Whether I am writing for adults or children, my focus is to leave the reader not only with a nugget of knowledge, but that they are in some way wiser, stronger in character and more able to make wise decisions. I believe humor helps us learn more easily so you will find I use it liberally!
How many books have you written?
I’ve written 3 for adults and about 10 for children...3 of them are published.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
Editing is tedious for me...but the marketing aspects of writing bewilder and nearly overwhelm me. So, I am very thankful for my friend and publisher. She keeps me on task and grounded!
Do you ever get discouraged?
Yes, but not with the writing as much as with my energy level which impacts how much I can do on any given day.
How do you overcome it?
I’ve learned that the fastest way to come out of a physical or mental slump is to be gracious and give myself permission to recover at whatever pace my body sets for me. I’ve also learned that growing joy in relationships kick-starts energy.
What inspired you to write this book?
My husband urged me to write a sequel to the first book in the Sassy Pants series. He argued that she was so naughty in the first book that I should give her the opportunity to redeem herself. But I didn’t have another story in me. I even asked God’s help in convincing him there were no more stories, and that was when God downloaded the rest of the series. So...here we are!
Do you have any other books in the works?
Yes, there is an adult devotional that is in process and at least 3 more children’s books in this series.
Do you talk to your characters?
Yes! Of course, that’s how I find out what is going on with them. Some of the characters in the novels I’ve not yet written will step out periodically and ask if I’m ready to start. I hate to send them back, but I have to finish publishing these children’s stories. Then I will be free to begin the research.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
When you have an urge from God, an inspiration or idea, start writing as fast as you can. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling—fix that later when the inspiration is spent. Then go to someone whom you trust “with the things precious to you” and have them read it. Ask for an honest reaction/critique. You can become so involved with what you write—you know what you mean—that you can miss important transitions and places that need further clarification. You can make connections in your mind that you have not put down on paper, which can leave readers scratching their heads. Another writer friend can point these places out for you.
Thank you for stopping by Carol!
Thank you again for hosting me!
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Twitter account: @CarolABrown4
When I first set out to become a published author I never thought about self-publishing. I was of the belief that if you wanted to be taken seriously then you needed to find a reputable publisher, submit your manuscript and hope for the best. But I had just come from a different background entirely. With over 30 years in music (both secular and Christian) I knew plenty about the music industry, but nothing about the publishing industry. I had no idea where to start. I had already written one book that had languished on my shelf for years and was starting on my third. It wasn't until a good friend urged me to get the first one published that I started looking at how the publishing industry worked and what a writer was expected to do in order to get a manuscript on the road to publication.
By the time I got around to seriously sending it off to someone, I found myself overwhelmed by what was needed. I was so "green" at what was required that I almost felt like giving up. Songwriting was so much easier. You write the song, you copyright it, you list it with SOCAN (of which you are a member) who send your royalties to you and you're done (at least that's how it was in the 70's & 80's). Back then, I also had an agent and an entertainment lawyer (because a music producer tried to steal one of my songs that I wrote for the Lord and tried to turn it into a beer commercial - that's another story). My lawyer advised me to publish my music under my own publishing company name if I wanted to be sure of control, which he then registered. So I didn't even have to go through a publisher. I guess you could say I started self-publishing before it was common. The first time I received a royalty cheque, or heard that someone else had recorded a song I wrote that was played on the radio, I was over the moon. So I thought getting a book published would be just as easy. I was so wrong!
Suddenly, I was confronted with new challenges like query letters, synopses and proposals. All of them made me groan aloud with frustration and wished I'd just stuck to songwriting. The thought of going through my novel and writing a chapter by chapter synopsis took all the fun out of writing for me. And don't get me started on the proposal! The second writer's conference I attended (which I also learned were vital to a writer) provided me with new knowledge and determination to get that synopsis and proposal done. At the time I was ready to submit something it wasn't done online. It was by snail mail. So there were months and sometimes more months of waiting. On top of that most publishers only accepted queries from literary agents. My agent was strictly in the music/acting business and didn't have the time to devote to learning about the publishing business. So I was on my own.
