How to Get a Book Cover for Your Self-Published Book

To get a book cover for your self-published book, you have two choices– You can do it yourself or hire somebody else to do it. This article aims to provide you with the information you need to get a great cover design no matter how you choose to go about it.

Book covers are important. It doesn’t matter how well-written or well-edited your book is if readers don’t get past the cover. Believe it or not, this is one instance where being totally unique or innovative can actually work against you. Readers are often creatures of habit. I like to read romance novels, particularly ones that are light as opposed to tragic. For that genre, I’m looking for a book cover that promises me a romance with a hot guy and a pretty girl (or maybe two hot guys and no girl) and a story that’s not going to bum me out. When I’m looking for a romance, I know the type of experience I want to have. If your book cover is totally wacky and diverges too much from what I’m used to, I’m not going to know that to expect. If I’m not sure it’s what I’m in the mood for, I just might pass on it.

One of the most important parts of developing a cover for your book is to check out books in your genre, either online or in bookstores, or both. Look at bestselling books to see what people are buying. Remember, you don’t want to diverge too much from other books in your genre.

If you’re like most authors, you have some sort of idea of what you have in mind for the cover of the book you’ve worked on for so long. Write down any ideas that you have for your dream cover. You can also do a google search of terms for any type of image that might fit your book. For instance, my book is LGBT equality-themed, so I might simply google the word “rainbows” to get some image ideas.

I do think it’s important that an author be happy with her cover. However, when designing a cover or commissioning a design from a professional, you must stop thinking like the author and start thinking like a publisher. It’s not just about how you feel about the book, it’s how potential readers will feel. What makes them want to buy a book that they may know nothing about? The great thing about being a self-publisher is that, for once, you as the author have the final say in your cover design. Seeing your book in e-print or finally holding your paperback book in your hands is a big deal. It’s a huge accomplishment no matter how you got there, and it should be a happy moment. I can’t imagine the disappointment that traditionally published authors must feel when they’re not happy with the cover that was chosen for them. Still, you must not let your emotions overwhelm you when you are making what is, in essence, a business decision. As a self-published author, you’re not just the writer. You’re also the publisher, printer, and promoter of a product. If you love your cover but it confuses or annoys everybody else, you’re in big trouble.

When hiring a designer, you should approach her with some basic ideas of what you want. Colors often really help set the scene. A thriller should have darker, foreboding colors. A lighthearted romance or chicklit type book should be much brighter. I hate depressing books, so when I’m at the library I find myself looking for bright colors. I’ve probably passed on some really good books over time because their cover colors looked too depressing!

The font used for the cover can also help readers to see right away what type of book you are selling. Be advised that using a font straight from word will make your book look self-published. Though there’s nothing wrong with being self-published, readers should not be able to tell the difference between a traditionally published book and an indie one. That goes for the writing quality as well as the cover!

You don’t want to cheap out when hiring a designer for your book cover, but you don’t have to spend a fortune either. I’ve heard warnings that you should hire a designer who specializes in book covers as opposed to a general graphic designer, but I’m not sure I totally agree with that advice. Though I understand that hiring a professional who designs lots of book covers might be better, I feel that if you do your homework on book covers and work closely with your designer, a talented graphic artist should be okay. You can either hire a designer who does this type of thing for a living or you can hire someone who does it for side work or even as a hobby. Just because you shell out a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean the quality will be better. It should mean that, but life doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes a talented hobbyist will do just as good of a job as an expensive professional.

To find a designer, you can use crowdsourcing sites, such as 99 designs or Crowdspring. You can name price and project and designers will bid on your job. You can even get your money back if you’re not happy. The best way to get a good designer, though, is through word of mouth. Ask other authors about their book covers. Inquire if they were happy with their designer, and then be sure to check out the cover to see what you think. I found an absolutely incredible book cover designer by asking for recommendations from other writers on twitter. The guy’s price was unbelievable and I was thrilled with his work!

If you want to design your own cover, you’re a lot braver and smarter than me. Or maybe you’re just cheap.

Just kidding. From what I understand, it’s not really all that difficult to design your own cover. I’m still not about to try it. I am not what you would call technologically savvy. I simply cannot envision a future in which I design my own cover without it ending in a tearful temper tantrum and possible physical damage to my computer and other surroundings. I would seriously be a danger to myself and others if I attempted it. I have no patience with technology and zero confidence in my ability to understand it.
That being said, it may not be all that difficult for you. The rules for designing your own cover are pretty much the same as if you hired someone else to do it. Be sure that it doesn’t look amateurish. Whether you publish traditionally or you’re doing it yourself, there’s no excuse for sloppy or amateurish work.

