Thinking on Covers, Names, and Self-Publishing

July 23, 2014

Hello my imaginary friends,

I’ve been thinking again about self-publishing. Less about the idea of doing it and more about the puzzle of doing it.

From what I can tell there seems to be 8 parts to it:

  1. Writing the book
  2. Story and Copy Editing
  3. Formatting the inside of the book for various outlets (Ebooks, Print, Etc)
  4. Formatting and producing a cover for various outlets (Ebooks, Print, Etc)
  5. Having the books printed.
  6. Distributing the printed and Ebooks.
  7. Letting people know that the books exist.
  8. Repeat number 7 several times in many different ways.

Written out as a list it looks a lot less intimidating than it does in my head.

Now the problem with self-publishing is that an author isn’t by nature good and doing all 8 steps. I knew that I can handle 1 (I’m close to finishing novel five) I know I can do 3 (I’ve worked as a Layout Artist for over five years now) and I have a good idea how to do 5 and 6 (I also have friend who have offered to teach me how.)

My big problem is 2, I know I need to pay for an Editor and the minute I know if I’m self-publishing, I’m contacting people who can do it. I realize it isn’t cheap but it’ll be worth it.

Let’s leave 7 and 8 for a later post.

Book Covers

So the majority of my thinking has been about 4. I strongly believe that an awesome cover is worth its price. If I self-publish I want the book to practically sell itself. I want to pass by it and say, “That looks awesome I should read that… oh wait that’s my book.”

For The Elizabeth Investigates series, if I self-publish, I want to make sure that the covers stay consistent in style and feel. That means I need, not a cover artist but an artist. I have one person who I know will do a great job but is ridiculously busy with other projects.

I know that there are cover designers out there but I haven’t found one that matches what I write. So I looked on DeviantArt for artists that match certain styles. I found a bunch and I wonder if getting a commission from them would be difficult. I know I’d have to look into copyright issues and so on but I think it might be the best option. I can format the cover myself, what I need is the art.

I’m sure a lot of them will/would ignore me but it’ll be worth a try. I wouldn’t offer anything specific; I’d lay out my needs and ask for a quote. I’m assuming it would be somewhere in the ballpark of $100 to $1000. Dollars but maybe I’ll be surprised.

The next question becomes one of style. Since I write YA, I tend to mix genres a lot. The Elizabeth Investigates series is Urban Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery, with smatterings of Supernatural, Suspense, and Romance. That’s not the easiest thing to show off in a cover.

I could go with the normal YA Urban Fantasy style, like the Percy Jackson or Harry Potter covers, I could follow the Adult duo-coloured Urban Fantasy style, I could go with an old style fantasy cover where they try to put everything that happens into one illustration, or I could go for the simplistic Twilight style of cover. Or do I go for the older Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys style? All of which are awesome.

It depends on what I’m trying to sell the book as. If I go with the old teen mystery books, I’m telling people this book will be similar but with magic. If I go with a darker Urban Fantasy cover I’m telling them that this is a kid’s supernatural thriller.

nancy-drew-books-cover

It’s a lot to decide, I almost think it could be more important than even the title. The best case scenario, I think, would be to get an homage to the old mysteries with the art style of newer urban fantasies. Best of both worlds.

Author Name

The next thing that’s been bugging me is my name. I don’t want a pen name because that would be a pain but I’m trying to decide what variation to use for my writing.

In day to day life I sign my emails and credit card receipts with Éric Desmarais. My full name is Éric Albert Desmarais.

For a long time I considered using my full name but I don’t know, it feels pretentious.

I could use Éric A. Desmarais and I have. The initial makes it seem more literary for some reason. I could also use É.A. Desmarais.

You get the point. It’s an identity thing I guess. Maybe I should just go with Éric Desmarais.

 

Does the cover affect your interest in a book?

Would the name of the author, who you don’t know, make a difference in whether you bought a book?

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The Author, Belle, and I – An Adventure at ComicCon

June 27, 2014

This story was inspired by real events. Someone posted something similar but much creepier on the blog of an author I like and it inspired me to write this story.

It’s an attempt at both an obvious moral and a romantic story.

Comments and criticisms are encouraged.

*All the events and characters in this story are made up. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidence. Except the Pirate, he’s based off a friend M.F.*

Read the rest of this entry »


Update for May 6th, 2014… No witty title… sorry

May 6, 2014

Hello,

The time has come, the time for us to part. No. Not you and I, my imaginary friend. It’s the time for a character to die. Eons ago I put up this poll asking for your help on whom to kill. This week I’m midway into the chapter that will kill the character. Out of 15 people who voted 5 of you voted for Adelaide.