As I researched what I needed to do I came across two services that helped in making the submission process a little less painful (keep in mind these are for Christian books only) - The Writer's Edge and Christian Manuscript Submissions. Unfortunately, I ran across a few questions that once again made me groan aloud.
Why did you write this book?
Now here is where I got stumped because I had learned at a writer's conference never to tell a publisher/agent that you wrote your book because God told you to. That is not professional they said and sounds amateurish. Well . . . the thing is, my story would not have been written otherwise. A series of life events brought me to a place where I clearly felt God directing me on what to write. This did not feel odd to me at all because this is how I had worked when writing songs. The Holy Spirit would direct me and I would follow. So, in truth I did not know how to answer that question.
What qualifies you to write this book? What are your credentials?
Again, nothing qualified me at all accept my willingness to obey God. My credentials at that point in time only applied to my music ministry and had nothing to do with the type of book I was writing. Yes, I had taken some writing courses. Yes, I was comfortable in front of a large group of people singing and speaking. No, I did not have a PhD behind my name. No, I was not a counsellor and no I did not have anything to offer besides my book and a few songs that at that point were really dated. So, at this point I'm starting to get slightly discouraged.
Do you have a platform?
A what? Next question.
What is your marketing plan?
My marketing plan? You're kidding me right? Isn't that the job of the publisher?
Can anyone say - Wow! What a newbie?
Suffice it to say, I received a lot of rejection letters. So I began to wonder and question if God really wanted me to pursue this "writing" thing. He couldn't be serious could He? He didn't really think that someone like me, who just wrote songs, could actually pick up a pen and start writing a story, did He? I needed assurance and confirmation that I could write and that it was something I should pursue. So I submitted the first chapter of a new novel I was working on for critique, at a writer's conference. The result of that critique had me floating on a cloud for the rest of the conference. A publisher got a look at it and liked it so much he asked me to send him a proposal. NO! NOT A PROPOSAL! That was like asking me to drink my own blood. Since the book was nowhere near being done and I had no idea where it was going, I politely declined. Yes, I know - what an idiot! But I had my confirmation from the Lord and that was all I was looking for at the time.
To this day, I have still not finished that novel. God took me in a different direction and led me to write different things. And in the interim I have learned many things about the publishing industry and have (I believe) grown as a writer and as a Christian. Although as far as grammar and the "correct" way of doing things in the literary world goes I am still woefully in need of help. I write like I talk and that isn't going to change anytime soon. Thank the Lord for editors.
So did I ever get published by a real publisher? Yes. I have had articles published and I have had short stories published by Random House for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I have been paid for book reviews by a newspaper who actually employed me (yeah that one surprised me) and I have self-published three books, all of which have won awards. Will I ever pursue traditional publishing? If the Lord wills it I'm sure it will happen. Right now however, I am content to self-publish my own books because I enjoy the process. I like the creative aspect of it from finding the cover to formatting the inside. The only thing I don't like is the marketing aspect and from what I hear all authors, both self-published and traditionally published have to market their own books. There is no way around that. There are pros and cons to both ways of publication, but if you don't know what you are doing and if you don't want to wait years for your book to be published (which can and does happen with traditional publishing) you might consider self-publishing.
However, if you do decide to take the self-published route you need to be aware that it is very time-consuming. You are no longer "just" a writer. Now you are the publisher. It is your job to do all the things a traditional publisher would do, from designing the front and back cover of your book, to formatting the inside, to sending out press releases, marketing your book and making it available "everywhere books are sold." Your time as a writer will be drastically reduced and you may even start to wonder if you will ever write again. In addition, traditional authors may look down their noses at you, thinking you didn't "pay your dues" and took the easy way out to publishing. Let me be clear on this - self-publishing is NOT the easy way. It is hard, time-consuming, expensive (or can be if you aren't careful) and not for those who aren't committed to making it a success.
