Next week is the start of my Book Blog Tour. It was arranged by the fabulous Enchanted Book Promotions and will go for a month! Here are the tour dates and info. Feel free to stop over and join us to learn more about me, read some reviews and excerpts, guest posts and giveaways!
April 15th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading
April 17th: Book Excerpt and Giveaway @ Regina May Ross’ Blog
April 20th: Book Excerpt @ The Book Daily
April 22nd: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog
April 24th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading
April 26th: Book Excerpt @ 365 Days of Reading
April 28th: Book Review @ The Single Librarian
April 29th: Book Review and Excerpt @ Books, Books and More Books
April 30th: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog
May 1st: Cover Reveal and Book Excerpt for Blue Line Bone Collector @ Hollow Readers
May 2nd : Book Review @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog
May 3rd: Review and Guest Post @ Mama Knows Books
May 5th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader
May 6th: Book Review @ Bookaholic Ramblings
May 7th: Book Excerpt and Giveaway @ Loup d’Argent
May 8th: Book Review @ Forever Book Lover
May 10th: Author Interview @ Deal Sharing Aunt
May 11th: Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway @ The Broke Book Bank
May 12th: Book Review @ I’m an Eclectic Reader
May 13th: Review, Interview and Giveaway @ The Wormhole
May 14th: Book Review @ The Book Daily
May 15th: Guest Post @ Bianca2B
When my parents told me never to judge a book by its cover, Amazon.com didn’t exist and neither did the internet for that matter. Now everything is judged by minute snippets of information and thumbnail pictures. So, in this day and age a book can and will be judged by its cover. With that in mind, you’d be foolish not to make sure your book is dressed as sharply on the outside, as it is carefully crafted and edited on the inside.
With the outrageous number of books and ebooks being published everyday on Amazon, and every other major online retailer it is becoming exceedingly difficult to separate ourselves from all of the competition.
Even if you have Shakespeare’s gift with words, or J.K. Rowling’s artistry that allowed her to cast a spell with the turn of a page, Stephenie Meyer’s ability to take someone fiction has traditionally cast as a villian and breathe humanity into him or Suzanne Collins’ take on how one ordinary girl can take on the injustices of the world, it is still beyond difficult to find an audience among the millions of offerings. Chances are if you can’t engage a reader with your cover, it will never matter how well you craft a story.
You’ve spent weeks, months, or perhaps even years carefully creating characters and spinning a compelling story that brings them to life and now you are left wondering how you can make your work stand out.
As I’ve said before, there are a number of things that you have to do in order to even have a remote chance at selling beyond your inner circle of supportive friends, family and co-workers. Editing is a really big step, as is formatting, but what is often overlooked is the cover itself.
It is your opportunity to not only introduce yourself and your work to a reader, but also to give your readers a sneak peek into what they might find between the pages. So now, you are faced with the various ways to grab their attention…perhaps with something that might tug at the heart strings, or a more subtle approach that carries a vague reference, or perhaps an ominous prophecy of what’s to come. (In order to avoid copyright issues, I’ve used samples of my own covers. If you have a cover of your own that you think might offer a unique portrait of your story, feel free to submit it via email.)
More often than not, your cover design will be more important than any little blurb or summary you provide as it is often the first thing people will see. If it doesn’t catch the readers eye, they may never even get to your summary or the dozens or more reviews that your readers have so kindly offered.
The cover is almost as important as the story, the editing and the formatting in the respect that IT IS the hand shake and introduction at the party…and you definitely don’t want your guests to walk away and forget your name before that party even starts!
So what do you do?
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to a great cover design, but there are a number of great cover designers with enough experience to steer you in the right direction. And the clearer your vision for the story is, the easier it will be to translate that into your cover design. Does your book have some kind of specific imagery, or is there a picture that you envision for a scene in your book? These are some good places to start.
Some of the key things you want to make sure to address is a font that will stand out in smaller images and that your name or pen name is prominent on the cover as well. You’ll also want to consider your background color in relation to any images you choose and if it’s a series whether you will be able to have some continuity from one book to the next. And you’ll also want to consider the formats, is it only an ebook, or will it be offered in print as well? A good cover designer will help you decide what suits your particular book as well.
