Birth of a Book Cover

Developing the right book cover for your new work involves far more than simply choosing a more durable paper stock and a lovely graphic. Like almost everything else in the publishing industry, when done well, the addition of a book cover appears quite simple. And that appearance of ease and simplicity is part of the goal.

In the time it takes to write, edit, and prepare a manuscript for publication authors find themselves responding to “tell me about your book” or “describe your work in progress” over and over again. Eventually, though, that book gets published. Who, then to “tell me about your book?”

Who’s Going to Tell About Your Book?

If you guessed the book cover you’re absolutely right and have arrived at its purpose: the book cover stands in for the author when she is not available. Its job is to tell about the book, to let the prospective reader know a little bit about why the author loved this story enough to tell it — and why they’re going to love reading it. That’s a tall order and one not generally fulfilled by a prefabricated cover design.

A great book cover is comprised of several parts: the title, the spine, the inside front and back cover copy. We will look at some of those parts in the future. Today we’re going to start with the overall image which likely includes some of those other components. The simplest way to do that seems to be to trace Nancy Blanton’s process as she created the cover for When Starlings Fly as One. Or, as one reader asked, “How did you get from A to B?”

Young Woman in a Dutch Portrait

The process started, as it always does, in Nancy’s glorious imagination and the cover pictured at the top of this post. As readers of her first series know, Nancy is a great fan of the portraits of the time. She was intrigued by the young woman and truly loved the Dutch portrait initially featured on the cover; it inspired many aspects of the protagonist and her personality.

We posted a few versions of that first cover on Nancy’s Facebook page and on the Amelia Indie Authors page as well and asked her existing readers about their preferences.

While both Nancy and her support team appreciated those comments they were not at all what we expected. Frankly, we thought the crowdsourcing would provide a clear preference. At first it did not. After reviewing the comments elicited by book cover number one, Blanton and the team moved from confused to inspired. In our experience, that’s what readers do: they inspire.

The Trip from A to B: Readers Inspire

Although the book covers look very different from one another, there are a number of logical steps from point A to point B. Here’s some of what Nancy had to say when she recently shared the finished book cover on social media:

You truly inspired the new look. We’ve used the murmuration background that was most favored, along with the preferred type style for the title, and made sure it was clearly readable. We also retained the castle image, though it is on the back cover now. And though I truly loved the Dutch portrait of a young woman, several of you pointed out that use of it on the cover could discourage male readers.

This is a book for all genders, for anyone who is interested in Ireland. That interest is the core that will attract readers to the book, and so we put Ireland on the cover. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

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When Starlings Fly as One

Publication date: June 23rd

Be sure to follow Nancy on the social media platform of your choice.

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Although the book covers look very different from one another, there are a number of logical steps from point A to point B. Click To Tweet

After reviewing the comments elicited by cover #1, Blanton and the team moved from confused to inspired. In our experience, that’s what readers do: they inspire. Click To Tweet

The simplest way seems to be to trace Nancy Blanton’s process as she created the cover for When Starlings Fly as One. Or, as one reader asked, “How *did* you get from there to here?” Click To Tweet

 

Words We Love – #wordnerds

Many authors find it easy to become overwhelmed, to feel as if they’re behind in their goals. The words just don’t come. Or, if and when they do, they are clunky and pathetic.

This feeling of heaviness can slow us up even further — so much so that we can forget why we do what we do. We forget all of the wonderful stories we have to tell and the amazing “characters” we’ve met — people whose stories are itching to be shared.

We forget there are readers “out there, somewhere” waiting for that next release. We forget that any political- or pandemic-related heaviness will eventually pass as well.

Sometimes we even forget the love of words that launched us as readers and, probably not long after, as writers.

In an effort to lighten the mood and to celebrate those wonderful building blocks that allow us to do what we do, Amelia Indie Authors started to celebrate Word Nerd Wednesdays. Members of our team create delightful graphics, in celebration of some of the quirky words we love and would like to get to know better. The posts are light and social and (we hope) lots of fun.

#WordNerdWednesday

Funny, as I think about our collection of weird words, I’m reminded of the usual Monday night homework in elementary school days. You might have had the same assignment. On Mondays we would receive a list of new spelling words. After copying them down from the chalkboard, our homework was to look up each of them in the grown-up dictionary and write the definition beside each word.

I don’t know about you but this almost always turned into a very long assignment for me. Each page was a source of adventure as I got distracted by the tastiness of all of those amazing ideas. They were magnetic.

The Amelia Indie Authors are not the only ones with such a fascination. Some authors are intrigued enough to create entire books on the topic. Favorite Husband and I are currently on a lengthy road trip so my personal collection is in storage. As I looked around Amazon for the exact titles and publishing info, I turned up a few new ones. (So far I’ve managed not to buy any new ones. So far.) Perhaps one of these will speak to you.

If you’re on social media, you can find our Word Nerd Wednesday offerings on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. When you run across them, please take a moment to “like” or comment. If you find a particular favorite, go ahead and share it. Believe it or not, that’s a wonderful way to attract people to our work.