Today, the market is gutted with self-published books and Amazon with their CreateSpace program and Smashwords with theirs has only made it easier to self-publish. That said, my suggestion to you is this - before you even think about self-publishing, go through the submission process with a traditional publisher. Write that query letter. Get that synopsis and proposal done. Submit it and see what happens. There is nothing quite like receiving an email that says, "Your story/book has been accepted for publication."
Ultimately, there are pros and cons to both traditional publishing and self-publishing, but it is up to you as to how much time, money and effort you want to put into the publishing process. Here are just a few pros and cons to both aspects of publishing:
Traditional Publishing Pros:
Traditional Publishing Cons:
If you are convinced self-publishing is the way to go, then put everything you can into it. Don't do a half-hearted job which results in a poor cover and badly edited book, because if you do and people read your book, it will be the last book of yours they will ever read.
When I first started writing I was in high school. My Theatre Arts teacher would have us write short stories, poems, or plays for homework almost every night. You would think that Theatre Arts would not involve writing for homework, but I got my best ideas from that teacher. At first I hated it! I couldn't think of anything to write at all. But my teacher knew that would happen. Many of us were stumped for ideas and we asked why we had to do this when we were doing the same thing in our English class. We came to realize of course, that it was all about letting those "creative juices" flow - to get to know your characters, to understand why events in a story had a certain rhythm, and how to show those emotions, not tell. Our stories (even poems we wrote) would be acted out the next day in class. We then got to see how believable our writing and subsequently, our acting was. Suffice it to say - I gave up acting as a career choice! But, I had no idea at the time how important writing would become in my life. While I started out as a songwriter, those years of instruction from my teacher would eventually come to mind when I sat down to write a story, article or even a Bible Study. Unknowingly, her demand for a new work every night of the week, would force me to consistently work at establishing a pattern of behaviour (or work ethic) that I have followed all my life, both as a singer and as a writer. These patterns or goals can, I believe, help writers reach their full potential.
HOW TO REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL:
With the advance of self-publishing and the ease in which it can be done (CreateSpace, Smashwords, Word Alive Press, etc.), anyone who writes can be a published author. Or can they?
The question was put to me long ago and has only recently been resurfacing with the onslaught of self-published books. Can self-published writers legitimately call themselves authors? It's an interesting question and one that needs to be addressed. What makes a writer an author?
The first short story I sold to Chicken Soup for the Soul was an exciting one for me. I received a letter from the publishers who ended it by saying, "Pat yourself on the back, you can now officially call yourself an author." Of course they were assuming I'd never been published before, but it got me thinking. Is the title of author only reserved for those who get paid to write? For years that has been the norm. So what do we call self-published writers?
Technically, a writer is paid by a publisher to produce a work from which the writer will get royalties. No one pays self-published writers to produce their books. It is quite the opposite in fact - self-published writers have to pay someone else to publish their books. And they usually pay out substantial sums of money that they probably will never make back. Of course there are exceptions to that rule (The Shack, by William Paul Young comes to mind), but it is not the norm.
So, is it unfair to self-published writers that they not be called authors? Some say yes, they haven't paid their "dues". While that may have been true in the past, when self-publishing was just starting to become a "thing" I don't believe that is true today. Yes, about ten years ago those who self-published, produced books with amateurish covers that resembled something done on Microsoft Publishing. Some didn't bother with editors, beta-readers, book-formatting or cover design, but some did and excellent books were produced in the process. Unfortunately, many of those books went unnoticed because of the perception that ALL self-published books were horrible.
Up until about a year ago I was reviewing CBA approved books and nothing else. If a self-published book got by me, then it was only because the author did an excellent job on the cover, their story and on promoting it to me. Today, most of the books I review at Interviews & Reviews are self-published and to be honest, I am seeing some high quality stuff. Unfortunately, I am also still seeing amateurish books full of typos, grammatical errors and worst of all horrible covers! Yes - I do judge a book by its cover! Please indie authors do yourself a favour and spend $500 dollars on a professional cover. It will only help you in the end. BTW, I never post reviews of horrible books (unless the author doesn't care) but instead contact the author and explain why I won't be reviewing their book.
