How to Write 5000 Words in Two Hours

11. Watch Futurama.

22. Eat a sandwich.

33. Play around with making book covers.

44. Play Everquest 2 as a hairy barbarian.

55. Eat a chocolate chip cookie.

66. Take a nap.

77. Oh, uh, write, I guess.

 

…and now it’s time for another nap!

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How to Self-Publish Your Novel Professionally – Step Two: The Cover

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Alright, so you need to find a cover for your novel. It’s all edited, but it needs an image. A strong image. A distinct image.

What you need is a book cover, and there are three ways to get one. First, let’s go the easy route. Let’s assume you have money.

Honestly, buying a cover is the easiest route. Here is where I would suggest to go for a reasonable price. (I don’t know how much covers can cost, but I know that that site makes pretty covers for a price I can almost afford.) You just need to talk to a professional and they’ll make something you love. If you don’t love it, don’t pay them for it. Just make sure that everything is reputable and don’t assume that because you’re paying for it means it’s going to be a great cover. Hey, if you give me $50 I’ll make you a cover. Does that mean you’ll want the cover I make? No.

The next one is also easier, but a lot less solid. This route is going to people and begging for a free cover. I’ve gotten a few decent covers from people at the NaNoWriMo forums who just wanted to design things for fun, but you have to make sure that everything checks out on those.

Finally, and what the biggest trouble is, we have making your own cover. Let me say right now that no matter what you do the cover-maker that CreateSpace uses is crap. Seriously. Do not use one of those covers. It screams “SELF-PUBLISHED”, and that’s not what you want people to think when they see your novel.

Here are the biggest tips I have for making your own cover:

  • Don’t just use an image off of Google. You need to know that you have the right to use that picture. You can either buy a stock image to use or find a free stock image. Obviously, the free one is free, but the ones you pay for will usually be better quality and have a bigger selection. It’s up to you which one you use. Remember, if you need more than one image, buying them can get expensive, and it’ll be worthless if you have no photo editing skills.
  • Use a LARGE image to start with. The bigger it is, the better it will look when compressed down for print. I used an image that appeared alright on screen, even though I knew the resolution wasn’t that high. When printed, the image itself looked alright, but the text looked a little blurry. I couldn’t fix the text because I couldn’t make the image bigger to increase the text resolution. I ended up needing to find a different image and redoing my cover completely.
  • Go simple. Unless you’re a graphic designer, simplicity is key. Seriously. Don’t overdo yourself. It will look terrible.
  • Get opinions on your cover. If most people like it, that’s good. If one person says “Oh, it’s obviously not done by a professional” because they already know that you made it yourself, ignore them. People always assume that self-published works are bad. Take a book and slap “Penguin” on the side and you’ve got yourself a book twice as good as the exact same thing with “CreateSpace” listed as the publisher.
  • Practice makes perfect. If your editing skills aren’t that great, remake book covers for books you already know. Try to recreate them with your own skills and free images. Once you learn the techniques that get the image you like, you’ll be ready to work on your own cover.

I was going to outline step-by-step how I made my own cover, but I figured that I would make a YouTube video instead. At least one of you better find it useful, because I may have downloaded a Trojan trying to get a program to capture my screen.

The quality is shit, but it gets the basics across. It’s 14 minutes long though. So there’s that. (There is a reason I picked blogging over vlogging.) If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I used the photo-editing program GIMP because that’s what someone recommended and it’s free. Photoshop would be unquestionably better, but I’m being as cheap as possible. I basically just made my cover with the steps in the video. Here is what my book cover looks like:

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If you missed it, part one is here. Part three will be interior formatting.

 

Sometimes plans don’t work out.

I got the proof copy of Kiss of The Fey today. I was excited… but then I wasn’t.

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You might not be able to tell, but the font looks bad up close. It looks even worse on the back, but there’s nothing I can do about it because the stock image I used for it was only so big. I can’t make it bigger to make the cover into a higher quality image. So I’m going back to the original candle stock image I had and am using that.

Sigh. Whatever. I want to to look good, even if it isn’t as flashy. I just want to get everything ready and formatted. I’m annoyed because I had at least twenty people who promised to read it and give me feedback and I’ve had one person read almost to the end of the first chapter and she basically said that she hated my main character’s name. I’m releasing it September 1st whether or not I get actual feedback on it, so if everyone says it sucks in reviews I’ll just make the changes and release a second edition, I guess. I don’t know. (Official cover is over on my author blog.)

