Tag Archives: book covers

Testing new Covers for Chameleon in a Mirror

Since I’ve recently had rather disappointing click-through rates for Chameleon in a Mirror, I decided to try testing some cover designers through Fiverr, just for fun. I wrote about the option in my book Starting Out as an Indie Author, but I had never used it myself. There’s a saying here in Germany, “Probieren geht über studieren.” (Trying is better than studying.) So here I am trying! Here are the cover designs I got from my first Fiverr foray into covers:

Chameleon in a Mirror cover

CIAM cover

For the sake of comparison, here’s the present cover:

And here’s the very first attempt:

What do you guys think? I have to admit, I had the feeling the new covers stood out better in thumbnail for sure, but I’d love a bit more feedback before I finalize. Thanks in advance to anyone who responds!

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Covers and Book Description for “Starting Out as an Indie Author”

I’m almost there! “Starting Out as an Indie Author” is nearly ready for publication. But first, I need some feedback on covers and the book description I’ve come up with. The first cover is based on the graphic I’ve been using for this series for some time now, with stock art I’ve already purchased, so it is more finished than my other two designs. The others have more the character of mock-ups, since I thought it would be fun to attempt something more playful as well. And as you can see in the covers, I haven’t purchased the art yet. They might be too playful, after all, and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it to purchase the art.

Starting Out as an Indie Author

And here’s the book description I came up with:

Have you written your first book and are considering self-publishing? Perhaps you have started looking into the possibility and are feeling overwhelmed by all the options, all the things you need to do and learn in order to become an indie author? Or maybe you aren’t even sure yet whether self-publishing is for you or not, and you want to find out more of what is involved before you decide.

STARTING OUT AS AN INDIE AUTHOR was written for beginning self-publishers and covers the basics on where to sell your books, formatting for eBook and print, and developing marketing strategies. It includes a number of step-by-step instructions for everything from cover design, to setting up eBooks for various distributors, to creating ads with Facebook and Amazon Marketing Services. In addition, there is advice on any number of topics: eBook pricing, using distributors, how much to spend on self-publishing, and writing blurbs for your books.

With this sanity-saving book as a guide, you will have a much better grasp on what is involved in self-publishing and will be able to approach the task realistically and with eyes wide open.

Contents:
Part I: Is Self-Publishing for You?
Chapter 1: Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Publishing
Chapter 2: Potential Self-Publishing Mudholes
Chapter 3: The Costs of Publishing as an Indie Author

Part II: Getting Ready to Publish
Chapter 4: Why Editing is Important – and Who can Probably Skip the Expense After All.
Chapter 5: Preparing Your Manuscript for eBook Retailers
Chapter 6: Cover Options for Indie Authors
Chapter 7: Writing Blurbs and Descriptions for your Books
Chapter 8: Amazon Delivery Fees and Reducing the File Size of Your EBook

Part III: Publishing Your Book
Chapter 9: EBook Pricing
Chapter 10: To KDP Select or not to KDP Select
Chapter 11: Using Distributors for Getting into Online Bookstores
Chapter 12: The Importance of Keywords
Chapter 13: Formatting the Interior of your Book for Print
Chapter 14: Creating a Wraparound Cover for your Print Book

Part IV: Marketing
Chapter 15: The Big Challenge: Becoming Visible
Chapter 16: How to Develop a Strategy for eBook Promotions
Chapter 17: Alexa Rankings for eBook Ad Sites
Chapter 18: Advertising Sites
Chapter 19: Social Media and Cross Promotion
Chapter 20: Newsletter Basics

Part V: Final Thoughts
Chapter 21: Why “Write the Next Book” isn’t Enough; Or: What to do if your Books aren’t Selling
Chapter 22: Rolling with the Changes

Do please let me know what you think!

Very belated update, and Ygerna seeking a healer for #WIPpet Wednesday

A lot has been going on here in Central Europe, and I just haven’t been able to take the time for blogging while still moving forward on my writing. My sister came to visit — for the first time in over 25 years. Then we took a short trip to France, where we met her daughter and spent some time drinking champagne in Champagne. I still intend to write a blog post about that with pictures, but when we got back, I had better things to do: I FINISHED A COMPLETE DRAFT OF DRAGON TOUCHED TODAY! The rough draft was done end of February, but it was full of holes. That’s the way I work: first drafts are like a jumble of notes to myself and scenes that are completely written out. During revisions, I added another 20,000 words and deleted around 10,000. 🙂

This evening, I dived right back into Ygerna, inspired by the new cover by Lou Harper:

Ygerna

Do let me know what you think! It’s not finalized yet, and any feedback you have will be sent on to the cover artist. You can see the wraparound cover as well in my last post here on my blog.

