Cover Reveal!

BabyBailino_digital_final_FINALI’m so THRILLED to premiere the cover of the sequel to BABY GRAND — BABY BAILINO — coming out this fall! I decided to go with a more literal interpretation for the cover this time around, rather than conceptual, like Baby Grand’s. I’m sooooo happy with it. I think it really captures the flavor of the series. What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Advertisements

Book Trailers #2

When I first wrote about book trailers back in November 2010, they were a growing trend in independent book promotion. Now they’re pretty standard as part of a marketing strategy, as many indies and traditionally published authors have them.

That is, except me.

Last week, my writer-friends in the Long Island Writers Group were urging me to do a book trailer for Baby Grand.

Truth be told, I’ve been hesitant. Here’s why:

  1. A professionally done book trailer costs $$$$. Over the last few years, I’ve seen tons of book trailers, many of them not very good or effective. And I really think a bad book trailer reflects poorly (just like a film trailer would) on its book, which might be incredibly good. So if I were to do a book trailer, I’d want it to be professionally done. That means it’s going to cost me some $$$$, which leads me to…
  2. Are they worth the investment? I know that lots of books have book trailers, but I’m still not sure how effective they are in actually the selling the book. I can’t think of anyone who says, I’m thinking of reading Book ABC. Let me look for the book trailer first (and they have to find it!) and see what I think. Most people just hop on over to the book’s Amazon page and take a look at the book cover, synopsis and reviews. At least that’s what I do. I rarely look at a book trailer, even if there’s one right there on the Amazon book page or author page.

However, I do have to say that there have been book trailers I’ve stumbled upon that I found to be quite effective — meaning they made me not only want to read the book, but go and buy the book.

Here’s two of them:

Continue reading

Thriller Book Cover Fonts: Go Big or Go Home?

Yesterday, after reading my post about eBook covers, author Elizabeth Kirke stopped by my Facebook page to mention she had blogged about the importance of titles and fonts, something I’ve actually been thinking about for a few days.

As a thriller writer, I’m not a big fan of the way thriller book covers are presented to readers, with those gigantic fonts that scream at you the moment you walk through the doors of Barnes & Noble. Like this (actually I kind of like this one, but you get the point):

But I guess what these kinds of covers have going for them is that they connote immediacy and danger and, yes, screaming, so readers readily identify the books behind them as thrillers. And that’s a good thing — readers know what they’re getting and can march right to that book at the bookstore, or online, if that’s what they’re after. But I’ve always pictured the cover of Baby Grand a certain way, not necessarily with tiny type, but with more of an airy feel to it. I’m wondering if it would be a mistake to veer from what is obviously a successful formula for the genre.

What do you think?

Topic Tuesday: How Important is Your eBook’s Cover?

From time to time, in lieu of a Debut Author Q&A, I’ll be featuring what I’m calling (at least for now) Topic Tuesday posts where I ask three authors, many of them already profiled here, to weigh in on a specific issue with regard to publishing.

For our first installment, we’re discussing book covers. I know, when I browse the stacks at Barnes & Noble, a book cover plays very heavily into whether or not I purchase a book (yes, I know… apparently, I judge a book by its cover). But what about ebooks? How important is a book cover to an ebook? Just as? More so? And are there different considerations for an ebook cover, since readers don’t browse ebooks in the way they do physical books? And can you ever really KNOW how influential a book cover has been in the sale of that book? Hmmm… For some answers, I asked authors:

In terms of getting noticed and garnering sales, how important would you say your book cover art was for your ebook?

Here’s what they had to say. And please feel free to offer your insights in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!

“Oh, yeah – cover art is important, especially for ebooks (for any book, really). The adage is true: people do judge books by their covers, and with so many books out there for people to choose from, poor cover design is one easy way for folks to quickly dismiss a book without further consideration. So it’s possible someone could be missing out on a great book because a cover is crap. Of course, now we have to discuss the definition of “crap.” It’s entirely subjective, although cover designers…

Continue reading

Meet Erica Stanciu

Today’s featured author, Erica Stanciu, holds a special place in my heart. She is the daughter of an old friend who had the gall to get married and move to a land far, far away (Philly, and then Las Vegas) when we were mere teenagers, leaving me to navigate college, adulthood and handball all on my own. It doesn’t surprise me that her little girl (one of three children) has grown into a talented, funny and smart young woman. The apple certainly doesn’t fall very far from the tree.