We also invite you to use the comments section of the posts to suggest new words for consideration. In fact, if you have any favorite “weird words” you’d like us to add to the queue, please add them in the comments below.

It’s Easy to Tweet About This

We forget all of the wonderful stories we have to tell and the amazing characters we’ve met — people whose stories are itching to be shared. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we even forget the love of words that launched us as readers and, probably not long after, as writers. Click To Tweet

Funny, as I think about our collection of weird words, I’m reminded of the usual Monday night homework in elementary school days. Click To Tweet

 

 

You Can’t Launch in a Pandemic: 2 Disagree

textCan you still launch a book during a pandemic?

We’ve got two accomplished indie authors who show it can be done.

After spending all the time, effort, and money required to publish a book, no author wants to release it to the public when it’s likely to land with a silent thud. Promoting a book during a pandemic might seem like a non-starter in terms of drawing an audience. But that doesn’t have to be true if you’re smart about your timing, and use your contacts and technology to your advantage.

Two authors associated with Amelia Indie Authors launched their books successfully during 2020. Co-op member Esther Jantzen released her children’s book, and Donna Overly, a client, released the first book in her second ‘Knot’ series. Both found their efforts worthwhile, and shared their experiences with us.

Contacts from Around the World

Esther’s book, WALK: Jamie Bacon’s Secret Mission on the Camino de Santiago, is a travel adventure mystery written for grades 5 – 9. It’s a tale about the missteps, adventures, and heroism of an 11-year-old American boy who walks the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain with his home-schooling family.

Her book launch relied largely on Zoom — the platform many of us have come to know well over the past several months. She wisely had two people helping her with content and technology, and invited her contacts from all over the world, resulting in 54 participants.

I had a very good Mistress of CeremoniesLinda Heiderera long-time friend who loves to be on stage, teach and communicate. We have Camino connections; her enthusiasm and respect for the book really carried the day,” Esther said. “Linda insisted on a script for the launch—which at first I resisted, but in the end, I found it really helped the flow and allowed me to say what I wanted to say. We went through three or four drafts to get it to the place where it was presentable.”

Tech Support to the Rescue

She also hired a technical helper so that she and Linda could focus on content. “It’s wonderful to have someone admit people to the Zoom space, conduct the poll, spotlight other speakers, call on participants with raised hands, put up visuals, and make sure there’s a recording. That was invaluable!

Esther thought about how to keep the event engaging and involve participants. This included having her grandkids do the readings—appropriate since it is a children’s bookand a Two Truths and a Lie’ Q&A game which people responded to via Zoom’s polling feature. This broke up the speaker parts while transferring information about her book, and it gave participants something to do.

I actually hired a very, very expensive coach because I really had no idea how to do a launch. She’s the one who came up with the idea of having my grandchildren read, and helped me figure out the things I needed to communicate up front. The game was my idea, and if there’d been more time, it would have been fun to play more.

Esther provided all participants with a graphic poster to share, and asked them to support her efforts by promoting the book to their own contacts.

Drama, Suspense, Romance

Donna’s book, The Shackle, continues the King family saga from her first trilogy, and is also a stand-alone novel mixing the elements of drama, suspense, and romance against a backdrop of human trafficking.

She struggled with the timing of her book launch, thinking that if she delayed her launch until the pandemic was under control via a vaccine, she’d be able to benefit from direct sales during a book tour.

red and white UNKs restaurantWithout knowing how long the pandemic would last and knowing that I have goal to release one book a year, I honored my timeline. Studies show that people are reading more with the pandemic and the stay-at-home, isolation, quarantine, and social distancing.

By proceeding with her launch plans, she could make her book available online to those readers much sooner than if she had decided to wait.

Donna also used technology to advantage during a limited launch event at a local bookstore. Only 20 people could attend, wearing masks and social distancing, but the event was live-streamed on Facebook for virtual participants, and was recorded for later use in promotions.

Goodreads Give-away

Meanwhile, she continued her list of traditional marketing activities, which included her website, blog posts, e-mail newsletters, and Facebook posts. “I launched a give-away through GoodReads, promoting it 10 days ahead. I chose the dates and the number of copies I would be giving away. There were three winners. I got 800 people to sign up, so that is marketing to 800 folks,” Donna said.

She also attempted a book signing at a local bookstore on a main thoroughfare. “I feel that the mask limits interaction with people on the street, making it harder to initiate a conversation. I did this one day and sold no books, but I will be doing it again.

More people have bought my book online since they realized that I could not get to them on a tour. I still hope to be able to tour in Pennsylvania and Texas with my book in 2021. Maybe waiting until the fall I will have another book to market as well.”

Lessons from Our Pandemic Launchers

And so, what are the lessons we learned from these wise authors?

1. Life goes on, and readers continue to read. Stick to your plans, but be flexible and adjust them according to current situations.
2. Be prepared. Both Esther and Donna did extensive planning and preparation before launching their book.
3. Don’t give up. Even if your book sales aren’t what you hoped for, keep reaching out to your audience, and get to work on the next book.
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