Monday, June 30, 2014

Crimson & Cream New Cover Reveal & DIY Tips

Below you'll find the 'new and improved' cover for Crimson & Cream, which I'll be (re)releasing tomorrow, July 1 on Amazon and Smashwords. I re-worked the cover based on input from readers of the 1st edition, as well as my wife and sister, who both have much more graphic design experience than I do.

The bloody sword and hand were carried over from the original cover, along with the font and general text layout. The hand and sword has a double meaning in the context of the story and the shield's coat of arms represents the Mirrored Peaks (of the Oxbow Mountain Range) flanking the Wizard's Tower in Dwim-Halloe's Citadel, with the Serpentine Pass snaking into the city from below.  I added a crescent moon, just because.  And if you think it slightly resembles a dragon, well, that's just a coincidence. Maybe.

And as a reward for reading through my self-indulgent intro, below I share some tips for making your own e-book cover, for the DIY-inclined among you. Not that I recommend it, mind you, but until you can afford a professional artist, it can be an indie author's best option.

My tips are contingent upon your ability (and mandatory required patience) to manipulate images in a software program (like Photoshop). You can find excellent image editing software for free online (but beware bloatware and malware), such as:
  • GIMP, which I have not used (yet), but appears to be the most popular free image design program on the internet.
  • Paint.Net, which I've not used either, but comes up right behind GIMP on most online lists.
  • Photo Pos Pro, which I do use and like (although I picked up some malware recently which may have been attributed to an upgrade of this program, but I don't know for certain).
If you're still reading, here are some of my e-book cover design tips (but there are loads of good tutorials and professional opinions just a Google search away).

1. Study other popular books in your genre and get an idea of what style of covers readers are conditioned to recognize as being indicative of the genre. It's no accident that specific graphical styles are popular with certain genres.

2. Select a font that is readable. With e-books, customers will often be looking at thumbnails. Design for this size. Not everyone will zoom in to read the fine print. CreativINDIE has a great example of genre-grouped fonts, if you're looking for some ideas.

3. Explore royalty-free imagery as a way to gap your artistic talent. I've linked some popular ones below (there are many more), but please, always read the licensing description, regardless of which website you find an image on:
4. Learn how to use layers. With your editing software, you can keep different parts of your cover on separate layers (one layer for the title, one for the imagery, etc.), which allows you to modify a layer without affecting the rest of your cover. You can see through transparent layer areas to the other layers, so you can view your entire cover at one time. It might sound a little complicated, but it's easier to use than it is to explain. And it will save you headaches galore.

5. Ask for feedback. Share your cover with beta readers and your social networks, and ask them to critique. People love to give opinions on art. You don't have to follow every bit of advice you receive, but often a fresh set of eyes can point out problems you've grown blind to.

6. Save files at every stage of your work, both backups and progress milestones. You may want to go back to a previous version, and the undo button only goes so far. I've learned this one the hard way, believe me.

Best of luck to you! And if you haven't heard, this is available tomorrow on Amazon and Smashwords (if you want a free copy to review, let me know and I'll hook you up):


June 2014 - Hello Reader of 4concpoesiaecsps, In the article you read this time with the title June 2014, We have prepared this article for you to read and retrieve information therein. Hopefully the contents of postings We write this you can understand. well, happy reading.

Title : Crimson & Cream New Cover Reveal & DIY Tips
link : Crimson & Cream New Cover Reveal & DIY Tips

Read Also


June 2014

Below you'll find the 'new and improved' cover for Crimson & Cream, which I'll be (re)releasing tomorrow, July 1 on Amazon and Smashwords. I re-worked the cover based on input from readers of the 1st edition, as well as my wife and sister, who both have much more graphic design experience than I do.

The bloody sword and hand were carried over from the original cover, along with the font and general text layout. The hand and sword has a double meaning in the context of the story and the shield's coat of arms represents the Mirrored Peaks (of the Oxbow Mountain Range) flanking the Wizard's Tower in Dwim-Halloe's Citadel, with the Serpentine Pass snaking into the city from below.  I added a crescent moon, just because.  And if you think it slightly resembles a dragon, well, that's just a coincidence. Maybe.

And as a reward for reading through my self-indulgent intro, below I share some tips for making your own e-book cover, for the DIY-inclined among you. Not that I recommend it, mind you, but until you can afford a professional artist, it can be an indie author's best option.

My tips are contingent upon your ability (and mandatory required patience) to manipulate images in a software program (like Photoshop). You can find excellent image editing software for free online (but beware bloatware and malware), such as:

  • GIMP, which I have not used (yet), but appears to be the most popular free image design program on the internet.
  • Paint.Net, which I've not used either, but comes up right behind GIMP on most online lists.
  • Photo Pos Pro, which I do use and like (although I picked up some malware recently which may have been attributed to an upgrade of this program, but I don't know for certain).
If you're still reading, here are some of my e-book cover design tips (but there are loads of good tutorials and professional opinions just a Google search away).