Name: Erica Stanciu
Name of book: Electrify Me
Book genre: Fantasy
Date published: December 12, 2011
Publisher: Amazon.com (self-published)
What is your day job? I hold down the fort we call home.
What is your book about? A young princess, by the name of Kaiya Fraust, is forced on a journey where she travels to different kingdoms who wield elemental powers. Along the way, she finds demons, dragons, relics, and mysterious figures who want her for themselves.
Why did you want to write this book? I was reading a book one day and hated the ending. A friend suggested I write my own book so I did. Four months later, Electrify Me was born.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? The editing. It’s necessary, but so tedious at the same time. I’m pretty sure I have my book memorized after reading it five times just to make sure it was mistake-free.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write Electrify Me? My research came from reading fantasy novels for thirteen years. That helped me create the setting, characters, their powers, and the different animals you see throughout the story.
What motivates you to write? To have my characters come alive in the pages of a book (or an e-reader). I have a feeling of constant restlessness until the next scene is down on paper. Even my dreams consist of the characters and what they should be doing.
Did you experience writer’s block? I experienced writer’s block towards the end. The best way for me to overcome it is start a short story. It takes my mind away from the other characters for a bit. When I eventually come back to my original story, my mind feels refreshed and ready to tackle the novel once again.
How long did it take you to write this book? Three months to write it, and two months to edit.
Why did you decide to self-publish? I received a handful of rejections and started to feel stuck. I poured my heart into a story only to wait six weeks for an agency to say, “We’re not taking on any new clients. Have a good day.” Instead of throwing a pity party and retiring my manuscript, I decided that self-publishing was the best route for me.
Was the self-publishing process easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? Amazon makes it very easy to self-publish. They walk you through the steps to convert your work into the proper form. The rest is just submitting and waiting. It’s actually not difficult at all.
How did you decide on your book cover concept? Well, my mother, the coolest person alive, helped me design it. She’s a genius when it comes to Photoshop. The concept of silver eyes and a bolt of lightning was created, because I think simplicity intrigues readers.
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? Almost everyone has an idea for a great novel, but actually setting scenes, creating dialogue and writing amazing plot twists takes real time and effort. Not many people have the time and patience for something like that. It’s a very hard process, but rewarding once the novel is finished.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? Writing the scenes where the readers will say, “No way! I can’t believe that happened.” I get so excited putting those thoughts into words that it sometimes feels like my fingers are tripping over each other.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? I’ve been honing my writing skills on Wattpad.com, a website where authors can post their work and have it read by people for no cost. In eight months, I have gathered more than four thousand fans who have been my biggest supporters (besides my family). A lot of them bought my book and told their friends to buy it. Promoting takes time and energy that can leave you drained, but don’t give up. Create a website, promote on blogs, use social media, and eventually you’ll see the sales skyrocket.
How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? I’ve realized that becoming an author is my true goal in life. Writing is a passion of mine that I can’t go a day without doing. Self-publishing really helped me realize that.
Do you find yourself obsessively checking sales stats? I have to admit that I do. I set a goal for the first month of publication, and I won’t stop looking obsessively until I reach that goal.
Are there plans to write another book? Electrify Me is going to be a four-book series, and I’m currently writing the second one.
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I completely agree. There were many opportunities that presented themselves to me, but I wouldn’t have been ready to take the plunge without the proper preparation.

