Showing posts with label book covers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book covers. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Visibility Fog

As I write this I am sitting in a car looking out on Cook Strait. On a good day you can see the South Island. Today I just see an empty expanse of white coming down on the rolling sea about 500 meters away. Visibility limited.

Somewhere out in the white are big inter–island ferries coming through the strait, along with smaller fishing boats and huge cargo ships. Modern boats have radar so there won’t be collisions.

Book visibility seems to be a theme running through my roundup today. Somewhere in the white noise of Amazon your book is floundering around. How can you make the book visible so it has less chance of sinking without a trace.

Book Radar

Your Cover. 
The Book Designer (AKA Joel Friedlander) has a good post on what a cover should have. Alan Rinzler also has talked to one of the best cover artists in the business about what is iconic and important.

This is how your book is described on any digital platform. Penny Sansevieri describes in detail how to do this for Amazon. You will learn things about search that will blow your mind.

Getting Endorsements and Reviews.
All book marketing comes down to word of mouth in the end. Either the book is being hand sold in the bookstore, Indie bookstores do this amazingly well, or you found a great book because someone told you about it.
Writer platform goes into fine detail about how to target and get reviews. Training Authors has an interesting post on getting endorsements. These are cover pull quotes.
Joanna Penn talks about little tweaks that increase your email subscriber list which increases your reader reach and your visibility.

Small publishers are just as keen on visibility. BAP books is shaking things up with a pay what you want publishing model for a poetry book. They have had great success. It is daring... innovative... would it work for any book? Not sure... but I’m talking about it on my blog at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere so it’s definitely visible.

In The Craft Section,

Writing to gaming music. (This is really interesting.)

How do you know if your concept is right? Larry Brooks with two video tutorials on nailing your concept. (Bookmark)

In The Marketing Section,

Marketing your series- Lindsay Buroker (bookmark)

Website of the Week
Actually it is a roundup of websites… on self publishing some of which will be familiar. But you may find a new one to try out.

To Finish,
Ryan Holiday has an interesting article on Growth Hacking for Creatives... This is thinking outside the box for visibility.

Pic: Cook Strait... what you see on a good day.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Trolls and Turtles

Reviews...fake...nasty...and contained has been the topic around the Blogosphere this week.

As I have said before, if you don’t like the book don’t review it...or say why you don’t like the book and back it up....

Goodreads new policy is to try to stop the bullying reviews and personal attacks of authors on the site. The freedom of anonymity, while you are sitting at home, to write on the internet a corrosive review of a book or author because you can...and no one will call you out to your face for your behaviour...brings out the troll in some people. And trolls seem to seek affirmation of their troll behaviour from other trolls.  Any writer putting their head above the parapet to call out troll behaviour gets targeted. Hugh Howey talks about this and how he was guilty of ducking it until this week...A great article from Hugh.

Being the geek I am, I read PopSci and this week PopSci looked at a scientific study of negative reviews on science stories and found that constant negative reviews which are emotive, skewed the perceptions of the readers to put aside the facts of the science article.
PopSci pulled the plug on comments on their articles on their website...there are still ways to comment...FB, Twitter.... but not on their website. 
If you carry out those results to their logical end--commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded--you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the "off" switch.

Self-publishing advice has an article which tells you about the subculture of Amazon Reviewers...yes they talk to each other...

Porter Anderson spends a lot of his Ether just looking at the articles flying about reviewersthis week and there are many... So take a long break and maybe reach for alcohol.

The Frankfurt Bookfair is about to kick off and as usual there are lots of side events looking at the state of publishing. Publishing Perspectives takes a look at one aspect that will be big news at the fair... Self Publishing : the industry implications and impact.

Another must read is Kris Rusch. This week’s stand out article is the stages of an Indie writer. This is being tweeted around the blogosphere...

Elisabeth S Craig also has a nice little post on being a Hybrid Writer.

Chuck has always been Mr Nice when talking about traditional publishers, after all he may cuss but he is not a hypocrite.  (Unlike a certain author who is getting roundly dissed for his hypocrisy all over the web.) Chuck traditionally publishes but doesn’t diss Indies or Amazon or anyone that plays fair... until today when he came out in Chuck mode in an open letter... Dear Publishers.