According to Michael Koslowski, (see video below) of GoodEReader.com, "If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer." One comment on his website defined authors this way:
Writer - Someone who writes stuff.
Author - A writer that creates a finished work.
Professional Author - An author that makes a living off of finished works.
Personally, I believe anyone who produces a book (traditionally or self-published) should call themselves an author. Indie books can be bought on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They can be found in libraries and in bookstores, the same as traditionally published books. If done really well, no one will know how your book was published and as a reader, I have to say - I don't care how the book I'm reading was published. If it catches my eye and I can't put it down, I'm going to keep my eye open for more by that author. In the end, I believe most readers feel the same way. What about you? What do you think? Should Indie Authors be able to call themselves authors? Leave a comment below.
Today I am very pleased to welcome guest blogger and author Laurinda Wallace. Laurinda has some very wise words on using Beta-Readers, what they do and what you need to know. Enjoy!
What's a beta reader? That question has been asked plenty of times when I mention the term. So here's the definition: a beta reader gets to read my manuscript after I've finished the revisions and before my editor gets her hands on it. Betas offer input on everything from the plot, to characters, to settings---everything. Nothing is off limits. My readers are six women who've agreed to give me honest feedback about each book I write. All were handpicked by me because they meet the qualifications below:
1. They love to read and know a good story a mile away.
2. They know and like me well enough to give honest opinions.
3. Each has a different perspective to offer and they're creative.
The betas have improved each book with their insights, corrections, and sound advice. Although I haven't taken 100% of the recommendations offered, the majority of comments have been incorporated into the manuscripts. This part of the editing process is indispensable to prepare for the editor and to polish the book.
Because beta readers are entrusted with an unpublished manuscript in electronic form (which tends to be extremely portable), I've developed beta reader guidelines, which clarify responsibilities and expectations. I strongly recommend doing the same with either your current beta readers or for the group you may be forming. If you are serious about writing as a business, procedures for your business practices are fundamental. A great deal of trust is placed upon the beta readers, which is one of the reasons I choose readers I know and give them guidelines, so there's no guessing.
As a courtesy, my beta readers are contacted before a manuscript is ready and are asked for participation. Everyone's schedule is busy, and I never want to obligate/overload a beta reader. They are much too valuable for that.
Speaking of value--beta readers as a rule are not paid, but I always send a token of appreciation. A copy of the final product is always welcome.
A sample of beta reader guidelines is provided below.
SAMPLE BETA READER GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES
Thank you for agreeing to be a beta reader for Your Publishing Name. We LOVE readers and we’re happy to have you as part of our team. Your input is essential to us in producing outstanding books for readers and it’s our intention to make this process interesting and fun.
How Beta Reading Works
1. Your Publishing Name does everything electronically. Manuscripts and your comments will all be by email.
2. You will receive the manuscript as a Word file. A deadline will be stated in the email. Deadlines are generous and will usually be about four (4) weeks.
3. Comments should be made using the insert comment feature in Word. Please do not worry about punctuation, missing words, or other mistakes in the copy. It is a draft and will be professionally edited before publication. We do endeavor to give you a clean copy so that typos, etc. are not distractions.
4. Once you have completed reading the manuscript and have made your comments, email the copy back to the author by the deadline.
5. You may be asked to read the book once more after the editing has been completed.
6. Beta reading doesn’t make you any money, but you will receive a token of our appreciation in your mailbox.
The Kind of Comments We Need
1. Characters – like or dislike and why.
2. Plot – too predictable, too slow, not enough action, or an absolutely fabulous plot.
3. Inconsistencies, errors about characters i.e. tall, dark, and handsome in one scene, short and geeky in another.
4. Is the story visual? Can you see the characters in your mind? Are the places descriptive enough? Is there too much description? Are there scenes that are confusing?
