writer’s group. We have two rules that result in instant banning – no promotion and absolutely no bullying, bad-mouthing, rude or unkind behavior. You’re professionals. Act like it.
What the person did was wrong – no question – so how do you behave?
Don’t recommend them.
Warn others – in private – about them.
If you see a duplicate, warn the author, and they can deal with it.
But for heaven’s sake, it’s cover art, it’s not life and death. This is not an episode of Mean Girls, it’s real. Anyone who advocates that another do themselves harm is not a nice person. Call them on it. Tell the moderators of the site, have them delete the comment. It’s not worth someone’s life. Covers can be replaced, sometimes with something better. People can’t. Let them, and you, live and learn.
Romance novels tell us not how men are, but how we wish them to be.
A few years back (I’m not telling how many *laughing*) I found myself in the position of watching my (previous) marriage at the beginning of the inevitable downward slide toward divorce.
It was a tough time. Worse, because I was trying to follow my dream of writing. That was what tipped over the apple cart.
What saved me was reading, of course. More particularly, reading a series of specific books – Nora Roberts Chesapeake Bay series. Knowing N.R.’s history helped remind me that second chances were possible. (Or, in my case, third or fourth.)
I would follow that dream, my dreams, in more ways than one. As many times as I tried to convince my ex to expand his horizons, to travel outside his comfort zone, he wouldn’t. (He preferred Las Vegas.)
Now newly divorced, I could. So I did. I had always wanted to visit Great Britain, to see certain literary sites – like the moors of England, Stonehenge, the horse country, and one of the lochs in Scotland – but particularly Ireland. Much of my heritage is based in the British Isles.
Although I consider myself primarily a fantasy writer, I was inspired by Nora Roberts’ books to write a series of my own.
Thus was born The Millersburg Quartet – the first of which was Irish Fling.
That book set the tone for all but the last, Two Up – the
only one not based in reality, although it was born of my creative process.
Dirty Politics was based on my father’s frequent forays into politics, and what I learned of the process. As the old adage goes there are two things you never want to see made – sausages and laws. They’re right. Even on the local level, there are dirty tricks – and dirty politics.
As with the others, Director’s Cut came from my experience with community theater – even
many of characters and events were about real people and real events. It’s also an homage to the man who inspired the character of the ‘matchmaker’.
Two Up was just fun to write. Even though my husband the motorcycle safety instructor has banned me from riding. *laughing* Bikes are more powerful than they were when I was riding in my teens and I’m too easily distracted. However, the hot bath in the hollow in the woods was real.
All the books in The Millersburg Quartet are available everywhere, and all are in print.
In honor of Valentines Day, Irish Fling is on sale for $.99 everywhere – B&N #Nook, #Kobo, #AppleBooks and #Kindle. The entire Millersburg Quartet is also available in print via Amazon.
Having seen a few very scary web posts about the cost of self-publishing, I thought I’d contribute my own two cents.
Once you get the knack of formatting documents down for both print and e-books, it’s relatively inexpensive. For print, CreateSpace has a blog with instructions to set up, but in Word, it’s simply a matter of taking your text down to 11 pt Times New Roman or Book Antiqua, the page margins to .5 and a gutter of .3 and section breaks between Chapters. Use books from your favorite author as a template. Include a header (different header and footer) with your name on one page and the title on the other. Use your favorite author’s books as a template. CreateSpace requires you to purchase a ‘proof’ copy, to check to make certain your book meets your expectations. With the $39.00 fee for their Pro program of distribution, it only cost me about $50-60 per book to set up. Smashwords offers a similar program through Wordclay but had an additional charge to format your cover art while CreateSpace let me use my own. Back to cover art in a minute.
For e-book formatting take the gutter, header and any page numbering out. Insert either the back cover information or a short excerpt from your book, then your cover art, a generic copyright disclaimer (Smashwords has a great sample) and then a listing of your other books (or those coming soon). This makes the book look more professional. Some e-book formats require you to use section breaks between each of these sections and I advise using them. Take advantage of any previews they offer and edit for appearance on the fly by making the change and saving. Then upload the doc to the appropriate sites – Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon), PubIt (B&N) and/or Smashwords. Cost? A small percentage of the proceeds.
One consideration – editing. Even the best of self-editors still needs another set of honest eyes on their manuscript. That can and should be an editor – but they can be expensive. (Apologies to all my editor friends out there.) If you can’t afford one, try asking at the local community college for their English class, and ask the professor if they’ll offer editing it as extra credit. Don’t give it to the creative writing folks, they may critique it more than edit it. Lacking that option, recruit beta readers – volunteers who will read your writing for free – but they have to be totally honest with you… and you have to listen!
ISBNs – (international standard book numbers) were provided free when I formatted my books through CreateSpace (for print) and Kindle (for e-book), as both do take a larger cut of the total proceeds. B&N doesn’t require them and they were provided free through Smashwords as long as Smashwords was listed as the publisher. The rights, though, still belong to you, the author.
Cover art requires a little creativity but if you’re a reader (and you must be if you write) you have lots of samples around you in the books you’ve read. Find one similar to your writing style and look for art like this. (Google can help you here. Just google the description, and go to images. Double clicking will take you to the site where it’s available.) The covers for several of my novels were provided by photos I purchased for about $10.00 from photo sites like Dreamstime and 123rf. Many fantasy artist do charge more. One of my most beautiful covers, for Not Magic Enough , I purchased for $60.00 from a wonderful artist I found on the web, adding text from a free program called Picnik, available from Google. (DO NOT USE ART FOUND BY GOOGLE unless there is no disclaimer for copyright, and you have checked with the site for copyright.) I purchased the cover for The Coming Storm for three credits, about three dollars, from a website called Dreamstime. Each cover is perfectly evocative of the stories contained within them. It did take some time to find them and a few false starts, but the advantage is that no one knows your stories as well as you do so you can find just the right cover art for your book. Format the cover art to 5 X 8 in Picnik, that will cover most trade paperback books, the going size for most print books, and is easily adaptable in e-books.
You should have someplace to display your books, websites and blogs being the most common. Most blogs are free and so are some web-design sites. I used Yola but Blogger offers one, too, and there are others. They offer it in exchange for letting them tack their logo at the bottom of your page as advertising for their services and their advertisers. (The logo is pretty small.) They had template pages that were fairly easy to set up and produced a professional looking result. As I became more familiar with them I learned to add a few customizations of my own and upgraded to their Silver program for $89.00 for three sites, web hosting included. (You can also hire the geeky kid down the street, which was my first option.) Here is a sample, the opening page to valeriedouglasbooks.com . Not bad, I think. I have another site for my erotica writing, the design of which is distinctly different, but both sites do link to each other.
So all told it cost me between $59.00 for The Coming Storm (free web from Yola, $10.00 cover art, approximately $10.00 w/shipping for proof copy and $39.00 Pro program) to $90.00 for Not Magic Enough. (1/3 the cost of my webpage once I upgraded and 60.00 for the cover art. E-book only). All my books are available in all e-books formats thanks to Kindle and Smashwords, and two (soon to be three) books are now available in print via CreateSpace.
Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. She reads and writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!Happily married, she's companion to two dogs, three cats and an African clawed frog named Hopper who delights in tormenting the cats from his tank.Valerie Douglas is the co-founder and one of the administrators of the 11,500+ member Indie Author Group - supporting writers around the world.She blogs at her own blog, The Indie Author Group, [email protected] Author Group and Two Midlist Indies.