In Craft,

In Marketing,

MediaBistro takes a look at how to do book covers with public domain pictures.

DigitalBookWorld looks at 5 ways that authors can handle bad reviews.

Website to go look at,
This is an author run co-op with some illustrious members...making waves in the indie publishing world. Check out how they got together and how they publish their work. I keep saying this is the way of the future...

To Finish,
SCBWI has introduced a new award for non traditionally published books...and Katherine Applegate (Animorphs) has been signed by HarperCollins for a new series on the strength of 3 sentences...

The green trolls of jealousy should be gathering to pull her down about now. 
More Power to Katherine’s Arm. 

I saw in my Twitter feed today a nice reminder....
If you think your idea is too weird to fly... just remember these four words. 
Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles.

Feel free to comment....


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Cost Of Being Vocal.

This week in the publishing blogosphere...The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers published their magazine with a chain mail bikini clad women on the front and an interesting article which had a line promoting  Barbie being a role model for her quiet dignity. Women members of the association objected to the tone of the articles and were immediately inundated with abusive emails...comments on their blogs...twitter feeds...from their peers.
When they published some of these responses...and detailed what it was like to be a women writing in this genre... the response was shock. How could writers do this to other writers...? And then it went viral.

Chuck Wendig wrote a great article about sexism and misogyny in writing and publishing. The next day he had to write another dealing with the comments on the first. Then today he had to follow that up, Why Men Should Speak Up About Sexism and Misogyny. The issues of the first article have spilled over into the gaming community, which has the worst instances of abuse to women working in this field. The abuse on Twitter coming to Chuck is miniscule compared to the  women writers who have lifted their heads above the parapet to say what their experience is like from other writers, convention fans and general male population who find out that they write Sci Fi.

I write Sci Fi. I read Sci Fi. I enjoy Science and Researching ideas and thinking of possibilities. I have friends who are scientists whom I talk geek with. I have never been abused as some of these writers have been...however I have had the disparaging comments on how ‘I’ (a woman/mother...) would know anything about that tech subject.... I ignore it and delete that person from my, consider-this-person’s-opinions-on-anything-valid, mental list. I quietly treasure the time a Male Scientist put a disparaging idiot in his place by agreeing with me. The look on that idiots face was something to behold.  The abuse to these women writers, coders and gamers is sustained, vitriolic and pervasive as trolls follow them across all social media. The level of abuse is scary with death threats often the least of the hate messages that spew out across the internet.  It is an important issue. It is nice to see male writers standing up to call out their peers who perpetuate these sexist, misogynistic attitudes. (If you are a Male writer reading this and you think this issue is over the top then read Ann’s Post and the first emails she got in response...Think about getting this level of abuse all the time....)

And so onto the other rants happening in publishing. The tendency of writers to not do their research before writing big articles in which they name other writers has annoyed a few people this week. Porter Anderson takes a look at the other big publishing firefight.

Publishing Perspectives has an interesting article on Why Publishing Needs to Foster a Startup Economy. (I’m sometimes wondering if we aren’t time warping to the 1880’s with the beginnings of modern publishing houses.)

With the speed of the publishing industry changes and the announcements in the last weeks of publishers pulling out of NZ, The League Of Shattered Authors makes timely reading. I have always promoted the idea of writer collectives...I think this is the future. Time to start banding together folks.

With the ongoing focus on book covers Chuck asks what works...what doesn’t.... An interesting discussion ensued...and a link to a Lousy Book Covers site.

In Craft,
Some GREAT links this week.

Plotting made easy...This from is one of the websites to keep an eye on.

Victoria Mixon on Revising Wrong

Why Editors Focus On Page One...a great post on Jane Friedman’s site.

The fabulous K M Weiland on the 15 steps she uses to revise her MS’s

In Marketing,

The BookShelfMuse team on Foreign Rights Agents... Everything You Need To Know...This is interesting as Emotional Thesaurus starts to go Global.

Top 5 Errors In Layout from Joel Friedlander. (I am studying this carefully as I work on interior layout tweaking on a print book.)

