What's in a Cover?
The print cover for Whisper novella (top left) is still my favorite. But as publishing standards changed, it was necessary to redesign the cover. The original files are still missing, so I had to go with a new design altogether. In the case of Whisper, this is the third cover iteration. It’s fair to say the first was an incomplete design. It still exists out in the interwebs for the curious.
My first attempt at a redesign (middle left) took a promotional image from the original release and split the image in half, rotating the top half so it felt off kilter. The effect does a nice job of matching the overall tone of the story. The problem came from the color mix, which is jarring but not in a good way. The plaster effect (the purple) might have worked better with an original photograph.
I like the inclusion of the promotional tagline but overall, I found this cover wasn’t attractive enough, jarring enough or anything “enough” to work.
As this isn’t a new release or even a reedited release, spending too much time on the cover wasn’t a good use of my time. Finally, I decided the color needed to be consistent mix and struck out the brown tones altogether. It’s a harder, grittier cover (lower left) that very accurately represents the anxious climate of the tale and still has a suggestion of superhero cape - which is where the image started.
Ironically, the lettering now closely resembles the lettering style I used on the first cover iteration (not pictured).
New cover design for Whisper novella
Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?
A: Writing has always been a passion of mine. It was done in the early years solely through a blog and a handful of creative websites. After navigating the landmines of self-publishing my first book, I went on to publish 9 more books (5 fiction, 5 non-fiction in total) in digital and print formats before I called the whole thing off.
The skill set is all there. I’m a superior editor (decades of working at newspapers, literary magazines and online publications), a graphic designer and web designer by trade (day job, not second job) and a slippery wordsmith. But self-publishing is hard (I wrote a book about it!) More to the point, marketing is harder. The very keys that allow self-publishers to thrive allow anyone to self-publish, flooding the market with books of wildly varying length and quality sold at price points with no discernible rhyme or reason to the consumer.
I may have a lot of powerful industry skills but I was never much of a salesman. Yes, you can hire people to do that for you. As a small-time writer and self-publisher, it never seemed worth it to me to share a piece of the revenue with others. It’s a Catch-22. The revenue has to be high enough that splitting it with agents, advertisers and editors makes sense, but without them, it is just that much harder to generate the revenue from book sales.
Being a second job writer is a literal description. The stories have always been there (along with a lot of loose ends if you read any of my fiction) so it was plausible I would return to publishing my writing someday. I had outlined a significant amount of material for what will now be the new series Second Job Hero. So what is the motivation to publish now? I’m getting married in a year and any revenue from book sales between now and then will go directly to paying for some part of it. That’s my inspiration. My goal is to write something you enjoy and are willing to pay for. If I accomplish that, it doesn’t matter what the book revenue pays for. I never stopped writing, I was simply waiting for a meaningful moment to share it with the world again.
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Accidents Happen, my first self-published fiction release, is being relaunched. It includes the original book and the back up tale Bare Bones.
If you read the original release, there’s only one or two small tweaks related to the release, but the story itself has not been revised or reedited. This story features the first appearance of Shiv.
The book is available to download from the publisher smashwords. It will also be distributed to other ebook retailers in the month of March.
The book was originally published in 2009 in print and digital. The physical edition is now out of print.
The Cost of Doing Business
A year ago, a friend of mine emailed me to say that one of my books was published in full on the internet. He was concerned that I was losing revenue because people might filch it from this (fairly accessible) website instead of paying for it.
That is certainly the cost of doing business in the digital age with digital media. My publisher, smashwords, requires that authors include a statement about reselling or sharing books. It’s a nice thought but even in the physical world, loaning books has always been a highly accepted transaction. To expect that digital copies of books would be different is probably unreasonable.
To that end, I originally priced Second Job Hero Showtime! for free. It was intended as a teaser of sorts for the series and is shorter than I expect any other single release in the series to be. However, by posting it as free, many of the distributors are just posting the entire text of the release on their website. As much as I want people to read Showtime! and for as much as I think it will probably end up on the internet in full anyway, this seems self-defeating to me.
Scribd, for instance, doesn’t even require you to create an account with them to read the entire text. That not only defeats my intentions but also their own subscriber model. I want people to read the book and I don’t care which distributor is your reader of choice, but their approach is just a little too defeatist for my taste.
To that end, smashwords and other distributors will begin to charge $.99 for Showtime!. It allows me to put sample restrictions (the amount of text that is available for free) on the release which I think is an appropriate strategy (by the way $.99 is the lowest price my publisher will allow unless it is free). If you are an individual turned off by that change, I have no doubt you can still find a copy of the text somewhere on the internet for free.
Since you have taken the time to read this, here is a coupon code that can be used at smashwords.com to download Showtime! for free: HP46M. It does require a smashwords account but you will be able to download the book in whatever format works for your reader.
60-second preview for Second Job Hero Showtime! Devour an excerpt in sixty seconds and then download the entire story.
From the cover:
Stephen Tepper buried the superhero years ago. All he craved was to lead a normal life without the mask. Few people remembered Shiv anymore, and most days that was just the way he wanted it.
After events force Stephen to use his powers once again, he must unravel the mystery of who is trying to draw the hero out of hiding. He must confront his own past to save himself and others against the greatest enemy he has ever faced.
Burying the mask doesn’t bury the hero inside.
Showtime! Release date March 11
Second Job Hero Showtime! will be released on Tuesday March 11. It is a forty-page teaser for book 1 that will be available as a free download from smashwords. It will also be distributed to other eBook retailers in the month of March (some will charge $.99 for the download according to their individual policies). I’ll post sales links as they become available at various retailers.
Cover design for Second Job Hero Showtime!