Tag Archives: eBooks

Authors Answer 82 – Cover Art

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But really, people do judge books by their covers. A great cover can sell a book. It’s important to have well done cover art. Authors who are traditionally published usually have it done for them by the publisher. But a self-published author has to commission the artwork from an artist themselves and pay for it. Or maybe some authors do it themselves. So, how did we get it done?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 82 – How did you get your cover art done?

Linda G. Hill

So far that’s a secret. The artist who has agreed to work on my cover art doesn’t want anyone to know until the novels are out. Stay tuned!

Gregory S. Close

I spent a lot of time researching this, and months browsing DeviantArt and other sites for a quality freelance artist.  I finally settled on Mike Nash.  He had an impressive portfolio, had done artwork for Star Wars and Magic the Gathering, and he was accepting new commissions.  It’s more expensive to go with an artist like Mike, but I loved the result and I believe that you generally get what you pay for.  The cheaper options often look very much like cheaper options.

I felt pretty vindicated when I got an “excellent cover” compliment from Brandon Sanderson at WorldCon.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I bought pre-made cover art from an online shop that specializes in book covers. Not the most glamorous way to go, but if you can get lucky and find a good fit for your story there’s nothing wrong with that.

Eric Wood

Unfortunately, I don’t have any cover art, yet.

Allen Tiffany

Great question because there is a lot of talk about cover art. Unfortunately, a lot of it is really bad.

In my case, for my first novel, I did it myself. I knew exactly what I wanted – an iconic picture  of US infantryman getting out of a “Huey” helicopter in the jungles of Vietnam – and quickly found a high res photo in the Gov’t  archives.

For my upcoming novel, which I have not yet revealed, I sort of had an idea for what I wanted and scanned a lot of book cover designer’s websites. At long last I found a cover I loved. Totally in love. Thought it was brilliant. I wrote the creator and told her what I was after, and sent her $50 for the first pass.

As luck would have it, when the proof came in, one of my daughters was sitting beside me. She is an award-winning artist and has read the novel and the sequel. I called her over to the computer before I opened it. I told her this was a big moment in my writing career. “Just open it, dad.” When I did, we both stared in silence.  Finally, I said, “Holy crap.” She said, “That’s terrible.”

After that, I spent a lot of time on DeviantArt looking for what I wanted, and eventually I found it. I really liked it, so this time I wrote the artist and sent him a contract. We agreed on a price, and I secured the art I wanted.

Going forward, I think I’m just going to keep going back to DA and finding cool stuff from up and coming artists. It means my covers won’t be similar, but it will be fun to get aspiring artists a bit more publicity.

D. T. Nova

As of writing this answer, I haven’t yet, but I really can’t keep putting it off much longer.

Paul B. Spence

I hired an artist whose work I liked.

S. R. Carrillo

Initially, I purchased a pre-made cover that fit the book perfectly. For the sequel, I commissioned the same artist to create a similar cover as the first. This was an artist I found through another writer friend of mine.

For the latest set of covers I’ve commissioned, I found another writer friend whose covers I admired and visited the artist’s website to ask some questions and request a few covers. To make the search a little easier, I compiled a list of resources for writers looking for cover artists.

In the future, I plan to use artists I know personally to draw up my covers and use my own photography as the covers I need. I’m working very hard on that, actually.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For Nowhere to Hide I created the cover art myself with a bit of Photoshop magic. I took a photo my father had taken of an old apartment building, darkened it, played with the colors to make the moonlit sky appear red, and then I transferred in a picture of a guy in a trench coat that I’d turned into a black silhouette with red eyes. Add the title and author bits and ta-da! Mind you it is far from the most professional-looking cover, but I wasn’t looking to spend any money since I didn’t know if the book would ever sell a single copy, therefore I was determined to create it myself. Overall I’m actually quite pleased with it, although I do know that it doesn’t quite look right in previews and thumbnails. With all that in mind, I’m definitely seriously considering commissioning an artist for The Other World.

H. Anthe Davis

All my covers are produced through cooperation between me (concept) and my friend D. D. Phillips (art).  I provide all the reference material I can find, and recently have begun compositing mock-ups for her to better see what I mean — since we’ve had communication issues before, with me not knowing some terms or having a hard time expressing just what I want.  I’m really nitpicky.  Thankfully she’s in another state so can’t just teleport over here and strangle me!  We’re working on the Book 4 cover now.

Jean Davis

I said to my editor, I want something dark and simple. A week later he sent me an image and I said, yep, that’s it.