To Finish,
How does a blog post go viral? The anatomy of a viral blog post tells you one example that worked. And for all you budding filmmakers...Amazon has a new free app for you, Storyteller. It takes your MS and storyboards it.
So you can go viral, Be a Force For Good and Change The World!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weaving the strands

Last week was a fairly tough one in the family with a family funeral to deal with so there was no weekly blog post looking at the hot topics in the publishing blogosphere.

This week I am trying to pick up the threads and get back into the warp and weft of the publishing world.

Just when you think Amazon has every thing stitched up as the biggest book retailer in the world there is a thread ready to be yanked which could cause some unravelling...

Amazon has been negotiating (dictating) new pricing terms to book publishers this year. When the Independent Publishers Group rejected their terms all the Amazon buy buttons were disabled for all books represented by them. (Two years ago Amazon did this to Macmillan and Macmillan won. IPG are much smaller and their members risk going out of business entirely.)

The stand taken by IPG has lots of support from across the blogosphere as different ways to buy IPG books get promoted on websites and other online book retailers.
IPG Authors are stuck as they watch entire catalogues disappear...5000 authors are affected by this and there is much pessimism. When the largest book retailer on the planet refuses to stock your book...what do you do?

Seth Godin has problems with Apple refusing to carry his latest book because it has links to buy books he quotes from Amazon...He questions whether the book retailer should have such a sensitivity to book content....

Crafting a successful children’s book requires the manipulating of many strands. Marketing is one important one as you want people to want to own your creation.

Lindsay Buroker has compiled a list of links to check out to help new writers tackle the marketing questions.

In your quest to make your book glow with subtle colour and texture you need a strong cover. India Drummond continues her examination of book covers. This is a must read post as India explains the contract and price work sheet she uses with clients when she designs book covers.

Along with subtle colour you must have strong threads to hang everything off and Warrior Writer have a post on story structure using Finding Nemo...Warrior Poet has one on using a Hollywood trick to outline....(hmm lots of warriors out there)

Jody Hedlund has finally read Hunger Games and she has an interesting post on riveting readers using Death as the main theme...Death by another name as the great antagonist.

There are 10 pieces of rotten writing and don’t follow....

Liza Nowak wants to enlist the help of all writers of Boy Books out there. She has an interesting proposition for you.

Agent Kristin of Pub Rants has been experimenting with Friday video blogs and she has one examining the different levels and word counts of Mid Grade my favourite genre.

Time to tie off the ends with Publishers Weekly and their blog post on whether teens are embracing eBooks...Yup right after they address the digital divide between those who can afford e readers and those that can’t and that is where the libraries come in....


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Covering The Book

The Craic Project -Episode Two
A book is judged by its cover.

Book covers - The most important starting point for a reader, getting their attention! I set about reading up on them. What does a Book Cover need?

1. A strong choice of colours to have the book stand out.
2. An arresting image.
3. A clear font choice.
4. The ability to retain all these elements when reduced to thumbnail size. 
This is important because all the marketing of the book is on screen and book covers are reduced to thumbnail size...Check out Amazon and scroll through the average list of books in your genre. Focus on the books that grab your eye.

What colour palettes are being used in your genre? 
Opinion is divided on midgrade covers, from bubblegum cartoon to photo realism. I took myself to the book shops and stood back in front of the midgrade section to see what stood out. Very little. This is because the mid grade book cover is being influenced by the Young Adult cover. The Young Adult book cover is leaning towards paranormal and steampunk colour palettes...that’s browns, blacks and sepias and contrast white. This is what is being published now...bear in mind that books accepted now will take one -two years to come out so styles will change. I checked out what others were saying. Bookseller opinions were that they were over the muted colour tones.

After I finished rereading Craic for the umpteenth time I had several strong images and colours in my mind that represented the main themes of the book.
You know how it is when you have a vague idea of what you want but not a specific. I decided to look at a stock photo site just doodling around to see what was there.

Stock photo sites are a serious time many cool images. Along with the photos, many artists have uploaded designs as well.
I found two images that represented almost exactly what was in my head and more importantly the colours were strong. The purple image I thought may have been designed just for Craic (I fell in love. If you have read Craic you will know what I mean...If not, what are you waiting for...heheheh. )
Were they too strong? Go to target audience...What do they think...which one...or combination of them... Combination won out.

