22 August 2017

Advice From This Indie Author

I’ve mentioned here before that I have not been happy with my first two book covers. I went out of my way to purchase beautiful graphics, but when it came to the actual design of the covers, I didn’t have the knowledge or the proper software to create professional covers—something striking—something that pulls people in. Besides, I’m a writer not an artist. Designing covers is way beyond my capabilities. I just don’t have an eye for it. I know what I like, but I can’t achieve it on my own. So, I had to rely on the template provided by Createspace. For my first book that was okay because I never expected to write a second book. I never expected to have a blog. I never expected to start building my author platform. And I never thought about branding.

Now that book three is almost ready for publication, I had to rethink things. It was time to take my writing and my branding more seriously. So, I hired a professional to design (or redesign) my book covers. She has done an amazing job with Vocation and Incorruptible. Once she redesigns A Future Spring, I will reveal all three. Then you will see first-hand exactly what I am talking about.

I now have a strong piece of advice for other indie authors who may be just starting out: hire a professional—for proofreading, for editing, for designing your book covers. If you don’t have the money, save up or ask for a payment plan. Invest in yourself and your writing.  Most people in the industry are freelancers and are eager to work with you, so hire a professional. Of course, it has to be the right professional, so shop around. But, hire a professional. It pays off in the end.

I’d like to expand even further. Don’t rely on friends or family for services. I can’t emphasize this enough. Why? For many reasons, which I won’t get into here, but I will give you one very good reason not to rely on friends or family: you want a professional job. And it keeps things simple. You pay for services rendered. Most friends won’t take money or they argue about price, or they just don’t know how much to charge. Then you have the added burden of trying to determine the cost of a service for yourself. Sometimes that works out; usually it doesn’t. When it comes to your writing (all aspects of your writing) you want a professional who will give you honest feedback and who receives honest payment for an honest job.

Last, reach out to other independent authors on social media. There is a wealth of information out there. One of my online friends led me to my book designer. Make connections--network. 

In truth, as an indie author, you are limited. You don’t have a team of people to do your marketing, branding, publishing, and designing. Everything comes down to you. You have to create your own team. In some ways that is empowering. You get to make all the executive decisions, but you also have to take all the blame when things don’t turn out quite right.

Over these past four years of my writing life, a lot didn’t turn out quite right. But, that’s okay. I’ve learned a lot! 

17 August 2017

Update on Incorruptible

This week, I’m having the cover of Vocation redesigned. It comes at a good time because I’ve been asked to write a short article about my writing for our library’s newsletter. I would like to use the new cover for the article.

I am almost finished with the re-writes on Incorruptible. I deleted a whole scene this last pass-through. Now, I want to read it one last time, as a reader, to see if the story flows. That is next to impossible. I have read the story so many times that I really can’t read it with new eyes, so I am considering hiring a developmental editor. The plot of this book is complex, and I want to be sure there is consistency throughout the book. I am thinking of getting a few quotes for this service. I’m hoping to get a general critique of the story, skip hiring a line editor, and move to a proofreader. I’m still undecided, though.

After the new cover for Vocation is finished, I will have the cover for A Future Spring done. Then all my books will have a professional, uniform look--all part of that branding.

Oh, and I’m almost ready to send Incorruptible off for its copyright!

14 August 2017

Everyone is Adolph Hitler These Days

We seemed to have lost our sense of history. Or perhaps, it is better to say that we have lost our senses. Everyone is Adolph Hitler these days. It is a comparison that is thrown around so easily that it denies the true evil that was Adolph Hitler. The latest comparison to Hitler is, of course, President Donald Trump.

Let me tell you a story.

There once was a Catholic priest who loved God and his neighbor. He was born in Poland on January 8, 1894 to a German father and Polish mother. His life was spent spreading devotion to Our Blessed Mother. He was good and kind.

When Poland was invaded by Germany in 1939, this Franciscan priest was arrested. A few months later, he was released. Yet, he remained in Poland,where he and his monks continued their ministry and provided shelter to refugees under Nazi persecution. On February 17, 1941, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and in May of 1941, he was sent to Auschwitz.

While in the death camp, this Catholic priest ministered to his fellow prisoners, and suffered harassment and beatings by the camp guards.

Then in July of 1941, three prisoners escaped from the camp. As a punishment, 10 men were chosen for starvation as a deterrent to future escapes. One of the chosen, Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out for mercy. This Catholic priest volunteered to take his place. The commander laughed and then agreed to the request.

During their confinement, in an underground bunker, this priest led his fellow prisoners in prayer. After two weeks without food or water, he was the only survivor. Too impatient for him to die, the guards gave him a lethal injection of carbolic acid.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe was murdered on August 14, 1941. Today the Catholic Church celebrates his Memorial.

It is strange that 76 years after the death of Maximilian Kolbe, the atrocities inflicted by the Nazis are taken so lightly. Now, anyone who disagrees or has a different outlook is called a Nazi or Adolph Hitler.

In light of the death and destruction perpetrated this weekend by clashes between Antifa and the Alt Right, it is fitting to remember a Catholic martyr and saint who preached love, compassion, and faith. He gave his life for another. Love overcomes hate in the end. Those who embrace hate will ultimately be consumed by it. 

Millions of people were systematically murdered by the Nazis. Estimates rage from 13 to 20 million people. Do we really need to throw around the Adolph Hitler label? We have lost our sense of history, and perhaps we have become numb to human suffering. 

I will leave you with a quote from St. Maximlian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr. "No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depths of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves defeated in our innermost personal selves?"

St. Maximilian, pray for us. 

08 August 2017

Incorruptible--the Synopsis

The cover for Incorruptible is finished. It is beautiful and I can't wait to show everyone. But, I am going to wait until the new covers for A Future Spring and Vocation are done. Then, I will have the big reveal. 

I will share the synopsis with you . . .

I am shooting for a winter release for the novel. Although, I have learned through these past years not to set deadlines. Let's just say a winter publication is my goal. 

03 August 2017

Book Cover Design

As I write this, the cover for Incorruptible is being designed. I have hired a professional designer for this book, and I would like to explain the process and why I decided to go with a professional this time.

First, with A Future Spring and Vocation, I had commissioned an artist to create the graphic for the cover. I told her what I wanted, and she created the artwork.  But the book covers were designed in Createspace using a template. When my books were published, I loved the covers, but now, to me, they look amateurish. And they are. You are very limited with design in Createspace, and I never achieved the quality design I wanted.

So, this time I decided to go with a professional because I have learned a lot and I understand my author platform better. It was time for a change.

My whole approach with book three is different. Here is how . . .

For my third book, I didn’t commission the graphic. I purchased a painting that fit the mood of my book. I saw the painting, and it hit me. I had to have it.

Then, I hired a photographer to take a high-resolution photo of the painting to create the graphic I will use for the cover.

I then sent the graphic to the cover artist with some ideas of what I might like the cover to look like. I’m really excited about it, and I can’t wait to see her drafts. It is so much fun to see a book cover come to life.

I will then have the same artist redo the covers for A Future Spring and Vocation. She will use the same graphics, but give the covers a more professional appeal. I would also like my books to have the same look—it’s part of the whole branding thing.

When everything is done, I will have the unveiling of all three covers.

I’ve learned a lot since writing and publishing my first book, but the most important thing I have learned is patience. Right now, I want to show the world the graphic we are using for Incorruptible, but I have to be patient. Trust me. It will be worth the wait.