Illustrators

Food For Thought
Sometimes it is hard to find exactly what you want for your book. Maybe you are looking for a particular feel for your book cover or are looking for images for inside you book. Either way, it is only a very small percentage of authors who can do their own book cover and get a fantastic product out of it.

I am not saying that you can’t do it, maybe you are part of that percentage. But if you took a step back and looked at that drawing you did for your cover, thinking it was someone else’s, what would your honest thoughts be?

In my case, my thoughts are somewhere along the lines of “I would never buy that book”. But that is because I know my artistic hand is not necessarily up to par for what I picture in my head and I am willing to admit that to myself. If you do this, be sure to really be truthful to yourself. If there is anything that sticks out as “could be better” then get someone else’s opinion-or better yet, just don’t waste the time in the first place and get yourself an illustrator.

What I did for my first book, Danny Calloway and the Puzzle House, was I went onto DeviantArt.com and I typed in a key word for my book like “old house”. I would then scroll through hundreds of pieces of art looking for the ones that stood out to me. When I would find a style I liked I would contact the artist to see what their rate was.

In order to give a good idea of what I wanted the cover to incorporate, I would find random images around the web and photoshop together my ideal look. Here is my first colage of images from around the internet I used to describe what I was looking for to the illustrators:

cleancover copy

I used the above image, which again is a composite of random images around the web, to communicate the idea I was going for (if you notice, the guy with the lantern is the groundskeeper from Disneyland’s Haunted Manson).

By doing this, I was able to get a better idea of what the price would be and what the different artists could bring to the book.

When I finally found the illustrator I liked, I worked closely with her to make sure what she was doing was what I was looking for. And after many revisions we ended up with the great cover below.

DC-Book1-eCover 2mb

And that’s just the ebook cover, the print version looks even better.

So, take your time to find a great illustrator and work closely with them to get exactly what you want. You are putting out a product you want people to buy, might as well make it a good product.

~Z

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Biggest Mistake By New Writers

Food For Thought

What is the biggest mistake you see with new writers?

This is a question frequently asked because people want to know what not to do. My answer is very broad because it covers a lot of bases. It’s not just rushing on your editing, or compromising on your cover. It isn’t just quicky-ing the formatting, or going with a generic introduction.

The biggest mistake I see with new writers is being overly impatient. That’s right – being so overrun with the need to get the book out in the market “RIGHT NOW!” is the biggest mistake I see with new writers.

It is rare that I see a book rushed into market that holds up well,something is always off and usually more than just one something.

The reason you shouldn’t be doing this is because you are a writer and want to be known as a writer. Well, the people who put out bad products that don’t hold up to what is expected by their paying audience won’t be known just as a “writer”, but will be known as a “bad writer”. I’m sure that is not what you are wanting to be known for.

Here are some things to look out for to make sure your book is ready to see the soft, supple glow of an Amazon page or the warm, noisy inside of a printing machine:

1. Is your book properly edited BY someone OTHER THAN YOU?

2. Is your cover eye-catching and communicates what the book is about while having a professional feel? (I suggest hiring someone to do this)

3. Is your book properly formatted for the medium you are publishing in? (i.e. eBook, print, blog, etc.)

4.  Does your book have the proper front and back content that books should have?

There are many more points but these are some of the major ones. I would suggest going to a book store or library and looking through books and really seeing how they are laid out. Compare the colors of a professional cover with the colors of your cover; try to figure out how they make that title pop. Look at the formatting of a printed book, the font choice, the font size, the line spacing, the gutter size -  anything you can look at to use to make your book better.

Once you feel you are ready to hit publish, take a breath and double check it all again. You want to put out a perfect product that will get you five star reviews from random readers, not just from your mother.

~Z

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Writers Being Creative

I sometimes find myself in days where I feel like I can’t do anything. Those day you have such a work load on top of your other things you have to get done around the house before your significant other starts to complain again, that all you do is sit there trying to make sense of how you are going to get it all done-which results in not doing anything at all.

One of the major problems for me in this aspect is when it starts to affect my creativity in writing. I will start to feel like I don’t know what I am going to write next in a story and then I kind of shut down because my creativity falters when I have no direction.

Well, today I found my cure. When I am sitting at my computer, fingers frozen on the keyboard waiting for that next creative burst that never comes, I need only do one thing. Go create on something else.

That’s right, create on something else. Something small. What I do is I will go on facebook and find a status update or a comment somewhere that I can expand on creatively. This will help my mind start moving again.

For example. A friend of mine posted one of those “Find your Blues Name” games (find it below). Her name ended up being Bony Baby Hopkins and she said “why is it that I always get the dumb names”. This was something I could create on in a very short burst.

I commented with: “Your name is awesome. I picture an old black man, the youngest of a four brother band (hence the nickname “Baby”). They made it big at one point in their late twenties but soon drugs, greed and women broke up the band. They did get back together in their later years and reconciled, but only Bony “Baby” Hopkins is still around to this day. Traveling from gin joint to gin joint, blowin’ on his harp and rememberin’ the old days. Each one of his performances is dedicated to the greatest band members he ever had the pleasure of knowing – his brothers.

I took a simple name and made a quick back story for it. This will get your creativity jump started.

Another example was a text I sent to a roommate once:

Me: “Are you home

Roommate: “Yep

Me: “Okay cool. Heard the dogs and was thinking ninjas had broken in. Went upstairs to investigate, wishing I had a katana with me to fend them off but accepted the fact I would have to defeat them with only my hands, a loaf of bread and a first edition of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea….but then found the door to upstairs locked and my plans of defense against those shadows of the night dashed away like dandelions caught in a strong summer breeze.

Anyway, I hope this can help someone out there. Maybe it won’t work for everybody but it does work for me.

~Z

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What makes a Writer?

What makes a writer?

This question was recently the discussion between myself and a group of authors. It seemed that there were many ideas of what made one a writer – many ideas which didn’t always seem to correspond with one another.

But the single agreement between all the views was that to be a writer one must write. That’s pretty simple. A writer is one who writes, and you can’t be a writer if you don’t.

Taking this concept of being a writer down to the very minimum, we see the answer is already in the subject. Write.

So if you are someone who has always had dreams to “be” a writer but never thought you could. Or maybe you felt like you didn’t have the time or energy to be one – just write. Sit down after reading this post and write a simple paragraph. Make it about anything you want. Once you do that you are now a writer.

Now expand on that paragraph, expand on that subject, on that story, and add three more paragraphs to it. Turn those three paragraphs into three pages, and those three pages into thirteen, then thirty. Keep going and when you finally stop, you will not only BE a writer, but you will be a better writer than you were thirty pages ago.

Write to be a writer and be a writer to write.

~Z

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