5. Is the dialogue natural or stilted?
6. What you liked and disliked about the book. What you’d do to make it better.
7. We want HONEST feedback. Please do not be a softie and like everything. Authors must have tough hides. Every story can be improved and we’re counting on you to help us do just that. Readers are discriminating, sophisticated, and know what they like in a good book. We want to provide that product and your help is vital.
After the Read
You have a special place of trust in being a beta reader. You’re getting the first peek at a book before it is published. The manuscript you are entrusted with has not been through the formal copyright process, although the copyright is technically in place when fingers hit the keyboard. All titles will be officially copyrighted before publication. Please adhere to the following “Do’s” and “Don’ts.”
After you have finished reading the manuscript and have emailed it back to the author, please DO delete the file completely from your computer. This means the trash basket on your desktop too.
Once you have received confirmation that your comments have been received by the author, DO delete “Sent” emails as well.
DO NOT share the manuscript with friends or family. We are in the business of selling books and would love to have them buy the title when it’s published.
DO brag about being a beta reader. Let friends and family know when a book is coming out. Word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool and we need your help as our business gets underway. You played an important part in the book birthing process, so don’t hold back.
DO have fun as a beta reader. We’re readers ourselves and have spent many happy hours in the pages of a book.
What's Needed From You
1. Contact information: Name, mailing address, email, and phone number.
2. Honesty, sense of humor, and some of your time.
Thank you Laurinda, that is excellent advice! For more information about Laurinda you can visit her website at www.laurindawallace.com
About the Author:
I have had the pleasure of interviewing many authors - some well known - some not. I have a standard questionnaire that I send out via email to all authors requesting interviews. On the questionnaire, which I try to update from time to time, are about twenty questions. I ask each author to answer no more than eight because I may have follow up questions to ask them. The best thing about email interviews (aka blog posts) are that you can take your time answering them, whereas a live interview might cause an embarrassing brain blip. For example - you forget the name of your book - which I did - on the radio - and it wasn't pre-recorded. Yes, I was having one of those days. But with an email interview you only need to answer the questions and make sure you have done a proper edit.
How Do Blog Interviews Work?
You have just released your first book, sent out your press releases and now you are getting requests for interviews. If all goes well you will receive interview requests for t.v., radio, newspapers and blog posts. Blog posts? Can they even generate excitement about your book? That all depends on how you treat the questions sent to you.
Not quite. You need to infuse your personality into your interview as well. Let your readers get to know you. Pretend it's a radio interview. How you answer the questions says a lot about you. For example, one worded answers make you sound like an automaton. I have asked the question, "How many books have you written?" and received this answer, "Two." Instead of jumping at the opportunity to promote their other books, the author showed a lack of interest in promoting their work and/or a lack of interest in an email interview. If that is the case - don't agree to do one. If you don't have the time to answer questions in written form, don't agree to an email interview in the first place.
How to Make Your Blog Interview Great
As most of you know, I review Christian books at Interviews & Reviews and for Christian Life in London. On average I receive about three or four requests a week for a book review. Most of the review requests I receive are from self-published authors. However, I have had the pleasure of some of my favourite authors contacting me for a review, along with publicists and agents who have heard about me through Interviews & Reviews.
Usually books coming from publishing houses or agents have been through a thorough edit and have been proofread. And most self-published authors who are serious about their craft have invested in a good edit as well. But today I want to talk to those of you who are new to writing in general and are considering self-publishing or thinking about traditional publishing. It is a warning really. Beware of people who say they are editors.
An editor is first and foremost not your mother, your best friend, or someone who "thinks" they are good at catching grammatical errors. If this is who you have been using to edit your book, stop right now, you are doing yourself no favours. When I receive a book where the author has assured me it has been through an edit and I discover typos, grammatical errors, the frequent use of words like "just" (see my post on punctuation) and the over-use of exclamation points, I know their "editor" is either their mother, or someone who thinks proofreading is the same as editing. They aren't.
So What Should You Look for in an Editor?
There are no degree or education requirements for a good editor. However, having at least a bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications certainly wouldn't hurt. A good editor will help you become a better writer. And a good writer will take the advice of their editor!
