I feel that I have already written too much of late about my new book covers, but it is a very important strategy in my plans for the future
I have quite a few books, but most of them were written years ago and the covers are stale. So, they need replacing. There is no argument about that. However, at what pace?
Obviously, cost is a constraint. People say that the benefits that the new covers will bring in… increased revenue… will pay for future investment. However, it doesn’t always work like that. Returns can be slower than hoped for.
Unexpected Results of Cover Changes
This can be because old customers don’t recognise the new covers or series formats. The benefits of change can be slow to accrue. Slower than hoped for, or expected anyway.
One thing that keeps me hopeful though is that I receive compliments on my new book covers several times a week, and mostly from people I don’t know.
That is encouraging, because even using the best cover design company in the world, it is a big step to rebrand… expensive too.
The company that I use allows an infinite number of remakes, but, which is perfect for the novice, even if a little embarrassing. It is far better to have thought about what information you want your new book cover to display beforehand. My tip is get a book off your shelf that is ‘similar’ to yours, ie if yours is in a series use one from a series as an example to copy.
My New Book Covers Checklist
So, my checklist for book cover design is: you will need the book title and your name for a start. Other options include: a subtitle, a series name, the number of the book in the series, and collaborators. Then on the back cover: a description or blurb, an author bio (and photo?), the title(s) (again?), and the cover designer. All the while remembering that you will need to leave enough room for the barcode.
Check out where I buy my new book covers on this link:
Yes, I usually read either historical or science fiction novels. When I read a book, I want to be transported out of normal daily life to places I’ve never been to.
Do you write in the same genre? :
My first novel is science fiction. I decided to write the sort of book that I would want to read. I realised that if I set my novel in the future, there would be no constraint on the sort of society I could put my characters in. I could create a whole world and a different way of living unlike contemporary society and take my characters to unusual places and situations. I wanted to create a world that would stretch the imagination and pose questions about the way people live, the things they do and why. Science fiction enables the author more freedom to do this than setting a book in the past or present.
Have you always written and what got you started professionally? :
I’ve always wanted to write a novel but never had the time until recently. I’ve had a busy career and first tried my hand at writing short stories for women’s magazines several years ago. I wasn’t very successful, primarily because women’s fiction isn’t a genre I particularly enjoy. I eventually woke up to the fact that what I really wanted to write was science fiction which I hadn’t tried before. As I was still working it took me some time to write my first novel and it is only within the last year that I’ve been able to give up the “day job” to focus on writing.
How many books have you published? :
Crater’s Edge is my first novel.
Why did you write Crater’s Edge and what is it about? :
I wanted to write an exciting adventure story that readers would enjoy on one level, but at the same time the book explores serious issues on a deeper level. The story is set in 2235 on a planet that is being colonised. As there is restricted space, the characters live in two different time zones. My main characters are an engineer, Kalen and a geologist, Sera. Kalen’s job is to trouble-shoot mining problems, but when he is sent to the new construction site at Three-Craters, things begin to unravel. All is not as it seems. Kalen’s search for the truth about the problems on the site, end up taking him on a dangerous journey. The book explores love, betrayal and treason. Kalen has a hard time! By the end of the book, everything is revealed, but I’ve tried to keep the reader guessing.
Crater’s Edge by Lucy Andrews
ISBN – 10 162526674X (UK); ISBN – 13 978-1625266743 (US); ASIN – B07771GBBN
What would you like your next book to be on? :
I’m writing a sequel to Crater’s Edge. Although Crater’s Edge is complete in itself, I thought it would be fun to take the story to the next level. Things are going to get pretty nasty for my characters. I’ve got a great storyline and I’ve dreamt up some very frightening challenges for them.
If you could go anywhere in the universe, where would you go and why? :
I would like to experience weightlessness, so I could feel something akin to being able to fly. A closer view of the Milky Way would be wonderful.