1. Study other popular books in your genre and get an idea of what style of covers readers are conditioned to recognize as being indicative of the genre. It's no accident that specific graphical styles are popular with certain genres.

2. Select a font that is readable. With e-books, customers will often be looking at thumbnails. Design for this size. Not everyone will zoom in to read the fine print. CreativINDIE has a great example of genre-grouped fonts, if you're looking for some ideas.

3. Explore royalty-free imagery as a way to gap your artistic talent. I've linked some popular ones below (there are many more), but please, always read the licensing description, regardless of which website you find an image on:
4. Learn how to use layers. With your editing software, you can keep different parts of your cover on separate layers (one layer for the title, one for the imagery, etc.), which allows you to modify a layer without affecting the rest of your cover. You can see through transparent layer areas to the other layers, so you can view your entire cover at one time. It might sound a little complicated, but it's easier to use than it is to explain. And it will save you headaches galore.

5. Ask for feedback. Share your cover with beta readers and your social networks, and ask them to critique. People love to give opinions on art. You don't have to follow every bit of advice you receive, but often a fresh set of eyes can point out problems you've grown blind to.

6. Save files at every stage of your work, both backups and progress milestones. You may want to go back to a previous version, and the undo button only goes so far. I've learned this one the hard way, believe me.

Best of luck to you! And if you haven't heard, this is available tomorrow on Amazon and Smashwords (if you want a free copy to review, let me know and I'll hook you up):


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Not to Release a Self-Published Novel

Technically, this is more of an article on what I failed to do, as opposed to what I did wrong, upon self-publishing my first e-book, but that's splitting hairs. Basically, this is a list of the main initiatives I would have, could have, should have undertaken before self-publishing Crimson & Cream back in 2012, and the things I'm doing now in preparation for the second edition release of Crimson & Cream and its follow-up, Mirrors & Mist. Mind you, there are a lot more things I failed to do than what I've listed below, although these are the ones I feel are most important.
  • Ask for feedback on your work in progress. I'm quite independent by nature, and it was very hard for me to clear this hurdle. Even now, it's one of my most procrastinated activities. But it's been a difference maker thus far. Reach out to communities on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and any other social network you're involved in. Ask for beta readers. Beg for beta readers. Participate in groups and forums. Offer to swap critiques (although I don't recommend swapping reviews, as that can be a slippery slope). Find people to read your work who are willing to provide feedback and engage them early. Although I'm a thorough self-editor, it amazes me all the little things that slip through, even after multiple re-reads. Beta readers are invaluable.
  • Scrape up some cash for a professional editor. I realize for many indie authors, extra cash is a luxury. However, if you can afford an editor, it's money well spent. If you have any budget for your self-publishing effort, hiring an editor should be your top priority. Use your social networks to shop for an editor that can work within your budget. Ask around for recommendations. Search for someone who works with your genre and check their references. Then cut them loose on your baby. I can't stress how important this is.
  • Investigate Amazon's KDP Select program. Although KDP Select is an exclusive program that prevents you from selling your book anywhere else for a 90-day period, it offers benefits many authors swear by. I dismissed KDP Select because of the exclusivity, but after doing my homework, I think this was a mistake. Amazon is notorious for its ever-changing policies, and the KDP Select of today may not be the KDP Select of tomorrow, but for now, I intend to use it for at least one 90-day period when I release Mirrors & Mist. And instead of rehashing what I've read elsewhere online, I'll point you to a couple excellent posts about KDP Select that explain the pros and cons in detail.
  • Make a plan (then try to follow it). There is no shortage of free advice available to the indie author, which is both a blessing and a curse. You're not going to be able to execute every marketing and self-promotion strategy out there. Pick your battles and select the strategies you're comfortable with. Write them down. Make a checklist, draw a flow chart, populate your calendar, whatever works for you, document it somehow and form it into an action plan. Update, tweak, and re-arrange your plan, but have a plan. Don't bank on remembering all the moving pieces of the self-promotion machine. Click here to see an example one of my plans.
  • Solicit ARC reviewers. An Advance Reading Copy (ARC) is a polished, finished-product, pre-release version of your book that you want select reviewers to read and review prior to publishing. It's important to have reviews (hopefully positive) already posted on Amazon when you 'officially' release your book. Again, instead of reinventing the wheel, I'm going to refer you to my go-to blog, Indies Unlimited, for an excellent post on the ins and outs of ARCs:
  • Consider a blog tour/hop. I've heard authors report both good and bad results on blog tours, but it's not something I tried the first time, so I'm giving it a shot this time around. You can solicit and schedule your own blog appearances, or hire someone to do it for you. Currently, I'm pursuing both options. Often, a blogger who cannot review your book will be willing to host a feature on their blog if you provide them the promotional materials (excerpt, cover, author bio, book links, giveaways, etc.). So if you're soliciting book reviews, remember to mention that you're also interested in other promotional options the blog may feature. It's a way to salvage a promotional opportunity from a declined review request.
Author Update: If you're interested in reviewing or featuring Crimson & Cream on your blog, or becoming a beta reader for Mirrors & Mist, please let me know--I'm always looking for more help. Below, I'd like to share a new map from the upcoming second edition of Crimson & Cream, available July 1, 2014, on Smashwords and Amazon.com.