When looking for an editor a good suggestion I heard the other day is to ask them for a sample edit. Give them two or three pages from your manuscript and see what they do with it. If they catch your typos - great! If they suggest more appropriate wording - even better. But, if they send it back and say, "It looks great, I wouldn't change a thing." Don't hire them! You may be a good writer, but no one is that perfect. Here are some things you should look for in an editor:
A good editor has a critical eye. That doesn't mean they are critical, difficult people. It means they are unbiased in how they approach your work. Unlike your best friend or mother, who may point out a typo or two, but would never dare suggest you re-write a chapter. Whereas an editor might suggest you re-write a chapter and then after you do, he/she may suggest you re-write it again.
Yes, editing might sound like someone is trying to change your words into their words. And sometimes you may disagree with your editor's suggestions. But in the end you must look at your work with a critical eye as well, because ultimately you will show your manuscript to a publisher or an agent, or you may show it to a reviewer like me. And while I may contact the author and suggest she/he edit their book and resubmit it, publishers don't have the time or patience to point out your mistakes. They will see that it has not been edited and will pass it off as amateurish and move on to the next manuscript in their pile.
What are the things that grab your attention when reading a novel? Romance? Action? Mystery? Suspense? Perhaps your favourite genre doesn't lend itself to romance, but all novels have key ingredients and if you lack them your reader will soon get bored. It is part of your story arc and it is what will make or break your novel.
What are the elements of a good story arc? Pixar seems to have this down to a science and shared some secrets recently on how they did it. You can use their techniques with any genre of story. To put it simply it starts with:
The story as you know doesn't end there but has many more "arcs" (because of that's) that lead to more action and adventure for Harry. Until finally we come to the end of book one and discover . . .
The moral of the story . . . I know the first Harry Potter book had him solving a mystery that saved the school, but for the life of me I can't remember the moral of book one or rather the lesson learned. I think it has something to do with good conquering evil (since they all seemed to have that theme).
The point is, this is why Pixar has such huge success with their stories. They get the audience invested and involved in their characters. Then they create a situation the main character has no control over, which drives the story from there until it reaches a climax, where the character has to make a decision. The decision will either solve or drive the story further. You control that. Until you finally get to your ending. Basically, your story arc is six points that can drive the story forward and to a conclusion.
When I first started writing I made a lot of mistakes. I still do. I'm also cheeky enough that if I think something looks weird, and I know it shouldn't be there, I'll put it in anyway (my title to this post has a no-no). My major problems stem from bad habits. For example, when writing dialogue, I tend to use a lot of exclamation marks. I know I shouldn't. I know that I'm going to have to go back through my manuscript and edit them all out. But, when a scene is exciting, I forget and fall back into my 'old' ways.
I was thoroughly chastised once by a fellow writer, who read an unedited chapter of a novel I was working on. He counted 25 exclamation points - and that was just one chapter! I'm so embarrassed to admit that! Oh my gosh! There I go again! Ack! I can't help myself!
I love exclamation points. They allow me to express myself in ways that a period cannot. And that is the problem. If I have to use an exclamation point, I am telling not showing.
Exclamation points, along with several words that I've learned to cull from my vocabulary are, unfortunately, a no-no in the literary world. My writer friend told me that editors will allow four per novel. Now, I don't know if that's true, but I can tell you one thing - there is no way in a blue moon that I am going to be able to limit myself to four exclamation points in a 300 page novel. It's impossible! See? There I go again.
For what it's worth, I no longer have 25 exclamation points in that chapter. I have zero. I'm heartbroken. I'm also wondering why my English teacher never told me someday I would have to give up these little wonders. I mean seriously, why make them at all if you can't use them? Who decided to cut them out anyway? I may just stage a protest in defence of the lowly exclamation point. But not now, I have to make sure the following words and phrases are not used either. I will protest their demise at a later date. And yes, I used a few of them in writing this post. I'm a writing rebel. I can't help myself. (I got this list a long time ago from a book on grammar and punctuation in writing. I cannot remember the name of the book, but I kept the list just in case):
Get rid of the following words and phrases:
These are all words that have to be done away with if you are a writer. Some of them are filler words. For example: I just went to the supermarket, is better said - I went to the supermarket. See what I mean? "Just" is not needed.