If you do it yourself, you can use your publisher’s book cover software. It’s free, but it will have fewer options than other sources. You can also purchase book cover software, but it can get expensive. You can use a book cover template in Photoshop. Completely Novel has a cover creator that you can use for free. Some other do-it-yourself web-based photo editors include Gimp, Splashup, Photoshop Express, and Snipshot. Some image resources include Fotolia, Getty images, Image Base, Abstract Influence, and Free Pixels. Some free programs, like Myecovermaker give you an option to upgrade for a fee.

No matter who you choose to do your book cover designer, there are some things both you and your designer need to know:

Technical Info and Industry Jargon

** Images are made up of dots, known as dots per inch, or dpi. Image resolution for print is higher than for computers, meaning images for print need to be bigger. The standard dpi for print is 300dpi. The standard dpi for digital images, like for Amazon, Smashwords, etc. is 72dpi.

**You will not be able to take a 72dpi image and blow it up to a 300dpi image for print purposes. It will be blurry and distorted.

**Pixel, short for picture element, is a single point in a graphic image. On a color monitor, each pixel is composed of three dots of red, blue, and green that converge to look like one point.

**Resolution means the quality or sharpness of an image.

**CMYK refers to cyan magenta yellow and black. RGB refers to red green and blue. Check with your printer / online publisher to determine which one to use.

**You will need to check with each publishing outlet to determine the exact specifications for your cover. For example, Kindle Direct currently requires a minimum of 625 pixels on the shortest side and 1000 pixels on the longest. It recommends 1563 pixels on the shortest and 2500 on the longest for the best quality.

**Use high-quality images.

**You can use and alter stock images, but be sure your image is not used on any other book cover! Some image sources include istockphoto.com, Archive.org, Library of Congress image collection.

**Always check on the licensing of any image and be sure you are allowed to use it commercially.

General Design Info

**Design to sell.

**The cover should communicate right away what type of book it is.

**Avoid a cluttered look.

**Focus on the main theme of the book. Don’t try to tell the whole story.

**Font is critical and can drastically change the look of the cover.

**The title must be large enough to read on a “thumbnail” size. This is the size that will be used on most electronic media sources.

**For a print book, you will also need to design a spine and a back cover. The back cover should have a blurb/synopsis for fiction or a description for nonfiction. You can also include a short author biography and an author picture. Include any endorsements you might be able to get on the back cover. You will also need to save room on the back for the ISBN # and barcode.

Good luck and feel free to share your final cover with me! I would love to feature it on wannabe pride. You can email me at lindafausnet@gmail.com.

Ebook Covers – Does Yours Meet The Minimum Standards Of E-Retailers? 

10 Tips For Effective Book Covers

Book Cover Design – How To Make A Book Cover Great  [This  Has An Excellent Side By Side Comparison Of Covers Showing You What Works And What Doesn’t ]

Four Steps To Creating A Good Book Cover For Your Self-Published Book  

Book Publishing Advice – Cover Design

10 Ways To Create A Bad Book Cover

Print And Ebook Covers – A Matter Of Resolution

Mystery Of Book Cover Design And Layout 

All Roads Lead To..Finding Out Your Cover Photo Isn’t Unique? 

The Importance Of A Great Book Cover 

Ebook Cover Design And Optimum Size Specifications For Amazon, Kindle, Bn, Nook, Ibookstore, And Ipad Formats.  

Standard Size Of A Book And Understanding Image Size And Resolution.

How To Design A Book Cover In Photoshop 

Kindle Formatting – Requirements For The Kindle Book Cover 

Creating A Catalog/ Cover Image (Kindle Direct Publishing) 

How To Create A Cover Pdf For Your Book (Createspace) 

**Writers:

Join my WRITERS email list for Writing Tips and Book Recommendations!

**Readers:

Join my READERS email list to receive just the Book Recommendations!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

 

33 Weeks Until Publication

Thanks to all the wonderful writers and readers out there for all your support, encouragement, commiseration, and celebration. May you have lots to be grateful for this year!