Jay Dee Archer

I actually have a cover for my first novel, Knights of Ariadne, even though the first draft isn’t done. It’s a simple story, actually. Another author decided to whip up a cover for me, and what she showed me was great. In fact, it’s pretty much what I was imagining in my mind for the cover. Great minds think alike! She’s also an INTJ, which is how she discovered this blog. Once I’ve written enough, as in finished the first draft and edited it, I’ll probably reveal the cover. Well, we’ll see about the timing. Must write it!

How about you?

If you’ve published a book or are going to publish a book, how did you get your cover done? Let us know in the comments below.

I Do Not Write For Free

Have you ever been asked to work for free? Or have you ever been asked to write for free? Well, that happens sometimes. But never like this.

There’s a story going around right now that I’ve seen a couple times in the last two days about a woman who returned someone’s ebook to Amazon after reading it, then telling the author that it was good, but it should be free. Apparently, she’s done this a lot. She was blocked and reported for abusing the Amazon return system, and then she became quite nasty. She was caught cheating the system, and she was not happy. Read the whole story here. It’s worth reading it.

I’ve mentioned this before when talking about ebook pricing, but I will not sell books on Amazon for free. Even $0.99. Too little, I think. You see, writing and selling the books is a job. It’s just like someone making crafts and selling them. They don’t just give them away, they sell them. Artists don’t make a painting, then give it away. They sell it. Authors are no different. We would like to be paid for our work.

So for things like this to happen, it’s a shame. I can’t believe some people will go to these lengths to buy a book, read it, then get a refund, even though they liked it. Some people can be so dishonest. Unbelievable.

What do you think about this situation? Do you think Amazon should allow ebooks to be returned? Let me know in the comments below.

Changes Coming to Amazon’s Kindle

Publishing to Amazon’s Kindle has been easy for anyone to do, and has flooded the market with self-published eBooks. They range from professionally well-done to amateurishly horrible. Amazon wants to solve the problem of substandard eBooks.

eNovel Authors at Work posted a great article about the changes and what they mean to the average indie author. To get yourself familiar with what’s happening, I suggest you read it. It may make life easier for you.

The changes come into effect in February and will affect indie authors, small publishers, online publishers, and boutique publishers. This does not affect traditional publishers who concentrate on print books. When there are errors in the book, such as spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, formatting issues, and just plain poor quality, the book will be flagged and taken offline. The author is then notified and asked to fix the problems before it can be published again. Even one complaint by a reader can result in a book being pulled. Thankfully, fixing the issues is easy, especially if it’s just a spelling or grammar mistake. In fact, Amazon will tell you exactly where the errors are. Sometimes, they’ll be foreign words. Fair enough, those don’t need to be changed. Before publishing, you can even use Kindle’s online proofer to find the mistakes. If there are no problems, publish away!

My worries are probably minor, but what if a book is constantly being tagged as poor quality because of technobabble, magic words, or unique names that the author has made up? I’d hope that wouldn’t be an issue.

On the positive side, this will force authors to make sure their books are good quality. It may discourage the lazy or unmotivated authors from publishing substandard books. They may try anyway, and get frustrated. I could see the number of books published this year decreasing because they’re prevented from publishing their error-riddled novels.

As always, I’m a wait and see kind of person. I’m interesting in seeing how this goes. What do you think? Do you agree with the new rules? Or do you have any worries? Let me know in the comments.

Do Book Covers Matter to You?

When you’re looking through a bookstore, seeing if there are any interesting books to buy, the cover is one of the first things you notice. But is it really that important when you decide whether to buy a book or not? What about eBooks? Does the cover matter?

I find I don’t look at the cover so much as I read the book’s back cover description for eBooks. I often look at covers for print books, though. But I always go to the back cover to read it. Often, the title is what attracts me to it. If it’s by an author I like, the cover usually doesn’t matter at all.

What about you? What’s the most important thing for you when you buy a print book and an eBook? Let me know in the comments below.

99 Cent or Free eBooks? I Won’t

When someone goes to work, they expect to be paid a fair amount for their work. When an artist creates a work of art, they expect to be paid for the work they have done. So why would an author work for months on a book only to sell it for 99 cents or just give it away for free? I won’t do that.

Sure, I’ll do the occasional promotion where I’ll drop the price to 99 cents, but never free. I want to be paid for the work I did. I’ll never keep a book at 99 cents, either. That is unless it’s one of my first books in a series and I’m comfortable with reducing it to that price. But I can’t guarantee it.

So why won’t I do this? It turns out, from what I’ve heard, that offering free books may get more downloads, but they’re unlikely to be read much. When people buy books, they will read them. A freebie is just that. Something they’ll put on their Kindle and forget about it. Low priority.