Meet Stephen Edger

Whew! Luckily, I managed to snare Stephen Edger, today’s featured writer, for a chat before Thursday when his second novel is published and, technically, he is no longer eligible to be interviewed for my Debut Author Q&A series. There I go again doing things just under the wire…
Name: Stephen Edger
Name of book: Integration
Book genre: Thriller (Fiction)
Date published: August 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace (Amazon)
What is your day job? I’m a manager in a bank
What is your book about? A Team Leader working in a bank call center is offered 1 million pounds in return for a “favor.” After much deliberation, he declines the offer but this is only just the start of his problems. Money laundering, kidnap, secret phone calls and violence: This is a jam-packed seven days.
Why did you want to write this book? I always thought that I would like to write a book. In 2010, I was on holiday in Spain when our apartment was burglarized. I remember how scary it was when we wondered whether the intruders were still inside. I began thinking that this would make a great opening chapter to a book and began typing off the cuff. What I typed became my first three chapters, and the plot kind of developed from there.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? Proofreading. My comprehension of language is pretty good, but I still find so many mistakes that I didn’t expect. Thankfully, my wife and mother-in-law aren’t afraid to pick fault with what I have done.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write Integration? I work in a bank so writing Integration was quite easy.
What motivates you to write?
I have always had a really active imagination and being able to capture that in a story is incredible to me. I loved seeing the finished product, and the feedback I have received makes me want to keep writing.
Did you experience writer’s block? Not really. I didn’t commit to write on specific days, just when I felt the urge. I used to get moments of inspiration where I felt compelled to write, and I would just make the most of those moments.
How long did it take you to write this book? It took three-and-a-half months to write the first draft.
Why did you decide to self-publish? I sent Integration to a dozen UK agents to try and gain representation, but received a dozen rejections. I felt I had put too much effort into completing the manuscript to throw it away so when I happened upon Amazon’s self-publishing tools I jumped at the chance.
Was the self-publishing process easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? It has been a constant learning curve. Let me give an example: I am aiming to release my second novel Remorse this Thursday on several platforms (Kindle, iBookstore, paperback UK and paperback US). Each platform requires slightly different formatting, which I learned after I first released Integration. It is time-consuming to self-publish, but the effort is worth it in the end.
How did you decide on your book cover concept? The current book cover for Integration is the third I have released as I just couldn’t find what I wanted. I eventually found a piece of software that I have taught myself to use in order to create what I want. Integration is about money laundering, so I wanted a cover with money on it.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? Hearing such positive feedback from strangers who have enjoyed reading it.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? I promote through Facebook and Twitter.
How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? I always used to have ideas for stories when I was growing up, and I still get ideas popping into my head every day. The difference now is I have started jotting them down. You never know when one might develop into the next big thing.
Do you find yourself obsessively checking sales stats? I check my sales stats about six times a day (how sad is that?)
As you mentioned, you have a second book, Remorse, coming out this week. Is it another thriller? Yes, Remorse is another thriller but is quite different from Integration. I think anyone who has raised a baby will empathize with the protagonist’s plight. I am due to start writing a follow-up to Integration in January, and I cannot wait to get started as the plot promises to be even more explosive than the original!
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I would wholeheartedly agree!

Meet John W. Mefford

Ah, I wonder if John Grisham knows how many writers he’s inspired… Today’s featured debut author is John W. Mefford, a fellow Grisham reader and the author of his own thriller, the first in a planned series.

Name: John W. Mefford

Name of book: Committed

Book genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Date published: November 1, 2011

Publisher: Self-published

What is your day job? Chief Operations Officer for HFAOS (Home, Family and other stuff)

What is your book about? It’s about one man’s quest to discover what is important – who is important – while he struggles to sift through the fog of corruption and deceit to find a killer… before death finds him.

Why did you want to write this book? Why a thriller? At a high level I’ve long wanted to write fiction, and a mystery/thriller was my first choice. My initial desire to write came in my late teens when I read John Grisham’s The Firm. Years later, my first job after college was in journalism, and I learned the craft from the ground up. But I found myself mentally noting the strange and sometimes whimsical traits of people around me. It seemed that every interaction I witnessed lodged deep in my brain somewhere. When I moved into a corporate environment and the stories and interactions grew more outlandish and bizarre, I could tell my brain stored the information like a well-oiled database. So, to answer your question, why did I write this book? Because I had to. I’ve been writing it for almost twenty-five years. I just never put it on a paper until late 2009.

