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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

As Promised...

Well, if you read yesterday's post, you know all about today's post. Today's the day I talk about a series of books I'm going to be releasing in the next few days... official release date set for book one: 04-15-2013.  Book two is set for about a month after.  Okay, without further delay, here are the covers for the first two books!



What do you guys think?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Wow, Steve, where can I get more information about your titles? I really wish you'd throw down some more shameless self-promoting links!"

Oh, um, sure... yeah, I can do that. I mean, if you're insisting:

Official website

Goodreads

The titles aren't live on Amazon yet, but they will be. I will add some links to the site when that happens.

Now, let's talk about the contest, shall we? I'm sure you've noticed the contest thingy below.. There's another one on the website linked above. Basically, I'm giving away at least 15 copies of the eBook for GLIMPSE and at least 1 physical copy of the book.   I wanted to make it very easy for anyone to get a couple entries and for those of you who have accounts around the web(twitter/goodreads/ etc) you'll find it pretty easy to get all the points.

I really am curious to hear what you guys think of the covers and of the website. The website still has a couple pages that are under construction, but it's got a lot of information on there now, and I hope you'll check it out.

Thanks again for your support guys.

Cheers!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

News!!!!

If you followed my blog from the beginning, you know that some time ago I sold a series of books to a publisher. That publisher went the way of the birds and all rights formally reverted back to me.  My titles never made it through the production line, and so they were never published.


To make a very long story short, I discussed my options with my agent, and decided to put the titles out myself. My agent is still going to handle some aspects of the books (foreign rights... etc), and he's still pitching my latest unrelated manuscripts to publishers, but I am going to put this series out on my own.


"But Steve," you say, "what in the world do you know about self publishing?"

Good question. Actually, in the back of my mind I always hoped to one day be a hybrid author. I wanted to have some titles released on my own, and some titles released through traditional presses. One of the things that drew me to my agency, Dystel Goderich Literary Management (DGLM), was the fact that not only do they represent some of the biggest names in traditional publishing, but they also represent some of the biggest names in self publishing.

 Anyway, I've spent a great deal of time researching the publishing industry, including self publishing.

I researched  market shares, and marketing techniques, and what accounts were required to put the books out on my own. I read interviews and watched the trends of children's book publishers. I talked to cover artists, and editors, and designers, and people who format manuscripts for print. I discussed the challenges with some of my friends who have self published and I took their advice to heart. I spent time working as a slush reader for a publishing house just to get a better feel for what happened behind the scenes. I even took university classes focused on the publishing industry.

I spent a few years doing that, and you know, as prepared as I was, there was so much I didn't know when I actually started taking the steps to self publish. So much I didn't think of. If I didn't have a number of great friends who had walked the path before me, I would would be wondering in circles right now, muttering to myself and probably drooling a lot.

I won't forget their support, and my hat goes off to them, and all those other self publishers who really put out a good product. That takes a lot of work.  It's one of those things that you really have to do before you can fully appreciate the effort that goes into it.

More than anything I want readers to look at my books and know that thought went into their creation. Not just the writing, but the production too. I spent months thinking about cover designs and preparing briefs for artists. I thought about trim size, and format, and interior design. I hired editors and put the manuscript through the paces. In short, I tried to approach the production of these books the way a publisher would.

I don't take the fact that I'm asking people to buy something I've made lightly. But even if the title was free, I'd still be asking people to spend a great deal of their free time with it, and that's not something I take lightly either. I hope that comes through.


"Alright, enough, Steve!" you say. "Get on with it. Where are these so-called titles?"


Ah, yes, the books. Tomorrow I'm posting all about them. I'll show covers, and tell a bit more about what the books are about. There will be links to websites where you can see more about the books too.

There will even be a contest. A huge one. The biggest one I've ever thrown* (*never thrown one before, so ... yeah....).

I hope you guys will wonder back this way tomorrow and check it out.

Cheers!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

It's not ALL about the cover... but today it is. Today I show you a few self-published authors who got it right!

 This post is in response to a disagreement I got into with another writer, about self published authors. See, I am now, and have long been of the opinion that it matters very little if you're self-published, or traditionally published. What matters, in my opinion, is being well published.

To me, that means being professional. And I'm not talking about how you act, though that is certainly important. What I'm taking about is how you approach the publication of your work. If you're an author and you want to self publish, being professional would mean you have a realization that being a self publisher means you ARE a publisher.