 

Thanksgiving

 

 

– Linda Fausnet

On Finding the Energy to Deal with Traditional Publishing

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

34 Weeks Until Publication

Right now I’m wrapping up the final query letters to agents and publishers for my middle grade novel, RAIN ON THE WATER, and I’m about to start rewrites on another middle grade novel in January. Of course, I’m still working on getting my novel, QUEEN HENRY, ready to self-publish in July. Though I know it’s possible to self-publish middle grade novels, it seems to me that it would be extremely difficult to market to nine-to-twelve-year-old kids online. Yes, I’m sure there are nine-year-olds are Twitter, but they shouldn’t be! Essentially, I feel like it’s traditional publishing or bust when it comes to my middle grade stories.

It’s amazing to me how different my experiences are with self-publishing vs traditional publishing. When I’m working on my self-publishing project, I feel excited and invigorated. I feel like everything I read, everything I learn, everything I write, everything I DO goes toward the final product. With traditional publishing, I often feel depressed, even hopeless sometimes. So little is up to me with that process. I work extremely hard, but I always hit a huge wall that separates me from the Traditional Publishing World. I’m not allowed in there. That wall is guarded by Agents and Publishers who keep telling me, no matter how hard I try, I do not have permission to enter. For the most part, they’re nice, reasonable, professional people who are not out to get me. It’s just that there are hundreds of thousands of us writers, like peasants, who are begging to get past that wall and they have to tell most of us NO. That’s just the way it is. It’s not personal. They don’t even know who we are. We’re just faceless peasants trying to get in. They don’t even look at us, so they’ll never really know how good or bad we are. We’re just bodies in a crowd.

In the Guide to Literary Agents, there are hundreds of literary agents listed. Out of those hundreds and hundreds PLUS the huge listing of agents listed online at the Association of Author’s Representatives, I found exactly 87 agents who were willing to consider new, unpublished writers and who happened to be interested in my genre. So I queried those 87 agents. Of those 87 agents, 5 of them requested to read a full or partial manuscript. Four of those agents rejected the story kindly and actually had some good things to say about it. In a particularly heartbreaking gesture, one agent said she wanted to represent me and then changed her mind…

It took weeks to pore over all those agent lists. You can’t just go by what’s in the book. You have to go look up the agency online and see what their submission guidelines are and if they are still looking for work in your genre. It’s very frustrating to find an agency that is actually seeking books in my specific genre, only to go online and find out that their policy is to only consider people who are referred by a published author or if they’ve met you personally at a conference. To me, this policy is infuriatingly unfair. Remember the image of peasants trying to get past the huge wall? That’s what it’s like to go to a writing conference. I’ve only been to a few conferences, and I’ve left each one in tears. I found the whole experience frustrating, demeaning, and demoralizing, not to mention it cost me a lot of money that I simply do not have to spare. One conference actually had a session on “How to Make the Most of Your Relationship with Your Agent”. I’m sure the select few who are lucky enough to get an agent might need this session, but for me it felt like a painful slap in the face. That’s like going to a matchmaking conference and having a session for brides on “Planning Your Wedding”.

Now I’m sure there are a lot of warm, wonderful literary agents out there, but I will never forget a comment I overheard from a speaker at a conference. She said “I like doing these things, but you always wind up with a whole line of people who want to talk to you.” I will never forget how small and insignificant that comment made me feel. I didn’t bother to hang around to speak to her. She may be one of the ones whose submission guidelines say you must have met her personally to submit, yet she doesn’t want to talk to you at a conference.

And I don’t care how much social networking you do, most writers DO NOT know traditionally published authors personally. Their virtual peasant line is probably longer than the one for Agents and Publishers. Even the kindest authors do not have time to get to know a bunch of wannabe writers, let alone will they vouch for them. And why should they?

Even when you do find an Agent who is willing to read a query letter from someone she doesn’t know, the odds are still pretty infinitesimal that she will be interested enough in the story to actually take the time to read it. This is totally understandable, but discouraging nonetheless. They may get hundreds of queries every day and they’re looking for a reason to get your query out of their inbox. Wouldn’t you?

If you think getting an Agent is impossible, the odds get worse when you try to approach a Publisher. I pored though all 230 pages of publishers listed in the 2014 Writer’s Market to find publishers in my genre who were willing to review manuscripts of unagented writers.

I found thirteen.

There are thirteen small publishers who will consider my book even though I don’t have an agent.