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? Being comfortable and confident enough to start down a plot path without knowing how it will eventually tie back to other characters or sub-plots. It’s like jumping off a bridge with a rubber band around your ankles knowing you’ll bounce back up before you hit the jagged rocks below. Although, I’d never actually jump off anything.

What motivates you to write? I love stories. Hearing stories, watching stories, reading stories. And creating a story that ultimately evokes emotion from another person is the ultimate high. Like I’ve said to others, writing is like oxygen for my soul.

Did you experience writer’s block? While writing novels, I’ve never really had writer’s block. There have been days when the words and phrasing flow like syrup over warm, buttered pancakes. Other days, it’s felt more like a classical staccato piece. But I accept each outpouring of thoughts. We writers are human, and it’s only natural for outside influences to impact our emotions, thus our writing. Nothing stands still.

How long did it take you to write this book? From first word to last edit, it took about sixteen months. Lots of highs and lows along the way, but I learned a great deal about myself. It was worth the roller coaster ride.

Why did you decide to self-publish? To finally take charge of this unfinished creative thing sitting in my lap. The more it sat, the more I wanted to share it. I tried the query path and was met with a few teases, but not enough substantive response. I tried being patient (a tough sell for me). I attempted to get in the mind of agents and edit the book towards their liking. But I realized they weren’t – shouldn’t – be my target audience. I redefined what success meant to me, and I dove into researching the world of self-publishing.

Was the self-publishing process easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? Self-publishing is really the combination of many tasks and talents: writing, editing, managing, cajoling, marketing, public relations. I had prepared myself for the unexpected, which is exactly what I got. I searched and read and saved all sorts of data. I now look back on the early days of my self-publishing process and I chuckle. I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going, but I was damn sure I was going to get there, somehow, some way.

What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? The attention to detail and the ability to look at your writing critically isn’t on the radar of the average person who talks about writing, but hasn’t actually taken that first step.

What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? The first draft. That’s where you take a block of stone and chisel away until a shape begins to develop. Then the shape morphs into a desired form of life, and it begins to think, act, and react in ways you’d never thought about. Besides a loving moment with my wife, this might be the only thing that creates a tingle up my spine. It’s magical.

What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? If I told you everything, I’d have to kill you… No, seriously, I’ve developed a growing following on Twitter, where I’ve met a lot of cool writers (Dina included!), avid readers, and interesting people altogether. It’s been a great resource and opened a number of doors for me. I also have a Facebook Author page. I created my own website with an embedded blog (Something Like That). I used a talented photographer for the website photos, my sister-in-law, Kate Mefford, and a very creative soul for my cover art, Jeroen Ten Berge.

A couple pieces of advice for future writers: First, initiate your virtual interaction early on in the creative process. It will give you a sense of confidence to interact with other authors and start to get your name out there. Second, writing is all about the story, but your supporting visuals, content, and layout matter. Your cover art needs to be created by someone who’s actually created book covers, and your website needs to be professional. Look at well-known authors and see how they tie their book themes and genre into the look and feel of their websites. And, when you’re finally ready to establish a publishing date, work, re-work, and re-work again your book description. It all matters.

How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? We’ll see. It just released on November 1. So, I’m still busy with promotional activities. And I try to write as often as possible. I’ll stick my head above the weeds in the next month or so to check the weather.

Do you plan on writing another book? I’ve written a very early draft of Book Two in The Michael Doyle Chronicles (title is TBD). That’s next. Then I might take one of the characters and write a short story, sort of a Book 2A. Book Three will follow. Then, I could start venturing into other areas of interest, both within the mystery/thriller genre and possibly into other genres (romantic suspense, young adult).

My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I agree. Without me realizing it, I’ve been preparing for this time of my life for over two decades. But I needed something to shove me into the bustling freeway. Almost two years ago, I saw the three-story, neon flashing signs, and I seized the opportunity before me. Now, it’s all come to fruition.