I also never got around to a new goal post for this quarter, since that was up at the time my sister arrived, and shortly before we took off for France. I’m just going to carry over the goals from the last round. 🙂

I haven’t posted for WIPpet Wednesday for a while either. I’m sticking with Ygerna, but jumping forward to a scene I was just revising. Our protagonist has realized that she might be pregnant, and she goes in search of a healer who can help her do something about it. Thirteen short paragraphs for the 13th day of the month:

Ygerna reined in her horse on the outskirts of the small village and examined the roundhouses of daub and wattle. There was no help for it, she would have to ask someone which house was that of the village healer. She could only hope no one would recognize her; she wanted as few people knowing her secret as possible. That was why she hadn’t gone to the healer in the town across the land bridge from Dyn Tagell.
It wouldn’t do to be asking about herbs that would start her menses again there, where everyone knew the daughters of Erbin, the King of Dumnonia.
So she’d wrapped her distinctive red hair in a shawl, put on an old gown she usually only wore when she needed to help with chores, and set off for the next nearest village with a healer.
She dismounted and approached a woman throwing slops to the pigs. “Excuse me, can you tell me where the healer in this village lives?”
The woman set down the bucket and pointed. “The third house over there, Lady.”
Oh dear, the old mare and the old clothes had not been enough to disguise her class. Well, at least she knew no one here and no one knew her. They might call her “Lady,” but they didn’t know her name.
Ygerna lead the mare by the reins to the house indicated. A young woman perhaps a little older than Elen was tending a small garden of herbs and vegetables next to the house. A basket beside her contained some radishes, spring onions, and a couple of parsnips.
“Hello,” Ygerna said. “Are you the healer in these parts?”
“That I am.” The young woman rose, smiling, and wiped her hands on her apron. “How can I help you?”
Ygerna glanced around, unable to repress her nervousness. “May we go inside?”
“Certainly.”
The healer led the way into her modest dwelling, a roundhouse in the old style, and now Ygerna noticed that she too was pregnant. The belt of her gown was tied a little higher to allow for the gently rounding belly.
The healer closed the door behind them. “Let me guess, you need herbs that will abort an unwanted child.”

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

Once again, the importance of covers for indie authors

I got a really nice heads up recently on the new cover for Looking Through Lace: in the monthly e-Book Cover Design awards, Joel Friedlander called it “a strong cover that intrigues.”

Looking Through Lace

The 99c promo that is currently running for Looking Through Lace confirms my growing conviction of how important striking covers are for sales. With an advertising investment of less than $60, I have already sold 110 copies of the novella, with a day still to go in the promo. Since investing in the new covers for LTL, Beyond the Waters of the World, and the boxed set of both novellas in December 2015, I’ve already earned back the cost (minus advertising *g*). But the way sales and borrows are going, I should be in the clear on the cost of the new covers soon.

With the new cover of Chameleon in a Mirror, I have also seen a dramatic increase in results on promos.

Chameleon in a Mirror
I did that one myself, but I also ran it and other designs through numerous testing sites before replacing the old cover.

Given the results of my recent promos with these new covers, I can hardly emphasize enough how important I think it is to have a cover that will entice the reader to click.

Go ye forth and get a new cover. 🙂

And the winner of the new cover for Looking Through Lace is …

After running various versions of the cover designs for Looking Through Lace past Facebook, my blog, and the cover voting site I’ve used before, we have a winner: looking through hair and stars! *g*

For those curious, here’s a breakdown of the various voting results:

Facebook: Hair – 9; Eye – 3; Hair with Grid overlay – 1

Voting site: Hair – 5; Eye – 2; Hair with Grid overlay – 3

Blog: Hair – 4; Eye – 4; Original cover – 3

I find the differences pretty fascinating. The readers of my blog never saw the hair variation with the grid overlay, since I never got around to uploading it, but there was a strong anti-hair lobby. Everywhere else, however, the hair won hands down.

Despite the various objections to the hair, I’m really happy with the result. AND I will now soon have a paperback version of the novella! One has actually been out for a long time, but it’s in Italian. 🙂

I’m very pleased with the job done by Lou Harper, and have already asked her to do the second book, Beyond the Waters of the World. And with all that investment, I should finally get back to the series … If only I didn’t have about a gazillion other works in progress already …

Via BookBub: “What Kind of Cover Design Sells More Books In Your Genre?”