Several of the listings who refuse to consider me actually state “We suggest you find a literary agent to represent you.” Like I hadn’t thought of that and already been through hell and back trying. That’s like telling someone who lost their job “We suggest you go out and win the lottery”. Sometimes I feel like lottery odds are better than winning the publishing game. I really do.

Of those thirteen listings, two of them require an exclusive of three months. Meaning if I submit my manuscript to them, I’m not allowed to send it anywhere for three months. At that rate, I could submit to four publishers a year. One publisher stated that they required a three-month exclusive “For obvious reasons”. Yes, it’s obvious that you want the odds weighted squarely in your favor and you don’t mind tying the writer’s hands for three months. PASS. Yes, even we peasant writers have a choice when submitting and I’m not wasting my time on YOU.

So. You can see where the feelings of hopelessness come from. You can’t help asking yourself – What’s the point?

I’m wrapping up queries on RAIN ON THE WATER now, so the agony is almost over for this story. But what about the one I’m supposed to start working on in January? I’ve finished the first draft, but of course there’s a lot more work to be done on that one. I’m finding it very hard to summon the energy to start the whole process over again. I can’t help but think that the only thing the future holds for the next novel is more frustration, rejection, and hopelessness. You try to be optimistic, but the harsh truth is that hard work and perseverance really might not be enough, no matter what it says on that inspirational meme.

A wonderful agent recently wrote an article essentially stating that fact. You can have a great query AND a great book and STILL get rejected. Repeatedly, and maybe forever. WHY YOU’RE GETTING REJECTIONS.

I know I’ve painted a rather negative picture of Agents and Publishers here, but the truth is that I’ve encountered a lot of kindhearted professionals in this business. Traditional Publishers really aren’t out to get you. It’s just a numbers game that even really good writers have a very small chance of winning. It’s NOT just about talent. It’s talent and hard work, but it’s also about luck, who you happen to know, and who has enough money to attend lots of writer conferences.

So why try?

It’s getting harder and harder for me to answer that question, especially with the advent of self-publishing. Still, if I want to write middle grade, its keep trying to scale the Agent/Publisher wall or quit altogether. So for this next novel, it’s going to be Traditional Publishing or nothing.

Want to lay odds on which one will happen?

Why am I doing this again?

That’s a hard question to answer right at this moment. But I’m betting that when I open up that first draft I wrote, read it, and start walking in the footsteps of my characters again, I’m going to remember all the reasons why I do this.

-Linda Fausnet

My Book Recommendations

Books, too

 

Below are a few of the recent books I’ve read that I would highly recommend. Enjoy!

COLD by Brandon Shire

A m/m romance that takes place in prison.

PAINTED FACES by L.H. Cosway

Romance novel about a straight drag queen.

THE ONE THAT I WANT by Allison Winn Scotch.

This is the story of a small town woman who finally begins to question if being a wife and mother is enough to make her happy.

LOVERS AND STRANGERS by Candace Schuler

A sweet Hollywood romance novel.

FUR BALL FEVER by Maureen Fisher

Funny and entertaining romance and murder mystery tale.

– Linda Fausnet

On Writing and Waiting…The Road to Self-Publishing

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

35 Weeks Until Publication 

Right now, I’m kind of in a weird in-between kind of waiting period. My self-published book, QUEEN HENRY, won’t be published until July of 2014. I’ve commissioned a cover and have completed about 98% of the editing. I’ve sent out lots of letters and emails to LGBT organizations and celebrity activists in the hopes of getting endorsements for my novel. That part of the project involves an awful lot of waiting. Those people are very busy, and even getting a flat “No” from them takes time. I can’t complete the book and send it for formatting until I’ve waited long enough to see if anyone will actually provide an endorsement. After all, those endorsements would need to be included as part of the book.

After the first of the year, I plan on going back to work on one of my (still untitled!!) middle grade novels. I wrote the first draft over the summer and haven’t looked it since. That’s probably a good thing. It helps you be more objective when you take some time away from a project before looking at it again.

I also just finished a batch of query letters for my middle grade novel, RAIN ON THE WATER, which involves even more waiting. Most literary agents say they will try to respond within 6-8 weeks. That is, if they decide to respond at all.