How to Self-Publish Your Novel

This is more of a checklist than a how to guide. I’m getting closer to publishing Kiss of The Fey so I’m getting more nervous about everything that needs to be done. I was going to just make a checklist for myself, but I thought sharing it could benefit a few of you who might be going through the same thing.

1. Write a novel. This is the easiest part.

2. Edit your novel. This could involve looking over it yourself, finding beta readers, hiring a professional editor, or having your English major friend from college look it over in exchange for a trip to the spa. Whatever you do, you have to get rid of the typos, spelling and grammar errors, sort our your plot so that it flows right and makes sense, make your your characters are likeable and written properly…. everything, basically. That novel has to be perfect.

3. Get people’s opinions. Use beta readers or friends and family. I’m having my mom read it and I’m going to ask for a few people from the Nanowrimo group to read it for me. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in reading it, tell me. I’ve also asked a co-worker to read it for me but I don’t know if she actually will because she sounded a bit put off by the idea when I asked her for a favor. I don’t really have friends, so this is actually a hard part in the process to get by. Others might have an easier time, especially anyone who belongs to a legit writing group or anything. You need to do this after you edit, but before you publish in case they all agree that your hero is terrible or your plot makes no sense.

4. Decide on a penname. This might not be applicable to you if you’re just going to use your own name, but if publishing in multiple genres or writing smutty stuff you don’t want under your own name (or any reason, really) then you’re going to have to think of something. Look at other popular authors in your genre for ideas. You don’t want your penname to be Alberta Lickenhymen if you’re writing Christian Romance. Also, Google it to make sure it isn’t already an author name or someone famous that would overshadow searches for your book. It has to be unique.

5. Decide how you’re going to publish. I honestly haven’t explored this at all because I plan to use Createspace to publish through Amazon. I might put my novel on Smashwords, too, but that would be later. I want people to be able to buy a print or digital copy of my book, and I’ve already used Createspace so I know how to do it. I have to set up an Amazon author page, actually get on there, and get all the payment information sorted out too once I actually get around to publishing.

6. Get a cover. This could be simple if you’re only doing digital copies and a tad bit more complicated if doing print, because you’ll need a back cover and your dimensions need to fit the actual dimensions of the book. The easy way out is to pay someone to make a cover for you (this place does fabulous work) but I just don’t have the money for that, so I have to make my own. This means finding stock images that are free to use and learning to use editing software. I use Gimp, it’s basically free Photoshop. My covers still have to be pretty basic because of my skill level. I know what image I want to use for Kiss of The Fey, but I’m stuck on fonts, of all things. I just need to get the font right or the title won’t stand out enough.

7. Promote your book. The entire reason I started this blog was to promote my book. I’ll be changing the blog up a little closer to publishing to make it more obvious that this is the website for my books, but it’s never going to look professional. If I end up being successful I’ll be able to get a real website and everything, but until then this is what I got. It’ll be even weirder with the penname. I have to think about whether I want to create a separate blog for my penname. Beyond that, I need to somehow reach people and get them interested about my book. I think how I’m going to do this is to use the people in the Nanowrimo group on Facebook to review a free copy of my novel to try to get good reviews and ratings so that it looks more appealing on Amazon. I might ask fellow bloggers to review my novel. I don’t really know what to do, beyond that.

8. Publish your book. Just put it out there and hope that people like it.

9. Cry a little. Freak out. Get drunk. Have a meltdown.

10. Celebrate your first sale. It doesn’t matter if you only make $0.60. You’re a published author, baby. Celebrate.

I just really wanted a list that had ten things. You don’t have to freak out or get drunk if you don’t want to. I hope to publish by the end of the summer but I don’t know if that will happen with the way things are going. I could rant about why my computer is now dead to the world, but instead I’ll just say that it is and that that is a HUGE inconvenience. I think I’m going to need another one and I don’t have the money. I’m using my mom’s right now. I’m lucky it didn’t die while I was at school.

Covers

I’ve been fooling around making covers for my novel Woman of Fire, Man of Ice. I’m also considering changing the title. I’m not a very good cover-maker, in summary. Here are some attempts. (You can just ignore the dimensions, I’m ignoring that until I actually know what size I’m going to need it.)

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Image

ImageI think I like the last one least and the candle/shell one the most. However, the shell one makes no sense with my current title. Dunno what I’m going to do, but I’ve wasted an afternoon figuring out basic gimp tools.