Is there anything you can share about yourself or your work that not many people know? :
I spent many summer weekends for over ten years playing a musketeer and can load and fire a 17th century match-lock musket in under 30 seconds. That is a reproduction musket not an original one!
What is your favourite foreign food? :
I love Thai Pad Si-Ew
Thank you, Lucy Andrews for sharing that information with us.
I review crime books, so that makes up the bulk of my reading. I’m partial to police procedurals and psychological thrillers, darker than what I write.
4. Do you write in the same genre? If not which one?
I do write mysteries, a mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural over two series, so my reading is also helping me keep up with the curve of what’s popular with readers.
5. Have you always written and what got you started professionally?
I knew I wanted to writer from an early age and wrote everything from poetry to essays during a 30 year nursing career. I studied various forms and experimented, did journalism during that period for a nursing journal. By the time I was ready to change careers and write full time, I’d settled on mysteries because that’s what I enjoy reading the most. During that turnover period, I wrote interview articles for “Mystery Review” magazine and learned from many of the authors whose work I read. Good training!
6. How many books have you published?
I have four in The Nora Tierney English Series and one in the newer Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. I’m writing the second one in the Trudy series right now, and then will go back to Nora #5 and continue to alternate them. I’m also co-author of a non-fiction primer on finding your writing group, Writing in a Changing World.
7.Which one would you like to tell us about?
The Golden Hour: Nora Tierney is an American writer living in England who’s left the magazine job that took her to the UK to write children’s books. Nora feels she and her young son are being stalked, at the same time her partner, DI Declan Barnes, is investigating the death of a young art conservator at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. How the two threads intersect provide the twisted plot.
Ausma Khan says the books is “…A meditation on love, loss and motherhood, The Golden Hour blends touchingly real domesticity with tongue-in-cheek humor, as the backdrop to a tale of art theft, germ warfare, and international conspiracy…Add to this is a wonderful sense of place—Bath, Brighton and Oxford are vividly rendered and charmingly true to life. Come for the crackling mystery, stay for the steady companionship of debonair detective Declan Barnes and feisty heroine, Nora Tierney, who offers warmth and smarts in equal measure.”
8. Why did you write this book book and what is it about?
What makes The Golden Hour different from the first three Nora Tierney mysteries is that I deliberately decided to take a darker turn with it. First, I didn’t want followers of the series to feel they were always reading the same book. And second, I felt I wanted to do something different to stretch myself as a writer. In the first 3 Nora’s and in the first Trudy, I’ve been exploring something that fascinates me: what makes a seemingly normal person feel it’s reasonable to cross that line and commit murder? What motivates a person to convince themselves to do that?
But in The Golden Hour, readers know up front who’s the bad guy. This one is not a Whodunit? but more of a Cantheystophim? A psychopath has launched a plan to take down the people of Great Britain, whom he loathes. He has the financial resources and contacts to make this happen, too, but his anger blinds him to how far people will go to protect those they love.
This is the first time I’ve written a psychopath, and to my surprise, I had great fun creating the evil Viktor Garanin. Readers learn the roots of why Viktor has hatched his plan. The theme revolves around ‘what is family?’ and who composes it as we take risks to make that happen.
The next book will be a Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, and is titled Death of an Heiress. Trudy has what was my favorite real nursing job during that career, working as a medical consultant for a NY movie studio. It’s the series my mentor, P D James, insisted I write, as she felt readers love a behind-the-scenes look at jobs they don’t know a lot about. The first in the series, Death Unscripted, is dedicated to her.
In the second, Trudy is working on a television film being shot at the famed Dakota apartment building on the Upper West Side, familiar to most people who are not New Yorkers as the place where John Lennon lived and died. In fact, Yoko Ono still lives there. In the story, the actress Trudy’s hired to watch over is in the early stages of a difficult pregnancy when she disappears. In reality The Dakota does not allow filming, but in Trudy’s world they do.