People ask all the time, can’t I just take a stock image and use that with my title and my name? Well, no one is going to stop you, but it also won’t stop anyone else from using that same image for their book.
Armed with this information, I thought I would share my cover designer’s website and a few twitter handles that might help you along the way. The right people are out there to help you create a unique and engaging cover, you just have to seek them out!
You can also follow him on twitter @muggai
Or you can tweet to @SelfPubBKCovers and they will send you a list of their favorite cover designers.
And of course there are sites like Elance.com where you can post your jobs and find someone that fits your project and budget.
I hope that this will help anyone looking to jump into the world of self publishing or indie publishing. And it may also help anyone seeking alternatives to the often expensive added services of many publishing houses.
As writers, we are both at an advantage for the number of options available to us, and at a disadvantage for the number of books that are now being published on a daily basis. So, take every opportunity you have to grab a potential readers attention and most of all enjoy the ride!
Have more questions??? Well feel free to post a comment, or find me on twitter @LoucksKE
THE ROSE RED REAPER
Lt. Commander Mason Cole never intended to follow his brother into law enforcement, but the murder of a loved one gave him the motivation needed to take a position as the head of Chicago’s Serial Crimes Unit. Along with his brother, Detective Devon Cole, former FBI Profiler and Technical Analyst Melinda Kade and Detective Piper Torello, Mason is tasked with finding some of the cities most prolific serial killers.
As a former Navy SEAL, Mason has seen some of the worst the world has to offer, but nothing could have prepared him for his initiation into the world of a serial killer.
Their first case came with a gruesome introduction from a man who has given himself his own press ready moniker. Known for his macabre signature and the white rose he leaves at the scene with a calling card signed in blood,
THE ROSE RED REAPER
Mason and his team will pursue the killer through the vast streets of Chicago, across the affluent suburbs of the North Shore following cryptic clues left at each crime scene and pointing them to a web of violence dating back to The Reaper’s own childhood.
Complications begin to arise when The Reaper makes a connection to the woman that Mason loves. Dakota Rose Shelton. The stunning, raven-haired beauty that has carefully salvaged Mason’s broken heart may also be the key to ending The Reaper’s bloody reign. Left blind by a childhood illness, she must help them to assemble the pieces of the Reaper’s past with no visual memories to aid her.
Can Dakota help the team put the pieces together before The Reaper targets one of there own? And will she be able to fight off a killer that she cannot see?
Available in paperback and for your kindle NOW!
Be sure and catch the sneak peek of The Blue Line Bone Collector (Book two in the Chicago Serial Crimes Series) at the end of The Rose Red Reaper!
COMING SUMMER 2013!
I have been meaning to post an update for a few weeks, however I’ve been in a constant state of chaos for one reason or another. So, I thought I’d take a minute to share my chaos.
I just recently started a book blog tour with VBT Cafe. You can go to www.vbtcafe.com to check out other tours as well! Here are the stops on my tour.
October 22 – Introduction at VBT Cafe’ Blog
October 24 – Author Interviewed at Dream Big…Read Often
October 26 – Book Feature & Excerpt at Oh Chrys!
October 30 – Interviewed at Reviews and Interviews
November 1 – Interviewed at Angels & Warriors Radio
November 5 – Book Feature & Excerpt at Bookalicious Traveladdict
November 7 - Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
November 10 – Guest Blogging at huithiang!
November 12 – Guest Blogging at Wise Words
November 15 – Interviewed at MK McClintock’s Blog
November 16 – Review & Guest Blogging at A Book Lover’s Library
I believe there may be one additional stop, which I will post when I know for sure. If nothing else I’ll post a link on twitter. If you aren’t following me there, you can find me @LoucksKE
The blog tour has been a ton of fun. I’ve really enjoyed meeting lots of new people and of course finding new blogs to follow!
Aside from that, I am currently trying to wrap up my next novel, The Rose Red Reaper. It is definitely going to fall into more of a thriller category, but there is still a romance in the midst of all the madness. It is the first novel that will be set in my hometown of Chicago, which I am really excited about! I do tend to choose locations that I am familiar with either from visiting or places that I’ve lived, but Chicago has always been home no matter where in the world I’ve been at any given time in my life. And of course, Chicago is where most of my family is as well. It’s been a lot of fun to wreck havoc in places that I know so well, too.