When I’m working on a book, I tend to really eat, breathe, and sleep the story. I go for daily walks and listen to whatever soundtrack of songs I’ve found that match my story and my characters. On my commute to and from work and even in the shower, my mind is always spinning with story ideas, lines, character quirks,and so forth. Right now, since I’m in between projects, I’m feeling a little lost. Believe me, I still have plenty of work to do and I’m definitely doing it. I’m researching publishers to query for RAIN ON THE WATER for when my waiting period on agents is up (many agents won’t want to represent you if you’ve already queried publishers and been turned down. That’s why I approach agents first). I have lots of reading to do for my self-publishing project and I still have so much to learn about the process. Then there is all the social networking to keep up with.

 I’m super busy and I love it, but right now it’s more research, reading, and learning as opposed to creative stuff. I’m just missing the writing part of writing right now! With the holidays coming up, it just makes sense to wait until the new year to start on rewrites. In the meantime, I’m doing what any good writer should do when preparing to write (or rewrite) a story. I’m reading as many books as possible in my genre to see what’s out there, what my competition is, and what works and what doesn’t. I’m also reading some craft books on writing fiction. This is the nitty gritty, nuts and bolts part of writing. I’ve been doing this for 19 years and, believe me, I still have a lot to learn. This is the non-exciting, unglamorous part of writing, but it’s what makes you the best you can be at your craft.

So there it is. Back to waiting. I just read a wonderful quote that reminded me to be patient.

“Outlast those who are lucky and outwork those who are lazy.” – Jeff Goins

–          Linda Fausnet

‘Alternative’ Parenting Blog

Today, please welcome Alternative Parent Blogger Jenny McGrath! Many thanks to Jenny for providing today’s guest blog.

I had always liked writing, especially as I became older and more confident in the way I viewed the world. I also became much more confident and determined to write about my views and beliefs in the hope that something I write may be a positive read for someone out there in this world. I have gone through many changes in my life, yet I am only 27 years old. Sometimes I feel as if the old me who was in those darker places had read my experiences and understood that things can change, it could have made a difference in how I felt in darker times.

If something I wrote gave comfort to even one person who is lost and helped them get back to where they want to be or to move on to the next chapter in their life, then I would be immensely content with that.

I currently write a blog I set up on blogspot, called, The ‘alternative’ Parent… I use the inverted commas, because I don’t think people should be labeled alternative for believing what they believe or living how they live. I mean, the world is so diverse and dynamic. For me, where I live, this seems to apply to raising your child outside religion (whilst respecting those who are of a religious faith), or vegetarian (just an example of some things I am about) amongst positivity and encouragement being such important ingredients to raising children.

At the moment through my blog and my own facebook promotion of myself, I have had amazing opportunities to guest blog for two amazing parenting sites and been featured on another mothers’ website . I am still amazed at how much interest I have gained, along with some really inspiring and supportive messages I received to my articles.

I like to think of my project as an honest approach into the somewhat unknown. As a first time mama, I have overcome many tough times, many sad times, but have come out of it to the happiest of times. Sometimes it can be the best experience of all to put pen to paper, to write about life experience.

I also want to write about and acknowledge many things people are afraid to talk about which cause a stigma, making such things difficult to talk about… and continuing the circle. Things like miscarriages, bullying, post-natal depression and so forth.

I myself came out of many a lonely day and a teary night to the other side that many, very sadly, don’t. But there are still times when my mind goes back there, and the after effects of the lowest of times, are hard to shake even now.

So, this all comes into my parenting writings. I know that what we experience in younger years can echo for so many years into adulthood. Regarding our children, we should choose our words carefully. We should stop and look ahead at decisions we make now, as to how it may affect their future self.

In all, I want to write about parenting from the point of view of a new mama, who was once a child, once an awkward, lonely teenager, once a mess. Someone who knows who she is. Who still has dark days. But who is able to thankfully rise up, out of the quick-sand like emotions that can drag you down, and not want to let go of your mind.

I have a realistic approach to the world we live in… and like I said, if my writings can make one person out there, see a brighter tomorrow from their darker today, through my experiences… and my honesty,  then my own hard times were worth stories to tell.

I like to write about such things in a positive way, because the world has so much dark, many people forget there is so much light. And we are capable of so much more good than bad.

 

Follow Jenny McGrath on Twitter : https://twitter.com/AltVegMumIre

Read Jenny’s Blog : http://thealternativeparentire.blogspot.ie/

Like her on Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/TheAlternativeParentIre

When It’s Time to Permanently Shelve Your Unpublished Novel

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

 

36 Weeks Until Publication 

Though my Friday blogs focus mainly on my preparation for self-publishing this summer, I still haven’t completely given up on the hope of traditional publishing someday. Today, I’d like to talk about what happens when you reach the end of the line on a given project.