11. If you could go anywhere in the universe, where would you go and why?
I’d always go back to England. My husband and I will be there for two weeks this summer (2018) for setting research for me for the next two Nora books, mainly in Cambridge and Cornwall. I try to get there every other year, and sometimes attend St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference in Oxford, the longest running conference of its kind in the UK. When I visit England, I feel as if I’m coming home and I used to joke that I’d lived there in another life. Then this Christmas my husband got us DNA kits. I always thought I was half German and half Italian in my roots. I am 17% of each of those, but to my enormous surprise, I am 20% British!
12. Is there anything you can share about yourself or your work that not many people know?
I’ve already told you I was a nurse before writing full time, which surprises many people. I read 2-3 books a week for my crime review blog, but when not reading or writing, I’m wrapped up in my two pups. My husband and I love dogs, and currently have two Australian Labradoodles, Seamus and Fiona. They wrestle and play together, sleep entwined, and have the sweetest nature. I highly recommend this breed, and they don’t shed!
13. What is your favourite foreign food?
That’s a tough one. With my Italian heritage, I’m fond of pastas and pizzas and tend to go there first. But I also like Greek and Mexican. I’ll even eat Indian. Must I choose?
14. Have you ever accidentally called your spose/partner by the name of a character in your latest book and if so what was his or her reaction?
While I haven’t called Doc by a character name, we did get into a bit of difference over a male character. In the first Nora book, The Blue Virgin, Nora is close to her illustrator, Simon Ramsey, who loves her. But she’s just ended an engagement, only to have the fiancé die a few days later in a plane crash; three weeks later she finds she’s pregnant. So her emotions are all over the place. When she meets DI Declan Barnes, sparks fly but she’s in no place to start a relationship.
In further books once it became clear that Nora and Simon would be loving friends but nothing more than that, Doc read the first draft and told me I’d gotten it wrong, that Nora had to end up with Simon! I finally said to him: “You must think Simon is modeled on you, but he’s not!” He’s since gotten over it . . .
You will be able to read more about M. K. Graff’s The Golden Hour on this blog when I have finished the review (soon).
You will be able to access details of M. K. Graff’s The Golden Hour on this site when the relevant page goes up (soon).
I am writing this article because I was listening to a famous reader telling a story by a very famous writer and I struggled to stick the fifteen-minute instalment, although it was the first and despite the fact that the title was fascinating, the cover image beguiling and the reader’s voice was mesmerising. So, what was the problem?
I have been thinking about that all day.
First of all, I have to say that the original story – a novel – had been abridged for a five part radio series, and I haven’t read the original. However, I think I have pinpointed the problem for me.
It is all fur coat and no knickers, as they used to say in the UK a few decades ago. It was all gloss, but no substance.
I don’t know whether this is the fault of the original writer or the one who abridged it, but it doesn’t really matter, as I am talking about a principle, a concept.
I guess there are several valid answers and many nuances to the question: Why do you read a story? However, my answer is always to be enthralled in a fascinating storyline.
The clue there is in the word ‘story’.
If I get the slightest whiff of the writer showing off, I lose interest.
What I really mean here is that when the story becomes more a vehicle for the writer to provide evidence of his verbal dexterity than telling an interesting story, I don’t want to know.
Descriptions, unless necessary, are paddling.
In my case, because this is very subjective, I want to know what happens next, not what shade of blue the heroine’s dress is to the nth degree, just because the writer is capable of describing blue dresses well.
He could be world-famous for it as far as I am concerned, but I ‘m not interested in his showing off his talent.
Just tell me whether the monster gets her and get on with it.
What do you think? Please leave your comments below.
My first novel as a ‘real writer’ was called ‘Behind The Smile’, but it was not my first experience in self-publishing, since I had already created over 150 web sites and a hundred-odd ‘How To…’ manuals plus a book of my father’s automatic writings.
However, I did feel that publishing my very own first novel was something entirely different. Or at least, it was for me anyway, because I had always created a web site or a ‘How to…’ book and slipped them gently into the world without any fuss, just hoping that they would be noticed, which, in general, worked on a small scale.
