Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: cover design

On edits and covers and brains not wanting to play

Today’s my day over at Mad Genius Club. You can check it out here.

I’m on the downhill side of the edits for Sword of Arelion and I hope to finish some time today. Of course, the fact that I am finding everything I can to do except edit, I don’t guarantee it. So far, I’ve done some cleaning around the house, brushed the dog, carried out the trash and spent a few minutes playing with cover images. Those of you who are regulars here know that covers are not my forte. I usually leave that to folks better qualified to do them for me. But, well, when I don’t want to edit, I commit cover.

I’ve posted one possible mock-up here before.

Portrai of mystic  elf woman with sword, armor and tattoo on her hand.

I like the image but it is a bit dark, especially when you look at it in thumbnail. So, since I decided not to use a pen name for this book, I thought I would see what another of the images I bought at the same time might look like.

soa2a

I know the text still needs work, a lot of work, but I think I like this image better. Now to keep myself away from GIMP and playing with it until I finish the edits.

BTW, I got these images and one other in the series off of Dollar Photo Club. The artist is Vladimirs Poplavskis and you can find his portfolio here.

When giving advice

make sure you know what you’re talking about or you aren’t doing it in a forum where there are folks who actually know something about the topic you are pontificating about. This is especially true if you are on an author’s forum and decide that, with one book under your belt, you are going to tell folks the “rules” for writing and self-publishing.

I actually saw this happen in a forum I belong to over the weekend. It may have started innocently enough. It began with thread drift — isn’t there always thread drift? — and ended with a long post about what you must do if you are going to self-publish, especially if you are a first time author. Usually, such posts result in someone from the group simply telling the person with an inflated opinion of their own knowledge to go back and read what others have said on the topic. But this one was so out of left field that it blew my mind.

Let’s start with the position that, to be successful as an indie author, you need to spend, on average, $4,000 for cover and interior design as well as cover design. To begin with, here was nothing in the comment to say if this was for digital, print or both. So, let’s assume the so-called expert meant for digital only. Considering that most new authors price their novels between $2.99 – $4.99 (and most closer to $2.99), how long would it take to make enough in royalties to pay off this initial investment.

Under Amazon’s terms of service for the KDP platform, you, the author, receive 70% less a “transmission” fee. So, leaving off the transmission fee which depends on the size of the file, if your book is priced at $2.99, you receive approximately $2.00. That means, to recover your “investment” of $4,000, you’d have to sell 8,000 copies of your book. How many authors, even traditionally published, sell that many copies of a first book, especially without any promotional push. Oh, wait, he conveniently forgot about that part.

What if you price your book at $4.99? You’ll earn approximately $3.50 per copy sold. But that still means you have to sell more than 1,100 copies to break even. And that doesn’t begin to count for any costs you incur to promote your book, pay for tech, etc.

But this person didn’t stop there. No, they went on to discuss what you have to do to write a successful book. According to him, if you write SF and want to be successful, you can’t have a lot of exposition any longer. You see, that was all right for “classic” science fiction, but it’s not in fashion now. I guess that means authors like David Weber and David Drake don’t know what they’re doing and most certainly aren’t best sellers. Then there was the comment that, if you’re writing young adult novels, you don’t preach or explain. WTF?!?

But, not to let the stupidity stop there, according to this person, every scene must have conflict. According to him, there is no exception to this rule. Conflict. Riiiiiight. I guess he has never heard of bridge scenes or cigarette moments.

Of course, this is also someone who believes most new writers come up with a character and then try to write a novel around the character without having a story in mind when they start.

Look, everyone’s writing process is different. I recognize that and it would do this person well to do the same thing. To come into a writer’s forum and start giving advice like what he did, where he talks in absolutes and as if he has a string of best sellers under his belt, is not only rude but it is doing a disservice to new authors who might think he actually knows what he’s talking about.

Worse, going back through all the comments, it is clear — or it at least appears — that one of his sole purposes in acting as he did was to promote his own book. Yes, book. A search of Amazon turned up one book under his name. Oh, and he is working on another book. Something else he kept telling folks. Bad form. You don’t come into another author’s forum and promote your own work without first getting permission to do so.

The truth is, every author needs an editor. But you don’t have to pay and arm and a leg for it any more than you do for an awesome cover. The unfortunate reality is, most new authors who pay for editing don’t really get an editor. They get a proofreader or, at best, a copy editor. That is when having several good beta readers can come in handy. They will point out flaws in the story and will let you know if your science or tech or historical details are accurate or not. As for covers, there are a number of excellent artists and cover designers who are looking to build their portfolios and will do covers for little to nothing as long as they can use the cover as promotion for their own work.

As for writing advice, well, the best advice there is to read what is selling well in the genre you want to write in. Then read in other genres as well. Sure, you can listen to what others say you should do but, as with any other advice, take it with a grain of salt, especially if the person giving it doesn’t have a track record in the genre you’re working in. If they sound like they are regurgitating something they’ve read in how-to books (many of which are out of date before they ever hit the shelves) or from their own “publisher’s” website, then take that into account as well.

Most of all, if you are a writer, don’t go onto someone else’s forum and start spamming comments with thinly veiled promos for your own work. Pull up your big boy pants and email the author or the moderators and ask for permission to post about your work. Remember, you are in their sandbox and you need to play by their rules.

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