Archive for the ‘#writercommunity’ Tag

Covered   6 comments

Interview your cover designer (even if it’s you!)(talk about other covers they have worked on, what you love about their work, etc.)


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Who Designs Your Covers?

Right up front — I design my own covers. When I first started, my daughter, who is an artist, designed my first two covers and they were quite good, but a catastrophic computer failure wiped out those cover images just after she left on a world tour (otherwise known as being a starving musician across America). She recommended a friend, a college student, who helped me rebuild the covers for The Willow Branch and Life As We Knew It. They are Ivyl’s basic design, but with new images and we fixed some of the things I didn’ t like. He started to design the cover for Mirklin Wood. Halfway through collecting the various images, he suggested I learn how to do photo editing and computer collage. It would, he explained, save me money (or moose-stew and blueberry pie, which is what he preferred over money) and it would take care of that fact that he was graduating and leaving the state. I’ve completely designed all the others with input from friends, my family and random coworkers and church members.

What Do You Like Best About Working with Yourself?

I’m cheap. Seriously – money is an object and if I spend my money on cover design, I have less money for editing and marketing.

I’m not a true artist. I can draw, but my inner artist has perspective problems. But Ivyl points out I’m a photographer and I also managed to get a B from a university art class where the professor was a real artist. She was pretty convinced I could do it and so was her friend, who is now a scrimshaw artist in a western village concerned about what CoVid19 is going to do to the tourism industry his income relies on. Cover design is really collage and I’ have always been good at collage. The computer eliminates the need to endure the smell of rubber cement.

But I also like that I know my own mind. I don’t have to describe what I want to another person who may not have read the book. Ivyl had and the design went easily, but there were still issues with conveying my vision. Ethan hadn’t and working on Mirklin Wood was a struggle. He did a good job, but it took a lot of effort.

What Are You Aiming When You Start a Cover Design?

I like covers that give you some idea of what you might find in the book, which is one reason I don’t use cover mills. So, for example, The Willow Branch has a moon that isn’t really a moon and it harbingers the arrival of a goddess who sometimes takes the form of a raven. And you can get that from the cover.

Objects in View features a lot of roadblocks and surveillance by drones. You can see that from the cover. I want readers to be intrigued by what they see and want to check out what’s inside. By the way, that features almost entirely my own photography. I ran around my town and took pictures of cars with their taillights on, then cropped the images, masked the license plates and layered in the collage.

Although most of my images come from the Internet, I try to find unique pieces or edit the images in such a way that nobody is going to recognize it as an image they’ve seen a million times. For example, the moon on the cover of The Willow Branch is a NASA photo that we spun on its axis so it doesn’t look like Earth’s moon.

I always go for some striking image, often a pop of color or contrast in every cover. The brake lights in Objects in View, the aircraft’s yellow standing out against the blue of the storm in Gathering In, and the barn in Life As We Knew It all grab attention in a thumbnail and, hopefully, make the reader go — “Ooo, what’s that? Gotta check it out.”

I want the cover image to look good in print. With the ebook it’s all about the pop, but with the print book, the images need to look good, especially the typography. One of the things I like best about working for myself is I own the image, so I can make changes whenever I want and test them on the live audience on Amazon. I have made some remarkably small changes and seen an almost immediate bump in hits on ads, for example.

How Long Does It Take You to Design a Cover?

About a year, or as long as it takes me to write the book. Of course, I don’t work on it every day, but typically, I start to get a basic idea for a cover while I’m writing the book. In the case of “Winter’s Reckoning,” which will come out this fall, I started to get the cover idea while I was writing Gathering In and actually had the cover more or less complete before I started to write the book. Sometimes it just works out that way.

As I write, I’ll start looking for images to edit. I’ll keep track of where I got them, so if I use them in the final design I go pay the royalty. I’m always looking for that pop of color or contrast and then when I have a rough collage going, I go back and really neaten up the constituent images and layer them into the design. I might do several dozen tweaks. I might toss an image I liked in favor of another one that’s stronger. I finally save it as if it were a piece of artwork and then work on the typography.

What’s Important about the Typography?

I’m actually qualified in typographic design. I trained as a journalist back when small-town newspaper folks had to do everything without computers, so I try to spend extra effort in getting the typography right. You say a lot with the font you use and the placement in the image. While I might take a lot of time on the collage that forms the picture, I will definitely spend several passes at getting the typography right.

Now, when I say right – I mean on the print book. It’s really not necessary to make the typography legible on the e-book. A pop of color or contrast will attract attention to the thumbnail, but ebook customers have all that writing available to them left of the thumbnail in whatever font size they prefer. My focus is on a good or even great cover image. My attention to typography is for the print book and is a matter of personal pride.