However, as I said above, a novel is something entirely different. A novel is something personal. A writer expresses a lot of personality in a novel and so, it needs to be promoted in a more personal way.
Not only that, but there are millions of novels (self) published every year, so if an author does not make a superhuman effort, it will be hard to sell even a few hundred copies. You need to express yourself in your ad campaigns or you will miss your niche audience.
It is also true that people tend to like to read new novels, so you need to hit the public soon after publication. In general, it is only ‘old masters’ that sell well years later.
Now, two years after my first novel, I can see that I was hugely naive when I started. I actually thought that starting and then finishing the book was the problem for a would-be writer! Can you believe it?
In those far-off days, it had never crossed my mind that actually selling it would be harder. It took me five years to write my first book and when it was done, I thought: ‘Well, what now?’
Look around for an agent and / or a publisher, I thought and then it is job done!
What an idiot!
I went down the traditional rote of a writer and received three refusals. I could have lived with that, but it took 13 months to be refused! I could see my life slipping away before me without my getting anywhere. So I decided to go it alone.
It was only then that I realised how many other writers there were out there and it was scary. There are thousands and thousands of us! And all with the same problem.
What a lot of broken dreams and wasted talent!
So, I self-published. Not the old-style vanity self-publishing though. I used Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle and another one, Lulu, as well as others.
That was a huge learning curve too, but not insurmountable by any means.
I was as pleased as Punch. People could now buy my book in both print and ebook formats from at least two sources. Yes! I felt on top of the world. I even had hardbacks enabled through Lulu – hardbacks!
I sat back and waited for people to buy.
It soon became apparent that having books for sale did not mean that people knew that or would buy them. The publishers and distributors want to sell books, but they will not favour you over anyone and best sellers come first anyway – certainly not a ‘who was that again?’
Another hard lesson. So I created a web site and a blog for the book and for myself as an author, which gave me two chances of being found and also allowed future books to be linked to me as a hub.
That tactic increased sales a lot, but not enough for me, so I wrote articles on the background of the characters and posted them to the sites. It all had beneficial effects, but it was still not enough.
So, I started accounts at Facebook and other social media sites and linked them all together. I incorporated apps (custom LIKE and other buttons) into my Facebook pages which further helped and then a newsletter with an autoresponder and several (legal) Twitter accounts all funneling people who might like my book to read the first chapter free of charge.
It was a long, bumpy road for me, but I hope that it will be a smoother one for you.
I have written and self-published more than a hundred books, so it came as quite a surprise to me the other day when a good friend and author of four excellent books told me that he found authorship in the form of self-publishing on his own daunting and confusing. It seemed so straight-forward to me, but it got me thinking.
If my intelligent, Internet-savvy friend found self-publishing on his own difficult, how many other authors must be having the same problem with self publishing by themselves as well?
I suppose it’s quite obvious really. We all have our blind spots, don’t we? Some people can’t even boil an egg, mend a car or write a book, so it stands to reason that some people won’t be able to understand how to self-publish a book on their own via the Internet too. I suppose the problem is a mixture of technology and terminology. If you don’ understand the instructions that you are reading, how can you do what they are telling you to do?
As it happened, I was in the final stage of writing a novel, so when it came to publishing, self-publishing, it, I described exactly what I was doing so that other writers could easily follow the process. When that book was published, I wrote the whole process down and followed the narrative to publish that manual on self-publishing.
I am happy to report that my instructions, help and advice allowed the publication of that reference manual to be achieved without let or hindrance!
So, there you have it, there is now a brand-new book on the market which will take you through the process of authorship and self-publishing step by step. However, there is not only one route to self-publication, since there are two sorts of books these days and two major printer/publishers for the do-it-yourself author. Not to mention the four of five major distributors that you must have your book with in order to have a chance of selling it to many people.