For self-publishing, the “end of the line” can be a very happy time. The end – or what you could even call the beginning – is publication. For traditional publishing, the end of the line can be when you’ve queried all the agents you can find and contacted all the publishers who are willing to accept un-agented material, and, quite simply, nobody wants your work.

I think we all know that writing can be a huge risk. If you do it right, it takes an awful lot of time, work, research, rewriting, and editing to complete a project. No matter how good a manuscript might be, the possibility is great that it will always remain unpublished.

I’ve almost reached that stage with the first manuscript I ever wrote – my middle-grade novel called RAIN ON THE WATER. I wrote it first as a screenplay all the way back in 1994, and then years later, in 2009, I turned it into a novel. I’ve written lots of other works in the meantime, and that’s why it’s taken so long to reach the end of my queries for this one. Today, I sent my last agent query for this book. I reached the end of the all the lists I could find. I plan to give it a few more weeks to hear back from the literary agents, and then I plan to query publishers in December. I don’t expect that it will take that long, since I would be surprised if I find a large number of publishers willing to look at unagented work.

There’s almost a sense of relief in letting this novel go. Not worrying about querying for this one means one less thing I have to do. I have another middle grade novel that I plan on querying with  in the next few months ( I won’t consider self-publishing any of my middle grade work, because I can’t imagine how you would market to nine-year-olds online). For that one, I’ve decided I want to wrap up the queries much faster, rather than letting it drag on for years. I hate to sound pessimistic, but twenty years of writing will do that sometimes. I figure I will query the list of agents, then publishers, get rejected by everybody, and then move on to other projects…

Still, it is a little difficult to let this novel go. It was the first story I ever wrote! There are a lot of memories associated with it. I remember exactly where I was when I came up with the idea for the book (college lounge room). I remember the field trip to the Indian burial ground when I was doing research for the story. I remember all the reading I did about Native Americans. The Native music I listened to. All the heart I put into the story and the characters. I remember that day when I lived in Baltimore and we were in the middle of a huge snowstorm in 1996 and I received a phone call from sunny Los Angeles. It was the producer from Mega Films, Inc, telling me she wanted to option my screenplay. I remember years later when another producer, from Runaway Productions, also optioned RAIN ON THE WATER. I remember reading the story to my kids. They really liked it. My kids are very sweet, and they would tell me they loved it no matter what, but I would know if they were lying. My son always insists that he loves my dinner, even when I burn it beyond recognition. I know he’s lying, but I love him for it. I know my kids. I know when they’re bored. They’re not good fakers, and I’m telling you, my daughter was on the edge of her seat when I read her this book.  I was surprised at how much she got into it. I really was. At the time, she didn’t really realize that, since it was a kid’s book, of course everything would turn out okay! She even read the book AGAIN on her own. That really floored me.

I also remember the years and years of rejection. I remember the literary agent from New York City who told me she loved the novel. She told me she wanted to represent it. Then she ignored me for two months, leaving me hanging, only to finally summon the energy to tell me she was “too busy” to represent my novel after all.

I get the rejection thing. I do. But there’s no excuse for the particularly cruel type of disrespect for a writer displayed by that agent. I still don’t know how  she was able to say something like that, all but promising representation, and then walk away without a word for months. I can’t help but hope that one of the publishers DOES say yes. With a deal on a table, it would be easy to get an agent to represent me. I can’t help but wish I could go back to that agent and tell her that if she hadn’t been so heartless, I would have let her have this deal without her even having to do anything!

Okay. Back to reality. That’ s not likely to happen. What is likely to happen is that I will close out my querying for RAIN ON THE WATER by the end of the year. The sun will set on that particular book, and I will start 2014 without that novel being in my life anymore.

Of course, nothing that you’ve written ever really goes away. The lessons you’ve learned and the experiences you have stay with you. I can truly say I gave it my all with this novel, and it’s okay to let it go.

I think it’s almost time.

– Linda Fausnet

Why I Won’t Read Your Self-Published Book

It’s heartbreaking to me when I hear self-published authors wondering why no one is reading or buying their books when the answer seems so obvious to me.
It’s usually because your book is, quite simply, not well-written.

