Tag Archives: cover art

MisfortuneCookie2_850

Cover Reveal – Misfortune Cookie!

Happy Friday! Casey here!

I hope everyone didn’t overindulge their sweet tooth yesterday. I was surprisingly good. Largely, because we decided a few years ago, to stop buying tons of Halloween candy.

I don’t have much to say today other than . . .

Feast your eyes on the cover of Misfortune Cookie! Another outstanding design from Rae Monet!

In other news - Mystic Hero is done (well, the first draft) and is in the hands of my beta readers. Yay!

But don’t think I’m sitting around doing nothing. Next up – completing Lachlan’s Curse. I hope to finish the first draft by the end of November.

Wish me luck!

What’s on everyone’s plate these days?

MisfortuneCookie

A New Face for a New Year

PJ Sharon here wishing all you Scribe’s followers a Happy New Year! New_Years1

We are so thankful for your support over the past year and hope you’ll continue to join us for fun, informative, and entertaining posts about writing, publishing, and all things books. You’ll be treated to an occasional secret recipe, guest authors, interviews with industry professionals, reviews of our favorite books, and tips on everything from  craft to the everyday pitfalls of trying to manage this crazy writer’s life.

As the first Scribe to post in 2013, I’d like to talk about the most important selling point of a well-written book–aside from it being well-written, that is.

In this day of digital publishing, when as many as 350,000 new books a year are put in front of readers, the burning question is, what will help your book to stand out in the deluge? I can’t help but think the answer goes back to the basics. Most of us judge a book first by its cover, then by the blurb, and then by reading the first page or so. Most readers, many who are buying from their e-reading devices, only see a thumbnail version of a book cover and often decide to look closer only if something about that tiny image pulls them in. Having a breathtaking cover, a well-written and captivating blurb (back cover description), and a grabber of a first line can only up your chances at being noticed.

As you may know, I had moderate success with a FREE promotion last week and I think the results prove my point.  After having my cover redone by a professional cover artist, downloads for Heaven is for Heroes outnumbered my previous bestseller, On Thin Ice, 3 to 1. You can read about my results here.  Since the only thing I did differently to showcase Heaven is for Heroes was a $5 paid ad on Facebook, I’m betting that the new cover had something to do with the increased numbers. My results tell me two things. Facebook ads do work, and cover art matters. Either way, I took the hint and had a new cover made for Savage Cinderella. **Incidentally, I did see a small bump in sales this week after my FREE days, so IMO it’s still worth hopping on the KDP Select gravy train if you’re looking for a boost in sales and visibility.

Although I’d had lots of feedback from friends and fellow writers who liked the original cover, the black and white just didn’t stand out on the thumbnail version. The title and author name didn’t “pop,” and the image didn’t really give a clear impression of the genre or the story, at least not when competing against the cream of the crop with their photoshopped masterpieces.SC SW cover

One of the benefits of independent publishing is that we can easily adapt and change with the market. Young adult cover art has evolved over the past year or two, leaning toward “darker” images, bolder colors, haunted faces with intense expressions, and beautiful young men and women looking tormented but relatable on the covers. The tone of a book should be clearly expressed through the cover art, and there should be some hint as to what the story will entail via the title fonts, tone, and cover image. I’m hoping that my new cover does all of those things, perhaps even tapping into a new readership who previously may have overlooked the other cover simply because it didn’t stand out enough or they didn’t “get” a feel for the book.

There’s no doubt that I’ll run across those who would rather not see a face on the cover, preferring the character’s features be left to the imagination, but the idea is to make an impression–to grab a browsing reader and make them look twice. If you’ve read the book you’ll probably understand why this image is so powerful. If you haven’t read the book, you can find it on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, or you can read a chapter a week for FREE on Wattpad.

As always, I’d love your feedback.

Savage Cinderella WEBSITE USEThis cover is the work of Melody Simmons, who also did my Heaven is for Heroes and Waning Moon covers. She is super easy to work with and reasonably priced, not to mention, fast. She had this cover and my HIFH cover back to me in a day or two, offering me several options from which to choose, and working with my suggestions to get to the look I wanted.

I hope you’re looking forward to 2013 as much as I am. I have a feeling it’s going to be a stellar year for the Scribes and we’d love for you all to share the journey with us.

Blessings of good health, peace, prosperity, balance, and harmony to all,

PJ

Do you have any exciting plans for the coming year? What do you think about trends in cover art? Too many faces on YA covers, or do you like to see those smoldering and deperate looks?

 

Cover reveal for WANING MOON

Oh happy day! PJ here, and I’m thrilled to share with you the cover for my upcoming release, WANING MOON, Book ONE in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. In the past, my husband and I have designed my covers. But this time, I enlisted the help of the wonderful and fabulous Melody Simmons, who has been very accommodating, I must say. Because WM is part of a trilogy, I wanted a cohesive look to the books and I was ready to take my covers to the next level.