Since a lot of my readers are indie authors who are somehow involved in their own cover design, I wanted to share this article from BookBub:

http://insights.bookbub.com/what-kind-of-cover-design-sells-more-books-in-your-genre/

Unfortunately, no science fiction or fantasy, but I still think it’s always helpful to study effective book covers. I recommend taking a look. 🙂 And while you’re at it, this post on testing covers is quite interesting too — I think I’m going to have to try out some of their suggestions:

http://insights.bookbub.com/how-to-easily-test-your-book-cover-design-to-sell/

Starting out as an indie author: Creating a wraparound cover for your print book

Last week, I provided some tips on how to format the interior of your book for print on demand. This week I will finish the POD publishing lesson by showing you a little on how to make the wraparound cover that you need for a print book.

The first thing you will need is a template in the size you want with the spine the correct width for the length of your book. You can either create this yourself using the instructions on your publishing site (here for CreateSpace), or download the template built by CreateSpace when you enter the details for your book, which you can do here:

https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

Createspace now also has a Cover Creator that you can use as well, but of course it’s more limited than creating your own, and it assumes that you do not yet have an ebook cover already designed. I have not used it, so I can’t say much about it. I only glanced through the designs available and didn’t see any for pre-designed front covers.

The formatted interior of Chameleon in a Mirror came out to 383 pages, and I want to use cream paper rather than white, which to me looks more professional. This is what the template looks like that CS built for the book:
CreateSpace Cover template

Once I have the template, I open it in Photoshop and change the resolution to 300 dpi. I make a copy of the layer, and change one of the two to the background.

Then I drag my ebook cover image into Photoshop, create a layer from it, and drag that onto my paperback cover template, like so:

I make another copy of the layer based on the template. Using the eyedrop tool, I take a color on the edge of my ebook cover and fill this new layer with the chosen color. This is to make sure that I will not end up with any white edges when the paperback book is created — besides having a color on the spine and back that fits with the color scheme of the front cover image. My PSD file now looks like this:

Next I create the text layers for the spine, the title and the author name. Choosing the text layers one at a time, I rotate them and move them to where I want them on the spine. (In my ancient version of Photoshop, this is in the Edit menu under Transform / Rotate 90°.) Of course, if you don’t use different fonts for the author name and title, this would be only a one step process. Here is how my cover looks after this step:

Here you see that after creating the base color layer, I made the template visible again to assist me in placing elements on my cover.

If you have a logo for your book imprint, you could also put that on the bottom of the spine.

The back cover usually has a description of the book, and sometimes an excerpt, some quotes from reviews, or a short bio of the author. You also need to create the necessary white space for the bar code. So going to my solid brown layer, I use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to mark a square the same size as the bar code box. In the edit menu, I choose fill, and fill the box with white.

For the rest of the back cover, I decided on a short version of the book description and a repetition of the mirror motif from the front cover. In order to make the text stand out more, I set the opacity of the mirror image at 30%.

Anyway, here is what the cover looks like now:

Chameleon in a Mirror cover

It also would have been possible to have a simple description above on the back cover, and a bio with a pic of me below, with no further design elements. That is the layout of the cover template that Joel Friedlander sells on his site for $57 — and here I’ve pretty much told you how to do the same thing for free. 🙂 As you can see, if you already have a front cover — as well as some knowledge of a good graphics program like Photoshop or Gimp — it’s not all that hard to create your own wraparound cover for print publication.

And as an added benefit for me, I have finally put together the files for the POD version of Chameleon in a Mirror. According to Create Space, the print version should be available on Amazon in the next 3-5 days. 🙂

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

New cover for “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide”

One of the things I’ve had on my to-do list for at least a year is to upload my short story “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” to Amazon and make it free. The story is also in my collection From Earth to Mars and Beyond, and I’ve been thinking that I should redo the Mars ebook with an excerpt from one of the stories in the collection in the back matter to entice a few readers to buy more. “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” is hands down my biggest “seller” on Smashwords, but just sitting there as a free short story without any incentives anywhere in the text to buy anything else from me doesn’t seem to be inspiring those who download it to go looking for opportunities to purchase my fiction.

Since I’ve had fairly good experience with the free story “Gawain and Ragnell” to keep my sales of The Pendragon Chronicles alive, I was hoping I could do the same thing with “Mars” for my SF collections. But when I went searching for the PSD of the original cover to edit it for recent standards and add the Nebula nom to the cover, I couldn’t find the file, nor could my daughter. She suggested that maybe it was time for us to make a new cover for the story anyway, since it was one of the first we did together, and reflects that. So that’s what we did. Here’s the new cover we came up with:

Mars cover

And here’s the old cover we did back in 2011, for the sake of comparison:

Mars: A Traveler's Guide

I’d love feedback on the new cover! And if you’ve already read the the story, so much the better. 🙂