The two types of book are, of course, print books and ebooks. Before you pooh-pooh ebooks, let me say that Amazon reported in 2010 that it had sold more ebooks than paperbacks for the first time ever and that it could only foresee that trend increasing. The two printer/publishers available to self-publishing authors are Amazon and Lulu. Amazon creates and sells print books via CreateSpace and ebooks via Kindle, both of which are owned by Amazon.
The other major distributors of books and ebooks are: Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Nook, Smashwords and XinXii. All of these outlets require a different form of book or ebook. The format of print books and ebooks is completely different anyway, but Kindle, Lulu, Smashwords and XinXii each have different requirements for ebooks too, so if you want to be with them, you will need to know what they want.
This reference manual sets out the requirements of each of these outlets and describes, step by step, what you have to do to format your book’s text to meet them. Anyone, no matter how a-technical, can be a self-publisher on his own with the help of this book.
On Wednesday this week, my wife and I had to make our quarterly journey to Laos for a Thai visa. We both hope that it will be our last, because, well, we’ve made the trip six or eight times now and it has become tiresome. Twelve hours on coaches is not our idea of fun any more. Nor is getting ripped off at borders and embassies.
Somehow, the Lao Border Agency has decided that it will charge $30 for an entry visa or 1,500 Thai baht. Now, there are 30 baht to the dollar so, that is obviously not right, is it?
Anyway, there is always something to talk about on one of these trips to Laos for a Thai visa. This trip went very well actually with no discernible delays. We did not have to wait more than ten minutes longer than expected for any of our six connections.
Six each way that is, of course, because you cannot just get on a bus and go to Laos for a Thai visa, you need three buses and three taxis each way. One of the buses was really funny, well, it would have been even funnier, if it hadn’t risked the lives of the forty-odd people aboard with carbon monoxide poisoning.
It started with a rumble and a whine not far to the right, behind and below me. The driver and the conductor obviously knew what was going on, because the bus slowed to a crawl and his mate came back with a large spanner.
He lifted a panel in the flooring, clipped it up and then lay down flat in the aisle with his hands in the hold. The exhaust smoke that had been being taken away by the slipstream was now billowing up into the bus and everyone was coughing and spluttering.
The noise of the engine was pretty loud too. I don’t know why they did not stop and let us all off, but then, I suppose everyone was wondering that too. I have never seen anything like that ever before.
Laos for a Thai Visa
The hotel was one we had stayed in a few times before. It is family-owned and run and they remembered us. However, this time we had to have a room where the window offered a splendid view of the wall of the house next door, which was less than a foot away.
It wasn’t even painted, but as we were only there for one night we did not want to cause a fuss and embarrass people by jumping ship. The next morning, we both wished that we had though.
We had kept the bathroom light on all night as a kind of night lamp and a beacon to guide us on the way to the toilet, but when we went down to breakfast, we had to take our room key out of the holder which turned all the electricity off.
When we returned and replaced the key, the first thing I saw was a 3″x1″ cockroach cleaning its mandibles on my toothbrush. “Look at that!” I said to my wife, “I would never share my toothbrush!”
She looked at me straight-faced and said: “It’s your fault for not cleaning it properly, isn’t it?”
My fault that there were cockroaches in the hotel? And I’d only been there for twelve hours! As if it would not have been so bad, if the cockroach had just clambered up onto my toothbrush, licked it, found no food, had a crap and gone away disappointed!
The highlight of the trip to Laos for a Thai visa for me was meeting a lovely retired Norwegian gentleman in a restaurant near the hotel. He was enjoying his beer, a man after my own heart, and said that it was one of the great pleasures of travelling to sample the different local beers.
I couldn’t agree more.
Anyway, we got talking and I somehow told him that I was a writer. When my pen ran out of ink, I was writing between conversations, he offered to swap my useless 15c Biro for his far better one. It was to be his souvenir, he said. He also looked up my trilogy ‘Behind The Smile’ on his iPad and ordered the first volume there and then.
I shook his hand when I left and really meant it, because he had made my trip to Laos for a Thai visa worth while.