 
As a supporter and promoter of indie authors, I do try to read as many self-published books as I possibly can. I often find out about these books on twitter and then I follow the link to get more information about them. The first thing I do is read the description, or blurb, of the book. I skim it first to see if it sounds like it was written by a professional. If it the writing is choppy or contains ANY grammatical errors, I click off the page and don’t look back. If I know there’s no way I will be able to give a book a good review, I simply won’t bother reading it. I won’t give any book fewer than three stars because I want to help writers and not hurt them. I won’t publish a review of two stars, but I also won’t bother to buy or read a two-star book if I can avoid it.

 
Your book MUST be written and edited professionally or it won’t be taken seriously. It’s as simple as that. Readers are savvy, and they can tell if you didn’t bother to get your book professionally edited and they can tell if you are a newbie because your book reads like it. I don’t care if it is your first book – I shouldn’t be able to tell that from your writing. With traditionally published books, you usually only know it’s a first book because it has the word “debut” somewhere on the cover.

 
One of the most common mistakes I see in a book’s description is run-on sentences. The writing is choppy, unclear, and in need of editing. For example:
Rebecca Miller is seeking answers to her past because she was abandoned as a baby and has heard rumors that her parents were unicycle-riding clown performers in a traveling circus and she has always wanted to be in a circus so she needs to unlock the truth of her past before she has to take the bar exam and spend the rest of her life as a tax attorney in Las Vegas.

 
VS:

 
Rebecca Miller has always longed to entertain. Abandoned as a baby, she’s heard rumors that her parents were unicycle-riding clowns in a traveling circus. She embarks on a quest to find her parents and unlock the truth to her past, lest she be forced to spend the rest of her life as a tax attorney in Las Vegas.

 
Ludicrous plot aside (well maybe it’s not that bad after all…don’t steal my idea!), the first plot description needs serious editing for clarity and readability. If the plot description doesn’t sound like it was written by a professional author, you can bet that the rest of the book will be no better. And there is absolutely, positively NO EXCUSE for typos in the plot description. NONE.  In a 200-400 page book, the occasional typo is inevitable no matter how many editors you’ve hired. It’s human nature to make mistakes, and you will even find the occasional one in traditionally published books. However, there is no reason on the planet why you should have typos in the plot description. That’s like having a typo on a movie poster. You CANNOT allow that to happen.

 
If the book description passes the test, my next step is to download the sample. Same deal. If it looks poorly written or contains typos, that means I will pass on it.
I almost feel bad for traditionally published authors.

 
Almost…

 
It used to be a very big deal if you were an Author. Being an Author meant you were represented by an agent and/or your book was good enough to pass through a bunch of gatekeepers. It meant a publisher was willing to spend a lot of money on it to get it into libraries and bookstores. Nowadays, there are absolutely no barriers, no tests, no obstacles to getting published and calling yourself an author. Absolutely anybody and everybody can do it. Though I believe you should spend YEARS learning your craft before you publish, nowadays you don’t have to. You can publish a crappy first draft without editing it and Boom! Congratulations, you are now a Published Author without having to pay any dues whatsoever! No learning curve, no rejection, just publication!
But it doesn’t mean anybody other than your mother and a bunch of writer friends are going to read and review your work.

 
I know I sound a little harsh here, but believe me. I WANT you to be successful. I just want you to work for it like everybody else. I’d like to say “If it were easy being an author, then everybody would do it”, but sometimes I feel like everybody DOES do it, but not everybody works for it.

 
The truth is that many self-published books are as good or even a lot better than traditionally published ones. Always remember that traditionally published authors don’t have to prove that their books were good enough to get published. YOU DO. Like it or not, you already have major strikes against you as a self-published author. People are looking for a reason not to read your books. Even pro-indie people like me are looking for those reasons. I read the book description on books in the library to see if I like the story idea, but I’m not scanning for typos and choppy writing because I know I don’t have to. I know that a team of people have already corrected anything that might be wrong with the writing. I want to be able to do the same with self-published books. Don’t let any errors stand in the way of your story.

 
So, if you find that nobody is reading your books, take a good hard look at your description and your sample. Does it read well? Are there errors? Did you get it professionally edited? It’s not easy to accept that you may have made some major mistakes as first-time author, but it’s not too late. Be brutally honest with yourself. If you published too soon, before you were really ready, pull the book. Fix it. Publish it again and this time do it right.
Once you do that, I can’t wait to read it, review it, and share it on my WannabePride blog.
Good luck and Happy Writing!

–          Linda Fausnet

 

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