Would you ever consider working with a professional cover designer?

Yes, if the price were right and we came up with a final product on our first project that was worth the effort. I recognize that others have talent beyond mine. I also recognize that indie publishing is a numbers game and if I’m spending thousands of dollars bringing a book to market before I’ve even sold one copy, then it’s not a business so much as a very expensive hobby. I already have one of those and at least we can snuggle under my quilts.

Are You Looking for Customers?

No, although if someone would like me to mentor them in DYI cover design, I’d be okay with that. I think, in doing someone else’s cover, I would have the same problem Ivyl and her friend had, trying to read the mind of the author and not quite getting it right. That’s a lot of money to charge someone for not quite getting it right and if I’m going to charge money for something, the final product needs to make them happy.

What Advice Would You Give Other Authors Considering DYI Design?

It’s not for everyone. I had a background in pedestrian art, photograph and typography. All I needed was training in photo editing. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do that. Perhaps you can DYI a mockup for your cover designer, so you can show him or her what your basic vision is. Then take his advice because that is his area of expertise. And cover mills do have a place in the market, although I caution against having the same cover as 20 other books. But you know, having some fun with it. Get Canva or (which is what I use) and spend some time playing with some images. You may discover you have a hidden talent.

Posted March 16, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Market Magic   8 comments

What’s the best way to market your books?


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If I Knew That, I’d Sell More Books

Seriously, I think there’s a magical formula … or maybe a novel fairy … that chooses who will be blessed among all indie authors to be “discovered”. For the rest of us, there’s just a lot of hard work and vagaries that work for some and not for others, and works some times and then not at all the next time.

Meanwhile, the advice is contradictory. Go to five book marketing blogs and you will find five different answers to that question. Some will say, “working with book bloggers” is one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your books. Yes, book reviews and interviews are essential to promoting an indie book. Blog tours can really help to get attention from a wide audience.

According to Penguin Random House:

Online exposure is the main benefit of using a blog tour to promote your book. It hits a different audience than, say, an NPR interview or local newspaper review. Sure, an unbiased review from a huge publication is fantastic publicity, but what the fans are saying can have a similar impact.”

Others will tell you to write guest blogs, a dedicated piece to be published on someone else’s site. It gets your name out there, drives traffic back to your website, and helps you build anticipation for your book. So “they” say.

Does it work? Sometimes. I’ve seen bumps in blog traffic when I write a guest post. Have I sold more books? Not really. Sometimes and not others. Why? I have no idea. And there in is the problem. I am not psychic and I just don’t know why a strategy works today and doesn’t work tomorrow. Maybe I need to invest in fairy dust.

How About Bonus Material?

Standard bookish merchandise ( otherwise known as ‘swag’), such as bookmarks, are often touted as excellent and relatively cheap promotional tool for indie authors. I know more than a few indie authors who have stuff to give away because they fell for this marketing ploy. It’s mining the miners. It’s a way to get indie authors to spend money they probably don’t have to try and sell books that probably won’t sell … that way. Always pause and ask yourself – am I being mined? Would I buy a book because the author gave me a free coffee cup? Yeah, maybe if the author was face-to-face with me to make me feel guilty, but through the Internet? If the answer is “No, I wouldn’t”, then the answer is “I’m being mined.” Formulate your own conclusions from there.

There are other “bonus materials” that might work better.

Related stories

I’ve written short stories for an annual anthology with an agorist/libertarian bent. Does it drive purchasers to my novels? Yeah, it appears to do so because I write books that appeal to agorist/libertarian/anarchists. I’ll usually see a bump in sales a week or so after they publish. I say “usually” because the bump was real weak once. Was that because I wrote a bad short? I don’t know. Where’s that fairy dust?

Although I haven’t done so yet, many authors offer a short or prequel for free as a reward for signing up for their newsletter, or as a bonus item for a book purchase. I’m developing a YA/NA book series that will have a prequel available for free on my website, if you sign up for my newsletter. We’ll see if it works.

Book club kits

That YA/NA series is a departure from my usual audience, so I plan to create a set of questions and discussion points that readers can use to talk about my books in a book club setting. I’ll make the list available on my blog. I’m told by friends this is an effective way to attract readers. Do I know it works? No, but it’s something that doesn’t cost me money that is worth a try.

Team Up With Other Creatives?

We creative types have to stick together, don’t we?! That’s what this blog hop is all about, right?

Doing the research for this post, I discovered a few creative collaborations I hadn’t thought of.


