Showing posts with label Saving Scott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saving Scott. Show all posts

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Creating That Perfect Cover

Covers have been a recurring theme this month. I thought I'd share how my cover artist, Dave Fymbo,  and I worked to create the cover for Book 3 in my Pine Hills Police series, Saving Scott. I asked Dave to share his process, and this is what he said:

I start by asking clients what the book is about, what the tone should be, and if they have any images or colors in mind. Then I'll do an initial exploration. I search for free images that would work as well as lay down some text options. Sometimes the right font is the design. But usually the hardest part is finding the right image. For the first round I send between 5 and 10 options. Then I strip away all the text and go round and round until the imagery is perfect. This often includes compositing multiple photos, adjusting colors and contrast, and lighting effects.







(You'll notice he'd already inserted my name in these samples. That's because this is the 3rd book in my Pine Hill Police series, and having continuity is important so readers can identify both my name and the series. The font and placement is the same for all the books.)

We discussed these, and from this selection, we eliminated the scenics because they didn't fit the story(and the book takes place in the summer, so the snow wouldn't work). We also eliminated the chocolate, because although it fit the bakery, it wouldn't match the focus of the book, which was Scott's personal growth, not Ashley's bakery. I also told him I didn't want a "cheery" color scheme, because of the nature of the book.

Once I'd looked at his proposed images, I narrowed it down to three. By this time, I'd decided on the title, so Dave started working those treatments into his samples.




The bakery building and the street scene gave the cover a "cozy" feel, which wasn't appropriate for my romantic suspense genre. Dave worked on the remaining "possibles" and sent another round. I told him which background I preferred, and then he really got to work. In his words:

Once the client picks a background, then I'll start on text exploration. The right font is key. The text is really what separates a professionally designed cover from something that looks homemade. If you have smaller words like "the" or "in" it's helpful to make them smaller. Colors, shadows, 3D effects all help to make a title that pops off the page. Again, I like to send at least 5-10 font choices, so that authors can pick their favorites. And if they don't feel like any are working, I'll come up with 10 more.




And he means it. Dave has the patience of a saint, I swear. After we decided on the right image for the cover, he was willing to tweak things like colors, fonts, lighting, and teeny tiny nudges to the layout—I think we ended up with 16 variations before we agreed we'd found The Cover.

This is the final version:


Dave's philosophy: Because it takes a long time to write a book, the cover should match the writing effort. You can find more about Dave's work at his website.

 You can see all the Pine Hills Police Covers here.

One last tidbit - since covers are one facet of indie publishing, I thought I'd mention that I did a series of "lectures" at the Coffeetime Romance & More forum (and there's no genre discrimination--indie publishing is open to all). If you want to see them, you can find them here.

Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More Eggs, More Baskets - Terry Odell

Please welcome Terry Odell for another interesting and informative guest piece.

I started writing a new book last week. I'd been between projects with other writing-related activities taking up my time. What I didn't realize until I immersed myself in Chapter 1 was that I need to write. It's a stress-release for me. If you're a writer, you write because writing is like breathing. You simply have to do it.

But will it make you rich? If you're looking at the success stories of the few rich and famous authors, you're going to feel like a failure from Day One. There are no overnight success stories. No shortcuts. A writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. And nowadays, when the odds of a new author breaking into the Big Six are getting slimmer and slimmer, and the mid-list authors are going the way of the dodo, I decided to investigate alternate publishing methods.

Yes, I'd heard Joe Konrath preach that e-books were the get-rich-quick scheme of publishing. Two of my publishers focused on e-books, so I was a very early reader of the format. When my publisher remaindered my first Blackthorne, Inc. book, I took it the indie e-book route. I priced it at 99 cents and waited for the money roll in. Only it didn't. Even though I had 5 other books published via more traditional, albeit small presses, I had no track record in the indie market.

But I kept going, adding more books to my list as rights reverted to me. Slowly, I saw royalty checks that were bigger than the ones I'd been getting from my publishers. Mind you, those were so small that "bigger" didn't mean much. I remember rejoicing in my first 3 digit (in front of the decimal point) check.

I watched countless people tout their successes with the Amazon Select program. However, by now, I was selling books at other venues as well as Amazon. I didn't want to risk pulling them and locking them into Amazon only for 90 days. The perk of getting to price books as free didn't make enough sense to me. Most of the stories I'd heard raved about how many copies they gave away, and how high their books moved in the free column at Amazon. But I didn't hear nearly as many stories about how much money they made when they had to move to the for sale side of the business.

My theory, for whatever it's worth, was to make my books available to as many readers as possible, regardless of what kind of an e-reader they had. The fact that I have a NOOK, not a Kindle, played into that decision. Even though the majority of my sales came from Amazon, I wasn't ready to dismiss my other readers.

I took out the occasional ad, played with Facebook and Twitter, but to be honest, those are all crap shoots. Most people don't want to see promotions in the Social Media networks.