The cost of the image depends on how popular the image is, the size that you want and the type of license you need. You want a large image for clarity, especially if you are going to be using that image in a variety of media, print, screen, video...(altho not always, see below on book covers) 
So I quickly had to work out a budget. (I had a limited budget however the Book Cover is hugely important so invest money here.)

I had to figure out what licenses I needed and how to buy them.  I made one mistake, getting a more extensive license for the purple image, which means I can print it on teeshirts and sell it if I never know I may just want to do that...hehehe.

Once I selected the images, bought and downloaded them then I had to figure out a way of combining them and find a title font.

Fonts...a serious timesuck, so many wonderful fonts.... I went with a Celtic theme because Craic is an Irish Gaelic word...and just happened to find a font called Dumbldor. How could I resist?

For the price of a couple of dinners, a friend played around in Photoshop and combined the images for me. Then back to the target audience for reaction and tweaking.

While I was checking out images... I was checking out books from the library on making YouTube videos. They all agreed that a good YouTube video was storyboarded and had a matching musical soundtrack...More research required.

Next week... What I learned about Book Trailers.

For those of you who have skipped down to the Main Event...The Link roundup.
What has been talked about in the blogosphere this week?

Apple’s announcement of iBooks and iAuthor iPad App software and the way they have used the EULA (End User Licence Agreement) After you have downloaded the free software then you find out that Apple will take a 30% cut of your work if you sell it. And you can only sell it on iTunes. There are lots of fors and againsts about this move. Check out Writer Beware and read the comments to get a good handle on this one. (my 2c is they don’t own your content and you are free to take that content and drop it into any other software to make an Enhanced Book App with. Latest numbers out... last year 32 million iPads sold.)

Staying with this theme The Digital Book World Conference is on at the moment.
Bob Mayer recaps his thoughts on what’s been talked about so far and his participation on the self publishers panel...Yes even Mr Mayer can be outclassed!

Angela Ackerman AKA The BookshelfMuse has written a timely post about pulling back on social media. This resonated with a large amount of people who commented with links and advice to help focus on the task at hand.

Jeff Vandermeer has a blog post on Literary Estates and what it means for an anthologist to try to deal with them. TIP Even if you have only one piece published, have a literary executor...Jeff tells you why!

School starts next week and I’m about to start the mammoth job of covering books!


Craic (8-12 yrs) is available on Kindle and Smashwords (2.99US)
Check out for more information.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Preparing for 2012

The year is nearly over and the blogosphere has filled with predictions for 2012.

What should happen... will happen... aint gonna happen in 2012?

Bob Mayer always has an interesting line up and he is often right on the money, speaking of which he is getting lots of comments on number eight and how publishers account for the money...hmmm.

Jane Friedman has looked at her year and listed what she thinks is the best advice she has given. Jane is a media professor so if you want a university course in writing and publishing check this list out!

Joe Konrath has put up his list of resolutions for writers...what is interesting is he starts with what he said in 2006 then 2007 then 2008 then 2009 then 2010 and adds a short piece for 2011. Go through the list and see the really solid advice that he gives. Worth printing out and sticking on the wall!

The news today over on the Passive Guys blog (writer lawyer) is HarperCollins attempt to enforce a contract infringement for a contract written in 1971 asserting it owns the eBook rights for Julie Of The Wolves by Jean Craighead George. Check out what he has to say and also his follow up post on the  ground breaking ruling called the Peggy Lee Decision. Given what HaperCollins is trying you might just need to know this piece of advice!

Jenny Hansen is giving an early New Years gift to writers with a cheat sheet of the best keyboard shortcuts for writers.

David Robinson has written a useful guest post on creating book covers. Check out the comments where writers have put links in to free software to give you a hand.

To finish,
Book riot has a funny roundup entitled you know you have read too much Young Adult fiction when...(great for Y A writers to hold a mental measuring stick on their own work.)

I am now in the sunny North except it is raining... Time for me to get out the old novel and finish it! 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different.