Now because this novel deals with dreams and alternate worlds, I was sorely tempted to kill off one of the two versions of the character. I’ve decided that would be cheap. My plan is to have the death motivate the characters to stop reacting to the supernatural aspects and start actively trying to save themselves.

I’m not promising that this is the only death. There might be more. Mhuhahahahaha!

ed9

IMPORTANT INFORMATION!!!

Bundoran Press, an awesome publisher from Ottawa, is running an Indigogo campaign to fund a new anthology about what happens when aliens visit earth. They want to pay their contributors at professional levels and have a kickass cover.

For$25 you can get the Ebook and hardcover of the anthology.

If you’re an Aspiring Author like me you might want to get the $100 level that gets you the Ebook, Hardcover, a ton of Ebooks, and editing advice on one story by Hayden Trenholm. He’s the owner of Bundoran Press, an excellent award winning author, and an extremely nice guy.

What are you waiting for go check out their page.

Capture

Second Contacts Indigogo

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/second-contacts

(I might submit a story… Not sure.)

Have a great day,

Éric


Bad Books

March 7, 2014

Hello Imaginary Friend,

Something has been bothering me lately. The idea of whether a book can be bad and I think my opinion is going to be unpopular.

How a book can be bad

There are two ways I can see a book being bad.

One; they come to life and try to stab people. (Arguably the homicidal books could be considered misunderstood. If people tried to bend my pages and break my spine, I’d be pissed.)

Two; if the book was decomposing and had gone bad. (I swear I will never write another book on banana peels again.)

Academics and Morality

You can analyze a book and come to the conclusion that it’s not of academic importance. Its themes are weak, its ideas cliché, its language reductive, and it’s message garbled. You can then pass judgment on it as an example of poor writing and say it’s bad.

You can also analyze a books Morality and message and find it to be opposed to your beliefs. You can find books reprehensible in their message and morals. Does that make a book bad? Evil yes bad, I’m not sure.

There are examples throughout history of people finding a book academically wanting and of no importance and being horribly wrong. My classic example is Shakespeare’s plays, academics of his time dismissed his plays as useless and base. Same has applied to morality.

Reading is Good

There are a lot of arguments about whether or not the Harry Potter series, Twillight Series, or 50 Shades of Grey Series are good.

There’s one argument that people use to stop discussing their worth. “At least they have people reading.” As an Aspiring Author, this argument makes perfect sense financially for me. More people who read equal a larger possible audience. So consider me biased.

Let’s take 50 Shades of Grey, (sold over 90 million books).

Are there many people who picked up the series, people who have never read before? Possibly. I’d guess there aren’t as many as Harry Potter since it’s aimed at an older audience.

Are those people going to try and find more like this to read? Probably. Either because they were disappointed and wanted something else or because they liked it and want more.

Is a whole group of people looking for something else in the same style a bad thing? I don’t know. I haven’t read the books but from what my sources tell me there are some pretty wrong notions on gender equality and the nature of BDSM. I’m willing to bet that there are some great books in the same genre that would reinforce good ideas and that there will be more people who find them because of it though.

Is it bad for the publishing world? I don’t know and I don’t have an opinion on this.

How can something so crappy be so popular? You’ll hear all sorts of sexist comments on this subject. Try to not punch those who make them. (It’s not worth it.) Something was missing from society and publishing that people didn’t know they wanted until they had the chance.

Whether it was the fact that 50 Shades of Grey wasn’t hiding behind a curtain, or that it made people talk about sex and erotica, I don’t know. But I’m convinced that it wasn’t a fluke but an untapped market.

What’s your point Eric?

Wow you’re impatient today. It’s simple. In my opinion it’s better for people to be reading and getting passionate about books than to never read and not care.

Reading is a great way to relax, learn new words, discover new worlds, and learn more about yourself.

Reading is good. Telling people what to read is bad.

Eric’s Rule about Media

This is something you’ve been told your whole life and it’s simply this:

Consume all media critically!

I’m sure I didn’t come up with this idea. None the less, passively consuming anything is a bad idea. Question what you’re consuming and try to understand what makes you like or dislike something.

By understanding how something makes you feel and what it’s trying to say you are not only helping yourself but you’ll be able to give people a better idea why you like or dislike something.

One last thing

STOP attacking people about what they read!

STOP acting like your preferred literature is better!

And

Read!
(Blogs, books, magazines, social media, newspapers, etc)


Waiting, Dreaming, and Going Crazy

December 6, 2013

Waiting

There are times when I wonder if I have what it takes to be an author. Those times are usually when I’m waiting on a reply to a query or submission. It feels like half of being an author is writing queries and waiting for replies or deadlines to expire.

