Happy November!

Happy November

 

November is finally upon us, and that means we only have 61 days until the New Year!

I’ve been moving steadily along with my goals. In fact, I disappeared from social media for a bit while I released my new book, All of Nothing.

Here’s the lovely cover:

All of Nothing Paperback Cover

I did the entire cover in Canva, and I bought the photo on Canstockphoto for seven dollars. It’s not very fancy, but I do take pride in the fact that I did it myself. and it printed just as nicely as it looks online. It’s in KU, and I’m running a free promotion on it November 9th. It will be included in the Freebooksy newsletter that day. Because¬† I tried a Bargain Booksy on Wherever He Goes that didn’t do too well, I’m also putting that book for free that day to see if I can’t piggyback some downloads from All of Nothing‘s promotion.

As an early birthday present, a dear friend of mine gifted me a Mac and the formatting software Vellum. I was very excited in that since I had been doing all my own formatting, I could replace the interiors of all my books, and that’s what I’ve spent the last three days doing for Summer Secrets, my erotica novella series, and my Tower City Romance Trilogy. Because formatting is so easy with it, I put together a box set of my trilogy, so that is finally being offered on Amazon as well.

Nothing is ever easy though, and since I was doing the covers and insides, I went ahead and moved my trilogy over from CS to KDP Print. I hadn’t done that yet, so I wanted to get it all out of the way.

The second book in my series got lost in the conversion, and it took KDP four days to find it. It was over the weekend, and they did eventually restore it, so I was grateful for that. ūüôā If you haven’t moved your books over yet, I recommend you do so. My book was still for sale on Amazon, so it didn’t completely disappear, but it’s better to get all that taken care of sooner rather than later.

But I did redo the covers for Summer Secrets, being that I’m a bit better at covers now, and I redid the box set I created, inside and out. Though someone pointed out a typo on the first line of the first paragraph, {rolling eyes hard here} I’m still very happy with they turned out:

 

 

It wasn’t a big change, but I think it’s a step in the right direction, nonetheless. I didn’t get so different with my trilogy, so I won’t post them here. But I did redo them in Canva, which gives them a higher quality than when I used to do my covers in Word. A very warm shoutout to my friend Aila Stephens who told me about Canva so long ago. She’s just starting up a blog series about covers herself, so make sure you follow her blog for indie tips and publishing tips!

Anyway, so next up for me is my May/December romance that I’m already 8,000 words into. I’m so excited for this book! I’ve been thinking about a May/December romance for a long time now, and I was delighted when a plot popped into my head. All of Nothing is over 80,000 words long, and I don’t think Matthew and Zia (my book doesn’t have a title yet) will end up being quite so long. But I’m still excited to be mulling subplots and backstory as I get into writing.

 

This kind of sums up the whole story, and as a contemporary romance author, you know I’ll always dish up a nice happily ever after. I just make my characters go through hell to get there first.

In other news, I’m going to submit All of Nothing into the RITAs, a contest sponsored by the Romance Writers of America. The contest is open to both trad-pubbed and indie-pubbed authors, so in reality, I know I don’t stand a chance. But if my book could move on to a second round, or if the judges have some good feedback for me, I’d consider it a success. At any rate, it something I’m going to try, and I think¬†All of Nothing is a solid book. It’s getting good feedback already, and my betas didn’t have anything bad to say about it. So, wish me luck!

Along with entering the contest, you also have to judge books in the first round, so I’ll be needing to dig out my Kindle and settle in for some serious reading coming up. Which suits, because I’m going to have carpal and cubital tunnel surgery on my left hand/elbow in the middle of January. I’m going to try to get Matthew and Zia at least written by then, so while I recover I can do some small edits. It will do me good to rest my hands while I help in the judging of the first round. I’m very much enjoying being part of the romance writing community!

What else is going on? NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! I won’t play, I haven’t played for a couple years now, but I may meet up with my group. Sometimes it’s nice to see people in person, talk shop. Catch up. I used to work with a couple of the members, so it will be fun to see them, too. But after the colder weather hits (I’m in MN) it gets harder to get out of the house. Even for pie and coffee at the local coffee shop.

I guess that’s all I have to report! I hope you all are doing well, and tell me what your end of the year goals are! Remember, you have 61 days! Do your best!

2019 is right around the corner! What do you have left to do in 2018_

 

Drop me a comment, and have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of Don’t Run Away’s Cover

They say your cover is the most important part of your book. I don’t know who “they” are, or if that’s necessarily true, but your cover is important. It needs to convey your genre, it needs to be eye-catching. The font for your title and author name needs to look professional, yet suited to your genre.

This is a tall order if you want to do it yourself. Way back when I was new at this, I didn’t know as much as I do now, and I was adamant that indies could do their own covers. And you can. You should.

