Thursday, September 22, 2022
Friday, September 9, 2022
Normally, I design my book covers myself. But, I had seen millions of ads for a design company called Getcovers, and their covers were totally decent. So were their prices, so I decided to go ahead and hire them for a cover for a novelette I plan to release on OBOOKO. Here is the finished cover. It took them two days to finish the order.
First thing, they had me hit a stock photo/illustration site to choose a central image. On the site, I made a vision board that had a bunch of pictures of glass bottles, terrariums, crystals, and the like. Then I grabbed my daughter, who is wise beyond her years, and asked her which of the pictures she thought was the most impressive. She did not choose this image, but she chose one by the same artist that was part of the same collection. I told her that this picture was my choice and she said this one was better because it was more purple and less orange. Normally, buying a license for an image like this goes from $1.50 - $20.00 depending on what your plan is. You can buy plans that let you download hundreds of files per month and then the price for a single image drops. However, I am not going to use hundreds of files in a month. Using the sort of plans I usually buy, an image like this one would cost approximately $13.00.
Then I sent the designer this image with a note attached as to what sort of thing I wanted. My description was that I wanted the title in black flourishing text with the image in the middle and my name on the bottom. I wanted a gold geometric border and possibly grey smudges in the background. It was going to be a hopeful romance. I wished them luck.
Let's cut it apart and talk about it.
If I bought a license for the geometric border, it would be part of a geometric bundle with a bunch of different shapes in it. It wouldn't matter that it came with a collection of other design assets, I would probably never have a use for the other shapes. The bundle would cost another $13.00.
There are three fonts. The one used for my author name and the subtitle would not have cost anything extra. Those fonts are free for everyone to use. However, the font used for the title is a little more complicated. This font effect could be achieved in two different ways. Either it's a cheap font that has had those flourishes added, or it's a font that just looks like that. If it's the font, no one gives that kind of font away for free. Free font letters don't get in each other's faces like that. Each letter keeps to itself. If I had to buy the fancy font (that I would only have been able to use once), that's another $13.00. If the flourishes are added, then they are part of a flourish pack that again costs me another $13.00. OR the graphic designer was a careful girl (they had a girl's name) who knows how to make up symmetrical swishes like this on the fly, then they may have been free.
If I was a betting girl, and maybe I am, my bet is that it is a cheap font that has stolen flourishes from a more expensive font pack they had on hand. I really like it. I certainly would never have thought to mash up a serif font with a flourish. One of the benefits of working with a company like this is that they can reuse certain design assets, so it costs them a lot less to produce something like this than it would cost me.
Lastly, I asked for grey smudges and they gave me pink. The pink is better. Those would have been free.
So, if I made this exact cover, it would have cost me $33.00 (approximately).
With taxes and everything, working with Getcovers, I got it for $13.00 (and change).
That is exceptional.
The most they probably had to shell out for use of the image was probably $1.40 and the rest of the stuff would have been assets they had lying around. Given the instructions I gave, it probably took the designer ten minutes to put this together. Maybe less. All the same, I really like it.
I'd hire them again.
As for the novelette, it's not ready yet. Later.
Monday, September 5, 2022
Hi Ink Drinkers,
One of the keenest frustrations of my life has been my inability to turn my writing career into what I have always expected it to be. I never expected to rake it in like Stephen King, but I did expect to make a little scratch so I felt validated. Yeah, that has been really hard for me.
I'm frustrated because I'm blocked.
One of the reasons for writer's block is that there is a gap between what the author imagines versus the kind of writing the author is actually able to produce. That's in regard to a particular piece we're working on, not our careers. The way to break writer's block is to give up what you initially wanted and to work with the reality in front of you. The more you work on it (that particular piece and other writing projects afterward), the more you're able to create things that match your expectations and eventually exceed them.
But what about a career? That's not something you can do on your own in the same way. I wrestled my demon for long enough. In this case, the demon is the image of what I have always wanted for myself as a novelist. The way to break the block is to let go of what I wanted. It's over now.
Goodbye, Emily Loring.
Goodbye, Anne Rice.
Goodbye, Victoria Holt.
Goodbye, Monica Hughes.
Goodbye, Margaret Atwood.
Goodbye, L.M. Montgomery.
Goodbye to the novelist of every book I ever cracked a spine on and looked at their list of books and thought that I would one day be like them. I won't be joining them in the halls of the bookstores of our times. I have already published a book that had ten other book credits in it. I wrote them all. That book and the other ten books didn't make much money, so I'm done.
This feels like a suicide note... and in a way, it is. For months, I have felt that there was change in the air. How would it come? What shape would it take? How would I be reformed?
From now on, I will no longer try to make money as a novelist.
I went on Smashwords and reduced all my fiction to free. Then I did the same on Draft2Digital, DriveThru Fiction, and GooglePlay. I went on Wattpad and Fictionpress, and started releasing chapters for books I never intended to give away. I put If I Tie U Down on OBOOKO and Free-Ebooks.net. I had someone message me on Facebook asking where they could buy one of my books and I directed them to a place they could get it for free.