I’m not on Instagram and I really don’t want to be, but I probably need to overcome my reluctance because many bookstagrammers are also reviewers, so sending out a free copy of my book(s) for some gorgeous promotional shots could kill two birds with one stone if they publish a review as well.


I had a great interview with a podcaster about two years ago, and there did seem to be a bump in my book sales for a while, but I’d rather write books than talk about them. Still, if you don’t flinch in horror at seeing yourself on the screen, do some research, reach out to podcasters and see what you can arrange.

Saturate Social Media?

That’s a lot of work. Before my books started paying for themselves, it was really my only choice because I couldn’t justify the financial outlay of most other options. I still post to my blog, Facebook (come join some of my liberty conversations), Twitter and MeWe, but I spend less time there than I used to and it’s likely I’ll spend less time there next year too. It’s hard to be heard on Social Media, so it’s a lot of effort for a little bit of return. It’s “free”, but man, what a time-suck!

I also think that it is counterproductive to keep waving a sign that says “Buy my books.” It’s annoying and I tune out that posts myself. Which is why I started the liberty conversations because libertarian/anarchist/voluntaryist topics (and the allergic reaction statists have to them) fascinate me and sometimes there will be a bump in sales or readership after a good one.

Become a ‘book fairy’

Okay, I’m not talking fairy dust here. Have you heard of Emma Watson’s ‘Book Fairies’ project? The Harry Potter actress began an international book-sharing movement, which involves leaving free books in public places for people to find and take home. The finder is encouraged to pay it forward by leaving the book for someone else to find once they’ve finished reading it. It’s not exactly a new idea. Something like this has existed in the Fairbanks community for as far back as I can remember. Go to any laundromat in this town and you’ll find a few dog-eared “left” books, some of them with handwritten notes inside say “Take This Book and Enjoy It.”. It’s a good idea that should go viral.

There are people participating in the Book Fairies project all around the world or with similar initiatives like Melbourne’s Books on the Rail. It’s a great way to do a good deed and promote more reading in the world – but have you ever thought of using it for promoting your own book?

I haven’t tried this yet, but there’s a fine madness in the thought of leaving copies of my books in public places for people to discover. Why haven’t I tried it yet? Why do I think it’s a little mad. It involves a cost outlay for me to essentially giving away several physical copies of one of my books for free. Would it work to drive traffic to my other books? I don’t know – which is why I’ve not tried it – yet.


My father-in-law, an experienced businessman, will tell you “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” He’s right. Just make sure you spend money on things that make money. Advertising helps. I’ve tried Facebook ads and, yeah, I sold some books. I’ve tried the book advertising sites. Sometimes I’ve seen some sales conversions. I’ve tried Amazon ads recently. So far I’ve spent about as much money as I’ve made, but I’m not bidding very high and I just started, so I haven’t got enough data to be sure it’s working. Ask me in three months.

Write the Next Book

Honestly, I think the best marketing technique I possess is writing the next book. My readership goes up with each book I write in the Transformation Project series. I can now see that on KDPs KENP Reads. People appear to be binge reading the entire series. The best thing about that is it doesn’t require me to put on pants to set up a book signing at Barnes & Noble. I’m doing what I would be doing anyway and so, it is essentially free and not a time-suck. My self-imposed Transformation Project break since the publication of Gathering In is now officially over, so get ready for Winter’s Reckoning next year. And, possibly that YA/NA in Spring 2020 IF the betas think it’s ready to go to the editor.

So, I don’t know what the “best way” to market books is. Book marketing is a lot like playing Pin the Tale on the Donkey. There’s several ways and they work to varying degrees at times not necessarily of my choosing. Good luck and if you have any tips ….

Posted November 25, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Watch for the Anthology   1 comment

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My short will be part of the Agorist Writers’ Workshop anthology “Fire and Faith”.

Inside My Mind

Words from my brain

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

Tales of Writing + Books + Compassion + Culture + Wagging Tails

Fairfax and Glew

Vigilante Justice

The Wolf's Den

Overthink Everything


Sprinkling wonder into writing

Remmington Reads

A book enthusiast bringing you all things bookish


Becoming Unstuck

Magical BookLush

A New Dimension to Explore!! Love for books and series is all we need. Life can be lonely without books. All I love is books, series, and talking about serious causes like bodyshaming. Do join me if you love to live your life to the fullest

Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

Read. Write. Love. 💕💕💕

Not Very Deep Thoughts

Short Fiction and Other Things

Ediciones Promonet

Libros e eBooks educativos y de ficción

the dying fish

Book info, ordering, about me etc. in upper right

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