Showing posts with label cover art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cover art. Show all posts

Oct 4, 2021

At the Point Where I Can Tell You

 I sent my next book to the copy editor a few days ago, which for me is a major turning point. It's a commitment of sorts; the book that for a looooonnnnngggg time has been only mine is close to being offered to others. I've certainly talked about it at length to friends and family, but no one has read it except my first-draft beta reader, my content editor, and me (many, many times). And yes, I do pay three different people to critique a manuscript before I inflict it on the public.

Sending a book to the copy editor indicates that it's in its final narrative form, so now it's her job to find the silly stuff that would take away from readers' enjoyment: spelling errors, extra commas, etc. Once that's done, it will be formatted and prepared for print, e-book, and audio offerings.

In other words, I'm saying I don't intend to make substantial changes anymore, and that's really hard for me. Any time I look at past work I think, "I could have done this differently." It's really, really painful to say, "I'm done. This is what they get."

So what is this book about? It's not a mystery, though it has mysterious elements. Not social commentary, though it explores relationships, both family (the sisters in the title) and general attitudes we adopt as we move through society. I'm not a literary fiction type, so that leaves women's fiction as the category closest to accurately describing it.

The premise: Three sisters, close in their youth, have grown apart as adults, due to the way their lives evolved. When events push them back together, they face their differences and make choices that will change their relationship forever.

One is a murderer. One is unsure about her future after her long-time marriage falls apart. And one might well be the next First Lady of the United States.

Here are some possible versions of the cover. Comments?








Nov 12, 2018

Being All-Indie

I reported recently on the reversion of the Simon & Elizabeth Mysteries, my historical series, to my own again. When you sign with a publisher, they get the rights to a book or series for X number of years. They're professionally edited, and the publisher builds an audience that can speak for their quality. Downside: the cost is high due to people other than the author needing to make a profit. When I got Simon's stories back, I got new covers and re-published the series at a much lower cost.

Now Loser will get the same treatment.

The Loser Mysteries center on a homeless woman who finds herself involved in solving a murder. From the beginning I knew it would be a 3-book series, since the stories begin with her at her worst and follow her recovery from trauma. The books are beloved by a certain set, and many suggested I might extend it, but once Loser is back to (almost) normal, I felt that further stories would only have presented more murders to solve. There were too few further character revelations to be made.

But the rights are now mine again, so Loser will get re-published at a better cost. I'm required to have new covers, and I'm looking for input. The idea is feet, and we chose pics that represent her three phases: homeless, returning to her roots, and facing her demons.

Here's Book #1 two slightly different ways. Any preference? I was hoping the first (skewed) pic gave a sense of movement, but Hubby says he can't see much difference.


Sep 4, 2017

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong


So here's the new cover: better, I say!


A few months ago my newest book, KIDNAP.org, was released. I had worked with the cover artist, who was very good about doing what I thought I wanted.
I wish she'd been a little bossier.
The author is usually asked what she pictures, and I had a vision. The only problem was, I'm not very good at vision. No artist's eye. No ability to see what the prospective reader will see--and deduce about the book.
I imagined how cool it would be to have all the main characters pictured in front of the house they end up living in. I included the van they use for kidnapping bad guys. I thought it gave a good sense of the story.
What I got was more Scooby Doo than kidnap capers.
Yeah, it's cute, but the spookiness of the house and the cartoonish characters say the wrong thing to readers. When I ask audiences for an impression of the book I get, "Young adult, right?"

Um, no. It's a caper novel, meaning the characters are technically criminals (think Ocean's Eleven) but in this case they're completely justified as well as hilariously unprepared for life on the run.

Of course I asked people to tell me what they thought before I finalized this cover, but here's where I went wrong a second time. I showed them what I thought I wanted and said, "What do you think?"
People are polite. They say what they suspect you want to hear. Everyone (except one brave, intrepid friend) said it was great (Thanks, LT--wish I'd listened to you!)

