Showing posts with label Self-Publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self-Publishing. Show all posts

The Art of Designing Cover Art and Promo Art

I'm working on new projects (yay!), but having a difficult time finding a cover artist to do my chick-lit cover. I've searched, and searched, and I'm finding a strange thing linking the artists whose work I like - they are all rather snitty and unfriendly (boo!). Perhaps it's just been an off week for everybody, or they don't realize how much they turn people off, or maybe that's part of their "I'm so good, I can be a bitch" sales tactic. Whatever. It's only putting me in a bad mood. So, the search continues. Someday, I will find someone who is talented and pleasant. Wish me luck and please send recommendations my way.

In the meantime, I've been working with images to create my own banners. I love, love, love playing with art and could easily do it for hours. But, like most of you, I don't have hours to spare fiddling around making banners and promo materials. I'm saving my pennies to splurge on a perfect cover for my next novel, so I sourced art from free places online and do all my own promo pieces. These tools have saved me hours of labor:
  • - I love this tool for resizing, cropping, layering and lettering. I did this simple banner in under five minutes using the basic tools: 
  • - I used this tool to add color and depth to this simple banner (this took a bit longer, as the lettering had to be fiddled with so it popped, his hair had to be darker, and her lips redder). All in all, I probably spent 30 minutes making this:

So, How's IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter Selling (After Releasing Way Ahead of Schedule)?

If you've been following along, you know I published Immoral: Tales of a Vampire Hunter on the 16th. I'd intended to put it out October 25th and had a very organized and pretty calendar of tasks I wanted to complete before the release date. Long story short, I screwed up and sent my baby out into the world. And . . . it did okay.

Yesterday, it hit #31 in its category. I was just happy to see it on any list, so 31st was worthy of celebration in my book. Granted, some of the sales came from friends, but complete strangers also bought it and a few even posted five star reviews. Yay!

I've been pimping it here and there, and so far find every review site is back-logged with review requests and won't even look at it. Lesson learned - trying to get reviews WAY in advance really IS a good idea. Reviewers don't care who you are, or how good your book sounds. They're just swamped. I did have a few offer to do reviews if I paid for them (aha...light bulb - THAT'S how the big publishers get those top review spots. They pay huge bucks for them). As for me, I said no thanks. I'd rather have honest reviews by people who like paranormal vampire romance and will read and review Immoral because they want to help readers find good books, not because they want to fill their bank accounts and don't give a crap about how good a book is to give a glowing review.

So, I'm still learning. Still having a blast. Still working the day job and dreaming of someday being able to write all the time and actually make enough money to live. If you're the only person reading this post, I'm good with that. Thanks for being here.

IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter . . . Early Release (Yikes!)

So, I accidentally published IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, Book One a month early. Hear that sound? That's the noise my head makes when it's bashed against my desk.

See, I had a marketing plan and spreadsheets, and all sorts of reasons why I needed to wait to publish my first self-published effort until October. I've been published many times before, and I wanted my solo outing to be handled at least as professionally as my publishing house releases. In short, I wanted everything to be perfect. But as I sat there, freaking out, I realized a few things:

1. The book is good (it really is). It's edited, and pretty and sexy and I love my characters and I know you will too if you're into vampires, thrillers and sexy romances.

2. All of my grand plans aren't going to convince anyone of the above, only reading the book will.

3. I was scared, and the spreadsheets, plans, calendars and tasks were all a handy way to stop myself from taking this leap and putting my work out into the world all by myself.

4. I'm braver than I think I am, and I am my own worst critic.

So, instead of hitting the unpublish button as fast as I could, I left the book right where it is . . . for sale. It's part of the KDP Select program, and those amazing people at AMAZON already have a nice, long preview available. Check it out - CLICK HERE

Just do me a favor, if you read it and like it, let me know that my leap wasn't into the scary abyss of writer's hell, but rather into a world where readers will like my stuff even if it doesn't come wrapped in a pretty, planned-out-within-an-inch-of-its-life bow.

A Huge "Thank You" to Readers who Helped Shape IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter

IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter by Zander VyneI'm wrapping up my first self-published book this weekend, handling the business end of things. It's been a long journey that all started here, with a short story called VACANCY, that I posted on my blog. As I tend to do, I finished the story with an ending that, while complete, still left something to reader's imaginations. And, boy did they imagine. I received so many emails from people wanting to know what happened to my vampire hunter, Oliver Ripley, that I decided to continue his story.

I could have just written IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter using my usual process, but I thought it would be fun to bring readers into the crafting of the story. I vowed to sit down, write a chapter each week (right here in Blogger's post composition mode) and post it without editing. I never knew from one part to the next where the story would go. Writing this way felt dangerous, scary, and exhilarating. It freed me from the constraints of my process, opened up new paths in my imagination and, sometimes, it put me into corners I thought I'd never be able to escape. I'd say something in one part, and realize I was stuck with it because of my promise not to edit. When my characters ended up on a plane to Paris, I realized there would be French that I do not speak. When I came up with a major plot point, I had to find a way to explain it, and tie up all the loose ends without going back and changing anything that would help make sense of it all.

There were times when I wanted to bang my head on my desk. Times I thought I'd never be able to make this work. But I did and, in the process, I learned to believe in myself as a writer capable of writing complete novels, not just short stories. I also fell in love with my readers, who cared about Oliver Ripley as much as I did. I listened to them, and used many of their ideas to complete IMMORAL.

