“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” Mark Twain

Saturday, May 26, 2012

To Free or Not To Free...and Bookcover Update

Sorry, just had to grab that title. I'm debating whether to give my book away for a day or two. There are pros and cons.

Pros: More downloads. Who doesn't like free? More readers, more reviews, maybe. More exposure leading to more sales. Do people who download free books write reviews? I do because as an indie author I know that's what is needed to sell books. I suspect most people don't. Free boosts your ranking on Amazon's things temporarily and sales get better for a few days. You can try out new genres and authors with no dollar commitment. Libraries are good for that, too, although mostly limited to traditionally published authors.

Cons: I worked hard on my book! For literally years. I want people to read it, sure, but I also want to make a little money. Some people have thousands of free books on their ereaders. And dozens, if not hundreds more free books become available every day. I have downloaded a few of varying degrees of skill and genres. If people get used to free books, will they ever buy one from an unknown writer? Are indie authors jeopardizing our futures by giving things away now? I know some authors who have given away tens of thousands of books and sold a few hundred. Granted, much more than I've sold...

I guess time will tell on that one. Indie publishing and marketing is still relatively new and most readers still rely on paper books so the dust has yet to settle. There are at least three pages on Facebook that post free Kindle books. I think they somehow make a little money with their sites.

Right now, I'm thinking when I get my next book out there--probably Whatever Doesn't Kill You--I'll do the free thing. Then, if someone likes it, I'll have another book they can buy that will have a sequel in a few months. I'm not very business-gifted. I don't know how to play in that sandbox.

But, in the meantime, I finalized the cover for Another Place on the Planet. I went with the pink, but rearranged and added a flower and used the cubism effect. I really like it. Using GIMP, it has 10 layers, if you know what that means. I've improved my skills on that program all by myself, using the little  couple people showed me. I'll utilize the same model for the other two books, using different lily varieties and colors.

So, that's the latest mental wanderings of this indie author. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Woman and boy working on homework togetherI spent the last three weeks making connections. Very temporary connections with very young people of various races and cultures. I, a total stranger, stepped into their classroom and walked them away to another part of their school's campus to read tiny stories, ask questions and do brain-related activities. They all came. The vast majority stayed with me the 35-45 minutes it took to do the assessment--they all had the option to refuse. They didn't know I checked out okay with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and passed a security check performed by their school district. I said, "Come, please." Their teacher said, "You go." Children are very trusting.

view detailsI learned a little about each child in our short time together. One boy with long braids wanted to learn more about creatures (insects.) I knew right off that a little girl was too scared to stay for the assessment. She was very withdrawn, more than shy, like something scary was going on at home. Some kids were reserved until I showed them a page of 30 lines of small pictures of puppies, soccer balls and coffee cups where they were to circle a certain arrangement of the pictures. Often, their eyes widened at the seeming enormity of the task. I said, "Dunh dunh dunh..." in an ominous way, and they smiled and embraced the task. That made it fun for me, too. I liked seeing their reactions.

One little kindergartener slipped her hand into mine as we walked back to her classroom. How sweet! That was like the highlight of the three weeks for me. Somehow, we touched hearts in a way we probably can't explain and won't remember. It was special though, and affirming.

view detailsI also reestablished a few connections made in the fall when I did this job then (field research with Harvard U. and U. of Michigan.) And I made some new friends. Some of us connected on Facebook as soon as we got home!

I used to be a very shy person. I could walk into a room and be totally unnoticed. Quiet, overweight and ignored, it's a good position to observe people. Beware, the quiet ones are watching and listening... But that kind of treatment confirmed my self-talk that I was an uninteresting bumbling dork, condemned to life in a society that didn't acknowledge my existence, let alone my worth.
Businesswoman hiding
I credit writing for bringing me out. And maybe middle-age. As a writer wanting to improve, I reached out to a critique group and organized write-ins for NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy. I've met writers and others online I wouldn't hesitate to meet in person. Talking about my writing lights me up and gets other people excited, too. People express awe when I tell them I wrote a novel.

Following this dream, accepting and using my God-given creativity has given me a new door to life. A wide French door with a beautiful view of people, ideas, emotions, dreams and experiences. And a door I can also close for awhile to create alone, as most writers do. That's a time I still crave and cherish. Each fuels me for the other. It's a glorious thing.

How do you connect with people? How do your personal giftings help or hinder forming new and improving old relationships?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bookcover Blues

Posts here had been getting slightly more frequent. Then I took a temp job. In the fall I worked with Harvard U. and the U. of Michigan doing field research for four weeks. I'm back at it for three. My brain is kind of dead when I get back, at least for writing. Maybe from talking too much all day. I have four days left. Might be a good time to rethink the cover for Another Place on the Planet. Hopefully, a new cover will improve sales.

One of many challenges for undersourced indie authors is the issue of book covers. As with anything, a book cover can be bought from a graphic artist. I suppose finding someone who will understand your vision for your book's audience, genre and story can involve quite a bit of finger (keyboard) work. And I also imagine how much you spend doesn't necessarily dictate the end result. It's equally possible to get something awesome from an inexpensive but sympathetic new graphic artist as it is to get something unusable from a highly paid pro.

But, with no budget, I'm left to my own devices. I have a little design background and a natural visual talent. I'm working my was through GIMP, a free program similar to Photoshop. I like learning, but wish it didn't take so much time.

Scrapped when I saw proof copy.

New and improved?

I don't think many people get the minimalist image I developed for the cover I published with. I spent days and days on GIMP getting the lines as uniform as I could. I redid it when I received the first printed proof and spent more days reshaping the faces, which lots of people don't see. My daughter said I should lose the purple and the curly romantic font. Perhaps I should.
 (Side note: I had a Jane Eyre book cover on my desk and used Michael Fassbender's photo as a model for the male face on the new cover. Happy coincidence!)

First attempt at GIMP and cover design.
This is my first cover. My nephew took the photo of the lily. We had a photo shoot. This one turned out way too pink. A couple people in my critique group say it's not what they pictured. Not that I should base everything on others' opinions, but outside input is helpful.

The latest effort.

My most recent, I do not love. The photos capture elements of the story, but the they're bland, I think. It looks more like a "normal" book cover. However, it doesn't capture the spirit of the book.

The newest idea would include orange lilies, swirl brushes, maybe a female figure, and a orangey-yellow-gold color scheme.

My thinking has rarely meshed with that of the crowd, but I want to sell to the crowd. That's where I want to share my little bit of insight or whatever my book has to offer. What's a dorky author to do? Sigh.

I think I will know the perfect cover when I see it. How many will I have to create before that happens?

Meanwhile, I changed to the new cover on Smashwords and Amazon.

What do you look for in a book cover? Have you ever questioned the cover after you finished the book?