People who read the book love it. I got a radio interview with a nationally syndicated show and lots of good press after its release, but it didn't take me too many times watching people at book fairs pass over the book to realize the cover is wrong. People do judge a book by its cover, and if the cover isn't right, it takes someone you trust saying "Read this" to overcome that bad first impression.

So I'm changing it. One of the nice things about modern publishing is that mistakes can be ameliorated if not completely eradicated. Since you're reading my blog, you might already have the book with the cover above in your stacks. If you do, thank you, but from now on, KIDNAP.org will look different.

I've learned a couple of things in the process that I hope serve me well in the future:
     Picturing too many characters makes the cover uninviting.
     Cartoon people makes a book look less serious, more childish.
      Lots of people younger than I am (this book appeals to them for some reason) don't know what the black bars over the characters' eyes means, so it just seems weird.
     Dark background implies dark story.
     Friends won't tell you they hate your idea. It's easier to say, "Yeah, that's nice."  With the new cover, I've been consulting people with multiple ideas, giving them choices and asking why they like what they like. Of course they don't agree on everything, but it gives me a sense of what a first-time impression is. For example, I wanted to put the dog, Bennett, on the cover, but no matter where we put him, he gave the wrong impression. We aren't kidnapping dogs, but that's what people thought. Sadly, Bennett is no longer in the picture.

I could go on, but you get the drift. As soon as the cover artist finishes the new one, I'll post it here so you can tell me if you like it better. Fingers crossed!


Dec 9, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 15: All Those Other People

At first, writers write in a vacuum. We go to whatever place works for us and we write--for hours, days, weeks, and months. If we’re lucky, we produce a book.
That’s the last time we’re alone with it.
If you like a book, here’s who to thank--in addition to the author.

The Beta Readers: Authors write from inside their heads, but beta readers help us see what needs more explanation or less. They find those crazy little factual errors that ruin a book. Their feedback turns one person’s story into something many can enjoy.

The Editors: A finished story needs content editing, copy editing, and line editing. In every case but one (long ago), I’ve been lucky to work with good ones. Sometimes it’s difficult. At first I skim the comments out of the side of one eye. Then I walk away for a while. Phrases like “How dare she?” come to mind, but after a day or two, I go to work to fix the manuscript.

The Cover Artist: Covers are supposed to attract a reader’s eye and give him a sense of the book’s genre, characters, and theme. If I made my own covers, you’d think a kindergartner was involved. So if the cover caught your eye, it’s the talent of some artist I’ve never met, someone who reads my words and turns them into visual art.

The Formatter: Formatting is the way the words look on the page: spacing, margins, chapter headings, etc. A skilled formatter keeps readers from noticing formatting, because if you notice, there’s probably something wrong.

 The Publisher: Sometimes it's the author, but other times there is someone who believes in a book's worth and facilitates its publication and promotion. Yay for them! 

The Book Reviewer: Readers want to know someone liked a book besides the author’s mother, and that’s where book reviewers come in. Reviewers are knowledgeable about books of a certain genre. They compare an author’s new book to others and give readers a hint about whether this is a book they might like. A trusted reviewer can interest many readers in giving it a try, and the author doesn’t have to scream, “Buy my book, it’s great!”
The Book Blogger: Book bloggers sometimes review books, but other times they simply provide a place for authors’ works to be showcased. Some let the author do as she likes for a day, some ask interview questions, and some do almost everything, from hunting down cover art to seeking out an author's links to various social media sites.

The Book Promoter: As it becomes harder to keep up with promotion, authors have begun turning to book promoters. Some charge a fee, and some work for the love of reading. Either way, they’re invaluable for helping authors reach readers. I’m continually amazed by the methods these people devise to tell others about new books: bubbles, prizes, giveaways, and a hundred other ways they catch the eye in today’s three-second, fast-changing world.

