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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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