But let’s step back and figure out what a “good” cover is.

I wrote¬†Don’t Run Away as a NaNoWriMo project in 2015. After I released¬†Summer Secrets, I started editing it, I mean, really editing it, so that it was publishable. I took out all the head-hopping, the mixed up POVs, and I turned it into the book that’s going to be released on the 18th. So for the year I spent editing, I blogged about the publishing process and making your own cover. While I blogged about making your own cover, I came up with some doozies, that were, ah, well. See for yourself.

blog post 1

Yeah. I blogged about creating this cover. Did I say that I liked it? No. Am I embarrassed that I put something like that on the internet? Yes. But that was naivety and inexperience. Cover design takes practice and a good eye.

Did it get better? No.

back cover blurb

Then I came up with this piece of crap. Yeah, it’s better than that pink monstrosity above, but I would never buy a book that had this for a cover.

Luckily for me, lots of time went by, and I took a break.

When I was nearer to publication, I came up with this:

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And that’s not so bad. I even would have maybe used this. But the problem was, or is, is that¬†Don’t Run Away is book one of a trilogy, so not only did I need to make one cover, I needed to keep in mind that I needed two other covers, and they needed to look like they belonged together.

I came up with these two for books two and three:

I mean, as far as covers go, they aren’t that bad. But ultimately, I turned all three of them down because, in the end, I felt the couples looked fake. When you look through sites like www.canstock.com or www.dreamstime.com there are three different categories of people. Real people:

canstockphoto11400894

You don’t want real people on your cover. I think this is where a lot of indies go wrong. Real people aren’t models, and the photographer didn’t touch up the photograph to make it look less real. I suppose if you found the perfect person, you could run the photo through some filters, modify it somehow so that she doesn’t look like a real person giving you a goofy look through some weeds. But you definitely have to do something to it. That’s where the pink “hell no” cover at the beginning of this post comes from. Real people don’t work.

The second category of people on stock sites are real, but they look better than real.

canstockphoto15361212

She looks good, ya know? She looks like model material, but approachable. The photographer added some sunlight. Depending on your genre, these make perfect covers.

The third category of people are fakes:

woman-grass-young-outdoors-fashion-portrait-style-boho-40902938

There’s a genre for actual models (erotica and porn), and I didn’t need anything like her for my covers. I needed my couples approachable. My characters aren’t billionaires, they aren’t sheiks, or princes, or even CEOs. My characters hold down-to-earth jobs and have real people problems. I needed my covers to convey that.

So I did manage to find this couple, and I was lucky to find two other couples that looked like they were taken by the same person. Two of them were, but the third was taken by someone else. I probably won’t write anymore trilogies, but if you do, or even a duet, or even more than three, make a plan for your covers because it’s a pain in the ass to change them. Not only do you have to go through the submission process again for CreateSpace, if you use IngramSpark, they charge you for every change you make. And you have to remember to change your cover on Goodreads, too. (Which isn’t the best because your old cover will always be attached to your book on the book’s page.)

Here are the three I chose for my covers:

canstockphoto11573436 (2)canstockphoto38274429 (2)canstockphoto46133644 (1)

I also decided to make the whole picture wrap onto the spine and back cover, so the position of the couple was important too.

Here’s how¬†Don’t Run Away turned out:

don't run away cover

I’m pretty proud of it. And it turned out nice in person (ignore how goofy looking he is):

IMG_9499IMG_9500IMG_9501

Of course, even when you find the perfect picture, you need to play with font, where everything will go, that kind of thing. At first my cover looked like this:

Don't Run Away Experiment

And I didn’t have any qualms about it. But after the proof came in the mail, I realized the title was way too big. It didn’t need to be that large. My friend Gareth made the crack that, what, I didn’t need people be able to see it from outer space? No, I didn’t. So I fixed it, but then the spine was off:

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I was tempted to leave it, but I couldn’t. So again, I sent it in to be fixed, and it came back okay.

I guess my point is, covers go through an evolution of sorts, and it’s never too late to start playing around with fonts and photos.

Look around at other covers and see what’s popular in your genre. Maybe even see if other covers are using the same people you’re thinking about using.

I found this nice one while looking around:

fake running to love

The site selling it wanted $50.00 for it. I’m sorry, but I like mine better, and it was free. Well, did pay http://www.canstock.com five credits for the picture, which turned out to be around 4 dollars. The fonts I used were all allowed for commercial use for free and I downloaded them from http://www.1001fonts.com/. Be careful if you use this site because some are for commercial use, and some are not.

That ends my cover adventure for Don’t Run Away. If you want to know how I used the photo for the spine and back cover, let me know. It’s fun, and it solves the problem of what to put on the back. Some people don’t care about the back since you’ll sell more e-reader versions, but still. If you ever do a book signing or a giveaway, perhaps on Goodreads, you’ll need a paperback version.

