Monthly Archives: April 2014

The thing about book covers

PARADISE  Jason K. Lewis

So, I have learned a lot in the last year. When I look back and think how little I knew about self publishing when I started down the road in March 2013, it is astonishing how much has changed. I have to admit that I am still a relative newbie though and as such can make mistakes (No! I hear you cry, surely not?).

I published my first novelette ‘Paradise’ just over two weeks ago now, having spent what felt like an age getting everything right (I think). I edited, re-edited and then sent it off to a professional editor and then edited it again myself before deciding it was ready for release. I then did something very, very dumb. I decided that a book cover concept that I had been working on, which was really rather quirky (check it out for yourself here) was suitable for use when the book was released.

I pressed the publish button and congratulated myself on a job well done. I got really lucky on the first day when a reviewer purchased it and gave it a great review (check it out here). I was stupidly happy. Someone else bought the book the same day. Then…. nothing. I decided to take action and forwarded the book to a couple of reviewers. One agreed to review it and posted another great review (check it out here), again I was delighted and then…. nothing.

I know that it’s hard work to sell books as a self published author, so I took a few days off my ‘Paradise’ project and returned to the other, much larger work, I am writing called ‘Hope’ (working title).

I revisited the Amazon web page for ‘Paradise’ at the weekend and realised something for the first time. The cover I designed looks amateur in the extreme (in fact it could be described as more than a little bit naff). Could this be what is putting people off buying the book? I thought. Whilst it is only one factor amongst many (discoverability being another very important one), I decided as a point of pride (deeply embarrassed that I had been unable to make an objective assessment of the cover) that I would have to do something about it.

There followed a mad search of the internet as I looked for a design solution. There are many companies offering off the shelf book covers that you just add your own title to, but I wanted something unique and special.

I had seen the new book by author Lindsay Buroker, ‘Balanced on a blade’s edge‘ and absolutely loved the cover. I searched using the ‘look inside’ feature and couldn’t find details of the cover designer. On a whim, I Googled it and stumbled upon a discussion board that mentioned a company known as Deranged doctor design (DDD). In retrospect this was like striking oil on the first drill. I had no idea if they could be trusted, but I did love the cover for Lindsay Buroker’s book so I thought I would take a risk.

DDD have a system where, if they accept a commission (and they don’t accept them all), they send design concepts without charging you up front. They only charge you when you have approved a design. In my case it took them a couple of days to give me a concept that I was absolutely delighted with (see the cover above, what do you think?). I would highly recommend them for their professionalism and patience (not to mention their artistic skills). I have to state here that I have no financial interest in their company, I’ve never even met them.

I have now uploaded the new cover to Amazon, but sadly (and I hadn’t realised this) it takes them a few days to change the book cover in the Amazon store.

So for the next few days my old, crappy, cover will remain. I cannot wait, however, to see the new cover go up, for (I think) my pride will be restored.

What I hadn’t realised initially is that people really do judge a book by its cover. Whether it makes a difference to sales or not is another matter, but really, honestly, I don’t care. I have something I think I can be proud of (you may have noticed I have festooned my blog with banners and images of the new cover!)

The moral of this story? Get a good cover! (and don’t, ever, ever, think you’re a designer, because the odds are you aren’t!).

If you liked this post why not follow my blog? Or like me on Facebook? Or maybe even follow on Twitter or Goodreads? (Blimey, that’s a lot of social media choices!) There’s a link to all of them on the right….

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My first two weeks as a published author

Paradise tweetSo it’s been two weeks since I published my Novelette ‘Paradise’. This is pretty much how it went down:-

1) Spent the best part of a month polishing the text, rewriting until I was sick of it (not really, but you know what I mean. If you’re a writer you probably do know what I mean).

2) Sent text to editor. Got back many helpful comments, most of which I agreed with (yes, I know I am sentimental and verbose, Mr Ed, thanks for reminding me…).

3) Got corrected text back from the editor, went through text and accepted most of the changes.

4) Realised whilst going through the editors comments that there were still areas of the book that needed work. Spent the next week completing the work (something strange happened when I got it back from the editor, I was somehow more detached, more objective, more able to criticise it).

5) Set a date for release on Amazon.

6) Procrastinated for two days.

7) Published on Amazon (really rather easy, particularly if you use Scrivener).

8) Broadcast the release on this blog and through twitter.

9) Got two (count them, that’s two) sales on the first day.

10) Felt very happy for the first day (woo hoo, two sales!).

11) Got first review of the book (she loved it!), felt even happier check it out .

12) Checked Amazon sales figures every day, at least once, praying every time that more sales would appear.

13) Repeated number 12.

Do you see a pattern? Checking for sales has become an obsession, but the thing is that if no one knows the book is out there then no one will buy it. So the next major task is to market the darned thing! Hey ho, back to work then…..

Eat, sleep, write, edit, social media, market, repeat (is that a song lyric?).

‘Paradise’ released!

Paradise tweet

I released my first work of fiction today. What do you think of the cover?

After working for the last year on my first novel ‘Hope’, I was massively distracted by ‘Paradise’, it’s a novelette (don’t you just love the word?), it runs to about forty pages, and it’s now available on Amazon.co.uk and also Amazon.com. It feels kinda odd to know that something is finally out there in the digital aether. I took a while to figure out what to put in the ‘book description’ and settled for the following:-

How much would you give for a ticket to Paradise? How much would you give for the chance to start anew, without the stresses and strains of modern life? 
John Carlton and his family just won the trip of a lifetime and they can’t wait to get started in the brave new world that awaits them. 
Simon Swanson wishes he had a ticket. He dreams of walking on fine coral beaches with the sun burning overhead, but for now he watches, happy that some, at least, have the hope of a good life. 
Michael Judd is going to save the world and he isn’t going to let anything stop him. 
Five lives intertwine in a soulful tale of hope, redemption and salvation on the journey to Paradise.

What do you think? Would you buy it after reading the blurb?

I have written before of my first experience of twitter and this feels much the same, except that the stakes are far higher. I rushed home from work tonight to see if anyone had bought ‘Paradise’, not surprisingly the answer is no. In fact, in all probability I am the only person who has even looked at the Amazon page for ‘Paradise’. This won’t stop me from obsessively checking Amazon KDP every few hours for the next week or so to see if someone dives in and buys it.

When and if someone actually buys ‘Paradise’, I sincerely hope that they enjoy it, for that is what I crave now, the knowledge that someone out there has seen it and doesn’t think that it is utterly, completely, rubbish.

Of course there is the long, long wait for the first review still to come (Please, oh please, oh please let it be a good one…..).

Anyway, I’m off to go and check my author page on KDP again, because you just never know, (Yes you do know, you abominable optimist, no one is ever, ever, going to buy it! Do you think they didn’t notice you putting the links in above, you desperate fool….).

Anyway, I live in hope, and I am going to go back to writing it now (after I just check KDP one last time), but, strangely, even if no one ever buys ‘Paradise’, I have a weird sense of achievement in just putting it out there. For better or worse I am an author now. What a bizarre feeling that is…