Mostly, I kept writing books. I have 8 e-books available now. I bypassed the publisher for my last 3 releases. I've watched my Amazon sales climb each month, so I'm now selling about 80+ books a day there. I don't play with pricing. I don't move books from one venue to another. I find the best promotion is simply keeping one's name visible, and that's a slow process. Just remember: Marathon, not Sprint.

But I broke my own rule last month for a special promotion offered by Barnes &Noble. It was only a 30 day commitment, and only a one-shot deal, unlike Amazon's program. I decided to gamble with my newest release, Saving Scott.

For me, it was a major success. I now have many new readers from Barnes & Noble. I'm selling hundreds of books a day there, where I used to be thrilled with ten. But as soon as my 30 days are up, I'm going to be adding  Saving Scott to all the other e-stores. For me, it's about having lots of baskets, with as many eggs as possible in each one.

If you're interested in my experiences with the NOOK First program you can find them on my own blog in the following posts.

Nook First or Amazon SelectNook First, Week 1:   Nook First, Week 2:  

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Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Her newest indie release, Saving Scott, is part of the Nook First promotion. It will be exclusive at Barnes & Noble for 30 days, but will be available at all other e-book stores the latter part of April.  Her next traditional release is Rooted in Danger, which is book 3 in her Blackthorne, Inc. series. It's available for pre-order. Buy links are HERE. To see all her books, visit her Web site. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.

Posted by Maryann Miller who agrees that slow and steady wins the race. Wait, isn't that a cliche?
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Indie Publishing: Is it Right for You?

Our once-a-month guest, Terry Odell has some great reasons for going indie. Thanks Terry. Be sure to stop by next week to hear from Morgan Mandel, who also embraces indie publishing in a big way.

Indie publishing is, according to Angela James, Carina Press editor, "the new black." Although I've never been much for fashion, this is one trend I'm happy to follow.

Of my nine novels, I've indie-published eight titles. Only two of them would qualify as indie books, since the other five are back list titles, previously released by several different publishers. However, since the rights have reverted to me, they're now mine. And number nine will be on its way this summer.

Indie publishing creates new opportunities for authors. Why did I decide to go indie with mine? Each one had its own reasons.

1. Blurred genre lines. When I tried the traditional route with my mystery, Deadly Secrets, the comments I got included things like, "great writing, great voice, but we can't figure out if it's a cozy or a police procedural." Traditional publisher like boxes. I tend to write outside them.

2. Book in a back list series. My newest release, Saving Scott, is part of my Pine Hills Police series. However, I had the rights back to the first 2 books, and they were already re-released as indie titles. No publisher would want to jump in with Book 3.

3. The bottom line. The small-press publisher of my Blackthorne, Inc. series doesn't contract multi-book deals. Each book has to be completed, submitted, and then it's a waiting game to see if it will be picked up. Plus, for other reasons, including a restructuring of their imprints, there was a good chance that they wouldn't take Danger in Deer Ridge, and even if they did it would be at least 2 years before I would see it published. And although they pay an advance, it is small and barely covers the promotion they expect their authors to do. Since they produce only hard covers for the library market, it's a tough sell to readers who aren't going to shell out $25.95 for an unknown author.

4. It's fallen off the radar. E-publishers publish a lot of books, so you're competing with countless other authors. New releases get the visibility. And, again, it's a bottom line thing. If you have to do your own marketing, are you going to spend it pushing a book where the publisher gets most of the money? Check your contract for reversion of rights. If your book isn't doing as well as you think it could, you might be able to get rights back and publish it yourself. But publishers are growing more aware of the value of e-books, and are tightening the reins on their control.

My advice to those who want to try indie publishing: Just because "anyone can do it" does not mean everyone should. If you've been getting rejections for reasons other than, "we're not sure how to sell this", it's quite likely you haven't yet crossed the line into presenting a professional product. Readers recognize inferior writing, and getting a book out there too soon is likely to do more harm than good.

For all my indie books, I hired a cover artist. I paid for a professional editor. And this is after my crit partners had their way with my manuscripts. About the only place I didn't hire out was for formatting, although I'm still picking up tips on how to deal with the various e-stores' software. (The Smashwords Style Guide is excellent, and their "meatgrinder" will catch a lot of errors.)

You're not restricted to e-books when you go indie. CreateSpace is one outlet that makes it easy to produce quality print books. But it's been my experience that the sales are in the e-books, despite all those who say, "I want to turn real pages."

Another aspect of going indie is the marketing … but that's another story.
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Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Her newest indie release, Saving Scott, is part of the Nook First promotion. It will be exclusive at Barnes & Noble for 30 days, but will be available at all other e-book stores the latter part of April.  Her next traditional release is Rooted in Danger, which is book 3 in her Blackthorne, Inc. series. It's available for pre-order. Buy links are HERE. To see all her books, visit her Web site. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.

Posted by Maryann Miller who has a hard time keeping up with all the new releases by Terry. Good reads all.

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