We’re still tweaking fonts for the back cover,  but she came up with this front cover after I gave her my ideas for a concept and picked out the stock photo of the model. I think she did great! Let us know how you like it, and if there’s anything about it you don’t like. We’re thick skinned and there’s still time to make changes. Have I told you lately that I love Indie publishing?

Meet Lily Carmichael!

Here’s the back cover blurb to give you an idea of what the story is about:

In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a global shift threatens the remainder of the population with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.

Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the tension between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put Lily in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.

Enjoy this short excerpt:

We both groaned as we lifted the heavy iron cover. I dropped down into the icy churning water, sucking in a breath while Will climbed down the ladder. He paused, grunting as he pulled the heavy cover in place behind him.

 
Just in time. We heard rushing footsteps overhead, voices loud and angry. Will and I exchanged a look and then turned toward the dark tunnel. Will’s hand slipped into mine as he took the lead. “Stay with me. Don’t let go, okay?”
 
I let him pull me forward. The water deepened as we dragged ourselves along. The sound of rushing water ahead had me backing up against the current. “This is not a good idea.”
 
Will tugged me by the hand, wincing in pain. “It’s the only way out. Trust me. It’ll be alright.”
 
“Trust you? That’s a joke, right?” 
 
 “Can we fight about this later?” 
 
Before I could argue, a wave of turbulent water rushed in from a connecting pipe, and swept us off our feet. Will’s hand tightened around mine and we dropped abruptly downward. As the slope steepened, the water picked up speed. Darkness and the stench of sewage overwhelmed my senses. I prayed a quick prayer that the end of the tunnel was near. What I worried for next was how far of a fall it would be to the murky waters of the Hudson below when we reached it.
 
Another rapid decent shot my stomach to my throat and Will’s hand pulled free. “Noooo!”
 

But the thunderous roar of the cascading waterfall swallowed the sound of my scream.  It launched us into the darkening horizon like a torpedo, and then dumped us thirty feet into the icy roiling waters of the Hudson River.

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Stay tuned for more exciting excerpts from WANING MOON, which is set to release September 28th. Let me know what you think of the cover, and if you want to get in touch with Melody Simmons or see some of her pre-made covers, check out her website @ http://ebookindiecovers.com/contact/.

Savage Cinderella Cover Reveal

Good morning Scribes fans! Today I’m doing my big cover reveal for my next book, SAVAGE CINDERELLA, due out, March 15th. I’ve mentioned before that my husband makes my covers so I’ll give you the skinny on how he does it, in case you’re curious.

First, we talk about the book and my vision for what I want the cover to project. Then we peruse the stock photo sites looking for that one picture that screams at both of us, “I’ll tell the story, pick me—pick me!”. I found both the front and back cover photos for  this book at Big Stock Photos. After much research, reading the fine print, and following several discussions on the Indie Romance Ink loop, I realized I didn’t need to pay extended licensing fees on the stock photos for book covers unless I was planning to sell over 5000 print copies or use the photos for merchandising, neither of which seems likely. I can always change the cover later if I need to. So compared to the $300 we spent on Heaven Is For Heroes,

Available September 24th
Heaven Is For Heroes

the $100 I spent for On Thin Ice,

On Thin Ice

and the $13.98 I spent on Savage Cinderella, I can safely say I’ve cut my production costs by several hundred percent. That’s what I call a bargain! I can use those savings for editing services or advertising. A learning curve, indeed!

Once I pick out the photos, my husband–the creative genius techspert–takes control of the next step. He downloads a template from CreateSpace that is based on the size of the book (in my case 5.5×8.5). I chose this size because it puts my 80,000 word young adult novels at a manageable width for readers. The print is large and readable, there is adequate white space on the page, and they are distinct from the typical 4.5×6.5 romance novel sized book. Anything I can do to have my books be reader friendly and stand out in the crowd, is a good thing. The spine width is automatically determined by the page count of the book.

Next, he sets up the template on Power Point and starts fitting the photos onto the template and adding the layers of text. I’d love to give you all the specs of step by step processing, but I’ve watched him do it three times now and the details still befuddle me.  He alters coloring as needed, we agonize over fonts for a while, and finally, when it’s as perfect as we can get it, he saves it to a PDF which is the format required by CreateSpace. Voilà! Hubby crops and saves the cover photo as a jpg. or png. file so I can use it for blogs, advertisements and on my website.

So there you have it. Above is the front cover and to the right is the back cover. We’ve added a QR code with a link to my website and Createspace will add the UPC with ISBN number. I’d love your feedback about how you think we did. We’re still learning and are open to constructive criticism so we can keep improving with each cover. I love each of them for different reasons but it’s fun to see the evolution.

Titles, Teasers, and Cover Art

It’s time for the big reveal! My next book, ON THIN ICE, is coming out next month—five weeks to be exact. It hardly seems possible that it was only two months ago that I released HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. Back to back book launches are one of the many benefits of Indie-publishing. As long as I can meet my production schedule for cover art, editing, setting up promotional plans, and producing quality material, I can add to my cyber bookshelf as frequently as I’d like. Of course, that’s a BIG if!