Self publishing is not meant to be the cheap way, or the fast way, or the easy way. Not if you're doing it right. Not if you're asking people to pay you for a product. If you're doing it right, it's going to cost you money. You are going to have to pay for editing. That's a fact. Your neighbor or aunt or high-school English teacher is not an editor. And your cover... well, your cover matters. Your buddy who takes really cool pictures, is not a cover designer.  A picture of your hamster does not a cover make!

The aforementioned disagreement was when the writer indicated that self published authors don't care--as a blanket rule--about quality. He said he's never seen a self published book cover that could hold water to a commercially published book. Well, I wholly disagreed and promised to show him the light.

See, the self-publishers who take it seriously stand out. The ones who take it seriously have books that could sit on a shelf in a store and you would never know it was self published. They understand the importance of marketing. 

Since I tend to focus on children's literature in my blog, I'm going to do so for this post too (that's MG and YA).

First up: I've taken a self published book and grouped it with a couple comparible books published by major publishers. What do you think? Do they fit in with their competition?




Do you know what I see when I look at those books? I see an author who did market research. They looked at the covers in their target audience, and they made theirs compatible, they made theirs fit.

Next up, just a few self published book series that I would add to any list of wicked book covers!





And just so I can punctuate this post with one final flourish, here's a few more...






So, there you have it. There are dozens more, truly, but this is just a small sample of self published authors who. at the very least, care about what their products look like. These books could sit on the shelf of any bookstore or library and you'd never know they were self published. Because like I said, it doesn't matter if you're self or traditionally published. What matters is that you're WELL published.

Design is just one component of that, mind you. Editing is another biggie, but that's a topic for another day. 

PS- I will add links to take you to the author sites soon. . .

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Doppelganger Book Covers . . . BEWARE!



Do you ever see a book cover and think: "Hmm, there's something familiar about those covers. . . I can't quite put my finger on it. . . ." You have? Well, maybe that's because you've read a book that used the same cover as another book.

"Egads," you say, "it's not true, Steve. Covers are sacred. They're designed in such a way that they are not meant to be shared.They're an entirely unique graphic representations of what the reader will experience when they read it. The very notion of images being used in more than one book is . . . well . . . it's sacrilege!" 

Uh huh, sure. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show (Yep, they're all real covers):















Now a lot of people look at these covers and think: “Oh, those poor authors. They must be devastated." I've heard people compare it to  showing up at a party wearing the same dress as someone else (we all know how that feels, right ladies?). Only it's actually doubly worse since you can’t just run home and change a  cover the way you can an outfit. 

But my question is: is it really something to get upset about? Is it really troubling?

Sure, it could be confusing to readers if the two books are in the same genre and would normally be shelved together. But I don’t know if it’s a great deal more confusing than books with the same titles – of which there are piles. Just wander into Amazon and title search “Fallen” or “The Fallen” and see how many matches you get. 

I kind of like seeing twin covers. I find it fascinating to see how each designer approached the same picture differently and made it somewhat unique. Maybe they added colors, or effects, or additional graphics. Or maybe it's just the typography that's different and it's very cool to see how text can change a tone of an image. 

Now, we may stop and stare at these twin-covers, and point, and maybe giggle a bit, but  let’s not forget that for every twin-cover you spot, there are a dozen sibling-covers. That's right, "Sibling Covers." I don't think I coined that term, though I can't recall hearing it before. But just in case I did, what I mean by “sibling-cover” is a book cover that might not be identical, but is incredibly similar. 

Sibling covers would look like these:



They're not using exactly the same images, but they're pretty close. 

So what do you guys think? Would you be horrified to find that someone out there has the same book cover as you? Or do you think it would be something you’d laugh off?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mustache For Maddie





 I was going to start a series of posts today, and I was just wondering through some of the bloggers I follow, catching up on what’s what, and spotted blogger SHALLEE MCARTHUR, and saw she was getting involved in a very worthwhile cause. I wanted to lend my support, too. 

 It’s all about supporting author Chad Morris and his family. He recently wrote about his daughter, Maddie, who had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to have surgery. I have a difficult time thinking of anything that would be more frightening than that for a parent (and his daughter) to go through.

I urge you all to follow the links in this post to learn more. 

The long and short of it is that Maddie is a fan of pictures of mustaches, and so they’ve asked for support by way of mustache photographs to keep her smiling.

 Since it would take me the better part of the year to grow a mustache, and because my wife would kick me to the curb immediately for growing one, I’m going to get involved by offering up this picture of my son who, as you can see, seems to be trying to eat his mustache.  

Get well soon, Maddie!