The Rose Red Reaper is the first in a series. I am undecided as to how many books the series will have, but I am planning on at least two, possibly three. I’ll have a better idea when I wrap the first one and get it off to the editors.
The last bit of chaos in my life is the bakery. If you aren’t familiar with my story, I am a pastry chef and cake designer and I run a bakery in a north shore suburb of Chicago. We recently moved to a new location and have been in the midst of construction, which has been taking an exceedingly long time! I can’t say this is abnormal for food service as there is a lot that goes into a commercial kitchen, but I was hoping to open before Thanksgiving. Currently, it looks like we will be finalizing everything come December which should be around the same time the new book launches!
Seems that I have a lot on my plate at the moment, but I love it. I really want to get into some more regular posts, so if you have any questions or suggestions on things you’d like to see feel free to comment here, email me at email@example.com or tweet to me @LoucksKE (I don’t do Direct Messages on twitter as it gets spammed like crazy).
Thanks for checking in!
If you’ve published anything in the last few years, you probably have lots of people asking you how to “get published”. If not, it probably seems as simple as trying to paint the Mona Lisa with both hands tied behind your back if you don’t have a place to start.
Well, the best way to get your work out there is typically indie or self publishing as most traditional publishers are not always interested in unproven authors, and if they are you’re manuscript is likely to be buried in the slush pile for an indeterminate amount of time. Unfortuantely, that is just the way it seems to go unless you are part of the lucky few that end up in the right hands early on AND you show some amazing promise. I know, we all think there is something unique and promising about that manuscript we’ve been lugging around for the last month, year, decade….but the truth is, many a great manuscript get lost in the slush pile, too.
So, you might be thinking, “So, it’s a lost cause?”
Of course it’s not! If you have a little knowledge, a lot of determination and imagination as well as the time getting a book published is really not a difficult task. So here are some tips that should help you get started. (In no particular order)
- Know what you’re goals are – Do you want a book to share with family and friends or are you looking to put your book in the hands of the masses?
- Be careful where you try to save pennies – a plain cover and poor editing may or may not be okay to pass off to your family and friends, but it is most definitely a huge mistake if you plan to share your book with the masses as they will likely hurt your sales in the long run. If it looks like you didn’t spend a lot of time on the cover, the genreal assumption will be that you didn’t spend enough time on the book itself.
- Do your research – free publishing may sound great, but keep in mind if it’s free, you will most likely be taking on the editing, formatting and cover design duties yourself. No matter what you do, those elements take time and are rarely a part of any low budget option, and be sure to shop around for those services no matter what choice you make for publishing. Often times, publisher’s charge top dollar because it’s convenient to get everything under one roof so to speak, but it doesn’t mean it is better than @proofreaderMG or @Muggai for example(a proofreader/editor and a cover designer on twitter, FYI). In fact, I’d be willing to bet both of them would be considerably more affordable and just as good or better than what is available through the publisher. Some publishers will give you the names of freelance editors and designers, etc. if you ask, too. They know the services can be found elsewhere at a lower rate and it is in their best interest for you to have the best quality book you can make, too.
- Contact literary agents if you like – But, you don’t have to have one for most indie publishers to take you seriously and self publishing is typically not something that would require representation. Most, but not all traditional publishers require a literary agent submit the work and will not take unsolicted manuscripts though.
- Check out other authors in your given genre – This can help you see what sells, how they create their ‘sales pitch’ summary, what the best price point is and more. Be warned though, if you are a first time horror or thriller author, for example and you price your book to match Stephen King, you will probably have a tough time selling at the same price. You can always change the prices later, but once you turn a customer off for something like that you may never get a second chance at the first impression (This goes along with point 2, also. Customers tend to remember the book with non-existent editing and they tend to forget the author with the photoshop image or plain background with block letters on the cover.)
- Be sure that your ebook is formatted properly – Page breaks in the wrong places can be distracting and make an otherwise good quality read look poorly thought out. You can find people to format your book all over the web (elance, twitter, etc.). Often times publishers and editors will help with that, too. And even Fiverr has gotten in on that action (though I will caution, you may get what you pay for…I have not personally tried fiverr for this type of work.)
