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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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):

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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:

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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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#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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The “What Makes a Best Seller” #SmutChat

Thanks for participating in #smutchat tonight! Also, thank you for putting up with erratic scheduling this week. I have a friend coming in from out of town next week, and rather than try to work around it, I gambled and changed the dates.

I’ve been busy this week trying to do some editing things for a friend and for myself so I can enjoy next week without worrying about unfinished business.

Anyway, thanks again for dropping by #smutchat! I’ll see you in two weeks!

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#SmutChat Traditional Publishing Giveaway

Today’s give away is Green-Light Your Book by Brooke Warner. Thank you for participating in chat tonight! I hope you had a great time!

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What Do You Say When People Ask You . . .

. . . why did you write/are writing your book?

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Some authors say their characters called to them and wouldn’t let them go. Some say a plot jumped into their head, and they had to get it down on paper before it disappeared. Some say it was part of a series/trilogy, etc. and they had no choice but to continue or abandon ship.

Why did I write Summer Secrets?

Because I’m insane.

That’s the short and easy explanation, but in reality, it’s much longer.

I had just come off from writing On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton. If you haven’t read it (and I know you haven’t because I can count the copies I’ve sold on my two hands and feet), you’ll know that it’s actually two novellas. One in the male’s point of view called 1700 Hamilton and the other novella is the same time frame but from the female’s point of view called On the Corner of Hamilton and Main. I know, completely crazy titles, and this was the new author in me—mistakes I won’t make again.

But I digress.

Anyway, so what I’m getting at is that writing novellas is fun, easy, and quick. I wrote on the weekends at work, transcribed once a week and actually had a life outside of writing, but I still felt like a writer. Writing novellas isn’t as daunting as writing full-length novels. By the time you reach 10,000 words, you’re halfway done. There’s something freeing about that—there isn’t so much pressure.

So, I kind of got sucked into writing novellas, and I wanted to write more.

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Conveniently, after 1700 was published, I was brainstorming with my friend Jewel, and we were talking about writing novella series. She had her own ideas, I had mine, and at work one day I outlined five novellas, characters and all.

This is where the insane part comes in.  I didn’t realize how long it would take me to actually write five. I’d just signed away five to six months of my life. But hell yeah, it sounded like fun. How bad could it be?

It wasn’t that bad. But in the middle of the 5th novella, a character “called to me” (yep, I just wrote that) and I realized he needed his story told. So five novellas I’d estimated at about 20,000 words a piece turned into 6 novellas, and after it was all said and done, turned out to be almost 160,000 words.

It takes a lot of time to edit 160,000 words. It takes a lot of time for someone else to edit 160,000 words. Let’s not mention formatting them and designing covers.

Never mind losing six months, I lost a whole year. On novellas.

But damn, are they good.

See, that’s why I can’t regret writing them. They are well-written, they are all part of the same story, told chronologically, and I learned so much writing them and editing them that I could never feel bad that I decided to do it.

Maybe I’ll be a little sad if they don’t sell—but I won’t be too worried about it, either. They are not the genre in which I want to keep writing, so building an audience won’t do be a lot of good unless they want to branch out as readers.

Never feel bad about what you’re writing. Somehow, some way, your project will serve a purpose.

What are you writing about and how did you decide to start?

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Things I Learned So Far This Summer About Writing:

I’ve had an interesting summer so far. Here are some of the highlights:

Don’t fight with CreateSpace.
I didn’t have the knowledge to bend CreateSpace to my will.

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This doesn’t mean that I never will, but I had to back down on things I wanted in favor of time and simplicity. Does that mean I won’t try again? Nope. I’m tenacious like that. But I may have more patience with a project that hasn’t been staring at me in the face for a year.

I can’t wait to try Amazon Ads!
I’m reading Mastering Amazon Ads by Brian D. Meeks. He’s hilarious and makes trying the ads sound profitable and so much fun. He discusses using them in a way that does not make them sound costly or scary at all. Unfortunately, you cannot use AMS (Amazon Marketing Services)  for erotica so I won’t be able to use them for Summer Secrets. But watch out when I release my Tower City Romance trilogy!

I get bored easily.
This may sound blasphemous to writers who are so in love with their characters they never want to let them go. Not me. I’m 7,500 words into the third (and last) Tower City Romance book and I just want it done already. It could be because the first in the trilogy was a NaNoWriMo project I’ve spent two years fixing. So these characters have been with me for a while. Regardless, I’m ready for new characters, new plots, and new adventures.

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My #smutchat participants were tired of chatting about the writing craft.
Last Thursday I had the best chat ever. We talked about building your writer’s platform and it was a big hit. It was my most popular chat though I am still having trouble persuading people to enter the drawing for the writing resource. I may need to do a poll and see if an e-reader version would be a better bet. Maybe people don’t value a paperback as much as I do, or maybe people are hesitant to give me their mailing address. Nevertheless, it was a great chat, and I am so grateful everyone had fun.

whatsapp-interface-1660652_1280Summer is 66% over, and I am right where I want to be writing-wise.
I finished Summer Secrets, and I’m on track to publish my Tower City Romance trilogy in the fall. Maybe not all three–but releasing them even a month apart gives me more time than I need to finish the last and start the stand-alone I want to write and release very early next year.

The sun shining outside isn’t the only thing looking bright.

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Tell me how your summer’s been going!

#Smutchat Conflict Giveaway

Thank you for participating in #smutchat! I hope you’re having fun and maybe picking up some writing tips and tricks as we go along.

Today’s giveaway is Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan (@BrynDonovan ). She has a lovely website too–check it out here.

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As always, this giveaway is open internationally. Good luck! You’ll love this book!

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