Lesson for today: Go through your manuscript and weed out the above mentioned words and phrases. Oh, and one more thing - don't forget to get rid of your exclamation points!
You've heard the saying, "never judge a book by its cover" but in the world of books that's exactly what many people do. It's that eye-catching title and cover that stands out on the shelf that makes a reader walk across the aisle of the store to investigate. The design, the colour, the picture and the font all play a part in capturing a potential reader. Even the texture and feel of the book can play a part.
But if you think it's just the front cover you have to worry about, think again. You've got them to walk across the aisle to pick up the book, but if the cover on the back of your book is not equally as captivating, they'll be putting it down and walking away.
For a fictional book, your "back blurb" should have the following elements:
As an example, the following is the back blurb on author Laurie Alice Eakes book, Lady in the Mist:
Terri Blackstock gets all these elements in a different format. Can you find them in this back blurb of Distortion?
A husband’s lies can have deadly consequences.
When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voice-mail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.
Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers’ demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband’s dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?
You've spent months (maybe years) on your book, now make it sell and give it the best possible cover you can. Which leads me to where you can go to get that great cover. If you are traditionally published you don't have to worry, as your publisher will have in-house designers. For self-publishers, I highly recommend 99 Designs. They did the cover for my latest book He Who Has an Ear and have done the covers for quite a few of my author friends as well.The best part is they are affordable!
Here's how it works - you tell them what your book is about, what you are looking for in the cover. This is where your writing skills pay off because you really want the designers to understand your vision. Within 24 hours you will have designs from various designers all over the world submitting you a cover idea. I paid for the bronze package (the lowest price). I was told that I would receive no more than 40 designs. I received 80! The books at the top of this page were just some of the designs. And boy was it hard to make a decision, but it was also fun. I was able to get my readers involved in the choice for my next cover by showing them my choices via a poll and they got to vote on their favourite.
Why do the designers do it? It's a competition. The winner gets the money with a percentage going to 99Designs. And you end up with a fantastic looking cover. The picture below was my winning design.
What About Non-Fiction Books?
Non-fiction books work the same way. Here is what I have on the back of my book.
More than two thousand years ago the Apostle John had a vision he received from the Lord. He was told to write seven letters to the churches of Asia Minor. Out of the seven churches only two received commendation from the Lord. The rest were letters of warning. Compromise and disobedience, combined with a lack of knowledge of the Word of God, has placed the 21st century church in a precarious situation. These letters to the seven churches are a message for this generation during these last days. He who has an ear will know what to do and act accordingly.
I have the introduction and purpose. The genre indicates it is about prophecy and that we will be looking at the Bible, so it covers eschatology and theology as well. I did not use any questions in the cover but it wasn't my choice. So, don't be afraid to use them. I had a few questions in my original draft, but because of the picture we used on the back I had to shorten things up in order to make room for my bio and picture. The summation on the back lets the reader know how important the letters in Revelation are to us today and hopefully will intrigue the reader enough to buy a copy.
One final thing you need to remember when designing your cover - don't neglect the spine of your book! Yes, the majority of people are buying online but there are still quite a few people who prefer "real" bookstores and holding the book in their hands before they make a decision. If you are lucky and your book is facing out on a bookshelf your cover will drag them in. However, not everyone is that lucky and you will probably have your book sitting on the shelf with its spine facing out. So make sure that title pops off the spine in big, bold letters.
Remember, you want to capture a reader's attention and you especially want to make a good impression on a reviewer, because they will consider your cover and its appeal in their final review. Put as much effort into it as you did into writing your book. A professional design says you care what your book looks like and it sends a message to reviewers and readers that the inside might be just as good as the outside!