- Don’t be tempted to edit your own book – It is simply not possible to objectively pick apart your own hard work, and honestly after you read through it once you tend to blind yourself to any flaws, and for the sake of your personal relationships, do try not to put this task onto family or friends. While they may be willing to do it, not everyone is capable of being honest enough to be effective when they care about you or are concerned about how long this grammatical error will land them on the couch.
- Read, Read, Read – I am convinced that the best writers are also avid readers. How else will you understand what your readers are buying and how you stack up against the authors at the top of the heap in your genre?
- Socialize – One really great way to find out what’s working and not working both for your own marketing and that of your peers is to seek them out and have a chat. Twitter and Facebook are great places to do this. You can try Goodreads and Shelfari, too. And it’s also a great way to meet and find new authors that you might enjoy reading, as well as connect with your readers!
- Remember that people’s views are subjective – Know that at some point you are going to get some negative comments or remarks. Just try to take them with a grain of salt. No one is immune and sometimes, the words can hit hard. But, never fire back at a nasty comment or review. You can’t control the thoughts and opinions of others, but you don’t want to fuel the fire as it very rarely benefits the author. Instead, try to take the comments into perspective and see if you can’t possibly address the concerns (perhaps they found editing errors, or something simple), and if that isn’t the case then move on knowing you did the best work you could and not everyone will understand or appreciate that work. My dad always says, “Don’t dwell on the things you can’t control or change, just focus on the path in front of you.” He’s a very wise man, my dad. And he’s always been there to give me that reminder whenever I forget, which I do. Often
I hope that this helps you on the road to becoming a published author and that you enjoy the adventure as much as I have. Feel free to stop over here or check in with me on twitter if you want to share your thoughts or have questions. My Twitter handle is @LoucksKE
Happy writing and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
Ashleigh Bennett had decided to leave the past behind once and for all when she took a job working with Trevor O’Donnell and his task force in South Florida.
Unfortunately, the past has a way of following you no matter how far you go to escape it.
For Ashleigh, her past was littered with losses. First, the loss of her parents, and then her sister, Ellen.
Ellen’s was the most painful however, as the circumstances surrounding her death left her with many unanswered questions. Could she have relapsed into the world of drugs and put her unborn child in harms way like the police had assumed and did she have a reason to kill her husband?
Ashleigh was certain that she didn’t. But, after several years of her own investigations, she had made no progress in clearing her sister and she knew the only thing left to do was start over. Somewhere that people didn’t look at her like the poor little orphan or the sister of a murderous addict.
Though the investigations didn’t bear any results for Ashleigh, they did create doubts in others who had been close to the case. Doubts that led her past right back to her doorstep and put Ashleigh in the path of one man bent on keeping the secrets of his past buried for good.
Can Ashleigh, Trev and the rest of the team unravel the web of lies that followed her? Or will Ashleigh be buried with the secrets that had destroyed her family?
Some secrets are better left buried…
As an author, you might think that all I do is think up new ideas and write. And that wouldn’t be a wrong assumption, ideas are never far off and sometimes I find myself writing on auto-pilot. But, my love of writing was actually born out of my love for reading.
I’ll read just about anything, or at least I’ll try to. That leads me to one really important lesson I’ve learned along the way. No matter how well you know the rules of grammar and spelling, it is inevitable that you WILL make mistakes when you write 300-400 pages.
My pride says that I stick to the confines of what is grammatically correct, and that spelling is never an issue…but the truth is even though I meant to say “their” it can somehow still end up as “there” or “they’re” after days of staring at the white light that is my computer screen for hours on end. On top of that, I am convinced that my spelling and grammar check on my computer is out to sabotage me as it often perplexes me with the strange substitutions it suggests.
At the end of the day, what I know to be true is simple. EVERYONE needs to edit. And realistically that involves a set of eyes that are not those of the author or their significant other. Even better, perhaps someone who gets paid to edit because even though the red line of death was something we dreaded in school, it is vital to making a book readable and retaining the readers from one book to the next. And in all honesty, for those of us that have gone the indie/self publishing route this oversight is the reason Indie/Self Pubs have earned a bad rap.
