Not Being An “Artist,” I’ve Taken My Best “Shots”

That post I wrote yesterday about that cover of that, errr, “erotica” novella having created a logo dispute with the Chicago Teachers Union, encouraged me to take time afterward in the day to finish off the Distances cover “officially.”

We’ve all bought books. We know it’s usually the first “contact” we have with one. The cover can be the difference between attracting us to the book…. or not.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a modern art painting.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a modern art painting.

As a writer, you could be the next “big thing,” but if the cover’s lousy quite a few people who are put off by it will never learn that. When you indie publish, the decision falls to you. When I was considering what to do for a cover for Passports back in 2013, new to all this, I had searched through hordes of “stock photo” possibilities, including human models. Frankly, most of what I saw was dreadful stuff that made me groan.

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Mentioning This For A Friend

I woke up this morning realizing I had dreamt about someone who is dead, and for a few conscious moments I had forgotten she was.

Don’t you hate that?

Free Stock Photo: Orange emotional sunrise.
Free Stock Photo: Orange emotional sunrise.

So I haven’t exactly gotten off on the best foot today. But as I think back to yesterday, still polishing off Distances, with Adele shouting about fire and rain into my ears through my iPad headphones, I finished off one of those writing experiences a novelist lives for.

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From Narragansett Bay To Writing Today

Wednesday’s post about a writer of “17 books” going on and on about her personal money woes, combined with the end of my “Bastille Day” free promo for Passports, got me thinking more on this subject.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of books.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of books.

We know there are the “sneak peeks” that the likes of Amazon use to drive sales. But that is not always enough. Much as with musicians who do free gigs and artists who display paintings merely to be seen, when you are lesser known as an independent author it is certainly unreasonable to expect readers to part with money for your work until they believe it is worth it.

So making a novel free is often necessary. Still, it does go against the grain to offer complete free books to enable readers to get to know your work when yours aren’t “shorts” produced every few months for quickie consumption. It’s a lot easier psychologically to give away 1 “short” book when you have “16” others out there, than it is to give away a 400 page novel when you have only 2 of them.

* * *

Much is also made of the fact that independent novels, be they shorts or full-length, are imperfect. They may have, for example, typos:

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Opening With A “Hit” Single

Inspired, I sensed afterwards, by my grandfather memories that I’d posted in the morning, I spent the day yesterday smashing through the opening chapter to Distances. Although it’s not long (but none of my chapters are really “long”; I dislike “long” chapters), it’s – I believe – on target.

Textured. Sentimental. Sharp.

A new character also zooms in, offering the novel’s very first line.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a piano with music notes.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a piano with music notes.

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More “Distances” Cover Fun

I know this post appears much later in the morning than usual. However, when you have an unexpected light bulb go off over your head you have to drop almost everything and get the idea into your manuscript as quickly as possible. If you don’t, it may vanish forever….

Having done that, on to this post. Yesterday saw me pass 40,000 words. So with Distances looking daily more and more like an actual book, rather than just bits and pieces, I took a break and decided to have another mess around with a potential cover. That’s always fun:

“Distances” draft cover, April 28, 2015.

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The Appropriate “Grade Level” For Your Novel Is…

The other day Kindle sent out a note suggesting we authors optionally “age rate” our books. I thought I’d share it. I’ve removed the superfluous and “personal” parts and screen captured the core of it:

Edited message from Kindle.
Edited message from Kindle.

Kindle sends out lots of stuff – some useful, some not. But this just seems a sloppy tech issue from their end. There’s a straightforward reason I haven’t chosen an under-18s level for my novels and Kindle knows it already.

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If It’s Okay For Me To Mention This….

….I grew tired of growing old waiting to see when Frontiers would finally appear on Goodreads. I checked again yesterday (the first time in weeks), and it still wasn’t on the site. I’d had enough:

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Why I Prefer Cover Photos I’ve Taken

In a bit of a change, for the coming third book I decided to create a “working cover” early on. It’s just me “having a go.” I’ve messed around in recent days with some initial ideas.

Remember those back in the dark ages photos I’d dug into recently? I decided to use one of them. It was the photo I’d snapped in 1996 that included that unidentified woman singer:

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Decided: The “Official” Title

Much earlier in terms of drafting the current volume compared to Frontiers last year, I’ve come up with a title for the book. You should be the first to know. ;-) Here it is:

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Novelist Uncle Is In The Building

Well, I had an email exchange with my uncle last night. He knows now about my books completely – including my pen name and what underscores the stories.

The mask is off.

Wires everywhere! Part of my desk. [Photo by me, this morning.]
Wires everywhere! Part of my desk. [Photo by me, this morning.]

I can’t reproduce much of his note back to me. Lots of it is family stuff. But these extracts should give you the gist:

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