Let me know your thoughts!

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Why I Canceled my Twitter Chat

Last night I canceled my chat.

CANCELED

I think there was some surprise, and there was a little disappointment.¬† But I’ve been running it since April, and while it has been fun and I’ve made a lot of friends, I think I managed to get all that I could out of it.

Let me explain.

There are a lot of chats out there.

There are a gazillion chats on Twitter. You can find a chat on any day of the week, sometimes more than one, sometimes¬†even more than two or three or four.¬† There are only so many hours in the day, and writers are busy. When they decide to give up some writing time to participate in your chat, they are giving you a gift. But since there are so many chats on Twitter right now, I was finding it hard to compete.¬† And because there are so many chats on Twitter, it was hard to stay original. Finding topics and themes that weren’t being used by other Twitter chat hosts was impossible. (If you want a complete list of chats and Twitter writing games, look here. Mica does a wonderful job of keeping everything in order.)

I chose the wrong hashtag.

My chat never achieved the elevation of other chats. This isn’t me being whiny, I’m just stating a fact. I had my regulars, my friends who wanted to support me (thank you!), but in all the months I hosted, it never blew up to the epic proportions I wanted. I think this had a large part to do with my hashtag. #SmutChat was a chat for everyone, and I tried to make that clear. But I think lots of people avoided it because they thought we were going to talk about romance or sex, or only the Romance genre, or Erotica. Had I chosen a more generic hashtag, I may have seen more movement. Perhaps if I had chosen to go full-blown smut and only focused chats around that topic, I could have drawn in the romance and erotica writers. I tried to go down the middle of the road, and it didn’t work. That was my mistake.

I was going broke.

At the end of #SmutChat, I gave away a writing resource that tied in with the topic. To me, this was genius;¬†to everyone else . . . no one seemed to care all that much. In actuality, I had to plead with people to enter the giveaways, and there were never more than 6 or 7 people entering the giveaway at the end of every chat. There is¬†so much¬†free stuff on Twitter right now, the giveaway did nothing. I even had one person who won tell me they would get a hold of me when they found an address they were comfortable giving me. I offered the e-book version instead, but they said no. I can only take this to mean the person who won didn’t really want it to begin with, and that book is still sitting on my bookshelf. I didn’t mind spending money on the books and the shipping, but I was beginning to feel underappreciated. That’s no one’s fault but my own, being it was my idea to do the giveaways. I was hoping to set my chat apart from other peoples’ chats, but it didn’t work so well.

I have a publishing schedule I want to keep.

I have three books coming out in the next three months, and I have another book rumbling around in my head that I will write after my trilogy is released. Until they host one, no one can understand how time-consuming a chat is. They are a lot of work. Thinking up the topic, doing the graphics, tweeting about it. And that’s only the prep work. You have actually sit down and do the chat, and sometimes people will answer late, or the next day. As a courteous host, you want to try to touch base with everyone so I would be on the computer one or two hours after chat, and I would also answer tweets the day after. I know this is a counter-argument to the one where I wanted chat to grow even¬†bigger because I would have spent even more time on it. Maybe I would have felt all the time spent on chat would have been worth it then. I’m not belittling the people who did take the time to participate, but sometimes you have to decide if you want to go big or go home. I decided to go home.

Think about what you want to get out of your chat.

What do you want to achieve with a chat? I had chat twice a month, and I would say I spent about 12 hours a month on prepping and the hostessing. What do you want to gain out of giving up that time? Twitter followers? What will you do with your followers once you earn them? Twitter doesn’t sell books, so those followers you gain will do nothing but plump up your numbers. Are you holding a chat to add it to your platform? That was my initial reason. I was doing something tangible that would add to my social media platform. But there again, you’re building your platform to sell books, connect with readers. Putting on a chat doesn’t do that. If you want to just make friends and connect with your followers, then hosting a chat is for you. If you want anything else out of it, think about what else you could do instead. Blog more, put that time into building your website. Write. Having a platform doesn’t do you much good if you’re not writing and/or publishing. Can you get what you want out of a chat by participating in others’ chats? I think with the little bit of free time I’ve recouped from canceling mine, I will participate in a bigger chat where I can still make friends, talk about a topic I love.

