In case you can’t tell from my various posts, let me tell you that I am beyond thrilled to have my first book – Blue Violet – finally published. I wrote the first draft almost three years ago, and to have it available for readers, rather than just talking about how I want to publish a book, is almost surreal.
It has been especially fun to have various family and friends email me that they’ve bought my book and started reading it. I’ve been tickled by several observations such as what shows up in search results with my book, familiar places and incidents I built into the story, and how on earth did I finish this while raising a family/working full time/getting my MBA. I am particularly excited to get feedback from readers as they finish the book! And patience is not a strong suit, so feel free to read fast my friends!
Believe it or not, the work doesn’t stop once the book is published. I can’t just sit back and hope that people find it. Now is time for me to take an active role in getting the word out and trying to move it up the search results list. The way I do that is through extensive, varied, and vigorous self-marketing.
Over the last few days I’ve created an author page on Amazon and made sure that all of my various author sites are updated with the link to the book. I continue to post regularly on my various author sites. I might try the Facebook ads. And I am researching how to get the book listed on sites like GoodReads. There are tons of different things I can try. I’m only seeing the tip of the iceberg at this point.
A key – longer-term – part of my strategy is to get more books written and published. New readers are more likely to give me a try if I have multiple books – especially if there’s a series. The good news is I now have a method to my madness, I plan (hope) to get more books out at a faster pace. I am already working on book #2 of the series – Hyacinth – and am currently aiming to have it out sometime in early 2013. I’ll be honest that I was a little worried I’d run out of topics for this blog after Blue Violet was published, but marketing one book while writing another should keep my topics list sufficiently full.
If you read it and like it, please tell your friends. If you like it and are feeling generous with your time, please post a review on Amazon. Or if you have any feedback at all, feel free to post on any of my author pages. I’d love to hear what you think!
Happy reading and I hope you enjoy!!!
This is my final excerpt post before I publish the book. I am on my final round of clean up edits with Wendy, my editor, this week, and hope (fingers crossed) to have the book published sometime the week of August 20th!!!!
So without further ado, here’s the final excerpt:
In a previous blog post titled “Book Cover Part #1 – Getting Started” I discussed steps 1-3 (out of 5) that I am following to create the book cover for my first publication – Blue Violet – due out this August.
Step 1 was researching what’s needed for a book cover – basics like size of the image, typical covers for this genre, etc. Steps 2 and 3 were hiring and the communicating with an artist. Now on to the final two steps!
Step 4 – Edit the Book Cover Proofs
This was a back and forth process over the last two weeks or so. Did I mention that I worked for a web design company – with Jason – for five years? Consequently I often have a ton of ideas I want to try out, most of which are subtle variations – a LOT of variations – on a main idea. Here’s a short walk of what Jason and I went through…
- First – Jason first confirmed an image for the flower with me. He found a picture that is exactly what I was seeing in my mind. Then I got my first look at the book cover idea starting to come together. (See below image.)
- Second – I asked for the wording to be darker/larger. I suggested keeping the B & V in the title as the original fonts, but changing the rest of the letters to a different font. I requested seeing what it would look like with some “subtle swirlies” around the flower. I really debated that since the flower alone is such a pretty image. It becomes a question of preferring a more minimalist look or full on frou-frou. Below is what I received back.
- Third – So I have discovered through my wedding, the birth of my daughter, and now my book cover that I am a fan of full on frou-frou. The swirlies are definitely staying. I wanted the title to stand out a bit more. So we played with even larger text or offsetting the text, and tossed around a few other ideas like shadowing or bevels. Also added a small line of text at the bottom identifying Blue Violet at the 1st book of the Svatura series. (I’m already working on book #2!) Below is one of the options that came out of that round – my favorite of the options.
- I only asked to see it with one other change – some swirlies in the upper right corner. I debated this as well. The flower swirles come out of it, hinting at vines or leaves. So swirlies coming out of the corner might look odd.
Step 5 – Decide on a Book Cover
Without further ado, the book cover for Blue Violet is…
While my first round of edits for my upcoming release, Blue Violet, revealed the need to bring tension forward in the story as well as the need to show instead of tell (see previous blog about my new love of editing), round two of the edits has revealed my bad habit of writing talking heads.
Talking heads happen when your characters are in conversation but make no movement – unless absolutely necessary to the story line. In my case, my characters had a lot of facial expressions to go along with their talking, but nothing else.
This is something that makes complete sense to me now that Wendy, my editor, has pointed it out, but I honestly don’t think I would have noticed this issue on my own. And it makes such a huge difference – in a very subtle way – to the narrative.
People move. Think about conversations in which you’ve engaged. Don’t you think you’d be incredibly creeped out if you both stood stock-still only changing facial expressions while you chat. Next time you’re in the middle of a conversation pay attention to the body movements the participants make. Even if you’re not engaged in an activity like eating, you still will see actions like shifting from foot to foot, crossing or uncrossing of arms, scratching, biting nails, looking around the room, etc.
I’ve actually had a lot of fun (I’m a geek I know) going back through the conversation scenes in Blue Violet and adding small physical actions in between the dialogue, and sometimes even supporting the dialogue. I’ve had to answer questions like: Why would they do this at this moment? Is this is just a “getting comfortable” action? Or should they do something that reveals an emotion? Is this an action this character does habitually?
I love that with this very small addition to the dialogue sequences I have a chance to make my characters more human, to enhance the display of their emotions and reactions, and sometimes even add to who the character is by supplying mannerisms.
Huge thanks to Wendy for this piece of editing and advice! I will absolutely be incorporating this into my writing from here on out – although I’m sure it’ll take practice putting it in automatically.