June 2014 - Hello Reader of 4concpoesiaecsps, In the article you read this time with the title June 2014, We have prepared this article for you to read and retrieve information therein. Hopefully the contents of postings We write this you can understand. well, happy reading.

Title : How Not to Release a Self-Published Novel
link : How Not to Release a Self-Published Novel

Read Also


June 2014

Technically, this is more of an article on what I failed to do, as opposed to what I did wrong, upon self-publishing my first e-book, but that's splitting hairs. Basically, this is a list of the main initiatives I would have, could have, should have undertaken before self-publishing Crimson & Cream back in 2012, and the things I'm doing now in preparation for the second edition release of Crimson & Cream and its follow-up, Mirrors & Mist. Mind you, there are a lot more things I failed to do than what I've listed below, although these are the ones I feel are most important.

  • Ask for feedback on your work in progress. I'm quite independent by nature, and it was very hard for me to clear this hurdle. Even now, it's one of my most procrastinated activities. But it's been a difference maker thus far. Reach out to communities on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and any other social network you're involved in. Ask for beta readers. Beg for beta readers. Participate in groups and forums. Offer to swap critiques (although I don't recommend swapping reviews, as that can be a slippery slope). Find people to read your work who are willing to provide feedback and engage them early. Although I'm a thorough self-editor, it amazes me all the little things that slip through, even after multiple re-reads. Beta readers are invaluable.
  • Scrape up some cash for a professional editor. I realize for many indie authors, extra cash is a luxury. However, if you can afford an editor, it's money well spent. If you have any budget for your self-publishing effort, hiring an editor should be your top priority. Use your social networks to shop for an editor that can work within your budget. Ask around for recommendations. Search for someone who works with your genre and check their references. Then cut them loose on your baby. I can't stress how important this is.
  • Investigate Amazon's KDP Select program. Although KDP Select is an exclusive program that prevents you from selling your book anywhere else for a 90-day period, it offers benefits many authors swear by. I dismissed KDP Select because of the exclusivity, but after doing my homework, I think this was a mistake. Amazon is notorious for its ever-changing policies, and the KDP Select of today may not be the KDP Select of tomorrow, but for now, I intend to use it for at least one 90-day period when I release Mirrors & Mist. And instead of rehashing what I've read elsewhere online, I'll point you to a couple excellent posts about KDP Select that explain the pros and cons in detail.
  • Make a plan (then try to follow it). There is no shortage of free advice available to the indie author, which is both a blessing and a curse. You're not going to be able to execute every marketing and self-promotion strategy out there. Pick your battles and select the strategies you're comfortable with. Write them down. Make a checklist, draw a flow chart, populate your calendar, whatever works for you, document it somehow and form it into an action plan. Update, tweak, and re-arrange your plan, but have a plan. Don't bank on remembering all the moving pieces of the self-promotion machine. Click here to see an example one of my plans.
  • Solicit ARC reviewers. An Advance Reading Copy (ARC) is a polished, finished-product, pre-release version of your book that you want select reviewers to read and review prior to publishing. It's important to have reviews (hopefully positive) already posted on Amazon when you 'officially' release your book. Again, instead of reinventing the wheel, I'm going to refer you to my go-to blog, Indies Unlimited, for an excellent post on the ins and outs of ARCs:
  • Consider a blog tour/hop. I've heard authors report both good and bad results on blog tours, but it's not something I tried the first time, so I'm giving it a shot this time around. You can solicit and schedule your own blog appearances, or hire someone to do it for you. Currently, I'm pursuing both options. Often, a blogger who cannot review your book will be willing to host a feature on their blog if you provide them the promotional materials (excerpt, cover, author bio, book links, giveaways, etc.). So if you're soliciting book reviews, remember to mention that you're also interested in other promotional options the blog may feature. It's a way to salvage a promotional opportunity from a declined review request.
Author Update: If you're interested in reviewing or featuring Crimson & Cream on your blog, or becoming a beta reader for Mirrors & Mist, please let me know--I'm always looking for more help. Below, I'd like to share a new map from the upcoming second edition of Crimson & Cream, available July 1, 2014, on Smashwords and Amazon.com.