Over the last month, I have read a number of indie or self published titles. And what I found was varied. There were a couple that were fantastic, there were a few that had clearly been edited by a keen eye though perhaps not my cup of tea content wise, there were several that were perhaps a bit too edited in that they had clearly overused the thesaurus feature to select “big” words that had me laughing at the idea of someone actually thinking or worse speaking with SAT words on a regular basis, and then there were several that I could barely finish because of the obvious lack of editing.
Here’s the thing, the books that had a complete lack of editing have the potential to be good and sometimes even great books in their respective genre, but the errors eventually became more of a distraction. In some respects, it makes me want to talk to the author and offer to proof the work, not because I am better at it, but simply because I have no connection to it. Editing for my own work is painful, at times cutting content that I spent months crafting seems about as appealing as cutting off my own fingers, but if an editor can’t get through the content how should I expect a reader who spent their hard earned money to overlook my grammar crimes and spelling mishaps?
I spend a good deal of money each month purchasing books for my own entertainment. But, like any reader there are certain things that will make me think twice about spending my money on the same author more than once.
Let’s face it, indie authors and self published authors have earned that bad rap because of the lack of editing and it doesn’t help that the pond we are wading in is now larger than ever before and nearly everyone on the beach is looking to dive in and capitalize on their own story. It is on all of us as indie or self published authors to erase the perception that indie/self pub authors are not as good as traditionally published authors and we can’t really do that without some form of editing.
As a reader, you might think an author went the cheap route and had a friend or husband proof their work, or that they edited themselves and you’d be right the majority of the time. But, as an author I know that there are a bunch of alternatives to having a loved one do the work and they’ll have no problem making you feel like you are back in tenth grade with your merciless English teacher who red lined the 40 page research paper you stayed up all night to complete after procrastinating for two months. While it stinks to have someone quickly cut apart something you worked on for weeks, months or years now, the effort can be the difference between a long term following of loyal readers and a slew of readers who will bypass every novel you publish in the years to come for another author without so much as a thought. Family, significant others and/or any other poor souls we’ve subjected to our crimes against grammar and spelling will thank us for not forcing them to tell us that we can’t spell or whatever else they might find.
So, you might be thinking “I don’t have thousands of dollars for an editor! They charge by the page or the word!!” Yes, they do. And it IS expensive, but I’d rather sell my book than write it and have it passed over for something with a lesser plot because the author made sure it was properly edited.
With that, I’ll leave you with a few alternatives to your loved ones servitude…
1. Elance – a contracting site where you can find people skilled in (proof reading, story development, website and blog design, cover designers, etc.)
2. Fiverr (and other gig type sites) – a community that allows you to bid on various services for $5 (some ridiculous and useless, but there are editors, ghostwriters and more that frequent the site however you do get what you pay for, so bear that in mind).
3. Most indie publishing companies will offer editorial services, and they should also be able to give you the names of reputable free-lance editors.
4. Ask another author if they might consider reading your book if you could return the favor. (Obviously, you would need to be acquainted with another author to take advantage of this). Of course, a self pub or indie author is a lot more likely to consider such an offer.
Thanks for checking in!!
Jared BelaForte spent his life protecting the people he loves and the place he calls home working for a government appointed task force called The Greater Wilmington First Response Team or GWRT. A group comprised of his friend and half brother, Dylan Spencer. His father’s old partner with the Wilmington PD, Alex Kelley and his cousin Jules Devereaux. Rounding out the team was Shay McElroy, a profiler who also happened to be the love of his life.
Everything seemed perfect in his life, he had love, friends and family surrounding him and his team was on the verge of putting an end to the reign of a known trafficker who dealt in drugs and women. But in one moment, the man Jared had spent years trying to put away interrupted that life.
Sergei Dolenov is that man. He deals in drugs and dolls, a family business you might say. He had been able to stay under the radar in the sleepy port of North Carolina that he called home these days. But when the Governor put together a task force to disrupt his business, he took on a new target. Jared BelaForte.
After two years of torture and pain, Jared believed he would die in Dolenov’s “care”. But just when all hope is lost, an opportunity to escape presents itself. Two years to the day, Dylan got the phone call. Jared was in the local ER, and he was alive. Jared also learns that there was one other person that was left behind when he went missing, his little girl Sera, now just 17 months old. She was the glue that held Shay together when all seemed lost to her.
Can he pick up the pieces before the man responsible returns to finish the job he started?