Who doesn’t love a good super power? Let’s be honest… super powers are awesome! They rock! The are totally cool! They are, for lack of a better term, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious… and a bag of chips! Clearly I geek out on this topic.
I’m not going to get into the psychology of the mass appeal of this concept (although I’d bet the data is pretty interesting). But personally, as an author, I adore creating characters with supernatural powers because of the limitless options available. You are able to – temporarily at least – suspend reality and allow your character the ability to do anything within the realms of your imagination.
Super powers can come in all sort of forms and packages. Because imagination is the only limiting factor, there’s always room for more out there. There is no way that every possible power or variation on a power has been accounted for. And since the powers themselves are limitless, the interaction between powers, use of powers, battles with powers, etc. are also fairly limitless.
As a broad example – through comic books, movies, mythology, etc. there have been a lot of fire-based superheros (or villains) out there: Firestarter, The Human Torch, Pyro, Apollo, Ghost Rider, etc. I could go on. But I guarantee that with a little ingenuity and a healthy imagination you can come up with a subtle variation on a fire-based superpower that hasn’t been done yet and is hella-rad. (Oh yeah… I said it.)
What I find to be trickiest about writing books with powers is the interaction between them. Making sure that in any situation, I’m not only accounting for all the powers present but also for how the characters would use them. It’s easy to be concentrating only on your main character and forget a side-character could do something totally kick-ass in that scene, or would negate your main character’s actions in some way.
In case you’re curious… yes, my upcoming release – Blue Violet – has a ton of super powers in it. Hopefully, there are a few that you haven’t’ seen before – at least not quite like this. SPOILER ALERT: Here are a few just to whet your curiosity: a few “typical” powers frequently seen – teleporter, telepathy, firestarter; a few on the different side – an ability to sense relationships (past, present, and future), a power manipulator, an ability to freeze anything in motion. There’s more, but I won’t give it all away.
I’m currently thinking I will release Blue Violet in August. I can’t wait to share these powers and characters with you and see what you think!
As I travel down this path of publishing my first book – Blue Violet – I now find myself at the point of creating a book cover.
Every blog post, article, and website I’ve seen so far has stressed the importance of a good book cover. According to a Taleist report, authors who got outside help with issues such as editing and cover design earned 34% more than the average, although 70% of respondents did not seek help. Of those who got professional help in these areas, more got help on the book cover versus the editing.
I’m already getting professional help with the editing piece. At this point I’m more than happy to shop out my book cover as well. Creating the book cover for Blue Violet has turned into a five stage process: 1- research book covers, 2- hire an artist, 3- communicate with my artist, 4- review and edit the proofs, and 5- decide on the final cover.
Stage 1 – Research
During the first stage, I found an abundance of data, opinions, and options available for the enterprising self-publisher. Here are some points and articles that I found particularly appropriate or helpful:
Size/Image Requirements (Amazon)
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has a page that details the requirements for the are for upload for eBooks:
- Minimum of 1000 pixels on the longest side
- Recommend that images be 2500 pixels on the longest side.
- Ideal height/width ratio of 1.6
- Use RGB color mode
- If the cover is white or a very light color, add a very narrow (3-4 pixel) medium grey border to help show the edges when it shows on the white background of the Amazon website
Several blogs and articles listed out the key elements of an effective book cover. Most of them agreed on the same major pieces including:
- Large title (biggest font on the cover)
- Author’s name clear
- Words stand out well (both color and font)
- Art that fits the “norm” for the genre
- Less is more – only 1-2 colors and fontsLooks good in thumbnail form (especially important for us eBook publishers)
- Relevant to the story
Young Adult Cover Stats
Kate Hart researched YA (young adult) book covers in 2011 resulting in a ton of data on averages and typical covers in this genre. Most relevant to me were the following 2 stats:
- Specific colors or light vs. dark are fairly well distributed across 2011 YA books.
- If an image on the cover is not a person then it is most likely to be a filigree or a flower.
Stage 2 – Hire an Artist
I did very briefly consider using one of the many cover designers easily located on the Internet. This service seems to cost anywhere from $400-$4000. However, having worked for five years at a web design company, I have my own contacts. I am working with a very talented graphic artist – Jason Vines – to do my cover. I decided to go this route because I know him, I’m comfortable with him, I trust him and his work, and he’s reasonably priced.
Stage 3 – Communicate with My Artist
Once I’d hired Jason, the next step was to let him know the important information about the book in an effort to help him generate ideas. This part is tricky. I didn’t want to make him read the entire book. I also didn’t want to restrict his creativity by giving him rigid guidelines. But I wanted to make sure he’s got all the elements he needs to create my perfect cover. Below is what I ended up communicating to him:
- Book Title: Blue Violet
- My initial idea is something really simple like a blue violet flower on a black or white background.
- The follow-on book is titled Hyacinth (and ideas for 2 more books in the series likely titled Nightshade and Snapdragon). The book covers for each of those would be the title flowers – setting a theme for the series.
- The first page of the book will read: All flowers have a meaning. In the Victorian era, people used flowers as a symbol to express their feelings. Blue Violet: watchfulness, faithfulness, I’ll always be true.
- Genre: YA (young adult) paranormal romance
- Setting: Rocky Mountains in Colorado / Estes Park
- SPOILER ALERT: I won’t give you details I gave Jason, but I let him know some of the powers for my main character and antagonist (which may or may not involve wolves). I gave him details that would potentially render well in graphic form.
Stage 4 & 5 – Edit the Proofs / Decide on a Cover (Coming Soon!)
Jason is in the process now of creating the first pass at my book cover. I should receive several options to select from sometime in the next few weeks. After I’ve completed my work with him I’ll post on the options he provided, the edits we went through, and the final book cover design! I am extremely excited and curious to see what he comes up with!