I've taken down all of the old Oliver Ripley posts, and edited and made additions and changes to the new book (finally!), but I thought it would be fun to share just a few comments readers made along the way. As I get ready to launch IMMORAL into the world, I want to offer special thanks to everyone who helped shape the story with their feedback. I really couldn't have done it without you (especially the commenters below). If any of you would like a free copy of the completed book, please contact me.

IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, Book One

Wow! I love this! Your writing is just wonderful on this - great  imagery, lovely rhythm, and a sense of looming disaster!Yummy! on Oliver Ripley - Part Two ~ Remittance Girl

Well, fiddle. *laughs* I'm frustrated that Jonathan showed up. Looking forward to the next piece.  on Oliver Ripley, Vampire Killer - Part Three ~ Elspeth are mean, mean...MEAN! Write more...soon...please? on Oliver Ripley, Vampire Killer - Part Three jen

Look. I need a happy ending. Just saying. on Oliver Ripley, Vampire Killer - Part Four  ~ Elspeth

Oh, I am liking this new direction! I saw you added "erotic romance" as a label, and I really hope that means Oliver and Miranda are going to end up together. I am DYING to know (SPOILER) and figure we're in for a wild ride ahead (with everybody being happy in the end, though...ok?) on Oliver Ripley, Vampire Killer - Part Four ~ Jen

Zander, while initially intrigued by Oliver, I must admit an exponentially increased interest as his story continues to unfold.Not only do you lure with Oliver's mysteries and varying dimensions, you also tantalize with new discoveries (not only of Oliver, but of his creator as well!).Oliver's newfound affinity in the BDSM environment is compelling. One looks forward to delving into his further adventures, and revelations of other personalities as well. on Oliver Ripley, Vampire Killer - Part Three ~ beaucoup de noms

You left me breathless again. Each chapter is like another loop around me of a long, hard, chain... a cold chain that leaves me hotter and hotter. The blood has left my brain, and I no longer can think about how good your writing is. on Oliver Ripley, Vampire Killer - Part Three ~ oatmeal girl

I have been meaning to sit down and read this series and last night I stayed up and read the whole lot to the point of my eyelids closing via lack of sleep, but I could NOT stop reading. What a brilliant story and I love the fact you started this with just one line and have let it evolve. I often write this way and part of the fun is discovering where it takes you as you write. I look forward to more. Enthralling. on Oliver Ripley - Part Ten vanimp

You Won't Find Zander Vyne Blog Hopping (I Promise)

I turned down opportunities for blog hops today. I was comfortable with my refusal when I said no. But now there’s a pesky little voice in my head saying I should do whatever it takes to sell books, and the plethora of posts on social media about everyone else's blog hopping is troubling me.

See, when I was a kid, I thought writing would be the perfect job for an introvert like me. I pictured long hours writing in a peaceful office, or maybe curled up in a hammock by myself. But the world of writing has changed. Writers do book tours, and manage their own social media campaigns. They actively seek out other authors to gang up to mass-market together.

To be a writer today, do I really have to blog hop? I don't want to participate in one. I don't even want to attend one, or click on a link that might suck me into some merry-go-round author hop around the internet. No offense, fellow writers. I like you. I like your books. But I don’t want to follow you around the ‘net or beg people to buy your books (or mine) every five seconds on every social media outlet the way many of you seem to do. God help me if I start feeling like I have to post those "What YOU can do to help your author friends" memes.

Do I have to become someone I am not (i.e. extroverted and pushy)? I'm more of a behind the scenes person. I like doing blog posts for other writers, and would do them again if asked by someone I know. I'm really good one on one. I like people in small doses, and they usually like me. I hope people read my books because they like the stories I tell, not because they've been beaten into submission because of my constant sales efforts. I hope they find me on Facebook or Twitter or comment here on my blog because they, like me, like talking about their favorite books.

So I'm making a deal with myself (and you); I'll just be me, and you be you and if you'd like to read my stuff that'd be nifty. If you like it enough to tell a friend about it, cool. But, I won't push you and you won't push me. You’re welcome to come into my safe, quiet little world and relax. I'll make you some tea. We can read together. It will be nice. I promise.

IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter #1

I am so excited to have the rights to this novella back, and to try self-publishing for the first time. Oliver Ripley originally appeared on my blog as a serialized novella. I challenged myself to publish each chapter as I wrote it (no editing, no plotting ahead, two chapters per week). The reader response was astounding, and that kept me going despite writing myself into corners I had to claw my way out of, and hitting that mid-novel slump where none of it seemed to be coming together. In the end, Oliver became my first published novella. I am feverishly working on a sequel, and hope to have both available soon wherever books are sold.

Betrayed by his family, vampire slayer Oliver Ripley finds himself on the run with his sworn enemy, fledgling vampire Miranda Vladula, who claims to hold the key to secrets that could free them both.

Miranda thinks she will do anything to lure a Ripley into her trap, but Oliver does not turn out to be the cold-hearted killer she expects.

Discovering their fates intertwined, Oliver and Miranda fight enemies they did not see coming when they uncover a plot that could destroy them and everyone they love.  Forced to face a horrific truth that challenges everything they have ever believed, with no one to trust but each other, they must fight their growing attraction even as they battle for their lives.

As their world crumbles around them, Oliver and Miranda find danger, secrets, and temptations wherever they turn.  Burning with passion too hot to ignore, not even the threat of death can tear them apart.

Does Oliver have the strength to fight a legion of angry vampires? Can he resist his hunger for Miranda, knowing to succumb to passion could kill them both?

Vacancy (a stand-alone story)