The week has been full of change.
I went away for three days writing...that was a change.
I am tweaking my website...warning change can be addictive.
I am reading about writers who are making big changes in the way they publish, market and portray themselves online.

6 prescriptions to cure the heartbreak ofbeing published....Yes, you read that right. Ruth Harris looks at the downside of the newly of which is when you hate the cover the publishers gave you.

Shelftalker, an indie children’s booksellerhas a rant on book covers that are coming out. I must have missed the tween goth revolution...but all the covers for this age group look like YA covers and they all only use vampire palettes...

Mary Kole from interviews Daniel Nayeri, kids lit author, on the off the wall marketing he does to promote his books...and the fact that his latest book is a collection of novellas. Even the book trailers...commercials break all the rules (were there any?)

The wonderful Catherine Ryan Howard has become my latest must read blog. Catherine has built a steady following self publishing while waiting for the big publishing deal and her blog details her journey. This week she examines why she might not ever print publish again.  

And then... 
Sarah Billington said ‘I want to give away a copy of my new midgrade eBook....’
A midgrade eBook?!That’s new...So I asked Sarah some questions and we cooked up a little competition for you.

Everybody is talking about eBooks. Writers are being encouraged to look at self publishing their work as the eBook phenomenon turns the print publishing industry upside down. When did you decide to dip your toe in the water and why?
I had been hearing about eBooks for a little while, since the start of the year really (2011), hearing the astounding success stories such as Amanda Hocking and J.A Konrath, how big name authors were turning their backs on 500k publishing deals in order to self-publish their work. The royalty rates offered by ebook distributors like Amazon and Smashwords are SO MUCH higher than traditional publishers are capable of offering due to the overhead costs involved in running such large businesses. Plus there are only so many slots available in any given publisher’s schedule. This means that there are SO MANY great books languishing in drawers and on hard drives, not because they aren’t brilliant and readers would love them, but because there just isn’t room for them in the print schedule.
And there are so many genres that don’t sell in big enough numbers to make it worth a publishing house’s investment, but certainly have an audience who want to read it. Now authors of niche topics can get their books straight to their readers. Like short story writers!
I am currently studying a Bachelor of Writing & Publishing and as part of my course this year, we had to do a major project on a form of digital publishing. I decided what the heck. It gave me the perfect opportunity to teach myself how to create an ebook. I planned to make one short story ebook for the assessment. Instead, I made 5.

How did you decide which of your stories would be best as an eBook? Did length play a part?
As initially it was just an experiment, length definitely played a part in my decision. Even as an indie author now, I dream of being traditionally published because I do still believe there is a future in it and they can reach a much broader readership than I can on my own, so I decided to first off only publish short stories. And they sell. I am amazed that I am earning income from 1,500 word short stories. I now too have an upper middle grade novel for sale, Life was cool until you got popular which you can win here today! (Details below).
What I choose to write for e-publication is definitely being influenced by the trends I am finding with my sales figures. For instance, my thriller The Runaway (which can be found under my pen name, Edwina Ray) outsells all of my other stories by 10-1 so I am keen to write more thrillers. I do love writing comedy, though. And though it sells well in print books, the IT genres in the ebook world are definitely thriller and paranormal romance. If you write those, then ebook publishing is a good fit for you!

What has been the most satisfying aspect to producing an eBook?
Seeing positive reviews of my work from book bloggers, friends and colleagues I admire and random happy readers! I always ask for an honest review, regardless of whether I know the reader or not and am thrilled that people are enjoying my work.

What has been the most difficult thing about preparing an eBook?
Finding the time to do everything – write, design a cover, format, come up with a blurb, promote, change tactics if something isn’t working. I haven’t received any income from my works as yet, partly because the international banking requirements sound like an absolute nightmare and I keep putting it off. J Yet something else I need to do!
There is definitely less writing time available, as an indie author.

You worked on your covers yourself, What was the most important thing that you learned about cover design for an eBook?
Cover design for ebooks require very different things to print books. At a bookshop, your book needs to stand out from the crowded shelves, and have an eye catching cover. For ebooks, yes these things are important, but the most important thing is that you use a large font for your title and author name. Why? Because readers see ebooks as thumbnails on their computer screens. If the title and author name are not legible when the cover image is so small, then you’re unlikely to have potential readers click through to view its blurb, reviews and buy it.