With that said, I do download free books, but I want to give back to that author in the form of a review. If I really liked the book, I may buy a print copy. I like physical books, because I’m a bit of a collector.

So, permanently low price or free book? No. I want to be paid for my work. Low price promotional copies? Yes. It’ll boost my visibility and hopefully drive regular price sales. I will have to experiment, though.

How do you feel about free or 99 cent books? Let me know in the comments.

What’s wrong with getting an eBook for nothing?

Whenever you download and read a free eBook, you should write a review. That’s what I do. Any time I’ve read a free eBook, I post a review on here and on Goodreads (and I should on Amazon). In the future, if they have the book available in print through Createspace, I do plan to buy it. I’m a book collector, and I love my books.

When I publish my books, I will likely set a reasonable price, say around $3.99, which is pretty common. Will I do free promotional giveaways? Unlikely. I’ll do promotional discounts, though. Most likely about $0.99 for a limited time. From what I’ve read, free eBooks usually aren’t read, but people who see a cheap deal and pay for it, will likely read it and quite possibly leave a review. At least that’s what I would hope.

Anyway, read the full post and comment there.

Have We Had Help?

Free Books.001

Everything, that’s what!!!

The fact that today’s readers of eBooks demand it must be free or on offer as part of an all you can read for x number of dollars per month package deal, is just so wrong!

Face it people, when you go to your supermarket to get your groceries, or to any other retail outlet you care to name, do you get what you want for nothing? No of course not. So why should you expect to get a book for free? I’ve heard some people claim it should be free because an eBook isn’t a real book, only an electronic file. Good grief morons, try engaging your brains for once in your lives! These same idiots argue that they should be able to download their favourite music for free as well. I have just two words on that subject – Taylor Swift!!!

Thanks to Amazon belabouring…

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Authors Answer 41 – The Big Moment. Published!

Every author’s dream is to be published. To have that book they’ve spent months or years on finally in print or in eBook form, ready to be purchased by eager readers.  That is the moment that every author anticipates or dreads.  Will it be a hit? Will it be a flop? What will the reviews say? It can be a moment filled with mixed emotions.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 41: What was it like when you published your first story? If you haven’t published yet, what do you imagine it will be like?

S. R. Carrillo

Publishing my first book was harrowing. It taught me things, though, and continues to teach me all the time, even after publishing my second book. I will say that it’s incredibly exciting and rewarding as an independent author, especially.

D. T. Nova

I haven’t yet, but I imagine that I will be both excited and nervous.

Linda G. Hill

I haven’t published an entire novel yet, but I do remember the first time I put something on the internet for strangers to read. It was extremely nerve-wracking. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a novel be the first thing I ever published. After years of having a blog I don’t believe I’ll be nervous. Excited though? Definitely.

Allen Tiffany

In the fiction space, I’ve had two publications to date: A short story in a campus lit magazine a few years ago, and my first novella on Amazon earlier this year. Of course it was exciting to see them both times, but it also scared the hell out of me. On the one hand I’m aggressive and will promote aggressively, but at the same time I’m terribly afraid that I’m made a mistake. Nothing is ever perfect, not my writing, the production, not the promotion. So I’m always obsessing about what I missed, what I did wrong, what I could have done better. Publishing a story or a book — in my view — is just one milestone in the much larger process of becoming a writer. If I go on to publish 20 books that are well received, and I’ve got the money to have them all produced professionally, then I might stop worrying. Until then….

I’ll also share that the novella I recently published is dedicated to Vietnam Veterans, who were the soldiers who trained me both as an infantryman and a young leader and a young man when I first joined the Army. I don’t plan to write another Vietnam War story, but this one has been stuck inside me for years, and I needed to tell this story, to say thanks. So though I knew I was treading on emotional ground for some, I was taken aback at some of the letters and feedback I have gotten. For instance, one woman engaged me via a “group” on Facebook with a couple thousand followers, and included a photo of her brother’s grave maker. There were also other tributes at the gravestone to her uncle and husband. All three had died as a result of the battle I had depicted. She included a nice note thanking me for writing what I had. She talked about how much she loved and missed these three men.

When I came across it, I stopped cold. I think I stared at it for a good 20 minutes. And it took me an hour before I could figure out how to reply. I’ve gotten several such emails. Another fellow sent me photos of himself at the site of the battle in 1968, and of when he went back two years ago with his kids. There have been more such messages. If I ever doubted the power of writing before, I don’t now.