I try my best to push the idea to the back of my head and work on the next project. (I’m currently working on 3 short stories, one which might turn into a book in the New Year.) I still feel terribly anxious.

I love the act of writing, and I’m even getting warmed up to the idea of editing, but the waiting is hard. Like harder than waiting for the next Jim Butcher or Tamora Pierce book hard.

Thinking of Self-Publishing

Last night I was thinking of the differences between a small press and a self-published author. I came up with three major differences; Contacts, Experience, and Cash flow.

The most important seems to be Contacts. Finding a printer, editor, graphic artist, etc isn’t easy but once you have a good one life becomes simpler. Not only that but having the right contacts means that you know who to talk to for the distribution and marketing of the books. Experience adds the right way of doing things and how to do them in a cost effective way.

As for cash flow, it’s the least important. Book publishing isn’t easy or ridiculously profitable. Let’s say you have the greatest printing press deal and your book cost $6 per book to publish but you need to buy 500. That’s just paper add in editing (story and copy), cover design, layout, employees, shipping, etc. You’re talking roughly 4000-5000 for the first print run of a small book. That doesn’t count storage, advertising, or business costs.

I only know what I’ve researched so I could be wrong, but it looks to me like the first print run of a book is lucky to make 10%-20% profit. We’re talking $1-$3 per book or $500-$1500 profit. Not counting the damaged books, free copies, discounts, etc. The next print run will make significantly more but you have to sell at least 500 books for that.

You have to love books in order to want to publish.

An Idea so Stupid, it Might Work

This has me thinking. Is there such a thing as a book cooperative? The idea would be to get a group of authors, who would have self-published anyway, banding together and pooling their contacts, experience, and money. All to make the whole printing process easier and more cost effective.

It would be a profit and cost sharing partnership. Each author would be an equal partner and they would each get a vote on the books that are published.

In order to make it profitable, we’d have to make a distribution deal, and maybe apply for grants.

Most importantly each author would have to produce a book every year or two to keep the production regular and dependable.

Maybe I’m Crazy

I desperately wish I had better knowledge of publishing, business, law, and funding.

This could be a terrible idea or a great one. I firmly believe that it would succeed or fail depending on the quality of the work. I’m fairly confident in my own writing (most of the time) and I know there are some fantastic authors out there that would be great.

I’ll have to think about it and do more research, maybe talk to someone who knows more than I do. (So anyone really.)

What do you think? Does it make sense? Is it crazy?

One a Completely Different Note

Come see my wife and me, at PopExpo this weekend in Ottawa. We’ll be sharing a table with the amazing S.M. Carriere


Quickies: Book Reviews for Aurora Prize Awards – Best Adult Novel

October 1, 2013

I have to admit I didn’t get a chance to finish all the books in this category. There are even 2 that I didn’t have a chance to read at all. I feel terribly guilty about it.

I’ll have to do better next year and look for the books before the voters pack comes out.

Destiny’s Fall by Marie Bilodeau

Characters: 4/5

Writing Style: 3/5

Story: 3/5

Fun: 2/5

Overall: I found this book really easy to read. The characters were well rounded and interesting and the world was fascinating. Having not read the first on the series was a huge handicap however.

60%

Healer’s Sword: Part 7 of the Okal Rel Saga by Lynda Williams

Characters: 4/5

Writing Style: 3/5

Story: 3/5

Fun: 4/5

Overall: Having not read the first 6 books in this series wasn’t much of a problem. The characters and the world are introduced clearly and quickly. I had the feeling that I was missing some history but not much. The characters were fascinating and I can’t wait to read the whole series.

70%

The Silvered by Tanya Huff

Characters: 4/5

Writing Style: 4/5

Story: 4/5

Fun: 5/5

Overall: If you enjoy fantasy, steampunk, or reading you’ll love this book. Everything from the characters to the world are perfectly put together. It took me a chapter or two to fully grasp what was going on but from there on I couldn’t put it down.

85%

Triggers by Robert Sayer

Characters: 3/5

Writing Style: 4/5

Story: 5/5

Fun: 4/5

Overall: This was a fantastic concept and flowed beautifully. Sawyer is a master, whose genius is overwhelming for an aspiring writer. He weaves lives and stories beautifully. This is a perfect meld between a political thriller and a science fiction.

80%


Book Reviews Part 2

May 28, 2013

The way I’ve been doing book reviews isn’t working. I’ve ended up just saying what I love about the books I read and not thinking about them critically enough. This means I need to change my method.
Here’s how and why I’ve been doing book reviews.

New method

I will still keep the same basic format but for every section I will talk about what I liked and what I disliked. So each of the 5 sections will have a Done Well and Done Badly section.

Hopefully this will help make my reviews more interesting and poignant.

Thanks for reading.