In parting, you may think this was just a big whiny blog post about how my Twitter chat didn’t go well for me, and now I’m crying about it. I’m actually blogging about it so anyone who is thinking about starting a chat knows the pitfalls of hostessing/hosting a chat, and what it entails. I appreciate every. single. participant. of my chat, and I have made some wonderful friends during the months I hostessed.¬† I started chat in April of 2017, and I ended it right before NaNo and the holidays could take people away. I feel I ended it on a positive note, and I’ll still be doing chat, in my own way. I’ll be blogging about the topics I want to talk about, rather than holding a chat. I’m hoping this will drive some traffic to my website, and I’ll encourage comments at the end of my posts. Maybe this won’t work either, but like anything in life, if you don’t take risks, you won’t get anywhere. I took a chance with chat, and I enjoyed it. But you have to know when to cut your losses if something isn’t working. Good luck to those of you who want to start a chat. And I’m not disappearing–I’ll still be on Twitter a lot. I’ll participate in other chats and enjoy the hard work I know goes into one. I’ll let the hostess handle the rest.

Tell me what you think!

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#Smutchat Giveaway–NaNoWriMo

Thank you for participating in #smutchat tonight! I hope you had a great time talking about NaNoWriMo!

Tonight’s giveaways are Monsters by Gareth. S. Young and Book in a Month, the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. The other giveaway (yes! there are two winners tonight!) is¬†The Wolves of Dynamo also by Gareth S. Young, and Write Your Novel in a Month, how to complete a first draft in 30 days and what to do next by Jeff Gerke.

 

A special thank you to Gareth S. Young for his donation of his books! Please follow him on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and find him and his books on Amazon!

Thanks for playing, and have a wonderful weekend!

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It’s October! You Know What that Means!

It’s October first. Well, it might not be when you read this only because I’m a bit behind¬†with my whole life writing this post.

Anyway, so when you think of October, you think Pumpkin Spice Lattes, fall leaves, bonfires, hoodies. Halloween.

 

Oh, wait. We’re writers. October doesn’t mean any of those things,¬†right?

What does it mean then?

NaNoWriMo Prep Month! 

If you participate in NaNoWriMo, you are thinking about writing your 50,000 words in November.

nanowrimo2015-design-by-eric-nyffeler

Ideally, when you decide to participate, you’re supposed to take October and plan out your novel, right? Character arcs, plot. Anything you need to do to make writing your novel smoother, faster, better.

How many words a day to write 50,000 words in a month? 1,666. That’s not too bad.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

I  hate NaNoWriMo.

I tried it once, I even “won,” and I never want to play again.

I get that some people need the boost the competition provides. The camaraderie. A goal to work toward. The accountability.

But you know what? Let’s do a list. I feel like a list. I feel like coffee too, but let’s do a list first.

  1. I don’t need a contest to force myself to write. I think I write about this a little bit every now and then. I love to write. I love it. I love watching the words pile up, I love reading it over, editing, okay, I don’t love the editing part. But I love writing the blurb, formatting, making the cover. Releasing the book. I love the whole freaking entire process, and I don’t need to participate in a contest to make progress.
  2. I have a publishing schedule that doesn’t include NaNo. The year I played I set aside a book–I was almost done with it; I had only 20,000 words left to finish it. Hey, guess what. It’s still not done, and that was two years ago. It’s not a good idea to put aside work to play. When will you ever get back to it? Right. If you’re like a lot of indies, it will end up in your pile full of half-finished projects. And maybe that’s where your NaNo will end up too once you realize . . .
  3. . . . you’re in for a hella lot of editing. So, I get preachy, I probably too preachy for my own good considering my sales kinda suck. But let me tell you something, one day you’ll appreciate quality over quantity. Wouldn’t you rather have 30,000 amazing words than 50,000 so-so words by the end of the month? I would rather have 30,000 shiny pretty words that I know won’t need much work over any number of words that, in the end, just don’t make much sense.
  4. I get enough community from Twitter and my various FB groups to need NaNo. I could see maybe if you wanted to use the community as support if NaNo was all there was. But it’s not. There’re a ton of people on Twitter who will give you support, accountability. Tweet your daily word count, and trust me, there will be a few people who will congratulate you, no matter how many followers you have. There are a ton of FB writing groups. Heck, you can even start your own. How about support for the whole year, not just in November. That sounds pretty cool, too. Oh, and if you’re slow and you only do 5,000 words in November instead of 50,000, follow #turtlewriters on Twitter.
  5. There is too much going on in November to add this contest to it, too.¬† Why in the heck did the creators of NaNo choose November? Out all the boring old months to choose from (May, anyone) why November? Thanksgiving, my birthday, my daughter’s birthday, Black Friday, Christmas shopping, blizzards. Besides December, this is probably the worst month in the whole year for me.

I probably have more, but this is all I can think of right now. My main concern whenever someone says they need NaNo to write is that you shouldn’t “need” anything to write. You shouldn’t need anything but your determination to see your goals through and a passion so strong that it hurts if you don’t write.

live to write

 

Start your NaNo project today. How much can you do by the end of the November without needing to rush so much?

Do you like NaNo?  Let me know!

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