All these people are wonderful, marvelous, and amazing, but there’s one remaining category, perhaps the most crucial of all--

The Reader.
The number one reason people choose a book is because a friend recommended it. If you read a book and like it, tell your friends. Talk about it (no spoilers, please!) Loan it out (with your name written inside if you want it back.) Spreading the word is the best thing you can do for a writer, and it makes the work that all the people listed above worthwhile!

Jun 29, 2015

Choosing New Covers

I asked the original publisher of the Dead Detective Mysteries to give me back the rights to the books. They were very nice about it, and I began the process of re-publishing them. Since audiences are often interested in how book covers come about, I thought I'd share my experiences with this series.

When publishers accept a manuscript, they often ask the writer for her ideas on what the cover should look like. There is NO guarantee they'll listen, and other writers I've spoken with had covers they hated or felt didn't represent their books at all, but they were stuck with them.

When asked about a cover for Book #1, I said I pictured a girl on a ship with a mysterious man in the background. My publisher's cover artist chose this as the cover for The Dead Detective Agency. Some people liked it; some didn't. A couple said the girl looked like my daughter; others said she looked like a robot. My first reaction was disappointment, but I recognize that I am NO judge of art, so I left it to them to say what would sell.

This time around, it's up to me what the cover will look like, although I worked with a cover artist because, as I said, art isn't my forte. I still liked the ship/mysterious man combination, so this is what the artist came up with.
The second book had a great cover when it came from the publisher, with the Mackinac Bridge as the background, but I can't use someone else's art when I re-release the book. I asked the new cover artist to do much the same thing but with a little less of a dark feeling, since the books are rather light-hearted in their look at the Afterlife. They definitely aren't scary, spooky, or gory. Here's what we had and what I chose for the new version:

Book Three is my choice of cover, since the old publisher never got around to releasing it. The artist found a detective to represent Seamus and we have several poses, so it will be the same guy in Books 2, 3, and 4. Three looks like this:

I like that there's a theme connecting the books now: similar lettering, the same Seamus, and the character(s) in front of the most important setting, the ship for #1, the Mighty Mac for #2, and Toronto for #3. Note of interest: Title fonts have gotten bigger in the last few years because so many people buy their books online. It's a huge no-no to have the title too small or fussy to read when it's reduced to a tiny little rectangle online (as the original for Book #1 is).

Four isn't coming until next year, but it will feature another pose of the same Seamus with an "old Chicago" cover, since he's going back to solve his own murder. Shout out to Phillips Covers for the new art, and for taking the burden off me. Once again, NOT a cover expert!


Jun 15, 2015

And the Winner Is--

Almost everyone liked the cover with the two figures on it best. I can't show it to you yet in final form, because I asked the cover artist to do a little touching up, which she confided this morning is driving her crazy. (Better her than me!) I don't like the messiness around the girl's left hand, and since I have no idea how much work it is to smooth that out, I asked. Apparently it's a lot.
Anyway, I should have that cover soon, so the first two Dead Detective books can be re-issued by the end of June. Don't buy them again if you've already read them.
I mean, you can if you want to...   :)
I talked to a fan who thought she liked Book #3 (DEAD FOR THE SHOW) better than Book #1, so she went back and re-read the first one. Now that's dedication!
I almost never re-read books, except of course for editing and re-editing and re-re-editing. By the time mine are published, I'm tired of them. It was interesting, therefore, to read the first 2 DD books several years later for this re-issue. I still like them, though I fixed a sentence here and there.
Now I'm at work on Book #4, which will be the last involving Seamus. It's going along well, but they always take longer than I plan on. I'm thinking early 2016 if all goes well.

Jun 8, 2015

Help Me Pick a Cover

The Dead Detective Agency will soon be re-released, since I got the rights to the series back from the original publisher. I must choose new covers, and these are some options the cover artist sent me. I'd love some feedback. This is Book #1, where Tori finds out she's dead and on the ship that takes people to the Afterlife. 


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