 Especially when I find out two weeks before sending the book off for final editing that the title, ON THIN ICE, has just been used by someone else…in fact several someone else’s. It turns out that this title has been used numerous times in recent years in several genres. So I scrambled, sweated, and panicked for a few days before deciding, “Yup, I’m gonna’ keep it.” No matter what other titles I tried, none fit quite as perfectly as my chosen title. ON THIN ICE seemed the ideal metaphor for a young figure skater dealing with an eating disorder and confronting some devastating life issues like her mother’s cancer and a teenage pregnancy—issues I dealt with myself in the year between sixteen and seventeen.

So rather than focus on the negative aspects of a title overuse syndrome, I decided that there was an upside to my predicament. For one thing, every time someone looks for one of those other books, mine will show up too. Tag team PR. As my fellow scribe, Casey Wyatt pointed out, if you type in the name of her book, Ascension, a ton of others come up as well. Common titles like, THE EDGE, SAVING GRACE, REMEMBER ME, or dare I say, BREAKING DAWN, have all been used more than once. I’m happy with my title and I’m sticking to it!

The next order of business was nailing my husband down…er…keeping my husband to his deadline with cover art. This is what he came up with. Although, the girl on the cover doesn’t exactly match my character Penny’s description, and the mountain peaks in the background are not likely to resemble any you might find in Connecticut, I felt that the facial expression, the metaphoric mountains my character faces, and the general “feel” of the cover were right for the genre and the book. It grabbed hubby, grabbed me, and shows up fairly well in a thumbnail size, which is where most people will see it. So again I say, I like it, and I’m sticking to it! Oh, the joys of DIY Indie-publishing.

With all that I’ve learned about this process so far, there were a few things I decided to hire out to save time. One is the final copy edit. I must have re-uploaded HIFH four times due to typos and errors that my editor and I both missed. I will also have the book formatted for me. It’s not rocket science, but it is a frustrating and time consuming chore, and for less than fifty dollars, I can have it professionally done—well worth every penny.

As for a teaser, click on over to my website and read an excerpt of ON THIN ICE (the scene where Penny and Carter meet), and check out a few songs on my YouTube playlist. You’ll need to scroll down the Extras page to get to it, but feel free to check out the excerpt of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES while your there.

The book cover hasn’t been uploaded yet, so if you have any comments, recommendations or suggestions, now’s the time to spill. Let me have it, people!

Trends in Cover Art

Tuesday’s child, PJ Sharon, here. Business first. Please join me next Tuesday in welcoming guest blogger, CC James, author of the YA series, DEMON TRACKERS. Her first book, THE ANOINTED is out now and the second book, BANSHEE’S CRY will be coming in August. She will be sharing her writing secrets for creating compelling characters.

This leads me to today’s post.

Since I’m writing contemporary YA romance these days, and designing my own book covers, I’m curious about what attracts readers to pick up a certain book. In my quest for answers, I’ve had a chance to study lots of covers. I’ve noticed some interesting trends.

It used to be that no one would show faces on their covers because it was thought that readers wanted to use their imaginations to create an image of their hero and heroine. More than likely, it also has something to do with paying licensing fees and finding cover models that fit the description of the characters.

Recently, however, I see more and more books with either graphically designed images of actual people, or model photos used for cover art. This is especially true with YA books. There are still plenty of books that show only body parts—shots from the neck down, or half faced people that leave you to imagine their eyes once you’ve read that the heroes’ are “piercingly blue”.  Or in the case of the dreamy Demon Tracker–a lovely shade of green that is indescribable in mere words. I might not be normal (this is often up for debate), but I find that when I’m reading, I like to refer back to the cover to see if the image on the front reflects the character on the page. This personal preference is one reason I chose this photo for the cover of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. This girl’s face and the expression in her eyes summed up Jordie and what she’s going through. The picture, in my opinion gives you insight into the story, the character, and leaves you with a question.

 Most traditionally published authors have little control over their book covers and the people who design them haven’t likely read the book, so in my experience, it’s a hit or miss as to whether the cover art meets my expectation of what the character might look like. Does this mean that I won’t buy a book with a faceless, hot body on the cover? Umm…no. I’m only human after all.

But with all of the competition to get a reader’s attention, I think the use of bold colors, striking images and catchy titles is more important than ever. There was a day when the bare chested man with the Fabio hair and the six-pack abs was shocking and seductive enough to have romance novels flying off the shelves—and don’t get me wrong; sexy still sells. But if all the covers have those bare chests and swooning females, the effect somehow gets lost in a sea of flesh.They all start to look the same. I believe readers want something different today. Hot and sexy is great, but when I pick up a book, I want to get to know the characters. I want to feel like they are my best friend for those 300 pages. This is especially true for YA, which I think is why we are seeing more faces on covers. Where would Harry Potter be without Daniel Radcliff and those little round glasses?

How about you? Faces or no faces?