I'm not sure if I can give away all my books for free on Amazon without bringing an angry amazon down on me, but I'll try to find a balance there.
In any case, it is time to do the same thing I would do with a story that wasn't cooperating. I will examine it objectively and make decisions based on reality, not fantasy.
The reality is that in August (a hard month to peddle books), I had close to a thousand downloads and over eighteen thousand views for my free books. That's when everyone is out enjoying the good weather. No one is reading in August. I need to build on that because that's reality, not some dumb idea of mine.
*Yawn* Honestly, I wanna go quilt something. More book-making can wait for another day.
Saturday, August 27, 2022
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Monday, August 15, 2022
Hey Ink Drinkers,
Friday, July 15, 2022
Okay, it is totally not supposed to take a month to release a book. I've never had a release go this slowly before. But, it's coming. I've got it up nearly everywhere.
Let's pretend that I am not a frazzled author with hair like a fraggle and instead that I'm sitting with my legs crossed, calm and composed, with smooth hair and a plastic Barbie smile in a TV studio with a posh interviewer in a pink pantsuit asking me questions about this book. The camera comes on her, the lights are dazzling, and she begins.
Q: Welcome back! I'm Chevron Phillips and with me is independent novelist Stephanie Van Orman. She's here today to talk about her new book, the sequel to her novel 'His 16th Face'. Stephanie, how long did it take you to write 'If Diamonds Could Talk'?
A: Thanks for having me. It took a little over two years, but that was nothing compared to the eleven years it took me to write 'His 16th Face'.
Q: Wow! That's a long time to write a book. Does it usually take that long?
A: Not at all. The biggest problem in 'His 16th Face' was that I was struggling with a way to end the novel. I wrote five endings and couldn't decide which one to use. It was a problem that was churning around in my head for years. In the end, I discarded 80,000 words of material in a 90,000-word book. Usually, I'm not paralyzed by the ending of a novel because the ending is known to me all along. However, that wasn't the case with 'His 16th Face'. It is one of my dearest novels.
Q: Is 'If Diamonds Could Talk' one of your dearest novels?
A: 'If Diamonds Could Talk' goes to a place I've never read about in another book. It goes to a place that is hinted at with the endings of other books, but the other authors can't take you there. They show you a rainbow in the arctic, or the expanse of space ahead of you, the flashing of the northern lights, but they can't take you to the place beyond where there's more information... they give you less. They end the story and let the reader imagine whatever they will. That wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to show where that ending leads beyond a dream or wistful wondering.
Q: What were your influences?
A: I was very inspired by the first Highlander film, however as much as I loved that movie, put under a microscope, it needs a rewrite. Of course, I can't rewrite that story. Instead, I decided to begin a similar story in another place. My wedding.
Q: Your wedding?
A: Yes. At my wedding, I was aware that my husband's four-year-old niece was in love with him. She wrapped her arms and her legs around him and wept like the damned for almost an hour. My new sister-in-law came over and asked me if I wanted her to pry her daughter off him, but I said it was fine. I stood there in my wedding dress swaying like a bell and watched her. My husband is a very lovable man and her feelings were spilling all over the place. She was miserable. In her mind, he was married now and so he could never marry her. He patted her back and bounced her back and forth like she was a baby or maybe a little bit like he was dancing with her. And I wondered how much time and space would have to be rearranged for all her dreams to come true. In the end, it was a lot as that is what the opening moment in 'His 16th Face' is all about, loving someone you have no right to love in that romantic life or death way.
Q: Is Beth based on your niece?
A: No. We didn't live near that family after we got married and we rarely saw them after that. Beth begins as an unreasonable teenager who wants what she wants. By the time we've come with her all the way to 'If Diamonds Could Talk', she's still screaming and throwing things, but she calms down and presses hard for what she wants in a way that is not childish.
Q: Is Christian like your husband?
A: He's not not like my husband. Christian is based on seven men and my husband is one of them. He's the most complex and cleverly built man of the heroes in my books. Christian's character ends up being more contrived than Beth's. Beth is more natural to me because of her position and what she can see from where she stands is more obvious to me. Christian is enigmatic, so he has to be built like a puzzle the reader can enjoy pulling apart. There's still more of him to pull apart in 'If Diamonds Could Talk'.
Q: What's your next project?
A: I'm writing a full-on science fiction trilogy called Octavia Girl. The first draft of all three books is finished, so the release for them might be sooner than anyone expects.
Chevron thanks me for coming in and turns to the camera to remind the viewers that a link will be provided in the description below to my website where bookstore links are provided. Also, sample chapters are on Inkitt, Wattpad, Fictionpress.com, and Quotev. A trailer for 'If Diamonds Could Talk' is also on YouTube.
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