In the print world the print publisher may (if you are lucky) have a publishing campaign around the release of the book. What do you do when you have an eBook?
You do it all yourself! Getting book reviews are key to the success of an ebook. They don’t have to be glowing 5-star reviews, actually a couple of 2-3 star reviews add a bit of credibility to all reviews! Cold-emailing book bloggers, organizing book tours, blogging about the topic of your book (my blog post about the different types of zombie is my most popular blog post EVER – buy I, Zombie today! J) and getting people involved are key. Constantly tweeting or Facebooking how awesome your book is and that everyone should buy it is a complete turn-off to readers though. I am a reader, and I get annoyed by these overzealous authors so I simply don’t do it.
Also, run giveaways, as we’re doing here today! The point is not to make any income from the experience, but to reach new readers who might tell their friends, or pass it on to others. Like traditionally published books, exposure, letting readers know that you and your book even exist is essential.

You have a range of different genres that you play in...Zombies, Young Adult, MidGrade, Do you have eBooks in all of these genres?
I do. J I can’t help it, I love them all. I like variety and write every other project in a different genre lately, to keep me on my toes. However, so as not to end up with a twelve year old fan of Life was cool until you got popular reading I, Zombie (a rather gruesome black comedy told from the zombie’s perspective), and assuming it would be appropriate for them, I publish my darker works under my pen name, Edwina Ray.

Ebooks are rapidly gaining ground but mostly in the adult fiction market, Do you see a trickle down effect to the younger ages? How do you market a book to the younger reader?
I do believe there will be a trickle down effect to younger readers, as more and more receive ereading devices for Christmas and birthdays. Childrens and middle grade ebooks at the moment mind you, are definitely not the big sellers. I like to think that I’m getting in on the ground floor. Marketing ebooks to younger readers is a difficult one. Young adult fiction readers are different, as young adults and adults who read YA scour book blogs and book communities, but children – not so much. To be honest: I haven’t figured that part out yet. At present, I think it is much easier to get a traditionally published middle grade or children’s book in front of kids, through bookshops, libraries and book fairs.

Will you release print versions of your eBooks?
I do have plans to, yes. Definitely Life was cool until you got popular is in the works. I have hired a graphic designer to make a sparkly new cover for a print version. I won’t be publishing the short stories individually as print books, but once I have enough in the same genre (eg. thrillers, or comedy etc) I will think about creating themed anthologies.

Tell us a little bit about your midgrade eBook...

Sure! I have been told that my middle grade and young adult fiction writing style is very reminiscent of Louise Rennison, who writes the super-hilarious Georgia Nicolson series (though you won’t need a glossary in the back to understand my terminology). I am thrilled beyond belief to be compared to Louise.
This is what Life was cool until you got popular is about:

Thirteen year old Kaley’s best friend Jules is an alien clone. That has to be it. Because Jules wouldn’t dress like that or act like that…and she definitely wouldn’t be friends with Meg-a-bitch.

Kaley can't wait to start at her new school with her best friend Jules. Jules was away in Europe all summer (worst summer of Kaley's life!) But it's cool, now school is starting and everything is going to be awesome. However as the school bus pulls up on that first day, Kaley barely recognizes the silky hair and glossy lips as Jules gets off with the cool kids and with their arch-nemesis Meg, the popular girl (God only knows why) who made Kaley and Jules's lives miserable in elementary school. In Europe, Meg had somehow won over Kaley's best friend and Kaley finds herself frozen out.

Life was cool until you got popular is a first person novel told through Kaley’s eyes, chronicling the initial pain and incomprehension of what happened to destroy their friendship. But that doesn't last long. Kaley decides that underneath the bleached blond clone with the personality transplant, Jules is still in there. Somewhere. And she is going to get her best friend back!

Life was cool is available through:

And wherever else you might find it!

You can find Sarah at

The Sarah Billington Blog:

How To Win

Halloween is happening in a few days so...Here is how you can win a copy of Sarah’s eBook Life was cool until you got popular
Add a great Zombie Name in the comments...and the best ones will win...simple.

aka Brains R Fried.

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