Of course, not all my writing is going to be so impactful. Most of it is just for fun. But this experience did leave me with a deeper understanding of the extent to which writing can cut deep and reach into someone’s heart. In short, I do take it all more seriously now.

Gregory S. Close

I had been writing my first novel for years.  More than a decade, off and on, actually.  When I finally finished it – when the edits were all in, the cover was done, the proofs had arrived and all was ready to go, when I hit the “publish” button at Amazon and CreateSpace, I felt a moment of excitement and fulfillment and satisfaction that was a rare and special moment in my life.

Followed immediately by abject terror and an impending sense of horrible failure.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I’m going to answer this question twice because of the way it was worded.

The first story I ever published was a Harry Potter fan-fiction that I wrote and posted on FanFiction.net back in college. I consider this to be my first technical publication because it was a complete story that I published for other people to read. At that time I was pretty excited in a giddy way because this was the first time that perfect strangers were reading and commenting on something that I wrote. Better yet, people seemed to actually really like it, so it was a pretty major thrill and actually helped me start getting back into writing seriously.

The first time I published a novel was when I decided to take the self-publishing route and submitted my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide“, to CreateSpace.com. It started out as super-stressful because I had to figure out all the stuff that a publisher would normally handle, like formatting and cover design. When I managed to figure out all that stuff and ordered a copy to make sure it was all good my stress turned to nervous excitement. What would it look like? Had I done the formatting properly? I couldn’t wait to find out. Then my parcel finally showed up, and I could scarcely contain myself. I was so happy with it that I could have cried. It may not have looked 100% professional, but it looked like a book, like something you could actually find sitting on a shelf in Chapters or Barnes & Noble. It was properly formatted, the pages were crisp, and my Photoshop-created cover actually looked better than I’d expected it to. I was absolutely ecstatic, and within half an hour of inspecting that first print copy I had the book available for sale on CreateSpace and Amazon, soon to be followed by Kindle. And I never looked back!

Jean Davis

When I received the acceptance email on the first short story I sold, I had to read it twice. I’d grown so used to rejections that I had to make sure I wasn’t just misreading the email before I let myself get excited. Holding my story in print was a big positive boost. Now, I have a book coming out this fall. I’m quite looking forward to holding an entire book of my own work in my hands.

Eric Wood

I imagine fan fare, streamers, and lots and lots of confetti. I imagine posters of my cover, flyers in everyone mailbox and big paycheck in mine. That’s how imagine it. Will that be how it actually happens? I doubt it, but wouldn’t it be nice?

Caren Rich

Amazing. My first story was published at a small e-zine, but it felt like National Geographic published it! I told everyone about it, plastered the site all over the web.  I glowed for days. That year for Christmas I gave everyone small fruitcakes, in honor of my short story The Fruitcake.

Paul B. Spence

Scary and exciting. I couldn’t wait for reviews to start coming in.

H. Anthe Davis

Kind of a relief, but kind of an annoyance that I couldn’t thereafter correct any errors.  I’d pitched the book around for a while without any takers, and finally decided to just self-publish it so that I could move on with the series (and my life), but the urge to go back and edit — especially now that I’m on the fourth book and have learned so much — is always there, making me wonder if I published too soon.  Granted, the first book had gone through so many years of revisions that it was a Frankenstein’s monster enough without another go, but still…  Mostly though, I was happy to have it out of my hands at last.

Jay Dee Archer

While I haven’t published a novel yet, I have been published in a couple ways.  On my official author’s blog/website, I’ve published parts of the prequel of my Ariadne series. These are free for anyone to read, but it is technically published by myself. I was a bit worried about how it would be received by people, but it’s been largely positive. That’s a bit of an ego boost!

I’ve also been published in an online travel magazine based in Singapore. I wrote weekly articles about travel in Japan, but it was also for free.  I found it to be a good exercise in writing with a deadline, but ultimately moved on from it. I wasn’t particularly worried about it, as I’ve written many similar posts on my Japan blog for a few years now. It was basically more of the same with a larger potential readership.

As for when I finally publish my novel and short stories for people to buy, I’m going to be nervously checking and rechecking everything to make sure there are no mistakes. I’ll be publishing through Amazon and later Createspace, as well as other platforms. The moment it goes live, I will be nervous, I think. And I’ll be celebrating my first sale. And then my first review. And my second sale. And my first bad review. And my first paycheque. Actually, I don’t know how I’ll feel at these moments, but I’m anticipating it a lot.

How about you?

If you’ve published a book, how did you feel when it became available for purchase? If you haven’t published, but plan to, how do you think you’ll feel? Let us know in the comments below.