LIKE MILES LEFT YET? TRY FOREVER FINLEY

51dhmvjqm1l-_sy346_First, I have to thank you guys for grabbing copies of MILES LEFT YET. I originally released the book in ’16, and it’s always been one of my faves, but it just never managed to get in the hands of as many readers as I’d hoped. A new cover, a little advertising, and voila! It’s finally starting to get out in the world. In the last month, I moved triple the entire lifetime sales of the book.

But ads alone don’t give a book legs. I know this book is starting to move because of word-of-mouth with my readers. So I have to take a moment to thank anyone who has personally recommended the read.

 

A New Request

If you enjoyed MILES LEFT YET, I do hope you’ll take a moment to leave a review on Amazon. Just a sentence or two helps tremendously. Right now, the book’s reviews on Amazon remain fairly low. Upping the number of reviews will help me expand into a new round of advertising, getting the book into the hands of new readers, who can work their magic again with word-of-mouth.

I can’t emphasize enough how much authors appreciate reviews…

Like Norma? Keep reading!

Haunted creek

If you liked Norma (who emerges, I think, as the real star of MILES LEFT YET), please do check out FOREVER FINLEY. This one centers on the mystical small town of Finley, the town the Norma drives into at the end of MILES. FOREVER FINLEY is an “episodic novel,” meaning that it’s constructed of loosely connected, stand-alone stories. Each story works together to culminate to the book’s magical conclusion. A new cast of characters is introduced in FOREVER FINLEY, but Norma makes an appearance fairly early on (you’ll find her in the stories titled “Dearest March…” and “A Hundred Julys”).

 

I’ve also done a little repackaging of FOREVER FINLEY–new cover, etc.–and to celebrate, I’ve reduced the price of the e-book to $1.99 temporarily. It’s available as a wide release at:

Amazon

Kobo

B&N

iBooks

I’ve also got a few signed paperback editions of FOREVER FINLEY at my Etsy store!

I hope you’ll decide to spend some time in the town of Finley. It’s become one of my own favorite places to visit.

INDIE / SELF PUBLISHING TIP: COVER ART FOR BEGINNERS

I still bump into indie or self publishers who are hesitant to create their own cover art. The task of creating a cover often seems far more daunting than actually writing a book. Each author has to weigh the pros and cons of farming out certain jobs when taking on self-publishing, and every author knows his or her own abilities. But I do think cover art creation can be not only a rewarding activity for indie publishers, but an informative one, too.

For those who have decided they’d like to take the cover art plunge, a few tips or ideas:

At its simplest, an e-book cover is an image with a few words on it. That’s it. To start out, a professional-looking cover can be had for a pretty small amount of money (under $50—most of my covers range around $30). All you need is an image and a font.

BUY A STOCK PHOTO

This is how most traditionally published covers are created, actually. (It’s also why you sometimes see the same image on multiple covers by different authors or publishers.) I usually frequent Shutterstock or iStock, where you can get a quality image for around $15.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A STOCK PHOTO

If you’re new to image editing, try to grab a photo that needs the least amount of work done to it. Refine your search for photos composed vertically (the natural shape of a book), and look for large open areas in the photo where your title and your name can be placed.

My own covers for MILES LEFT YET and ALL ROADS are stock images I found using this method—neither required any editing on my part beyond adding text:

GET A FONT

Don’t use the fonts already installed on your computer. Times New Roman does not convey any feelings regarding what’s in your book. I mean it—GET A FONT. You can actually find fonts that are free for commercial use (just Google it), but I’ve also found some really great, paid professional fonts on both Etsy and Creative Market. I’ve paid as little as $2 for a font, but I’d say $10 is pretty average. And it feels good to support another creative person who is independently selling their products online.

ACTUALLY, GET TWO FONTS

Rarely do I use a single font for a cover. (MILES LEFT YET may be the one instance I did). Think in terms of opposites for your fonts—try a script or cursive looking font combined with a sans serif. Again, fonts have personality—every bit as much as the image you choose! Be sure to reflect the content of your novel with your font. A good way to get a handle on appropriate fonts used for different genres is to either hit the shelves of your library or do a quick Amazon search. Examples: Romance novels have more calligraphy-style fonts, horror novels have drippy blood fonts, thrillers often use bold sans serif fonts, kids’ books frequently use childlike handwriting, etc.

USE A PHOTO EDITING PROGRAM

It doesn’t have to be Photoshop, especially if all you want to do is plug in text. GIMP is a perfectly good photo editor—and it’s completely free. It’s also fairly widely used, so if you ever get stuck, you can simply search for a how-to vid on YouTube.

That’s literally all it takes. A stock photo, a couple of fonts, and a program like GIMP. Of course, as you go along, you’ll have additional needs and ideas. You’ll begin to look for different stock photos that you can then edit / splice together, etc. You might even begin to take your own photos for covers. You’ll begin using Photoshop. But this is a great, low-cost way to get started. And the good news is that because you have used a professional photo and a professional font, your cover winds up intrinsically looking, well, professional—even if you’re not a professional designer.

THE NUMBER ONE ADVANTAGE OF SELF-DESIGN

You learn. I’ve actually learned far more through indie publishing than I have through traditional publishing. Not just about covers, either, although that’s been part of it. Some covers will hit and others won’t—since you’re in control, and since you spent little money to begin with, switching a cover isn’t going to break the bank. Doing it yourself means you’re adding design skills and promotional skills to your résumé (and yes, covers are promotional objects).

Now, get out there and design a cover!